All it takes is a word, a whisper, a thought.
Phillip Todd is a normal army brat and baby boomer with one small exception: a super human power to control all sentient beings. Phillip’s journey of discovery takes him from his upstart antics as a boy at Catholic school, to a precocious sexual relationship with a fellow army brat, to his manipulative and often cruel exploits in psychic domination of his peers. But Philip’s talent for gratification comes with a high cost as he falls deep into the alter-ego of Dr. Fear, wreaking havoc on everyone around him as he descends into a madness of his own making.
Phillip Todd is a normal army brat and baby boomer with one small exception: a super human power to control all sentient beings. Like Superman he takes years to uncover and develop his powers, beginning at the tender age of three by coercing his neurotic mother and later advancing to psychic pranks on the Order of the Perpetually Disgruntled Nuns at his Catholic grade school. In public middle school he rids himself of a bullying juvenile delinquent with cruel zeal. His formative adolescent years as an army dependent in post war Germany merely increases his autocratic demands for sensual experimentation and psychic domination. He uses and abuses anyone near; particularly Jill, the precociously ripe daughter of his father’s commanding Colonel and Wanda, his mother’s friend and frustrated wife of a feckless Lieutenant. When an overweening sexual dalliance with Jill is discovered by a vicious PFC Phillip tortures and nearly kills the man. When his father’s tour in Germany is winding down Phillip, both frightened and enthralled with his power, conceives an alter ego as a means of self analysis and revelation, Dr. Fear, a fictional confidant whom he plans on turning into a future comic book icon. However, Phillip is suddenly tormented by waking nightmares and psychotic hallucinations and he takes extreme measures to rid himself of these by eliminating Wanda’s husband and lastly Jill and her family. However, on the return trip to the States hopeful that he has ended the psychotic breaks, he is confronted by another terrifying hallucination.
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A Guest Post by Author Robert Frederick's
Ah, but life’s a joy for a young Catholic lad in a world where demons abound.
I managed because from time to time things would go my way inexplicably. At school when I committed some heinous sin such as talking out of turn or running in the hallway, instead of receiving retribution I would be forgotten. At home, when my father and mother would get into a row, they would suddenly stop and hug each other. Frankie would often cease his usual torment of me, and we would actually play board games together. That certain things changed when I found situations intractable seemed just a way of life.
I assumed it worked that way for everyone.
But one incident at school changed my beatific vision and pointed the way to what I am. Shrouds seem to love public humiliation. It’s never, “See me after class.”, but always, “Class, little (insert name) has been bad and an agent of Satan, and I will punish him/her so you will witness the wages of sin.” The Principal of Holy Sepulcher, Sister Terrence Torquemada, had a special ritual she would employ. There was a hill outside the school that one passed when leaving for home. Sister Torquemada would haul a straight backed chair to the hill and have the recalcitrant devil’s disciple brought to her, and she would give the wretch a switching as children fearfully watched while wending their way home at the end of the school day.
One day during the spring of my second grade the word was out that Billy Butowski, a second grader known for his frequent heinous indiscretions, including baring his bottom on the girl’s side of the playground, would receive a switching on Gethsemane, our name for the feared height. Now I didn’t know Billy, I just knew of him, but for some reason I was particularly bothered by this latest public display. Perhaps it was just a cumulative effect, but I didn’t want to walk home and see this public humiliation once again.
As Frankie and I walk past the hill, he comments, “Look Phil. Billy’s going to get it.”
I look up and see Billy being led to the chair where the avenging angel of God awaits. I squint at the shroud and think, ‘Don’t do it. Let Billy go and spank your self instead.’
Not expecting anything to occur but Billy’s public disgrace, I start to speed by when Frankie speaks in an amazed and scared tone.
“What’s she doing?”
I can’t help myself and again look up the hill. The old shroud has raised the skirt of her habit above her waist, revealing an immense, white cotton covered bottom, and she whips herself, which is no easy task, considering she has to reach around her expansive girth. But while I’m sure no one is sorry to see Sister Torquemada receive the same affliction she so eagerly hands out, it is so shocking and freakishly unexpected everyone hurries by, fearful to witness such a total breakdown of implacable divine authority.
Of course I have an additional reason to flee the scene. For the first time I make the connection between this event and my seemingly idle wish. This can not be a coincidence. Even at the tender age of eight I can understand that what I witness cannot have occurred naturally. Either there is supernatural intervention or my thoughts have caused another person to act counter to order and stability. As we walk home Frankie eyes me curiously and breaks our hitherto shocked silence.
“That was weird.”
Robert Fredericks grew up an army brat, and as an adult has worked over the years as a special education teacher, family therapist, and is currently a correctional educator at a maximum security prison. He lives with his wife and daughter, both brilliant and an inspiration to him, and two dogs and four cats that provide clues to the absurdity of the universe.