I have a very interesting job. I am a veterinarian in a very sparsely populated area of America. In fact, the animals greatly outnumber people here. So, I am kept pretty busy, and I travel almost constantly. After all, if a 2000 pound bull is sick, it is kind of difficult to get him in the truck and get him to the vets office. So, I have to make house calls.
While I have a house in Sheridan Wyoming, I am seldom there. My truck has all of the medical equipment I need, plus a bed. Sometimes my client puts me up for the night, but often I'll be off to the next stop. There are times when I spend the night in between places. It is difficult sometimes, but I meet all kinds of interesting people, and I deal with all kinds of interesting cases.
For instance, on one particular day, I helped a dog with a snake bite, and a snake with a dog bite. On another occasion, I helped get a cow down off a barn, and get a mule out of a well. Thus, on any particular call, you never know what you'll run into next.
To be honest, I do have my share of mundane days. I have spayed and neutered plenty of dogs and cats. I have dealt with plenty cantankerous animals. However, overall I love my job.
Nonetheless, with the remoteness of some of the areas, I am the only medical person some of the people see. Hence, I am called upon, on occasion, to offer some advice on the treatment of people. Mostly, if the problem seems serious enough, I recommend that they see a people doctor. However, I can treat sprains and strains if called upon to do so.
Sometimes, the interesting part of my day is the people I am asked to observe and diagnose. One particular case always comes to my mind when I think of my most interesting cases.
It was a fairly mundane day. I was checking a herd of cattle for various inflictions. This herd got a clean bill of health, and the family invited me in for dinner. I graciously accepted. After all, I was fairly close to home. With a good meal in me, I would be looking forward to sleeping in my own bed that night.
I thought that they were celebrating the health of their herd because they really put on a feast that night. It was only later that I discovered their ulterior motive. They were worried about their Uncle Ben; however, they were not worried about his physical health.
Uncle Ben was a high school math teacher in Cheyenne for many years. His kids were grown and moved out of the state. His wife died a few years ago, and he retired to a small cottage near the Wyoming/Montana border.
The family would check on him every now and again, and he seemed to be doing well on his own. However, not that long ago, they noticed a change in his behavior. Uncle Ben's family tried to get him to talk about it, but he refused. At any rate, that is what they told me.
Further, since I was in the neighborhood, they told me I could drop in to check his animals. That would give me an excuse to talk to the old man. They felt that someone with a medical background would be able to help Uncle Ben with whatever was bothering him.
While I was suspicious of the situation, I grudgingly accepted the challenge. I received directions to Uncle Ben's cabin and was off with a bag of cookies and some leftovers. I am not sure if they were for me or him, but nonetheless, I had them.
The family made it seem like Uncle Ben's place was not far. Perhaps it was not far as the crow flies, but the winding road took me far and wide. It was over an hour before I reached the turnoff to Uncle Ben's place.
As I drove up, I was greeted by a friendly mixed breed dog. Since my excuse for coming was a veterinary trip, I gave her a quick check. There were no signs of abuse. She appeared to be well fed, and she looked as if she had plenty of exercise.
I wandered around the property briefly. He had no livestock that I could see. I found no chickens, pigs, or cattle. This was not unusual for a retired person. Ranching is difficult work.
I did spot a few feral cats living in a shed. They would not let me get close to them, but this type of situation is fairly normal in many agricultural areas. They keep the rodent population in check, but require little intervention from people. While that type of situation pushes my buttons, it is the way some people think.
I decided that I would offer to spay the cats for Uncle Ben at no charge. Thus, the population of feral cats would not grow unchecked. At least, it would be a good excuse for coming along with the family recommendation.
From the looks of it, this house was probably once the ranch hands house. A wealthy ranch owner would normally live in a large main house. However, some of the hired help would live closer to the herd. This house looked just sort of structure for this purpose. Nonetheless, it was a fine place for a retired widower.
I walked onto the porch and knocked. I waited for several seconds, and knocked again. Their was no answer. I walked around the house to see if I could spot anyone inside. I did not see anyone, and I thought that was strange.
The family had told me that he rarely left the house anymore. Perhaps their fears were unfounded after all. However, I saw his car in the garage, so he did not drive anywhere. Maybe he simply went for a walk.
I looked around for a little while longer, but I did not spot him anywhere. I decided to knock once again. There was still no answer, so I decided to try the door. It was not locked.
"Hello?" I called as I cautiously walked inside the house.
I did not hear a response to my words, but I did hear some mumbling in one of the rooms towards the back of the house.
"Ben?" I asked as I slowly ventured farther into the house.
There still was no response. However, I was getting closer to sounds inside. It sounded as if Uncle Ben was having a conversation on the phone. I thought that he was on an important call, and he did not want to be interrupted. That is why he did not reply to my knocks and calls.
I continued towards the voice I heard. I found a door. Clearly, Uncle Ben was on the other side. I opened the door, and Uncle Ben was sitting their with a tinfoil pyramid hat on his head, and the walls of the room were covered in kitchen plates. Furthermore, he was alone and not on the phone.
"Who are you and what are you doing in my house?" Ben asked me.
"My name is Robert Adams, I am a veterinarian," I replied.
"And that gives you the right to come into my house?"
"Ummm -- no I guess not. It was just -- er -- uh..."
"Go on, spit it out!"
"Your niece was worried, and she sent me up here to check in -- on -- your animals."
"She was worried about my animals more than me?"
"She did mention that you had been acting strangely."
"And she sent a veterinarian to check up on me?"
"I think she wanted some sort of medical person to check on you. It wouldn't be my first time diagnosing humans, and to be honest, you are wearing a tinfoil hat."
"Actually, it is aluminum foil -- what of it?"
"You know that there have been studies that have determined that such hats may act as an amplifier rather than a shield."
"Naturally, that is why I am wearing it."
"If it were actually tinfoil, it would block the signal."
"Are you telling me that it was a government cover-up to switch from tin foil to aluminum foil?"
"Are you crazy? Aluminum is much more common than tin, it does not impart a taste upon the food it wraps, and it is highly recyclable. It makes complete sense to use aluminum over tin."
"I am glad to hear you say that, and Alcoa probably is too."
"So, how are my animals?" Ben asked to change the subject.
"They appear fine. Although, I am concerned about the feral cats in your barn."
"You are a vet aren't you?"
"Of course, you didn't think..."
"I didn't know what to think -- probably -- like you when you saw me sitting here."
"Do you want to explain?"
"It is kind of a long story."
"I had a good meal at your niece's place, and I was just about to head home. However, I've got time."
"Would you like some coffee?"
"We can take this into the kitchen," Ben said as he took off his hat.
I followed Ben into the kitchen where Ben poured us each a cup of coffee. I followed his lead and sat at the kitchen table. We both sat silent for an instant as Ben thought about where to begin.
"You're probably wondering about the hat and the plates," Ben eventually said after taking a sip of coffee.
"You could say that," I replied.
"I don't know how to begin without sounding crazy."
"That is a conundrum."
"Okay, so about three months ago, I went into the parlor there to get something. Out of nowhere, I hear this voice. It wasn't exactly a voice, but it sounded like a cry or a call. Like anyone, I just thought it was the wind or my mind playing tricks on me. I thought it was nothing, and I went on with what I was doing."
Ben took another sip of coffee, thought for a moment, and then continued.
"I did not hear the voice again, until I returned to the parlor. In fact, I became frightened of even entering the parlor for the thought of hearing the voice. I went for days avoiding the parlor, and I never heard any voices outside of the parlor.
"I searched the outside of the room for cracks and whatnot. I wanted to eliminate the wind at first. I caulked all of the cracks, and I even used a bug bomb. Thus, that would eliminate animals and insects playing tricks on me.
"As you may have guessed, the voice was not very distinct. I could not make out any words, but there was some sort of voice. I assumed it was trying to communicate with me."
"Did you think the room was haunted?" I asked.
"I never believed in ghosts, but this started to make me a believer. Thus, I went onto the internet for advice on 'exorcising' my poltergeist. In an effort to give the spirit rest, I started spending more time in the room; however, it had the opposite effect. The more time I spent in the room, the clearer the voice became. What started out to be sort of a 'hey' became more complicated. Also, the voice became more persistent and more frequent. Thus, it eventually became less of a disembodied sound and more of an actual voice."
"You do realize that all of this was happening in your head don't you?" I remarked.
"Yes. There was no physical person there, so I knew it was occurring all in my head. However, I wondered what it was and why it was only happening in the parlor. My curiosity was peeked, and therefore, I spent even more time in the parlor. What was at first a fear of the room became somewhat of an obsession."
"This is when you family first noticed you not leaving the house," I added.
"Unfortunately, that was a side-effect. I had to know what it wanted to say -- or do. Thus, I spent as much time as I could in the room. I ate in there and slept. I wanted to know what the voice had to say."
"What was that like?" I asked with great curiosity.
"It was like trying to tune in a station on a very touchy radio. Whatever it was would occasionally hit something, but would zoom right past. It was a very painstaking process and sometimes very frustrating. Primarily this was because I was not in control. Whoever had the remote would zoom right past whatever showed promise."
"So, do you think it was some sort of radio communication you were picking up?" I inquired.
"That is more of an analogy than actuality," replied Ben after taking another sip of coffee. "Our brains are complicated, and our brains give off varying brain-waves for lack of a better term. Thus, if someone was attempting to communicate with us via telepathy, they would have to tune into a particular brain pattern."
"Telepathy!" I exclaimed.
"It was the only conclusion I could make. Someone -- or something -- was studying my brain to communicate with me via telepathy. All I could do is go through a normal series of actions, and let -- whatever -- study how my particular brain operates. Thus, eventually the disembodied voice would actually be able to communicate."
"Communicate with you via telepathy?" I asked. "What is this -- some sort of science fiction story?"
"What is that crack suppose to me?" Ben asked me.
"Oh! Nothing," I replied.
"Do you want to hear the story or not?"
"Yes -- please continue..."
"Because I didn't ask for your help, and I don't need your help."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"So, where was I?"
"You were explaining how the voice seemed like it was trying to tune in your brain."
"Right!" responded Ben. "It went on for weeks, and I was beginning to get the feeling that it would never happen. However, one day it was clear as a bell. The voice and I could finally communicate both ways."
"What did the voice say?"
"Patience my friend -- patience -- I'm getting to it."
"Once again, I apologize."
"Naturally, the voice is not a valid name because it occurs completely in my own brain. Hence, at first I asked fairly mundane questions. Things like 'what is your name?', 'where do you live?', and the like. Simple questions allowed my new friend to get a handle on the technology on his end."
"His?" I asked.
"While I don't know if his or her has any meaning where they are, the voice was male in my brain. Thus, I use the masculine. In any event, the name question was more difficult than either of us thought. I still don't have a handle on what his name is. It just goes to show how much culture has an effect upon names. Thus, I called him 'Hank' and he was okay with that. You may have noticed that I spoke aloud to Hank. We found it easier for him to know what I was trying to say by speaking out loud."
"Why was that?"
"Apparently, the area of the brain used for speaking is easier for their technology to reach than if you just think the words. Once the communications problems were mostly ironed out, it was time to get to the meat of the reason he was reaching out to me.
"Hank is the intelligence officer for a mostly peaceful race, who happen to be at war with a particular nasty race. One of the tactics of this warring race is to take advantage of the peaceful nature of Hank's people and attack a neutral third planet. His department discovered that they were going to use this tactic upon our planet."
"Let me get this straight," I interrupted. "There were two races at war, and one of them was going to attack us."
"Right," Ben replied. "In that way, Hank's race would have to allocate resources to help us out. This tactic would work to his enemy's advantage."
"And you believed him?"
"Of course not, but I heard him out. Their enemy has this technology that allows them to enter a planet via a wormhole type technology. They pick a latitude at random and they have to be half way between the equator and the pole. Thus, they have to enter at 45 degrees north or south at the longitude that they select. It just so happens that my parlor is exactly 45 degrees north. Further, according to Hank, it was at their selected latitude."
"So, these aliens were going to invade through some sort of hole in your parlor?" I asked with a great deal of skepticism, but I tried hard not to sound sarcastic.
"That is about how I felt. However, Hank said there was an easy way to stop them."
"The plates?" I asked.
"Yes. There is something in ceramic plates that blocks their matter transference equipment. Further, if we have our shield enabled, when they enable their transference equipment, Hank's people will be able to knock it out. Thus, we won't have anything to worry about after that."
"So, why were you wearing the aluminum foil hat?"
"The plates also block some of his communication abilities; thus, I need some sort of amplification method."
"I guess that makes sense. I do have a question though."
"What is that?"
"Was this your first psychotic episode?"
"You think I'm crazy..."
"Perhaps it is stress, or something more serious. However, you have to realize that this scenario you have just outlined is impossible."
"So, you think it all happened in my head."
"Yes. No aliens. No invasion. None of it."
"So what happens now?"
"I cannot force you into anything, and it is simply my inexperienced opinion. Perhaps there is something behind this. You should see a doctor and get a checkup. Perhaps it is some sort of toxin localized in that room."
"Your localized toxins is just as crazy."
"Yeah, I know. I was just theorizing, but there must be some logical explanation for this."
"And, you think that what I just outlined is illogical."
"Honestly I can't think of any other way to put it," I said as we walked towards the parlor.
"Do you think it is the first step towards Alzheimer's?"
"I wouldn't think of commenting on that," I said taking a plate off the wall and examining it. "You *should* see a doctor, and he or she should be able to determine what is going on."
"I guess there is no harm in that."
"What?" I asked.
"I said -- I guess there is no harm in that."
"I heard that, I mean the other thing."
"I did not say anything else."
"You clearly said something about the plate."
"That wasn't me."
"Stop with your tricks!"
"I'm telling you -- I'm not doing anything."
"If you don't cut it out," I asserted. "I'll break this plate!"
"Honestly, I'm not doing anything," insisted Ben.
"Okay! Okay! Okay!" I screamed. "I'll put it back!"
I replaced the plate, and it stopped. I looked around, and saw Ben looking at me with great concern.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, and so are you."
"What?" he asked.
"It is my expert opinion that you're fine. It'll be all over soon, and we can go on with our lives. You're fine, and I'm fine."
"You now think I do *not* need to see a doctor..."
"Yes. There is nothing wrong with you. Going to a doctor will probably only make things worse."
"Thanks for your time -- and the coffee -- Ben," I told him. "I think I'll be heading home now."
"Thanks for checking up on -- my animals," he replied. "Come back anytime."
I have gone back to see Ben a few times. The plates are now down, and his parlor has returned to normal. Neither of us speak of the incident, we just talk about his animals. I wonder if he saved the world, or if we both had an episode. In any event, that was one of my most interesting cases -- and days.