THE BLACK LANDS
The Black Lands is the name given to a supernatural world discovered in 1945. Despite over sixty years of study, scientists have only been able to agree on three main facts:
- It exists in another dimension that lies next to our own.
- It can be accessed via portals that are located all over the planet.
- It’s home to a variety of dangerous paranormal entities.
The general public has very little knowledge of the Black Lands. Most of the data collected has come from expeditions carried out by government agencies, and the vast majority of their findings remain classified. Some people believe the government learned nothing from these excursions, while others believe they made discoveries so horrific that the release of this information would cause worldwide panic.
The following is a chronology of the facts. A short history of the discovery of the Black Lands and the ways in which it has changed our world.
The Disappearance of Flight 19
On December 5, 1945, five U.S. Navy bombers, designated Flight 19, departed Fort Lauderdale to complete a combat training exercise off the coast of Florida. After successfully carrying out their bombing run, the aircraft set course to return to base. They never made it.
In his final transmission, the flight leader reported failure of the compasses in all five planes. Contact was lost with Flight 19 shortly thereafter. A search and rescue effort comprised of several dozen planes and boats was launched. After two planes and one ship, USS Minotaur, disappeared, the search was called off.
Due to overwhelming public pressure, as well as a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Navy by the families of the missing pilots, a congressional committee was formed to look into the disappearance of Flight 19. Witnesses were called to testify, among them a navy scientist who revealed the existence of film footage, taken from one of the rescue boats, showing USS Minotaur seemingly disappearing into thin air.
The navy scientist further reported that it was his belief, as well as the belief of his colleagues, that the ship — and Flight 19 — had inadvertently passed through an invisible portal and travelled to another dimension. When asked to explain how he had reached this conclusion, the navy scientist replied that he and a team of investigators had been there. He referred to this dimension as The Black Lands.
Further testimony was conducted in closed sessions. Details of the navy’s expedition into the portal were omitted from the committee’s final report. Flight 19, USS Minotaur, and the two missing rescue planes were simply said to have been lost in the Black Lands. The fate of their crews was listed as “unknown.”
Tests with pilotless drone ships confirmed that the number of portals in the area where these disappearances took place was increasing. Some scientists put their number in the hundreds. Due to the danger of other planes and ships disappearing into the Black Lands, a large section of the North Atlantic was declared a no-fly, no-shipping zone.
This area eventually came to be known as The Bermuda Triangle.
Project Black Book
In the years following the discovery of the Black Lands, the level of paranormal activity around the world increased dramatically. Despite the best efforts of the world’s various emergency organizations, as well police and armed forces, it soon became clear that no government agency or military body was equipped to deal with these types of incidents.
In the United States, the government continued to deny the public access to information on the Black Lands. Attempts to obtain classified documents through the Freedom of Information Act resulted in the release of material that was so heavily censored that it was virtually unreadable. These documents were referred to by the public as having been “blackacted.”
Activist groups organized a series of protests across the country. They claimed that the pilots of Flight 19 were not the first victims of the Black Lands. They pointed to other unexplained disappearances throughout history, such as the crew of the Mary Celeste, the lost colony of Roanoke, and the Native American tribe of Anasazi who were said to have vanished overnight.
Finally, in 1952, the governments of the United States and Canada revealed the existence of Project Black Book, a comprehensive seven-year study of the Black Lands portals located across North America. They concluded that this dimension and the entities that reside there represented a clear and present danger to the security of both countries and the safety of their people.
The study recommended the formation of a special organization to investigate paranormal phenomena in order to develop defensive strategies against Black Lands entities. The result was the creation of a joint U.S.—Canada government organization called the Paranormal Intelligence Agency (PIA).
Operation Shadow Storm
After several years of study and investigation, the U.S. government decided it was time to create a permanent base of operations in the Black Lands.
Going against the warnings of the PIA, the U.S. military organized a large offense composed entirely of ground forces called Operation Shadow Storm. The purpose of the operation was to transport personnel and equipment into the Black Lands and setup a beachhead from which further military missions, as well as scientific experiments, could be carried out.
There had been rumours of military operations into the Black Lands in the past, but this was the first one to be carried out in the public eye. The media was given detailed information about the operation, which was to be launched from a large portal located in Wyoming, and reporters from several news stations were embedded with military units so they could report directly from the front.
On August 25, 1978, Operation Shadow Storm began.
Two days later, it was over.
Details of the operation remain largely classified, but one thing is known for certain: It failed.
Despite the military’s best efforts to suppress information, reports were leaked by anonymous army personnel and the few embedded reporters who managed to survive the conflict. They reported that the military convoy was attacked almost immediately upon entering the Black Lands. They described a variety of nightmarish creatures, some of them displaying supernatural traits similar to vampires and werewolves, living in a landscape of seemingly endless fields and woods under a sunless sky.
The actual number of casualties of Operation Shadow Storm is a matter of dispute. It is known that several hundred soldiers were killed, thousands more were injured, and some listed as missing in action were presumably lost in the Black Lands.
Following the operation, the families of many of the dead soldiers filed lawsuits against the U.S. government for refusing to release their bodies. The government’s only comment on the matter has been that the bodies remain in federal custody due to reasons of national security. Rumours that the soldiers were contaminated in some manner by their exposure to the Black Lands have never been substantiated.
In the years after the failure of Operation Shadow Storm, some veterans of the conflict began to report unusual medical conditions. Some of these symptoms were physical, in the form of tumours and growths, while others were psychological, in the form of phobias, psychoses, and even psychical phenomenon.
Although these abnormalities were believed to have been caused by the subject’s exposure to the Black Lands, this has never been definitively proven. This is due to the inconsistency of symptoms among those afflicted, as well as the fact that many of the soldiers involved in the operation never experienced any medical problems at all.
Health officials dubbed this condition Black Lands Syndrome. Some professionals described it as the paranormal equivalent of radiation sickness. It has been theorized that the variety of symptoms is due to various factors including the subject’s medical history and the length of exposure to the Black Lands. Rumours that some soldiers were so badly affected by BLS that they transformed into supernatural creatures has never been substantiated.
Black Lands Syndrome has also been reported by people who live in close proximity to portals. Since these people were not involved in Operation Shadow Storm, their condition has been treated as a completely different ailment. In medical circles, it is referred to simply as the Influence.
Over half a century has passed since the discovery of the Black Lands, and our world is still learning to live with its mysterious, and sometime dangerous, neighbour.
More portals are being discovered every year, and some scientists believe this escalation is building toward some cataclysmic event. A dimensional collision, some say, resulting in one world cancelling out the other, or both worlds being completely destroyed.
With the discovery of new portals, the number of missing persons around the world has increased dramatically. While the majority of these disappearances are accidental, it is known that some people, driven by curiosity or insanity, purposely seek out portals. The few who manage to return sometimes come back changed by the Influence. Those who don’t come back at all have been dubbed “accidental tourists.”
The world of the twenty-first century is a dark and dangerous place. Electrified fences cordon off the dozens of known portals across North America. Coast Guard gunships patrol the Florida waters along the edge of the Bermuda Triangle. The PIA continues to investigate paranormal activity. The U.S. and Canadian governments continue to restrict information about the Black Lands. The general public continues to live in the dark.
Some people want answers. Some just want it all to go away. Most people are simply trying to find a way to live in a world where paranormal has become the norm.