Previously on ’TALES FROM THE ZONE’: – Once upon a time the ‘Domaine de la Salz’ was supposedly visited by alien craft, ultradimensional beings who left the properties of space time permanently altered in the region. The self-appointed ‘Guardians of the Zone’ have kept watch over the portal area ever since. 

Until now…


The Domaine de la Salz – April 30 2022 – THE LAST SUPPER

Sniffing, I caught a whiff of CBD and roasting duck fat as I stepped through the portal, eyes adjusting to the smoky interior of the Domaine.

The interior architecture of the Domaine displayed the occult influence of the farmhouse’s former proprietor, Jean de Riegnies, a student of Papus who claimed to have made contact with extraterrestrial or ultradimensional beings living within the mountain. Blazons displaying stars, pentagrams and crudely painted Cathar crosses adorned the arched doorways and a portrait of the miracle worker, Master Philippe de Lyon took pride of place, watching over the long table.

The ‘Guardians’ were all present and accounted for, gathered in their customary positions about the table, engaged in heated debate. Hors d’oeuvre had already been served – Mediterranean oysters, caviar and a particularly good local pâté with a regional wine to match.  

I smiled, apologising for my late arrival, kissing cheeks and shaking proffered hands. Saluting brother Pyke, I bent to hug the wiry, capable looking man in the black hoodie and military crew cut who sat at the bottom left corner of the table. ‘Van Helsing’ was a good man who had gotten his wisdom hard, having seen more than a few things during his years travelling Europe with the Spiral Tribe. It wasn’t his real name, of course, but ‘Van’ asked to be identified that way in this ‘blog to signal his proclivities as a modern day ‘vampire hunter’. 

A seat had been held at the top right of the table, beside Emilie and Marc, defacto leaders of this tightly knit community.  They had taken stewardship of the Domaine after Jean’s death, forming the Association responsible for its upkeep. No-one actually lived in the household. Not any more. Only Van Helsing remained on site through the long winter nights, huddled in his truck with his monitors. There were strange energies at work in the Domaine, forces that no-one claimed to fully understand. 

The Guardians believed Jean’s time warped presence could still be felt in the building – just one presence among many in what had come to be seen as the Zone’s very own Skinwalker ranch. 

Over the years, Marc and Emilie had repurposed the property as a conference centre, hosting speakers on any number of otherworldly topics, ranging from Templar treasures to time travel, the Rennes mystery, sacred geometry and the new world order. My own documentary, ‘L’AUTRE MONDE/THE OTHERWORLD’ played here only last year on a specially constructed outdoor screen. Now the local government was determined to bring down the curtain on the Salz once and for all, effectively sealing off one more gap in the data dyke. 
“Ça va?” I kissed brother Marc on both cheeks, giving his shoulder a supportive squeeze. The Salz had been the centre of his life for so long now, I couldn’t imagine what he was going through.
“Comme ci comme ça,” muttered Emilie as she awaited her turn to exchange an embrace. “It feels surreal.”
“More than usually, you mean?” 

Emilie thought about this as I settled myself at my assigned place. JC followed suit, finding a spot on the bench beside a steely haired Toulousian druidess named Oona, his gaze magnetised by the pâte. There was an older woman seated beside Oona whom I hadn’t met before but judging by the way the druidess deferred to her, she was evidently a figure of some spiritual eminence. If the look in this woman’s eyes and the lines on her face were anything to go by, she probably knew more about the Zone and its ways than the rest of us put together. Smiling, she wished me bonne appetit, passing across a loaf of freshly baked bread. 

I poured myself a glass of spring water gathered from a local source as Marc signalled a toast.
“To ‘les Gardiens’” I suggested, raising my glass as the babel of voices subsided.
“Nous sommes les veileurs.” offered Emilie, raising her glass in turn. 
We are the watchers,” repeated Van Helsing,  the others chiming in.
“We are the watchers at the end of the world…”

And so the last supper began.

Above: The gathering – ‘Van Helsing’ is on the left (face distorted by request) and Marc on the right – between them are two stalwarts who shall go unnamed 

After Jean’s passing and the failed apocalypse of December 2012, my attention drifted from the Zone and I lost track of events at the Domaine. I twice returned to the source of the Salz over the years to get the benefit of its strange, saline waters and while I noticed someone was taking care of the house, I never ventured beyond the perimeter fence nor got a handle on its inhabitants beyond whispered local gossip that they were ‘conspiracy theorists’ or some sort of ‘UFO cult’. 

The truth, of course, was more complex and far stranger than the gossip.

Richard Stanley - Don't drink the water. BORDERLANDS II - THE GATHERING OF THE GUARDIANS
As above: DON’T DRINK THE WATER – self pictured in the summer of 2019 with a sample from the saline source

When the so-called ‘777 arrack’ was brought against me on March 16th 2021, derailing and all but destroying my life, the ‘Guardians’ came from the shadows to pledge their support. 

Van Helsing sought me out first.  He’d been monitoring the on-line attacks and observing my movements in the Zone, trying to make up his mind what was really happening. That’s one of Van’s many strong points. He still has his own mind, which makes him into something of an endangered species in the 21st century. Seeing me crossing the road outside the Maison Bethany, one spring morning shortly before Beltane 2021, he decided to stop his car, get out and offer me his hand. 

I had just said goodbye to the camera crew covering the early phases of the ‘war against the witches’ and was feeling dazed and not a little paranoid, having just lived through the worst weeks of my life. Rather than admitting this black garbed newcomer to the Maison Bethany and offering him a beer or cup of chai, which would have been the civilised thing to do, I opted to have the conversation outside in the stone circle that fronted the property. Settling myself to the south of the ring, I rolled a cigarette while Van Helsing, finding the northernmost marker made for a comfortable seat, did likewise, explaining his position. 

This was the first I heard of Marc and Emilie’s work and the conferences taking place at the Domaine. I listened, intrigued to learn how Jean de Rigney’s curious contribution to ufology had impacted on those who came after him. Above all, I was delighted to hear the so-called ‘portal area’ was still in business.

conferences at the Domaine de la Salz.
conferences at the Domaine de la Salz.

As above, so below: – conferences at the Domaine de la Salz – summer 2021

conferences at the Domaine de la Salz.

Van Helsing told me the ‘Guardians’ wanted to present my film ‘THE OTHERWORLD / L’AUTRE MONDE’ (2012) at the Domaine, provided I could source French subtitles for the screening. Given his earnest manner and the extraordinary circumstances of the request. I consented immediately. 

A few days later, ‘Van’ reappeared with a four wheeled drive and took me up to the house where I got to meet Emilie, brother Marc, brother Pyke and the other members of the fellowship. I realised at once I was in unique company. Some of those gathered at the last house on the left resembled fringe scientists and disgraced academics while others looked more like treasure hunters or fully blown survivalists, already prepping for world war three or four – its was easy enough to lose track in this place. 

The Domaine had been retrofitted with solar panels and a wind turbine that provided just enough juice to keep the lights burning while the ‘Guardians’ debated the true shape of their world. The plumbing was still functional in the kitchen whereas the bathroom had fallen into ruinous disarray since Jean’s demise. There was a honey wagon parked outside with an effective compost latrine and the well maintained vegetable garden tilted towards self sufficiency. Even the cat, Charybdis, looked fat and happy, her partner Scylla having gone missing somewhere along the way. 

Van Helsing was confident the Domaine could withstand a lengthy siege and boasted that a single well placed explosive charge could effectively seal off the access road, preventing anyone from entering or leaving in the event of post-pandemic social collapse, thermonuclear war or active intervention by the ’shadow government’. 


As above, so below: –  the gathering – Emilie (far left) and Marc look on as the stewards of the Salz debate the cataclysm facing the Domaine – the conversation taking in the recent witch hunts, simulation theory and changes in the electro-magnetic fields on Jupiter – photos by Richard S.


The Domaine – April 2021

The first time I set foot in the house in more than thirty years, it felt strange to find so little changed – almost as if the Domaine had been set aside in time.

The Guardians had been monitoring my situation and reached the conclusion we were caught in the same war, a magical conflict for control of the Zone, a final battle between the forces of Spirit and the powers of Rex Mundi, the material demiurge. It was my task to help open the portals, to allow the elder Gods, the Old Ones or ‘Shining Ones’ to return to our paradigm and it was their duty, as they understood it, to protect me from the forces vested against that happening. 

“The Old Ones are already here,” Emily reassured me. “They came before but one stayed beneath this mountain. Beneath this house. Sous nous. Beneath the soles of our shoes…”

My work as a Grail historian and my efforts to bring H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones to streaming had inadvertently placed me on the front line in an esoteric war and the Guardians had reason to believe my life was in danger. Given the events of the last few weeks, I was forced to concur. It certainly felt as if my world was coming to an end. I was close to death’s door by the time I arrived at the Domaine and was suffering from compound fracture PTSD, making it difficult to sleep or eat. The psychoplasmic burn injuries I’d received to my right hand during the shooting of ‘Color Out of Space’ were acting up and I had no great desire to remain in the material world. 

It was the time of prophecy, Marc insisted, the time foretold by Guilhelm Belibaste, the last initiated ‘Cathar’ Adept, who before going to his death at the stake in the summer of 1321, vowed that after seven centuries the laurel would turn green again and the old ways return. 

“Yup.” I blinked, thinking it through. I was familiar with the so-called ‘Cathar prophecy’, having helped promulgate it over the net. I wanted to believe it, because belief is easier than thinking about stuff. Clearly my allies and adversaries had drunk the same koolaid. The ‘witches’ chose the date March 16 2021 for their attack because they knew it was exactly 777 years since the largest mass burning of ‘witches’ and ‘heretics’ in European history. They wanted to send a message to the neo-Cathar community by burning me at the stake of public opinion that day but the attack had failed. I was still alive and at liberty, still capable of thinking for myself and still vocal.

Moreover, there was one detail pertaining to the ‘Cathar prophecy’ that had always bugged me, beyond the issue of the prediction’s provenance.

“Uhh”, I cleared my throat. “This whole concept of the laurel ‘turning green again’ does seem rather strange, given the laurel’s an evergreen. I mean, it never loses its leaves.”
Marc stopped eating, looking at me oddly as the Guardians fell silent. For a heart beat, I sensed all eyes upon me. 
 “Que vient-il de dire?” Marc frowned, turning to Emilie for translation.
Emilie nodded, smiling slowly. “À feuilles persistantes. Evergreen.”
“Ever green.” A broadening smile lit up Marc’s face as if arriving at the punchline of a private joke. Someone clapped me on the back and the others began to smile too, as if the word were a mantra, a pass word that somehow proved their faith was not misplaced. Things didn’t always make sense at the Domaine but then they didn’t need to. That was the beauty of it. At that point I was too emotionally drained, too psychologically destroyed to care. 

“Ever green!” Van Helsing offered a friendly gap toothed grin, refilling my glass and passing the caviar. 

the Domaine de la Salz.
As above: – the Domaine de la Salz – ground zero in a magical conflict

The Domaine – Beltane  2021

Fearing the powers of the ‘witches’ were still potent, brother Marc and the Guardians opted to keep me at the Domaine until Walpurgisnacht had safely passed. So far the Zone had protected me from the worst of the malice flung my way and the Guardians figured the Domaine was all but impregnable to magical attack. 

For my part, I was in no position to resist.

Beltane 2021 was grim, stormy and not a little menacing in the high valleys with gusts of cold rain lashing across the treetops. Brother Marc told me they had never celebrated Beltane at the Salz before and asked if there were any specific rituals I could recommend. I had a copy of the Hay Wilson ‘hoax’ Necronomicon with me but figuring the book had caused enough trouble already, I told him the only thing that really mattered was to light a fire and keep it burning. This was easier said than done. Van Helsing piled up an enormous mound of logs and pallets but the wood was all but soaked by the incoming drizzle.

“We need something dry to get it started,” I suggested,  “unless you can spare the gasoline.”
Marc smiled, telling me he had just the thing. Vanishing into the dilapidated barn, he re-emerged with an armful of books. I winced. “Nah. You can’t burn those, dude. I…”
Marc nodded eagerly, displaying the books to Van Helsing. They were multiple volumes of Napoleonic law, code penal and code travail, property laws and tax laws.
“Okay. So maybe you can burn those.”

Gripped by a certain anarchic glee, brother Marc fetched more musty volumes from the barn, eagerly piling them on the mound as the other Guardians got in on the act.  Soon a merry blaze began beneath the pallets as the Bel fire was kindled. 

Leaning on my forked staff for support, my black jellaba gathered hood up against the rain, I stared into the flames, feeling my heart burning within me. It’s not a sensation I recommend. Having worked through the law books, the Guardians located several boxes filled with bound copies of France’s ‘Histoire Industrielle’, mouldy, time lost tomes dating to the late 19th century that gave a sickly, yellowy green smoke as they burned. For a moment, fighting the wind, the pyre generated its own little fire devil, sending a venefic tongue of plasma whirling upwards into the cold, incoming mist. 

Turning, I saw the Guardians ringed behind me in an expectant semi-circle as if waiting for me to do or say something. But what words could possibly be appropriate?

Taking a deep breath, I raised my arms as of to embrace all of it, to own this apocalypse anyway, my staff still clenched in my burned right hand. 

“Ïa Cthulhu,” I said, the words seeming to come from some deep place within me. “Ïa Cthulhu R’lyeh ftaghn.”

Yay Cthulhu!” repeated the Guardians happily, getting the gist if not the pronunciation. 

Reaching into my jellaba, I retrieved the two tiny meteoric aerolites I was carrying for safe keeping. The hyper-dense black stones, Otto Rahn’s mythic ‘lapis exillis’, were probably the most precious things I owned and I figured if this was the end of the world then I ought to have them with me. I spat on the stones, rubbing them together to make them bleed. Then chanting in an alien, incomprehensible tongue, I rebaptised the Guardians in the name of Lovecraft’s ‘Old Ones’ – or ‘les grand anciennes’ as we call ‘em here in the high valleys. 

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fthtagn,” I muttered, drawing alien sigils on the Guardian’s foreheads in meteor blood, an act that seemed to please them greatly.

Behind me the fire popped and spluttered, a writhing tendril of flame clutching upwards at the swirling clouds. 

Having said those words, I lost interest in the performance and walked away. I was in a terrible mood. The sort of head space that even now I find difficult to adequately encapsulate. I didn’t really care about anything any more and nothing mattered or made sense. Back in the day, reading Lovecraft’s work and futzing with the role playing games put out by Chaosium, I frequently struggled to understand the motivation of the so-called ‘Cthulhu cultists’. Why would anyone want to open a portal to conjure some inhuman deity that will inevitably drive its adherents insane before devouring and assimilating them? Yet in this moment it seemed to make a kind of sense and I found myself emotionally ready to step through that door.

I walked away from the fire, trying to get my head straight, turning my back on the Guardians. 

The head of the Salz valley faces due west towards the Rennes plateau and the last light of the setting sun was angling through the incoming mist, turning the clouds to liquid metal. I started towards the source, the point I took to be the true locus of power in the area, wading knee deep through the wet bracken. The lush, exuberant ferns were very green and the sky an odd vivid shade of umber. Then as the headwaters of the river came into view, I froze in my tracks, overwhelmed by what lay ahead.

I didn’t bother carrying a camera at that point in time. If the world was coming to an end, there was no point in collecting souvenirs but it looked like what might have happened if Andrei Tarkovsky had decided to adapt Lovecraft’s ‘Call of Cthulhu’. 

The plume of toxic smoke from the bonfire at my back was being sucked upwards into the incoming cloud, hot air cooling and condensing as it merged with the mist, raining ash and tiny bits of burning paper all across the waterlogged valley. Backlit by the dying sun, the racing clouds took on the aspect of diaphanous jellyfish, all rippling, vaporous limbs and reaching, etheric tentacles. The clouds surged past and over me in coiling waves, scattering tiny, smouldering fragments of human culture from their glowing underbellies, France’s legal statutes and industrial history reduced to senseless wisps strewn out across the writhing treetops and that green, green bracken.

Feeling whatever was left of my sanity quietly shredding away, I struggled to hold onto it.

my room at the Domaine.

As above, so below: – This was my room at the Domaine – the room where I looked despair in the eye in the dark days after the 777 attack. I’m not sure I could ever truly describe what that period was like. There’s nothing like having one’s best laid plans blown to pieces and your life effectively destroyed to achieve freedom from the known. 

For a while, the Salz was a sanctuary to me, a liminal space, a waiting room between lives, safely beyond the reach of wi-fi and the so-called ‘real’ world. The presence of the Guardians was oddly reassuring and the culinary standard first rate, even if some of the conversations might have been a little odd. At times I felt as if I were castaway on that ghost ship from the classic Simpson’s episode ‘Homer Badman’ ( season 6, episode 9) along with the strangest people on the planet.

At first I tried sleeping on the couch as close to the spot where the original analog recordings of the ‘ultraterrestrials’ were made back in 1989.  I was having a hard time differentiating dream from ‘reality’ and could no longer easily tell if I were asleep or awake. If Lovecraft’s ‘Old Ones’ were truly more than fiction, I was ready to engage with them.

my room at the Domaine.

The Domaine – Beltane 2022 – THE LAST SUPPER


Van Helsing brought on the main course, roast duck with regional herbs and trimmings.

“Merci, compadre.” I helped myself to a generous serving of roast potatoes, green beans and carrots, my appetite having fully returned since my initial days at the Domaine. “You want me to say grace?”
Emilie nodded, the Guardians watching with amusement as I made a sign in the air over the duck, repeating by rote the incomprehensible words I had gleaned from the Necronomicon.

“I thought you were supposed to be a Cathar?’ interrupted brother Pyke.
“I never claimed to be a Cathar. I’m a Cathar sympathiser,” I assured him. “You’re allowed to eat meat if you’re a ‘credente’. Besides, everyone loves duck.”
Pyke considered this, watching closely as Van Helsing served. “So if we’re siding with the ‘Ones Ones’ in this ultradimensional war, then who’s supporting the witches? I mean, what source are they drawing their powers from?”
“I dunno. Rex Mundi, I guess. The demiurge of the material world,” I suggested.
“The Yithians,” said Emilie with some certainty.
“The what?” Even I blinked at this. “The Great Race of Yith,” Emilie reitterated. “They’ve been at war with the ‘Old Ones’ for billions of years.”
“Yithians, huh?” Pyke glowered, trying to figure out what he was getting into. “And what do these ‘Yithians’ look like? I mean how do we recognise them if they come to the door? And, more to the point, how do we kill ‘em?”
“You don’t. I mean you can’t recognise them,” I added, remembering my Lovecraft. “They’re a disembodied consciousness, an alien race who supposedly escaped the destruction of their home planet by astrally migrating through space and time to inhabit a form of fungus that existed on our world hundreds of millions of years ago.”
“That doesn’t sound very dangerous.” Relieved, Pyke returned his attention to the duck. “Pass the salt.”
“Well, technically they’re fictional,” I mused – “but they can supposedly transcend time, which means they can inhabit any body they want, animal or vegetable.”
Emilie’s expression darkened as a thought occurred to her. “That kid who attacked the Maison Bethany a couple of days ago, didn’t you say he seemed possessed?”
“Grendel?” I narrowed my eyes. “I don’t know. He claimed he couldn’t remember what happened. Probably just slushed on drugs, whatever it is the kids are doing these days. Sometimes I get the impression half the population of Rennes les Bains is possessed.”
“Oui. C’est possible,”  Emilie glanced at Marc for confirmation. “Une conspiration Yithienne!”
“C’est typique,
” Marc shrugged, refilling his glass. “C’est une guerre.”
Van Helsing followed suit, reaching for the bottle. “And we are the warriors.”
” concurred JC, happily presenting his glass as he joined the Guardians in yet another impromptu toast.
“Veterans of the psychic wars!” called out one of the guests from the far end of the bench, drumming out a familiar tune against the tabletop.
“Yeah. That’s as maybe,” grumbled Pyke. “But how are we supposed to fight something you can’t kill?”
“Death isn’t relevant to them”. expounded Emilie. “After the fungus they inhabited at the dawn of time was wiped out by a shift in the magnetic fields, the Great Race migrated into the far future where they became a species of beetle. Like the Old Ones, they are eternal.”
“Like us,” I nodded. “Its a war that’s fought from age to age. I don’t know if the Yithians are real or not. In a way, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is whose side you give allegiance to.”
“All that matters is you have to win,” said the old woman sitting next to Oona. Until now, she had been so quiet I hadn’t realised she spoke English. I looked at her, tongue tied. “You have to,” she reiterated. “No-one else can do it for you. Why do you think les Ancienne brought you here? It is your destiny to be with us now, to make a stand.”
I nodded again, more slowly this time. “I guess. I…”
“C’est vrai,” concurred Emilie. “The Masons have conspired against us. The mairie of Sougraigne is coming tomorrow, on May Day morning to take possession of the Domaine. We were supposed to have moved our stuff out a month ago.”
“C’est le conflit final” agreed Van Helsing.
“There’s got to be some wriggle room,” I reached for my napkin. “After all the money you guys sunk into the infrastructure, you must have some claim on the property.”
“Il ne reste rien,” hissed Emilie. “We have exhausted every legal possibility.”
“You make it sound so dramatic. Can’t you claim squatters rights?” 

Just then a tremor ran through the building, the spring water shivering in my glass.

“But it is dramatic,” insisted Emilie. “Even now the forces of darkness are gathering. Ne le sens-tu pas?”
“Wait a moment.
” I put down the napkin. “What just happened there?”
“I think part of the building just… collapsed,”
spluttered JC, glancing at the roofbeams. “Le Domaine tombe…”
“Nah,” Pyke grunted, crossing to the window. “It was next door.” 


And it was true. While we’d been sitting there, discussing Yithians, the roof of the shed next door had fallen in. The Domaine was palpably giving up the ghost. 

“Cool beans,” muttered Pyke. “What’s for pudding?”
“I think there’s a range of deserts coming right up,” I suggested. “Sooner or later we all sit down to a banquet of consequences…”


NEXT WEEK ON ’TALES FROM THE ZONE’ – the fall of the Domaine de la Salz – some gags and a few clues. Mystery will deepen.

Thank you for reading the Richard Stanley blog, Tales from the Zone, a journal that will give outsiders some small insight into our day to day lives in the valleys of French Occitania. Please NOTE these entries are meant to be experienced in order. If you only just found this blog, you can begin reading from the start: Halloween. You can also find Richard Stanley on Twitter, and Facebook. However, Tales from the Zone are only published here.


  1. I understand that the possible reasons this series has ground to a halt are myriad and my urging is probably redundant, but I love to read more. Are there plans to continue or is this where it ends?

  2. Have any more experiences with the fey? I have spent the better part of my adult life pushing the envelope of our consciousness. I really liked your documentary otherworld. It reminded me of some of my own experiences. I hope the best for you and a swift return to cinema!

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