"By turns exuberant, resourceful, hilarious, dubious, and emotionally affecting, Chameleo thrives on the contact high of the possible, much like the twin arts of paranoia and conspiracy, from which it takes its manic many miles the weirdest and funniest book of 2015." —Flavorwire

"Guffey is my kind of crazy. He understands that the universe is preposterous, life is improbable, and chaos rules: get used to it." —Pat Cadigan, author of Mindplayers

"Robert Guffey's writing has impressed, entertained, and enlightened me pretty much since I first met him, as one of my Clarion West students. My suggestion? If he wrote it, read it."
                                            —Jack Womack, author of Random Acts of Senseless Violence

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About the Book

A mesmerizing mix of Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, and Philip K. Dick, Chameleo is a true account of what happened in a seedy Southern California town when an enthusiastic and unrepentant heroin addict named Dion Fuller sheltered a U.S. Marine who’d stolen night vision goggles and perhaps a few top secret files from a nearby military base.

Dion found himself arrested (under the ostensible auspices of The Patriot Act) for conspiring with international terrorists to smuggle Top Secret military equipment out of Camp Pendleton. The fact that Dion had absolutely nothing to do with international terrorists, smuggling, Top Secret military equipment, or Camp Pendleton didn’t seem to bother the military. He was released from jail after a six-day-long Abu-Ghraib-style interrogation. Subsequently, he believed himself under intense government scrutiny — and, he suspected, the subject of bizarre experimentation involving “cloaking”— electro-optical camouflage so extreme it renders observers practically invisible from a distance of some meters — by the Department of Homeland Security. Hallucination? Perhaps — except Robert Guffey, an English teacher and Dion’s friend, tracked down and interviewed one of the scientists behind the project codenamed “Chameleo,” experimental technology which appears to have been stolen by the U.S. Department of Defense and deployed on American soil. More shocking still, Guffey discovered that the DoD has been experimenting with its newest technologies on a number of American citizens.

A condensed version of this story was the cover feature of Fortean Times Magazine (September 2013).

Publication April 23, 2015 • 282 pages
Paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-69-5 • E-book 978-1-939293-70-1

About the Author

Photo credit: Melissa Guffey
Robert Guffey is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. A graduate of the famed Clarion Writers Workshop in Seattle, he is the author of a collection of novellas entitled Spies & Saucers (PS Publishing, 2014). His first book of nonfiction, Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form, was published in 2012. He’s written stories and articles for numerous magazines and anthologies, among them Fortean Times, Mysteries, Nameless Magazine, New Dawn, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Paranoia, The Third Alternative, and Video Watchdog Magazine.

Read an Excerpt

Dion never really needed a good reason to try and kill himself, but now he was being given one on a silver platter. His latest suicide attempt began with a food fight.

One afternoon two jarheads were following him around the city. A nearby Mexican restaurant that had been failing for years experienced a sudden upsurge in business thanks to all the military types who would eat there whenever Dion decided to drop in and purchase an enchilada combo dinner. All of these agents were apparently on rotation. Dion never saw the same shadow twice. Two annoying shadows had been up his ass throughout the entire weekend. They were particularly brazen, as they would camp out on the other side of a wooden fence outside his kitchen window. While he was standing there making breakfast or lunch or dinner, these guys would peek over the fence and try to take photos of him and observe his activities through a pair of binoculars. Their purpose, no doubt, was just to annoy him. Imagine a ridiculous college fraternity with the resources of the entire black budget of the United States of America deciding to play one long prank on some faceless guy in San Diego. And imagine that the faceless guy is you. It might seem absurd at first, until you start to lose your mind.

The military types parked in the lot outside never left. One time Dion got fed up and called the cops just to see what would happen. One of the officers, some young kid, seemed interested in Dion’s story while the older cop kept implying that the gentlemen who were parked outside weren’t really there at all. The young kid just looked confused, as if one cop was in on the joke and the other wasn’t. Or perhaps it was just a classic good cop/bad cop routine. Who knows? The point is, Dion could seek no help from local law enforcement as they had clearly been told to allow this operation to continue.

So one sunny afternoon, while Dion was making lunch, he glanced out the curtains and saw (sure enough) two of his most recent shadows peeking at him through the slats in the wooden fence right outside the kitchen window. By this point (early November) Dion had become resigned to these terrorist tactics. Like Number 6 in Patrick McGoohan’s TV series The Prisoner four decades in the past, and Winston Smith two decades before Number 6, Dion had grown accustomed to being under constant surveillance. He had no other choice. He would sleep, eat, fuck, whatever, knowing someone was either watching him or recording it all for posterity. In fact, there were several times when the invisible midgets would make their presence known while he was jacking off in the bathroom.

As his two shadows continued to spy on him, Dion nonchalantly went about his business. He started making spaghetti, but as the constant sight of these two jarheads began to grate on him more and more he started adding special ingredients to the mix: shredded cheese, Worcester sauce, rice, flour, mustard, ketchup, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, peanut butter, Tang, Jell-O mix, sugar, honey, multicolored sprinkles, and stale almonds. He stirred it all up until it was a nice, thick, noxious goo, then ran outside, tossed the entire concoction over the fence and hit at least one of the agents dead on. Both of them screamed and went running off toward the nearby Vons parking lot.

Satisfied, Dion brushed his hands together, went back inside, and made lunch: a bologna sandwich.

For a couple of hours the surveillance lightened up a bit, but this reprieve didn’t last long. By nightfall the terrorist tactics had been amped up to eleven. Reluctantly, Dion dug Lita’s phone number out of his pocket and decided to make a deal with the Devil. He would at last violate his principles and cooperate. He called her cell phone at five in the morning. She picked up almost immediately, as if she were waiting for the call.


“Hi, I want to talk to you about your goggles. I can’t take this anymore.”

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