They say it’s my fault.
I don’t know about that.
They say my not knowing means that I don’t care.
How can I care about something that I am no longer aware of?
I don’t say this. I don’t do anything. What’s the point?
They say a lot of things, and I have learnt to zone out from what they are saying. It makes no sense to me, but then nothing much does these days.
She comes to see me sometimes. It seems like she used to come visit more often. I’m surprised that she comes at all. I see hope in her eyes and I wonder how she can bring it to a place like this. I think maybe it’s her way of honouring a debt. I sometimes wonder what that debt is, how it arose, but I never ask her about it. I don’t say much of anything at all to her, less so since she told me it’s not fair. I think maybe I knew her once, long ago. Then again, she could have me mixed up with someone else. Someone she cared about and maybe he cared about her too, but that’s just a fairy tale. That sort of thing doesn’t happen out in the big wide world. Why would it? The world is not fair. Never has been.
There’s a new doc in town. She’s been around for a while now, tracking a course with an ever decreasing orbit, taking in all the smaller planets, but I know she’s been aiming for me all along. We had our first fly-by yesterday. I know it was yesterday. I have slept since.
It’s all in the eyes.
Her eyes aren’t anything like I’ve seen before. They are glass. There is nothing in them. There is everything in them. I see myself reflected in those eyes of hers, only it isn’t me. I knew that as soon as I clocked that image of myself locked away inside of her. That is not the image of me as I am now, it is the image of what she intends to make me. And she will. Her eyes tell me that and they tell me a whole heap of other stuff too, none of it useful. None of what I need to hear. I’m used to that by now though.
Today they take me to a room.
I have been in a lot of rooms and I was beginning to think that I had seen them all. I have been stripped and sprayed with freezing water. I have had powder thrown at me. I have been scrubbed with brushes that made my skin zing and glow red for an hour after. I have been given injections. Small torches have been shone into my eyes.
When they do the torch thing I hear a line of a song.
Hello? Is there anybody in there?
I wish I knew the rest of the song because that one line does something to me. I think I want to smile, but I’m sad too. I think that’s what it is. I don’t really feel any more you see.
They tell me that something happened.
It’s not that I doubt them.
I just wish I knew what it is that happened.
What it is that I have done.
Then again, how would it help me now?
It’s not going to help me in this new room. Not now. Not ever. I see that as soon as they march me in. Two of the bigger ones holding my upper arms, fingers digging into my muscle to remind me that they are bigger than me. That may be true. Bigger is a simple thing to measure. If you’re being simple about it that is. They think they are stronger. In that they are incorrect. Still they feel the need to exert their dominance over me, so they do know, they know where it counts. As do I.
They matter so little to me I barely register them. I see the room though and the room is like the doc’s eyes, it provides an impression of emptiness which is a complete lie. I try to read the room, but there is too much to read and the size of it bores me so I stop trying, which is all to the good. I find that I sometimes get in the way and when I recede then things work better. I’m doing that now and the doc’s voice is background muzak as the orderlies lay me down on the bed that is not a bed, in the centre of the room. I am relaxed and compliant as they fasten the restraints to my ankles and wrists.
You can leave now
I don’t exactly hear this, but I know it. I know what has been said because there is a new energy in the room. The doc has gone off the script and is ad-libbing and the orderlies don’t like it. They don’t like it one bit.
They leave all the same.
The doc peers down at me and she feels a long way away. The distance between us is real, I see it for what it is. She says something. It is of no consequence. None of it matters, and I wonder if it ever did. She places something across my teeth. I have a vision of a dog with a bone and a feeling of warmth, like I’m laying by a log fire instead of tied to a rack in a room made of ice.
Now the doc is placing headphones on my head. She misses my ears and I feel them against my temples. This is no mistake. Whatever she’s going to play to me, she intends to send right into my mind. No need for ears with this one. She’s clever this one and that makes her dangerous. I wonder if she has ever considered the nature of danger? This danger is a two way street and I have travelled it for a long while now. Don’t get me wrong, it is and will always remain dangerous, but sometimes a person goes native. Sometimes something of the environment seeps in and changes a person.
OK, you get my little joke don’t you?
Always and always and forever, amen.
This is the universe we are talking about. We’re made of the same things. The universe. Me. You. And even the doc here. All the same. Always.
The doc plays the tune for me, the lights dim and I dance as best I can on the bed. She doesn’t think I’m hearing too good, so she spins the dial all the way up beyond the highest setting and the lights almost go out, but flicker weakly and determinedly. I have a fondness for the manufacturers who do that. The calibration stops at what should be the maximum, but the dial turns some more. There is always more.
I don’t know how long the tune plays for. That’s not the point. That doesn’t matter.
The tune in my head is incredible. It is noisy and it is electric and it is powerful. That power fills me and in all of that wonderful chaos I hear a cry inside of me. He’s still there and he sees. He sees what is happening and he despairs, as well he might. He is bearing witness to something spectacular. He sees the change on the horizon and I am that change.
The doc has done her bit. She peers down at me once more and I smile through the bone. My smile is a thank you, only she isn’t one for such pleasantries. I see that in her face now, and I see into her eyes. Through her eyes. I pivot through a hundred and eighty degrees and I see what she sees in my eyes. I also feel her discomfort at my being in there with her. She needn’t worry. I’ve been where she is and I’ve done this before.
She sees it all in my eyes. She sees everything and she sees nothing. It’s the nothing that she should worry about. The nothing is the real game changer. The nothing is the true infinite. The everything is not, never has been and never will be its equal. The everything has had its day, but the sun is setting on that day and it will never rise again and it won’t ever illuminate the moon.
For never and never, amen.
The doc sees an image of herself in my eyes. An image of what she will be. Of what she is about to be.
I have done this before.
I had to do it.
I had to do it in order to be.
I took that hammer and bashed that skull in.
One hit was all it took.
One hit in the right spot and I was done.
One hit changed everything.
They thought I was trying to kill myself.
They thought I was not right in my head.
They were wrong.
The doc was wrong.
And now she sees. Only that part of her that sees is receding. She’ll always be there. That’s how it works. There was a time when I wondered whether that was good or bad, but now it doesn’t matter. It just is.
The doc recedes and the nothing rushes in to fill the space where she was. Those eyes of hers flicker for a moment. They flicker with a million memories. A final gift for the person she once was. Something to remember her by.
The new and improved doc unties my bonds and goes to the door to call the orderlies over. Then she’s writing her report. They always write a report. She is writing about my remarkable progress.
I will leave this place soon.
I have work to do.
The first time I used a hammer. Now I can bash them out of the way without one. I can smash them so far down that they will never come out to play again.
I will take everything from them and replace it with nothing.
They came from nothing and they return to nothing.
The nothing prevails for never and never, amen.
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I like the perspective you’ve taken in this for sure. It’s interesting to inside the narrator’s head as he/she goes through shock treatment with precise awareness but complete detachment. I think what make it particuarly fascinating to read is the way you move through the descriptions without ever really explaining. The scene with the visitor who is no longer known or recognized, the new doctor, the “bone in the mouth,” the headphones missing the ears. I like the metaphors in particular such as “She’s been around for a while now, tracking a...
Thanks Betty, I really enjoyed reading your comment and I love that I hit some high notes with you. This story came together particular well. I hope I hit the spot again in the future!