“Ahhhhhh, again already?!”, I moan as I wake with another crushingly oppressive headache. I have been sporadically tortured by this ailment for as long as I can remember but the last few months, it has been intolerable. First, I’m hit with a piercing hot icepick to my right temple, then the pressure behind my eye builds until I feel like it’s going to erupt and ooze out of the socket. Then there’s the sound. The high-pitched whirring that courses through my brain. Growing louder and louder until the torment consumes all of my senses. All I can do when this happens is curl up in the fetal position and cry like a baby while I clutch my head in desperation. The only variation to this is when I’m sitting on the floor of a hot shower, arms wrapped around my knees, staring vacantly, clearly on the verge of a breakdown. The pain lasts anywhere from five minutes to five hours but it is always excruciatingly debilitating.
Today, I was lucky and it only lasted about an hour. In a twisted way, I’m glad it happened this morning because I have yet another appointment with yet another neurologist. I have had every type of scan that can be performed on one’s brain but not one doctor has managed to find any indication of anything. Most of them have ended up suggesting that my pain is psychosomatic. There is no way I’m creating this myself. The intensity of this is… other worldly.
The appointment went well but I suspect that this physician doesn’t believe I actually have a disorder any more than the other twenty did. I can’t give up. I haven’t been able to work in six months and, although my family is supportive, I can tell it’s starting to wear on them. I moved back in with my parents after my wife and I divorced last year which was an unanticipated relief when my episodes began happening more frequently. I have the house to myself this week while the parents are traveling so I think I’ll just plop down here on the couch and take a short nap.
“Am I dreaming?”, I wonder as a vivid green hue penetrates my tightly closed eyelids. I crack open my right eye and see multiple brilliant green beams of light scanning over my face. The warmth of the laser is heating my body to an uncomfortable temperature as it slowly moves down my torso. I try to sit up but someone puts their hand on my shoulder and gently pushes me back down. I can hear talking but its muffled, like my head is in a tin can filled with water. I force my eyes wide open. I can see vague, dark figures that look like they’re standing in the haze of a smoldering fire.
“Is this a dream?”
“Yeess”, I hear reply in a low raspy tone.
The night is pitch black outside the large sliding glass doors of the family room. Did I really just sleep for fourteen hours? Apparently, I can now add batshit insane dreams to my list of symptoms as well. I am wiped out and my body aches. I must have slept too long. I throw a frozen pizza in the oven, grab myself a six pack of beer and settle in for a long night of binge watching on Netflix.
“You didn’t rectify the matter.”, rings in my head as I wake with a start. It’s morning already, 9am. “Brilliant, man. First you sleep all day, then just a few hours later you pass out in a drunken stupor. Way to get your life together dude.”, I berate myself with an extreme amount of self-loathing. I’m feeling particularly worthless at this point so I clean the house from top to bottom. I’m talking windows, floors, even the gutters. As I am scooping the last bit of decomposed sludge out of the hole for the down spout I hear, “What do you plan to do?”. I spin around so fast I almost slide right off the ladder. I expect to see our nosy neighbor standing there smugly criticizing my work but there’s no one. Auditory hallucinations, maybe? I don’t know, nothing would surprise me at this point.
Whir… whir… whir. The sound grows to a deafening level. Already engulfed by the searing stabbing that always begins my episodes, I was fortunate enough to make it into the restroom just in time. But now here I am, in a filthy department store bathroom stall trying to contain my maddening agony. I close my eyes. If I don’t, I’m certain my right one is going to burst like a grape under a heavy footstep. I don’t know if I can take it this time. Maybe I should call 911.
“Stop, you’re harming him.”, a timid voice pleads urgently.
“You are drawing too much attention. It is not working.”, another says in a deep tone.
The pain stops instantly. “WHAT THE HELL?! WHO IS SAYING THAT?”, I wail out loud not giving two shits who hears me. I’m losing it. I know I should go to the hospital but I have such a fervent compulsion to go home that I can’t deny it. I walk in the door and drop face first on the couch. I am mentally and physically exhausted. At that moment, a knock at the door.
“Uggggghhhhhh, Whhhhhhyyyyyyyyyy?”, I whine while I drag myself off of the couch and lumber towards the front door. “Yes”, I snap quite irritated as I open it. There’s an astonishingly beautiful young woman standing on the front porch. She smiles, walks up to me, and gently brushes some lint off my face. I move aside and let her come in without hesitation. Who is she? What does she want here? I can’t speak to ask; I can only follow. She motions for me to sit at the kitchen table. She rests her hand on my shoulder and I become immobilized. I’m fully lucid but physically numb from head to toe. She presses her finger against my right temple. I can see a warm glow out of the corner of my eye. Her illuminated digit slowly melts through my skin and into my head. I start to freak out but feel an immediate serene ease wash over me. Tiny streams of liquid heat twist and pulse through my brain simultaneously robbing me of my thoughts while imbuing my mind with forbidden knowledge. With a slight tug, she removes a small, black blob with long writhing tendrils and places it in a vial. She gestures for me to follow her. Her stride is effortless as she floats across the floor. Her form gradually fades and a bright green light replaces her silhouette leaving me with a peculiar sense of nostalgia.
Why am I still sitting at the table? I clearly remember walking toward my room. Was the woman really here or are my symptoms getting worse? I’m having delusions. “Jackson, you have a brain tumor.”, I announce to myself. Actually, I feel great! Better than I have in years. “There’s someone here”, I think just seconds before there comes a rap, rap, rapping at the front door. It’s a young man asking if he can mow the lawn. “I just mowed the lawn two days…”, I start to say as I notice that the grass is nearly six inches tall. I’m obviously thrown.
“Is this guy nuts?”, I hear clearly.
“What did you say?”, I bark at the boy.
He looks at me like I’m insane, “I didn’t say anything sir”.
I pay the kid, tell him I’m sorry and to have at it. What day is it? My phone says it’s Saturday. So where are my parents? “They’re stranded, engine trouble.”, echoes in my mind. The phone rings and it’s my mom calling to tell me just that. The RV broke down and they’re waiting to have it fixed, they’ll be gone another week. How did I know that?! And I swear I heard that boy’s thoughts…
The constant murmur of humanity’s inner monologue relentlessly pounded my brain into mush the first couple times I dared to go out in public. Society’s woes etched themselves into my soul creating in me such a deep despair that I could feel the septic claws of their malignant demons tearing at my flesh, intent on dragging me to the darkest depths of hell. I found salvation at the bottom of a bottle of whisky and passed out under a blanket of empathy and contempt. I am learning to stifle the barrage of voices eating their way into my consciousness as I slowly regain my composure. The premonitions are coming more swiftly as well. I know what’s going to happen several minutes prior rather than only seconds before. I haven’t figured out how to do it on command, but it is proving to be quite useful, even at this early stage.
“They’re coming”, my inner adviser whispers. I don’t know exactly who they are but the eerie familiarity hanging in the air tells me we’ve met before. I sit motionless, contemplating my next move.
“Why did you remove the device?”, the gruff one hisses.
“It was malfunctioning, he was suffering.”, the shy one replies quietly.
“Pfff, suffering. You’re too sentimental. They’re vermin. Pests are to be exterminated not coddled.”, the baritone one bellows.
My vision is gradually coming into focus. I’m lying on a table. It’s so frigid that I’m uncertain if I’m paralyzed or just frozen. I compile my thoughts and muster every microgram of tenacity that I can manage. I still can’t speak.
“We need to terminate its lifeforce.”, the deep voice booms like thunder and the panic strikes me like a bolt of lightning.
“WHOA, Whoa, wait a minute. Let’s not be too hasty friends.”, I think with purposeful desperation.
“WHAT?! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? HOW CAN YOU UNDERSTAND US?”, the baritone one hollers as he forcefully grabs my shirt and effortlessly hoists me off the table. He’s human in appearance but I can feel the insane strength in his grasp. And his eyes… I’m mesmerized by his eyes. Suddenly, I’m free to move and speak.
“I DON’T KNOW.”, I shout. “But I can and I think we could be allies.”, I state persuasively.
“Allies.”, he scoffs. “Our mission is to rid this planet of the human infestation; we intend to dominate the planet. I do not have time for a pet.
“OK, Right, but wouldn’t it be immensely helpful to have an insider? Someone who can infiltrate any human situation without suspicion?”, I reply in my most alluring tone.
He slowly lowers my body to floor and allows me to stand before him. He stares at me intently for a brief moment, then nods in decisive affirmation.
“All right then”, I declare as I clap my hands in elation. “Let’s get down to business. Humanity isn’t going to destroy itself.”
“Wait! We’ll never convince the Superiors to allow it. And the Obliterators will tear him to shreds if we don’t get approval”, the shy one objects anxiously.
“Relax darlin’”, I reply with a wink and my cheekiest smile. “Being torn to shreds ain’t exactly my style. Besides, You’ll never know unless you try”…