[19] Coding Humans: Dr. Quasar’s Nightmare; Insane or Sober

[19] Coding Humans: Dr. Quasar’s Nightmare; Insane or Sober

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[19 | Insane or Sober] Download or Read PDF

1:00 am


Jolted awake from a deep sleep, James’s heart felt as if it were given a shot of adrenalin. BANG-BANG-BANG. “Huh. What is going on?” BANG-BANG-BANG. The muscles in his body stiffen, and his eyelids stretch to the back of his head. He sees nothing but darkness, and his mind runs without brakes. BANG-BANG-BANG. “Christ! I’m coming.”

(Oh, God. Jesus. What did I do? Where am I? Is it dark outside, or am I in a windowless room? We need a drink. Is there any alcohol here? Wait, I must be in my bedroom; there are no windows in this room. Yes, this is my mattress. Thank God. Last thing I need is to wake up in a stranger’s home again or on the street again. No, we drank all the alcohol. What time is it? Where is my phone? Shit – did I lose my phone? It must be sometime after midnight by now. Crap – where is my phone at? What time did we fall asleep?)

His eyes close back shut, but he feels them wanting to pop back open, the same sensation one has when they are tired but cannot sleep. The release of chemicals in the brain increases his energy, but his body is so fatigued, just rolling over is a struggle. BANG-BANG-BANG – BANG-BANG. 

(Who the fuck is at the door at this time. Jesus.)

At this point, falling back to sleep is no longer an option, so James gathers up his strength and gets himself out of bed. He thinks to put something on but quickly learns that he is still wearing his clothes from the previous day. (Shit. I must have been really fucked up to still have my jeans on.)

He makes it to the door and looks through the peephole, but no one is there. He then squints to try and look around, but no one is off to the left or right. Then he notices something out of place. There is an ax with a wooden helve resting against the wall in the hall across from the door.

In any normal situation, the site of this ax accompanied by the pounding, would have caused a rush of anxiety. However, James is not entirely lucid at-the-moment, so he removes all of his clothes and goes back to bed, thinking whoever was at the door must have given up and left.

Sometime later, James finds himself uncomfortably wedged on the corner of his mattress. He is half wrapped in sweat-soaked sheets that covet his torso. He wants to move to the dry side of the bed, but it is too much of a challenge, so he pulls the sheets off his body. When he unveils himself, his perforated skin continues to excrete beads of sweat. Cold air then disperses across the field of water droplets sending shivers to his core, so he pulls the wet drapes back over himself, feeling the unpleasant sting of fluid-soaked threads.

(This is not going to be a fun night, or day, or whatever time it is. I need water.)

He rolls side-to-side, trembling and twitching, flexing and unflexing his muscles. He moans in agony while scrunching blankets into his hands. He grips them fiercely then releases them in succession. He squirms about the mattress pulling the blankets off his body and then back on every few seconds. (Too hot, too cold, too hot. Too fucking cold—Christ.)

He endlessly expels warm salty sweat from head to toe. The body reserves no water in its attempts to flush the toxins.

The stress becomes too much to take, and his brain is still racing. He continues to toss and turn until his body shuts down. His eyes teeter-totter on him; then, he finally starts to fall back asleep. The moment before he slips into an unconscious state, voices from people talking next to his bed stop him from crossing the line of slumber. 

An older man and a few children are chatting next to the bed, but he cannot see them because his eyes are still shut, and he cannot seem to get them open.He thinks to himself whether or not there is a TV in the room with him, but he doesn’t own a television. 

As he tries to sleep, they continue making chatter, and it begins to irritate him. All he wants is to sleep soundly without interruption. 

Instead of using sight, he tries to shift himself to get their attention but cannot move. He is stuck laying on his back frozen, struggling with all his might just to open his eyes but cannot. He is forced to endure the noises and eventually falls back asleep to the sound of whatever the three are watching. 

The sound disappears, and he wakes up in his bedroom, still lying on his mattress, dying of thirst. This time he doesn’t bother fighting the pain he is in—accepting the situation for what it is, quickly falling back asleep.

The instant he falls asleep, he wakes up and feels the inability to move again. It is as if he is in a gravitational field far stronger than his own strength. A force that fixes him in place. Panic and anxiety riddle him as he struggles, unsuccessfully, to open his eyes. His eyelids feel as though they have been fastened together with super glue. 

After a long pointless fight trying to open his eyes, he gives up and accepts his predicament, and then, suddenly, a slight crack of light seeps into his pupils. (It must be morning now. I must have been asleep for hours. Water. I need water.)

Before he goes to get water, he rests his eyes a few seconds and then opens them back up. When he opens them, the morning light is gone, and the room is dark. The sight of no light frightens him, and he, again, cannot move his body. He then falls back asleep and wakes back up to hear the television.

The shocking realization that he was dreaming that there was light sent him back into a sleepless state, (Oh god, I was just dreaming. This nightmare is just beginning. What time is it anyways and day? I don’t remember seeing my phone anywhere.)

He tries to roll to his side to get more comfortable, but his back is still glued to the mattress. He lays in a frozen comatose-like state, looking into nothingness, a dark, windowless room. Only a faint glow of light bends around the corner of his eye. (Is there a TV in here.)

James cannot tell if he is dreaming or awake. The same sensation people describe when they are abducted by aliens comes to his mind. He becomes scared to open his eyes, concerned that a little grey man with big eyes is standing at the edge of his bed. The fear of what he might see makes it nearly impossible for him to open his eyes. He wants to overcome his imagination to prove to himself that an alien isn’t standing at his feet, examining him, but he cannot open his eyes. It’s as if they are fastened shut. The terrifying thoughts of alien abduction soon pass, and he falls back into a slumber only to wake back up a moment later.

He lays motionless, swaddled in the blankets, but this time, he can get his eyes to open with relative ease. He looks off to the side of the bed, without turning his head, and sees a man sitting Indian style with children. They are watching an old TV from the ’50s. These are the same voices he heard earlier. (I heard them talking in my kitchen the last time I woke. What are they doing here, or where am I?)

He can’t quite make them out as his eyes are still adjusting to the light. Once his eyes clear up, he finds that he is still wedged in the corner of the room on his mattress pasted to the sweat-soaked sheets. (Water-water-water.) He thirsts for water but cannot move and falls back asleep, waking right back up again – and again – and again – and again. With each succession, he is able to open his eyes and move his head a little bit more, allowing him a better examine the intruders. 

It is too exhausting for him to care that there are people in his bedroom. He chalks it up to passing out drunk at someone’s house and falls back asleep. 

He opens his eyes and still cannot move. He realizes now that he is in his bedroom and can move his head, but the rest of his body is still immovable. His eyebrows scrunch with frustration wondering why these people are in his bedroom, disturbing his sleep. He tries with all his might to open his mouth and yell at them, but he can only think the words (WHY ARE YOU-YOU, why – errgghhhh.), and falls back asleep.

When he opens his eyes again, he can see two young boys staring at an old television. The light from the round glass tube glares in front of them, shining on their faces. James begins panicking, wondering where he is and who these people are and how they got into his home. 

He can now turn his head and open his eyes, but his body remains stuck to the bed as if it is strapped in hospital restraints. The struggle to move sends him right back asleep, but he is quickly woken up by a man talking to the children. He again sees the glow from the TV on their faces but cannot see their faces. He tries to keep his eyes closed and pretend they are not there, but his eyes open anyway, and he finds he is alone again in his dark bedroom. (It was still just a dream. Water-water-water. I need water. Is there any water?)

He uses all his strength to shift his body from one corner of the mattress to the other. He then flails his limp hand alongside the edge of the bed, scraping the ground in search of water. He moves it slowly so as not to knock anything over. First, he hits what is clearly an empty bottle of wine. The lack of fluids within caused it to topple over and ding when hitting the floor. He then encounters a larger plastic pitcher filled to the brim with ice-water. (Thank you, oh, God, thank you. The water is life, but I wish for death. Should I sip it? It will only help to heal and prolong the end, but the suffering is too much to bear. I must drink, for I shall dry if not.)

James lops his head over the side of the bed and uses his tongue to grasp onto a straw. He had placed a pitcher of ice-water next to the bed before he had laid down. He knew from experience, the effort to sit up and sip from it would be too much, so he stuck a straw in it. He grips the straw with his lips and sucks up close to half a gallon of water, swishing the last few tablespoons in his dried-up cottonmouth. The cold-water spreads throughout his stomach, seeping into his cells. As it spreads, it amplifies the preexisting shivers and shakings. He then moves like a snake and slithers back under the blankets.

Once the water settles, James repositions himself on his back, then wraps himself like a mummy with the blankets’ dry half. He crosses his arms over his chest and pretends he is in a coffin. He lays there, stiff as a board, hoping and praying his body will turn off and he will be released from the hells of withdrawal.

The moment he fell asleep in his cloth coffin, a scraping sound woke him. His throat had all but glued itself together from dehydration. He tries to breathe smoothly but cannot get air to flow in and out without it causing a rasping-whistle sound, a sound that keeps him from sleeping calmly. 

(Water – water, I need water aqua-aqua-aqua-aqua-aqua—I am dying. Please, Jesus, help me. God, please. Why do I have to suffer this way? Why do I do this to myself? Jesus, please help me. I am ready for death. Take me now. I don’t want this. Please, Jesus, take my life now. Please – Please – Please. I am sorry for everything I have done. Please, Jesus. I am ready for death.)

Amidst James’s pleading, he has a moment of in-depth contemplation about God. (Why is it that when I am sober and doing well, I cannot grasp the concept of God, but when I am suffering in such pain, it seems all but clear and obvious that there must be a God? It is easy for people to believe in God when they are hurting, but when all is good, it must be of their own doing.)

James wakes up again. He tries to lift his arms up to go for the water, but they are stuck. He is still adhered to the mattress and can only get his eyes open a little this time. He hears the man’s voice and can feel the children bouncing on the foot of the bed. This time he can get some words out and shouts them in a half-demented tone, “What the FUCK are you doing?” 

His vision sharpens as his eyes dry up and come into focus. He seems to have control over his body again, so he quickly pops himself up to get a look at the people realizing he had been dreaming. (That freaked me out. Water.) James drinks the last of the pitcher’s water and is too tired to refill it even though he knows he will desperately need the water. He weighs his options to walk the 10-feet to fill it or just go back to bed and suffer without it. Ultimately, he decides that suffering is less work than getting off the bed and walking a few feet to the kitchen to refill it. He quickly falls back asleep. 

More time goes by, and the morning light fills the room. James opens his eyes and is now seeing clearly. He sees the man and the children in his bedroom again and begins to panic. 

The children are playing at the edge of the bed, and the man is camped out sitting Indian-style, watching the old TV, which is playing a show that looks familiar to James. 

He can make out that the television is a black and white set, and the show playing is from the ‘50s or ‘60s, he thinks. It is hard to make out the faces—everything still seems blurry. His eyes shut, and he falls back asleep. He wakes up again and can now keep his eyes open, and he can now move his head. He turns his head slightly to see these people are still in his room. He can hear more voices coming from the other rooms. It sounds like a family gathering. He screams at the top of his lungs, “WHAT ARE ALL OF YOU DOING IN MY HOME!!! Get out. Goddamnit.”, but they ignore him as if he isn’t there. He quickly tires himself out, trying to break free, and falls back asleep. 

He wakes shortly after, finding himself back in the darkness, and then wakes up again to see the light but no people. He feels the sticky pool of sweat that is being absorbed by his foam mattress and thinks, (I really need to shift to the other side of the bed. Eh, it’s too much work.) He falls back asleep. He then wakes up again by the sound of the voices. At this point, he is confused about whether he is asleep or awake. The dream state and reality state are becoming hard to differentiate between. He has lost count of how many times he has woken up and whether he was or is awake. His connection with certainty has been severed.

Countless repetitions of his night to day awakenings go on for what seems like an eternity. At one point, James makes eye contact with one of the kids. She is a little girl with straight blonde hair that curls up at the end. She has big blue eyes, which appear far too big for her head. She is staring at him with her head tilted and eyes angled up. He can see her teeth; they look like broken pieces of glossed pottery straight out of a kiln. Sometimes, in the sequence of waking and falling back asleep, she would be looking directly at him with a sharp pointy grin. Half the time she was there and the other half she wasn’t. 

Confused and stressed out by the situation, James tries to keep his eyes closed shut so he doesn’t have to deal with the intruders. But when he shuts his eyes, he is finally released from the invisible shackles leaving him able to get off the bed and move about. 

James wakes up now, fully capable of movement. He realizes that he is no longer on his floor-bound mattress before getting out of bed, but instead, he is lying on a metal-framed bed. He sees the little girl at the end of the bed with the back of her head facing him. He pulls back a wad of soft pink and white sheets and blankets. He thinks he should feel scared, but the room has a sort of familiar sense to him. He swings his feet out from under the blankets exposing yellow and blue striped pajama bottoms. (Where did these come from?) When his feet hit the ground, he faces the man and the two young boys who are still glued to the television. He looks at the TV but cannot hear any sound. The boys are almost frozen, like life-size dolls, and the chatter in the other rooms is becoming more palpable. 

James gets up out of bed, and the people do not seem to notice he is there. He starts to get irritated, wondering why these people are in his home and why they won’t just let him sleep. He is in terrible pain from withdrawal and needs undisturbed rest. When he walks out of his bedroom, he grasps that this is not the same unit as his. 

(Where am I?) thought James as he walks out of the bedroom and into the hallway. The floorplan looks similar to his, an almost identical layout, but with twice the kitchen space, almost as if someone stretched it. 

He sees two women and a young girl in the kitchen. The girl looks to be about fifteen, and the others are in their forties or fifties. He immediately notices the perfectly petite physique of the girl. Her calves pop out from a blue sock hop dress. She has a pink blouse tucked in it, and her hair is done up in a springy ponytail with a ribbon wrapped around it. The other women are draped in antique dresses with hair in tight buns. They all have aprons on except the young girl. (They are making something out of flour, perhaps piecrust.) thought James as he watch’s—spying on them from behind. 

He can see them all bending their knees in and out as if they are moving to music, and he can hear them talking. But he cannot hear any music. He can see a radio on the counter with the dial tone turned on, but no sound. He tries to make out what they are saying, but it is all muffled like they are talking in tongue or speaking backward.

He walks up closer to them and says, “Excuse me, what are you all doing here?”, to which he receives no response. The back of their heads is all he sees—old 70-year-old haircuts and a cute girl. He says again, “HEY! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE?!!!” but still nothing. 

Frustrated, he decides to get out of the condo and figure out where he is. Just before he turns, the young girl who is making a piecrust stops to swing her head around and then puts a finger over her lips to shush him. (That face. I know that face. Where have I seen this girl before?)

Terrified about what is happening, he decides to flee the scene, walking quickly to the front door to escape. He opens the door and slips out into the hallway. The sight of the vomit green carpet comforts him, letting him know he mustn’t be far from home. 

(Wrong floor I must be on. Drunk I was. I wonder who them people were? I probably befriended them because of the girl. Was that her bed I was sleeping in? Hope I didn’t break any laws.)

He paces down the hall, searching for the elevator corridor but cannot seem to get to it. He turns back, and the little demon-faced girl at the edge of the bed comes bolting after him down the hall. He didn’t notice it before, but one of her legs and arms is strapped up in a brace and harness like a stroke victim. The little girl runs at him, limping and wobbling back and forth like a retarded linebacker. She tilts her head 45 degrees, aimed right at his crotch. “Shit!” James screams. He turns and trips and props himself up off the ground as quickly as possible, panicking trying to get away from the little blue alien eyed girl. 

After picking himself up, he runs down the hall as fast as he can, not realizing that he has run in an entire circle without turning around, ending back at the door he came out of. Scared out of his mind that the little girl is going to attack him and start chewing his flesh, he tries to get back in the condo. He pushes the door’s handle down while he positions his body weight against it, forgetting that the door opens outward. He turns and sees the girl getting closer and closer. This time she says with a child’s voice, “I love you, Jimmy.” clink “Jimmy, come here, Jimmy.” clink “Jimmy-Jimmy. Please Jimmy.” clink “Don’t leave me, Jimmy.” clink “We will be so happy together Jimmy.” He can hear her teeth clink together between each sentence as her leg and arm flop down the hall. He pulls the door out, keeping it split open just enough to tuck himself through it. Scared that he won’t be able to shut the door and keep the freak child away, he hesitates and trips over himself, falling to the floor. Once he hits the floor, he blinks and is stuck back on the mattress, unable to move. He is back listening to the man talking to the children. Frightened and terrified by what just happened, he passes out as if knocked by the butt of a gun on the temple. 

James opens his eyes and wakes again, and the room is still pitch black. He wonders if he is at home or lost. He rolls over to have a drink of water, and the water hasn’t even been sipped on yet. The pitcher is filled to the brim, and the ice cubes are still the same size; they haven’t even begun to melt. He puts his hand to his side, searching for his iPhone, and finds it right where it usually is. He checks the time and sees that it is 1:17 am.

James falls back asleep after drinking some water. When it is daylight, he wakes up, swings himself out of bed, and leaves the bedroom. He walks past the man watching TV and sees the kids are now sleeping on a fold-out cot next to the metal-framed bed. He then turns into the next room, and the whole layout of his condo is reversed. It is like a dyslexic moment. (Is this how the condo always has been, and I just have been seeing it differently?)

The women are still packed in the kitchen preparing for something—a celebration of some sort. They are all making pies, cookies, and appetizers together. He wonders why these people are in his home, waking him from his much-needed rest. He decides to try and get them out, so he started talking to them, “I don’t want you here. Why won’t you leave?”, but they do not respond.

At one point, one of the women waves her hand at James to say, “pish posh you.” He can’t tell if she knows he is there, or if she is looking at someone else, or just singing along to music he cannot hear.

Oddly, it doesn’t seem as though he is yelling at strangers. He feels a deep connection to these people somehow. Especially the young girl in the sock hop dress. Something about her face he cannot quite put his finger on. Still, he doesn’t like that they are intruding on his space. He cannot recall who they are, but he feels a deep-rooted connection to them. He hates people disrupting his personal space. He thinks this is what it is like to get into a relationship with someone—no more rest.

He examines the women thinking, (Why would these people just barge into my home and disrupt my peace and wake me from my sleep like this? I didn’t ask for this. Who are they, and why do I feel like I have a deep connection to them?)

He ponders the situation further, trying to make sense of the problem. (I must have a deep connection with these people. Particularly the young girl. Gosh, she is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. I think I am in love. Does she know me? Are we together? Something about her makes this all worthwhile, and not only worthwhile but desired.)

While he stands there and admires the young girl from the backside, the man that was in the other room crept up on him—from behind. He had been standing behind James close enough to be breathing down his neck—had he had a breath to breathe. 

James is startled by the man’s voice: “You asked for this when you stuck your dick in my little girl.” James jumps and turns around. The man stands a foot taller than him wearing a wife-beater shirt and blue jeans. James replies and says, “What was that?”, but the man ignores him, walks over to a rocking chair, sits down, and stares out the window. 

(Did I get drunk and sleep with this man’s daughter? I don’t like this; the man doesn’t have the decency to respect my lifestyle and sleeping schedule. I need my sleep.)

James walks up to the girl and puts his arms around her, pressing his stomach against her back. He then puts his hands on her waist and feels that her belly is swollen, and she is pregnant. He then presses closer to her and moves his hands up to her shoulders, and then slides them down her arms until his palms eclipse the back of her flour dusted hands. At the same time, she pushes the curves of her bottom into his groin and turns her head slightly for a kiss. He puts his hand to her cheek and turns her head a bit more, then presses his mouth to hers. The sensation he gets when their lips touch makes him feel as if nothing in the world matters, and he has found absolute purpose. (Something about this girl, I know her.)

One of the older ladies gently whacks James on the arm with a ladle. Like flipping a switch, he can now understand what they are saying, “You too keep it together here; we got to get everything ready for the Christmas party.” The young girl smiles at the lady, kisses James on the lips, and says in a silly-like fashion, “Alright, Mom.” She ducks out from under James’s arms and then hands him a wad of dough, “Roll this out, sweety for a pie crust. I am making your favorite! It was going to be a surprise, but you woke too early. I saved a bunch of sour cherries from the cherry tree out front. Froze them back in July so I could make you a pie for Christmas.” When she moves away from the counter, it becomes evident that she is five or six months pregnant. James says under his breath, “Cherry tree?” “Yea, silly. The one you named after me.” “Ella?” “That’s my name! Don’t wear it out!” She whispers into his ear: “The one you took me under. Remember, the night responsible for this little bun.” She kisses his neck and then walks off, heading to the restroom. 

James went on rolling out the dough. He is very methodic, taking it slowly to make a perfect circle. He pushes the pin down on the dough’s center, creating a trough. He turns it 90 degrees to make another imprint crossing the trough perpendicularly. He repeats this until a uniform flower imprint is in the dough, and a cylindrical disk appears. Then he gently rolls the pin over the dough, eliminates the indents, flips it over, and makes another pass. He repeats this while rotating the dough until it stretches out into a large circle, about 13-inches in diameter. 

James finds himself comfortable and at ease amongst these people, a feeling he had only dreamed of, a feeling he thought he isn’t worthy of experiencing. He thinks to himself about how he found what he has always been looking for. The American Dream – a beautiful young wife, house, family, cookouts, two-car garage, and kids on the way. He thinks to himself as he feels the dough’s smooth surface, (Life is good.)

The young girl returns and tucks herself up to James and says enthusiastically, “Wow – I am impressed! That is the best rollout of a pie crust I have ever seen!” The other ladies look over and say, “Ohhh my, Jimmy- now we know your role in the kitchen!” 

He moves away from the counter to let Ella take over and then looks for the man but finds an empty rocking chair still rocking. “Where did he go?” One of the women responds, “Who?” “The man that was rocking in the chair.” “You must still be drunk, Jimmy. We are the only ones here.” “Oh, yea. Right.” “You did have a bit much last night, honey.” “It was Christmas Eve – let him be.” “Yes. Gotta let loose everyone once in a while else you’ll tighten up and snap.” 

James doesn’t respond to them—he just thinks, (The last person to call me Jimmy was my mom.) “Mom, you mind if we take a break? I need to lay down for a bit.” “Sure, Honey, you two lovebirds, go take a nap. Take care of that little angel in your belly.” “James looks like he needs some more sleep too.” “Pale as a ghost he is.” 

James and the young girl walk off into the hallway and enter back into the room. He sees the pink sheets and metal-framed bed and then realizes he had been sleeping in this girl’s room. 

James is on autopilot, feeling pure bliss being with the mysterious yet familiar girl. All his life, all he wanted was to fall in love and have a family life, and now he has found it. 

The two of them slide into the bed and lay on their sides to face each other. James tries to get close, but her pregnant stomach keeps them separated, so they twist their feet together. Ella looks into his eyes, romantically and says, “I love you, James.” He isn’t sure what is happening. Still, he reciprocates and then kisses her passionately. 

“I wish my mom wasn’t in the other room. I would take you right now. If we are quiet, we could get away with it. Risk it?” 

She rolls over and puts the swell of her back up to his stomach and then pops her butt into his pelvis, securing their bodies together like a puzzle piece. He feels immediate pressure build in his pants, and his heart thumps with anticipation of her opening up for him. She reaches her hands around her back to pull his bottoms down. She had removed her panties when she went to the bathroom so she could easily pull her dress up under the covers. She grips James firmly and angles him inside her. He feels the slippery warmth embrace his girth. The moment he begins to enter her, his eyes shoot open, and he hears someone yelling at him, “DON’T YOU REMEMBER – Don’t YOU!” 

He hears a voice coming from somewhere, but he cannot see. It is still pitch black. It is the voice of that man that was camped out next to him, but when he turns to look, his eyes open again, and he is still pushed up in the corner of his bed, sweating profusely. He had been dreaming the whole time. 

Great despair overwhelms him, a realization that he has lost this girl in his dreams forever. It was so real to him that tears well in his eyes when learning that he was dreaming, and it was a fabrication of his imagination. She was literally the girl of his dreams. 

He has to urinate terribly now, but he ignores the urge, desperately trying to get back to the dream state he was just in. He felt love and comfort, a sensation he thought he would never have. Unfortunately, the urge to use the bathroom is too much to ignore. He pulls himself off the mattress, pushing himself upwards with what felt like a more generous than necessary force, and makes his way to the bathroom. He stumbles slightly against the walls for balance as he finds his way in the dark. 

He stands at the toilet with his hands pressed against the wall for leverage, waiting for the tepid death to emerge. The need to release is strong, but his dehydrated body is having trouble letting it go. Weeks of funk are stuck up in his bladder and kidneys. He is so parched that his urine practically comes out solid. It drips out of him and hits the water making a loud thunk, and he can smell the rank-moldy-vinegar scent wafting up into his nose. He titles the moment, “The reembrace of death brought to you by bodily functions.” The color is so deep that it turns the water a dark orangish-brown, resembling apple juice. (That must have been the whiskey I drank.)

James is starting to come awake after standing in the bathroom light. The fantasy he just had has left a pit in his stomach. The kind of feeling someone gets when they are in love with someone that is not in love with them. 

When he walks out of the bathroom, he is not in his condo. He flips the light switch on and examines the place. It is a small apartment on the outskirts of town. He recognizes the location by the interstate outside the window. The room resembles a hotel having two beds in it, one on each side of the room. Both beds with a simple metal frame not dissimilar from the one he was just in with Ella. 

One of the beds has no bedding, so he lays down on the mattress with blankets and pillows. He tucks himself up and looks out the sliding doors on the wall parallel to the foot of the bed. He looks out the window at the grass yard and recalls renting this place so that he could get away from the condo he purchased. He couldn’t remember why at first but then recalls. (It was the distractions from the neighbors that would pound on the walls endlessly every evening like clockwork. Oh, yes, that is why I left. I couldn’t get a good night’s rest because of the psycho neighbors that cannot stay still. God, what the fuck is wrong with them. Oh well, acceptance is key. At least, I can get a good day’s rest now.)

He is not currently aware if he was dreaming or if this is reality. He simply goes about his business as if everything is normal. He lays down on the bed, listening to the constant flow of traffic from the interstate. He feels the summer breeze blowing in through the screen door. The fresh air brings on comforting laziness helping him fall asleep. 

Days go by for him, and he sleeps peacefully through the nights. He has fully recovered from the withdrawal period and is now back working on his physics formulas. He spends most of the day at a small desk positioned in front of the sliding patio doors toiling away in his notebook. He writes equation after equation filling half the book up with theories on time-waves and displacement rings, which converge on certain intervals. 

In the middle of a physics trance, the landlord came barging into the apartment. The landlord escorts a woman and her daughter to the empty bed and says, “Here, you can stay here.” James sits in the chair after the landlord leaves, speechless, wondering what the hell these people are doing in his apartment. He looks at the woman. She looks like she just came off a 5-year meth binge. She jumps right in his bed and wraps herself with his blankets. The little girl runs through the room, past James, and slips through the screen door to go outside.

James gets up and runs to the door to catch the landlord. He shouts down the hall: “What is going on here?” The landlord responds while walking away: “Those is your new roommates.” ‘I don’t think so. I don’t want lodgers.’ The landlord ignores him, closes the door, and disappears. 

James is now standing at the bedside, staring at the girl lying on his bed and not the other bed, which is clearly vacant. He is debating whether he should jump in with her or kick her out. (I bet she is ready to fuck right now. Probably why she jumped in my bed anyway. How long has it been now? About five years, I think, maybe longer.)

James contemplates unprotected sex with the stranger for a few seconds. (Even a scabbed face meth head is starting to look appealing—just so long as she has a decent body and her snatch doesn’t smell like a can of catfish stink bate.)

[19.1 | Later]

The day jumps without notice, and James finds himself lying in bed under the covers looking at the strange woman. She is wearing nothing but a bra and some sweatpants and has a slight potbelly sticking out. He is considering sliding his hand down her belly, into her pants, then between her legs, but just as he moves his hand towards her, the thought of how she might smell stops him. He wonders how he even got in the bed in the first place. (How did I get in this bed? I was just at the desk, and it is starting to get dark out.)

He snaps out of the daze he is in and becomes hugely frustrated about why he would have to share a place with someone. His whole goal of relocating from the condo was to be alone, on the outskirts of the city, in a quiet area, so he can work. (How can this person and her daughter just be placed in here without my consent?)

Without notice, James jumps off the bed and takes off through the sliding doors. He steps outside and lands his foot right into a pile of broken glass. Just as he feels the sharp edges about to break the surface of his skin, he quickly pulls his foot back to avoid it. The jerk causes his body to fly forward, and he falls palms first on the cement, just missing the shards. While he sits on the ground examining his scraped palms, a beer bottle rolls up next to him. “Damnit. Why the fuck people leave this shit here.”

He pushes himself up off the ground and sees, in the corner of his eyes, what looks like the woman’s daughter. He turns and squints but isn’t sure what he is seeing. (It looks like she is being raped on the side of the street.)

He gets up and runs over to her, so he can rip the man off her, but when he gets closer, what he sees isn’t a raping at all; the kid has turned into a half-man, half-woman beast child having anal sex with itself. The small demon creature sits on the curb of the street, shoving its cock in its own ass, moving back-and-forth while its tits bounce about. Shocked and horrified, James turns around and runs back to the apartment, bursting through the patio doors and slamming them shut behind him. 

After he closes the doors, he trips over a beer bottle. The bottle rolls under his foot, sending him face-first into the edge of the bed. He sees his future while flying through the air, ending with his face smashing into the metal frame. He doesn’t have time to protect himself and cannot get his arms up quick enough. He is headed right for the metal bars. The girl watches with a twisted look of pleasure. Just as his face is nearing it, and the acceptance of oncoming pain comes to fruition, he shoots up from his bed, back in the dark lightless room, soaked in sweat, and screams, “Fuuuuuuck! Goddamnit!”His dry throat hisses when he breaths. He is so dehydrated that his trachea has practically closed in on itself, sticking together like pasty glue.

The room is still dark, and the water next to the mattress remains untouched. By the size of the ice cubes, he can tell that he has yet only been in bed for a few minutes, even though it has felt like days.

The dreams he has been having are so irritating and disturbing that it takes him a while to calm down. He feels the same way someone would feel after days of being tortured for information. But he is comforted knowing he is back in his place now. He feels a sense of relief, knowing that this had all been a dream. However, he is still distraught over losing the young girl he fell in love with only seconds ago. He thought he had found acceptance in a celibacy like state of life, but his dream of Ella has woken an overpowering desire for true love, a passion that burns deep within his soul.

Sunshine and Death

James continues to lay on saturated sheets. He cannot fall back asleep, and his brain feels like a needle is stuck in it. A Christmas song plays on repetition in his head repeatedly, and all he can think about is committing suicide. He thinks about buying a gun, (The gun is the solution. If I had a gun, I could put it against my head, pull the trigger, and then I’ll be dead.) He tries to fall back asleep but cannot. The only thing that soothes the pain is the fantasy of killing himself.  He prays to a God he doesn’t believe exists for help, (Jesus or Jesus or God whoever. Please help me. Why do I do this to myself? Why must I torture myself this way? I am ready for love. Please deliver me true love. Who is this girl from my dream? Where can I find this love? Please, Jesus, help me. A gun that is all I need. I need a gun. If I buy the gun, I can have some fun and pull the trigger, and I’ll be done.)

Life goes on

After a few more hours of tossing and turning while fantasizing about suicide and divine intervention, James is finally able to get out of bed. He doesn’t feel as bad as he thought he would feel, so he gets dressed and heads to the lobby. 

The place looks slightly different than he remembers. It seems as if it had been filled with brand new antique décor while he was on his binge—not different furniture, just new versions of what was there before. There is a beautifully carved round wood table standing in the middle of the room with a freshly picked bouquet of long stem roses. They are pink and white like the blankets from that girls’ bedroom. 

The lobby is empty, and the only person he sees is his own reflection in the peculiarly placed mirrors. He notices a newspaper on the table. He looks down at it to see the date, “December 13th, 1954.” He doesn’t think about the date as odd. Instead, he thinks one of the elderly tenants probably had it in storage and thought it would be interesting to share. An article catches his eye, so he stops to read it.

Madison, WI Journal – December 13th, 1954

Local man found breaking into neighboring apartments while severely intoxicated

A young pregnant girl woke in the middle of the night to a severely intoxicated man jumping in her bed. She claims he attempted to force himself upon her just before her father was able to chase him out of the unit. He tried to catch him, but the man mysteriously disappeared. The residents think they know who the man is and helped the police to identify him. The man has since been detained until further questioning can be completed. The Metropolitan Place condominium tenants are in a state of shock, learning that this man had been living in their storage units for years. He was, apparently, sneaking in and out without being noticed. They all believed him to be a former professor at the university. They asked the management how this man could have lived in the building for so long without being found out, but the management had no awareness or knowledge of him. They assumed that the man had been living in an unclaimed storage unit that was off the records. It is tucked in the corner without a door number and no lock. He had been able to pass off as one of the condo owners by being careful when he went in and out of the building. When they searched the storage unit, they found cases of empty wine bottles that had been stolen from another resident’s storage unit. The mysterious man even found food and water supplies meant for a disaster. He was able to keep himself clean by use of the exercise room’s bathroom. He must have been living in the building for years, they speculate. Only a few people even met the man. The residents are in disbelief that this could happen right under their noses. They have filed a group-wide restraining order against him but do not know what his name is. All they have is a picture.

James looks at the picture in surprise. Wrapped by text is a photo of himself but twice his current age. He cannot believe his eyes. (Wait, am I still dreaming? What is going on here?) He puts the paper down and turns to see an old lady sitting in a rocking chair. He screams at her, “What the fuck do you want!? What is happening here?!!” He looks again at the newspaper and sees bloody fingerprints on it. He looks at his hands and sees his hands are covered in blood. There are blood spots stained on the walls and streaked across the mirrors. He thinks to himself, (I must have dragged myself across the walls to keep my balance while drunk.)

He flips open the paper to find the rest of the article on page 4:

“On Oct. 10, 1916, the dome on top of what was then called Main Hall caught fire. The one responsible for the tragedy was the previously well-respected physicist, Dr. James Francis Quasar. After the incident, he had been stripped of his professorship. He then went on to pursue his experiments privately. Some years later, he disappeared. The police only learned who he was after a former student saw his photo on the news. 

Apparently, over 40-years later, the missing professor again moved to the downtown Madison area. He gained work at the university as a janitor and moved into a small apartment next to the prestigious Metropolitan Condos

After the Metropolitan incident, he was found in his apartment (formerly metro-hotels ‘a conversion to modern living’), seemingly trying to drink himself to death. There had been many reports made to the police about a crazy wide-eyed man stumbling through the halls of Tower II of the Metropolitan Condominiums, but they never panned out. In interviews, tenants said that he would be coherent for some of the time, and he would make his way into people’s units by befriending them. Some said, ‘he was a perfect gentleman,’ but then suddenly a switch would flip, and he turned into a raging lunatic. Others described him as a tall-dark-handsome man with a charming way about him and a seductive smile. In contrast, most said he was a gibber-jabbering drunkard probably doped up and on disability and that he couldn’t hold a conversation with anything more intelligent than a dog. 

Somewhere along the line, people started showing up dead in their condos. It was thought to be suicide or natural death at first glance, but after multiple perversities occurring in a short string-of-time, police began to suspect a murderer is on the loose. They dubbed him ‘Doctor Serial-Suicide.’

The morning after, a call came into the ‘Madison Police Department.’ The former professor was passed out drunk in a family’s bed with two children lying motionless. Apparently, this happened while the family prepared food for a Christmas party in the adjacent room. Their holiday enthusiasm, television set, and radio drowned out the murder of their children. They were completely unaware of what had happened until they found the man sleeping with them as if they were stuffed animals placed upon the bed to provide a sense of security. 

There is currently no evidence pointing to the professor as the one that committed the crimes other than him being found in the bed with the children’s corpses. There had been no sexual assault, and the cause of death is unknown. When questioning Dr. James Francis Quasar, he had said, ‘I am not supposed to be here.’, and nothing more.”

James finishes the article while sitting on one of the oversized Victorian chairs in the lobby, wondering what could have happened, where he is, and why this was happening to him. He looks over at the old lady in the rocking chair, and she is just sitting there with her toothless mouth shut. He starts shaking frantically, and then he sets his head back and closes his eyes. When he opens them, he is back on his bed, staring at the ceiling fan. 

A massive sense of relief comes over him when he learns everything has been a dream, and he is back in the comfort of his sweaty mattress. He lays on the bed, feeling the breeze from the fan blow across his naked body wishing the fantasy life with Ella were reality. He musters up all his brainpower to try and put himself back into an imaginary state with her but is interrupted when he hears loud pounding on the door and a man shouting, “OPEN UP – POLICE!” 

He snaps out of his daydreaming and runs to the door, thinking there must be a fire or gas leak. He looks through the peephole to see three police officers standing outside. They continue to pound on the door disturbing everyone on the floor, so he opens the door, and the officers immediately grab his arm, ripping him out of his home. They grip with such force; he feels the blood vessels pop in his bicep. James speaks in a very calm way saying, “Uhmmm, what the fuck are you doing, officers?” 

“Is your name James?” “Yes.” “Have you been drinking tonight, sir?” “I had some drinks earlier, but I was just in bed sleeping.” 

One officer restrains James, while the other two ransack his home. 

James is wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. The officer pats the thin cloth and asks, “Where are you keeping the drugs and weapons?” James responds, confused, “What?” The officer begins to read him his rights, “You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. …” 

James is confused and not clear-headed at the moment. He is standing in the hallway with his hands cuffed tightly together behind his back. The cuffs have no chain connecting them. They are just two rings locked together, forcing his elbows to pop out like chicken wings.

The neighbors all peek through the crack of their doors lined up and down the hall. He hadn’t met the neighbors yet; at least, he doesn’t remember if he had. He can see that a few of them were the people in his dreams.  And at the end of the hall is the blonde-haired, blue-eyed porcelain-toothed child freak that chased him. (I must have met them when drunk to have been able to manifest them in my dreams. But where is the one? I don’t see her. Could she be real? Could she?)

James pleads with the officers to let him go, “What are you doing? Why are you arresting me?” The officers tell him that they cannot let him be alone in his current condition, “We cannot leave you to yourself, sir. You are clearly severely intoxicated and a danger to yourself and others.” “What do you mean I am a danger? I was just sleeping.” 

The cops ignore James and drag him off half-naked, down the halls and through the lobby as if to purposely embarrass him. He is reminded of the Game of Thrones’ scene: “Shame – Shame – Shame,” he could hear everyone thinking it. They dragged him out the front door into an undisturbed layer of freshly fallen snow about 6-inches deep. They prop him up in the back seat of the squad car. They take him away without any explanation or verification of his identity.

[19.2 | Insanity or just insane?]

James finds himself in a detox center locked in a padded room wearing nothing but a disposable paper gown. He can tell that he must have been asleep for some time by the level of anxiety he has. As the alcohol in his system diminishes, his nerves upsurge. This feeling triggers the need for a drink. He usually starts drinking before it comes on. Now that he is locked up and has no alcohol available, he is forced to sober up. He thinks of it as a blessing in disguise—just like what happened in Dallas, with the stock market, before moving back to Wisconsin. (But what did I do this time during my blackout?)

As James becomes coherent, he is jostled by the situation. No one likes being detained and locked up, particularly for doing nothing more than sleeping in one’s own bed. 

He sits up against the cold leather padding and sees himself in a stainless-steel mirror bolted to the wall across from him. Next to it is a small window, which allows for a glimpse of the moonlit snow to shine through. It is just enough light to irritate someone trying to sleep but beautiful enough to force one to enjoy, regardless of the situation. 

He fell asleep shortly after being tossed in the cushioned cell. When he awoke, he wasn’t sure where he was? He had been so drunk, he couldn’t quite recall how he got there until he felt the bruise on his arm. The stinging pain became evident when he propped himself up, and the nightmare of cops ripping him from his home will leave him scarred for life. 

He notices the door to the room had not been shut or locked. He stares at it, wondering what kind of trouble he will get in if he leaves the room. He isn’t sure why they would leave a door open in a jail cell until he realizes that he isn’t in jail but in some twisted sort of detox. 

He gets up and pokes his head out the door to see a small group of people sitting in chairs in an open lobby. They are spread out, backs against the walls. On the other side of the room is a glass shielded counter with nurses protected by it.

The nurse sees James’s head pop out. She exits from behind the protective window and heads over to him. She shoves a breathalyzer in his mouth with a rude look on her face and says, “Blow HARD!”

He didn’t want to cause any problems, so he blew into it, and it revealed that he is about triple the legal limit. (Goddamnit. It is Dallas all over again.) She looks at him and says, “You better get comfortable. You will be here for a while.” “How long is a while?”  “Got to blow a zero and speak with the therapists before we can release you.” “How can you keep me here without me doing anything wrong? I was just sleeping in my home, and those cops ripped me out without a warrant or anything.” “Honey, you are drunk, and a neighbor called saying you were a danger to yourself, possibly suicidal. Here in Wisconsin, if someone says you are suicidal and you have alcohol in your system, you have no rights. We have to detain you until we deem you are no longer a hazard to yourself or others.” “WHAT! I am not suicidal! Who called and said that?” “They have the right to be anonymous.” “What the fuck kind of bull shit is that? So you are telling me that if I wanna fuck with someone, all I have to do is call the non-emergency number after they’ve had a beer and say they are suicidal, and you will lock them up in here?” “Yes, sir, if there is alcohol in someone’s blood and anyone makes that claim—whether it be anonymous or not—we have to detain said person until they are free from alcohol and psychologically analyzed.”

He knows he is shit out-of-luck in this place, lest he becomes Houdini. He thought he could use his money and call a lawyer, but the twisted governing officials of Wisconsin figured out how to bend the law so they can restrain anyone they want whenever they want. 

(Alright. No reason in getting flustered. Let’s just sit this out and get it over with. Will be nice to sober up finally.)

James sits next to someone in the open room that has his face buried in his hands and greets himself, “I’m James, funny meeting you here.” The man turns to him and looks at him with a blank emotionlessness. He opens his mouth to speak to James, and his jaw falls right off his face, slipping out of its socket. He tried to talk, flapping his tongue back and forth, flipping droplets of spit and blood about. Flying dots of red absorb into James’s paper gown as he watches the fleshy tooth lined jawbone saturate the other guy’s gown. James looks at him and says, “Nice to hear you are doing well.”, then gets up and goes back into his padded room to sleep.

He lays in the bed, looking around, thinking about how similar this room is to his condo. Small with a mattress, mirror, chair, and a single window. 

He tries to sleep but can’t, so he decides he doesn’t even want to try after everything that had happened. The fear of more nightmares and lost love haunts him. He is still wondering why he had gotten hauled off by the police and dragged into this place. It is beginning to look strikingly similar to the trash area at the condos. The cement walls mixed about under thick white padding look identical. (Perhaps it is common architecture in the area.)

While lying on the provided mattress, he starts to think he is still dreaming and is still in his bed. He thinks back to everything that happened. (Is this some sort of twisted sentence in hell.), when a nurse walks by, clanking her heels like some sort of stilettos. He looks to watch her walk by, but there are no shoes, just raw bone snapping on the cement floor.  Femurs shift back and forth under a white dress like curtains in the wind.

James looks back into the mirror and sees he has aged some 30-years. 

Unable to mentally and emotionally handle what he is seeing or what is happening, he begins crying and curls up into the fetal position sobbing himself to sleep.  

[19.3 | Intellect of the mad man]

James wakes up from his series of extensive nightmares to find himself sleeping in a bed discarded in the trash room area of his condos. Cops had been standing over him while he slept, trying to wake him up for a few minutes now. He comes to, and the officers ask if he is alright and if they needed to call anyone? James is quick to his feet, replying, “I had a little too much to drink and couldn’t find my keys. Someone so graciously left a mattress here for me to rest upon while I waited for the cavalry to arrive. And you have arrived! Thank you for your kind services. I shall return to my quarters now that the day has begun.”

The officers had found his keys in his pocket along with an old article of newspaper folded up neatly. “Your keys are right here, sir. We would be hauling you in, but the lady at the front desk told us you live here and had recently moved in and that you may have locked yourself out. Do you need help, sir?” “No, thank you, officer. I am fine to get up and go home. I must have forgotten I had the keys. Welcome to Madison, right?” (Will the nightmare never end. My neighbors must think I am insane or some sort of crazy person.)

The cops depart, and James waits for the elevator. While he waits, he notices a picture of the old lady, the one that was in the rocking chair. He learns from the flyer that the building he lives in is connected to a senior center and that he must have hallucinated or imagined this woman. He sees on it that there are Alcoholics Anonymous meetings held there daily. (Shit, if that ain’t a sign from above—don’t know what is.)

It is 7:00am, and a meeting would be held the following Monday. (Maybe it is time to give up the drink.)James thought as the past months blurred through his mind. 

The emotional pain he is feeling inside has been incomprehensible. There is nothing worse than having no clue what you did for months on end. It is the equivalent of hellish rattles to the souls-core. (Many people see an alcoholic as some sort of irresponsible, crazy person, but they haven’t a clue of the truth, and they are lucky to live in such a fantasy land.)

On the elevator ride up, he continues to contemplate. He thinks about how crazy persons were hung or burned at the stake in the past or even sunk in freezing water while locked in a cage just because they were mentally ill and misunderstood. People assumed they must be witches overcome by demons or something, but, in reality, they were just misunderstood and or chemically imbalanced. Many people treat alcoholics in this fashion as if they had a choice to pick up a drink but trying to explain to them how that works is as pointless as explaining color to a blind person. 

He is now sobered up, feeling the urge to begin drinking but wants to refrain. He gets into his unit, locks the door, and empties his pockets. He sees his iPhone on the counter and checks the day and time. The time reads, Saturday, June 7th, 2018, “What?” He realizes that he has only been here just shy of a month. 

He sees the yellowed paper next to his keys and recalls the newspaper he found in his dreams. He picks it up and slowly unfolds it as if his dream had come true. It reads about how there were multiple suicides in this building. “All the suicides were due to great shame or inability to accept their lives.” At least that was the conclusion after the investigation into a possible serial killing. A killer who disguised his acts by methods of untraceable suicides. A theory that failed to be taken seriously since all the victims were in the same clinic, (The Metro Clinic – Phase II, a home for the mentally insane.)

He dropped the paper down to the counter, wondering what this could mean and where he may have found it. 

(I must still be dreaming. This cannot be.)The article further read and tells the story of a former professor that had held himself up in his apartment, apparently drinking himself to death. He had accomplished his mission in less than a week, they say, but nobody was ever found.

Dream or foe

James concludes that perhaps he died at some point during his binge and is now stuck in some endless circle of mind-torture. He isn’t convinced he is awake yet until he sees the notebook on the windowsill next to the rocking chair. He notices that more pages had been disturbed. He walks over and picks it up, opening to the most recent page. In it, it reads, “The building is still resonating on time-wave 5. It has displaced between 2019 and 1950. Note: it appears that we have located the pretemporal position of displacement. Keep a close eye on the progress of his research.” (What the hell is this gibberish.) thought James as he flips through the other pages filled with drunken scribbles. (Alrighty then. I must have been really fucked up.)

He sits down in the rocking chair and stares out the window, looking at a clear blue summer sky. He was hoping to see the snow he dreamt of. He looks to his reflection in the mirror to see his pale dry-flaky-dehydrated face and tries to remember the last time he drank water realizing he probably hasn’t had any water outside of ice cubes since he moved in, a month ago. 

He rocks slowly back-and-forth while looking out the window when he hears footsteps and turns to see a nurse walking up to him. She says, “Good morning Mr. Quasar. Beautiful day out today—ain’t it?” He isn’t able to respond. He is stuck and unable to communicate. He realizes that he cannot move his arms or legs and that is strapped to a mattress. The nurse shoves a tube into a preexisting tube that is wedged in his throat. He feels his throat sticking to the plastic. His breath makes whistling sounds as it flows around it. She connects the tube to some brown liquid that pours into his stomach. 

He can only roll his eyes slightly to look about the room, but that is it. A little girl stands at the opening of the door staring at him. It is the same girl he saw in his bedroom staring at him from the foot of his bed. He tries to move again but cannot. Not only is he strapped down, but he feels drugs coursing into his veins. The nurse had stuck him with a needle when he wasn’t looking. Her face was no longer moving; it took on the same appearance as a porcelain doll.  He watches the nurse leave the room, hearing her heels click on the floor. He becomes drowsy, and as he passes out. Just before he dozed off, he read a sign on the door: “Metro Mental Hospital: Phase II- Room 0416.”

[19.4 | Friends in Strange Places]

After James is considered stabilized, the nurses remove the tube from his throat and let him out of his restraints. They explain that mixing alcohol with his medications and mental illnesses will cause severe hallucinations. If he does it again, he may not be able to return to a state of clarity.

The nurse says to him, “We won’t move you into maximum security this time. We learned that it was your former roommate that had his wife sneak in the alcohol for him. You were just unlucky and vulnerable, so we won’t hold it against you—this time. However, if you become drunk again, you will find yourself in a restraining jacket indefinitely.”

James is still a bit confused about accepting this reality. He is trying to understand how he went from his condo to drinking for months to being in a mental hospital. His brain fights furiously to recall anything he can piece together. 

While he struggles to find an answer, a familiar-looking doctor comes into the room and wants to have a chat. The doctor asks, “What is your profession today, Mr. Quasar?” James is having a hard time comprehending the question and takes a minute to respond. (What does this man want to hear me say. And what does he hope to get out of the response?)

 “Well, I am retired. Doctor.” “Good, wish I were in your shoes. Retired from what?” “I am a former college student.”, The doctor chuckles lightly and says, “And your name is James, correct?” “Yes, that’s me. The one and only!” James looks at the name tag of the doctor, and it reads, ‘Doctor J.F. (Where do I know that name from? I feel like we have met before. Wait that is the monogrammed name on my front door. Same initials as mine.)

The doctor sits down and begins asking very detailed questions about where James has been, what he has been doing, and how long it has been going on for? 

James sees his reflection in the mirror, and it doesn’t look the way he remembered himself. He sees himself strapped in the hospital bed with long hair and a long beard but not older like before. (How long have I been here for? I look the same age, but it must have taken years for my hair to grow that long.)


The doctor is deeply interested in the rooms he was staying in, asking James, “What numbers were on the doors? The numbers on the knockers, James. Do you recall the names on the knockers? What rooms were you in?” 


“THE NUMBERS, James!” he shouts. 

The doctor takes a deep breath and relaxes his muscles so as not to get excited. 

“James, which numbers on the doors did you see when you moved in?” 

He confusingly replies, “Well, it was unit 6140. It said Doctor J.F. on it.”  

The doctor whispers to himself, “Outstanding!” and then says under his breath, “We finally have the right place and time.”


“Have you come across any notebooks?” “What are you trying to find out?”

Ignoring his question, the doctor asks, “Do you recall what the year is?” “It is 2018.” “Jesus, you have been stuck that way for 20-years. How old are you right now?” 

Not understanding why the doctor said he had been stuck that way, James replies softly. “I am, uh 25, I think, but the last time I looked in the mirror, well, I am not sure.” “You are not who you think you are. Do you understand where you are?” 


“Yes, a mental hospital.” “No, you are trapped between dimensions half in the past, half in the future. This building and the former building or whatever building you have been in are all built on a magnetic hotspot. A ley line of 3, 6, and 9. These lines connect different dimensions of time that all coexist simultaneously through their wave intersections and don’t exist simultaneously in space.” “Now, I know I am crazy, Doctor.” 


“Not at all. You have another person’s history flowing through your mind, and you cannot stabilize due to a device you invented. It caused your conscience to vibrate in space and to separate the time-waves we all live on. I need to know what year you are living in, day and time as well.” “Last I recall, it was June something 2018. Or sometime in December. I am not sure.” “Do you recall the precise day in December?” “I remember seeing my birthday, December 13th, in the newspaper.” “What newspaper?!” “The one about the serial suicider” “What year?!” “Uh, —54, I think.” “That sneaky bastard. Alright, you originally moved into Phase II of the Metropolitan Place on December 23rd, 2019, the night of the Christmas party. Do you recall this?” “I do not recall. I am in a mental hospital, after all! What are you trying to fuck with me or something? And what is that god dang pounding! Sounds like someone stomping my skull in!”

“Alright, then.” The Dr. Replied.


James looks back into the mirror to see himself dressed as The Doctor hovering over the bed, which is now empty. He turns his head around to look for the Dr. when he sees reflections of bronzed colored mailboxes. He turns to look at the mailboxes and suddenly finds himself standing in his condo’s lobby by the mailroom.


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