Patient: John Doe
You would think that in the midst of certain Armageddon--global thermonuclear war, devastating pandemic, cybernetic revolution, and the African continental plate disappearing, to name a few--that one would be accustomed to expecting the unexpected. I, for one, am no stranger to the bizarre. After my stint in deep space, my mind’s been programmed to think well outside the bounds of normalcy. Add that to the thirty-one years with the Force, I’ve seen it all. But when Nilo called me up and told me I had to hurry home, that I just had to see this, I could tell from the tone of her voice that something unique was waiting for me.
Nilo and I first met at UMBRA back in 0-13. I was newblood, straight from the uni’s proud and ancient halls. Still had the naive shine in my eyes. Still thought the earth tilted at twenty-three degrees. Nilo was already an old hound by the time I showed up. She’d been immersed in the strange for half a millennium. Everybody who’s anybody knows who Nilo the Cyrene is. Her fame is known from here to the outer sectors. She practically wrote the book on modern criminal psychology, as well as how to deal with the ramifications.
Needless to say, I boarded the next transport home. Of course, home was currently over two hundred and forty-nine million miles away, past Mars, past what’s left of Moon, back in tiny little Harrison, Michigan, United States, Earth. Traveling near Mach 100, the trip would take over a third of a standard year. That’s a long time for someone to wait, I had told Nilo, but she assured me I would be fine as long as I left soon.
It was day eighteen when it happened. Our transport was careening at speeds approaching oblivion (though nowhere near the higher realm of the mighty c), but inside the Argo everything was relatively calm. I excused myself from a fascinating conversation about fungus with the delightful Dr. Dame Wolffa and made a bee-line for the privy. It was there, standing in front of the mirror and watching the recycled greywater gush from the faucet, that the Argo experienced turbulence. I staggered. My head hit the counter top. Something massive crashed into the transport and the entire world around me shook violently. I heard a few gasps from outside, but the door on the privy was sealed shut and refused to open. I banged, as if expecting that to do anything, and again the world shook. It was as if an earthquake was loosed upon us, though, as I said, we were many million miles away from Earth.
The interior lights cut off, plunging me into sudden darkness. A moment later the emergency lights flashed on, a bright orange EXIT sign illuminating above the door. “Not hardly,” I said, pulling again at the latch. Open sobbing now sounded from without. I heard prayers and pleadings. Then the shuttle shook again and something massive crashed into it, grinding it and everything within it into dust.
Everything turned into colors. Sounds. Tastes. Smells. Indigo from a rainbow. The shade of dead wheat. Mist from a waterfall. The brightness of Sun at daybreak. How keystrokes sound at high WPM. Iris milky white. Bland oatmeal on a summer’s luncheon. Nilo’s perfume the night we went to Cloisters. The saffron hue of her lipstick. Darkness, encircling and pulsing, my body spinning in a billion little pieces, each turning and rushing along with whatever carried it away. An old dirge of trumpets and cellos. The grey of sepulchers and the gold of crowns. Salt on springmelons. Her laughter at the cine. Her hand inside mine. Dark blood red after a gunshot. Sand grains beneath fingers within cake upon grass under covers pork insulafoam bone masks joy inside you ache love numbers algorithms infinitely complex knowing knowledge knowing nothing spinning spiraling spewing splicing splaying splintering fragmentslightblackhopelostfoundyou...
Life coalesced; meaning reared its head; every road I’ve ever traveled was before me; every choice I’ve ever made; every possibility of everything, past, present, future. I was dead, and I wasn’t. There was still work to be done. Something remaining for me. All of this and more I knew, as if the Almighty chose to give me a glimpse into His mind. There was terror and there was certainty. Above all there was love.
I awoke here at St. John’s Hospital. I’ve no idea of the date. Every time I ask I’m told something about something called “January,” whatever that means. The orderlies all shun me. I see hate in their eyes. Distrust. There is one I may be able to persuade to join me, for I see sympathy in him. Still, I am lost without my Nilo. No one claims to know her, and I’m beginning to question her existence myself. I am no longer confident of anything. They asked me to write this all down, and looking back at it I can’t discern fact from fiction. They are trying to help me, so they say, but to me it’s more like an interrogation. Nothing makes sense. I am confined but for my writing arm and my neck. So I write, day in, day out, hoping someday that I can look back over this and find the truth. I know it exists. I had it in my grasp as I rode the comet back to Earth. But eternal fire is not meant for human minds, and I now must pay the cost. One day I will recover, and when I do, I will flee from this place and find Nilo. Until then, I must have patience.
Word Count: 938
-Written as an exercise in futility, plus, it's been a while.