What may be two chapters of somewhere around the middle of the novel I’ve been working on since 2011 (the one the Mandela Effect stole the idea of), off and on, written while I was in jail last year… The most I’ve written of the story in one chunk (a couple weeks of my 55 days). Some of the jail stuff is very close to reality, a few parts written right before it happened in real life (and I didn’t know the arresting cop said on video I was “gonna be trouble later” as his motivation until after I got out). This story has become so intertwined with my life and maybe you can see some of why I’m taking forever to finish. This was 18 pages written (front and back) and came out to *27* pages typed. If you want to see another excerpt, see the even weirder “bus stop scene“. Everything is a first rough draft so far.
(Copyright 2016 Jason Nellis, but you’d have to be crazy to steal this):
I gave up on going to the campaign office. This unreliable day-to-day pattern of reality, or chaos, made me feel like I had ended up supporting another unreliable candidate, who couldn’t keep his word from one speech to the next, even if he tried. This new world had no place for any consistency anyway- a consistent president would be absolutely absurd. That was the main “rational” reason that my brain presented.
The deeper, more selfish reason only my journals/you would know, was that I felt no personal attachment anymore. The attachment I wishfully created after joining the campaign, or rather created by my heart or desire for companionship, to my focus of desire, Lucy.
At least before the world as I knew it ended, Lucy was sorta consistently friendly and warm towards me, if perhaps lukewarm in the flirtation department. She acknowledged me regularly (unless entranced by the beloved campaign office director Phil Simpson then, but now I couldn’t wake up each day without knowing if she’d remember me or respect me this time. I had lost all motivation to continue being around her, especially after the last encounter, in which I felt like she was encountering an alien when I tried to hug her. It was a triple smack in the face when she ran into the arms of Phil, and at the moment his hand grasped hers over her heart, I saw their ring fingers gleam with wedding rings.
The light bouncing off her diamond hit my eye like a laser beam, and burned deep into my heart. I may have actually shielded my face as if blinded by the light as I turned away and left before they could catch on to my horror. Maybe I really had become an alien, I thought.
I rushed home and drank myself to sleep with a bottle of wine, the first time I’d drank in months. The bottle I decided not to touch back when I got the campaign job, the upward turnaround moment after my life had gone awry and sent me deep into alcoholism to escape. But again, at least, reality back then had a sense of linear or at least cyclical time, not complete chaos and uncertainty about the current version of history and existence.
So here I found myself on a one-way street, Main, which had never been one-way before. I walked in the direction the arrows and cars pointed, submitting to the demands of this damned dimension. The architect of this world had to be madly (or deeply?) demented. I had no destination, just acceptance that drinking would take me where it wanted – or wherever whatever was in charge wanted. I dropped the denial that I had any resemblance of control left in my life. In past days I had submitted to not knowing what turn anything would take anymore, and surrendered any concepts of logic, and trusted that eventually things would “work out” and I could adapt without going (completely?) insane.
But insanity had now seemed to settle into inevitability, if not already a fully cemented reality. Though why couldn’t I at least be stably insane, creating my own unreal stories in my head about the world around me that I could at least follow the storylines of from day to day, week to week? How could my mind ever choose this?
The mind control thoughts crept up again… I tried to suppress the despair/horror of this possibility but it kept creeping back into my head like a kid having the urge to keep looking back at pictures of the fantastical creatures that he feared most.
And then the harmony of a harmonica halted my horrifying thoughts. The familair tune put my mind at an ease I couldn’t recall since before the world flipped upse-down. Also for the first time since then (the laboratory incident), the onset of a melody didn’t make my heart jump or give me a queasy feeling and concern that the coma(or “trance”)-inducing tune had made its return once again.
As I stood frozen in musical mesmerization, I made out the body of the harmonica player- realizing it was Lucy. She was sitting on the sidewalk in front of a cafe- my former favorite downtown hangout, The Sound. In front of her was a bucket, which drew my attention when a passerby droped change into it. Could it really be her? Was it just a hopeful apparition? Of course anything could now happen… anyone could become something they had never showed a sign of being before this modified universe. I had never known her to play music, and she was always wealthier than me, to my knowledge.
I made my way toward her, feeling what seemed to be the most nervous I had ever felt around her, but drawn flowingly by her beautiful music. My heartbear raced, but as I got closer it slowed to a rhythm syncing to her song. I still couldn’t place where it came from but it was immensely, even intimately, familair. She turned to look at me and paused immediately when the sync seemed to lock in perfectly. I felt as if I was floating.
Next moment I knew, I was sitting next to her. Our eyes were intertwined for somewhere between a few seconds and decades, until we couldn’t bear the butterflies any longer. We locked lips for another momentary eternity, and all was well with the world. We pulled away, barely realizing anything outside of us existed, and all I knew was my love for her and true bliss. And for once, I could feel the feeling was mutual. She raised her harmonica and handed it to me.
“Remember the song?” she asked me, and while I could not recall trying a harmonica since childhood, I felt I did remember.
I held it to my lips, not knowing what I was about to do, but letting it happen. As I blew and drew in each note, she said the number with me.
“4-4-4-4-4-4, 3-3, 3-3, 5…”
I paused, taking a breath, pulling the harmonica away, looking at it in some puzzled astonishment, then to her. Her face was gleaming with the most beautiful smile I’d ever seen.
“You do remember!” She threw her arms around me, and we embraced for another lifetime.
When we released, I returned it to my mouth and continued with the song, as she sang. I could almost cry at the beauty of her voice, in harmony with the tune I was pulling from some subconscious storage. Whatever was happening, I wasn’t questioning it; it felt exactly as things should be and I was not going to leave her side.
We spent all day walking around downtown, talking about our lives (me pre-chaotic memories) and the campaign we both apparently left behind… but barely any of that low-vibed stuff. I learned things about her I never had the slightest idea of during our platonic friendship… I told her things about myself neither my best friends nor any former girlfriend knew before, People left and right approached us to talk, or simply looked brightened up as we made eye contact. Everything around us seemed to be more vibrant and fun than ever.
I knew I liked her for the past year, maybe the strongest crush I’d had since high school, but I hadn’t even imagined this level of bliss. Sure I had fanatasized countless times about us being together, but I could never foresee this feeling. But it validated the instant magnetism I felt toward her when I first walked into that office and saw her months before. I no longer had the lingering concern she thought I was a creep, nor did Phil’s repeated reassurances to me that she saw me as a creep make noise in my head anymore. Doubts and self-consciousness dissolved and I truly cherished every moment.
We watched what seemed to be the most beautiful sunset ever from the hotel rooftop I had saved to share my secret access knowledge of for someone truly special. The warm orange glow filled our souls with cell-activating pleasure, and the pink hues amplified the electromagnetic love that permeated between us. The ethereal indigo sweep after the light had settled behind the mountains and wrapped us fully in its assurance that this was it; this moment was eternal, our love was more than a crush or lust, our souls were one and life was indeed not whole without each other. I heard this was possible but always thought my luck cut short of that kind of heaven.
We kissed for another eternity that could never belong enough. We opened our eyes and night had come into being. The air lit up with a new charge of excitement, the energy pulsating through our veins undeniably intertwined, an equation that could never be undone.
“Shall we go to your place?” she asked, expectantly yet somewhat shy. My nod came without a second thought, though my heartbeat accelerated beyond measure and it felt like too many thoughts flew past my mind to single out any one of them.
Before I could process, we were reaching the bus stop. I saw the bus coming and realized she had never been to my place before.
“Have we…” I cut myself off, barely knowing what I was starting to ask. She squeezed my hand and kissed me, as if she understood what was going through my head without question, maybe even better than I knew.
The bus ride home was the most happily anxious ride I had ever experienced. The perfection of the day now had an added dimension of “is this right?” questioning within. But each time I felt her hand squeeze mine, or brush along my leg, or glance or lock into her eyes, the concerns washed away. Waterfalls/cascades of unconditional love poured through my entire being, raising me to even higher heights.
Then the “See Something, Say Something” sign I used to hate seeing on the bus caught my eye. I thought back to the articles I read the day I decided to join the campaign, that took me down the rabbit hole further than I had been before, from the anonymous network of informants who’d make big money off of reporting people for matters as harmless as criticisms of political officials’ voting records, to these suspected “terrorists” being “disappeared” and some thrown into government-run mental facilities where mind-control tests such as “MK Ultra” were administered. There was tons of evidence of these subjects going insane, and some ended in mass homicidal rampages that led to their suicides or death by police. I thought of the story of one man who didn’t know his wife was a CIA agent for 15 years, until one of his friends found out and told the victim who was in prison for killing multiple high-level people he couldn’t remember ever encountering.
Throughout my work on the campaign, I was always guarded about other people in the office and related to the campaign, but it then hit me I never wondered about her. I used to be almost obsessive about the haunting idea of the femme fatale, something I felt would be perhaps the most heartbreaking, soul-crushing betrayal imaginable. So with my infatuation with Lucy, how had this not crossed my mind… until my perfect fantasy was achieved and surpassed?
I turned to her, now with clammy sweating palms, but she remained facing away. I was relieved at this and moved my hand away from hers, reaching for my cell phone as a subtle excuse. The battery was dead; I didn’t know where to look but at the screen.
“Your phone died?” she inquired before I realized she had turned to face me.
“Ah, yeah… I just wanted to chek the time-” and I looked up right as I saw the time on the electronic marquee at the front of the bus, facing us.
“Wait… is that an ePhone 8?” she asked. I felt like I was being interrogated, as innocent as the questions were.
“Yeah… crappy old junk. Always dying.
“Wow, old? How? I saw that unveiled on the news yesterday, and they said it’s being released next month. How’d you get that?”
I started to panic and sweat quicker.” It’s a tester model… I signed up for this beta testing program last month and well I guess this one has some bugs to work out.”
“Oh. That’s neat.”
I could feel her stiffen up, obviously catching my tense vibes. I couldn’t return eye contact now and was visibly trembling. I became a prisoner of my own mind, my bliss replaced by paranoia. She then seemed to try to recapture our bond and looked up at me, grabbing my hand.
We got to my stop and stepped off the bus. The air feeling colder, she turned to me and wrapped her arms around me tightly. The whirlwhind of thoughts that had begun to make me physically dizzy and ill suddenly slowed down. She moved her head from my chest, where we both felt my pounding heart slow down to about half the frantic speed, to look up into my eyes. One streetlamp above us flickered on to illuminate us and our eyes as we gazed back into timeless union. Our lips met, we held each other’s heads as if we had to hold our faces together to survive, and all was right again.
The self-imposed prison bars lifted out of existence, and we made our way to my apartment. I was more sure than I ever was about anything. We barely could make it to the bed before we were in full throes of passion, and we made love like I had never dreamt possible. I never had felt I ever had a true spiritual experience, an encounter with the divine, but now I had. Every level of my being was fulfilled. For once there was not one trace of questioning, of guilt whatsoever, of anything less than true destiny, and no doubt that the awakened soul feeling was mutual.*
“Wow,” she sighed, as she opened her eyes and locked with mine. We kissed a tender kiss that never felt like we let go of, and I kept my eyes on her indescribable beauty as she closed hers and settled into our utopian embrace.
I never felt so sure I wanted to be with someone, and I had never even been sure it was more than a crush I felt for her before this day. It felt as if my bad luck, bad karma, whatever, had finally been paid off and now everything felt in place, all signs said go. Maybe I had to go through a reshuffling of many possible realities to reach this one, the right one. I chose this path. I would not let go or trade it for anything.
Feelings of love I wanted to express in words surged up with an intensity unlike anything ever felt before. The words “I love you” nearly made it to my lips, but my brain stepped in and told me I might scare her, even if every sign she gave and feeling she reciprocated showed she felt the same… I didn’t want to risk ruining or altering the most perfect experience of all time, the kind of moment that gives people reason to keep living, to create new worlds, new universes… so I kept my mouth shut.
I gently kissed her again, and not sure if we ever let go, we drifted off to sleep.
I woke up staring at the ceiling, images and feelings of the day prior replaying in my head. It took me a minute to realize this ceiling was not my own. And I was unnaturally close to it. The unfamiliar sensation gave me chills, and I hesitated to turn my head, dreading that my world had again changed completely. The feeling of being a prisoner of my own head returned as an inexplicable fear overcame me. I closed my eyes, swallowed my paralyzing resistance, and reopened them, scanning the room.
To my bewildered horror, I saw that the room’s door had bars on it, the rest a blue steel. I realized I was on a top bunk of a bunk bed, and there was another perpendicular to me. As I looked, a man’s head popped out from underneat the other top bunk’s sheet, and I nearly fell off the bed from startled shock.
“Whoa, what but your ass, Mr. Robot?” the man asked, laughing. He looked familiar, a Hispanic man possibly from the bus before, but I couldn’t place him exactly. I realized he had an inmate jumpsuit on. Then, I looked down under my blanket and realized I did too. I again jerked back, this time into a seated position, and felt a suffocating despair.
“Sheesh calm down gringo… what the fuck… you forget you’re in jail?”
“Where’s Lucy??” was the first thing I needed to know.
“Haha who? Oh wait… what? Don’t you know how rare that is in these parts? You got a few hundred bucks on your books or something?”
The guy in the bunk below his perked up.
“You got cash comin’ in pharaoh whitey?” asked the middle-eastern looking guy below.
“Pharaoh what? N-no, I don’t know what- wait why am I here? Is this… jail?”
The Mexican and the Middle Eastern guy broke out laughing. Another voice emerged from the other bottom bunk, the voice of a black man.
“Dude… you havin’ another one of your episodes again? You gonna go all serial killer on us one’a these days o’what?”
“I just… I wasn’t here before I… uh… fuck!!”
“Dude, J!” He sat up, revealing his face framed in dreadlocks and a braided beard. “Yes, you in jail!”
I turned to my side, toward the wall, and saw a cup of water on my bed frame. I chugged it. I plopped my head back down, accidentally hitting the head frame. I adjusted myself down, dizzy, mostly from stress.
“Do… do any of you guys know why I’m here?”
“Beats me, you never tell us,” responded the black guy, getting out of his bed out of the side of my eye, walking to the cell door.
“He went loco, of course he don’t want to tell us,” the Latino remarked.
He may have been right… but I’ve never gotten myself in jail before… what could I have done? How bad was it? I had to at least get some hints of where I went wrong in this reality…
“So, this, like uh, city jail right? Or county? Not prison?”
They all burst out laughing this time.
“No, we ain’t earned that kind of luxury yet,” my cellmate at the door answered through his laughter/guffaws. “Y’all hear that Osama? Prison…”
The middle-eastern looking guy laughed aloud fake laugh. “Ha! Pha-whitey here could never survive a day there. I would know. You forgot my High Desert stories too huh?”
“Ah, yeah… sorry… I have real bad memory issues”
“Ese’ you got some kinda issues. I don’t think it’s just memory. You being here probably has sumthin to do with you ramblin’ on about pharaohs and Nefertitties in yo’ sleep all the time.”
I froze. I spoke out loud in those dreams?! Shit.
“Nef… Nefertiti? And… pharaohs?”
“Yes, weirdo,” Osama answered. “That’s why your name’s-“
“Pharaoh whitey?” I was just about to ask that…
“Hey, our boy’s catching on!” scoffed the darkest-skinned cellie.
I rolled onto my left side, facing the room, trying to act slightly. Actually, they didn’t seem that bad or unwelcoming.
“So, what’s your name? To… refresh my memory.”
“Mandela,” he told me as he walked from the door toward me, extending his hand for a fist bump. The others laughed. We bumped fists.
“Jacob-” I introduced myself, right as I remembered they already gave me a name. They all laughed again.
“Whitey is a riot today! You’re going to make me cry, Pharaoh!” Osama said through short breaths between laughs.
“Nice to meet you for the fifth first time, ‘Jacob’! Now remember your given name!” Mandela clarified.
“So why ‘Mandela’?” This name intrigued me. He didn’t look like Nelson Mandela…
He took a few steps back. “This is perfect… you’ll find out, in time…” he cryptically stated.
“What about me? You forget about the Mexican already, gringo?”
“No- I was just about to ask-“
He reached over from his top bunk toward mine, making me turn my body around to the other end of my bunk to reach his hand.
“Rodrigo.” He shook my hand vertically, then did some kind of sideways fist bump, then some signals I couldn’t keep up with.
“Ah shit pinche’ chingada, you forgot that too?” He backed up onto his bunk and waved me off dismissively. “Man…”
“Sorry, I uh…” I slunk back into my bed, pulling the sheet over me.
“Didn’t we tell you to stop saying sorry?” Mandela stopped me.
“Oh… ah… I guess so.” I just wanted to sleep until reality switched again.
“It’s all good… how about the bus? You remember me from there? Since you’re ‘new here’?”
I perked my head up a bit at his coded-seeming words. He gave me a little wink. I gulped dryly, hoping it was a cryptic wink, and not some… intimate innuendo. I tried to scan whatever kind of screwed up memory banks I still had. He did seem a bit familiar, but I thought many people did in these ever-changing realities, and people I thought I knew on a first-name basis didn’t even remember me… and clearly I couldn’t recall people who knew me on a first– hell, practically lived with me in captivity, so…
“Well, you do look familiar…” Hey, it was an honest answer.
“Alright kid, we’ll letcha sleep. Chow’s in like an hour, maybe a nap will get your gears turnin’ again,” Mandela said in a comforting tone.
“Thanks, yeah… maybe…” I turned back toward the wall and tried to get comfortable, but it was difficult on the inch-thick pad on the steel frame bunk. If this nap could switch me back to somewhere free at least, on the outside, I could at least have some illusion of control to try to get back to figuring things out…
But the noises of the unit outside the door kept jerking my mind back to wakefulness, wondering if someone might come barging through the door to attack a cellmate, or a guard might come in picking us out to beat us up, or a riot, or something… Or oh shit, that wink Mandela gave me… I felt like these racing thoughts would keep me up forever… I’d much rather go back to being a “prisoner of my own mind” wondering if Lucy might be an undercover or MKUltra mind control handler than this actual prison… ok jail…
I’d give anything to return to the perfection of the night before. Any part of that day. Such the opposite… everything was possible… my fantasy come true, and more… and I had no way to know if we were still… “together”. How did we even end up that way? It was too easy. To just… end up that way. It almost felt like I pulled some magic… trick… but I didn’t plan that… did I? A trick? Was it a trick on myself? Had this all been my mind pulling one big trick?
Fuck… it had to be… what was I thinking? Reality changed every day, more drastically each time… but this change, nothing ever this radically different… shit. Of course that couldn’t have lasted. Would tomorrow be even worse? Maybe I shouldn’t go back to sleep.
If only that could’ve gone another day! If only I stayed up all night! Fucking male biology. Maybe I should’ve just refrained from sex… that best fucking sex of my life… no, it was heaven… at least I cherished it…. I’ll always cherish that day… I’ll reliver it forever…. yes…. I can remember her eyes, her hair, her lips, her…
I love her… Why didn’t I say it?!?
I love you.
FUCK!! So simple- but so… frightening… but I knew it… hell, I’ve been in love with her for months, I think, maybe even from the first moment- but this day of mutual… I felt it from her too… but was it the “true” her? – Was it… her eyes flashed fleetingly again, and I began to remember our last moments together…
“Ahkenaten,” a female voice whispered. Her voice>
“My love…” her again… what? Ah fuck. Can’t be Lucy… but I better just go with this.
“You know what you must do…”
Oh not this again.
‘I can’t take this kind of pressure right now,’ I thought. But the words that I felt come out of my mouth deceived my mind.
“Yes… it is for the good of our people. Our future.”
The face I thought was Lucy’s became clearer. It was again Nefertiti. The strange sensations I felt toward her in past dreams seemed amplified this time, as if mixed in with the factor of the newly cemented love for Lucy, and my renewed yearning for her. I knew she wasn’t Lucy, but I felt an almost similar bond… more alien, but intimate… maybe also because I was getting used to her recurring in my dreams… but why? Questions and analysis flew by but quickly dissolved as Nefertiti touched my arm… the loving, sweepinh touch of a… oh my. Just like Lucy’s touch last night, before we…
“Do not fear. Do not hesitate. I know the trepidation that lies within you… as well as the power, the will… and you know as well… you know yourself,” Nefertiti assured me. Or… him.
“I do know myself…” This time, the words more closely matched what I felt within. As usual, I wasn’t sure if I was actually speaking English, but I understood it all as such.
“Then let it be… Let go and do what thou knows thou must, what naturally shall emerge from within… They await thine action…” She held my hand in front of us, at arm’s length between us, pulling away, and let go.
I let myself fall deeper into the dream.
Kaleidoscopic images and trails, like mandalas and jeweled stained glass windows flew before me… cascading beautifully, hardly long enough for me to differentiate clear patterns or shapes… but all dazzling, enchanting, mesmerizing. Though it seemed realer than real; I and everything around me seemed so… alive. The colors sang, the shapes echoed, the lights seemed to reach out and touch me… deep within, and all throughout. I was in freefall, but floating, rising, and perfectly secure in my space. The space…
And then a lion ROARED.
It fleetingly seemed to jump at me through the cascading kaleidoscope, shattering the light, and then it seemed to be me. Was I the lion? Just as I started to check my body, lifting what seemed to be a paw as I looked down on it, feeling fur around my face, I woke up.
My head shot up, along with my hand. I looked at it, breathing heavily, and it was my regular hand, with five human fingers.
Laughter rang out… again, my cellmates, it sounded like. I turned to my left. A dark-skinned bald man stood at the doorway. Wait… what? He wasn’t here earlier. The light to his right kind of blurred his face, but I know there was no bald black guy in here earlier. Don’t tell me… I jumped to another jail timeline?
“This… this still jail?” I had to catch up with my breath. “Not prison?”
The guy at the door was now bent to his knees, laughing harder. I lifted my head to look at the guy on the other top bunk. It was still the Mexican. Rodrigo.
“Who- who are you?” I asked the guy at the door.
“Duuude… you sure you’re not supposed to be in Unit Seven? The mental unit?” Actually… it sounded like Mandela again. Ah, shit.
“I told you, ese is loco!!” Rodrigo shouted through manic laughter.
Mandela regained his posture, wiping tears from his eyes. “Bro, I just got a haircut. Just felt like time for a change.” He started laughing again as he stomped his feet and pointed a finger at me. “You are endless entertainment bro!”
“So… I’m still Pharaoh Whitey.” I got a grip back on “reality” and figured I’d just go with the flow and go with… levity.
Mandela threw his hands up as if in celebration. “By God he remembers! Akhenaten remembers who he is!” He shouted and raised his hands up higher, straight up. “Hallelujah!”
“Hallelujah!” The others shouted.
Despite this having every sign of being an innocent joke, it made me uncomfortable. I leaned over the side of my bunk to look down at Osama, just to check. Still him. I laid back.
“Please, don’t call me that,” I mumbled under my breath.
Mandela calmed down a bit and cleared his throat. The laughter subsided. “What? Akhenaten?” He studied me, waiting for some response. “Akhen—aten? Akh—inadin? Ah ge noddin’, ah-key-naytin’? Or… Ahgin-hodden oh-gee nodin!” He started to do a little dance, a silly shuffle.
I let out a sign, and a little chuckle. These guys weren’t so bad. Maybe a little annoying, but not bad at all. Maybe jail ain’t so scary/bad…
“Gringo laughs!” Rodrigo shot up in his bed again, clapping. They all started clapping.
“Oh yeah, to answer yo question, yes, you are still, Pharaoh Whitey,” Mandela clarified, closing with a bow.
I couldn’t help but smile, and shake my head. “Oh now… come on,” and another chuckle came out. That turned into a clearer laugh, and we all ended up laughing, and laughing.
I decided to stay awake this time.
Over the course of the day, I felt like these cellmates quickly became my friends, despite the resistance to talking much or participating, that I’m pretty sure I showed. I figured there was pretty much no choice anyway, unless they were assholes or equally anti-social, or nutso from jumping realities every day, which they weren’t. They seemed like they’d be exceptional members of “normal society”, perhaps with some exceptions with the profanity-laden rants of Rodrigo that I never really grasped the point or idea of… and Mandela came off as especially wise, insightful, and seemed to… “get me”. He almost had a trickster-esque quality, but pretty much all he said so far to me seemed pretty on-point and sincere.
When I got into the more general “society” of the jail unit, the “day room”, it was sort of like what I’d expected as the stereotyped inmate populations, but no fights or rapings, at least not yet, not visibly. I figured that’s more of a prison caricature anyway. Who knows how common that stuff is in the “average” prison, even… well, I guess prisoners know.
Anyway, it was very loyd, and I could hardly write notes on all this without fists pounding on the tables, making my pencil skid across the paper, and there were threats between others and lots of tough talking, but nothing that seemed to pose any imminent danger to my person. There was even jovial banter between the guards (COs- Correctional Officers) and some inmates, of course with the guards generally having more weight, well with their cuffs and uniforms and badges and all. Though a few inmates seemed to be treated as a higher caste by the COs, as well as most the other inmates- and one of these highly-respected fellows was apparently my cellie Mandela.
It was very interesting to get a taste of this world (but not so interesting to taste the food- ok, it was curious), though I held an expectant relief that soon, most likely the next day, I would move on to another reality again, hopefully outside of a locked down restrictive facility surrounded by barbed wire gates. Assuming whatever whacked out pattern or experiment or rip in the fabric of space-time I was stuck in.
I started to feel the paranoid concern set in that this might be where some experiment may have led me, perhaps I couldn’t remember or memory was erased of how I ended up here, and they conducted the testing here and now I finally had woken up to the real reality… they gave everyone here shots after all, didn’t they? And there was the one time I was drunk on the strip and the cop cuffed me and I only remember bits and pieces… but no, I remember walking away free and- well I shook the paranoia off, aided by this lazy-eyed guy sitting down next to me and then suddenly laughing about how much I was writing.
“Ohhh haa you, youuu are Stephen King, aren’t cha? Look what book I have in my hands!” I looked. It was The Shining.
“Awesome… Never read it, but love the movie,” I said as I raised the paper cup of water Mandela had given me. I sipped, and almost choked, recalling his first words. “Oh, no I’m not Stephen King.” I half-laughed, not thinking he was serious… but wasn’t sure.
“No- I know who you are…” He ran over to the book cart and grabbed another book, then ran back. “James Rollins!”
I looked at the book. The Last Oracle. Title sounded familiar, the author vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place him.
“Nope, my name’s Jacob… not even sure I’ve heard of him, and I’m not an author… well not published or famous, at least.” His excitement turned into a frown. He seemed disappointed. “Um… sorry…”
I tried to look straight in his good eye, once I realized which it was. I tried not to be too obvious, wondering how people usually made eye contact with him, but felt I just made it more awkwardly obvious.
He shook his head and walked away.
“People just don’t get it,” he muttered as he shuffled away.
*Notes- Right after I wrote the James Rollins/lazy-eyed man scene, the lazy-eyed guy I pictured in my unit came up behind me and asked if he could read The Last Oracle because he loves James Rollins… seriously.
“The Prometheus shuttle is due to enter Titan’s atmosphere on Friday, set to disperse seven probes which will analyze Saturn’s largest moon and map out its topography, sending back instant images to Earth, as well as, for the first time in an instantaneous feed, live audio.” The TV caught my attention over the old guy’s shoulder.
Interesting, I thought, in all I’d been following of this one news thread that seemed to be pretty consistent throughout all my differing experiences of reality, I never noticed any mention of a plan of a sound transmission. They didn’t give any more details aside from “everything’s going according to plan”, so I suddenly was determined to find a newspaper, recent magazine article, anything that would provide more details.
Finally driven with a minor mission in jail, I went to the presiding CO at the high desk at the front and waited for him to call me from the red waiting line. He looked at me then turned to the female CO to continue talking. A minute later, he nodded to me to approach. I walked up and looked up at his towering face.
“Do you have today’s newspaper?” I asked.
He pulled out a form from his desk and handed it to me. “Fill out this request form and you might get one in three to five days, if approved.”
3-5 days? Damn… I’m was pretty sure I’ll be in another reality by then… that is, unless, this is the “real” reality, my final path, back on course or whatever… meant to be here in jail… shit, I hope not. Well I might as well fill out the form, just in case… hmm, I better also check to see how long I’m sentenced for, or my court date.
“Do I have to fill out a request form to see how long I’m in here for?”
He gave me a blank stare.
“Boy, you haven’t check the list yet?” He looked at me as if I were crazy and shook his head, then pointed across the room. “Back behind the stairs, posted on the wall- your court date or release date if you’ve been sentenced.”
“Thanks,” I nodded, gulped a dry swallow, and headed toward the back. I slowed down my pace, realizing I have nowhere to be by any certain time, this is where my entire world is, at least for today. It feels kind of nice to just take it easy, in a way. But the outside world… what’s going on there?
Suddenly, Lucy flashed in my mind again.
“I want this moment to last forever,” one of the lines she said that melted me last night in bed replayed in my head with such clarity that it might as well have been just now.
“Me too,” I had responded. Smooth… such a smooth, beautiful response, I sarcastically thought to myself. “I love you, Lucy,” I said in my head, realizing I also just mouthed it there in the jail. I briefly shifted my eyes around to see if anyone saw me, but I didn’t really care. I was beyond mad at myself for not saying it to her the night before, the many times I thought it. I’m pretty sure I did ev en silently mouth it then, with her head nestled under my chin, her lips tenderly resting on my chest, below my neck. She couldn’t have noticed, unless she could read my mind. And I really hope she did. Actually, I really think she did.
I never felt such a strong, complete, transcendent yet fully present connection in my entire life. I wasn’t religious but I prayed and beffed, willed to whatever higher power, or to my inner kingdom, that we could experience it again; that the feeling, that perfect harmonious bond of a day, was not just that one day. But if it was, I’d have to accept it as the best, most beautiful day of my life, until I die.
But I was not resigning to that fate.
I realized I had been staring at the list of names and dates on the wall for who knows how long. I spotted my last name and followed it to the right.
Davalos, Jacob… Court date 7/7/17.
Hmm. Interesting date. Weeks away. Well I sure hope the universe takes me out of here well before then…
“Freeman is surging in the polls today, after what some say was his first debate win, scoring big points on his response to a question about prison overcrowdings and the deepening controversies of America’s judicial system, a hot topic lately,” the news again caught my attention from the TV above the back of my head.
“…Stop the rounding up of thought criminals and ‘potential hazards’! This is the opposite of what the constitution intended, as well as completely backwards and not progressive! The first simple and obvious solution to our overcrowded jails and prisons would be to release all inmates who haven’t ev en committed actual crimes! These new ‘potential criminal intent’ laws are also putting cops more on edge than they can keep up with, because how are they to truly know what a suspect is thinking? We don’t need yet another paranoid, tyrannical justice reform act, we need a fundamental rethinking of what kind of future we want for America, and we must act now before the door on freedom of thought is closed forever.”
Whoa whoa whoa… powerful- but, thought crime? Potential criminal intent? Have I ended up in Minority Report? Is Philip K. Dick rewriting my life?? This the conspiratorial path I’d imagine amongst many dystopian future possibilities in my studies that led me to Freeman’s campaign, but- now?? How could this be hap- oh shit- could I be one of those “rounded up”? A “thought criminal”? Of course this whole scenario isn’t too bizarre to believe anymore- I was a free man yesterday, not arrested b etween then and now, yet her I am in jail, apparently a resident here for a while now… I couldn’t wait for the court date to find out. This news popped up for me to hear for a reason, another puzzle piece… What was I wasting time for? I had less distractions here than ev er to delve into myself, soberly, and investigate this mystery of my ever-more-perplexing reality… not much outside research material amongst the library cart of fiction novels and Bibles, but that might be for the best…
Although, maybe one of the numerous sci-fi novels would provide some hints… ooh, The Strain, written by one of my favorite directors, Guillermo Del Toro… didn’t even know he’s written a book… about… vampires? Eh… I’d take it just because I love his directing, even though I’ve been sick of the vampire genre for years…
Ok, my cellmate said there’s a two-book (and two-bible) limit, so I’d better pick the next one carefully… intuitively, perhaps. Hmm, Steve Berry, I’ve heard he’s a good political thriller writer, but I swore off politics outside of the campaign office. This was actually a bit of a nice respite away from that environment, and I walked away from the TV every time they talked about the two main party candidates (Rothstein and Marshall). It was a nice surprise to hear Freeman was actually spiking in polls, definitely a different timeline/reality than what I’d been used to. But I didn’t need fictional political drama on top of the real life crap. The next one definitely looked sci-fi-ish… World of Chance… wait- Philip K. Dick?!? I loved him, but never heard of this novel…
I looked at the synopsis… “the solar system’s government is run by lottery… the Quizmaster, dictator of all humanity…eh, it sounded a little *too* sci-fi for my mood… yeah, I’ve been too used to movies and more of a dystopian or dark comedy or political or non-fiction book reader… it just seemed so… dark for here, and dare I say cheesy. But the title made me think of my own situation, in which everyday seemed to be a reality selected by lottery. I’d keep this in mind and tuck it under the mess of more unappealing-looking books on the cart. Just in case I don’t find another or come back later. Ooh- Roald Dahl- I’ve read some of his short over-the-top stuff before- My Uncle Oswald– “a raunchy…” -eh, I could use some raunchy escapist humor! Why not? It’s short, anyway.
I tucked the two books under my arm and made my way to a table- when I noticed a guy yelling on the phone, clearly at a female who had wronged him.
“I’m up in here, can’t do shit, y’all out here fuckin’ my fuckin’ homies, fuck you fuckin’ trick! Skank-ass bitch-ass–“
At least I wasn’t in any situation like that. It hit me that I could at least give it a shot- I didn’t know Lucy’s number (how about that for the woman I love…), but maybe she’d be at the campaign office… I picked up a phone and made a collect call. It was worth a try.
To my pleasant surprise, I had money on my account. After the jail system’s introductory recording (my recorded name was of my own voice- but very out-of-it and down sounding- I never recalled that), the campaign office manager Steve answered.
“Haven’t heard from you in a while… getting out soon?”
“I don’t know. I need to speak to Lucy.” I wasn’t wasting any time.
“It’s an emergency. Please. Just give her the phone.” I especially didn’t want to waste time on this hovering asshole.
“Ah… whatever…” After a moment of pause, I heard him away from the phone, “Lucy… Jacob wants to talk to you… the guy in jail.”
A few more seconds passed. My heart pounded. Long seconds. I heard her voice faintly in the background, sounding inquisitive, but I couldn’t tell what she was saying.
“she… can hardly remember you,” the asshole’s voice back on the phone agitated me so much I hardly registered what he said, or I didn’t want to believe it. I then heard her say something agitated that sounded like “don’t say that!” Good.
“Just give her the damn-“
“Hello?” she answered.
“Lucy! It’s so great to hear your voice…”
“Oh, um… ok… Are you ok?”
“I… well, yeah… in jail, but, I guess you know… um, do you… do you remember…” I didn’t know how to word this question, about last night, since apparently they knew or thought I’d been in jail…
“Ah… why I’m here?” There was a pause, and a sigh. I couldn’t do it. Next best question.
“Oh… ah… how about…” I took a deep breath. “Last night?”
Another pause that lasted forever.
“Last um… ah, never mind.” I didn’t hear any hint of acknowledgment in her voice.
“Oh… kay… I remember my night… but I haven’t the slightest idea of any of your nights…”
“Alright, I’m sorry to bother you.”
“Sorry I couldn’t… help you? Is that all?”
“That’s all…” I was dying to say I love you, but it was back to her just thinking I’m some weirdo… or even worse; she hardly even treated me as a friend… I choked up and hung up the phone quickly. I ducked my head as I made it back to my cell, trying to hold back the tears.
The woman I fully realized I loved more than any girl before, just the previous night, on the most romantic, passionate, connected night of my life, now barely seemed to know me at all. Reset to an acquaintance. Practically a stranger.
I walked up to my cell and tried to force myself to sleep.
My thoughts seemed to start flying by in a dizzying montage that seemed to push the edge of insanity, and I knew I just had to let it out. At least no one was in there at the moment.
I let tears flow onto my blanket, which turned into a full-on bawling, muffled by burying my head into my blanket-pillow. Eventually, that led in to sleep.
“Jacob!” a muffled high-pitched voice rang out. “Jacob, come out here!”
A faint, out-of-focus figure shifted in and out of my view, alternating between darkness and light, more yellow and golden-hued with each increase in brightness and relative clarity, until it appeared to be a blonde female.
“JACOB! Hurry!” Suddenly the image of Lucy became clear, set against a glaringly white background. I stepped forward with a difficulty, a heaviness in my legs, and realized there was a fence between us. I looked up and couldn’t see how far up the top was. I leaned forward to grab it but there seemed to be some kind of magnetic resistance, like a forcefield.
The look on Lucy’s face grew into horror and despair, and this feeling transfered to me. I desperately managed a step toward her, and nearly fell into the gate. It felt like that was dangerously close, as if i may be electrified or weaponized upon touch. I regained my footing and stood in place, an inch from the gate, and inches from her face. She drew in to kiss me, and this at once filled me up with love and excitement and made me worry for her safety. The thought flashed through my head that whatever happened, it’d be a moment of perfect union together, one that would last forever, and the feeling of permanent bliss drew me in.
Suddenly I felt some kind of warm electrical current sensation sweep over me, starting at the lips and spreading outward rapidly as if in a wave formation. Sort of a concentic or spiral shockwave, or more of a gentle torus-like donut-shaped pattern soon enveloping my body, both our bodies… there was no feeling of the fence between us; I opened my eyes and it was gone. But so was she.
I began to run forward, taking off very slowly, pressure pulling back on my legs- the strong magnetic field still apparently there, but weakening with each step. The longer strides I took, the faster I incrementally picked up speed. I saw a faint human-like figure again, off in the distance.
“Jacob!” I heard from afar, her voice seeming to echo off some walls I couldn’t see. I didn’t bother to look at my surroundings, dead-set on catching up to her. She could have been in trouble and i needed to keep her with me.
I opened my mouth to shout but only “-cy!” came out. I pushed faster, to full running speed, nearly gliding. Her figure grew but still so far away.
“Jac…” her voice became more distant, more uffled, and more reverberated now, and of a lower, sultrier pitch… all felt more alien at once, and for a split second I turned my attention to the darkness, the all-encompassing darkening gray… as soon as I turned back to her, I lost sight of her… again. I stumbled and fell to my knees.
I opened my mouth to scream her name and nothing came out. I brought my hands to my mouth to amplify my holler and noticed they were shimmering with gold and silvery light. I forgot what I was going to yell, and turned my hands and arms over, analyzing in awe the gleaming ethereal glow emanating from my limbs… I looked down at my legs, also shining almost blindingly. I looked up my torso, and I was completely illuminated. I looked forward and around, as the surroundings started to become revealed gradually, outward from me, as if I were the light source.
“You are, indeed,” the deeper female voice seemed to answer. This was not Lucy. I began to recognize the voice from dreams. But this did not feel like any dream. I felt everything. My light filled me with a lively warmth and shone forth, out of my being, with a vibrant auric feel. I could never quite place this with a specific physical feeling before but it felt very familiar, reminded me of *something*, and it felt completely “right”. I felt fully self-assured and whole. Yet it was still a mystery… why… what…
“You are remembering…” she spoke again, both surrounding me and within me. “…but a taste…”
My attention on my inner sensations and the voice shifted back to my surroundings, now completely aglow. My light was still the brightest source, but everything around me shimmered. It was a sort of grand hall, a palace… ancient-seeming, glorious rugs and decadent decorations of jewels and lamps adorning the walls… and I came to realize it was all an Egyptian theme. Golden statues and apparent tombs of pharaohs lined the sides… yes, I was back in this world, this time.
“Yes my king, but remember… this is but a taste… you must go deeper…”
I felt the heaviness on my legs return, and looked down. There were golden shackles on my feet. My heart oicked up its pace, pounding harder with each beat. I tried to lift each foot but was unable to move either whatsoever. I began to panic, and my entire body became heavy.
“This is all you can taste, until you let go…” the voice surrounded me.
I felt an instant resistance to these words.
“Why do you insist on resisting? You were so close to letting go… just, remember…” the disembodied voice of Nefertiti told me. I knew it was her.
My body now felt like lead. I looked slowly down to my hands and they were also in golden shackles, but then both sets of shackles turned into iron, then sure enough, lead. I just seemed to know… and then, my shimmering glow faded completely. I looked up, neck stiffening to near-immobility, and all the surroundings began to turn to ash.
Far ahead, where I previously saw Lucy’s figure, or whatever the figure was, a flame appeared. It grew and seemed to come closer, at first slowly, then picking up speed in closeness and size.
“Jaaacoooob!!” Lucy’s faint voice returned. “Jaaaaaacooooob!!!” her voice grew louder, full of fear. My hear pounded harder than ever, faster and faster. The flame drew closer, the heat increasing, beads of sweeat growing instantly all over my body. I then made out a figure within the flame, which grew just like the flame of horror inside me, that was the dread of realizing it was Lucy…
It couldn’t even register in my mind that this must be a dream… I felt everything too powerfully- the overbearing sweat, the immobilizing fear and dead weight, the unbearable stench of burning flesh and doom… and then a suffocating lack of oxygen, as I finally was overcome with the determination to save Lucy, trying with more might than I ever felt was in me to leap for her and push her out of the flame.
“Just let go,” Lucy whispered.
My muscles suddenly relaxed, the weights fell off, a huge bluish light orb appeared in front of me, replacing my vision, pulsating… and then I woke up.
I sat straight up, breathing heavily, dropping sweat, my jumpsuit drenched.
Still in the cell. I saw Mandela out of the side of my eye, staring at me from his bottom bunk, a concerned look on his face, wringing his hands.
“Dude… you ok?”
I caught my breath and swallowed. “Ah, yeah.” I nodded quickly and had to take a few more deep breaths and remind myself it was another dream. Parts of it flashed through my mind vividly, and I shook it off and looked to the tiny slit of a window near the ceiling, snapping myself back to “reality”.
“Are… you sure?” Mandela shook his head as if answering for me, not believing me.
I took one more very deep breath and exhaled slowly, closing my eyes. A remnant of the pulsating blue light remained, faintly, and with a softer slower pulse. It now seemed to soothe me. I nodded again, slowly this time, as I reopened my eyes and smiled gratefully at him. He nodded his head in the affirmative this time, a look of relief coming over him but a lingering appearance of frightened concern in his eyes, as if he just saw me… helplessly witness the love of my life burning in flames.
“Yeah… bad, very bad dream… sorry, didn’t mean to scare anybody.” I looked around and under my bunk but nobody else was there, except for Mandela.
“They’re gone, it’s just us two until we get a new cellie. Should be sometime today…”
Shit. Did I switch realities to… another jail reality? This can’t be. And this same… Mandela guy? I’d never seen him before this cell. Maybe he’s some kind of… clue? Or more… he seems to have some “knowing” about him… deeper than the knowledge he spouts… that kind of gleam in his eye… oh damn, I was staring at him too long. He was clearly getting uncomfortable. He pulled his book out but I doubt he was reading.
(*** pick a current or past tense!!!***)
“When was uh, the last time we had cellmates? I forgot…” Wow, smooth. Real smooth.
“Man… before you went to sleep. That you know of. You last saw them like 12 hours ago… Rodrigo left shortly after you fell asleep and Osama rolled out like two hours ago. He tried saying bye and even slammed the door twice but you were catatonic, dude. You missed breakfast and lunch, we’re about to have dinner.”
Twelve hours? What the hell? I couldn’t even recall dozing off… only the dream. One of the realest I’ve ever had. And come to think about it, the first of its kind… in which the “real world” characters blended with or transitoned to theEgyptian dreamworld chracters… Lucy had never been in that realm of my dreams, as much as I’d been having dreams of her and dreams of the ancietn Egyptian crazy stuff… and she seemed trapped… I seemed trapped…
“Did I… talk again? In my sleep?”
“Ya know you did. Yelled, screamed after some quieter attempts… I know the feeling, never heard it before though. They missed the freakout. You remember what that was all about? What made ja wake up finally?”
I certainly could remember, but the thought of merely speaking the words to describe choked me up. I shook my head no, not able to hide the lingering dream trauma.
“Have you uh… I say this as a concerned cellie… have you seen the psych nurse? At all since you’ve been here?”
“Psych nurse? No… I don’t think so…”
“Oh… well dude, maybe you… hmm, did you take any meds on the outside?”
“No. Nothing medical wrong, not that I know of.”
“Ok… well, again, I say this as a… friend. We friends right, Pharaoh?”
I hesitated but quickly nodded. I felt comfortable enough, I think. “Yeah, for sure,” I smiled thinly.
“Cool, he smiled back. “I think maybe… maybe you should see her. It wouldn’t hurt. You don’t have to say yes to anything and she’s very helpful. Ya can’t get that kind of instant free access on the outside. At least not in your own home. Well, not that I know where ya live–“
The guy actually may have had the best idea I’d yet heard- probably more sensible than any route I had tried to figure this whole thing out. I’d never been one for therapists but I usually respect them, and have long had interest in the field of psychology… maybe at least some sliver of sense could be made out of this nonsensical new world that I hadn’t yet thought of… maybe that “hidden knowledge” twinkling in his eye was pretty rational, logical knowledge.
As long as they wouldn’t push psychiatric drugs on me, it was worth a shot. Hell, I was here for day two anyway… and seeing as it seemed to be the same linear world as the day before, maybe I was on the right track, or getting there… aside from being held captive. But so far, safely inside… walled off fom the totally unknown, unpredictable, nonlinear outside world…
“That’s a great idea, thanks!”
Mandela’s face lightened up, as if he were preparing for an offended response. He nodded as the gleam in his eye sparked once more.
The first thing I did when evening free time started, sometime around 7 or 8, was go straight to the guards’ desk. I asked for a kite (request form) and sat down, set pencil to paper, and… didn’t know what to write.
I looked down the list of types of requests/departments to forward to, and I figured I’d check “request to see psychologist”, under the Medical department. I filled out my personal information and looked at the description section. I just wrote down whatever came to me.
“I can’t remember how or why I got here… I forget what happens almost every day. I don’t know what’s happening, I need some kind of help.”
I had no idea how they’d respond or if they’d even take it seriously, but I handed it to the Corrections Officer at the desk. I kind of hoped he wouldn’t read it but just sign it and give me the carbon copy, but he studied it for far longer than I thought it’d take to read.
He finally looked up at me, the cocky smirk he initially had was now a tense look of some concern, and asked, “Are you suicidal?” He looked piercingly through my eyes.
“No… No, not at all,” I said after a pause and stutter, because the question caught me off guard. I should’ve expected it though, since the form noted next to the psychologist option, “if suicidal in nature, notify supervisor immediately”. He studied me for several more moments then walked behind his desk, and picked up the phone.
“You sure you’re not suicidal?” he asked louder, turning the heads of several inmates behind me. I shook my head.
“No, I just want to try to figure out what’s wrong.”
He nodded and talked quietly into the phone, and hung up within seconds. “Ok, have a seat at the table and wait a few minutes.”
I didn’t expect to be seen so quickly… I hoped he hadn’t told her I was suicidal after all. The officer (I finally read his name badge, which said Rollins) approached the table behind me, shooing everyone away as I made my way to it.
“Clear out, none of you have any business here. Off!”
Almost four inmates got off the table, looking confused. One remained sitting on the table as I slowly sat on the bench.
“Get the fuck OFF!!”
The remaining guy jumped off and gave me a weird look, as I half-sat up and hesitated.
“Just sit there,” he looked down to a card he had pulled out before he left the desk. “…Jacob.”
I didn’t bother to look around at the inevitable stares surrounding me, the weight of their gazes and curiosity about my special treatment pulling heavily down on my shoulders.
Within a minute, a nurse was already at the gate, and officer Rollins walked up to let her in. They both walked up to me, then she stopped halfway into sitting and gestured to him and I to move over to the medical office several feet away. We walked inside and Rollins closed the door behind us. The nurse rolled the single chair in the room from the desk over to where I stood.
“Have a seat,” she directed me.
I sat and took a breath, filled with more anxiety than I felt when filling out the form. They also looked very tense. She seemed to force a more comforting expression onto her face.
“I have to ask you first, are you suicidal?”
“No I am not.” I was ready this time. I looked her directly in the eyes and tried to appear calmer myself. A bit of a relief seemed to come over her, and the air became a degree more pleasant. She jotted on her clipboard.
“Are you diagnosed with any mental disorders? Illnesses?”
“No… none that I know of, I’ve never been to a psychologist… or psychiatrist…”
She marked something else on her paper. She relaxed more with a silent exhale. I did too.
“So… what’s the problem? You keep forgetting things?”
“Ah, yeah…” I glanced over to the CO, who then crossed his arms, looking sidewats at me. “Every day… or, almost… well, everything changes… Like, I don’t know how I got here…”
“Hmm. Do you have any drug problems? Meth, heroin, alcohol abuse…” she slowed down on that last one, at the same time that my head shaking ‘no’ had slowed down.
“No hard drugs… I, well I drink alcohol- drank… not a problem I’d say, at least not anymore… but I drink at times,” I acknowledged, knowing where this might be going, and faintly wondering to myself if alcohol might be related… but no way could it be the cause, the primary factor. And no way that it could account for any of the reality shifts or sudden jumps. Actually, my use had increased to levels maybe near but still under the binging amounts I’d consumed regularly in my early twenties, to help cope/escape from this completely inconsistent reality.
But I have kept the faith that the world would return to normal, or I’d regain my sanity if that’s what was temporarily lost. No way it could be permanent, and alcohol was often my temporary fix to seemingly temporary problems, at least to hold me over into a new day when I could clear my mind and think of workable solutions. But this… I’d found no solution nor any hint of one manageable by my own mind or hands so far, so here I was… my first psych evaluation… in a jail. Well, forced sobriety… and still the same place and timeline as the day before, actually… so maybe I was actually getting somewhere. Though jail was definitely not ever the ‘somewhere’ I’d want to be… Wait, shit, had alcohol gotten me here? Did I get arrested in a black out?
“Sir?” She snapped me out of my thought trail, one I thought had been following her line of questioning, since I was saying and shaking my head “no” to a list of drugs she was asking me if I use/abuse. I guess that part had ended.
“Oh, occasional marijuana use, for anxiety… “I looked over at Officer Rollins, who shifted his crossed arms to an even tighter position, looking uncomfortable and now raising an eyebrow at me. I quickly looked back at the nurse. She jotted a note down.
“So, no history of head trauma, recent concussions, migraines? Documented memory loss?”
“Um, have bumped my head at times over the years, especially as a kid… nothing serious, no fractured skull or anything, not that I know of…”
“And no thoughts of suicide or… homicide?”
“No, none,” I instantly shook my head. I caught a split-second glance she shot toward Rollins, with her own eyebrow raise, as she again put pen to paper, unnerving me. She set her pen down, took a breath and a sigh, glanced at him again, then looked at me.
“Mr. Davalos(?)… do you remember why you were arrested?” she asked, hands clasped on the table.
I looked to Rollins, then back to her, shaking my head hesitantly. “No, actually… no, I don’t know why I’m here.” I gulped dryly, trying to prepare myself mentally.
The officer shifted his weight around out of the side of my eye. I knew I looked nerv ous, but I couldn’t possibly feel guilty of an unknown charge.
“Mental conspiracy/preconceptualized manifestation accomplice to mass murder.”
I felt my jaw drop. I looked at her blankly, awaiting the context or punchline. Hopefully a punchline, a joke.
“For the St. Louis massacre.”
My blank look continued. It then sounded vaguely familiar. She looked at the cop then back at me. A slow impossible-seeming sinking feeling weighed down my gut. I never moved my head once, except possibly my moutgh opening a little longer in speechlessness.
“The eighteen officers killed in cold blood? 6/12… everyone knows about that.” She shook her head as my expression grew more incredulous. I looked down and shook my head, trying to remember, it seeming slightly familiar, but thinking it must not have happened on my timeline.. whatever timeline I was on then… but I guess it had on this one.
I caught the figure of Officer Rollins shifting again blurrily in my peripheral, but I dared not look at him. The weight of this suddenly started sending my mind reeling. The confusion even moreso…
“What??” My head shot back up when the words of the charges replayed in my head.
“Thought crime,” the cop snapped aggressively. “You damn well know what,” anger seethed through his words as his face turned red.
My mind spun even more. A mix of nervousness, confusion, disbelief, loss of logic, fear, absurdity, suspicion, strong urge to flee… and then the thought loudly crossed my mind, “calm down, think carefully… they might be able to hear you. Fuck.”
I sat back in my seat. I looked down, shook my head. I could feel their glares on me.
“We’re not here to interrogate you,” the nurse said with a calmer but serious tone, a tinge of wariness in her voice. “You’re here on a hold while the FBI builds their case; this thought-crime, pre-crime stuff is pretty new, the laws still being sorted out.” She looked over to Rollins briefly as if to calm him down.
Suddenly, a vague but sharp feeling of deja vu hit me. I got flashes of a dream, or memory of imagined thoughts, of a bunch of police getting shot and blown up by the St. Louis Gateway Arch. It was as if from a movie scene… but felt like I was “there”… I know I wasn’t though, it was so dreamlike… was I there in another “timeline”? No, that seemed like a dangerous thought, especially in this world, these circumstances. I pushed the images out as much as possible. But was this what they “saw”? Did I dream or imagine this before it happened, and they somehow caught my thoughts?
I closed my eyes, took a breath, and tried clearing my mind. Far easier said than done. Maybe harder than any meditation attempt in my life. I already wasn’t that good at meditating. Now slowing down my racing hurricane of thoughts was like trying to corral a chaotic stampede of horses chasing after rabbits running out in all directions.
I looked up and realized my hand was trembling slightly. I tried to “act normal” but knew I was doing horribly. The silence felt like underwater pressure plugging my ears, and my strained breathing made me feel as if the oxygen was being vacuumed out of the room. They both seemed to float closer to me, hovering inches in front of my face.
She went into her drawer and pulled out a gallon of water and a small paper cup. She filled the cup and slid it over to me. I studied it for a second then quickly grabbed it, shaking, and gulped it down. It barely felt like a trickle down my suddenly parched throat but filled my chest with hydrating relief. I cherished the feeling of the water going down my tubes.
I opened my eyes, wiped the sweat from my mustache and forehead, took a breath and saw that they were back in their original posititions, and air was returning to the room. I realized they had probably never actually moved in on me. Or was it an intentional mindfuck? It was so hard to tell in there… I’d seen other inmates get shots, and I probably did upon intake. I’d heard everyone got TB tests. Who knew what was really in those needles? I was under the overt complete control of the government, after all. In captivity, even if by local forces, still the American Gestapo. Could I also be a prisoner of a mind war?
Seriously, thought crime? Dan Freeman was making his stand against this his platform, I recalled from the news the day before… and now I’m in the middle of it, a victim to the most draconian, invasive, offenseive, unconstitutional laws in American history, it seemed…
Fuck it, I thought, they can’t control my thoughts, they can’t tell me what I can’t think. I’d never act on such a grotesque thought anyway. Isn’t it normal for random terrible images to occasionally pass through the mind? Though then it started to feel like a fleeting “fantasy” I may have had months before, then dismissed. But I didn’t plan any of it. Did I foresee it? Are they after some ability? Shit, was I an experiment?