The physician's smock I was wearing didn't surprise me, considering I was strolling through a psych-ward. Neither did the legal pad in my hand, or even my black wire-frame glasses despite my normally 20/20 vision. What did surprise me was the fact that the distracted-looking doctor who was guiding us through the hospital passed dozens of empty cells without comment. The place seemed to be empty. But he seemed to be purposely striding towards one end of the hall, where the tile floor changed suddenly from white to black, and the walls along with it. Suddenly my entourage stood out in striking contrast against the walls, and I noticed a few familiar faces. L, a friend from my previous life at the university, and R from my even more distant high school days. Lucas made a characteristically whimsical comment on some point concerning the actions of the character occupying the cell in front of which we had now paused. The wall of the cell facing the corridor was suddenly one-way glass, and the cell, along with its occupant came into view.
He was standing in the center of the room, hands at his sides, staring straight up at the ceiling of his cell, as if waiting for it to come crashing down on his head and finally end his imprisonment. The half-smile on his face was not one of enlightenment. The only other object in the room was a short, shiny black table. I couldn't ascertain the material of its construction. I guessed highly polished wood of some sort.
Our guide spoke up suddenly from an open cabinet to the left of the cell. I had not seen the cabinet when I had passed it, because it did not stick out from the wall and the door was fashioned to look exactly like the outer wall. Despite its function as a cabinet, it was built like a safe. Inside were two objects, the syringe filled with a pink liquid and a strange device that had the appearance of a small radio, with an extra long antenna at the center. The rest of the cabinet was completely bare. The doctor removed the radio, but eyed the syringe warily, almost fearfully.
"The transmitter here is what I wished to demonstrate to you." I spoke up to ask about the syringe, but the sound of the heavy cabinet door slamming into place and the excited murmur of the rest of the crowd killed my question. I considered making use of my legal pad so I wouldn't forget to ask again later, but at that point a pretty Indian girl dressed also in a smock tugged on my sleeve suddenly and whispered,
"Are you going to attend the football game after the demonstration?" she asked. She had glasses as well, and she now readjusted them higher up onto her thin nose. I admired her shiny black hair, now pulled tightly into a bun on top of her head.
"Yes, of course. Aren't you?" I had heard nothing of a game after the tour.
We were suddenly interrupted by a muffled clatter as the single piece of furniture in the cell slammed against the wall between the madman and us. The table bounced harmlessly off of the wall and landed on its side on the floor. The madman was in exactly the same position as before, except his gaze was now leveled directly on the wall in front of him, where only his own reflection was staring back at him.
"It's okay now, ladies and gentlemen. Observe his actions after I have adjusted this device." He twisted a knob on the "radio," and inched a tiny lever upwards. The madman didn't so much turn his head, but it seemed as if his eyes had suddenly turned grey. I got the feeling he could no longer see. I felt this might be worth scribbling in my notebook, and I turned my head to obtain the thoughts of the Indian doctor from before, but she was gone. I disappointedly scanned the immediate crowd. To my surprise, I saw her a few rows behind me and a few feet to the right. I tried to catch her eye without success.
But then the doctor opened the locked door to the cell with a flourish. The people around the door took a few steps hurriedly back. The madman appeared in the doorway. I noticed suddenly that he was young. I wouldn't guess any older than 25-26, and his hair was dark black, and hung over his forehead and part of his eyes, giving the appearance that his eyes were lowered. He was of medium height and build, with tanned skin. He was the image of perfect health. He was sick beyond repair.
He emerged from the doorway, and walked through the parting crowd. He walked not with the Frankenstein jerk I expected, but with the fluidity and grace and of a dancer come out for the final bow. He walked directly up to me. I held my position, but looked nervously around me. The madman and I were at the center of a circle of onlookers. I looked back to the madman; his eyes were black.
I sat up in bed and realized I was thirsty. I drank some water. I layed back down.
It was later, and I was at a football game. R was there, but I couldn't see Lucas or the Indian girl anywhere. We split up into small teams, and began our game on the grassy slope in front of the hospital. We were all kids, around 15 years of age, except for two older men that were presumably hospital orderlies. We were all dressed in sweats and t-shirts. On my team were several people I did not know, my former roommate C, and myself. The opposite team was comprised completely of strangers.
C became the quarterback, I became I receiver, and the rest of the team was superfluous. We were kicking ass. Completion after completion, touchdown after touchdown. I even made a few interceptions and turned them into points. Suddenly C disappeared, and so the rest of the male portion of my team. Now I was playing with a team full of Vietnamese girls, all of whom spoke only Vietnamese. I assumed the position of quarterback by virtue of my naturally superior upper body strength, if not my talent. They were trying to tell me where to throw the ball. Suddenly I knew the word meant pines. They wanted me to throw the ball to the slim, fast girl underneath a pine tree near the sidelines. One of the orderlies was charging me so I quick-released a pass as hard as I could, hopefully in her general direction. I saw from the ground that it was too high, that it would go over her head and even over the building, but it did not. She leapt higher than was physically possible and gracefully caught the football in one hand, and sailed lightly into the end zone. My team of girls erupted into frenzied cheers. Their faces were painted; they were both fans and players. They did not cheer for me. They lifted their slim comrade onto their shoulders and carried her away. As they marched away cheering, their heroine turned unsmiling and looked at me, and I saw she wasn't Vietnamese at all, but the Indian girl from before with her hair down and no glasses.
And suddenly I saw the future. I knew it was the future because I wasn't there and yet it was true. In a flash she was attending an interview, the tour guide from before questioning her pleasantly and then she was working observing testing staring at the madman. She was obsessed with him she loved him, but she hated him. She ran away with him. In a brown SUV I saw her attack him from the back seat. I saw her smother him with a mask that was somehow filled with a smoky gas. I saw now from outside the car the crash and the explosion. I was upclose when I saw her burn. I saw her carried away by her triumphant teammates. I cried
when i woke up.