I foolishly crash on a comfy leather sofa in a well appointed office. There I am torn away, lost in nightmares, clawing for safe anchorage in the sea of deadly nothingness. Emotions are banished to the numbing void and I fall, clutching cold Death who holds me gently. The dreaded nervous breakdown intervenes, shaking me from cold bony hands, listening for the clack of teeth and a defeated cry. Having retrieved its victim the husk is flung aside and is lost to velvety darkness. Liberation from its attention is more terrifying than its gloating presence.
A single dim light stills a finger twitching to trigger a permanent solution. The search-beam emitted from an Isle of Sanity I often turn away from. Since the day we met Kristine has patiently held a beacon there, waiting for me to return from each long swim. I paddle to its snickering shore and timidly pick over the wreckage of the good ship Fault and Blame.
Here too is a massive bloated carcass of need. It lolls in lapping waves of cynicism, clutching the shell of approval and affection in locked hands. The mind’s eye diverts from the hollow emptiness inside. There falls a short rain of scorn on a pathetic plan to love and desire from afar. It mewls nakedly at the high water mark, pitifully pleading to be nursed. Its refusal to give understanding and support shows up the kindergarten punches and name-calling as dismal replacements.
Then the juggernauts of responsibility and debt arrive, crashing over the flaccid stalks of fear and loathing. They are too heavy. Instead of raising the Phoenix waiting beneath these silky ashes, they flatten it. The island shakes under the new weight, and sinks.
Kristine’s tired light flickers in the morass of rejection and worthlessness...
...The physical body jerks a tumble-dried mind into reality with a gastro-intestinal hiccup. Organs busily neutralising drugs and emitting waste have ruined the stomach's ability to properly digest infrequent food.
Freshly risen morning sun greets a sweaty white face. I sit up, blinking urgently as the dreams rush one way and I rush the other, across the director’s office to the attached en-suite.
Only when finished expelling high-velocity liquid flatulence do I contemplate the absence of toilet paper. A handy face towel is substituted. Thousand count Egyptian cotton. Nice and soft. The scarcity of bowl water and an empty tank hurries my exit from the room’s fouled air.
The emergency bowel evacuation doesn’t lessen the queasiness caused by mistreating then neglecting a sore stomach. I retrace a thousand steps to the quiet staff wing and buffer sagging spirits with fried food and an amphetamine/opiate mix.
It is then I remember my mission. A shotgun snatched from the armoury lends strength.
I return to the infirmary.
There is a dimness inside I am sure comes from closing eyelids. Fingertips feel their dry crust and openness. A key twists silently and, ninja-like, a breathed-in body slides through a three-quarter gap.
The trauma room beyond is darker still. Shadows made large by remote light throw tentacles and fast moving blobs across its glassed wall. I jump and twitch at my own movements. A switch reacts to a slap. Sparks shoot through humming tubes of gas. Kristine’s figure is ungloomed. She sits beside her love, a bowed head cradled in crossed arms. A swath of her hair touches Shanna’s shoulder.
Asleep? Dead? Or is she one of them now?
The possibility electrifies a hand to pump a cartridge into the waiting chamber.
Shanna’s creature watches me. For the moment I do my best to ignore the creepy bitch’s eyes, after noting her gag is in place. A crisp white sheet hides her restraints.
I don't like that. Is she free to move under that cloth? Would a guileful Parasite lay in wait for me? I’m not about to enter that room.
I cuddle the reassuring shotgun to my chest and look elsewhere. A pile of clothes and another stained sheet lies in the corner of this room. Shanna’s bodily functions have demanded relief during the night. Kristine has cut free the soiled clothes, but has she loosened the belts?
A basin filled with dirty wipes and empty bottles of saline are on a bench.
I’d forgotten the plumbing doesn’t work down here.
They’ve run out of drinking water too.
A gaoler for half a day and already my human rights record is lousy. Putting humans out of their misery is something I do better. Euthanasia, execution, and outright murder too.
I lift the shotgun and squint down the barrel.
Shanna’s head fills wavering sights.