Inside there were these dreams that formed a continuous story. They didn’t run in consecutive order, but were more like a pile of snapshots scattered on the floor, some overlapping, some flipped over, all part of a collage that formed a larger picture. You never saw her face, just the back and sides of her head. And there was the curve in her hips and the long tresses of dyed auburn hair complete with highlights. You were following her through a maze of sorts, a labyrinth in the Greek myth sense. You weren’t completely sure whether you were travelling towards the center of madness or an exit to paradise. Either way you felt compelled. You couldn’t abandon the journey.
There was this sense of heat all around you, wherever you were. Not like the sweltering punishment that is summer in Savannah, or the clay oven purgatory that is White Sands when the sun is high in the sky. The closest thing you could equate it to was a womb, the first sensations of life and movement inside the belly swollen by your father’s seed. Of course you cannot remember that, but it’s the only thing you can liken it to. Somewhere off in the distance you would hear her laugh or catch a smile made of perfectly polished of enamel, the brush of lips against your neck, the aroma of thousand-dollar perfume topped off with a dash of Nag Champa. She was more of an idea more than a person, a complete stranger you once knew better than yourself. The goal is to get back to that. The goal is to get back to them.
There’s a loud noise. It’s something between the red alert sound on the old Starship Enterprise and the worst clock/radio alarm known to man. Your eyes pop open, the muscles in the lids tender and sore from the effort. The floor is bleached white linoleum: surgically clean and a single sheet of whatever surface it’s made of. The walls are pure or oak or pine, but not paneling. Definitely not paneling.
There are three IV’s in your right arm and two bands wrapped around it. The tube from each connects to an electronic system built into the wall. You’re smart enough to recognize that one monitors heart rate and blood pressure. A three-dimensional rendering of brain demarcated by different colors in different section pans to the left and right on a screen mounted on a wall. Another monitor appears to be a GPS of some kind, placing you as a big dot on a small but seemingly expansive map. Your left hand is free. In it is a cloth bag of some kind containing what feels like dried leaves, earth, coins and something else. The light above is bright. And there are two small cameras in the corners of the room furthest from you.
There is no visitors chair or anything else to sit on outside of the bed, which is maybe two feet off the floor. And there’s some space-age door. Its design implies that it’s sealed from the outside. Are you a prisoner or a patient, a lab rat or in critical condition? You seem to have a pretty good grasp of everything about your surroundings. There’s only one problem. You don’t know who you are.
This fact arrives gradually, and not in a frightening way. A sense of personality is firmly intact. There’s even a sense of humor about the situation. But the entire concept of a name or any kind of ID is about as far gone as the days of Martin and Deathrow Records.
You search your skull for signs of some injury; a scar or a lump that might hint at temporary or permanent brain damage. But there is nothing to be found under the mass of matted coils that make up your afro. Your hairline recedes deep at the temples but what’s up there is thick and bushy, the sign of months if not years of growth. Where are you? When are you? Each question ignites an empty slot. The tattoo on your right inner forearm shows a tornado ripping through an intersection of roadways, the entire thing engulfed in a burst of fire. Who gets that put on their arm? What does it say? What does it mean?
The heart rate monitor spikes! It is then that you’re reminded that you’re still connected to this place, that it is somehow the reason for your state of being, or vice versa. You need a guide through this mystery building, a Beatrice through Dante’s Inferno. Then comes another electronic noise. This one is something like an air raid siren. The sealed door pushes outward and slides to the side. Jets of gaseous substance rush in and out. And then he appears, in a doctor’s white coat over a Cal State t-shirt and a matching pair of Adidas sweatpants. His shoes, which appear to be limited edition Jam Master Jay shell toes are so clean your guess is that they just came out of some miniature form of the box you’re standing in. His head is shaved bald and adorned with tortoise-shell spectacles. Maybe he’s 35, but he looks like he’s in his late 20s.
“My dude,” he says. “How you feelin?”
“I don’t know who I am,” you say.
He raises the paper-thin tablet in his hand and makes some notes with a shiny metal with a stylus.
“That was how you wanted it,” he says. “At least for now.”
“Who are you?” you ask.
“I’m Hawk. Dr. William Hawkins Wilson.”
“And why am I here?” you ask, realizing that your legs don’t have the strength to stand. In truth you can barely move them.
“Because you wanted to fix it,” he says. “You wanted to stop it.”
“Stop what?” you ask.
A strange chill runs up your spine and you shudder.”
“From losing her,” he says. “I’m going to take detach you from the IVs and monitors.
“How long have I been here?” you ask. Your mouth feels dry and your throat hurts, like you haven’t swallowed anything in a year. As Hawk removes the bags of glucose and other nutrients from the hooks behind your head, it becomes clears to you that you have actually chewed or swallowed since this whole thing started.
“You want some breakfast?” he asks.
Food is a concept to big to grasp.
“Water,” you say.
“I gotcha my dude,” he says, and then vanishes out of the open doorway. There’s this fear deep within that he won’t return. Then he walks right back in carrying a 2 liter bottle of half-frozen water. He puts the bottle to your lips and you start to believe in life again. You start to believe that you may just be alive after all.