Sleep eluded Dr. Muzro. The events of the day troubled him too much. He did NOT want to be questioning his hold on reality at this stage in life [or ever, optimally]. He wondered how much peoples' problems were REALLY affecting him to be having this kind of a crisis. He thinks now he'd prefer a midlife crisis to this. This had more questions than answers, more dire consequences and heavy self reflection than merely falling apart over a contrived notion of age and 'getting over it'. He wanted to go back the next day to prove that places like that aren't… alive… there was no other apt description. It conspired against him ~ repulsed him even as it drew him in. (This must be what a fly feels like before becoming dinner to a Venus Fly Trapper. Untrue!! Flies have no feelings, no cognizance of being meals to predators… but that may be precisely the point. As much as humans laud being the top of the food chain, we are NOT immune to predators ~ we are just as oblivious (nay ~ willfully ignorant) as the very prey we are so derisive of, condescending and patronizing to. We continue to be our own worst enemies…) So… did he truly want to help mankind or was he simply… well he's already admitted his job was just a job. So… what a waste of his life to not even be doing what he liked. Did he care about others or did he want to pursue truth? He thought… he wanted, needed to believe those were mutually exclusive… but they're not. Finding out the truth is NOT leading to knowing it all as most tend to conclude. He didn’t wish to be motivated by fear. But… that sick fascination of going back… What would he find? He took a deep breath. Never had isolation felt so acute so palpable… so suffocating. But he would try to sleep anyway. There's nothing he could do until tomorrow anyhow so…
As he prepared for bed he tried emptying his thoughts… he had no idea how to do that. His initial plan of driving to clear his mind had failed so he was afraid that other solutions he pulled out of his asspect would be unsuccessful as well… He was so drained but so alert that he couldn’t rest… When was the last time something like this happened to him?! He couldn’t bring himself to remember. He left the TV on a music channel and just lay in bed. He didn’t realize he had dozed off when he jerked awake and automatically turned to face the bedside clock. 3 AM. Bemused, "Isn't that the witching hour?" (Huh?! I was asleep?! Was there some dream there? What woke me up?) He sat up in bed more alert now. He kept hearing a sound like water dripping. But it had a faraway sounding echo... He determined it wasn’t coming from the bathroom. Could be some other hotel guests' early morning activity or perhaps from the kitchen. He didn't feel like checking, really so he laid back down… but the constant dripping began irritating him. And as he attempted to go check his legs wouldn't move. It felt like cement blocks ~no feeling, pure deadweights. Panic swelled within him. (No matter, perhaps my legs just fell asleep, I'll massage them…) Except he couldn’t move his arms either. They felt like they were strapped down to the bed (?!) That's absurd –there's nothing to strap them too…that's silly –there's no reason to feel tied down. So he turned his neck which was the only body part he COULD freely move and looked around his dungeon. Dungeon!! I was awake –how am I asleep? Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up!
"You can't" The voice was everywhere in the room. No. that's not accurate ~ it was in his mind. Continues, "This isn't a dream." He let his rational self take over. He had the distinct feeling that whatever the voice belonged to, preyed on fear and weakness…
"Why am I here?"
"Don't you know? You Never left."
"Ok. I admit to asking the wrong question: Where am I?"
"You know the answer to that. [You can even see where you are]"
"Twenty questions… is that your favorite game?"
"Am I going to get any straight answers?"
Laughter. Ok, he correctly assumed no. He also perceived the answer was that he wasn't in his mind. His mind was nearby however and that would be how he escaped. He didn’t really know if that was 'right' but it was what he decided and so he'd follow through. He was certain he didn’t want to agree to any terms body-less voice tried to bargain with… (What more can I ask? I think he's only going to confuse me and… he's a liar. There must be some way I can escape…)
He continues to search the room. It was dark, windowless and… that dripping water sound will drive him nuts if he heard it any longer… Hmm… he tried looking down: his body wasn't strapped at all?! Ok. Left leg ~ move.
"That's not going to work." More evil laughter. He ignores it and continues to concentrate on moving his left leg. He wouldn’t give up. It moved ever so slightly. He was so surprised and ecstatic it broke his concentration. Dead weight. He was exhausted. Amused chuckle.
"You simply don't have the strength. You've relied so much on concrete evidence. Evidence has never moved mountains."
"Shut… Is that so?" (That's it! He's heard words like that before –he knew that the answer was just given!)
If this is indeed a battle of wits he would have to quickly learn to think outside the box. If he took that jibe literally –literally some evidence is weighing him down. What evidence? And [moving] mountains? What moved mountains? The tectonic plate? [Over time] the wind? Those didn’t seem quite right… Growing up in church life he's familiar with that kind of veiled messaging… he was until he distanced himself from that kind of scene. It claimed one must live a life of truth. But he was pursuing truth –isn't that as noble? Well… perhaps nobility had little to no bearing on what was the purported message. But he never really paid attention. Much could be proved through science.
Wait, was body less voice really dropping hints or was he grabbing at straws? He didn’t know why those words jumped out at him [the way that it did] but he was actually relieved… no, comforted that it did. It renewed a hope for escape and a lengthy pep talk monologue not divulged here. Because he still couldn’t move and he wanted to see if VOICE was still 'present' he spoke,
"What are you doing here?"
"What kind of question is that?"
"I'm sure you've heard it all before. Aren't you timeless?"
"Ok. Fine. Let's ask questions pertaining to me again ~ I'm nobody special. So again I ask why am I here?"
"I've already told you. Or have you forgotten?"
"This isn't my mind."
He woke up. What? What changed? Is it because I spoke directly to the voice with certainty that it wasn't my mind that I woke up? I 'never left'…? Am I still in the town? He looks around. He was in the rental car and the dripping sound he heard was leaking gas.
(What?! How long was I in here and … what?! I thought I made it back to the hotel!) He was groggy but uninjured as far as he could tell; but his legs were pinned down –nothing too serious fortunately. Something protected him even though, surveying the damage, he should've had bruises scratches a broken bone or two… brain damage… which he was sure he was suffering from –he still could NOT bring himself to believe…well to believe anything like that again. He crashed right into their welcome to town sign but he couldn’t see what caused him to do so. Nothing was chasing him, it didn’t look like he swerved to avoid other cars, or deer. His state of mind while driving was… what? Stressed. He was perplexed to remember that the gas station was no longer there, neither was the restaurant for that matter; having no ride and no service on his phone he would have to walk back into the town… perhaps he'd find both those places ~he's not creative enough to imagine his interactions with people he made up… which was why he was certain they existed, even if they were ghosts –he was willing enough to allow for ghosts but not figment of his imagination ~he was NOT ready to proclaim his mind a lost cause.
He mentally groused about the cost of the rental car ~how of all the times he didn’t pay extra for insurance that Murphy's Law kicked him in the groin.
After walking for awhile he came across the gas station again. But instead of being greeted by Zoiyah he shook. The gas station was closed, in disrepair… abandoned. It was the same gas station!
"No…" He shook his head in disbelief, "It can't be… then… how did I get gas? I still have the receipt for when I used my card! It has to be real or else… my money was wasted… pilfered by ghosts…?" He laughed harshly. No that was an absurd thought ~these matters still held a certain kind of logic. He pressed on. Soon he came upon the restaurant he ate at. It too was closed; in disrepair… abandoned.
Ah, so that's why I crashed. Ghost food is not compatible with my physical stomach although…I'm fairly certain I not only interacted with the couple –I did have something to eat…and a receipt for paying for the food as well…
Good thing it was morning, he thought, or else he would've had to explore in the dark. He wasn't afraid of the bogeyman but considering what happened, he felt anxious enough to want to leave and just never come back ~ he probably WOULD jump at the slightest sounds now. But on a more practical concern –he didn’t have a flashlight, neither was he armed so being here past dark was not on the agenda. He remembered that when he was 'lost' [before regaining consciousness in the car] he drove by a… mansion but had parked at an empty lot near a store or shopping center (or something –not important). So he trudged onwards towards the direction of the mansion. There were answers there, he was certain… but to what question?
It also still troubled him that he couldn’t remember that one client on Monday… And it set off his rage meter that all this began because of that missing [stolen!] memory. He couldn’t leave well enough alone which was odd considering he wasn’t the kind of person to go searching out trouble [rather, involving himself in something that isn't directly beneficial to him].
"Ah! The answer must be to the question ~ why can't I leave?" He didn’t think he really cared ~he just wanted to leave and enjoy the rest of his vacation; and return to his meager comfortable existence.
The mansion loomed before him. He stood there, soaking in everything… and almost turned around and left. That's what he should have done. Why WOULD he need to go in there? Why is he subjecting himself to this?? Was it some test of courage ~was he challenging himself? NO (so turn around and leave already!) But just like in his… nightmare his feet wouldn’t obey him. He looked down but nothing was restraining him there. Only his need for concrete evidence. He supposed his new career path just opened before him ~ he mentally kicked himself for making these kinds of jokes while in… dan… ger… well…So he threw up his hands ~
"Fuck it all, I'm going in… and I'm coming back out." He felt that was the more important point –it needed to be spoken out loud to be more true… Like how he escaped the dungeon. There must be something about speaking reality into existence ~I will never judge 'crazy' persons again. I can't even say mentally ill… because… they aren't ill who can't conform into our model of society… Of course some need help but how many have we driven to that point? There's hell in isolation but it isn't self driven…not initially anyway… I don't know. I'm not sure about anything anymore…
He made one final survey of his surroundings, then entered the mansion.