Slipping

The results from Dwayne’s initial foray indicated that my patient was progressing as expected. Or should that be regressing? Digressing? Well, he was heading in the direction I wanted him to, at any rate.

I sat at my desk after Dwayne had reported in, sipping a glass of pop and trying to study my notes on Connor. But my eyes kept straying to the TV, hoping to find that he had returned to his room. My thoughts were equally distracted, bouncing between glee at how well things were going and concern over the new time frame I had just drafted.

The key steps were still in place, but I’d had to remove several less important ones in order to condense the schedule. With Doctor D away until the following week I was keen to take advantage of my unexpected freedom. But were those snipped stages truly unimportant? Was I pushing the pace too hard too soon? With so many alterations to the original plan, was this still the research I had waited so long to conduct?

These questions plagued me, like the cafeteria’s lunch ‘special’ was haunting my intestines. Why did I insist on saving a measly dollar by eating that mysterious glop? It was never worth it, I should have learned that by then.

Anyway. Connor. Things were proceeding magnificently and I was terrified of doing something that might negate all that had come before. I didn’t think I could handle losing him. The thought of starting over was absolutely nauseating.

I was brought out of my brooding by Connor’s appearance on the monitor. I set my drink down and let his file slip from my fingers, moving to stand in front of the TV. I watched him with my nose almost touching the screen, like a god examining a favorite creation. He paced from one side of the room to the other, north to south, south to north, over and over. Then he stopped in the middle and changed directions, shuffling east to west, west to east. All the while he was attempting to look in every possible direction at once.

“I can almost smell his paranoia from here,” I whispered. Reaching back blindly, I picked up my glass and took a long drink. I didn’t even notice that it tasted slightly different, I was so intent on my subject.

Connor paused to examine the thermometer from a safe distance before staring at the bedside clock for a long time. I was tempted to play the gas leak sound again, but I managed to resist. It was time to move on to other things.

I picked up my phone and dialed Dwayne’s number.

“What?”

“Bring him to my office.”

“Whatever.”

Someone really needed to teach that man some manners.

I took another sip of pop as I continued to study Connor. He looked exhausted but he was too afraid of his own bed to even try to get some sleep. I wondered if he would try sleeping on the floor to see if that made any difference.

“If you do that,” I told him, “I’ll just switch out the shotgun tape for the rattlesnake one. Unless you’re not afraid of snakes? I should find that out first.”

I was about to make a note of that in his file when I realized that Connor was staring directly at me. Frozen in place, my heartbeat rising exponentially, I held my breath. There was no way he could have heard me, was there? No, of course not. I was just being silly. Wasn’t I?

Before any of my questions could be answered, the door of his room swung inward and we both jumped. I gave a nervous laugh, which Connor echoed. Or was it the other way around? No matter.

“I probably need to get some sleep as much as he does,” I muttered, turning away as Connor was escorted from his room. “After our appointment I’ll do just tha… what on earth?”

Blinking rapidly didn’t alter the scene before me, so I tried keeping my eyes shut for a few breaths before opening them again. That didn’t work either.

“Get out of my chair!” I yelled, pointing a trembling finger at the unicorn sitting behind my desk. “And stop smoking that cigar! There’s no smoking allowed inside the Institute!”

The unicorn tilted its head to the left before blowing three perfect smoke rings in my direction. I waved my arm back and forth furiously in an attempt to destroy them, but they just multiplied and soon my office was full of smoke rings floating lazily about, changing from black to grey to white to red.

“This is… get out… what do you… this is utterly unacceptable!” I was incoherent with rage as I strode around my desk to confront the intruder. “If you don’t leave this instant I will strangle you with my bare hands!”

To show that I meant business, I held both hands out in front of me in the most threatening manner I could manage. That was when I saw that I was still holding my drink in my left hand.

Shortly after that, I saw that the glass I had set down earlier was still resting in front of the unicorn, where I had left it. Horrified realization setting in, my head slowly swiveled to the left. Sweat broke out on my forehead as my fears were confirmed.

The drink I had set on the far side of my desk was no longer there. Because it was in my hand. It was the drink I had intended Connor to consume.

It was the drink I had laced with a very, very large dose of LSD.

The End

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