Reflective Conversation

"So can I go home now Doc?" I asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence as Dr. Escobar suddenly rose and turned to leave. "I’ve got an exper…ienced cleaner coming by tomorrow morning, to help me take care of the mess in the basement." Alright, so I hadn't gotten as far as calling a cleaner, but I hated leaving a mess behind. I had promised myself I'd pick up a bit, after all. Besides, I never got to record the results in my book.

He turned back to me, giving me a critical once-over. I tried to give him my most trusting expression, but his eyes bore into me and almost scolded me, telling me that he didn't buy my story for a second. Unfortunately, I was never strong against scolding expressions, so my trusting one faded.

"I’ll need to have a quick consultation with my colleagues first," he answered shortly as he left. I tried not to make my disappointment too apparent, but that also failed. I was never good at concealing emotion, either. As the door clicked shut, I furrowed my brow in thought. Was I that much of a borderline case that a seasoned professional had to consult colleagues? Was this a promising sign, or a bad omen?

I could barely get the thought through my mind when the door rattled open once more, and to my unfortunate surprise my two charming escorts appeared, closing in on me fast.

"Something up, gentlemen?" I squeaked, pushing away from the table with limited success. They took their places on either side of me, and with a nod to each other, without word one to me, they seized me just above the elbow and hoisted me to my feet, sending the chair noisily to the floor.

"Oy!" I squawked, writhing. "What's the idea?!"

"Doc's orders," the one on my right grunted apathetically.

I protested, "I could care less if you've had orders from the queen of Scotland!"

"Look," the other growled, twisting my arm just enough to make me wince, "we don't want any trouble. All Doc Esco wants us to do is take you to a room upstairs, and all we want you to do is relax and cooperate, and things won't have to get ugly. Understand?"

I tried wriggling a bit more, noisily and desperately hoping to free myself, but their grips were sure. I wasn't getting anywhere. I slumped in defeat; I'd given up for now, no point fighting it. No point in walking, either.

After two floors of alternating fading tile and the most hideous shade of yellow carpeting I'd ever beheld, we came to rest before a blandly imposing door, declaring its name to be "Rm 333." Half evil, I thought. Not that I'm supersticious, of course.

"Here we are Mr. Steely," the left one announced, making a poor attempt at a cheerful tone as he unlocked the door and pushed it open for me. They stood me on my feet and stepped back, silently inviting me in.

Like a frightened animal I poked my nose through the threshold. As my curiosity took over I ventured a few steps into the room, but I instantly regretted it: the moment I stepped in far enough the door slammed behind me, the lock sliding back into place with chilling finality. I halfheartedly threw myself at the door, but I could've thrown myself at a brick wall for all that door would budge.

So this is what confinment feels like, I mused.

I wandered aimlessly around the bleak twelve-by-fifteen space for a while. It could've been mere minutes, or it could've been hours; I'd completely lost any sense of time, but considering I hadn't possessed much of a temporal sense to begin with I figured it wouldn't be too terribly missed.

After my wandering-soul routine I moved onto the self-wallowing portion of the evening. I eased myself onto the tough, poor excuse for a bed, clutching my arms as if cold, and let my eyes dart around the room. There wasn't much to draw their attention away from the stark, rattling ordeal I'd suddenly found for myself: just an accusing, buzzing light on the ceiling; an abandoned cobweb in the far corner; random, but unfortunately uninteresting, splotches of discoloring on the tile floor.

Finally my eyes caught the glimpse of a scraggly mirror on the opposite wall. I rose and stumbled towards it. It was flimsy plastic, stained and cracked in several places, but at least I could see into it. I set my arms out before me to act as a prop, and closely studied my face. It was a sort of thought-organization method I used; I could more easily argue and reason with myself when I did it out loud and I could actually see who it was I was addressing.

But not only did I have to see my addressee, I had to guage him more closely from his facial features, and allow him to do the same to me, before either of us engaged in conversation.

Somehow I'd managed to get most of the the tealish-grey soot off my pale face, the tiny beads of cold sweat clinging to my temples were probably to blame. My loose, indecisively-sandy-blond hair, most of the time having a hint of frazzle, stuck out everywhere, as if someone had startled it and it tried to flee in all directions. The bits that usually met my ears tried grasping my damp temples for refuge, while all the left-front hair reminded me more of a flock of birds that were making a break for the sky.

But the most telling feature were those warm grey eyes. I like to think I'm good at reading people, especially their eyes. I'm not trying to be biased, but I've found that the most telling eyes are usually the grey ones. In that moment, I caught them in a state of frightened, doubting curiosity. But this particular curiosity was different than most forms I'd seen; there wasn't a yearning for knowledge purely for the sake of acquiring knowledge, but rather it was starving for information simply because it was vital.

I pushed back from the wall to a standing position, folding my arms and keeping eye contact with my reflection. I let my shoulders drop, my companion followed suit.

"Well Connor," I began, playing the part of my frazzled reflection, "this is quite the situation."

I shrugged in response. "I guess so."

"Guess so?" I reflectively quipped. "It's not every day that a guy's committed by his neighbors, is it?"

"It probably happens more often than one thinks... but it probably doesn't happen every day, I suppose"

I paced slowly before continuing. "So... why?" my reflection asked.

"Why?" I gave a small laugh. "Because they all think I'm a lunatic, that's why!" I shook my head. "I mean, I don't think I'm that kind of crazy. I know I'm a bit odd, a tad eccentric, and sometimes a touch more than mildly insane, but I've always felt my head's screwed on correctly. That's what counts, isn't it?"

The reflection chuckled a bit. "You'd think. But, apparently, it matters what Dr. Escobar thinks. We might think everything's hunky dory, but maybe the doc sees something we're not picking up."

I have to admit, I had a point. "The man's probably been practicing for as long as we've been alive, maybe even longer. We'll just have to trust that he knows what he's doing, and what he's doing is the best for us.

"In any event," I concluded, sitting on the bed again, "we'll just have to make the best of it, won't we?" I nodded to myself, curling up and trying to settle in. I found myself lying on something rather uncomfortable; I reached under the sandy sheets to find a thick leathery belt. To my gut-wrenching shock it was firmly anchored to the bedframe, and upon closer tactile inspection there were more at intervals around the frame.

I swallowed hard, failing to surpress a violent shiver. "Good thing I'm not the violent type, eh?" I muttered to myself, clearly shaken, before dropping off into an uneasy sleep.

The End

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