What would happen if you were dominated by one single emotion?
John Doe finds out after an accident as his brain tries to cope with severe damage and some divergent personalities intent on changing his life as they see fit.
In a mad world only the mad are sane
Akira Kurasawa (1910-1998)
I stood at the precipice. My entire life seemed to have lead up to this moment and I could see it now in its entirety stretched before my eyes as a tapestry, blinding me to the outside world like a psychological blindfold. Every event of my life, the mundane and the exceptional, was played out in a sequence mirroring a badly edited television clip show, re-hashing previous material. Despite mild distaste at my recollections, I was proud; despite being only twenty-five yet I’d lived more in my short blaze of life than many would in an entire lifetime.
The balcony I was perched at seemed like polished steel hands cupped around me in a protective grasp, keeping me from a fatal free-fall. My apartment was on the top floor of a new building designed to appear as a simply surreal depiction of a tower by some vainglorious architect. Just like the others that surrounded it, the glass surface of the tower reflected the sun at a blinding intensity. The smell of bleach and disinfectant lingered around the apartment like an invisible mist, stinging at my nostrils whenever I inhaled. To top it all off I even suffered from acrophobia, vertigo, the fear of heights. Nothing about this apartment was pleasant, but it was tolerable.
Sometimes I hated Megan for picking this place. I turned from my view of the metropolitan landscape to my home, if it could be called such. Megan picked and paid for the place, her name was on the bills, she furnished the apartment and cleaned every nook and cranny obsessively. As far as I was concerned this wasn’t my home, I just shared a bed with her for three years.
A loud groan from my stomach reminded me of my hunger, the hunger one feels having skipped a day’s meals and slept too late for breakfast. I took a final deep breath of the polluted smog that constitutes fresh-air in the city and paced through to the kitchen.
It was a room so sterile it made a lab look like a hovel. Every inch of the kitchen had been cleaned meticulously with every product on the market. The pristine whiteness of every surface caused me no end of anguish as it just meant Megan would be aggravated in her cleanliness obsession. She couldn’t even pick out a simple fridge-freezer; she decided to get the most modern and gadget-filled model she could find. Sometimes I hated Megan for picking these things. I thought she could be doing it just to provoke me.
I opened the fridge door and rummaged through the drawers, venting my building frustration at my girlfriend on the food within. I snatched an apple and a bottle of beer out and checked the clock to my right. 1:20pm. A bit early to be drinking but today was a special occasion.
‘What on earth, John…?’ came the annoyed tones of the girlfriend, the tyrant of our tenancy. ‘What are you doing drinking at this hour of the day?’
I tore through the kitchen, trying to find a bottle-opener and slammed the relevant drawer shut. I was in no mood for arguing and I could tell she wasn’t either. I turned casually and smiled in the most amiable manner I could manage.
‘Today’s a special day, my love; I reckon I could get away with treating myself just this once.’
Megan frowned at me deeply and folded her arms beneath her breasts. Every time I wondered why I was still with Megan I just had to look at her; the bright blue eyes, the full lips, the golden locks, that perfect body… I was constantly reminded how much of how superficial I was when it came to women. Sometimes I hated Megan… the rest of the time I hated myself.
‘That’s no excuse!’ she eventually hissed at me with as much compassion as an angry python. ‘You have to be on your best form today!’
I drained the bottle and slammed it unintentionally on the bench, sending a dull echo through the apartment. Megan jumped in shock and resumed her glaring. ‘Don’t remind me,’ I began, much louder than I meant to be. ‘I’ve got some much bloody pressure on me today that I reckon I can get away with some Dutch courage without you acting like my sodding mother! Now if you don’t mind I need to get ready, or do you want to dictate that too, Megan!?’
Her jaw dropped in a dumbfounded expression. I pushed past her and stormed into the bathroom. She stammered at me all the way to the door. As soon as I’d closed it I slumped against it, sliding to the floor and cradling my head in my hands. I knew she only meant well but I was too angry today. Too much stress, too little sleep and too much criticism from a neurotic girlfriend.
Rising to my feet I sighed, clearing my head of the nagging pain in my temples, and headed to the bathroom mirror. I examined myself carefully, paying more attention to my appearance than I had in months. My hair was in desperate need of a wash, my facial hair looked erratic and my eyes had dark rings beneath them. My tan was fading to a dirty shade of peach and a few blackheads were noticeable around my crooked nose.
A sigh escaped my lips as I set about cleaning myself. A few minutes after showering I began brushing my teeth, trimming my beard and exfoliating my face. Sure that may seem a bit feminine of me, but I needed to look my best.
I left the bathroom as quickly as I could without drawing Megan’s attention and surged into the bedroom. She’d already laid out my best suit on the bed for me. How thoughtful of her. I got dressed hurriedly, spraying liberal amounts of deodorant around my arm-pits and chest. No sooner had I pulled my clothing on than Megan appeared at the door, head bowed at me.
‘I’m sorry John,’ she mumbled sincerely. ‘I should have realised how nervous you’d be about this.’
I sniffed and scratched at my chin. ‘It’s no problem really.’ She walked over to me and placed a kiss upon my cheek, her hand clasped around my bicep. I always found her kisses unusual; she was the only girl I’d ever been with whose breath consistently smelled of mint.
She gazed into my eyes. She always gave me that look after any argument of ours; a look of regret, apology and love. ‘Do you want a lift to the College?’ she asked finally.
‘Of course, that’d be helpful.’
Megan smirked at me slyly as she began walking out of the room. ‘Of course you wouldn’t be able to drive yourself what with all of your drinking.’
‘It was one drink, woman,’ I chuckled as I followed her out of the apartment, to what was to be the defining moment of my life; my first lecture.
The Volkswagen I bought a year ago was a constant source of dismay to Megan. She never liked anything that had even the faintest of links to Nazi Germany so driving a new model of the Volkswagen Beetle, a car that Adolf Hitler himself ordered to be built, was something she loathed. Still, as we trundled through the city towards Manchester College, Megan seemed positively jovial in her manner.
‘What’s this lecture going to be about?’ Megan asked as she turned the awful drum and bass song on the radio down.
I smirked at her and licked my lips. ‘What do you think? I’m a doctor in Classical Literature so it’ll be on that.’
‘I meant what piece of literature?’ Megan sighed angrily.
‘The Iliad I think, one of the Trojan War epic cycle stories anyway,’ Megan made an interested noise as I said that. ‘Why? You taking an interest in my work now?’
The song finished and Megan turned the radio back up. ‘No, just trying to make conversation.’
She pulled over just outside of the college campus and kisses my lips gently. ‘Have a good day at school, dear,’ she giggled as I left the car.
‘I’ll try.’ No sooner had I closed the door than she drove away. I checked my mobile phone for the time. 2:30pm. I was early. This would surely give me plenty of time to find the damned room, I thought as I headed into the reception building.