GETTING OVER IT
Sandy, Anita and Alejo sat nervously on the couch in Dr. Malm's office. She pulled up a chair in front of them.
"I haven't asked you here to pass judgement, or blame," she said. "My goal, quite simply, is that we all leave this room today feeling ok. Are we agreed on this?" They each nodded sheepishly. "Anita, surely you must feel so much of Sandy's pain."
"I do," Anita said, tears coming to her eyes.
"So much so, you would even ask your boy friend Alejo to help you make Sandy feel better," Dr Malm continued.
"Yes. I hurt for Sandy as she hurts for herself," Anita replied.
"And yet, now you see how your empathy has back-fired so to speak. How you have all become only more uncomfortable with one another."
Yes," Anita cried. Sandy reached out to clutch Anita's hand.
"I feel so stupid," Anita said. "So stupid."
"It wasn't stupid, what you did, Anita. It was very self-sacrificing. You would give anything to have Sandy back as your best friend, wouldn't you?"
"Yes," Anita nodded. Dr. Malm turned her attention to Alejo.
"Alejo, men think with their dicks, don't they?" Alejo laughed self-consciously.
"But, never would I actually make a move on Sandy, unless Anita thought it good."
"Remember we are not here to point fingers," Dr. Malm said.
"I just was trying to make Anita happy, to make Sandy feel better" Alejo stammered.
"Alejo, you were driven by your dick. You needn't feel bad about it. But here we are now." She glanced back and forth at each of them. They were still such children.
"Here is the main thing," she said. "Billy is in a coma. Love each other, as you want, but understand he may come back one day." Alejo got up and walked over to Sandy. He bent down and hugged her.
"I am so sorry, Sandy," he said in a choked voice. Sandy hugged him.
"It's ok, Alejo," she said, reaching out for Anita.
WHEELS IN MOTION
Dr. Bell hung up the phone after a brief conversation with Dr. Corrigan. He dialed Jacob, one of the interns on the team.
"Jacob, Eric here. Listen, I'd like you to pull all of Billy's EEG read-outs for the past month. I'd like you to review these. Get Sarah to help you."
"No problem," Jacob answered. "What in particular do want us to be looking at?"
"We are preparing a special file to be sent to Dr. Corrigan. We want to look at the frequency of certain patterns, how often they recur or repeat, also any extreme spikes showing up anywhere in the mapped areas. In each of these things as you identify them, highlight the time of day. You may also write some summary remarks regarding your observations."
""We'll get right on it," Jacob replied.
"And tell Sarah these studies are something she might easily parlay into her doctoral dissertation. Once Dr. Corrigan and his team review this folder and make any additional notes, they will begin mapping out specific sites for the implanting of chronic electrodes and laying out a design for a B/C interface tailored specifically for Billy."
"This sounds really exciting," Jacob said.
"Well, one of two things could happen. If we are successive in our objectives, it would be ground-breaking and unprecedented in our field. A kind of thing that could give us increased funding to continue in the research for several years to come. Or the other thing that could happen, it all goes nowhere and gets written off as a 'mad scientist' moment we would all look back on wondering what we were thinking."
Jacob laughed. "I think if Dr. Corrigan is sicking his dogs on it, there's a good chance we can pull it off."
"Perhaps," Dr. Bell replied. "Our first attempts may prove promising, but clumsy. It may be a process of evolving our approach, honing it. Such research is like making one's way through a maze. You hit a dead end. You turn around and try a different corridor. In Billy's case, the maze is not merely one of brain anatomy and physiology, but the labyrinth of consciousness itself. Rome wasn't built in a day."
"When do you need this data by?" Jacob asked.
"By the end of the week," Eric replied.
"Yikes, that's a lot of midnight oil!" Eric laughed.
"Gallons, maybe. But hey, burning the midnight oil with Sarah couldn't be too bad. All you need to figure out is whether it is to be at your place or her place!"
"You dawgg!" Eric said, laughing even harder.
"Don't tell me," Eric retorted. "I've seen you looking her up and down plenty of times. And, I thinks she's got a sweet tooth for you. The way I figure it, you both need to get laid."
"Well," Jacob said, clearing his throat and speaking academically. "Yes, looking at the data I would say there could be certain interesting correlations, a co-variance, perhaps. We might need a little more data to come up with a standard deviation."
"You dawgg!" Eric laughed. "Just don't get any mysterious stains on the read-out sheets and have it on my desk by Friday."
"I'm on it," Jacob chuckled.
"I'll bet you are!" Eric said, hanging up the phone before Jacob could blurt out a comeback.
THE TROUBLE WITH VIOLET
Billy called to Jack from the dark corner of the room.
"I'm right here, Billy," Jack answered, looking over his shoulder into the darkness.
"Come over here," Billy said in a loud whisper. Jack walked over to the corner.
"Come on out where I can see you," he said peering into the blackness.
"Shhh," Billy said quietly. "I don't want to wake Violet."
"So, what's up?" Jack said in a hushed voice.
"Violet is starting to drive me crazy," Billy whispered.
"What do you mean, Billy?"
"She's acting weird. She keeps calling herself Sandy, whoever Sandy is."
"Sandy is someone on the outside. Remember? We talked about this last time," Jack answered.
"But I want Violet to be Violet," Billy said. "I don't know who Sandy is. For all I know, that's my mother's name. I can't be fucking my mother."
"No, that would be crazy," Jack said. "I think you just need to go along with it. Let her pretend she is Sandy. Maybe it would help you remember who Sandy is."
"I have another plan," Billy said. "But, I may need your help."
"Sure, what is it?" Jack replied.
"I want to kill Violet. I think she is dangerous."
"Whoa, Billy! Listen to yourself. You can't kill Violet," Jack said.
"Because Violet is a part of your mind. It would be like putting a gun to your head."
"But she is driving me crazy," Billy said.
"Maybe so. Maybe you need some distance. But, you can't kill her."
"What am I to do then?" Billy asked anxiously.
"I don't know," Jack said. "Maybe take her off into that blackness back there where you go. Put her in a room somewhere else in your head. You could always go back to her then, if you wanted to."
"Would you help me do that, Jack?"
"I can help you persuade her. I can talk to her. But I can't go with you to wherever you put her."
"Why not?" Billy asked.
"Because you still need me here to help you think things out."
"I'll be back later," Billy said. Jack peered into the corner. There was a faint shuffling of feet, then nothing. He sat back down at the table and looked over to Violet sleeping on the floor half-dressed. He would miss her. But maybe it was for the best for now. After all, if he could help Billy get on his own feet and begin to remember the outside world, and maybe rejoin it, then he too could go off into the darkness. Maybe find Violet. Maybe have his own life with her somewhere back there in the darkness of Billy's sub-conscious.
"Sandy," Dr. Malm said, looking at her curled up in the chair in her office. "Are you still writing in your journal? Writing down your memories?"
"Yes," Sandy replied. "I write a lot about Billy and me, but sometimes, I don't know what to say, and just write his name over and over." Dr. Malm smiled.
"I had a boyfriend once. And I used to do that very thing. I would try to write his name in as many fancy ways as I could."
"I have Billy's name tattooed just above my ass," Sandy said. "Want to see it?"
"No, dear," Dr. Malm giggled. "I'll take your word for it. In fact, let's change the subject. Have you ever been hypnotized, Sandy?"
"Uh uh," Sandy said, shaking her head. "I think it's interesting though."
"It is very interesting, Dr. Malm replied. And I was thinking about trying a procedure with you, to relieve some of your stress and help you think more clearly, sleep better. Some of your problems might be better dealt with through hypnosis rather than pills. Is that something you would like to try?"
"Sure," Sandy said. I've often wondered what it would be like to be hypnotized." Dr. Malm glanced at her watch. She slid a cushioned ottoman over to Sandy's chair.
"I want you to stretch out, Sandy. Put your legs up here, dear. Good. Just relax. Lean back in the chair and allow yourself that comfort. Good. Now, I'd like you to close your eyes and take a long slow breath in. And out. Again. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Again. Good. In you mind, there is a picture of a beautiful periwinkle blue sky. Do you see it?
"Yes," Sandy answered.
"And do you see the little white clouds floating by?"
"You breathe them in...Inhale...You breathe them out...There they are again...Breathe...In...Breathe...out....Slowly... in...and...out...the clouds go in...and...out.........You are sitting on a beach of warm sand...Watching the sea...The sea rolls in....breathe....it splashes at your feet...exhale...the sea flows out...you lay back on the sand....the clouds go in...and out...the water splashes on your feet...."
Dr. Malm stood, smiling at Sandy in a peaceful trance. She walked over to her desk and made some notes. She would awaken Sandy in a short while.