This story will be published in three to five parts (I'm not sure yet as they're not written yet). Toward the end it will get extremely graphic. Most people will find some passages difficult to read. Some will stop reading altogether.
If such content will bother or offend you, please do not read 'Light'.
If such content will bother or offend you, please do not read 'Light'.
On the way home I almost ran a red light. Stared at it until I was just about in the intersection. Had to stand on the brakes. Kept staring, through the rainy windshield, wipers going back and forth, until it turned green.
My hands trembled so bad trying to unlock the front door I had to take a deep breath before I could make the key go in. Drop the ice cream on the counter and head straight for the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, I couldn't see a spot in the middle of my forehead. No red dot. I rubbed my forehead in case there were tiny bits of dirt or something covering the dot, stood on tiptoes to get closer to the light fixture, leaned toward the mirror. My eyes were almost crossed I was so close. Nothing.
Go back to the kitchen. The ice cream was soft. Just the way I like it. Put it in the freezer. Sweet wasn't what I was looking for anymore. I wanted something with kick. Needed it.
My favorite is bourbon. It's got backbone. I crack a bottle of Jefferson's Reserve. Fifteen year old smooth-ass liquor. Pour a slug into a juice glass (I'm not at the stage in life where you own shot glasses) and shuffle to the living room, downing half before I plop on the couch. Even across the tongue, sharp in the back of the throat, toasty all the way down. Backbone.
Fire up the laptop. Do a web search for 'third eye'. Got nothing I didn't already know. Psychic center, place you concentrate on when meditating, one of the chakras. Et cetera. The reference to it as a 'doorway to the consciousness' stopped me. That creeped me out. Was the dot a doorway? Did it allow me to see into people's souls? I was filled with questions. Couldn't think. I shut the laptop.
The 'Alien' anthology. Forgot about that. No thanks. The thought of watching a movie about a monster growing inside you was a bad joke at this point. I pulled the quilt off the back of the couch, got wrapped up. Sat there, in the dark, drinking. Thinking. Asking. The same questions over and over. Got no answers.
I woke up. Didn't know what time it was. Glass of water. Kitchen clock says three. Go to bed. The next day I get ready for the appointment with my neurologist. He's a nice guy. We chat sometimes. He tells me what the squiggles on the PET or CT mean. Smart.
Should I tell him? I wonder while getting dressed (compulsively checking my forehead every time I look in the mirror). I could have put my jeans on backwards and wouldn't have noticed. But, I watched my face like a hawk.
I decided to tell Neal. That's my neurologist. Don't know his last name. But, what if it leads to some kind of psych eval? A write-up. That's all I needed. Could mean I wouldn't qualify to participate in the protocol anymore. They'd cut me loose.
Maybe I did need help, though. You know? Maybe I could do with some therapy. But, what would I tell the therapist? 'I'm seeing red dots in people's heads?' It's not like he would have any way of dealing with that, or any experience with it. They'd think I was nuts. Decide to keep the idea on the back burner for now and head out the door.
Neal is in his sixties. Married, grown kids. Still, though, he flirts with me. In a nice way. Not ham-fisted like most younger guys. Subtle. I like it. Makes you wonder where it might go. He stares at the PET imagery. 'How do you feel?' he says.
'What?' I'm a little stunned, eyes too wide. Was he seeing something weird in the scan? Was there a blob of emitted positrons that screamed 'This chick is crazy! Put her in a lock down!' He looks at me. 'Good,' I say. 'Why? Something wrong?'
'No. Looks great,' he says. I exhale. 'You know,' he says, 'researchers around the world are following this. Your progress, I mean. The results are almost too good. Two months and no seizures. That's a record, huh.'
'Totally. I can't remember the last time I went two months without a spill.' I flash a big fake smile.
'If this works -- I mean, it looks like it will -- you'll be famous. A lot of people will be helped. Millions' He pauses for effect, then, dramatically, but in a cool way, 'A cure for epilepsy. Just think.' His smile is beautiful, reassuring.
I couldn't tell him. Couldn't. A cure for epilepsy... No way I could jeopardize that. Meant too much. "Millions," he had said. Way too important. I don't say a thing about the dots.
My plastic smile was beginning to hurt. I shake hands with Neal, then, for the first time, he hugs me. 'See you next week,' he says. You betcha.
I saw three more people with red dots on the way home. Was glad to get inside and lock the door. Collapsed on the couch. What if a by-product of the procedure was insanity? I laughed. "Good news! You're cured of epilepsy, but now you're crazy!" I notice I've finished my first shot of bourbon. Didn't remember pouring it.
But, I didn't feel insane. It wasn't a 'crazy' feeling thing. It was real. It felt real. I know. That's exactly what crazy people say. Well, not all of them. Some schizophrenics know the voices in their heads are an illusion. Delusion. They know it. They want help. Some don't, but some do. A lot do. Most do. Right?
That got me nowhere. Was I one of the ones that knew they were nuts? Or, one of the ones that didn't? No help.
But, seeing the dots was just a new ability. That's all. To sense...things. An enhancement. Not crazy.
I stayed home as much as possible over the next few days. Finally, I grew a pair and came to a decision. If I was going to tell someone I had to know what I was dealing with, and, if I wasn't going to tell anyone I needed to know what I was dealing with. So, I went to the mall for some people/dot-watching. To get a handle on it.
I sat by the fountain near the food court. Around seven out of ten people had a red dot. Seventy percent. Just like that. I looked for patterns. What kind of people were they? How did they dress? Did they look affluent, educated, trashy? No. Average. Couldn't be more average. One guy wearing sweat pants and a tee-shirt. A thirty-something chick with super high-maintenance hair, a cashmere sweater, and killer pumps. An old lady (her husband didn't have one). No pattern I could find.
Just when I was coming to terms with it, starting to feel a little at ease, getting a grip, this one red dot, a youngish guy who looked like he was always in a hurry, changed direction all the sudden and came toward me, walking real fast. When he passed I tensed up, felt rushed. What the hell. Why would I be tense? What was I in a rush for?
A man with greasy hair whose clothes might have come from the lost and found at a laundromat passes. I feel -- the best word I can think of is -- lazy. Maybe, that's not right. Maybe adrift is better. Like my life is pointless. Then, his body odor hits and snaps me out of it.
I couldn't believe it. Now, not only was I seeing dots, but I was feeling things. Emotions. I was sensing what these people were about. A fat guy makes me want to eat. A fifty-something woman with a droopy face wearing her dress crooked makes me feel edgy, anxious. A little boy passes, dragging his mom in tow. I follow his gaze to the toy store. I want to go in and buy a bunch of toys and play all day.
Great. Just. Fucking. Great.
One second I'd be pissed, the next nervous, ill at ease. Pudgy guy with a silly comb-over -- I'm insecure about my looks, wonder what people think of me. Nice trim dude in a tailored suit strides by -- I'm all about making money. It went like that. One after another. I could sense them. What their lives were about. How they carry themselves inside. I hold others in contempt, want to have sex, feel tired, skittish, sad, mad, glad. You name it. I sat there for a couple more hours until I couldn't take it anymore.
Back at home, looking in the mirror, I couldn't see anything in my forehead. I even tried looking through a magnifying glass. Didn't work. Made me feel stupid, not to mention look like an idiot.
Wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, all the lights off, I'd flash a crazy smile thinking of it. Just when I had started to come to terms with seeing lights, I begin to feel other people's stuff, emotions. As far as tackling my new, let's call it "a condition", I was back to square one. My thought process was circular. The questions were new, but pretty much the same as before. The answers were pretty much shit, which was pretty much what they were before. I pour another drink. (A bottle was by my side a lot of the time now).
If this was happening there were two choices: I was crazy, or, it was a special (I hated to think in terms of 'magic') thing that I should learn about. Embrace. So, which was it? If I was crazy I wasn't aware of it and wasn't likely to become aware of it. If it was some new ability, a new sense that enabled me to perceive things in people, then, to hell with it, my life had changed, for better or worse, like it or not. Like I said -- I was back to square one.
So. Do nothing or embrace it? I went to bed. Had to get an early start the next day.
At the mall, at the fountain next to the food court, I watched dots go by. Picked up their feelings. Studied the process. Tried to acclimate myself. Find a pattern. It got kind of routine to tell the truth. One red dot after another, each person feeling regular stuff. Apathy, chronically worried, skeptical, optimistic. You know. Regular. Normal. When they walked by, got within a few feet, I felt them. Sensed their emotions. Their mental orientation. Whatever you want to call it. I knew what they were about.
I see this one guy coming. Weird looking. Chubby greasy face, off balance expression, high-waters, shirt with a hole, one shoe untied. He got close. I waited for the impression. What was this guy feeling? Nothing. I felt nothing.
I looked at his dot. It wasn't red. It was purple.
The next chapter will be posted soon