My reader's name is Arnold Rengord. When we sat down he took off his thick black glasses and rubbed his eyes. He casually mentioned this was his third session today and it was only ten o'clock. The fatigue lay under his eyes like a Basset hound cradled in a mother's arms. I imagine he must consider himself some sort of Bodhisattva in the ancient tradition, dedicated to liberating poor souls like me. Or maybe he knows he's just a tired piece of wax paper whose only purpose is to facilitate the rolling of dough. Lots of it from the looks of all the celebrity wannabes walking through this place. People gotta spend their hard-earned credits on something--might as well be Trochanter's SQL-77 rundown.
"Have a seat."
"Yeah. I'm a little tense."
"I think it's a matter of this new exploration. I feel like I'm delving into new territory, and I'm afraid. It scares me a little. That's all."
"Sure. It's new for you."
"Exactly. I've never stepped into the pool before."
"Alright. Well, we'll go easy. Let me know if you feel uncomfortable, okay?"
"Okay. Now the first thing I want you to do is close your eyes and tell me when you feel ready to start."
I closed my eyes and rubbed my hands over the armrests of my chair. How like an airplane flight this is "Okay. I'm set. Oh, wait, let me rub in a little TV5."
"Actually, we don't allow any drugs or medication during our sessions. It interferes with the process."
"Whatever you say. You're the main Durango here. I'm just along for the ride."
"Right. Now, close your eyes. I'm going to walk you through a little journey. I want you to see yourself walking up a flight of stairs."
"You mean in my imagination?"
"Use your mind's eye."
"Right. I feel you."
"Now you smell lush vegetation. You are in a green rain forest. You hear birds everywhere. You sense the pleasant humidity, smell the orchids, feel the vines underneath your feet. You walk up to an Olympic sized swimming pool. Feel your feet as they grip the sun baked edge of the pool. The weather is warm and you feel the sun heating your back. You glance upward and see a clear blue sky. Clear blue sky above, shimmering blue water below. You start to crouch down as you prepare to dive into the pool. Your legs are tremendously strong. They bend to slightly below the knees and then you propel yourself up into the air. Now time slows down. You see yourself going up and up ten, twenty, thirty feet up into the blue sky directly above the pool. You discover that you have become a hummingbird and that you have the power to simply hover in the blue sky above the pool, which you do so at your leisure. Gradually, as you float contently in the blue, blue sky, you lose track of the difference between the pool and the sky. They have merged into a warm pocket of blue space; a space which feels just perfect for you to be in. You slowly examine your hummingbird body and see that it too is gradually turning blue. Your body itself is slowly merging with the warm blue space, until your body is simply a part of the space. You delight in observing that you can instantly move about in this huge blue arena just by thinking about it. You look to the south and, POP! There you are in the south. You look up and you pop to the top. Enjoy this new found feeling of being able to instantly move about from position to position. Now as you move you discover that you can control all of the warm blue space. You are even bigger than the space itself. Imagine the space revolving around you almost as if it were a huge Hula-hoop. Gradually the space is revolving faster and faster around you. You are completely safe, stable, and comfortable in the middle of what is becoming a powerful tornado around you. This tornado is completely under your control and moves as you move. It is a shield, a protective bubble of wind that will allow you to venture out anywhere you wish. You can see through the tornado, but nothing can pierce through to you unless you so wish. And now go and do some exploring."
I took in a deep breath. I know what he's doing. It's a simple cognitive repose script designed to set my equilibrium parameters. It's time to let my feet drift into the pool.
"So, can you tell me about any physical pain or discomfort you've experienced within the last few days?"
"Well, I'm stressed out to the max about this speech I'm supposed to give tomorrow. I feel tight all around my throat to the point where it's strangling me. Literally. I get choked up. It's uncomfortable to the point of making me feel I might be gettin' a heart attack or something."
"Okay. Let's see if we can pinpoint a particular time it happened."
"Alright. I've got one."
"Can you date it?"
"Yeah. It was just last weekend."
"Good. I want you to go back to that incident. Tell me when you're there."
"Great. Now tell me what you see there."
"I see...my office. My computer is updating me."
"Alright. So how long did this episode take place?"
"Oh, about ten minutes."
"Okay. Now, I want you to start at the beginning and roll right through the entire episode. Then tell me when you're finished."
"Okay. I'm done."
"Alright. What happened?"
"I was sitting in front of my computer when I read a message from my boss. He was reminding me about my speech. Demanding an update. Wanted to know how far I've come with it and all. Meanwhile I'm getting this feeling around my neck like I'm being strangled. I felt like I was choking...had to get some fresh air."
"Okay. That's fine. Is there an earlier episode when you felt like you were choking?"
"I think so."
"I'm not sure. Yeah, I think there was."
"Just tell me the first date that pops into mind."
"Okay. 2018. "
"Where were you?"
"Lights and Fights day."
"Okay, that's good. I want you to roll right through it. Re-live it and let me know when you're done."
"My head hurts."
"Okay, just stay with it. Let me know when you're at the end."
"Great. Now, what happened?"
"It was International Lights and Fights day. Every single block in the city was closed off for the celebration. I could see light splashing off the walls of all the buildings. Loud music was thumping. People jumped up and down. Everybody stomping the ground."
"Okay, keep going."
"John Hollindaise was on the ground getting a stomping. I ran up and tried to yell at the kids, to make em stop. They wouldn't listen to me. They just kept kicking and kicking. They kicked the shit out of him and there was nothing I could do."
"Very good. I want you to look back and see if there is an earlier time when you felt you were choking."
"Man, I see something but it looks like it came out of a movie."
"That's good. Just go with it. Tell me."
"Looks like Egypt."
"Good. I want you to return to the beginning of the episode itself."
"Now merge through it to its end and let me know when you're done."
"Okay. I did it."
"Tell me about it."
"I see something. It's like a green shroud covering a face."
"This face is like looking up at me, but it's all covered up..."
"Tell me more."
"Okay. It's like this face wants to talk to me but can't."
"Alright. Now, go back to the start of the incident. Tell me when you're there."
"Good. Now merge through the incident to end point."
"Okay. I did it."
"Great. Now, tell me about it."
"It's a coffin...the face is covered because it's dead. It's my face. I'm looking down at my own fuckin' body."
"Okay. Keep going."
"The way it looks...I've died and they're putting me into some kind of box. No, they're wrapping me up in what looks like toilet paper..."
"I'm hearing you."
"It's...it's like they're fucking wrapping me up...I'm a damn mummy! Hell's bells in a jesus petunia loaf, the little bastards are wrappin' me up like I'm a god damned Christmas present. I can't believe this shit." I opened my eyes and looked up at Arnold Rengord. I felt a tremendous feeling of relief. He was looking at the datascreen on his monitor. I could see the stats flashing. I had produced a 350 MB session of data, all cross indexed into the huge SQL-77 database. All part of a new record. Cross-indexed with all the other sessions taking place at the Château Deux Oiseaux.
"Congratulations," he said. "You've finished your first dip into the pool."
Go to chapter 14