I was laying in the void and letting myself be consumed. Even if I wanted to resist, how would I? There was nothing to see, not even the dark; darkness is the absence of light and somehow this was less than that. Even the numb of my body seemed insubstantial, like a memory wanting to take hold in the present.
Even though I couldn’t see and I couldn’t feel I knew that I was naked, and far more vulnerable than the mere removal of clothes could ever make me. It made me afraid at first, but somehow I was able to place the fear to one side like a mechanism piece on a shelf. I could reclaim it again when this, whatever it was, was done.
What was happening to me? Maybe it was a dream, or maybe I was high on some sort of drug; neither seemed to matter very much. Neither explained the force that was drawing me from myself like water clinging upward to the inside of a glass.
Suddenly there was a person; a boy I first guessed, but no. The figure was me, or at least wore a body that looked like mine, and was just as scared as I was. Don’t even ask me how I knew that.
They… she looked to me. Talking to her as a woman seemed weird without the clothes and the make-up to sell it, but the nature of her soul told me it was the truth. Was I really going to take that away from her?
Her hand reached to mine that was ethereal and when fingertips touched a ripple went up her arm. I could feel her warmth coursing through my veins, and something else flowed back into her. I watched myself as she smiled, rolled her eyes in her head and started to change. Was it magic, or was it just nature? In seconds she’d cast off her shell and become somebody else entirely.
Was this me?
Then there was a flash of light, just like the one in the park. The park!
“He’s finally coming to,” I heard someone say.
Then: “Justin? Justin, can you hear me, sweetie? Wake up. It’s Mom. Justin, you need to open your eyes. Stay with us. Everything’s going to be okay. Do you know where you are?”
Everything was a blur, but it wasn’t hard to work out where I was; the green gowns, the heat lamp over the trolley bed, and the ever present scent of bleach. I wondered how I’d managed to land in a place like that, but then I remembered; Tanya, the argument, Adrian, the chase, that weird explosion, and my clothes.
I looked down; green top, swishy skirt, white leggings, still no shoes, and the stuffing for my bra had vanished. All of this in plain view of my mother.
“Uh,” I managed to say, wanting to pass out. No such luck.
* * * *
It was an hour after being checked that Ted Fellows was given a notepad and a pen, and soon he was done with his third; every line filled, on both sides including the headers and footers, as well as the inside cover and the cardboard backing. Every inch of stationery available to him was to be covered in equations and theory more advanced than even he could have once known, and he could not rest until they existed outside of his head.
He scribbled like a zealot channeling divine knowledge, though would have found the comparison to be vulgar; this was his ‘eureka’ moment. The knowledge he’d determined would change the lives of all humanity, and perhaps others. It was his duty to record it, lest his body give out before he had the opportunity to share.
“I need another book,” he growled, “and another pen. Blue this time.”
The orderlies had other jobs to do and mostly ignored him. One gestured for him to wait a moment, most likely jumping on the one task nobody else in the wing wanted to take on.
Beads of sweat trekked the slope down his hairline and all but sizzled on his brow. Didn’t they know the important work he was doing? No, of course they didn’t; they were ignorant, and because of the fact had no issue making him suffer for their priorities.
Calmly and without making a scene Ted Fellows walked to the counter, arms by his side and with his gaze directly forward, and reached for the open binder inside the administrator’s window. It wasn’t until he searched for a pen that someone took notice and the nurse stepped in to snatch the items from his hand.
“Excuse me, sir,” she snipped.
“I asked for a clean notepad and a new pen,” he explained. “If you’re going to keep me here the least you can do is provide implements so that I may continue my work.”
“Teddy? Come on. You need to be reasonable.”
He turned to the friend who appeared from the hallway looking every bit as ragged as he probably felt. It had been a long night for the both of them, and that knowledge earned Randall Drew more patience than Ted was willing to give anyone else.
“All I want is a pen and paper,” he continued.
Randall placed a hand on his friends shoulder and sighed. “I know, but Teddy, you’re in shock. I don’t even know if either of us is making sense right now. I don’t know if I can talk to you like a rational person.”
“Don’t undermine me, Randall,” he whispered. “You saw it too, didn’t you? It’s so much bigger than both of us.”
“I saw some lights, I felt the Earth tremble, and I’m saving the official reports for morning. Meanwhile I have a traumatized student and another looking to be brought up on assault charges. Teddy, it’s been a long, long night.”
“Yes, the young transvestite,” Ted pondered. “I shall have to talk to them at some point too.”
The teacher fretted and leaned into his companion. “You can talk to him later, when he’s recovered. If you want I can even schedule a meeting. For now, though, both he and his family are going to need a lot of patience. He was lucky to survive tonight in one piece.”
Ted clicked his tongue, searched the room and bowed his head. Perhaps more trying than the night itself was the limitation of other humans, including his so-called friend. He thought to argue the point, but being unreasonable might have complicated the situation further.
“Let me take you home,” Randall offered. “They’ve agreed to release you into my care.”
He turned and sneered. “Your ‘care’?”
“Teddy, something happened to you, and the doctors are worried. They don’t trust you to be rational right now.”
“I’m always rational,” he snapped.
“I know, which is why I was there advocating for you. I’m more concerned about potential concussions than I am your mental state, which is why I’m happy to spend a couple of nights wherever you’re most comfortable. I know you don’t like being watched over, but I promise it’s for your own good.”
Dr. Fellows closed his eyes, gritted his teeth and worked over this information. He hadn’t the will to deal with it; not while there were whole universes living within his imagination whose logistics were being processed at a rate he could barely keep. The sooner he could eliminate distraction and get to his work, the better.
“Fine,” he agreed, “but we need some notebooks; a lot of them.”
To be continued…