‘You did this to me!’ she shouted, slamming her hand on Samuel’s desk. ‘You fucking turned me into this hopeless, out of control, senseless freak.’ She could feel her face burning with all her fury raging like an uncontrollable firestorm.
‘Calm down, Katie,’ said Samuel Madreem.
‘Don’t fucking tell me to calm down.’ She aimed a pointed finger inches from his face.
‘Katie, you agreed to work with us on this project. You signed – ‘
‘You never mentioned the side-effects,’ she raged.
Samuel slammed his fists on the table and rose. ‘Sit down Katie.’
She obeyed the authority in his voice, and sat with one knee shaking. Not because she was afraid of him, but because she was afraid of herself. Of what she might do. She could strangle him right now.
Samuel sat again. ‘Katie.’ He waited for her to make eye contact before he continued. She shot him with a sudden, piercing stare. But his face remained stern. ‘This is a scientific experiment, Katie. It’s enabling us to research in ways we couldn’t have done before. We were expecting some mild side-effects, as was stated clearly in the contract. These side-effects you are experiencing are part of the process.’
Katie unfolded her crossed arms and when she felt her frown disappear, she sighed. ‘I can’t smell anything today, and I know now that I get angry very easily on such days.’ She looked up and tried to remember. ‘I also find that I cry easily on those days when I’ve lost my sense of touch.’ She looked at Samuel.
‘Okay. What about when you are missing two senses on the same day? Any side-effects?’
Katie thought for a moment. ‘Yes, actually, now that I think of it. I made a lot of impulsive decisions on some of those days.’ She leaned on the desk. ‘And I had strong desires for sex.’
She watched his eyebrows jump. ‘Okay …’
‘And on some of those days, my hands shook uncontrollably.’ She shook her hands in front of him. ‘It was bloody annoying, Mr. Madreem.’
He nodded, then picked up a sheet of paper. ‘This report states that you vomited on those days when you were unable to taste anything.’
‘Yes, that’s right. I threw up at least five times yesterday.’ She mimicked the actions of someone throwing up, then smiled when Samuel put a hand to his mouth. Katie looked at the large framed picture on the wall to her left. ‘That looks beautiful.’
‘It’s The Great Barrier Reef,’ said Samuel. ‘I went there two years ago. It was amazing. Have you been there? Katie?’
Katie looked down at her hands and shook her head.
‘What’s wrong, Katie?’
She looked at him and found concern in his eyes. ‘I just miss him.’
She nodded. While she was living in one place, he was frequently on the move. Right now, she was in Melbourne and Patrick was up in Queensland, travelling with that bloody circus he loved so much. ‘We had a fight before he left. Maybe I’ve become too attached to him.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘I don’t know …’
‘Maybe you’re in love with him.’ His voice was quiet now.
‘What?’ She shook her head and leaned back in her seat. ‘Nope, that’s not it. That can’t be it.’ Though she knew her voice was filled with uncertainty.
Samuel sighed. Then, as if to change the subject, he said ‘Katie, what sense do you miss the most when it’s absent?’
‘My sight.’ It took her only a second to answer. She stared deeply into his eyes. ‘I hate not being able to see things, not being able to see the world. I feel so vulnerable when I can’t see anything. And I hate that I can’t read or write on those days.’ She shook her head. ‘Being blind is tough and I don’t know how some people do it.’
Samuel tapped a pen on his desk a few times. ‘You mean, living with blindness on a daily basis?’
‘Yeah. I mean, they must be used to it. I don’t know.’ She shrugged. ‘But what I do know is that being blind, even for the shortest time, sucks.’
Samuel took something out from a draw behind him. He handed it to Katie. ‘This is a centre for the blind. You might be interested in visiting the place and meeting some of the people there.’
Katie took the brochure from him and glanced at the cover. ‘You mean talk with them and get to know them?’
‘Yes.’ Samuel leaned in. ‘I think it will be very good for you. And it’s just around the corner from here. You can walk through the park to get there.’
Katie groaned. ‘Why did I have to meet someone with a lifestyle so completely different to mine? Honestly, he’s bloody driving me crazy.’ She hit her forehead on the desk a couple of times.
‘Hey.’ She looked up. He was touching her shoulder.
‘Don’t touch me.’ She must have looked like she was about to kill him, because he moved swiftly back into his chair and held his palms in the air.
‘Okay, okay,’ he said. ‘Maybe you should call Patrick and try to sort things out. I mean, I’ve been there before. I know what it’s like to miss someone you love.’
Katie scrunched up the brochure and tossed it on the desk. She got off the chair. ‘Right now, Mr. Madreem, you are really pissing me off.’ She leaned over the desk and stared at him fiercely. If she’d had a solid object in her hand, she would have thrown it at him.
‘All right, listen Katie. I think you should go for that little walk to cool off a bit.’ Samuel picked up the scrunched up brochure. He straightened it out and handed it to her. ‘And maybe check out that centre for the blind?’ He gave an encouraging smile.
She took it from him, then slowly backed away from the desk. She bit her lip as she re-read the cover. ‘I think I will.’