The Edge of Sanity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Is seeing believing?



There I was sitting in the park, watching a group of boys kick a football around. It was a relatively sunny afternoon with a light breeze blowing. I gazed up at the passing clouds as they intermittently blocked out the sun; they seemed to be travelling too fast, as though speeded up – just like in a time-lapse nature film. The relaxing setting and rejuvenating solar rays should have instilled the sense of well-being I was seeking, but I was filled with a feeling of inexplicable dread. Nothing was as it seemed. I found myself confronted with a puzzle and had no idea as to how I should go about solving it.

I heard a thud on the grass – a football came skidding past to land in a flower bed. An urge to break the spell overcame me; I rose to approach the bed and retrieve the ball.

‘Thanks, mister,’ I heard a juvenile voice call out.

I stepped gingerly across the flower bed, trying to avoid ruining the bedding plants, and bent to grasp the black and white hexagonally patterned ball.  As I stood upright, the ball appeared to turn inside out so that its surface became textured and cream-coloured.

‘Is seeing believing?’ I mumbled.

The ornamental daisies got crushed as I clumsily vacated the bed. I stared into the face of the boy who had come to collect the ball.

‘Look,’ I said to him before glancing down at the ball again – but the ball was black and white once more. ‘Did you see that?’  I asked, handing him the ball. ‘The ball – it turned inside out... did you see?’

‘Cheers,’ he replied. He returned to his peers with cautious glances over his shoulder.

I returned to the bench and sat down wearily, trying to overcome the shock. Then I heard one of the boys say, ‘He must be from the hospital.’

It made me feel embarrassed, so I got up and started strolling through the park. The sounds of screeching children and barking dogs assailed my senses, making it impossible to think straight.  Had the doctors drugged me? Was the damage to my head more than simple concussion?  Perhaps I was experiencing flashbacks as a result of using hallucinogenic drugs in my youth – the bang on the head bringing it all rushing back.

I began to experience an overwhelming surge of agoraphobia and the consequent need to get home.  As I rushed out of the park and along the street the visions got worse.  I began to notice that people had hidden faces; some bearing serene empathetic smiles, some displaying demeanours which could be interpreted as neutral, or perhaps indifferent; yet others had masks that shifted between various expressions in schizophrenic restlessness. But worst of all were those whose mouths were permanently contorted in cruel twisted grins. The faster I walked the more distorted the passing faces became.

A strong hand seized my arm and arrested my progress. The old man had the appearance of a tramp, unshaven and unkempt, but he was exceptionally well spoken.

‘You see the world as it really is, don’t you, boy? You see it stripped bare of its illusory façade and hypocrisy.’ I gazed into his manic blue eyes, heart pounding.  ‘It’s the so-called normal people who are mad, not us – we simply see through the illusion.’ 

He thrust a card into my hand.  I wrenched my arm free of his grip, pulled away and began to run. The madman’s voice called after me.

‘’That which has been hidden to you will eventually be brought into the light – Corinthians.’

I was soon home, locking and bolting the door behind me. Then I remembered the card in my hand and looked at it – it had the name and address of a doctor Khon. I threw the card on to the telephone stand.

By the time I’d removed my shoes, someone was ringing the doorbell. The electronic buzz seemed much louder and shriller than I’d remembered. I unlocked the door and pulled the bolts back, and then cautiously eased it open enough to peer out.

‘Hi, there – name’s Rachel. I’m from Energen. Did you know that you could get your gas and electricity supplied much cheaper from us?’ It was a bubbly young brunette wearing a name tag and carrying a clip board.

‘Didn’t you call yesterday?’ I asked, perplexed by a sense of déjà vu.  

‘No, I’ve only just started canvassing this area,’ she replied, with an amused grin. 

 ‘Are you sure you didn’t call before my accident?’

 ‘I’m positive,’ she affirmed, her grin betraying a little embarrassment. ‘But you really do need to think about the future…’

I slammed the door shut and retreated into the kitchen. How could I be sure that she was even real? I took a cut-glass tumbler from the cabinet to pour myself a large rum and coke, before heading into the living room.

Get back into a normal routine, the doctor had said. Relax and do the things you enjoy.  All right then, I’d watch my favourite film. I switched on the TV. An advertisement for spectacles filled the plasma-screen – an attractive, bespectacled redhead asked: ‘Are you seeing the world as it truly is? Why not pay a visit to Spectrum Eye Studios?’

I sank down on to the edge of the sofa to stare intently at the screen. Another ad came on, advocating buying a self-help book. ‘Tune in to your inner self. Don’t walk round blinkering yourself to the numerous possibilities you’ve never realised existed,’ crooned the hypnotic tones of the narrator. I watched advert after advert, turning over to other channels for more, seeking desperately to unravel the meaning behind all the subliminal messages.

The sound of children playing was out of synch with what I was watching. A nursery rhyme echoed hollowly around the room: ‘Ring a ring of roses, a pocket full of poses, a tissue a tissue, we all fall down’. I rose and backed out of the room, glass in hand, haunted by the seemingly demonic, infantile laughter echoing in my head. Then I found I’d arrived at the bottom of the stairs. New sounds assailed my ears – bedsprings creaking in time with the sounds of sexual abandon. I headed upstairs almost unconsciously, drawn along like a sleep-walker towards the carnal moans and groans.

I entered my bedroom to stand frozen in utter disbelief – I guess the couple must have been in their mid-thirties – the woman had a sixties-style blonde beehive hairdo and was slim and leggy with small pert breasts; she was lying beneath a dark-haired muscular man, who was giving her the old in and out. I could hear the sound of tortured bed springs, a rocking bed-frame and a headboard hitting the wall; strange, as they were making love on my divan, which has no headboard or frame.

‘What the hell are you doing in my house?’ I demanded in a weak voice.

They ignored me, so I walked up to shove the man’s shoulder – my hand passed straight through him. The couple became transparent until I withdrew my hand, when they appeared solid once more. Oh God! I thought, now I’m seeing ghosts

I rushed back downstairs and into the kitchen, ignoring the sound of the chanted nursery rhyme emitting from the living room. Halfway across the kitchen floor, I paused, trying to compose myself. A new sound caused the hairs on the back of my neck to prickle. A deep chesty growl issued from behind me. I turned slowly to find a large, black mongrel snarling at me, its lips curled back to display pink gums and savage-looking canine teeth. It stared straight at me, eyes full of hate. If it could see me it couldn’t be a ghost, but how the hell did it get in? It made a move towards me. Instinctively, I threw the tumbler at its head – the missile passed clear through the dog and rolled across the hallway carpet.

Some sixth sense sent a shiver up my spine, warning me to turn around. He stood a few feet away, dressed in a suit and tie with a long black overcoat and trilby hat. Something about him reminded me of gangsters. Then I noticed the gun in his hand; it looked like an old percussion revolver, pre-World War One. His other hand tossed something through the air – it passed right through me. I heard a wet slap on the floor and turned to see the dog seize a large piece of raw steak. Still growling at the intruder, the dog retreated to a corner and set about devouring the beef. The man walked through me and headed for the stairs. What else could I do but follow him?

The gunman entered the bedroom and raised the gun; he paused, waiting for the lovers to notice him. With a startled ‘Yikes!’ the naked man rolled off the woman, face white with fear. The blonde grabbed at a sheet, trying to cover up.

What a sight,’ said the gunman, in a cold tone of voice. ‘Fancy finding my slut of a wife in my so-called best friend’s bed...’

As he cocked the hammer, I moved in front of him.

‘No!’ I shouted. God knows what I thought I was doing. It was like I’d completely lost control of everything, including my own actions. He squeezed the trigger and the hammer fell, seemingly in slow motion. The sound of the shot resounded through the room and a searing pain enveloped my chest.  Four more shots rang out in rapid succession before the cuckolded gangster turned around and left. I gazed down at my chest, expecting to find a torn and bloody mess, but was relieved to find that everything seemed intact.

I turned about to assess the carnage wreaked on the adulterers.  The wall and bedside cupboard had been covered with arterial spray and the bedside lamp dripped crimson. I turned and ran down the stairs to the kitchen, but could find no sign of either the gunman or dog. The nursery rhyme had ceased to be chanted, though I could hear a solitary child crying for its mother. I unlocked and flung open the back door to find that the weather had changed drastically, dark clouds releasing heavy rainfall. After I'd collected a parka from the coat rack and grabbed an umbrella, I headed out of the door without even bothering to close it behind me.

The bad weather was comforting, allowing me to pull up the hood and avoid looking at people, to shut out the world. I tried to avoid the deep puddles caused by the downpour, with only minimal success. My trainers and socks soaked up the water like a sponge. If only I’d had the forethought to put on some boots – but I had to get out of that damned haunted house as soon as possible.

Before long, I’d arrived at the psychiatric hospital and entered the reception. My demand to see a shrink immediately didn’t go down too well with the receptionist, a jobs-worth type who insisted that you couldn’t just walk in off the street and see a psychiatrist without an appointment. I informed her that I had an appointment later in the day, to be told I’d have to wait until then. When I insisted, she threatened to call security and have me removed.

‘That’s exactly what you’ll have to do!’ I shouted, ‘Put me in a straitjacket and throw me in a padded cell – I’m not going anywhere till I see someone.’

She stormed off through the interior doors in a huff, returning a few minutes later to suggest I take a seat. I still had to wait almost an hour before being ushered into a long corridor, where I had to sit and wait for another half-hour.

 At long last, a door opened and a fair-haired young woman greeted me.

‘Hello, Dean,’ she said. ‘I’m Doctor Endicott, this is highly irregular, but Doctor Simmons has agreed to see you early. Please, come in.’

I almost told her that it would have been early an hour ago, but I bit my tongue and followed her.

The other headhunter was a middle-aged brunette, very conservatively dressed, with a poker face. 

‘Hello, Mr Trinkle,’ she said, as I sat opposite her. ‘Your doctor referred you to us as you’ve experienced some psychological problems since suffering a concussion in a motorbike accident. Is that right?’

‘Correct,’ I replied curtly, ‘just as it says in your file.’

 ‘You’ve never suffered from mental health issues before? Depression, psychosis, drug abuse and such...?’ Simmons asked.

‘Never – I was as good as new before the accident.’

‘You work in scientific research? Cell division?’ said Endicott, sounding impressed.

‘That’s right. I’m a level-headed, logical-minded person, usually.’

‘All right then,’ said Simmons. ‘In your own time, explain what you’ve experienced.’

I began to spill my guts, my sentences tripping over each other as I attempted to unload my burden. Several times the shrinks interrupted, telling me to calm down and take my time. Their faces remained completely neutral in demeanour, giving nothing away. 

When I’d finished, they looked at each other for a minute or so.

‘Go ahead,’ Simmons said to Endicott. ‘Be my guest.’

 ‘You say you’ve heard voices in your head, Mr Trinkle?’ said Endicott.

 ‘No… well… not exactly; I’ve heard the voices of children playing. But apart from that, everything I’ve experienced has been visual as well as audile.’

‘Are you sure you’ve never heard voices telling you what to do?’ She looked like she didn’t believe me.

‘No, I can assure you emphatically that I’ve never heard voices telling me what to do in my life.’

The shrinks seemed perplexed and I got the impression they thought I must have been hearing voices, but was reluctant to admit the fact. Every time I attempted to expand my explanation of the visions, it always came back to the same thing: Was I sure I hadn’t heard voices in my head? It was getting ridiculous and reminded me of the fiasco in the US when collaborators tested the psychiatric institutions by pretending to hear a voice in their heads saying ‘Thud’. Despite all the conspirators being mentally well-balanced, they were all diagnosed clinically insane. It became obvious that, without a false admission, I would find no help there.

‘Look, doctors,’ I pleaded, ‘with all due respect, I’ve never heard voices in my head other than the internal dialogue with my own conscience, you know… preventing me from gratifying instinctive primal urges that are considered anti-social. So, can’t you do anything for me... unless I say I hear voices?’

‘Well, Mr Trinkle,’ said Simmons, ‘you’ve had a nasty bang on the head and need time to recover. I suggest you see your GP again and give it a couple of weeks. If things don’t improve by then, ask to be referred again.’

I was soon back on the street, walking through the drizzle, my spirit drained by the anti-climax and disappointment of the professional analysis. Sod it, I thought, and entered a shop to buy some cigarettes. I chain-smoked two while huddling beneath the brolly and gazing into a puddle. A reflection passed over the surface of the standing water, something like an aircraft from a science fiction film. I quickly looked up to find nothing but the moisture-laden clouds above.

A café across the street beckoned.

I ordered a double cheeseburger with all the trimmings. Never mind lung cancer and cholesterol, five-a-day, playing squash and going to the gym religiously. Physical health considerations seem petty and irrelevant when you’re living through a nightmare.

The food smelt great, but I found that it tasted bland and pushed it aside. A seventies compilation disc was playing on the café’s stereo – I concentrated on listening to Bowie’s Five Years.

I left the café and wandered aimlessly down the street, the song playing repeatedly in my head. In desperation, I searched in vain for some cryptic clue in the lyrics, but was still left at a complete loss as what to do next. I could stay at my parents’ or a friend’s house, but what ghosts would be waiting for me there?

After crossing the road again, I took a short cut through one of the many narrow alleyways which made up part of the city’s ghost walk. Exiting the alley and turning left, I initially failed to notice the difference in my surroundings, such was my preoccupation with the psychological anomalies afflicting my mind. I’d walked perhaps a dozen paces, gazing at the ground, before I began to notice the rubbish carpeting the street. A small tawny shape moved swiftly across the periphery of my vision – to the right. It was the squeaking sound that brought me back to full sensibility.

I looked up and focused my sight on the scene ahead. The street was full of rubbish and piles of dead leaves, amongst which hundreds of rats were rooting. It was a pedestrian zone but several cars had been abandoned in the middle of the street; they were strange-looking vehicles that were unfamiliar to me, like prototypes from the Auto Show – the kind of fanciful designs which never actually make it into production. The shop fronts were either boarded up or had been ransacked and all the windows smashed.

I turned about and headed back to the alley, only to find a brick wall in place of its entrance. There was nothing for it, but to carry on heading for the end of the street – beyond which should have been the bridge over the river. It looked like a scene from Venice, only not as aesthetically pleasing. Murky brown river water lapped up to the point where the street’s incline apexed – the bridge all but obscured except for the tops of its enclosing walls.  Several corpses drifted amongst the flotsam, people and dogs. I thought I must be dreaming.

There was no choice, but to turn back. I wearily retraced my steps up Memory Lane and headed towards the city’s central square. Seagulls, crows and feral pigeons filled the sky above and had settled on every available perch. The facades of the tall surrounding buildings were smeared with bird shit. I entered the littered rat-infested square, and saw a woman walking towards me dressed in rags. She was carrying a bundle and crying. As I drew nearer to her, I asked if she was all right, but she took no heed: obviously another ghost from the past or future. In passing, I saw that she held an infant, its eyes wide open and staring, its lips tinged blue with the pallor of death.

All the benches had been smashed up, presumably for fire wood, so I sat on the steps in front of the bank, lit up another cigarette and sucked at it greedily, while staring at my feet.

‘Don’t worry, son. We’ll have passed away long before it comes to this.’ The voice had a slight Caribbean accent.

I looked up and to my right. A man was sitting next to me, his short hair and beard tinged with grey, his cheeks dotted with black freckles. He was rubbing his chin against the polo neck of a white jumper, his hands stuck in the pockets of a long leather coat.

‘Can you see me?’ I asked, feeling silly.

 ‘Of course I can, I’m no ghost.’ He spoke with a rich, soothing voice. ‘I’m just like you, son – I see how it is.’

 ‘Do you know how to get back, can you show me?’ The desperation was evident in my voice.

‘Of course,’ he replied. ‘It’s easy to pass back and forth when you get used to it. Come on, follow me.’

He led me in the opposite direction from where I’d come, kicking at the imaginary rubbish before him. I asked him if he knew what it was all about. He told me, but I wish I’d never asked.

‘This is the future, son, the place where the world is heading.  It all had to come to a head eventually – overpopulation, pollution, global warming. The seas became barren and the fertile bread baskets of the globe were spent and dried up. Rising sea levels led to a deluge, which engulfed the coastal cities. The privileged had already begun to retreat into enclaves protected by the security forces. Eventually, the governments of the world decided that the masses had to be abandoned. Extreme capitalism, the new religion everyone worshipped and no one dared to criticize, failed to provide a better future for everyone. In other words, the world as we knew it was consumed by greed.’

Even after everything I’d witnessed, I was still horrified by the revelation. ‘But surely the government must have tried to help the ordinary people.’

‘Oh, sure, at first they did.’ He sounded tired. ‘But difficult decisions had to be made.  The Earth’s resources couldn’t sustain everyone, so it was decided to reserve what was left for the chosen elite, who would start over again once the population problem had eased. Those who made the final decision to abandon the people, justified it by claiming it was simply evolution in progress, natural selection. You know, son – survival of the fittest.’

We reached the entrance to another alleyway. My companion gestured for me to enter and followed.

‘Doesn’t it drive you mad knowing all this?’ I called over my shoulder.

‘Not really. I don’t have long left in this world. I’m sort of glad that I know how it all turns out.’

‘I’d rather be completely ignorant of it all,’ I had to admit.

‘Ignorance is bliss, as they say.’ He chuckled.

I glanced over my shoulder, but he must have turned down a side alley.

It was with great relief that I found myself back on the bustling streets I’d so recently left.

I turned the corner and entered a narrow side street.  Ahead of me I saw a sign: Gyps-Ophelia Clairvoyant Extraordinaire. Something drew me towards the sign. There I was – a scientist about to seek the help of a mystic.  The sign pointed down a narrow flight of steps to the door of a basement. Chimes sounded as I pushed the door open to be greeted by the scent of sandalwood incense.

‘Welcome,’ said a soothing voice.

She was sitting in a rocking chair in front of a small open hearth, smoking some herbal concoction in a clay pipe. It was difficult to say exactly how old she was, perhaps somewhere between forty-five and sixty-five. Her appearance was highly stereotypical: dark-skinned, wearing a black and purple head scarf with a printed dragon motif, the obligatory large silver hoop earrings, and a purple shawl over a loose-fitting black dress embroidered with silver floral patterns. The gypsy rose gracefully from the rocker and moved the short distance to a small round card table covered in purple silk cloth, and sat down. 

‘Please join me, young man.’

I took a seat opposite her not knowing what to say. Spread on the table in a perfectly symmetrical circle was a pack of tarot cards of a brightly illustrated modern design. ‘Just gather up the cards and shuffle them for me, dearie.’

‘Are you really a gypsy?’ I mumbled.

‘We are what we believe ourselves to be, not necessarily what our genes say we are. By the way – it’s ten pounds for a reading.’

‘To be honest, I’m not here for a reading. I was hoping to get some advice.’

She could see that my clothes were damp and I was shivering.

‘All right, come and sit by the fire with me.’

‘Would it be all right if I removed my trainers and socks to dry them, please?’

‘If I have to look at your bare feet as well, that’ll be twelve pounds.’

I smiled for the first time since I don’t know when, having decided that she definitely must be a charlatan. Still, where else was I to go?  Having arranged the trainers and socks on the hearth, I eased into the small leather arm chair, opposite the mystic. I poured it all out, while she sat listening patiently with a look of genuine sympathy on her face.

While Ophelia refilled her pipe from a leather pouch, with what she said was broom, I waited expectantly for the disappointment I knew must come. She lit the pipe and smiled at me.

‘Do you realise how privileged you are?  For you, the veils of confusion have been lifted. The accident must have stimulated something in your brain, something that was already there, but lying dormant and unrealised. Probably, it has something to do with your pineal gland. The trauma to your head has awakened your extra sensory perception – or Third Eye – allowing you to see beyond the normal limits of everyday reality. Since my youth I have dreamed of possessing a gift such as yours.’

‘Gift…’ I sputtered. ‘But this is a curse, how can I live a normal life? How do I avoid becoming a raving lunatic? Besides, I’m a scientist not a mystic. What use could I possibly make of such a thing?’

 Her shocked expression made me feel like an ungrateful child.

‘Don’t put too much faith in science,’ she said, with a humourless smile. ‘Most of the scientific theories subscribed to today will be believed in the future no more than we still think the earth to be flat.’ Ophelia became sympathetic once more. ‘You must learn to harness the gift to your advantage, dear boy; you don’t seem to understand the potential you possess. Anyway, I could attempt to explain this phenomenon in spiritual terms, but I know that someone as… shall we say, as objective as you, will struggle to comprehend the language at my disposal.’ She reached for the mantelpiece, took a business card from a small pile and handed it to me. ‘Go and see him – he’ll know how to explain it all to someone like you.’

I stared at the card, the printed name and address looked familiar. ‘Doctor Khon. What kind of doctor is he exactly?’

‘A professor of psychology and philosophy, amongst other things. Try him, what have you got to lose?’

I replaced the footwear and took out my wallet.

‘Never mind the money,’ she said. ‘It was a pleasure meeting you.’

The rain had relented but the overbearing clouds still threatened to spill their guts.  The warm, dry socks felt good on my feet – strange how you can take comfort in simple things at such times.

The taxi dropped me outside Doctor Khon’s residence, an expensive townhouse set amidst private surgeries and dental practices. I should have been expecting another caricature, but was still surprised to be greeted by someone who looked like a cross between Einstein and Freud: wild, shoulder-length white hair with a matching droopy moustache and goatee beard, wearing cardigan, cords and slippers, and carrying an unlit pipe. The only thing missing was a Teutonic accent. 

‘Hello, Doctor Khon. Ophelia sent me.’

He looked delighted and welcomed me in. I was led into the front room, which was set up as a study.  Drawing the curtains across the bay window and switching on a lamp, he asked if I’d prefer the couch or armchair. I opted for the latter. Once more, I found myself sitting opposite an eccentric character.

‘Please, go ahead,’ he encouraged. ‘I know this is going to be interesting.’

For the third time in two hours, I unburdened my soul to a stranger. The good doctor took it all in without a sign of surprise, the amused smile never leaving his face.

‘What a fascinating story, my boy,’ was his first reaction.

‘Story? You think it’s all in my head, don’t you?’

‘Not at all, I believe every word you’ve said. Whatever explanation Ophelia might have offered would have been accurate, even if expressed in different language from my own interpretation. You told me you’re a biologist; I take it that you are inclined towards a mechanistic philosophy?’

‘Well, I’m open-minded, but sceptical about non-scientific explanations about our existence. Why, do you intend to convince me that God and the spirit world exist?’

‘I never try to convince anyone of anything.’ He held up his hands in surrender. ‘We can only be convinced by ourselves. But I suppose you subscribe to the argument that, if a higher intelligence exists, something must have created it, in turn.’

‘It seems like a reasonable enough argument to me.’

‘You must be aware of Galileo’s attempts to measure infinity?’ I nodded in affirmation. ‘He advised that such calculations should be taken no further, for beyond infinity lay even greater infinities, and so on. The average person would conclude that infinity by its very definition is immeasurable, yet Gödel and Cantor couldn’t leave it alone.’

‘Any relation...?’ I asked, half-jokingly.

‘Very distantly,’ Doctor Khon answered in all seriousness. ‘In order to know the secrets of God, such dangerous knowledge has driven men insane. In the extreme gravity at the centre of a Black Hole, Einstein’s equations of General Relativity break down, resulting in mostly zeros. When r is equal to zero, physics fails. The Quantum version of relativity also failed, as when it was inserted into Einstein's equations – at the point of probability that gravity will move from one point to another – the result was an infinite sequence of infinities. Physicists would say that these equations make no sense as they are flawed, which is contrary to the truth they hint at. But then, why shouldn’t God have a sense of humour?’

I didn’t feel like chuckling along with him, so he continued.

‘The universe and ourselves are the product of a singularity much like those found in Black Holes, a singularity which caused the Big Bang. We are quite literally the product of infinity. If an omnipotent intelligence does exist, it is both infinite and eternal, requiring no other intelligence to have preceded it. Scientists, in their obsession with refuting teleological arguments, claim that “If God made man, something must have made God”. This protestation is petty and irrational; that men considered to possess great intellect should spout such non-scientific nonsense makes the mind boggle.’

‘Listen, Doctor,’ I had to interrupt, ‘I’m no physicist. What has God to do with my predicament?’

‘Nothing really, at least not directly, but you did ask. The point is that even the greatest human intellects are stumbling through the dark when it comes to truly understanding total reality. You would probably claim that genes and the evolutionary process show no sign of divine intervention, therefore there is no need for a higher intelligence. Admittedly, our observations of the mechanics of life reveal no obvious evidence of intervention by a designer, no 'vital' element which provides conclusive proof of ongoing programming, yet this can easily be explained in a coherent and logical way. Once life had erupted in the machine it was already programmed to evolve automatically, requiring no further intervention. This programming may appear to follow the same kind of algorithmic process found in the programming of computers, yet is full of latent possibilities. That the process would lead to intelligent life was inevitable; that such life would evolve from apes wasn't – that’s where chance and necessity entered the equation.’

‘Doctor, please could you get to the point? How all this is relevant to me?’

‘The ghosts you have seen are not what is traditionally thought of as trapped souls that haven’t passed over to the other side; they are simply residual images of the past. It’s a bit like the old video tapes, when you would record over them too much and a scene from the previous recording would appear seemingly superimposed over the latest recording. Also, you are experiencing déjà vu, premonitions, even glimpses into the future. What you are seeing are distortions in time and space, glitches in the program.’

‘But what does it all mean?’ I almost shouted.

‘It’s quite simple, my boy.’ His apparent sagacity and matter-of-fact attitude was really beginning to annoy me. ‘A gene is a program, or blueprint for life, and any blueprint must have a designer. Since the invention of computers we have simply been attempting to copy the programming that created us. Life, the universe, it’s all part of the program – you are like a character in a computer game that has only just realised it is part of that program.’

I stood up and stormed out, more frustrated than ever. Everyone was mad, even crazier than I was.

The next few hours became something of a blur. I bought a bottle of vodka and wandered aimlessly about the city – getting drunk in an attempt to blot out the ghosts of the past, and the visions of all the horrors humanity had yet to suffer.

I vaguely remember entering a church and interrupting the evening mass. According to the police, I’d accosted the priest, beseeching him to tell God that I didn’t want to realise I was part of the program any more.

When Dr Simmons came to my padded cell, I tried to escape, but was overpowered by the orderlies. I told her she was a charlatan and asked to see Ophelia and Dr Khon. She seemed familiar with the good doctor. 

‘He’s a qua…’ she began, ‘well, shall we say an eccentric.’ She then ordered me put in a strait jacket and pumped full of chlorpromazine.

When I finally came to my senses again, it was to find myself sitting in a chair next to a grizzled old man. He seemed familiar. Then it came back to me: ‘That which has been hidden to you will eventually be brought into the light.’

‘Don’t let them convince you that you’re mad, son,’ he said. ‘It’s all the people out there who are crazy. And that Doctor Simmons… well, she’s the craziest person I’ve ever met.’

Submitted: September 13, 2013

© Copyright 2021 lailoken. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



wow...this was amazing!!! My eyes are so wide right now from not being able to keep my eyes from reading on and on and on, I love this, but you need to make a sequel if you haven't already (I haven't looked yet). This has a necessity to be published!

Fri, September 13th, 2013 7:51pm


Thanks a lot - if only everyone could see the world through your eyes.

Sat, September 14th, 2013 2:22pm

Terrance Granville

Hi. Nice piece of writing, which I really enjoyed reading.
A good subject matter, convincing characters and believable dialogue drove the storyline along at a good pace.
If I had to nitpick, I would say that narrative could be tightened up in a few places, but that is just my opinion and others might disagree.
Overall, an excellent read that kept my interest the whole way through.
Best of luck with your future writing.

Sun, September 15th, 2013 11:11am


Hi, Terrance, and thanks for taking the time to read this. Some details on improving the narrative would be appreciated. All the best.

Sun, September 15th, 2013 11:32am

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