I tried to speak, but my voice was stifled and my body was numb. I was thrown into an alternate reality, a paralyzing realm of incapability. I felt stuck in place, yet my eyes and brain were functioning properly. I watched as they brought a screaming man into my room. I witnessed the brutality of sucking out every last motor skill in someone’s brain through a tiny, little tool. I heard myself moan and groan, as my slightly open mouth cultivated spit that reluctantly dripped down my chin. My new cell mate seemed to have gotten something stronger because he lied on the gurney crookedly, half of his body hanging over the railing as his eyes were completely rolled to the back of his head. They squelched the shining light that existed inside of him. Personnel effortlessly transferred his comatose body over to the well-made hospital bed, hooked him up to an IV, and pulled the curtain between us as they exited the room in a single file line. Their faces were as long as the Nile and their souls were black as tar. Their eyes were empty and lifeless. Now that I was mentally and physically confined, I wondered how much time would pass before my livelihood was restored? I felt myself getting drowsy, but I fought it. I wanted to deepen my connection with myself, and with this unabridged new reality. The inside of my head was filled with a buzzing static that grew louder and louder as I fell deeper into the void. Heaviness weighed over me and my body involuntarily lied on stale white sheets. I was stranded. I’d been thrown into the obscurity of my mind, the key had been forced into my bloodstream, and all I could do was think. The slow beat of my heart was the only thing I could hear amongst all of the beeping, buzzing, banging, and the hushed voices that were leaking with insincere care. If their hearts were pure and genuine, the last thing they would want to do is to trap me inside of my fucking mind when the only thought I could have is how to release my soul from the firm grasp this world seems to have on it. They were faker than their smiles. If they truly cared, they would’ve just put me to sleep. With each passing minute, I became more aware of my life. My nerveless body is a representation of what my life has been for years. I’ve been conscious and I’ve been functioning, but I believe everything inside of me has been dead for a long time. My only friend has been my thoughts, and yet, they prove to be my worst enemy.
I was woken up by the sound of banging. It sounded like something was clanking against the metal railing of the hospital bed, but with the curtain pulled, there was no way to tell. The mystery man on the other side of the curtain selfishly pulled me out of my sedation just because he was out of his, and I didn’t take kindly to that. I complied with his insanity for a few minutes longer, but his little jingle was making me uneasy.
“Dude, I’m mad too. I think everyone in here is. Making all that noise isn’t going to get you out, alright? Keep it down.”
I was given complete silence, just as I asked, and then he said, “We’re all doomed to the wraths of hell. They’re going to keep drugging us until we’re dead.” His cynicism made me chuckle, but then it also gave me shivers because it was true. At this point, we’re no longer actual people. Any shred left of individuality that remained in our beings hangs itself from the light fixtures as soon as we’re brought in here. The psych ward at the hospital is just a baby step before the inevitable leap of getting admitted into an actual asylum. Our brains would be turned into a hot pile of mush, and then we’d blend in with the radiating monotony and sooner than later, our souls would be as insipid and hollow as the white walls surrounding us.
“We’re already in hell,” I told him matter-of-factly.
I heard him snicker, and he responded just as darkly and said, “This isn’t remotely as tragic as our lives will be once we’re shipped off to the animal house.”
We shared a quiet laugh, and fell silent once again. We were two completely different people who were trapped in the same morbid reality and trying to escape it. The clanking started up again, but I was no longer bothered by it. Sounds of anguish reverberated in his head, it ached inside of his body, and his spirit continued to get crushed by the invasion of needles riddled with drugs. He needed to be put out of his misery. We were being kept alive to be robbed of our identities, and to be reminded every single day of our weaknesses; our inadequateness. I could have been dead. I could have been free to roam and float around a whole new space until the end of the world and reincarnation ensued. Mystery Man could have been in whatever fantasy world would relieve him of his ailments. We both laid there imagining and creating far away worlds, trying to savor every last drop of creative freedom before we were cross-eyed and drooling again.
“So, do you want to die?” I asked him shamelessly. If he got this answer right, I might make him a friendship bracelet. I heard him sigh heavily and rustle around a bit. For a second, I thought he didn’t hear my question, but he cleared his throat a bit and spoke up.
“I’d rather be dead than stuck in here, of course, but if I were a normal person, I think I’d enjoy life. Or try to, at least.”
His use of the word normal got my attention.
“What do you mean normal? We are normal. People who you consider normal just do a better job of holding in their shit. We’re the brave ones.”
He mulled this over for a bit and said, “I don’t think you’re brave for trying to kill yourself. The brave people are the ones who put up with their shit and face it. You’re a runner. That’s not brave. You’re just another little twat seeking attention. You would’ve gone through with it if you were truly in pain.”
“How do you know I tried to kill myself?”
“I saw your wrists when I was brought in. They were just hanging there, bandaged and destitute. You took anything left alive in you and tried to kill it. Your body trusted you, and you betrayed it. You’re a waste.”
He definitely wasn’t getting a friendship bracelet.
“You don’t know anything about my fucking life, and last time I checked, you were brought in here like a damn deer that’d just got shot in the forest.”
He laughed and said, “But weren’t you already drugged when I came in?”
That made us both laugh. We both realized the stupidity of blindly arguing about who was more stable as we were both imprisoned by psych ward constraints.
“Why do you want to die?”
“Well fuck, why do you want to live?” I wondered about what his face looked like and what kind of facial expressions he was making. I wondered what he was thinking.
After a moment, he said, “I’d like to continue living because life is funny.”
I scowled, not that he could see, and said “What’s so funny about life?”
“You’re young; you’re too busy obsessing about what’s wrong with your life and not what’s right. If you don’t die, maybe you’ll learn to see yourself a different way.”
“How did you end up here?”
“They tell me I’m a schizophrenic, but I’m a really smart man, I just think they’re afraid of what I can do with all of this information. I could take down the president if I wanted to.”