Saturday 2nd July
Enough of self-doubt. Banish those thoughts Janek. Look to the future. That’s the mantra we all use around here, though I sometimes wonder if self-doubt has really been banished at all. Maybe we are all self-doubters, but like the Emperor’s New Clothes we are all full of confidence in public. Never mind that now – I am being wheeled into the con-joining room. I am flat on my back and sedated, though in fact the sedation is simply slowing down my thoughts; unconsciousness is of course the last state I need to be in. I can see the ceiling electricity conduits branching off like the twigs of a tree, as we twist and turn, something you never take the time to observe, or the sprinkler faucets every few yards, and the air-con tubing, all semi-disguised by chrome-effect plastic access panels. A lot of time must have gone into designing something no-one ever looks up to see. Doorways are held open and those same idiotic smiling faces of the assistants beam down on me. If they only knew how I despise them, and their messianic fervour. Give me a bit of old-fashioned diffidence any day. The left forward wheel of the flat-bed trolley I am strapped into (onto?) is wonky; it spins on its vertical axis as we turn each corner causing a slight judder which is a distraction. Uh-oh, we have stopped.
Bright lights, banks of bright lights. Ah, an eye-shade is placed over my head; that feels better. Those myriad kaleidoscopic lights have subsided, their spinning is slowing and like fireworks incandescence they are fading fast, just a shadow of their trajectory remains, a ghost of a memory sinking into the blackness.
Ouch, that hurt, I can feel the cold liquid which I hope is doing me some good seeping into my veins, in a few seconds it will hit my brain. As I thought, a very mild sedative underscored with Ibuprofen; shouldn’t cause me too much trouble.
The cap is being fitted, it feels just the same as the first time. My head is supported in a plastic harness and the cap in three parts is clipped into place. It comes right down over my eyes and ears and fits snuggly into my neck. The sensors are already on my freshly shaved scalp, spaced out in an even and exact pattern which exactly correspond to the sensors inside the cap itself.
Silence, even the shuffling squeak of trainer-clad shoes has gone. The temperature appears to have fallen a few degrees, my skin is registering a slight breeze; a fan must have been switched on. The hairs on my arms, naked to the shoulders are raised, an old animal defence kicking in. I am forced to wear the same ludicrous pink fatigues my torturers wear and my arms are bare. Anonymity at all costs, a uniform for all seasons. I never liked pink. Cathy bought me a pink shirt once; I used to keep putting it in the dirty laundry chute unworn but scrunched up. A few days later it would re-appear perfectly laundered on my shirt rack. I wonder if she ever guessed that I never actually wore it. I exchanged it a year or so later for a blue check button-down collar one, blue and check, just like all my other shirts.
A faint whirring noise, a magnetron motor has been switched on, the process must be about to start. I can sense a slight variation in air pressure, I must be inside the machine now, the whirring noise has settled into an almost imperceptible but-still-there constant faint hum. I can feel the heat from the magnetron, my ears even inside the cap are registering their warmth. The humming is slowly increasing in intensity, Stars are forming in my eyes, little stars popping into existence like the few milliseconds after Big Bang itself as galaxies formed and sped away from each other at unbelievable speeds. Colours now, purple, iridescent blue-black purple, indigo swirling clouds shot through with piercing stabs of alizarine crimson, pulsing now in the space where my blanketed eyes should be seeing. The sound is very very loud, I have to concentrate to shut it out so I can still hear myself think. Yellow, chrome yellow, buttercup yellow, sickeningly bright yellow colours are flooding my vision field. I cannot concentrate, I am feeling dizzy, nauseous. Little daisies springing up filling my mind, little daisies opening, daisies…
Waves of daisies, marching daisies, petals folding in on themselves, curling up and dying, turning browny pink as they fall away. The sound is overwhelming, the roar of waves crashing on my mind, sucking me under with the waves. The undertow. I am sinking in the undertow. Don’t want to let go. Can’t hold on any longer, the waves, not daisies at all but huge sea waves are folding over me, crashing into me, one after another. Here comes a big one, my whole body is sucked under the water. I cannot see anything. All sound is whooshing away as my ears resist the inflow of water. I am being unborn, here beneath the sea. The undertow is dragging me away from the shore….
Waves lapping my face, slipping salt water over my mouth. I can taste the salt in the water. The sun is beating down on me. My body is floating in a warm Mediterranean sea of calm placidity.
I want to drift away, sleep is dragging me deeper and under I fall…..
I wake, my eyelids still closed, but I am back in my room. I can feel the soft folds of the quilt tucked under my chinny chin-chin. Mummy had just tucked me in, the back of her finger strokes my infant cheek, red nails glide past my nose and the soft pads of her huge fingers close my eyelids and here comes mister sleep dragging me back down again.