My name is Lucinda Hughes. I used to work down at the Stafford hospital before I retired, I worked in the psychiatric unit. I worked there for 30 years without incident. Well almost without incident.
It happened about a week after I had officially started the job. I had worked through almost my entire shift, I was just about to leave. But I had to check on the patients one last time. I’d gotten through three of the five patients I had on my list and all three of them were as mellow as could be. But then I got to the fourth room, checking my watch as I knocked on the door. It was exactly 11:11pm when I opened the door to Micah Burton’s room and the unpredictable universe in his mind broke loose. I looked away from my watch to come face to face with him. Brown eyes stared back at me with this broken look inside them that I couldn’t even begin to understand. At first.
Almost as soon as we had made eye contact a burst of air had rushed me, feeling like it had come straight from him and completely wrapped around me like a blanket. And all in a split second I left the hospital floor and was transported to a place far from the psych ward but yet still so close. It was a place that I instantly knew defied the laws of our world.
It took my eyes several moments to adjust to this new change, flashes of color and shapes that went beyond logic whizzed past me until finally, the motion around me stopped.
I found myself in what could only be described as a hyper-realistic painting. But it appeared to be melting and the colors started to blend together. Everything around me seemed to be crumbling to pieces right in front of my eyes. I tried to make out my surroundings, I had to figure out what was going on. I quickly found that I was inside a very small room with a dull light and almost nothing inside it. In fact, the only thing in the room was an old, worn out looking dining chair. The wood was dark in color, with knicks and cuts on the legs and two spokes missing from the back. I stared at the chair for a moment, a moment that led to a very long period where I lost all sense of time. I became transfixed with the chair, watching it as if I expected it to move. The light started to flicker, snapping me briefly out of my daze. I looked up just as the light went out. It came back on a second later and when the light reached the chair it was no longer empty. I took a step back, startled and a bit afraid as the male figure leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees. He never looked up at me but somehow I knew exactly who the figure was.
And then I felt my feet leave the ground. The room evaporated and I was left with nothing but white in all directions. The whiteness gradually got brighter and brighter until I had to shield my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt. A moment later the brightness faded and I lowered my arm to find I was somewhere outside of earth, the planet as far away as it would be if I were in a shuttle. It was as beautiful as one would imagine it would be. But I didn’t want to be outside of the planet, I wanted to be home. So I pushed forward like I was swimming. I kept at it until the earth started to bend and warp and then suddenly it wasn’t the earth I was looking at but a forest. A forest in the middle of the galaxy, the edges of the forest blurring reality. I floated my way over until my feet landed on the forest floor.
The leaves and twigs crunched underneath me as I wandered through the woods, looking for something; anything really that could get me out of this mess. I started to think someone was following me and every time I turned around I would see the shadow of something rushing by me. And then the whispering started, so quiet at first that I barely noticed but then it became so loud that my ears started to hurt. I couldn’t make out what was being said, it was almost as if it was another language.
A flash of a memory came to my mind as the voices overcame me. I remembered distinctly Micah telling me about going through the exact same scenario, being trapped in an endless forest with monsters following him.
I had let out a scream of frustration as the voices got louder still and I took off running, trying to escape. But they followed, right on my heels as I ran. I ran until I saw something in the distance. As I got closer I realized it was a hospital door, just sticking out of the ground in the middle of a dense forest where it has no rhyme or reason for being there. But for some reason at that moment, it was like a ray of hope. So I picked up speed, heading straight for the door that I knew deep down wouldn’t do anything to save me. But regardless I opened it and rushed through the threshold.
As soon as I made it through the door I was standing back in the same exact spot I had been in before I had been sucked into Micah’s hallucinations. It was like waking up from a dream that didn’t make sense. For several minutes I stood there staring into his brown eyes in hopes I would find answers there. But I never did and I stepped back out the door and into the brightly lit hallway, running into one of my co-workers. She asked me what was wrong but I couldn’t bring myself to voice what had just happened. In fact, I couldn’t bring it in myself to tell anyone, for 30 years I let it fester in my mind. And it was never spoken of, until now.
“Thank you for telling me again what’s going on, Lucinda.” the doctor smiles warmly at me as he scribbles down notes.
“But of course we looked at the records and there was never a Micah Burton emitted into the hospital you worked at. So from here, we need to determine why your mind fabricated this entire event…” the doctor drones on but I’ve stopped listening. I look out the window of my little hospital room, watching the sunset.
The lights flicker but the doctor doesn’t seem to notice as he continues to talk on and on about medication and treatment. And then the power cuts off completely. The doctor groans in irritation before leaving the room to investigate. The lights come on a second later and instantly I can feel this presence behind me. I whirl around and the first thing I see is a pair of brown eyes.