Chapter 9: The Room
He stood up slowly, carefully, slightly stooped, and shuffled through the doorway to the next room. He walked slowly past the filing cabinet. He stopped a moment to look at it, as though expecting one of the drawers to open and reach out for him. He felt his mouth open and a wetness in the corner of it. He was not sure whether the wetness was inside his mouth or outside. He reached up to touch the corner of his mouth with his desiccated finger. He closed his mouth, lowered his hand, and shuffled toward the outer door. He tried to remember which direction down the hallway was the way to his room. This was his ritual. It never varied. He shuffled down the hall to his room, fumbled with the door, and opened it. He shuffled over to his bed and sat down. He leaned forward reaching for his notebook and pencil. Good, he said to himself as though sitting down to a succulent feast prepared only for him and set on a table covered with three white tablecloths on a beach in front of the ocean at sunset. Now I can work on my story.
There was a soft knock on the door. Instead of being exasperated at the interruption he looked up expectantly at the door and said brightly come in. The door opened tentatively and Ellen stuck her beautiful face into the gloomy room. Hi handsome! Got any room for me at that table of yours? She did not wait for an answer. She walked quickly over to the old man, skirts swishing lusciously, long legs slicing the air, and black patent high heels clicking on the checkered linoleum floor, the whole atmosphere of the room ionized by her presence. She bent down and kissed him on his lips longer than was required by social grace. I hope you haven’t promised the seat next to you to someone else! Once again she didn’t wait for him to answer and sat right down next to him on the bed, so close to him that he could feel the heat of her leg through his bathrobe and pajama pants. You know that I can’t concentrate on my writing when you sit so close to me. She smiled demurely. I know you can’t even write when I’m ten feet away in the same room as you. Do you want me to leave? Good God, no!
Chapter 10: Translation
The word was sometimes transparent and sometimes opaque. Now it was transparent. The Thot gazed at the galaxies and nebulae flying past him in a blue and white flurry of lines stretching from infinity to infinity. The word was flying on auto-pilot. The Thot felt the word decelerating slightly and glanced outside to see the stars at the tip of the near arm of a giant spiral galaxy like suction cups on the tip of the tentacles of a huge squid beckoning him to enter its maw. The word banked smoothly toward the open maw of the black hole in the center of the galaxy and began its ineluctable acceleration. Ekim turned toward the Thot sitting beside him. You should prepare yourself for translation. She buckled her seatbelt and smiled up at him. There’s no need for that, my love. He reached for her hand and squeezed it softly. You know that nothing survives translation. Nothing but us, naked as newborns. Hopefully. You know that sometimes even we don’t survive, at least not fully intact, as we were when we entered. Yes, I know, my dear heart. Don’t be afraid, now of all times. It will be alright. You’ll see. He patted her hand. Please hold my hand as we go through it. Then I will always know whether we are still alright. No you won’t, dearest, but I will hold your hand anyway. He continued holding her hand. It was gentle, soft, warm, and still sent a thrill through his entire being. She began to feel the tug of the black hole on her eyes, her cheekbones, her breasts, and her knees. She turned her face away from him toward the stars rushing by and tried not to think about what awaited them in the next few moments. She squeezed his hand hard. They looked at each other as though their lives depended on that very action and, to tell the truth, they did.
Chapter 11: Another Session
You look well rested this morning. Thank you. Did you sleep well last night? No, I didn’t sleep a wink. What kept you awake? My story and the concerns of my characters. I see. Did you actually write anything this time? No.
She is rather pretty, isn’t she? Who? I noticed your glance straying in the direction of the nurse bending down to pull out a folder from the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet in the next room. Oh, yes … her. Would you like to move your chair to a more advantageous position where you can have a better view of her? No, I don’t want to be too obvious. She is pretty though. How do you feel about pretty girls like her? That’s rather private. I don’t want to discuss that with you, to let you analyze it to the point where the stirring in my loins goes away. May we discuss it in the abstract? How do you feel about pretty girls in general? Pretty girls make me homesick. Don’t you mean heartsick? No, homesick. How so? It’s as though I was born in a land of beauty and then expelled without a passport or any means of returning to that land. Tell me some more about your wife. Was she one of your characters? Don’t be absurd. Tell me how she left you. There’s not much to say about it. One night I went to bed with the woman I married. When I awoke in the morning, the woman sleeping next to me was someone else. That’s not unusual. People change. Not like that. I’m sure you must have changed too. That’s ridiculous. That’s like saying I went to sleep one night and woke up another person in the morning. You don’t think you’ve changed at all? Not at all. I’m still me. Always have been. Always will. Can we talk about your thoughts for a moment? I’m so tired. Can I go back to my room? I’d like to go to sleep. But we just began our session. Don’t you know what time it is? It’s not fifty minutes yet? You know I have all the time in the world for you. That’s the problem. What’s the problem? You contribute to my disorientation. How so? I need boundaries. You have boundaries. What boundaries do I have? Your room for one. Nobody enters your room without knocking on the door first and asking permission to enter. I can’t hear anyone talking to me from the other side of the door so they enter anyway without my permission. In any case spatial boundaries don’t concern me one iota. I was just pointing out the fallacy of your logic. What concerns me more are temporal boundaries. Oh, I see. No, I don’t think you do see. Temporal boundaries are fundamental building blocks of events. Without them nothing ever happens. Now I see. Back to your thoughts. I’d like to explore with you where they come from. Some of them come from the future and some of them from the past. Don’t any of your thoughts come from the present? Let me think about that a moment.
Well? You are persistent, aren’t you. I suppose I am. Well? I suppose a thought from the future might run head-on into a thought from the past or vice-versa, and the collision might result in a thought from the present but it could only last for a very short moment. Interesting. Not really. That’s just the way it is. What about stories? What about stories? Where do your stories come from? They don’t come from anywhere. They always were. Always will be. Like Plato’s triangles.
Chapter 12: Lost in Translation
Ekim never took his eyes off her during the entire translation. His eyes were open when he lost consciousness and they were open when he regained consciousness. This time nothing evil happened. We made it through unscathed! The Alpha shall praise the Omega and the Omega shall praise the Alpha. He squeezed her hand but her hand did not squeeze back. He examined her closely. There was a streak of white hair that was not there before. There was also a vague halo of red droplets on the window next to her. The feeling in his stomach strangled him from inside. Ekim leaned across her and saw the fatal offset. He held his head in his hands and howled.