I noticed you looking up at the ceiling. Huh? Yes. Do you see the crack there? What crack? You don’t see the crack there in the ceiling? No, I don’t see any crack in the ceiling. There’s light shining through it. Sunlight. I don’t see any sunlight. Besides, it can’t be sunlight because it’s night time. Look out the window. Oh, you’re right. Maybe there’s some other light source shining through. You don’t see the line it draws on the floor? No. You know, I feel a slight compulsion to walk over that line on the floor. You know you are beginning to worry me a bit? It reminds me. Did you know that the floor in my room is covered with spots of every shade of brown and yellow. You know we don’t have a budget for having someone clean your room. After all, you are here on the mercy of the government. I know that. I’m not complaining, really. I just wanted to mention something that occurred to me that might be of interest to you. What is that? I don’t know whether or not it is connected to the line I see on your floor, but I see images in the stain spots on the floor in my room, beautiful and complicated images. What kind of images? Naked women, feeble old men, boulders and gnarled windswept trees on a sandy beach under a cliff. You want to see them? How can I see them? They are obviously from your imagination. Ah, it’s simple. I’ve traced the images with my pen. They’re quite impressive. Ellen said so. Well, maybe sometime after I finish my rounds I could stop by your room to take a look at your images. Please don’t have anyone come into my room to clean the floor. I would be distraught. As I said, we really can’t afford it. We’re on a really tight budget. That’s why we could only afford the shot. What shot? You know, the LSP shot. LSP? You know, Lysergic Acid Penthylamide. It’s a kind of directed anti-hallucinatory hallucinatory drug. How does it work? It seeks out and identifies your hallucinations and creates opposing healthy hallucinations to counteract your pathological hallucinations, cancelling them out until you are free of all of your hallucinations, healthy as well as pathological. Fascinating. Give me an example of a healthy hallucination. Well, like me for example. Our sessions are hallucinations, but they are therapeutic hallucinations. How are they therapeutic? The hallucinations are directed so that they follow a protocol. What kind of a protocol? It’s based on the standard clinical talking therapy, but it’s more adapted to your pathology. You can’t hide from or evade the questions. Your answers are drawn straight from your subconscious, if you will, without the possibility of any interference from your conscious mind. Who hears my answers? Only you do, your conscious mind, that is. Many patients prefer it that way. It protects your privacy and most flesh-and-blood psychiatrists and psychologists wouldn’t be able to understand what’s going on inside you nearly as well as you. You certainly can’t lie to yourself. Interesting, but aren’t you breaking protocol by telling me that you are just a hallucination? Not really. The protocol adapts itself to your hallucination so that you have the sensation of having a hallucination within a hallucination. It’s all part of the curative process, waves out of phase cancelling waves.
But tell me, please, what would happen if you were to administer LSP to a person who had no hallucinations? Uh, I don’t know the answer to that one. I don’t think we have a protocol for that question. We’ll have to research it and get back to you. You’ll have to get back to me pretty soon, because I think something has gone terribly wrong.
Chapter 16: The Hall
The long hallway between the psychiatrist’s office and his room began to undulate and twist as though he were in the middle of a massive earthquake. He held on to the walls and doors as he shuffled over the spot stained linoleum floor tiles to stabilize himself. A jagged line of bright light appeared suddenly from behind him and ran ahead of him to the end of the hall. He looked up at the ceiling above him and saw the crack through which the light shone spreading toward the end of the hall. Beads of sweat collected on his forehead and chest. The bright jagged line snaked between him and his room down the hall. He knew he would have to cross over that line in order to enter his room. He felt a mixture of dread and excitement. Somehow he reached the point in the hallway directly across from his room. He shuffled toward the bright line between himself and his door, as toward an infinitely wide chasm, with all the courage and fortitude he could muster. The bright light sliced across his scalp as his left foot moved over the line, and he lurched toward the handle of his door.
Chapter 17: Phone Call
The phone was ringing as he opened the door. He rushed over to the STU lying on the desk by the window. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue rippled through the heavy air. He stopped to gaze out the window at the distant cliffs and quiet sea beyond them. He picked up the STU, pressed to answer, and put it to his ear. The fugue stopped in the middle, as he said