The patient’s dilemma
I can hear them out there stomping around and crashing into each other, sure some of them are vegetarian but what about the ones that aren’t? What do I do if they come in here? Oh fuck, one of them is coming.
“Hello Mr. Jackson, how are you feeling today?” said the doctor. “I’m fine, now leave me alone.” These doctors always ask the same questions, I bet he tries to get me to go to group therapy next. The doctor sat down in a chair near the wall and said: “Can we expect you to come to group therapy today Richard?” “Mmmm… I don’t know what’s in it for me if I do?” The doctor smiled and said, “Well you might be able to get out of here sooner.” Feeling indignant and staring straight at him I say, “you still don’t believe me do you?” These fucking doctors never listen, I’ve been telling them for weeks, no months. “Right I forgot you walk out of here every day, have you gone anywhere nice recently?” said the doctor with a slight smile. Looking at the floor I say, “One day doc you’ll believe me.” The doctor just nodded and said, “well there’s a seat for you in group in ten minutes, come along if you feel up to it.” All I can muster to say back is, “Mmhhmm” I hate group, hanging out with all those psychos. I prefer to just lay here in bed, and besides the monsters outside are gone now, I wonder how the doc got past them? I yell out “I’m not sick doctor Fredricks!” if that is your real name. The doctor yelled back from the hallway “Prove it, come to group!” laying back in bed I can feel the warmth coming in through my window lulling me back to sleep.
Where am I? I must have slept walked! Oh this isn’t good, a rush of panic takes over my whole body, I can’t keep doing this. I barely made it out last time. I need to find my door! Which way did I come from? Oh man what the hell is this place? “AHHHHH” BANG BANG BANG. That sounded like gunfire. Fuck. I have to hide, there that stack of boxes. “Hey over here!” said a big brute of a thing to my left behind some small metal wall. “What are you doing over there?”, it said and all I can think is what is that thing? I wonder if it wants to eat me? It’s waving me over to it. I bet it wants to eat me, these damn aliens always do. BANG, BANG, BANG a gunshot flies through the boxes throwing splinters everywhere. “FUCK!!” BANG BANG BANG, in frustration I yell out “Why are you shooting at me? I don’t even know who you are.” The brute let out a laugh and said, “They just know you aren’t them and that’s good enough.” “How did you get so close to me?” A confused look came over the creatures green scaley face, “You ran over here after they shot those boxes” he said. “You feeling alright there boss?” he said, looking me up and down. Throwing my head into my hands I ask myself why do I wind up in these places? I just need to find my door. “Hey boss how did you get over there?” said the green reptilian sitting next to me, looking over at the boxes. Still frustrated as to how I ended up here I ask him “Hey, do you know which direction I came from? Did you see me walk in?” He looked back over at the boxes again, “I have no idea, wait how do you not know?” looking even more confused. More shots rang out hitting the wall we were hiding behind, sending metal shards flying. He stuck his head out to look where the shots were coming from. “Time to go boss, before they get here” He said grabbing me and dragging me through the hallway and through a door. Throwing me into the corner of the room and slamming the door shut, then locking it. “We should be safe here for a minute boss” he said breathing heavy.
“Is this where I came from, did you see me walk out of here?” The monster looked down and said, “I don’t know where you came from, one minute I was by myself in there and then you were standing there.” He sat down and continued mumbling on about some control room and something about drones attacking us but I couldn’t focus on anything he said. The room we were in was small and dingy but the walls were made of steel and the doors were all bulkheads with tight seals around them. Looking up I burst out with “wait are we on some kind of ship?” Pausing for a moment he looks around and acting a bit shook up he says, “yea its a military transport ship we’re going to the vengas system. How did you get here?” Feeling a new rush of adrenaline at being told I’m on a space ship, I burst out “I need to get to my door, I need to get out of here.” I’m panicking I have to get back to the hospital, I just want to go back to sleep and of all the places I had to sleepwalk into, it had to be a spaceship with a nuclear reactor and a bunch of assholes shooting at each other. “Hey boss, you feeling alright? What door are you talking about?” he said. “Stop calling me boss! I’m not in charge of anything here, I don’t want to be here.” leaning back a little he says back “No one wants to be here boss, but how did you get here? there isn’t supposed to be anyone on board besides the crew and everyone execpt me is hiding in the rec room.” Furiously looking around for some semblance that this might be a dream I quickly get out “I think I was sleepwalking I must have just walked in here from my room.” he looked confused again, “your room? What do you mean your room? All of the cabins are at least three decks up from here.” Suddenly he jumped up and had his gun pointed at my head and said very slowly and clearly, “are you the one who set off these defense drones? Are you a stowaway?” Feeling very uncomfortable with the fact of some kind of gun being pointed straight at my head and slinking to the ground I eak out “No, I don’t even know where I am or who any of you are or what this place is, one minute I was yelling at my doctor in my room and then I was here.” looking confused but still aiming his gun said, “What do you mean your doctor? This is an army transport, not a medical ship.” Trying to explain my situation I yell back “I told you I’m not from here I just slept walked on to here. Sometimes I wind up in places I’m not supposed to be, I don’t know how but no one believes me and they just tell me I’m sick, I don’t even know what any of this place is.” Getting angry he says back, “That doesn’t make sense, you can’t just sleepwalk onto a ship floating in space!” Laying mostly on the floor with the huge green lizard man leaning over me and the barrel of his gun pressing into my forehead I say, trembling, “I mean I didn’t do it on purpose and I really don’t want to be here.”
He seemed far from convinced but started to pull the gun up from my head. Then a loud bang shook the door and the walls around it. He swung his gun around to point at the door. Sitting back up and looking around, here’s my chance to run. There’s a beautiful meadow over there just beyond those doors. Getting up and running as fast as I can into the lush green grass. Hearing the birds flying overhead and seeing the trees all around filled me with so much joy. Finally, its time to relax now that all of that is over, nothing better than laying down in the soft green grass while the warm sun shines on your face. I love waving my arms through the dense pasture and blowing the sweet dandelions. I just wish someone hadn’t put so many of these damn picnic tables in this meadow so I could spread out a bit more. Maybe I could take a quick nap. After all I deserved a nap having just gotten shot at and then having that horrible creature point his gun at my head. It’s a bit cool here but the warmth of the soft sunlight feels so nice. closing my eyes, dreaming of the day’s when I worked in the lab during my PhD. D. Joking around with everyone, I remember when Marco dropped that bucket of paint on himself. We all made fun of him for days. Oh man, great times.
The sunlight began to dim from a passing cloud but then the cloud said,”what are you doing sprawled out on the floor boss?” Opening my eyes to that big green scaley creatureI said “what are you doing in my meadow? you’re blocking the sun get out of here!” He looked around “Boss this is the mechanic’s galley.” Looking around again at the clear blue skies and the trees in the distance, feeling disgusted with this creatures obvious attempting to gaslight me, I sternly say, “No, if this is a galley how come there is so much grass and what about the dandelions? Huh, explain those you big lug!” He looked where I had just pointed my hand and said: “I don’t know what a dandelion is but the only thing your laying on is the metal grating this whole ship is made from.” “What are you talking about? Can’t you see this big beautiful green meadow, I remember camping in one just like it when I was a kid, it was great.” He kept looking around, then looked back at me and said “Boss whatever is going on we just need to get out of here. The drones are almost through the door.” Flinging myself back to the ground and embracing it I gently say, “I love it here I never want to leave” and thinking how can he not understand? Much less how did he get here were not on his stupid ship anymore. Nuzzling the supple green beautiful carpet. Suddenly I’m being transported away from the meadow and through a set of bigger doors watching as they close and the meadow disappears. looking up to see I’m being held by that awful gargoyle and realizing what happened I yell at him with all of my rage, “You made me leave! WHAT is wrong with you? I just wanted to sleep for a bit, why did you bring me back to this horrible ship?” The brute dropped me and looked down disgusted then proceeded to lock the doors we just came through. Jumping up and running to the doors, “let me through!” Fidgeting with the locks and grabbing at the handles. When he grabs me and pulls me back. “I don’t know where you came from but after we get done here, I’m gonna try and get you some help boss.”
Pushing me to the ground and holding me down, he looks around and grabbing a shirt from a nearby locker he starts tying my hands up. This fucking guy doesn’t know what he is doing, that was such a great place to hang out now I’m stuck back on this horrible ship and he thinks I need help. He’s worse than that Doctor Fredricks. I just want to go back to sleep that’s all I want, that and for everyone to leave me alone. After tying my hands he looks around and then pulls out a map of the ship and muttering to himself “…the galley… the locker room… aha found it the control room.” He looks up, “alright let’s go this way.” He grabs me by the shirt around my hands and drags me through the next set of doors into a mechanics workshop cluttered with tools and small vehicles the stench of oil clogs my nostrils. Then I see it out of my left eye. There it is, my door, I found it. Now I just have to get to it without him. Then I can drift off to sleep. He keeps looking forward towards another dark bulkhead that says reactor above it. As soon as he steps one foot inside, I start shoving him hard and he trips over the bulkhead. Quickly pulling the door closed behind him and I start running for my door.
There it is, my beautiful bed! “Ahhh bed, I missed you” falling into it feels just like that meadow felt so warm and peaceful. I can even feel the sun coming through my window from outside. Plopping into bed I hear the sound of Doctor Fredricks coming from down the hall doing his little rant about starting group and saying “everyone is welcome to talk… blah blah blah.” Nurse Holly pokes her head into the room and says “Are you going to pop down to group today Dr Jackson, you might enjoy it.” Half picking my head up I mutter out “space…meadow… need sleep.” Nurse Holly smiles and says “did you go for another adventure on a spaceship doctor?” Wishing they would all just leave me alone, rolling on to my back and saying “yea real cute adventure got shot at again, but you don’t believe me anyway, so who cares.” Nurse Holly comes in sits on the edge of the bed then gently says, “I want to believe you but, it sounds hard to believe, and besides no one ever sees you leave your room most of the time.” Sitting up on my forearms “I leave through that door right there, I don’t know whats so hard about this to believe. This time there was a great big alien dragging me around his ship going on about some reactor and drones that needed to be shut down and there was the nicest meadow, it was just like one I remember from growing up and going camping.” Nurse Holly smiled politely and said, “Dear, I know you see all of these things but a meadow on a spaceship seems incredible and there isn’t any proof.” Looking her in face I say “yea the big alien that was dragging me around didn’t think their was a meadow either he tried to convince me it was just the galley, but I know what I saw.” Nurse Holly said “I know you don’t believe us but you have had hallucinations before. Last week your friend Marco came to visit and you wouldn’t come out because you thought there were dinosaurs outside of your room, but there wasn’t, just me and the other nurses. We just want to help you here that’s all there is to it, but, you have to help us to help you.” All I can say back to her is “Yea I know you want to help, but I just don’t think I’m sick, I don’t know how to prove it to you.” Nurse Holly winces a little and says, “well maybe go to group and talk to the doctors and they can help us to help you get out of here.” I just want to be alone when I say to her “Okay Nurse Holly, I’ll try to talk to them.”
Rolling around and trying to get comfortable in bed. I can’t help but think about the creature on that ship, and wondering why he dragged me out of the meadow. I can still feel the beautiful soft grass and I can hear the birds that were chirping in the trees. Rolling over I start staring at the floor longing for it to be a grassy knoll as well. When in the corner one blade of grass sprouts up from the base of the wall. Then another blade right next to that one slowly peaks out of the ground from between the white tiles, bringing some dirt with it. another few sprouts spring forth from the soil. Shoving more dirt up from the tiles. Not long and there is a patch of grass in the corner of the room that starts to spread across the floor. Growing and covering the whole floor. This is horrible, I just want to be back in that meadow again but how can there be grass on the floor of my room in a hospital. I have to warn someone before it takes over, I must have brought it back with me from that ship. Standing on my bed fearing for my safety, since this isn’t any normal grass. What if it’s poisonous or dangerous it has to be alien, how could it be anything from earth? I have to warn the hospital. If I jump from my bed I can make it to the door and out to the desk to warn them before it spreads too far.
Standing on the edge of my bed and leaping as far as possible into the doorway I float through only hitting my shoulder a little on the doorway. Looking over to make sure it’s not hurt when out of the corner of my eye I notice this isn’t the hospital. Then I hear “Boss, where did you go, I thought I lost you!” looking around a bit more I realize I’m back on this god damn ship again. This is a great day. “Boss, where did you go? I tripped and when I got up out of that room you were gone. Come on we need to get out of here before the drones find us again.” Before I can respond he is grabbing me by my shoulder and hauling me through another set of corridors to a huge set of doors. “Finally we’re here, I need to put in the access code boss, then we can go in and power down the core to reset the defense system.” Letting me go he opens a small panel next to the door and then pulls his map back out, looking all over it to presumably find the access code. “ahh found it” he says punching in a number. As the doors start opening all I’m thinking about is my room back in the hospital covered in that alien lawn. How am I going to get back? usually, I would run back through my door and be safe in my room again, but if I do that this time who knows what could happen. The doors slide open and the brute quickly steps inside, without hesitation.
Then I see the floor and the bright green luster. There are dandelions and clovers spread throughout it. I can almost feel my cortisol levels spike instantly as the panic sets in, I grab onto his arm to stop him. He immediately looks back “What are you doing? we have to get inside.” Feeling panicked, I yell out “No you can’t don’t you see it, it looks just like that meadow you dragged me out of earlier. Except its sinister, it’s not a lovely field like I thought it was its some kind of horrible disease. It’s spreading through the ship and it’s my fault.” looking into the control room he says “There’s nothing there its just the reactor control.” He jerks his arm pulling away from me and walking into the room. His big feet flatten the grass but with each step small clouds of little green specks like dust fly up. “That’s it that’s how I brought it back to the hospital, it’s not grass, its only masquerading as grass its some sort of alien parasite!” He stopped listening to me and was at some sort of control panel but the damage had been done the spore probably coated both of us even more now. “Stop moving, you’re only making it worse.” Typing away at something he just yells back “Its okay boss, I’ve almost got it shut down, just a few more safety procedures to go through.”
Then a loud whir starts up behind me, turning around I see down the hallway and three small flying robots come out from a doorway. The monster looks up from the panel he is at and yells “get inside so I can close the doors!” Turning to look inside the control room again all I can see is the grassy floor, I know I’m already covered in spores from the meadow earlier but the paranoia of what else could happen to me from walking in there paralyzes me completely. I can hear him shouting at me and then shots start ringing out from the drones behind me, I can’t move. I’m torn with fright when I see the green grass quickly getting closer to me. The soft touch of the grass to my face followed by the hard unforgiving soil and steel below that bludgeon my nose. I hear the doors sliding tightly together behind me and I look up to see the brute walking back to the console he was at previously. As he is walking back muttering to himself I roll over onto my back and feel the grass brush against my arms. I see the spores erupting from the individual blades when they break under the weight of my arm. Watching the spores while I’m on the ground, I remember the conversation I had with Nurse Holly only minutes ago and light years away. She was convinced that I had hallucinations, she even swore at me when Marco visited that there weren’t dinosaurs in the hallway. If only she could be here with me now I know this is real. The monster over there is definitely real I mean he dragged me through this ship, and the ships real I can touch it, and I nearly broke my nose on it when he threw me to the ground. Why would I make any of this up? Why would I dream up alien grass? There is no point to that.
The lights shut off and the red lights come on. looking over he is sliding down into a chair near him and looks over at me saying, “Hows the lawn feel?” Looking up surprised I say back “So you can see it? I knew it was real, as real as this ship.” He drops his head into his hand and lets out a slight laugh “Yea sure its real whatever you say boss.” I say back triumphantly, “I do say so, I know I’m not crazy and if you come with me they’ll know I’m not crazy either.” Looking up from his hands with tired eyes he says, “You might still be crazy boss, but if you see grass around you, surely that’s not hurting anyone.” Feeling like I got punched in the gut I say “wait do you mean that there isn’t grass here?” “Yea boss, sorry there isn’t anymore grass here than in the galley back there when I found you spread out on the ground.” feeling anxious again “There has to be grass I can grip it in my hand and I can feel every bit of it on my arms.” The brute obviously tired from running from the drones and finally getting a moment to rest says, “I don’t know how you are feeling grass all over you but there is nothing in your hand. I hate to tell you, and I’m no doctor, but you might be a bit sick boss.” Hearing this I sit up and lean back against a box grasping at the grass I’m sitting on. It still feels so real, but when I look around I start to see the cracks in the facade. I feel sick to my stomach. From somewhere the memory of going camping after my PhD comes to me. The screaming, who would be screaming in such a serene place? How could you subject everyone to that? After all I’ve submitted my thesis why can’t I just spend my day relaxing out in the grass watching the birds fly by. Why won’t they shut up, and I remember having to rush them down the mountain and getting them to the hospital. Wait how come I’m the one stuck with the doctors and nurses I wasn’t the one screaming, why do I have to deal with this.
lights on the panel start to flick back on one by one. Sitting there the grass still bending and breaking on my pants I get up and feel it under my feet. The brute starts to hit some buttons and the normal lights come back on and the doors open up, the drones are hovering right in the doorway. They hover there for a few seconds and then fly off back down the hallway. He says “see just needed to reset the system. Now that that’s all taken care of lets see about getting you some help.” Looking up at him and feeling distraught I whimper out “I don’t need help, I just need to find my door.” After he finishes up the startup procedures on the reactor, we start wandering back down the hallway. We cross back through the galley and I can still see the grass but the trees that lined the meadow have disappeared and the tables are metal instead of the wooden ones I saw before. Following along we cross through where we met and I see my door again with the white frame standing out against the dark ship wall. He doesn’t even slow down and say’s without looking back “don’t worry boss I’ll make sure you get some help, we might just have to wait until we get to the next drop off. By the way you’re going to have to tell me how you got on at some point.” I barely hear the last part since he passed into another hallway. Looking into my door I can see my hospital room with the little single bed and the sun shinning right through the windows like it was before I left. There isn’t any grass anymore just the bright white tiles.
When they dropped me off, I didn’t understand. I wasn’t the one who needed help, it was someone else. I couldn’t understand why they were crying. I was going to go back to the campsite with them. Looking into my room I could see the picture in the corner of the room of me wearing my green shirt up on the top of Mount Baker with everyone.
The Patients Dilemma by Joshua McIntyre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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