Here it is, just on time. Sprinted through the final ~3,500 words just now, and I’m glad how it worked out. I could’ve gone any number of ways with the ending, and any number of them are… possible. I won’t just say what the truth is, though. You can decide for yourself.
6/11/16: The antipsychotics that Ray has been receiving are a type that require regular dosing for several days before they make their full effects, and it would seem that today is that day, which is also good for what will happen tomorrow; if they hadn’t yet reached proper plasma levels, a decrease in amount wouldn’t have been likely to elicit any reaction.
He seemed more ambivalent to what I told him today than ever.
“Have you given thought to what we talked about yesterday?” I asked upon entering.
“A good deal, yes. But mostly, I don’t know what to think any more. I cannot trust anything, it would seem, and if I cannot even trust myself, then what can I do?”
“That is a hard question, for sure. And I cannot even just say that you could trust me. For I could, theoretically, just be part of your own mind’s trickery. Either that, or you could just be making up what you ‘hear’ me say, even if I exist.”
“This isn’t helping.”
“I suppose not. But I can reassure you that this is merely a stage in your recovery. Learning that you can’t necessarily trust yourself is a crucial step in coming to reality, as contradictory as that sounds. But it’s true, and it’s important. You could count yourself lucky, even, that your path has required you to learn it. Many people never need to come to such a realization as that, living their day to day lives. They may think of it from time to time, but never need to face it in such a real way as do you.”
“I suppose. Whether or not this is all real, I will be changed by it, I’m sure.”
“Things like this always change people, and often for the better. Coming to grips with what is really true and important, unlike the small – yet seemingly important to those who deal with them – problems in the world, and in life as a whole.”
He sat still for a moment, then made a groan and stood up, pacing around the room.
“But god, it’s difficult, and I hate it. Ignorance is bliss, as they say, and I would much rather live as most do, naive of these things.”
“Many would, if given the choice. But we aren’t given a choice. I was once in a situation quite similar to your own – though not the surroundings. I was facing many of the same challenges as you, and it shaped me to what I am now, once I had just made my way through it. I trust you can do the same.”
He thanked me and returned to his thinking. I left the room, thinking as well. It felt as though, sometime recently, I had begun truly seeing him as a patient in need of help. It could have been that our test was beginning to have effects on him, or that I had merely fooled myself, in a way, into considering him as such. It wasn’t a problem, in fact, it was probably good. Sincerely acting like a therapist or psychologist when dealing with him would create an even more complete image of a mental hospital.
I met with the other researchers again around noon. We didn’t talk about anything in particular, just gave each other reports of how our “patients” were doing, and comparing results. It seemed that each of our subjects were around the same mental status, despite having different supposed illnesses. We briefly confirmed our plans for the next day, then left.
When I met with Ray that afternoon he was much as he had been the morning before. Contemplative, mellow, generally accepting of my words, and plagued with uncertainty. Despite that, though, he didn’t seem particularly in want of conversation.
As I entered, I greeted him. “Hello, Ray.”
I took a seat across from where he sat on his bed. “Do you think you can do it?”
“Get through all of this. Become stronger than you are, and stronger than most people need to be.”
“I suppose. I don’t know. That’s really becoming my motto, I guess. I don’t know. And at this point, I’d say I don’t really care.”
“I understand. Complacency and ambivalence come with realizations such as this, though it will pass, as does everything.”
He made a sound of affirmation without looking at me.
“Do you want to talk about anything with me right now?”
He turned his head to the side slightly, a small shrug. “Not really. I’m thinking, though my head feels rather… cloudy.”
“Confusion is also to be expected.” I stood up. “If you want to talk with me at any point in the future, I’ll be available. All right?”
He nodded, and I began to leave. As I was partway out the door, he looked up. “I’m trying,” he said. I nodded back at him and left without another word.
I look forward to tomorrow. It’s anyone’s guess what it will be like, but it should give us some real results, finally. It hasn’t even been a week yet, but it feels like forever.
6/12/16: This morning, Ray seemed more agitated than usual, no doubt due to the changes of the day, though, as the drug was a type that built up in the body over a period of time, I was sure that this was only the beginning.
“I don’t get it!” he said while I was walking through the door.
“Everything. God damn you, you’ve filled my head with so much doubt and question. I don’t care if it makes me stronger. I want to be like other people! I was like other people, until I met you and you started whispering your lies to me.”
“Ray, why? We had been making progress…”
“You had been making progress,” he interrupted. “Making your progress into my mind, whatever reason you have for it.”
“Are you relapsing again? I hope not. Can I help you before you undo all the… help I had given you?” I said, making sure not to say “progress”.
“Help,” he said, scorn in his voice. “Yeah. You can help me, sure. Go fuck yourself and leave me alone.”
“If that’s really what you want, I will leave. But I can’t help but feel that you really want my help. It’s my job, and if you want to talk with me again – reasonably – I’ll be here.”
“Great, if I want some psycho to talk with, I know where you’ll be. Leave.”
“All right. I’ll leave, although hesitantly.”
I left satisfied, though still a bit put off. I knew it was expected, but his changed demeanor surprised me in some ways, in particular his attitude towards me. However, I didn’t let it bother me, and instead looked forward to how the rest of today and the following days would play out.
At noon, again, we researchers met to discuss how things were going. Some subjects in particular showed changes, especially those who were on more instant-effect medications. The other researchers seemed as equally interested as I, though a bit hesitant at the same time, which I must admit I was feeling the same. It was a dangerous path to take, reaching into the minds of people and fiddling with the controls. But it was the path we had embarked on. Even if it wasn’t accepted by most people, it was something that had to be done for the advancement of mankind.
I went to see Ray again that afternoon as usual. He was standing facing the wall, his hands clenched into fists above his head, pressed against the wall.
“Do you want to talk?”
He started laughing. “I highly doubt that’s necessary at this point, Doctor Forsond. You’ve done it, you’ve broken me, I’m just little pieces in your hands that you can put together again however you like now. Happy? Why. Why?”
I kept silent, not sure how to respond.
He turned towards me. His eyes were bloodshot, and he occasionally winced and pressed on the bottom of his forehead, leading me to believe he had a headache.
“Answer me! Why? Fucking why? Why did you choose me?”
“You needed help, Ray, and…”
“No. Cut the bullcrap. Why are you specifically working with me. Assuming you’re even telling me the truth – assuming there even still is truth – why are you working with me and not someone else? Feed your lies and manipulation to someone else instead of me. I’ve had quite literally as much as I can of it, you’ve gotten to me and there’s no getting myself back from you.”
“There is no ‘why’. I work with you merely because you were who I was assigned.”
He started to speak, but caught himself and rethought his words. For that one instant his features softened, but the moment afterward, they were just as hardened by hate as they were before. He glared at me.
“Why are you still here? I told you from the start there was no reason to talk with me.”
“Again, Ray, if that’s really what you want, I’ll do it. Please keep taking your medication and going to group therapy, though. If you don’t want me to help you, I’d like you to at least try to help yourself.
“Help myself? Hah. If I could get out of here and back to my life, that would be helping myself.”
“I can’t do that, and you know why even if you don’t believe it.” I sighed briefly, then left his room.
It was surprisingly infuriating, possibly because I had succumbed to viewing him as a real patient. At this point I did want to help him, and I realized that would come in handy if the test was successful. If it worked, the subjects would likely need therapy afterward. That could very well end up the most difficult part of the experiment, telling them that it had all been a test and thereby destroying any trust we might have gained with them, or even just reintegrating them into society once we were done.
6/13/16: Wrong day, dumbass.
6/14/16: Yesterday was fun. I’m quite glad that I did end up going to group therapy. I saw all the people as usual, and they thought just as I did. We knew nothing, and we knew the doctors were liars. The nurses were liars. Everyone was a liar, even ourselves, lying to ourselves all this time, but we could’ve lived in that lie for oh so long, oh so nicely, if those damned doctors hadn’t meddled. That’s what they did, meddle and lie.
Why am I writing this down? I want it to be found, sometime, so they know what happened. What happens with meddling and lying, every time. Things go wrong when you lie.
The hospital or whatever this really is is nearly empty, except for the twelve of us and all the liars. We’re somewhere we shouldn’t be, and so are these liars.
I decided that since I was broken, David should be as well. He made it all too apparent that he had gone through the same things he put me through, so I wanted to complete that. If he intended to gloat about making his way through it, I wanted to make sure he had gone through it all. Seems some of the others felt the same.
I put David in what had been my room. He was clearly delusional and quite possibly prone to outbursts of mania, so I secured him in there with the aid of a straitjacket and chains. I don’t know how old this building is, but there was very conveniently a metal hook affixed to the wall.
“Hello, David,” I said, sitting across from him. “Did you take your medication today?”
“Ray, what are you doing?” he asked calmly.
“That’s not how you should address your doctor, David. Doctor Orthrop is what you call me, remember? But you didn’t answer the question.”
“No, I didn’t ‘take my medication’ today,” he said in a sardonic tone.
“How convenient, I brought some with me.” I opened a bottle I had brought in. “Quite a large dose of melonine, I must say, but it’s the doctor’s orders.”
I shook out five pills. “Are you going to take them yourself, or do I need to help you again?”
“Ray, that’s a…”
“Doctor Orthrop, you mean.”
“No, I mean Ray. You don’t know what that is. Melonine is a very potent antipsychotic. In excess they can cause…”
“Doctor’s orders. So I imagine you’re going to need help taking them?”
He clenched his jaw shut. I tsked at him, then walked over with a glass of water. “Doctor Anderson, could you help me? David is being uncooperative again.”
One of my fellows came in, pinched David’s nose shut and held his mouth open.
I put the pills in his mouth, poured some water in, and Doctor Anderson closed David’s mouth and kept it shut, keeping his nose pinched. I waited until I saw David swallow, then thanked Doctor Anderson for his help.
I returned to my seat and watched David.
He glared at me. “Why are you still here?”
“I’m here to talk, and to make sure you don’t try to make yourself throw up like last time.”
“Shut the hell up.”
“The medication will help you get yourself and your mood under control.”
I waited with him for about fifteen minutes. He didn’t want to talk, so I didn’t bother trying. He’s a very stubborn patient. After that, I got up to leave.
“Well, I can’t spend all my time with you. There are others who need my help.”
I saw his eyes widen. “What, you thought you were my only patient? Silly. Your ego and pride is part of your problem, but I’ll help you get through it, in time.” I smiled at him and left.
A moment later, I heard him run over to the door and start pounding. “You’ve lost it, Ray,” he said, “but I can help you. Let me and all the others out, and we can help you.”
“I can’t do that, and you know why even if you don’t believe it,” I replied while walking away.
I decided to omit the parts of my narrative that don’t pertain to David’s interesting problems, as that’s my focus in all of this. My other patients were a few of the liars that I hadn’t met before, but I work with them merely because they were who I was assigned.
When I next saw him, today, he appeared to have had a turn for the worse. He was shaking uncontrollably, probably a side effect of his medication. The entire time we talked, his voice was stuttering and hoarse. But it was all for the best. Sometimes the way to recovery is through a path much worse than the start. I’d know, as I’d been through a situation very similar to his own.
“Are you feeling better today, David?”
“Oh yes, much, Doctor Orthrop.”
I cocked my head while looking at him. “Are you lying to me, David?”
“Certainly not, doctor. What reason would I have to lie?”
“I could think of a multitude, but my main reason for thinking so is that you are, after all, a pathological liar, on top of your other problems.”
“I know, you’ve made it very clear to me. I don’t know if I would have figured it out had you not been there to help me.”
“It’s my job, David.”
“And you’re very good at it. Very insightful.”
“Thank you. But I still can’t trust you. I don’t know if I ever can. That’s why you’re in the room and I’m the doctor. But I do wish to help you.”
“Ah, there are a few treatments that some of the other doctors and I have been discussing for you, as well as for a couple of the other patients.”
“Oh, I can’t tell you that just yet. But David, desperate times call for desperate measures.”
He gave me a blank stare.
“Well, I think it’s time for your medication. Do you need my help again?”
He shook his head enthusiastically. “Good,” I said.
I shook out another five pills and handed them to him with a glass of water.
He gulped as he looked down at them in his hand, hesitation almost palpable around him. The corners of his mouth twitched, then he downed the pills and water, closing his eyes after and wincing.
He began speaking, but his voice wavered and cracked. He cleared his throat and spoke again. “When can I get food?”
“I’m sorry, but we’re straight out it would seem.” I took a pretzel rod out of my pocket and chewed it slowly. “Quite unfortunate, but probably the best for you. You appear to have a lot of anxiety about food, and that could exacerbate your problems.”
The twitching at his mouth increased in violence. “I see,” he said, watching me eat the pretzel.
“I’m glad,” I said, then left him.
“Oh, one last thing,” I said, poking my head out from behind the door. “Your treatment will probably begin tomorrow. I’ll be glad to see how it goes.”
6/15/16: This building certainly seems to be quite old, and probably was used as a mental hospital, unsurprisingly. But the antiquity aided me and my fellows quite well, providing us with some stronger and more direct apparatuses for mental rehabilitation.
One such is an electroconvulsive therapy device, which as far as I knew was still in modern use. This one, however, was a much more primitive model.
And unfortunately, we were out of anesthesia.
I went to David that morning to talk with him about it. “Hello David, how are you doing?”
“Getting better all the time, I can feel it.”
“You’ll be glad to hear that we’ve found something that will likely help you in your recovery, an ECT machine.”
“Really?” I could see shock and poorly-disguised horror in his face.
“Yes. I haven’t been trained in its use, but it seems simple enough. We’ll begin shortly. But first, your medication. I assume you’ll take it yourself?”
He nodded shakily, and took the pills and water I gave him. He swallowed them with less time of hesitation than yesterday, though I could still see he was full of it. He handed me the empty glass when he was finished.
“Coincidentally, I have been trained in the use of it,” he said.
“Indeed. But there’s something you should know. Over… I mean, large does of antipsychotics can lower the seizure threshold, and with ECT there’s always a risk of…”
“Do you not agree there are some risks worth taking if there’s a great enough reward at the end?”
He breathed in and out, then responded. “Yes.”
“Then this is one risk you’ll have to take. Doctor Anderson, can you bring in the machine?”
I watched Doctor Anderson bring in the device on a rolling table, then asked David to take off his shirt. He obliged, and I pressed the two pads against David’s face then nodded to Anderson.
“Wait, you should put them…” A shudder ran through David’s body and his eyelids flickered. When the electrical charge had ended, he let out a moan. “That’s not where you should…”
“David, David, do I tell you how to do your job?”
He didn’t respond.
“You shouldn’t tell me how to do mine. I think w’re going to need a higher voltage, Anderson.”
David’s eyes widened, and I shifted the metal pads. I nodded to Anderson again, and the electricity pulsed through David. His arm began to convulse.
I strapped it down onto the chair he sat on, and told Anderson to do it again. David’s neck and head began to toss back and forth outside of his control. “One last time, I think,” I said to Anderson.
When the ECT session was finished, Anderson took the equipment away. “How do you feel?” I asked.
His head was still shaking, and he seemed unable to speak. “Don’t bite out your tongue, all right?” I said. “I’ll leave you now to let you recover for a bit.”
I do so hope that it will have helped him. Not much seems to be able to help David these days, and this is one of our best bets, though if he hasn’t gotten better by tomorrow, there’s something else we would try.
6/16/16: Sad to say, but it seemed that David hadn’t made any progress yet, even with the therapy we gave him the day before, nor had any of our patients. We would have to take our final step today.
We had found a set of Orbitoclasts when we had searched the building two days ago, and lobotomy seemed to be the only possible action to take at this time.
“I really do apologize that we don’t have access to any anesthesia, David,” I said upon entering the room.
David was looking worse and worse, pale skin and bloodshot eyes. I smelled vomit upon entering the room. “Why is that?” he asked, a permanent look of terror on his face.
“We’ll get to that in a moment. But first, your medication.” I handed him the pills and water and he took them with hardly a moment of dread.
“Do you think you were helped at all by our therapy yesterday?”
He stifled a mirthless laugh. “Certainly.”
“It doesn’t show, David. In fact, someone looking at you would say it made things worse for you. Tell me the truth, did it help?”
“Again, it certainly did.”
“Well forgive me if I don’t believe the one proven liar in the room. We’re going to take another step today that should help you permanently.”
“What is that?”
Even through his long-practiced guise of coolness, he gasped.
“Yes, it is drastic. But great rewards require great risks, and this is one that I and the other doctors have agreed upon.”
He stood up and darted towards me, arms outstretched to grab me. I pushed him aside, and called for help. Anderson and another doctor, Reichmann, came in and helped me get him under control. We put him in a straitjacket and chained him to his chair once more.
“David, why? Why do you dig yourself deeper and deeper into this hole? We want to help, and you try to attack us. Yes, lobotomy is the only thing we can do at this point.”
I put out my hand, and Anderson gave me an Orbitoclast, tarnished from age. “Again, we haven’t been trained in this – why would we, it’s an all but abandoned technique at this time – but we found books around here that told us the basics. You may not remember any of this when we’re done, David, but I’d like to tell you right now that you’ve always been my favorite patient. You’ve been intriguing and difficult to help, but a harvest cannot be reaped if you’re not willing to work the fields. And again, I apologize that we don’t have any anesthesia.”
The two doctors and I strapped his head in place so he couldn’t move while we performed the procedure and possibly harm or kill himself accidentally, though I wouldn’t put it past him at this point to try doing it on purpose.
I steadied my hands, took a deep breath, and performed the lobotomy. It was painful for him, and he passed out from the pain early on. Once it was finished, we laid him on his bed.
“Your turn, Anderson,” I said, handing him the still-bloody Orbitoclast. I think James needs your attention.”
We made our way through all the patients, each doctor dealing with their own. We left them all still unconscious around the building before leaving. We could do nothing more for them.