A Home World Like Roy
by C. J. Simpson
|part 3 of 5|
A period of pain and oblivion follows.
I spend long periods of time asleep, and I dream. When I awake I’m spoken to by a doctor, but my circumstances in this place soon seep into my subconscious, so that afterwards I am not sure what took place and what I dreamt.
My father, who died years ago, was there with me in a bed adjacent to my own during those first few days. He looked as he had when I last saw him, on the day he died. I was told then that I’d had a heart attack.
There was never an occasion in this whole period where I worried for my continued existence, even though in a more lucid moment I was told that an AOR heart was out of the question; I was too weak to make it through the operation, and besides, the waiting time it would take to have the heart manufactured was a period of time I could not hope to outlive.
I remained optimistic. Whether this was the medication or my dead father’s soothing reassurances, or on some level, in a part of my brain inaccessible to my waking self, I knew I could always turn to the bugs.
But I remained resolute until the last moment.
The doctor spoke to me often. He was always kind. He made it clear to me that my only option for survival was the bugs. They could repair my heart; medicine could do no more for me.
When he spoke to me I had the feeling I was under interrogation, as though my experience in the bar had not ended, and the persona of the stranger, Greg, had been absorbed by the doctor, who was good-cop/bad-cop combined. But I’m sure now that this paranoia was my delirium.
He expressed his bewilderment as to why I stubbornly refused the bugs, but he always spoke in the nicest possible terms. But when I dreamed — and he was in my dreams — he was always the man from the bar, mocking and poking fun at me.
And I spoke to Susan. She mainly cried. She told me she needed me, and that I had to live so that we could be together.
And so, when it came to it, the choice I had was simple: I could die, and spend my remaining few days in a drugged semi-conscious state, confused and haunted, to finally die a stupid and spiteful man, or I could live, do exactly what everybody expected me to do and live happily ever after with the love of my life.
And so I predictably picked the latter option. Predictable, I might add, to everybody but myself.
* * *
I’m sitting up in bed, reading a paperback book when Dr Collins enters the room. I’ve never heard of the author, and it’s not a particularly good read, but it keeps my mind occupied while I recuperate.
“Reading, Mr Jones? Why don’t you use your new E-Page?”
“I prefer to read from a book,” I say.
“Well, you should try using it at least.”
The people at ABF have given me a small E-Page. It’s very much like my old tablet, but to others it appears as a blank page. Its words and pictures are fed straight into your mind electronically. I don’t like it, as you might well imagine.
Supposedly it allows me to monitor and communicate with the bugs. I really have no interest in using it; I’m sure if something was wrong they could find an alternative way to contact me.
Dr Collins picks up my E-Page and taps on it with his finger. He can view the information on my E-Page, since my bugs have given him permission, and the data is transferred from my bugs to his.
“They’re making some good headway repairing your heart. You should be feeling the benefits already.”
I nod. They fitted me a week ago. I do feel better. I’m still weak, but I can move around for longer than I could a couple of days ago.
“Well, we have a surprise for you, but I’m going to have to instruct the Bacterium to sedate you ever so slightly. You’re making very good progress, but we don’t want to ruin what they’ve fixed.”
I look up from my book, and eye the doctor suspiciously. “What d’you mean?”
“Wait one minute while we do this,” Dr Collins says as he taps on the E-page.
I begin to feel very relaxed and I slump back against my pillow.
“How does that feel, Mr Jones?”
I smile stupidly and nod. Reality has taken on a dreamlike quality.
“Right, as I said we have a surprise for you.”
He walks over to stand beside the door and presses the wall. The door swings open and Susan walks in. “Hi,” she says, waving.
“Hi,” I reply smiling as if it is the most unexceptional thing in the world.
“Roy, you look so well.”
“Yes,” I say.
“Here, take a seat,” Dr Collins says pressing on the wall behind my head. I hear a hiss as the seat, a white disk, rises from the floor.
“Thank you, Dr Collins,” Susan says.
“OK. I’ll leave you two alone. Don’t keep him too long. He’s still weak.”
We watch Dr Collins leave the room. When we are alone I ask, “How long?” My question is ill-posed, but she understands my meaning.
“Oh, I got in yesterday. I’ve left them, Roy. I’m here for good.”
“Yes. I received a bonus which means I have enough to live on. And this way I can look after you while you recuperate.”
“Good,” I say, feeling very happy.
“It’s so good to see you. I’ve longed for this day for so long. I didn’t think it was ever going to happen. Especially when I spoke to the doctor when...” She weeps gently into her free hand. I rub her hand in mine.
“It’s going to be OK.”
“I know, I know. Dr Collins said you should be out of here in six weeks.”
“He did,” I say, unsure of what he has said.
“And we’ll be together now, forever. Are you happy, Roy?”
“Yes. It feels like a dream.”
“Oh, I’m so grateful to Dr Collins. If it wasn’t for him you wouldn’t be here, or me either. He’s such a good man.”
“He certainly is.”
“Well, I’ll have to go, Roy. I think this might have been too much excitement for one day. I’ll be back tomorrow morning.”
She stands up from the stool and leans over me, kissing me on the lips. Her tears fall from her face and feel cool on my cheek where they land.
“Goodbye, Roy,” she says as she heads for the door.
I close my eyes and sleep.
* * *
Copyright © 2012 by C. J. Simpson