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Private Existence

by Rory Margraf

So, as you folks can see, we have the Projection Room over here, and right across the hall is the Subject Room. Each subject is asked to sit in low light for at least an hour and relax in silence. Now, we don’t want them to sleep, mind you. If they sleep too long and enter the Projection Room after coming out of REM sleep, it could skew the results.

If you peek through the window here, you can see some of today’s subjects resting. They’re kept comfortable and given little distraction. We want them to fall into as natural a state as possible while awake.

Are they compensated?

Of course! They’re given a small snack and a glass of water thirty minutes before they enter the Subject Room and then are given a full meal and one hundred dollars after they leave the Projection Room. Speaking of which, if you follow me back over here, I’ll give you a brief tour before we bring in our first subject.

As you can see, we have simply modified an fMRI machine to display the images interpreted from a subject’s brain patterns. You may recall several years ago, we were able to successfully read a subject’s mind by looking at their brain patterns and comparing them to a list of images that were pre-associated with certain patterns. Extremely inefficient, but still impressive.

Recently, we have been able to freely interpret brain patterns without comparing them to a preset list of images. In layman’s terms, we can see whatever is in the subject’s mind, conscious and unconscious. Sometimes it’s just an image, a word, a color, a sound; and sometimes it’s like watching a movie or a dream.

What we have found is that by relaxing the subject and allowing their mind to wander naturally, we can scan through their brain until we find their unconscious mind. Because they allow their minds to think freely, they tend to focus on things close to them like when they have to go to work, if the milk in the fridge is expired, if the Red Sox are going to choke again, when was the last time they had intercourse, and so on.

Their subconscious picks up on this and projects a related, but completely different series of images. In essence, the unconscious mind’s reaction to what the subject is actively thinking about. Since we are able to monitor both, we can compare them and gain insight into the subjects’ personality and temperament. A philosopher might call this “seeing into the self” and a religious person might say the “soul.” Whatever people want to say is neither here nor there; what we do know is that we can now delve into each individual’s perception of existence. Questions?

Yes, how accurate is this?

Based on extremely thorough psychological testing, very.

What do you hope to do with these results?

Well, we’d like to say that we want to find the meaning of existence as a whole, but really, by understanding an individual’s perception of existence, this could lead to huge advances in the field of psychology.

Do the patients see what is projected?

No. They are not shown any part of their projections. They agreed to being kept from their results as a part of the study.

Is this safe?

Since they cannot see what we can, we have no reason to believe that it is not. However, we firmly believe, both morally and legally that any harm that befalls a subject after testing is a direct result of their own actions, not ours. Anything else? No? Very well! If you follow me into the Viewing Room here, we’ll call in our first subject.

You’ll notice two monitors set up on this wall here. The left monitor will display the subject’s conscious mind’s thoughts, what we have labeled “track #1.” The monitor on the right is the subject’s unconscious mind, what we have labeled “track #2.” They will play simultaneously, so try to focus on the left monitor first before switching over. It won’t be too difficult to follow. Please, have a seat and read the subject’s bio while we make final preparations.

Subject #39

Track #1: (blonde, blue eyes, C cup, light tan) (brunette, brown eyes, C cup, fair skin) (brunette, brown eyes, D cup (real?), tan) (red head, green eyes, B cup, fair skin) I got phone numbers for three, hooked up with all of them. I need that last number. Wonder if a threesome is out of the question. Probably’d be with the two brunettes; they seemed more adventurous, maybe even experienced. Redhead was crazy, need to call her again. Oh man, the things she did. When the hell can I get out of this can and figure out who I’m calling tonight?

Track #2: Field of green, deeper than emerald. Red and gold flowers sprinkled across the meadow that goes on forever. Subject #39 skipping freely through the field, naked. Breeze tickles his skin, makes him shiver a little. Subject rolls in the grass, laughing. Lies down in the sun and closes his eyes to relax.

Fire begins from nothing thousands of miles away. Subject is now asleep in the meadow. Fire races towards subject at impossible speeds, engulfs everything in its path. Subject #39 becomes aware of fire just as it begins to consume his body. Flesh and blood boil and melt away. Bones burst and crumble. Subject screams loudly, but no sound comes out. Everything is burned to ashes. Scene fades to black.

So, as you can probably understand, we like to call this young man “Playboy.” The women are almost never the same and sometimes his first track borderlines on pornography when he tries to recall previous nights. I do apologize; I should have warned you that some of the subject matter can be a little explicit.

Fortunately, he was only thinking of identities and so there were only pictures and flashes of phone numbers. It’s interesting to note that he probably could not recall those numbers from memory if we asked him, but his mind was able to produce images of them. His second track has never changed, which is common. Sometimes there are little differences that we record, but nothing of note that we can see.

Can you give an example?

Well, you may have noticed that the flowers in the field were red and gold. Last time, they were blue and white. Before that, they were gold and white. The first scan, there weren’t any flowers in the field.

Any idea why?

At this time, no. We’re still conferring with our staff psychologists to find a reason. Anything else? Very well, let’s move on.

Subject #84

Track #1: I have to call Mom tomorrow and wish here a happy birthday. She’ll never forgive me if I forget. Crap, I have an essay due tomorrow, what was it on? (red dress hanging in the window of a shop) That would look great on me. I’ll have to go back to the store after this. I hope no one was staring at me in this gown, it really isn’t flattering. I can’t believe how drunk I was last night. (birthday party, local club, shots, shots, shots) I can’t even remember all of it. (handsome man at the bar, winking) My friends are terrible. I didn’t spend any money though. That was nice.

Track #2: Dark forest, Subject #84 running through the trees, naked. Covered in sweat, dirt, blood, tripping over tree roots. Looking over her shoulder. Monster chasing her, a man really. Ten feet tall, bulging muscles, naked. Laughing as it chases her, knocking trees down with ease. Subject runs until the sun rises. Subject collapses from exhaustion by a small stream, murky water that is almost stagnant. Does not drink.

Monster crashes through trees, laughing. Approaches subject’s motionless body, rolls her onto her back. Subject begins to sob uncontrollably. Monster laughs again, looks down at her naked body, drooling. Monster spreads her legs with its foot, kneels down between them. Subject tries to fight. Monster pins subject down by her neck until she is still. Monster prepares to enter subject, realizes that she is dead. Monster ponders, gets up slowly, walks away from subject. Scene fades to black.

As I mentioned before, these scenes can be awfully graphic. To answer the question before it is asked, this subject has no prior history of sexual abuse of any kind nor do we think that she has an active fear of being sexually abused. It really is confusing for us at this time. But with all new advances in science, there is always a feeling-out process that goes on. Let’s move on, shall we?

Subject #17

Track #1: (first grade Thanksgiving pageant) (small girl, brown pigtails dressed as a pilgrim) (dancing with the rest of her class) At least her mother let me come. Maybe I’ll be able to see her First Communion. Jacob has his soccer game this weekend. I’ll call tomorrow and see if I can take him. He’d like that. Damn, the Beerball Championship is this weekend. Bobby’ll have to play catcher if I can’t make it. Well, maybe his mom will tell me to piss off and I can just get drunk and swing a bat all day. (game seven of the World Series, bottom of the ninth, down by three, bases loaded, two outs, full count) Shot called. (fastball, low, outside corner) Swing and a long fly ball to deep left field! Going back to the warning track, to the wall... GONE! And the Drunk Bombers win the World Series! The Drunk Bombers win the World Series! The Drunk Bombers are world champions!

Track #2: Subject #17 dressed as a knight. Armor similar to that of Sir Gawain. Subject tugs at a piece of silk wrapped around his neck. Subject rides into a small village on a blinding white horse carrying a sword with an inscription in an unknown language on the blade. Villagers come out of their homes to greet subject.

Dragon rises into the air from behind a mountain on the horizon. Villagers scream, plead with subject to help them. Subject lifts sword, drops down from horse, grimaces. Dragon flies low over the ground straight for subject, letting out a terrible roar. Subject draws sword back, waits for the dragon to reach the right point so he can strike the beast in the neck as it passes.

At the height of his backswing, subject’s sword turns to black ash in his hands. Subject grasps at the dust as it falls to the ground. Subject looks up in time to see the dragon opens its jaws. Subject is eaten, sending blood and bone over the village. Village and villagers burn. Scene fades to black.

This man has been one of our longest subjects and so we have seen some changes in his tracks. Specifically, the sword he is holding never had an inscription on the blade until recently and it never dissolved. He was also able to land a few blows on the dragon before he was eaten.

Was he always divorced?

He never said. We believe he was, based on previous tracks. Anything else? No? Very well, let’s move on.

Subject #29

Track #1: (Call of Duty) (Skyrim) (World of Warcraft) (Madden) (beer and video games) I keep losing! I need to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I don’t want to keep losing to some ten-year old on the other side of the world. God, I really wanna watch some porn later. I hope my roommates aren’t home tonight. I wonder if that video is still online. (blond girl and brunette girl lay naked on a bed, kissing and rubbing each other’s bodies)

Track #2: Black. Heavy breathing, gasping, footsteps. Metal door opens, closes. Heavy thump, blinding white light. Man holding a black canvas bag steps back from Subject #17, who is seated. Subject gasps for air, demands to know where he is. Another man steps around from behind, lands blow on subject’s mouth, splitting lip. First man grabs subject’s arms, straps them to the chair. Second man produces a long needle from his pocket. Lifts subject’s right sleeve, taps arm, looking for his vein. Finding it, he carefully pushes the needle in. Subject screams. Blood begins to flow out of subject’s body, down his arm and chair to the floor. Dripping, like a broken faucet.

Two men leave the room. Subject screams for help, struggles against the straps pinning his arms down. Arm is red with blood, pool is growing under the chair. Subject becomes quiet as he weakens. Skin is ashen, covered in sweat. Pool of blood takes up the floor, turning it almost black, subject dies. Scene fades to black.

Another graphic scene, to be sure. Although this young man comes off as a bit of a degenerate it might interest you to know that he has a 3.89 GPA and participates in many extracurricular activities, including student government.

What is the significance of him bleeding to death?

I can’t answer that. I’m not in charge of the analysis for this subject, but his psychologist will be available for questions later today. Now, we have time for one last subject, if you’ll bear with me.

Subject #99

Track #1: What time does tomorrow night’s concert start? I need to make sure I have my ticket. I need to finish my essay tonight. I should also finish that book tonight so I can start the sequel this weekend. I need to hit the gym too. Man, I’m gonna hurt tomorrow. Maybe I won’t go. I’ll just play some guitar and try to get ahead on my work. Graduation’s soon, then only a few days off until grad school starts.

Lord, I’m starting to hate this place. I can’t wait to get out of here and get a job. I’d rather just work than sit in a classroom all the time. Then I’d be getting paid and can sit around on the weekends. Just sleep for two days straight and then back to work. That’s where it’s at. Christ, I’m gonna fall asleep in this thing.

Track #2: Blindingly white. Hands spread out across it like a canvas. Fingers run up and down the paper, drawing meaningless shapes like a conductor that has lost the orchestra. Hands fade from view, return with pen. Hands start to draw on the canvas with pen, but there is no ink. Hand shakes pen several times, tries to write, but pen is dead. Pen is thrown at the canvas, passes through, continues to fall.

Subject #99 passes through the canvas that never existed. Standing in a white room with no walls, no ceiling, no floor, no windows, no doors. Subject momentarily looks as though he wants to panic, but continues to walk. Subject stops, lies down on his back with hands under his head. Subject looks up at nothing, smiles. Subject falls asleep. Pen continues to fall.

I saved this young man for last just so you could see some key differences. As you probably noticed, this was the least horrific track we could find out of one hundred participants so far. You may have also noticed that while other tracks simply looped over and over until the test was complete, this subject’s simply continued with an image of him sleeping in the white room.

Now, I ask that you hold your questions until we get to the next room where we will have our panel of psychologists waiting. And please, don’t express your disgust with any of the images that you saw. They are more than aware of what has been seen.

Copyright © 2013 by Rory Margraf

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