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  • peterfdavid

My patient spent eight million years under a bench at the Glenmont metro [Part 2]

I was suspended in midair. Helen’s lunge into me knocked me into the air - both my feet had left the floor. I could see Helen’s ankles and left hand at the edge of my vision. The syringe was still stuck in my neck - an annoying painful pinprick that didn’t let up. I assumed it was empty and Helen had pushed all 100 ccs of the Mentanovox into my bloodstream.

I waited. Nothing changed. I was still staring at the floor. Helen’s feet and hand were a blurry feature in my peripheral vision.

I waited. Nothing changed. I had started screaming when Helen slammed into me. My chest was still tight - my abdominal muscles were compressing my lungs and pushing air through my vocal cords. But there was no sound. And the pressure in my chest didn’t diminish. I was still screaming, but with geological slowness.

My view of the floor remained unchanged. I returned to the thought that I was like a bug fossilized in amber. Fossilized. With nothing to look at but the floor, I had plenty of time to think about that word. It implies millions of years. From the perspective of the fossil, that’s millions of years of nothing. Nothing but endless waiting in the dirt or deep inside a sedimentary rock in unchanging darkness.

S-47 experienced eight million years of consciousness in the metro station. That’s a geologically significant amount of time. That’s longer than it took for ancient hominids like Lucy to evolve into modern humans. Imagine everything important that has ever happened to the human race. The invention of language, use of fire, the slow development of agriculture. Sumerians. Pyramids. The feudal system. Imagine spending all that time in silent darkness. Was that what I was facing? I felt sick with fear and despair.

I waited. Nothing changed. I thought about ancient hominids. I thought about all the movies I had seen and all the books I had read. I thought about my childhood, and about my career.

I waited. Nothing changed. How much perceived time had I experienced? Five hours? A day? Without anything changing except my thoughts, judging the passage of time - perceived time, anyway - is hard to do. I was still screaming. Air was slowly moving out of my chest. I had not inhaled for hours, in my time frame.

I waited. Something changed. The floor was closer. Helen’s feet and hand had shifted slightly, relative to each other. This meant I could still perceive the forward motion of time! Perhaps a tenth of a second had passed since Helen jabbed me with the syringe.

I remembered that I was falling face first and out of control. It sounds funny, but I had forgotten that I was in mid-air, reeling from a high-speed, high-energy collision with Helen. So much time had passed, in my timeframe, that my ongoing fight with Helen was a distant memory.

Even though it would take days - a week, maybe - in my time frame - before I hit the floor, I had to start planning for my landing now. I willed my arms to move upwards, to protect my head when I slammed into the floor. Then I found ways to pass the time. I wrote poems in my head and memorized them. Then I thought about Mentanovox. Helen pre-dosed with the sleeping aid - the drug that caused S-47 to have such an extreme drug interaction - before I injected her with forty milligrams of Mentanovox. According to the adverse drug reaction bulletin, the extreme mental speed-up that killed S-47 was likely caused by the interaction between Mentanovox and the Ambien.

But I hadn’t taken the sleeping aid that cross-reacted with Mentanovox. Why was I having a reaction to the drug like S-47 did? Maybe because I got 100 milligrams of Mentanovox directly in the neck. What did I know about the pharmacokinetics of Mentanovox? Quite a bit, as I was the principal researcher for the human trials. Because me, Helen, and S-47had taken different doses in different ways, we had different absorption and distribution rates for the Mentanovox. My extreme reaction could have been due to the enormous dose I received, rather than interaction with another drug.

What did this mean for the antidote? Would it work for me? Flumazenil is a benzodiazepine antagonist that is used for the complete or partial reversal of the sedative effects caused by benzodiazepines. Mentanovox certainly isn’t a sedative, but it does affect the same GABA receptors that Flumazenil binds to. My educated guess was that the antidote would work for me. The only problem was it could take years, from my perspective, to simply walk to the table with the antidote and inject it.

My arms eventually moved upward. Like plants slowly growing towards the sun. My arms started in an arms-out pose to push Helen away from me, and slowly rose to shield my head from the slow motion fall. The floor was even closer to me now - I was accelerating towards it. The act of moving my arms introduced a twisting motion to my fall, and my view slowly changed from the floor to Helen. She was falling with me. The way she leapt at me had sent her into a trajectory that would eventually send her to the floor behind me.

This complicated motion slowly developed and evolved over hours and days. Helen’s ankles slid into view after I began moving my arms. I tried again to find ways to occupy my mind so the days-long wait until I hit the floor would be bearable. I started writing a novel in my head. I eventually saw Helen’s knees. I tried to remember the lyrics to every song I could remember ever hearing. Then the hem of her white lab coat moved into my field of vision. Then, finally, her face.

Her eyes were fixed on me. Was she studying how I moved through the air? Was she planning and optimizing her next moves based on how she predicted I would land?

I fell through most of a year. If Helen hit me in the springtime, I spent the summer airborne, preparing to hit the ground. When I finally felt my arm gently touch the floor, it was like the first day of autumn. Imagine spending an entire summer staring at one face that was looking back at you. An entire summer trying to imagine what she was thinking. Thinking about what she was going to do next. Thinking. I was already so tired of thinking. Every conceivable thing I could think about I had already dwelt on over and over and over again. All over the course of a second in normal-time. I practiced meditation. I learned how to clear my mind. It made the time pass faster.

I landed on my shoulder. Impact began as a hardly noticeable tickle in my upper arm. Then, the tickle grew into a gentle pressure. Then a not-so-gentle pressure. Then pain. I tried to adjust my body so that the fall would turn into a roll. But the disconnect between thinking about moving my body and actual muscle movement was too vast. I managed to twist into an even more awkward fall, saving my shoulder at the expense of crushing my face. My cheekbone hit first. Like my shoulder, impact started as a gentle tickle but, as inevitable as the coming of winter, and nearly as slowly, turned into pressure then pain. I imagined an extreme slow-motion video of a boxer taking a punch to the face. In the instanct the punch lands, the boxer’s face becomes an unrecognizable mess of bouncing and stretching skin skin and cartilage. It felt like the same thing was happening to my face. But in my sped-up timeframe, my face was stuck in a distorted, crushed, and smashed mask for weeks.

The skin above my eye tore in a slow, painful unzippering, and something slowly bent and then snapped in my nose. Pressure on one of my molars simultaneously pushed the tooth into the inside of my cheek and popped it out of my jaw. I winced - what would normally be just a quick blink - and experienced days of darkness. I practiced meditation again. I got good at it. Zen-master good.

My eyelids finally bounced open and I was rewarded with a different view. Between Helen’s simultaneous fall away from me and the sudden twist of my neck that my headfirst impact created, I found myself looking across the capture chamber at the far platform.

The bloody and bizarre stuff happening on the far platform now seemed like a problem from years past even though only a few seconds had passed since the test subject died, and his son liquified in front of me. But whatever was going on over there had spurred Helen to inject me with the Mentanovox. Now, with 100 mg of Mentanovox screaming through my brain, I saw what Helen saw.

There was a hole in the space above the test subject’s deathbed. A perfectly pentagonal black pit was hovering in the air about three feet over the bed. It wasn’t a trick of perspective or the lighting in the room. It was a floating hole. A neat, clean cut through our three dimensional space to somewhere else. I remembered what Helen typed on the message screen immediately before she injected me.

He’s taken his second death in the portal.

This floating, five-sided hole in the air must be the portal she was talking about.

There was more though. Something - a tongue or tentacle - had reached out of the floating pit and was busy slurping up the goo that the test subject’s son had become.

I started to scream. Of course, in my hyper-fast state, no scream came. Sound would eventually come out of my mouth, seemingly months after my brain sent the scream-in-blind-terror signal to my lungs and vocal cords. But without the release of hearing a scream, my mind stewed in fear and terror for what felt like a long, long time. I eventually managed to mentally talk myself down to a more-managed state of fear. I was still scared, but I was able to pay attention to what was happening and able to figure out a way to safety.

Looking back, during those long, fearful moments when I started to realize just how dangerous and evil Helen’s experiments were, I thought that whatever would happen to me would happen relatively quickly. I would either soon be killed by whatever was groping its way out of the portal, or I would dose myself with the antidote and escape. Even after being imprisoned in time itself for what I perceived as more than a year, I had no idea of the length of the ocean of time that lay before me. To my overdosed mind, my struggle for survival would last longer than a human lifespan.

My first impression of the thing that reached out of the portal was that it was a tentacle. On further study, and I had plenty of time for further study, it looked more insect-like than octopus-like.It had five elbow-like joints that I could see. From the point-of-view of my frozen face-smash, it looked like it had an exoskeleton or crab shell. It was dotted here-and-there with small hairs, and pores. A tangled clump of wet-looking, finger-sized bits of red flesh poked out of holes in the tip. Each one curled like a dog’s tongue, drinking the liquified glop that had been a man a few seconds ago.

As horrible and strange as it was, I was glad to have something to look at and think about besides a view of the floor. I stared and stared and stared at the far platform. I studied this unchanging scene with the intensity of a homicide detective studying photos of the scene of a long-unsolved murder.

I noticed that the five-sided portal was aligned exactly with the pentagonal center of the glowing star-in-a-circle made by the weird equipment that surrounded the test subject’s bed and the platform it was on. The sign on the door to this vast underground space said it was the Capture Chamber. Was this equipment here to capture the portal? Capture it from what? Why did a man need to die at the center of this swirling machinery for the portal to be captured? The word portal implies a passage between locations. If this capture chamber was one end of the portal, what was on the other side? Until Helen jabbed me with a huge dose of Mentanovox, I couldn’t see anything other than the liquifying man on the far platform. Why could I only see this with a hyper-accelerated mind?

I developed and refined these questions over what felt like months. I searched for answers, both in my memory and in details of the scene. I studied the strange equipment that appeared to have captured the portal, developing theory after theory about how it worked, without any way of determining which, if any, was correct.

Eventually the complicated forces I had set in motion with my flailing and twisting fall rotated my bleeding face away from the far platform and back to Helen. She had already hit the ground by the time I could see her again, and had started pushing herself back to standing. She wasn’t staring at me anymore, thankfully. Her eyes were now fixed on the portal.

I drew my knee to my chest and thrust my hands at the floor. I mean, I started to perform these motions. I meticulously planned how I would stabilize my fall and spring back up to standing. Then I waited for limbs to cooperate, and for gravity and momentum to slowly bounce and slide me across the floor. Occasionally I would make slight changes to where my hands and foot were going. At one point I spit out the molar that was knocked loose when I smacked my face.

I stabilized myself and rose. I felt my autonomic nervous system switch my breathing from an exhale to an inhale - everything that had happened since Helen stabbed me with the syringe had occurred in just one breath.

I kept my eyes on Helen as I rose. Helen remained fixated on the far platform. Something about her looked different. I waited. I meditated. I designed a mechanical clock in my mind. I meditated more. Helen’s face changed further - she now had a look of fear. She extended her index finger and began to raise her arm. I recognized the gesture even though she had only started making it - she was pointing to the far platform.

I twisted my neck around to glance at the portal. Incredibly, my situation had gotten worse. A second long, jointed proboscis had emerged from the hole. This one wasn’t aiming for the red man-puddle on the floor. Whatever was in the portal was thrusting this second appendage into the chamber, and towards us.

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