I’ve tried not sleeping; I thought it might help. But sleep is so all persuasive; you always surrender to it sooner or later. And even a brief second of true sleep is enough to shunt me someplace else, it seems.
Still, I’ve certainly never been on a spaceship before. And I seem to have made a friend. I look down to Magicat. It, or he (or she) must be some kind of illusion, an imagined familiar that will fade away if I stare at her (or him) for too long.
Magicat swishes her (or his) tail against my shin, then gently pads away from me. I can’t help myself, and stare intently at him (or her) as she (or he) walks away from me.
“I’m a girl” she softly purrs, before walking away and out of sight around the corner of the corridor.
At least now, I know she wasn’t real. Hah! A talking cat. I’ve witnessed horrors, seen unbelievable sights, on my travels. But a talking cat. If she was real, I think I’d really begin to lose my grip on reality.
Magicat pokes her head around the corner.
“Are you coming or not?” she asks, before slinking out of sight again.
So I’ve finally gone mad.
I limp after my imaginary cat, and when I turn the corner, my fears are confirmed. Magicat is nowhere to be seen. But there, in the corridor, is a man. He is obviously a crew member for this ship. Giddy, I run to him. He is posing as if for a photograph, his stance in mid walk, one foot in front of him, firmly on the floor, his other behind him, just the toes touching the floor. His arms are by his sides. He looks calm and focused.
I try to speak, but it’s been so long, and my voice sounds thin and wispy, even to me. For so long, I’ve just wanted to find another Human. He may not be, for all I know, but he’s immobile, ignorant to my presence.
I wave in his face, and he does not blink. He does not register, or acknowledge my presence.
My frustration at his lack of awareness grows, builds into anger, and I punch him, hard, in the face, screaming loudly as I connect. It’s a powerful right hook, and he almost lifts off the floor, before tumbling and bouncing off the wall to come to rest in a heap. His expression does not change, and his limbs are someway stuck between where they should be after the blow, and how they were before it.
I am over come with a feeling of futility.
No matter where I go, what I do, I will be alone. The helplessness becomes a mild guilt, and I try to stand him back up, in a similar pose to how I found him. It’s not easy, but I do my best. I sit down, cradling my knees in my arms. That’s twice. Twice lately I’ve lashed out. And this time I could have hurt someone. Or have. Everything is so uncertain in my world.
Just one conversation, even if I knew it would be my last one ever. Is that too much to ask? I bury my head in my knees, and try to sleep. For the first time since this all began, I want the sleep to come. I focus, call to it. Come on then, little death, come and take me. Next place, any place, I’ll sleep for a thousand years, I’ll wear out whatever it is that is causing this.
I feel the prickly stickiness of a cat’s tongue on my fingers. And I hear her again
“Not yet.” She says. I look up, and Magicat is back. Not yet. I wonder what she means. Since I’m now, without a doubt, mad, Magicat must represent some corner of my unconsciousness that until now didn’t have any outlet for…
“You really are too self involved, aren’t you? C’mon, follow me” She says, walking slowly away, beyond the frozen man. OK, so I’m harsh on myself. It only proves that maybe…
“Will you get off your ego-maniacal bum? Come ON.” She calls back to me, before walking on. Madness is all about being bossed around, apparently. I follow her.
As I walk, following my imaginary if somewhat harsh friend, it occurs to me that I’m not alone; I have myself to talk to, hah! If only I were real.
Magicat leads me through the ships corridors. We see many people, all dressed the same, all frozen in the middle of something. Walking, typing, sitting. At one point, the corridor opens out to some kind of communal area, and there is a large group, in what I imagine as an animated discussion, all unmoving, still, all as if they are unaware of time.
Magicat leads me to a closed door. It’s a big, heavy set door. I touch a panel near it, and it opens, to reveal another door. I open that, and another, and another. Then the last, and I enter a large room with little in it, save for what appears to be a large fish tank on the far wall. In it is some kind of octopus, but not one I’ve ever seen. The Octopus is large, and its skin gently shimmers dozens of different purples as I look at it.
“You have to help” Magicat urges me. I don’t know what she means. I lean forward, and touch the glass. I can’t tell how thick it is, but it’s cold, very cold. I pull my hand up the glass, until it is level with one of the octopus’s large eyes. I stare, focusing on it, and the octopus blinks. I stagger back, and feel sick to my stomach for a brief second, before falling back, falling into warm sand.
Before me is an amazing, unfolding sea, perched on the shore of a picture perfect palm tree lined beach. It’s heaven, paradise, perfection.
I cannot say “I really have to stop waking up like this.” Because I wasn’t asleep. How did that happen?
Just when I gain some foot hold, some tenuous finger tip hold on my world, it crumbles, fades, distorts and re-invents itself, leaving me unknowing and vulnerable again. Magicat looks up at me “you have to help” she repeats. She is still with me, and I am still alone with myself.