weird dreams returned.
I was with my childhood friends, Mike and Regina. We were back at the strange lab, the one we were bussed to on a weekly basis during elementary school. Only now we were present age, but the room seemed just as cavernous and cold as I remembered it from the black-and-white days.
The men who instructed us as children were also there. They had not aged; even their clothes were stuck in the past. Mr. Fox was talking:
Each of you had three people assigned to your well-being. They have watched you ever since. They have seen the error of your ways.
Regina started to protest but fell silent as Mr. Fox recited the list of her mistakes, the things she had done to fall short of the glory. A lifetime of disappointing decisions — but he seemed to tell it in a burst of elliptical mayhem, in a language understood only by those of us in the room.
Mike was next, then me. When Mr. Fox spoke of my sins I relived them in vivid pictures, each scene a real remembrance. I felt the disapproval of my minders and my mentors. My face flushed with shame.
The life of the mind, Mr. Fox was saying. You were given the chance to explore the life of the mind, and you chose to squander it on stupid human emotions. We tested your resolve. All three of you failed.
The doors to the lab opened. A man and two women walked in. I immediately recognized one of the women.
The minders sent these people to keep you on your track of life. A simple test, a simple task. All you had to do was keep them happy. You simply failed.
We tried to run, all three of us, but the exit doors were far away now and I knew we wouldn't make it. Behind me I heard Regina and Mike scream. Then I was tripped from behind and the woman from my dreams slammed her fist into my right calf. She laughed as she pulled a drill from her purse and turned it on.
I woke up in throbbing pain. Leg cramp. Brain cramp.