Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 11 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

“Yes… Anything!”

Racked with tortuous guilt and remorse, Dolores needed immediate reassurance that there was indeed a feasable solution to all this. The way she saw it, any prospect of permanent damage caused to James lay upon her shoulders alone. To burden herself with a lifetime of questioning as to her choice of actions was not the path she envisioned for herself and would fight tooth and nail to prevent it from happening.

The doctor glanced down at his watch before proceeding. ”Herbert had been experiencing these hallucinations for some time before requesting my assistance. He appeared gaunt, distracted and tired. I remember him vividly. But it’s my firm belief that James hasn’t reached that stage yet, therefore your decision to contact me now was a wise one.”

”I understand that, Doctor.” She said, compelling herself to regain composure at the same time. ”So what do we need to do next to save him?”

There was an air of hopeless despondency in her voice that the Doctor was quick to pick up on. He found himself regretting his decision to act upon his prior instinct to assist this couple. Perhaps it was more for his own peace of mind, he assumed. To make up for not being able to prevent Mr. Wilcot’s untimely demise. However, it was too late for that now and whatever the outcome would be was left to the hands of fate itself. He was just a pawn in a much bigger game of powerful and influential players.

”Well, an observation I made is a good place to start.” He responded as Dolores sharpened her concentration. ”Herbert’s subconscious would project his child’s image separate from any physical assistance.”

”Sorry Dr. Grey, I don’t quite get what you mean by “physical assistance”.” She interrupted.

”In that, I mean it’s somewhat different from my impression of James’s account in our last meeting. He described the image he witnessed the night before as if it was almost "attached" to you. Like his mind was attempting some kind of mental mapping or something and required a face in the physical space to imprint it upon. Towards the end for Herbert, his imaginations had no such limitations. The boy appeared as a free form, devoid of any need for a human medium like you were for James. Do you see? As the subconscious keeps tapping into the blockchain to retrieve what it wants, it seems to increase in strength and potency every time."

He adjusted his specs to where they sat positioned upon the tip of his nose. "The internal mechanics of the mind are much more powerful than we give it credit for, Mrs. Donnell. Being a doctor for the past two decades, I have seen thousands of different cases involving depression, alcoholism and drug use. Each one of them could be viewed in the same light as what we’re dealing with here. Where the patient gradually gives in to their inner cravings of the mind until it’s all they ever think about. Without some form of treatment, they descend into a paralytic state where their thoughts, emotions and actions are all controlled by the subconscious. So, in our case, it’s James and his overwhelming guilt over blaming himself for his mother’s death.”

”I think I understand what you mean?” She murmured whilst trying to process the Doctor’s summary. ”So this is all just one giant, overblown hallucination. I mean, none of it is even real. How dangerous can some hyperactive illusion be?”

”Extremely.” He answered in a deep tone. ”Remember I told you we extracted a copy of Herbert’s digital track for analysis, Mrs. Donnell?”

She nodded her head once.

”Well, we sifted through his memories and found the exact same patterns as with James. Bare in mind, this was a few weeks before his passing or envisaging the full form apparitions of his boy yet. He would see some random toddler on the road with it’s parents and the painful reflections would instantly come flooding back. At the same time, that child’s face would morph into that of his dead boy. Just looking back at him. Herbert never told me about those episodes and I still have no idea why. We even located the exact image he was seeing as we regressed further back in his timeline. It seems he kept the same set of three distinct memories of the boy stored in his mind and replayed them over and over again until they became explicitly ingrained into his subconscious. One was when they were at the beach together, another as his boy was playing in the park and finally one where Herbert was waving goodbye to him at the school gates.”

”God, my poor James. What must he be going through?” She exclaimed. ”That’s almost too frightening to imagine. Can you remember how clear the images were when you scanned through them afterwards?”

”Herbert saw them as shaky and slightly out of focus at first, but as time went on, they became as clear as I see you at this very moment. Under normal circumstances, our own thoughts are always vague at best. And they degrade further as more time passes. So, the incredible clarity in which he saw those images must be something to do with the blockchain itself as all the inputs received and stored on it were done so in crisp, hi-definition detail. The subconscious mind must get a better "lock" on that stored data every time it tries to retrieve them. Kind of like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle until the final picture is revealed.”

Just as in the analogy the Doctor had given regarding the jigsaw, the pieces began fitting together for Dolores. She underwent a resurgence of optimism in the hope that once the diagnosis had been given, a cure could not be too far behind. ”One final thing I’m unclear of, Dr. Grey.” She persisted. ”What do you think caused him to die when he returned home?”

Dr. Grey exhibited a disconcerting, sombre manner about him. ”I was coming to that, Mrs. Donnell. The boy appeared happy and glad to see Herbert, that final time. At least, that’s the visualization his mind had created for him. But the more he tried to blot it out, the more horrifying the imaginings became. I tell you, Mrs. Donnell, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The child’s pupils desolved into thin air, his facial skin peeled open as black blood seeped out. Far worse things happened that I shan’t go into but I can only assume it was his subconscious fighting back. Resurrecting artefacts from his deepest, darkest fears and bringing them to life before his very eyes. And able to carry out all this via the circuitry in his brain. It wanted the child to live again and not even Herbert had a say in the matter. The shock of witnessing what he did in that hallway, killed him.”

Dolores was speechless for what seemed to her like several minutes, but was actually a mere few seconds. The restrained outrage that had receded like an evening tide now resurfaced once more. She stood up from her chair, hands curled into round little fists. ”You told me you’d never had issues of any kind in the past. You lied to me. To us. Why the hell did you do that? To make another quick buck? Is that all that your medical oath has taught you?”

”We were not allowed to disclose that information to anyone.” Dr. Grey replied, staring back at her with grim, sullen eyes. ”Don’t you see this experiment is bigger than any one of us. It’s going to be a multi-billion dollar operation once it gets off the ground. This is how the world of business works, Mrs. Donnell. All our research and development came from big, corporate sponsorship deals which are not going to let one or two unverified anomalies prevent them from cashing in the money they stand to make.”

”Anomaly?” She yelled. ”You think James is just some expendable anomaly?”

”No, Mrs. Donnell, not me… Them.”

”You know you could be struck off the register for this.” she insisted. ”It’s all one, gigantic cover up!”

Dr. Grey closed his eyes as if waiting for the storm to die down. He paused a few moments, before crossed his legs and glaring back at Dolores. His solemn exterior remained unflinching, yet calculated. ”This is the third time you’ve raised your voice at me. And I promise you, it will be the last. No matter how difficult it is for you to grasp the situation at hand, one thing is for certain. I am your only hope. I didn’t have to come forward to assist you today. But I didn’t want a repetition of Herbert’s fate for James if I could help in any way. It was a bold, but compassionate move on my behalf, of which I’m now beginning to regret. So, you have two choices to make. Leave my office now and assume this conversation never took place or calm yourself down and work with me to possibly make James well again.”

In all her flurry of emotions, Dolores realised the truth. Saw that there was no way out of this except for the weak hand she was offered. Sure, she thought, leaving now and screaming from the rooftops about James's plight and how this company destroyed their lives, could happen. But it was plain to see the vast sums of cold, hard cash being poured into this project. She feared her current course of action would have devastating effects for the both of them, if acted upon. Time was running out and no other viable options were left. It was Dr. Grey or nothing.

”I’m not a man to ask twice, Mrs. Donnell.” He asserted. ”What’s it to be?”

She took a moment to gather her thoughts. Straightening out her white blouse and long, flowing beige dress, Dolores sat back down, though still with a pinch of arrogance and pride about her. ”Fine. You win, Doctor. I apologise.” She said, in a sound just above a whisper.

”Right.” The doctor continued, eyes transfixed on her like a homing missile tracking it’s target. ”Now that we’ve hopefully got that issue well and truly settled, here’s my theory on how we go about treating James. Time is running short.”

(To Be Continued)


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Hope you enjoyed this story, please look out for more on the way... (author: @ezzy)

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