Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 7 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

James had spent the last half hour chewing away at strips of nail and dead skin from four fingers and a thumb. Working up to a second helping on his other hand. Dolores had used most of that time studying the array of visual artwork and awards littered around the large, stylish lounge. The blown-up recommendation of excellence from an esteemed body of medical journalism. An almost perfect likeness replica of the Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. An unusual looking porcelain statue resembling a body of atoms exploding and colliding on impact. That particular one warranted at least ten minutes worth of examination. It was only after all that time she noticed the constant clacking noise beside her.

She watched him staring at the ground, deep in thought. "James, you gotta calm down. Please. Your mind will go into meltdown with the stress you putting yourself under."

He jerked towards her, transfixed in the same dead-pan expression. Two darkened hollows clung beneath each eye. "Easy for you to say. You didn't see what I did. And I know what I saw." The sound of a woman clearing her throat echoed from across the room. They turned their attentions to Kim glaring at them from above her half-rimmed spectacles. Impulse caused James to offer up a wide, toothy grin though an exchange was not returned. The once flirtatious secretary whose smile knew no bounds had all but vanished. He shook his head before focusing back on Dolores as well as lowering his overall tone.

"Look" He continued. "I just wanna say I appreciate you calling in at work at such short notice and coming here with me. You really didn't have to."

"Didn't have to?" She exclaimed in an exaggerated whisper. "You were scared out of your mind last night. We haven't had a wink of sleep after that and I'm in no frame of mind to slog through a hard days work today either. No, I had to make sure you're OK first and foremost."

Her sincere stance on his well-being touched him. For her seemingly cold and direct nature, there was a woman buried underneath who upheld her familial priorities and stood by her loved ones. Sometimes she needed a little prodding, but Dolores always came through in the end. "Thank you, darling." He said with a subtle nod of his head.

"It's my duty for my hubby. Don't thank me for it." She replied. "The only thing I'm worried about is if this really is the right place to be. I mean, you didn't exactly leave on the best of terms yesterday." Those final words resounded in his head. The last twenty four hours had felt like a gruelling week. At the very least. His feelings of panic and anxiety began to heighten once again as he feared that somehow time was running out for him fast. The nightmares, the visions, the isolation. Desperate measures were required.

"The way I see it, Dolores, shit started to really hit the fan soon after I came back from that memory procedure they put me through. It's too much of a coincidence that this is happening to me now straight after. There must be a link in there someplace."

She placed her thumb and index finger upon her chin, lost in thought for a few moments. "I don't know. We did extensive research on this. Records from here showed every single person who received the implants and then went through exactly what you did yesterday were just fine afterwards. There were no issues. None whatsoever."

"So just because those test subjects were OK, that automatically implies nothing can go wrong in the future?" He retorted.

"No, James. I just saying..." She hesitated for a moment before continuing. "You were exhausted and mentally fatigued when you got home. It's not possible that you could have... Maybe..."

The deep level of faith he had just minutes ago placed upon her, now began to erode fast. He curled his lip at her in frustration. "I know what I saw, OK? Clear as I'm looking at you now. In plain sight. It was Debbie, my mother. So please don't patronize me."

Before Dolores had time to come up with an appropriate response, the office door swung open as Dr. Grey came through. The black, stripped waistcoat hugged against his lean, flat midsection. He conducted himself in an affable, yet reserved manner. "Mr. And Mrs. Donnell, if you please."

They both got up and made their way across to him. Dolores could not help but sneak another quick glance out of the window. A rush of glorious, detailed city landscape barraged her senses and field of vision. The view from the dizzying heights of the towering skyscraper could never get old, she thought.

They seated themselves in front of the broad desk whilst Dr. Grey made a beeline towards his stately leather-backed recliner. Welcome back, Mr. Donnell. Mrs. Donnell." She tipped her head in his direction.

"I take it your coming here today is in connection with you leaving so abruptly on your last visit. Am I right?" Dr. Grey's voice was stern, yet not overbearing, thought James. His professionalism was never held to question. He observed each of them with hands locked together under his chin.

"Doctor." James began. "I can't tell you how sorry I am for my outburst yesterday. The whole process was such a shock to the system, you know? I had an undiscovered tangle with a few inner demons that unfortunately surfaced when I was in the middle of the procedure. Also, I know you're a very busy man so might I extend an extra thank you for seeing us at such short notice. And please, call me James."

The entire time, Dr. Grey nodded his head to the words, indicating some semblance of compassion. "Well, James. I have witnessed a whole spectrum of reactions from clients using our equipment for the first time. Though not as excessive as yours, it must be said. Actually, one of our headsets did get damaged in the process..."

"Which I fully intent to compensate for Dr. Grey" James interrupted. He could feel the cold glare of Dolores next to him but did not regret his decision to speak up. "No, the real reason for our visit is something that I experienced last night. I arrived home last night around 7pm and pretty much crashed on my bed shortly afterwards. A few hours later, around three thirty in the morning, I woke up. I turned around to look at Dolores. Now, I know how this may sound to you, Doctor. But I saw an image of my mother. I think the exact same one from a memory I viewed here at Digital Realities yesterday."

Dr. Grey furrowed his brow. "Right, I see. When you say the exact same image, you mean a like-for-like duplicate to the one you saw?"

"Yes." He answered. "It was almost as if somebody had superimposed a digital copy on top of her face. It was so life like."

"It could have been a dream, Doctor." Dolores chimed in. "He's been having so many nightmares lately as I'm sure you're well aware of.""*

He balled his fists below his thighs. She must have said that in retaliation to his earlier remark about the headset, he thought. "No! I was as awake and alert as I am now! I saw what I saw. It was almost photographic in quality!" He said, grimacing in her direction. She refused to look back at him.

"I'm not quite sure what you want me to do, James." Said Dr. Grey. "It sounds like... Perhaps under the stresses of the day, you entered a brief period of psychosis where your mind may have temporarily misfired. It's more common than you think, you know."

James held his hands up in the air in surrender. "That's great. So no one believes me. Doctor, I'm positive what I saw last night. I know the difference between what is real and what is not. What do I do if this happens again? I feel like I'm going insane here."

"All I can recommend is that you contact you local clinic and take one or two sleeping pills to allow you to get some much needed rest. Sleep deprivation can be another catalyst for hallucinogenic disorders."

James opened his mouth to speak, but was cut short by the Doctor. "I know what you're going to say and I believe you did see what you think you did. But we have to rule out the obvious symptoms first before progressing to other such alternative treatments."

He glanced at Dolores who appeared in complete agreement with Dr. Grey. James still displayed reservations though. "But what if I get these visions again? I'm going crazy here. I really know how much more I can take."

The Doctor reached into one of the drawers hidden behind his desk and pulled out a small silver business card. "This is my private number, James. If any further occurrences like this happen again, call me right away. This is the best I can offer you for the time being."

A look of consolation gave way upon James's face as he picked the thick piece of card from the Doctor's fingers. Thank you. At least I've got some piece of mind now. But I'll do as you ask me to for now. Again, thank you so much for your valuable time."

Dr. Grey got to his feet and placed both hands upon his desk. "We'll help in any way we can, James. After all, that's what we're here for. So are there any further questions?" James peered at Dolores who had been listened in all this time. He could see her shaking her head through his peripheral vision. He looked back and did the same.

"Good. Now, if you'll both excuse me, I have some urgent matters at hand."

They all made their way to the office entrance as Dr. Grey opened the large wooden door and extended his palm to show them out. Again, any further assistance, you have my details."

They both thanked him and began crossing the lounge area. James stared at Kim who busied herself huddled over a small notebook. She did not bother looking up. He found the nagging trauma he suffered through since last night had been satiated to some degree, but not as much as he had hoped for. Understanding the limitations of the good Doctor's advice, he prayed under his breath for the episode to end where it had begun and return to his former life of order and normality.

(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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