My sister said that last post might freak people out. I tried to frontload quite a bit of text so that the photos were further down the page, offering a chance to bail. I try to observe a bit of blogging etiquette. That post was about my body after the accident. This post will be about my brain. The thinky part, not the mushy gray and pink part. Although as far as I'm concerned, they're one and the same. No thinky without the mushy.
I had a lot of hallucinations while I was in the hospital. I tried to catch some of them in a writing notebook Erik Hyrkas gave me. What's below doesn't include the bugs crawling on the ceiling. Or all the people standing in the road near where the hospital helicopter would land. Or the endless, dimly lit, cells, stacked off into infinity where I though they parked my moveable bed shortly after I came out of the coma, an infinite number of patients above, below and beyond me, my own cell destined to enter a rotation as new patients entered cells behind me. Or my daughter's picture, which for a moment, despite knowing what it was, who it was, and that it was just ten feet away, looked like a man with several bottles in his hand. That was more upsetting than almost anything, because it's frightening to think you might not recognize the people you love.
So here are a few of the things I saw. I don't think I capture how truly real they felt at the time, despite knowing that I'd just closed my eyes (or not) and even telling myself as I did, "I'm probably going to see something weird. It's not real."
I close my eyes. Only for a moment. Not a blink. Shut, then open. Purposeful. Barely the time between two thoughts.
I see a German movie. 1930s. Black and white. Images scroll across the lit front of a grandiose theater of old stone and early 1900s sensibilities, the film playing across the facade as a way to entice theatergoers inside. It's Berlin. Somehow I know. Although nothing on the theater states Berlin. My only hint is lettering that subvocalized sounds German in nature. But despite the size of the city and the premier happening in what is a first rate theater, there is no one about. Only the theater and the movie. Behind the credits, the full movie doesn't play outside, I see rolling waves crashing against a rocky beach, revealing the names of producers and stars. Or at least what appear to be those roles, given my nonexistent German language skills. In the lower right in large white letters, I see that the main actress is Eina Rance. A name unknown to me, in either incarnation.
Open. That wasn't bad. It's been worse.
An ocean. Old. So very old. Beneath the thick, bubble-filled water, it's obvious the only life is nothing with which I'm familiar. Rather than gently undulate, the water slides and oozes across itself, forming those sticky bubbles. Where the bubbles coalesce, the green water transforms to viscous red. Something is rising. Welling up from the deep, just like the blood. Is the blood residue from what it's eaten? Or is it oozing from the creature's pores, like sweat? Or is it saliva, a sign of depthless hunger? I don't want to know.
Open. So tired. So tired.
Roiling darkness. Rolling directly at me. A thing like the hidden thing in the ocean, but emerging from thick, oily clouds. Larger than the largest whale. It's not an animal. It thinks. It sees.
Pigeons. The dream catcher near my bed a friend hung on my wall. It has three clutches of feathers adorning its ring. Now there are three pigeons, as large as my hand. Dead. Hanging there as if clipped up by their necks, their bodies loose and rustling in the wind of a closed room. No, not rustling. Twitching. Constantly. They're dead. But they're not dead. An my eyes are open. I can't tell if these zombie pigeons are imaginary or real. Maybe it doesn't matter. Because they're here and in pain, unsure why they're mounted on a native american dream catcher and subject to so many poisonous dreams from the nearby human. I refuse to look away. If I do, someone in the room will know I see them.
It's a ship. Like a spaceship. But underground. And I'm captaining it from above, third person, I think. So it must be a video game, unless I'm dreaming myself into Ender's Game. I direct the ship left. Right. Forward. Although I can't tell if I'm directing it, or just following its autonomous direction and narrating in my head. It rolls under a farm. A small, fenced in area containing half a dozen sheep. The fence and sheep stick to the ground wake of the subteranean vehicle and are pulled along behind. Like two magnets on either side of a table. Ten dollars. Taxes collected. What? The ship rolls under a barn and farm house. They also stick. There's now a conglomeration of small fields, buildings, and various field animals trailing along behind. Fifty dollars. Taxes collected. It is a video game. The goal seems to be to make as many cities, houses, animals, and farms stick to the ship as possible to accumulate taxes and upgrades. It's like Katamari Damacy meets The Sims. There are children and whole families bouncing along in the ground wake. This vision suddenly disturbs me more than most. Maybe it's my history degree influencing me to innately avoid taxation without representation. Maybe I'm worried this is real and all those animals and people are being dragged from their homes at my whim, and tumbled along, bruised, battered, and dead, in some remote locale.
I focus on the zebra pillow pet my daughter brought to the hospital. His name is Stripe. Because he's striped. Black and white with a pink belly. My daughter has the smaller version so we have a connection while I'm laid up from my accident, separated by a city. She named him something obvious, something easy. I appreciate it as I don't always retain what people tell me at the moment. I hope Stripe's colors are what I first see when I close my eyes. Or the zebra pattern. I want to control what I see. Not be subject to random access channels, like someone is signal surfing in my brain.
The blinds cast a golden glow in the room. They're metal, with words engraved in the vertical slats. And I can see the light coming through the filigreed writing. I can see the light as it crosses the room. Not just where it hits the wall. It's as though the light is solid. Or slowed. Like in a Discworld novel. Which amuses me for a moment before part off me remembers I'm not in Discworld, I'm in a hospital room, awake. The words, where they free float in the air, twist and snap, leaving little loops and fragments of gold in the air, like fine wire. And the loops glow with reflected sunshine. And grow. Fractally. They grow off visitors. Off the end of my bed. Through the glass window and down the wall. Out of my toes. They curl and curl and curl. Then break and drift to the floor and through the air, like shiny dust motes. I'm afraid I'll breath in the metal shards. Breathing fine metal wire can't be good for your lungs. And my collapsed left lung already has enough problems without growing wire.
Look at Stripe again. Fix the pattern.
Damn. No Zebra colors. Wood cuts. Like out of a 16th or 17th century manuscript. All of them variations on Satan punishing sinners. Something out of Dante's Inferno. And as in the Inferno, these woodcuts appear to have been carved by a first person witness to the events. They're full of horror, pain, and glee in the face of each demon or Satanic entity (I didn't know there were Satanic entities that weren't demons) in charge of dolling out punishment. The cuts are wood, but you can feel the blood and pain oozing from their carved lines, almost see the red and clear viscous liquids that might be blood and thickened tears. There are hundreds of cuts. And though my eyes are only closed for a moment, I see them all and know there are millions of others in the collection. I'd see them all if I kept my eyes closed long enough.