I am awoken by sharp sirens cutting through the blank, dark blanket of my dreamless sleep. For a moment my exhaustion makes me disoriented and I don't know what's going on. But then I remember. The police are here! Shit!
I push away my garbage bags with numb, freezing hands and I pull myself up onto my unsteady feet. I take off running, away from the sound of the sirens and away from the flashing lights. My feet are absolutely numb. I am unsteady. It hurts to even stand. But still I run faster than I have ever ran before, the cold air burning fire inside my lungs.
I reach the end of the alley and am met by another police car blocking the alley off. I climb up onto the hood of the car and clamber over it. I hit the ground on both feet and stop myself from falling. I continue running.
Can I outrun a car? There is no way I can outrun a car. But I have to. I have to so I will.
I duck and weave through the pedestrians on the streets with their shiny shopping bags. I barely notice their startled faces as I continue running. I barely notice anything.
I have to hide I have to hide I have to find somewhere to hide. But where?
Suddenly a piercing, acrid pain shoots through my shoulder and then the world is blank.
The world is blank.
The world is blank.
The world is black nothingness.
The world is blank.
The world is soft. Soft and warm. But in an altogether looming way.
I open my eyes and take account of my surroundings. I'm groggy and tired. My brain is not working properly. I am lying on something strange and soft, and on all sides of me I am wrapped in something warm. Something warm and slightly fuzzy and soft. I wonder what it could be. The room is dark. And I can't make out anything. I try to get up but I can't. There is somthing hard and metal around my neck that is preventing me.
I must have been captured.
Panic races through me, but it's a grating, useless sort of panic. I can't do anything about it. I can't escape. I can only lie on this too-soft bed and wait for my fate. A fate that is now entirely out of my hands.
I thrash against the chains or whatever it is that is holding me. I know that it's no use but I don't care anyways. I have to try. I have to try. Even if it's no use I have to try. I feel the collar around my neck with my hands, very carefully looking for anything, like a gap or a keyhole, that I could use in getting out. I find a tiny line at one edge of the collar and I dig my nails into it and pull. But nothing happens. The collar is too strong. Next I try to find any kinks in the chain connecting the collar to the wall. There is nothing. The chain links to a square of metal on the wall. I tug and pull at it with all the strength in my arms and body. But nothing happens. So I keep tugging. I dig my fingers into my collar and try to pull it loose. Nothing happens.
I don't know how long I stay there, pulling and clawing and tugging desperately for freedom. But I know that my mind is screaming, frantic, almost delirious. And I know that it's all useless, useless, useless.
All at once the room bursts with colour. There is bright, vibrant, garish shades of every conceivable hue everywhere, twisting and weaving in no discernible pattern. As if a bomb built of different paints exploded. I look around. Out of fear more than anything else. It's on the walls, the floor, the roof, everything.
And standing amidst the sea of colours is a woman with a lot of makeup caking her face. She has light pink lipstick that shines like pearls and eyeshadow of changing shades of pink. She wears a flowing dress in different shades of soft pink, with a sheer collar and puffy, sheer sleeves and a glowing, sheer train. The dress is clinched to her waist with a band of diamonds arranged into swirling designs. She has long, glowing hair that is dyed very light, warm green. In it is a headband adorned with gems that match her dress in both arrangement and type. Her eyelashes and eyebrows are the same colour. And from her neck dangles a silver chain with a small orb studded with green gems. Her face is full of soft concern. But there is something unbearably hard and sharp to it.
To be completely fair, she looks beautiful. But to be fair, she feels terrifying.
"So you're finally awake." Her voice sounds as sweet and as artificial as her painted lips are.
"I guess," I reply. "Where am I?"
"Oh, nowhere special. You're at the rehabilitation centre hospital. The police brought you in. You were freezing. Almost dead. Thank the stars we were able to save your life."
"Oh. Yeah. Thanks." I'm not grateful to her. Not really. But this seems like the polite thing to do.
"We understand that you are psychologically very disturbed. We want to help you live your life. To cherish your life."
I feel very uncomfortable here, chained to the wall, in a room of swirling colours, with the smooth, cold presence of this woman.
"Thank you," I respond, "but there's really no need. I'm satisfied to live my life the way I plan to live it, and to die the way plan to die. I don't need any intervention."
"Oh but you do. You are so psychologically disturbed that you are not aware of your own needs. But we can open a whole new world of possibility for you."
"No need. I have my own world right here inside me." I point to my slightly tilted head. For someone who is having everything she ever wanted ripped from her, I sure am acting very calm about all of this.
"But there is so much more out there in the world," she replies unsettlingly flawlessly. "You just have to be open to it."
"Please just let me go."
"Oh but we can't do that yet. We have to make sure you're good and healthy before you can leave."
"Wait a second, I just realized I don't know your name. How rude of me."
"My name is Kaylen. And we saw from your file that your name is Simran. Welcome Simran."
"Nice to meet you, Kaylen."
"Kaylen, have you ever felt like there was something inside of you that you couldn't name? That you couldn't put your finger on?"
"Occasionally I have. I think we all have." Her words are honeyed and cheerful.
"But have you ever tried to focus on it? Have you ever tried to really see it? Has it ever broken your heart?"
"We can all choose to focus on negative emotions rather than positive ones. But we can also choose to focus on the positive facts of existence. And I choose to focus on that."
"Have you ever thought to consider that there might be some truth to the unhappiness? That it might exist for a reason? That it might be there to try to tell you something?"
"Those are irrational thoughts. Thoughts that just get in the way of living a good life. I pay them no mind and soon you won't either."
"Do you not believe that my thoughts should be my own? To do with as I please?"
"I do. But you do not believe in letting yourself be free. You do not believe in letting yourself do what you truly want to do. That is why we have to let you unlock yourself. So you can be free to make the choices you truly want to make."
In reality it's her who is not letting herself be free. If she just looked into herself, if she just paid attention, if she just let herself be unhappy, she would see that there is so much wonder she is missing out on. But I know that arguing this point will get me nowhere. So I do not. I try to talk to her along her own lines of thinking.
"But don't you think different people want different things?" I ask her tactfully.
"To an extent, of course. But everyone wants to be happy. Everyone wants to have fun. Everyone wants to be alive and make the most out of life. We'll see what your real personality is once you start letting yourself have fun."
"Maybe that's not what life is meant to be for me." I don't know what else to say. "I won't be a problem for anyone. I won't ask anything of society. Nothing at all. Simply that I would be allowed to be as I want to be."
"But you can't just be neutral towards society," Kaylen replies. "You have to be part of society. That requires giving. It requires taking. It requires that you see all that we can provide for you."
"But I don't need what you can provide for me. I truly don't. I can be content without it. I can even be happy without it. Please just let me be happy in my own way of being happy."
"This is enough talking for now." The hard edge of Kaylen's voice is even more pronounced than it was before. It sends a stone of dread down my throat. "You're obviously not amenable to new ideas right now. Don't worry. You will be soon. And then we can talk. And our conversations will be a lot more productive."
"Please just let me go." This is my last resort. "Please. Please. Have mercy. Just do this one thing. I'm begging you."
"Your begging will not work." There is no kindness left in her voice now. Just calm collectedness tempered with mild exasperation. How is she so collected all the time?
"Please!" Tears are falling from my eyes now, as I tug at my chain, desperately trying to get away. I don't know if I'm crying for sympathy or if I'm genuinely crying. Either way, I doubt that it will help.
Suddenly a hole opens in the roof above me. A curving, snake-like segmented metallic pipe twists and bends as it makes its way down towards me. It has a hook at the end. And though it's not sharp, it fills me with terror.
I scream and thrash about, trying to make it so the hook doesn't reach me. I shake and thrash and writhe with all my strength. And I succeed, at not letting the hook reach me. For a long while I succeed. For time uncountable.
But even the most desperate of desperation doesn't make anyone invincible. Eventually the hook latches onto my collar, and attaches itself tightly to me. I unattached it immediately. And I keep writhing. It attaches to me again, I pull it off. Eventually, after a long time of struggling, it attaches to me again. Lightning-fast, a piece of metal juts out, completing the circle of the hook and taking with it any chance of escape. I pull against the metal pipe, and it's flexible enough to bend with me but strong enough to keep me where I am.
I scream. And it's a haunting, desperate, feral sound. Kaylen watches impassively as I continue pulling and screaming and crying, like a mad beast in a trap. She doesn't seem to care. Seems mildly annoyed at my dramatics. I don't care if she cares or not.
I will not go down passively. I have more dignity than that.
Kaylen steps up towards me. She unlinks the chain tying me to the wall. And with a sleek silver remote in her hand, which has buttons outlined by a soft green glow, she walks out of the room.
The pipe connecting me to the ceiling starts moving along the length of the ceiling now, the colours opening up to let it through and then closing behind it. I do not walk along. I plant my feet into the ground and pull away as much as I can. But it drags me along, unwilling and struggling. It has too much unwavering strength. I'm nothing against it.
But still, I keep struggling on. I will not go down passively.
We go down the swirling mass of halls and to a room that is really rather pretty, with paintings on each and every part of the wall and carved tables lined with all sorts of aesthetic things. There is a chair in the middle of the room. It has metal leg rests and arm rests and a metal headrest. There is an open ring of metal on the headrest. I get dragged towards that chair.
I kick and twist and lift my feet up. Anything to stop me from being placed on that chair. But I am lifted into the air and lowered down mercilessly. And then the ring clamps around my head and forehead. And I can't move. The chair is rather soft though. And temperature-regulating, it seems.
"Please, Kaylen! Please!" I howl through tears. She looks on impassively.
A terrifying, sharp-pointed instrument mounted on an intricate wheeled contraption rolls towards my head. I try to move it but I can't. I can only close my eyes as it inches closer and closer.
Abruptly there is a sharp pain on the side of my head. Bright and flaring hot. Unendurable. I scream. And I scream. And all I can feel is pain. Pain and fear. I beg and I beg for mercy but none comes as the pain goes on and on.
There is a horrible, unimaginably sharp feeling in my head. In the very centre of my head like something is piercing through my very brain itself. I almost lose consciousness but somehow I don't. There is a sharp, stinging, cold sensation that flows through my brain. And I know that I'm going to die. Right here, right now, I'm going to die. And I'm grateful.
All at once the pain goes away. I am left feeling numb. I am left feeling like I can't feel anything at all. But still my head feels wrong. Really wrong. But I just can't place the wrongness.
I suddenly don't care anymore. About anyone. About anything. There is nothing that I yearn for. Nothing that I seek. Nothing that I want. And I know that this is wrong. I know it's very wrong. I fight against it. I try desperately to remember everything I was fighting for before this.
Everything I was feeling. But I can't. Nothing comes to me at all.
It's as if the person I was before has completely disappeared.
I fight against the wrongness. But the apathy remains. It always remains. It feels like I am floating through a strange gray ocean, except all the water is oil and all the air is stale. I find myself drifting for time immeasurable. And when I finally feel steady again, things are worse than before.
My emotions light up neon in this fake, candy-sweet happiness. I feel glad. I feel content. I feel at peace. I feel excited. But it all seems wrong somehow. Like I'm sucking on a lollipop that hurts my teeth because of its sweetness. Like I'm looking at a shade of pink that is far too bright and burns my eyes.
I scream, terror finally finding a way to lace through my heart. And this terror feels real. Feels right. Feels like a warning. But as quickly as it began it ends, slipping through my fingers like sand, lost forever.
I can do nothing as my mind fills with the type of joy that has an unknown danger behind it. The type of joy that doesn't belong. I can to nothing except for give into it, as it takes me higher and higher to towering heights.
I eventually do feel a negative emotion. But even the negative emotion itself it disturbing. It's a sense of dissatisfaction. A sense of wanting more. But this dissatisfaction isn't like the dissatisfaction I felt before. It's so ... shallow, so obvious, so crude. It's so hungry, so ravenous, so destructive. Not destructive in a self-annihilating way. Destructive in a selfish, apathetic sort of way. Yes, that's right. This is an apathetic sort of dissatisfaction. It's hollow. It doesn't come from the heart.
I do everything I can to remember my normal state of emotions. But they are constantly denied me. I struggle and I fight with all the strength my mind and heart has. But it's not enough. Whatever power is coming over me, it is too much power for me to take on. Like the robotic pipe, like the chain, like the chair, I am nothing against it. But still, I don't give up.
I have to remember who I am. I have to remember who I am. I need for things to feel right again.
Suddenly my mind floods with a state of absolute calmness. Everything is alright. Everything is fine. I don't have to fight. I don't have to struggle. I just have to sit back and let life take me where it takes me. Everything is good. I am good. I am free. I am exactly where I want to be.
I bask in the bright, pressing, sated-unsated feeling inside of me. I gaze at the pictures on the wall. Oh how pretty they all are. How sweet. How glad I am that they're here. How glad I am that I'm here to see them. I love it here. The colours are so pretty. Kaylen is so pretty. She's so nice. She's so pink. Everything is so pretty here I love it here.
I drift off to sleep, sugary-pleasantness colouring my dreamlessness. Not feeling any sense of danger at all.
If you like this piece check out my Twitter my handle is @FSairuv and I post about human rights, social justice, and the environment.