It was Friday morning. The sun was rising, cracking
the first hint of light. The morning dew glistened, though frozen, across the wintry
fields near my house. The heat from the rising sun seemed to pass my house leaving
a frozen tundra of weeds; I called it my yard. The gentle icy breeze whistled softly
past the broken down wooden bench swinging from a tree limb. The creaking of the
bench as it swayed echoed through the house as it did every morning, while the sound
of crickets slowly faded away. The morning chill pinched the air and despite the
three massive blankets curled around me, I was still cold. The cold is what woke
me unpleasantly from my sleep. Slowly, I opened my eyes and pulled the blankets tighter,
closer to me. Despite my best efforts, I remained cold. After awhile, I threw the
blankets off and sat up. Yawning and stretching took me a good couple minutes to
do, scratching my belly and smacking my mouth. I grabbed my bathrobe from the bedpost
and wrapped it tightly around my flannel pajamas and thermal underwear. I bent over
to slide my slippers over my socks, but when I reached for them, they werenít in
their usual location. They werenít even anywhere I could see. In their place were
muddy footprints tracing from the door and over to the bed; I froze. The mud still
wet on the wooden floor clearly had been left during the night. Slowly I stood up
and scanned the room, the creaking bench the only sound other than the slight whistling
of the breeze. Nothing else looked out of place. I turned to the bed and pushed the
covers off to look for anything wrong. Sure enough there was mud matted on the bottom
of the sheets. I pulled my foot out to look at my sock. My foot was cold and mud,
still wet, coated the bottom of both socks. I placed my foot next to the print and
it matched my footprints. Baffled, I sat on the bed a minute to try and recall getting
up and leaving the house in the middle of the night. I finally concluded that I must
have gone outside and been so tired I didnít remember doing so. This still left the
question of why I would go out; however, with no way to answer that at that moment
I tied the belt on my robe, changed my socks, and headed for downstairs. The footprints
continued out my room, in the hallway and down the stairs. I followed them down the
stairs and around the right side of the staircase out the front door. The door stood
open, softly swinging back and forth; the source of the cold. My slippers sat tossed
in the corner next to the door. I slid them on and walked past the small concrete
porch, to the muddy yard of weeds all matted down from rain and mud. The footprints
turned to imprints in the mud. The prints continued to the center of my yard where
they abruptly stopped. No other tracks were around, not even heading back to the
house. Dead weeds made a ring around the last set of footprints. Now completely lost,
I stood there silently, taking it all in and trying to make sense of it all. The
damn thing had me completely perplexed and left me uneasy for the remainder of the
day. I remembered I had to get to work so I rushed back inside closing the door behind
My morning routine after that was normal other than being rushed a little and hurrying
out the door I made sure to lock the door, the dead bolt, and the screen, and I even
double checked. After that, the day remained a usual day, other than the lingering
thought of that morning.
Work was all too painfully normal, my job of studying problems, continually getting
less and less interesting. Psychiatry just didnít turn out like I had planned. I
had always expected to study those cases where people were on the edge of insanity,
telling outlandish stories of wanting to cut off their motherís heads and toss them
into fish bowls to grow flowers out of the bloody stump. Well all the tales I got
were so domestic and common; these people could get the same help if they just thought
it through or talked to a friend.
Ten years earlier it had been exciting. I was twenty-one and an intern for Dr. Zengal.
He told us wild anecdotes of the people he studied (leaving out their names of course).
He told of people who slept with their sisters or of the many people inside one person.
Some of those schizophrenic cases were so eerie and delightfully interesting; I always
wanted a couple of them, he always had them. He came in with a new tale to tell to
tell us interns each session we visited.
I remember one session where he had a patient claiming to be an alien abductee. It
was the most intriguing case I had ever heard. Dr. Zengal used hypnotic regression
to have the patient relive and describe the experience. I watched as the Dr. put
the patient in the trance. He asked questions about the aliens, never flat out asking
what he was looking for but definitely leading the questioning in a certain way.
The patient, at first, answered calmly but soon enough began to get nervous and twitchy
as the mention of bright lights and little men entering his home filled his report
of the incident. Then he became terrified, screaming and yelling ďGet away! Oh god,
please help!Ē Dr. Zengal got the patient to calm a little, enough so he could talk
again. Still shivering, as if just having crawled out of a freezing lake after falling
through the ice, he continued. He said aliens taped him to an examining table with
this white extremely durable tape, and probed him, cut him and implanted a chip in
his head. By this time I almost interrupted everything laughing, but I held it in.
Now I didnít believe in aliens and all that mumbo jumbo but I was curious about Dr.
Zengalís opinion on the matter. After the session I approached Dr. Zengal and asked
him what he thought. ďYou donít believe? Well, I do and I fear very much for this
patient,Ē he said briefly and he walked away. I had thought it was all those years
of talking to crazy people that was affecting him and rubbing off.
But there I was listening to my patient, a lady so naive it was amazing she had made
it that far in life. She was complaining again how her boyfriend had this messy dog
that she hated. Every session the same
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