TABLEAU

Shadows spill out of the rooms onto the corridor and reach out for fluorescent bulbs arranged in series from one end of the corridor-ceiling to the other end – entry to exit. They tug at the wires, gently, never rooting the wires entirely out, so that the lights just go dim and suddenly bright again. As the lights go dim, a little boy takes form at the exit. The form gets slowly more distinct the dimmer the lights go and wisps out as suddenly as the lights go bright again.

Two days ago, it happened.

It happened yesterday.

Today, it’s happening again.

If some patient seated on the other side of the table had narrated this sort of tale to W., the new doctor-in-residence, she would have written on her pad, just two words: visual hallucinations. The session could end up with the patient being expertly judged as schizophrenic. But here, it was her this was happening to! She was the one seeing doppelgängers and clawing shadows!

She hurried out of the facility, an asylum built to tend First World War soldiers dented by the war. It was dark and the rain drizzled outside but she walked through the cold drops, across the parking lot to her car and made to drive home. Today, she switched on the radio; maybe its voices could help shout down thoughts screaming in her head and raced the car in an attempt to outfox tailing shadows.

Speed and the radio’s electronic voices gently took her fears from her and as her nerves un-frayed she shut her eyes and stepped harder on the accelerator, it was a kind of ecstasy and she desired more speed, desired a faster healing.

She was oblivious of a little boy ahead who stood alone in the middle of the road and as she opened her eyes, every voice – hers and the radio’s many voices – morphed into one huge scream as she ran her sedan into the poor boy.

She clutched the bed sheets tighter as she with the scream emerged from the nightmare into the real world, jolting her sleeping husband awake.

The director shouted: CUT!