The dark water lapped against the synthetic shore. The sharp rocks were uncomfortable as I settled against them, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I stared across the artificial sea, imagining gigantic beasts swimming just beneath the dark surface of the uneven waves.
Across the room I could see the observation window nestled between the metallic walls. Though I longed for assistance, I knew the static bodies hidden behind the protective glass would offer no such help.
I resigned to collapse inside my mind, allowing my thoughts to manifest as the injections took hold. My heart was a rhythmic pounding that seemed to direct my thoughts, steering away my discomfort as the world caved in on either side of my head. It felt as if all space and time were swaying around me.
I closed my eyes and allowed the salty air of synthetic waves to fill my nose. And then it happened—my thoughts found a trail to traipse down, and I was unwillingly dragged along behind them.
The rocks beneath me changed into wood, and the seawater at my feet was warm. I was sitting in front of an old television, staring through the crackling screen of an old VHS recording of my childhood.
It was the only word I could process. A desperate longing filled my chest as I watched the happy residents stroll along the boardwalk I had ruled in my youth. My soul yearned to jump back to that time, when everything was simple and the world made sense.
My simple relief vanished into the gaping maw of the setting sun. It sat as an all-consuming void on the horizon, slurping up the ocean as it splashed too close. It felt as if the world would fall into it.
I lost myself. The boardwalk, the people, my memories. They all disintegrated into shards of their former selves. The wind tousled my hair as the radiant light of the dying sun washed the sky yellow.
The ocean was far beneath my bare feet, at such a distance that any slip would be my death.
I lifted my chin as the air whistled past me, unable to resist the dying sun’s final words. I stared into it as everything of my former self was lost to the annals of time. I watched it consume my childhood, my teenage years, and everything that had ever held any value to me.
Finally, the cliff succumbed to its unshakable suction.
until I was cradled gently by the black waves. I slipped into the abyss, watching the sun fight to penetrate my voidling protector. As its piercing red rays were reduced to a muted green, I allowed my limp arms to cast aside the rest of me. I was nothing more than a shell, floating amid an ever-changing current. Wherever it decided to take me, I would be a willing passenger.
I sank, deeper, deeper, until I was on the ocean floor. The sun was no longer visible. The ocean’s surface was a rippling wave, playing with the remnants of the light like a cat toying with a mouse.
I watched it, curiously, as the ripping surface became smooth and silky. A plush curtain danced above me. The ocean floor rose up to cradle my limbs, replacing the uneven sand with a comfortable chair.
Amid the depths of the auditorium, I watched, completely empty, unable to process any thoughts except the moving picture before me. The memories of that person were lost to me. The person in the mirror was a stranger.
I closed my eyes and breathed out, feeling the world change once more. I blinked, sitting in my chair. The doctor’s office was clean. He sat on the other side of his desk, paperwork in hand. He thanked me as I regained my senses of the world. I looked down at the small bandage on my wrist, and the needles sitting nearby.
With a nod of his head he sent me on my way, and in the hall I passed another patient, entering for their therapy. I watched them, and saw the trauma they carried. If they allowed themselves to forget the pain, they would lose a part of themself to that unending void, just as I had.