(Disclaimer: this series of stories is completely fictional and none of the persons, places or institutions in these stories are real, but figments of my imagination. Any similarity to any real person, place or institution is entirely coincidental.)
“I sometimes think I’m not real, doc…” Dave was saying, as Dr Frood listened sympathetically, “…as if, well… I act… I sorta do things but it’s all empty… meaningless… not really anything to do with anything I want to do… not my own motivation… I kinda feel sometimes like I’m a character in a novel… Or a cartoon, more like… It doesn’t really matter what I do ’cause it’s all decided in advance by someone else anyway…”
“Decided by whom, do you think?” Dr Frood asked, intrigued by this line of thinking.
“I suppose by whoever it is that’s writing the story…” Dave had not really thought this far before; he was in the act of discovering these strange, hitherto indescribable feelings himself; Frood, as a professional psychologist, was proving to be an excellent sounding board to amplify hitherto nebulous feelings to such an extent that they began to take on discernible outlines… His gently probing questions began to fill the outlines with color… There was that cartoon reference again, he thought…
“You mean, ‘God’?”
“No…” Dave drawled thoughtfully, “Not ‘God’… It doesn’t have the same feel as ‘predestination’; with that you still have to think; to make choices and it seems as though you yourself are achieving your ‘destiny’… But this just feels somehow two-dimensional… empty… It’s like I’m just going through the motions… motions of actions… and even thoughts and conversations, which are all… empty! Which have all been somehow scripted by someone else… It’s as if most of what constitutes me isn’t really here at all… as if most of me is somewhere else…”
“I see…” Dr Frood said, “So you feel you have no volition of your own at all? Not even when you threatened that doctor?”
“No… I mean, I felt the pain when he twisted my foot, and that was my immediate response, but I’m not really a violent person, Doc… I’d never have acted on the threat; can’t think why I made it… It’s as if that sequence of events, like everything else in my life, had been scripted by someone else; someone who doesn’t really know me very well, either!”
“Hmmm, very interesting… But we’ll have to continue next week; time’s up for this session. I think we’re making progress though… your violent inclinations seem to stem from a sense of absolute powerlessness, which you express as these ‘cartoon-like’ feelings… But where does this sense of powerlessness come from? That is the question we must ask ourselves! You can think about that until next week’s session… ‘Bye for now…”
“’Bye Doc… and thanks…”
Dave was surprised at how easily he’d been drawn into cooperating completely with his treatment… Although he’d more or less decided to ‘go along’ with the doctors and ‘play their game’ so he could get out of here as quickly as possible, he found himself actually fascinated by what his treatment was revealing about certain aspects of his personality he’d never thought about before. Even his choice to acquiesce to his treatment was itself ’empty’, he thought. Powerlessness? Yes… he felt powerless… Somehow he needed to discover just who or possibly what was the ‘Author’. And what was the plot? Or did he really want to know the plot? Perhaps it was better not to know… Would such knowledge be of any use anyway? Would there be any way he could influence the Author’s ‘writing’ even if he knew who it was? But then, he just couldn’t stand not knowing… Yes, he thought as he walked back to the ward, he had much to ponder.
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Catherine’s hysterical outburst brought nurses running. Immediately realising that the baby was missing, and spotting the open french windows, they automatically assumed the dingo must have taken the baby out through them and gave chase immediately. On the way they bumped into Nurse Paula, who was quick to hide her cigarette behind her back as, fearful for her job, she improvised hastily, “Yes! I saw it! It went thataway!” As she hoped, the rescue party also automatically assumed that Paula was part of the posse which had been stirred into action by Catherine’s distressed yells and so just continued running in the direction Paula had pointed.
As the nurses chased their imaginary dingoes out through the french windows, doctors also arrived; one of the latter prepared a syringe with a strong sedative and within a few seconds Catherine was unconscious. Later, when she regained what in her had passed for ‘consciousness’ for the past few months, she was once more her ‘normal’ zombie-like self, almost totally lacking any emotional responses, her mind now once again totally withdrawn into itself.
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When Mirriyuula introduced himself and their baby sibling to the cricket team as their new, Youth and Family Services-appointed guardian, explaining that he had come to take care of them all and that he had also brought their baby sibling to them too, because the hospital could no longer care for the baby, which in any case, needed to be with its family, they saw nothing the least bit questionable about his story except perhaps for why it had taken YaFS so long to decide what to do.
They were, however, a bit more sceptical when he tried to suggest that the baby was in danger, and indeed, that meant they were all in danger and that he needed to move them and the baby to a place of safety forthwith. Vivienne, always the sceptic, even when completely missing the point, did not entirely trust the sharp-faced stranger, however, in spite of his almost constant smile. “How do we even know it’s really our baby though? I mean, how do we know you brought the right bub?” she demanded. “Yeah! ‘Sright!” some of the younger ones immediately chorused, “how do we know it’s ours?!” Before Mirriyuula could even begin to formulate an answer, however, John interrupted, “That’s easy!” he exclaimed, and, taking the cricket ball out of the blazer pocket it habitually lived in, he aimed the leather-bound missile straight at the infant’s head.
The Dog-Spirit gasped in fear as the missile sped towards the baby’s head, but at the very last instant the baby’s tiny arms both shot up and caught the ball firmly as it gurgled enthusiastically, “Owza’?!”
“Well then,” said John with finality, “there’s no doubt about it now! It’s ours alright!” Turning to Mirriyuula, he said, “Okay Mr… where do you want to take us?”
***** ******* *****