Right now I am sitting by a barred window, watching the world blur by as one, giant machine. I don’t know exactly why I am here, or even where I am. They took me from my own home. They didn’t even knock. Of course I resisted. I didn’t want to go with them, they would hurt me. I knew it. That’s why they put me behind this barred window, because I tried to get violent. I don’t really blame them; maybe I am dangerous. I could be dangerous.
I could kill someone.
I specifically remember the day that everyone, even strangers on the street, began to pay an awful lot of attention to me. When I got home after work, I rushed to my bathroom mirror and looked at my reflection, trying to figure out what everyone was looking at. I spent two whole days gazing at my mirror-self, asking her questions. She answered every one, including the reason why everyone stared. You see, they looked because I was special. She said omeone was going to come soon to try and take me away. My face reflected her worry, even though I knew I must be kidding myself. She planted the seed in our head, though, and I suppose it grew from there.
I went to work the next day as usual, after my two-day holiday with myself. The people in my office looked at me as I passed. I smelled my arm-pit. I couldn’t remember whether I had showered. I stopped off in the bathroom, and I reminded myself that they looked because of their jealousy. Because I was different. Because I am different.
The next day at work, my reflection was there comforting me on every computer screen. I would sometimes talk to her, but only in my head; I really didn’t want people thinking I was crazy. Soon, though, I couldn’t get any work done because of everyone’s glares. I told myself that I should stay home for a few days; that I should pretend I was sick so everyone could forget about me. Maybe they would stop looking if no one knew who I was.
The next day, I called into work and told them that I was sick. The woman who answered the phone had no concern in her voice, pretending that she didn’t care. After I hung up the phone, I went immediately to the bathroom mirror so I could keep myself company.
The week that followed went by in a haze. I had long conversations with myself on ways that we could protect ourselves while staying inside the house. I think my work may have called me a couple of times, but I never answered. She told me that I shouldn’t answer, that they would get me through the telephones. Soon, I no longer needed the mirror to hear her voice. She began to follow me wherever I went, keeping me safe.
I finally went back to work after a full, two-week hiatus. Things had gotten worse while I had been gone. My co-workers no longer hid the fact that they were trying to torment me, that they were trying to get me fired. Even our courier man smiled at me forcefully, like he was too disgusted by me to waste any genuine emotion. The girl working at my favourite coffee-shop glared at me like I was a contagious disease. I am just glad to know it was because they were all in on it; they were all working for whoever was coming to take me away. They are still out there, you know, trying to find me.
Good thing there are bars on my window.
I found myself at work the next morning, with no recollection of how I had arrived. It was because they had erased my memory of the previous night. Everyone irritated me, with their fake smiles and blinking eyes. Eventually, my boss called me into his office, with a false concern for me. He didn’t even have to say anything as we sat down, I knew why I was there. The girls in the cubicles next to mine had told him I was incompetent and that I couldn’t finish my work. They probably told him that I should be fired. That’s the real reason he called me into his office, not because he was worried. He began by saying that he had recently noticed some of my erratic behaviour around the building.That was the exact moment that I stopped trusting him.
He continued on, describing to me the benefits of the free counselling services that many of my coworkers used and suggested that I maybe take advantage of them. I laughed as I knew he must be joking; I was not going to talk to someone who had already heard all about me from my coworkers. That’s when I heard the familiar voice in my ears, quietly at first, then louder and louder until it screamed that I shouldn’t let my boss brainwash me. He stared at me in surprise from behind his desk, both confused and horrified that I would deny his offer for help. I left the room without saying anything else and marched down the eight flights of stairs to the basement storage room.
After I had calmed down a bit, I found a box that would be big enough to fit all of my office belongings in. I took the elevator back upstairs with the intention of packing away my things and leaving forever, but when the elevator doors opened on my floor, everyone stopped and stared. Whispers erupted around the room as everyone laughed at me, at their success in getting me to leave. A girl left the confines of my own cubicle nonchalantly, as if she had the right to be there and I knew that she must have been rifling through my belongings. I let the elevator doors close with a metallic beep without bothering to press a button to would take me to another floor. In a couple of minutes the doors opened again and an elderly employee, Maurice, entered with a grim smile.
Maurice had his hands in his coat pockets, teetering back and forth on his heels. He turned towards me casually and tried to start conversation, but when I jumped back from him he shut his mouth and turned straight ahead. He continued rocking back and forth, whistling to break the tension until the whistling stopped and I heard him whisper that He would be coming tonight. The man who had been looking for me was coming tonight. The doors of the elevator clanged open and Maurice tipped his hat and exited quickly without saying anything else.
I don’t remember stepping off the elevator – or making my way to the car, for that matter – but I do remember that it was the worst drive home I had ever had: every single traffic light was red and every driver tried to prevent me from getting home, from being safe. I also remember that there was a message waiting on my answering machine from my mother. She didn’t sound like herself though. She sounded like she was being forced to be worried. I deleted the message and listened to the next one.
This message I will always remember, clear as day. The voice on the recording was female, and oddly familiar, almost as if the woman was my sister. She told me that my co-workers were having a party to celebrate their success at forcing me to quit my job. She told me where the party was and told me that I should go show them that I wasn’t so easy to get rid of. I knew I had to go. I knew that I had to find them. But what if this was a trick? Maurice had told me that they would be coming for me tonight. I went to my bathroom mirror and asked myself what I should do. Without moving her mouth, my reflection told me that it would be safe for me to go, just as long as I took her with me.
I promised that she could come.
I walked in the pouring rain for hours, as the light faded and the night became blacker and blacker. I walked into every bar that I saw, trying to find my celebratory coworkers, sometimes having a drink so that no one would think I was out-of-place. Around four in the morning, a police officer found me shivering on the sidewalk, unsure of where to go next. He gave me a dry blanket and asked me if I needed a ride home. In my incoherence, I nodded in agreement and got into his car.
I should have known.
After I told him my address, the officer asked me why I was wandering around the neighborhood so early in the morning. Though he threw the question at me casually, I immediately saw through to his true and evil core. This was him. He had gotten me. I tried the passenger door, even though the car was moving, only to find it locked. He looked at me curiously, a smile etched on his lips as if mocking me, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to escape. I froze and stared straight ahead, refusing to answer any more of his questions. A heavy silence filled the car as he took the longest route in the direction of my house. Goosebumps erupted all over my skin as I nervously waited for him to tell me what he was going to do to me, what they had been planning. The silence thickened as we rolled slowly towards our first red light. As we came to a stop, he put the car in park and turned his body toward mine, so that he was facing me from the waist up.
“So what were you really doing out on the street corner, all alone?” he said in a sickeningly sweet voice. I stared at the floor without saying a word, hoping that he would let me go, hoping that maybe the familiar voice on my answering machine would personify and come to my rescue.
“You can tell me, you know, I have seen everything out here on this side of town.” He leaned his back against the driver-side window and I heard the familiar click of the passenger door being unintentionally unlocked with his elbow. As soon as I heard the click, my body reacted immediately, scratching his face and opening the door to freedom on the pavement outside.
I ran as fast as I could down the remaining eleven blocks to my house, locking all of the doors, except for the front door in case I needed to get out. I knew he would be following close behind. I ran to my kitchen and grabbed the largest knife I had, returning to the door while trying to hear if anyone was coming up the front step. I waited there for two hours, knowing that he was waiting for me to get tired, so that I would fall asleep and he could easily take me away. My eyes started to droop by the third hour, and sometime after that, I must have fallen asleep.
The next thing I remember was hearing a sharp knock on the door, though I couldn’t be sure how long I had been out. I glanced at the clock and I remember seeing numbers, but I couldn’t make any sense of the hands pointing at the six and the ten. He must have gotten me. He must have managed to confuse my brain, so that I wouldn’t be able to make sense of anything, or remember what had happened.
My house was a mess. They had gone through it, I knew it immediately. I ran to the bathroom to ask myself what I should do next, but the mirror in there was broken and I couldn’t find myself in it. I ran towards my bedroom closet, where I knew my full length mirrors would ease my restless mind, but they were gone. They weren’t even broken, there was just nothing left of them. They took them from me.
My chest got really itchy, all of a sudden, right above my heart. I started scratching absent-mindedly, but the itch wouldn’t go away. I looked down to where the skin was still red from scratching, and noticed three, small scars which formed a dotted line along my skin. I scratched at it some more before I felt the oddest sensation: something had moved while I was scratching. I immediately knew what must have happened while I was asleep; they had inserted a chip near my heart so that they could regulate my body.
They could turn me off if they wanted to.
I went back to kitchen and picked up the knife I had intended for the fake officer, for it was the largest reflective surface I had. I stared into the eyes of my own reflection and immediately knew what must be done.
I had to get that chip out.
I put the big knife down carefully, and picked up the smallest knife of the set. I looked at it, at the sharp tip and the smooth edge, and felt a certain relief that I was again in control of my own situation. I measured the size of the chip, only thirty-two millimeters, before using the point of the knife to trace the small scars along my chest. Blood started to drip as I pushed the knife deeper, not feeling the pain. I remember wondering if the chip, somehow, stopped me from feeling pain. I removed the knife from the slice and inserted my fingers into the hole, to remove the chip, but I couldn’t find it.
I dug a little bit deeper into the muscle before peeling a small layer of skin away from the muscle to get a better view of where I knew the chip was, but I still couldn’t find it. The blood was pouring down my skin and making a mess on the floor. I took off my shirt and searched around for a cloth to clean up the mess. My vision was blurry and I slipped on some of the blood, knocking my head on the counter before I located my dish rag. I put the rag over the crimson pool and mopped up the majority of it, but fresh blood still poured onto the tile. I grabbed the entire roll of paper towel off the counter and threw it over the blood and watched the sheets absorb their share of red.
That’s when everything goes hazy. I remember falling onto the sopping roll of paper towel and thinking that I should take a nap, that dried blood might be easier to clean up tomorrow. I remember being very thirsty, but afraid that they were still coming. I remember a loud knock and I groaned at my visitor to go away. He forced his way into my kitchen, a curse escaping his lips before he called for the others.
Then everything went black for a little while. I can’t be sure if I’ve been experimented on, or what secrets I had held that are now revealed. The only thing I remember clearly was the ugly attendant nurse giving me a couple of orange pills while I sat in a wheelchair. She thanked me for taking my medication and then rolled me gently over to the barred window. I am not entirely sure where I am. I can’t see my reflection in the warped glass.