The fiends at the Inkwell know I can’t resist a challenge. Suggesting that my offering from Monday should be fleshed out was a bit like offering an alcoholic a drink. This is the two hour version:
I remember I am called David and I know I have a past, a life elsewhere, somewhere. I also know that all the details of that life and past are stored away in my head. But “stored away” screams at me. “Stored away” is not a convenient cupboard, a functioning filing system; it’s a locked safe, a bricked up door, an unassailable barrier.
It wasn’t my fault! What wasn’t my fault? I can’t remember but I’m sure I’m blameless just the same. Well, culpability is an overrated concept, anyway. I keep telling myself that I’m a good guy, I don’t deserve any of this. How do I know? I’m not sure how but I’m still confident that I’m right. Does that suggest there’s some hope of finding my way back? I hope so.
My memory still performs on many levels. I’ve sat for hours and thought about this. I’m thinking in English: I’m pretty sure I am English. I know I’m smartly dressed: I’m wearing a suit, tie and shiny shoes; I know this is smarter than jeans and trainers, say. There’s a note in my pocket, scribbled on a scrap of paper, carelessly torn from the corner of a page: “milk” it says. I know what “milk” means and I guess the note is a shopping reminder. Is there a woman (or a cat!) somewhere, waiting for me to arrive with a carton? I don’t know. I can remember songs and books I have read though I can’t remember from where. I have long finger nails on my right hand and short ones on my left and I remember that this is because I play guitar, even though I can’t remember owning one. So I have retained some points of reference to the world outside, wherever that is.
The world inside makes no sense, however. The world inside is only the looking glass room and the corridor. I know there must be more, but it is not accessible. I walk in a straight line: I’m as sure as I can be that this is the case. I open the door at one end of the room lined with looking glass and enter the corridor. The door always closes behind me with a bleak click, though I can’t see what causes this. Then it’s locked: I cannot go back. The corridor is plain, clean and white: ceiling, walls and floor. The only feature is a steel door at the far end, which is identical to the one I just passed through. So my only option is to walk the twenty paces to this new door and pass through into the looking glass room. The first two times I did this, I assumed it must be a new looking glass room that I came to each time, because I was sure that I had walked in a straight line: how could what I left behind be in front of me? So I left my handkerchief on the floor in the looking glass room and went to the room down the corridor again. And there was my handkerchief waiting for me, mocking me, in the next room I came to. I’ve tried to smash the looking glasses but there is no give. I cannot make the least impression or mark on any wall, floor or ceiling. I have no tools or weapons, only some loose change in my pocket. There is no food or water. I slept for a while in the corridor, curled up like an abandoned kitten on the floor. I have no idea of the time of day. There is plenty of light but I can’t tell where it comes from: it just is. I’m feeling quite weak and a little dizzy. I keep trying to remember how I came to be here. There was a door. I knew I had to open it but I shouldn’t have stepped inside. As soon as the door closed behind me, I was lost.
There’s a scent in the air. And a taste. The scent is like cheap soap from my childhood; pit-head bath soap; carbolic; coal tar. The taste is water, but not good water. It’s water boiled in a village hall tea urn; water that’s been sat in the pipes too long; metallic water.
I get a feeling that I am not alone. I can’t see or hear anyone but I am convinced that there is activity near by; a bustle and business. I try to shout out for help but I get no response: no-one can hear me. I am not sure that I heard myself even: did I shout?
I sit, leant against a wall of looking glass and stare at my hands in my lap. I have distinct tan lines from a watch and a wedding ring, both of which are missing. Were they taken from me? There’s no sign of any struggle, no injury. But why would I remove them? There’s a needle in the back of my right hand and a tube coming from it, running away over my shoulder. I wonder where that came from?
So I stare into the looking glass opposite and there am I, staring back. There’s another reflection of the first reflection, just behind, and another, and another, each one slightly smaller and slightly less distinct than the one before, stretching away to infinity. I squint and peer to see the last version of me but there is no last version. There’s always another that I can’t really see, smaller and fainter. If I look left or right or up or down, the same is true: endless mirror images of me looking, just looking, only looking, still looking, always looking.
Then there’s a voice and pain: lots of pain. The looking glass room has gone and the light is intense. Someone is hammering nails into my head!
“David!” I can hear a voice that is not a voice. How can a voice stab you in the ears?
“David, can you hear me?” Go away, I don’t want this. I try to open my eyes but the light is too bright. I can hear moaning as well: is that me?
“David, you must lie still. You’re in hospital. You’ve had an accident. We’re taking you down for a scan but you must not move. You’re going to be O.K.”