Tail lights form into radial circles as I stare out the window of the cab. We are not going too fast. I tap my feet in increasing volume. Traffic. It's a Friday night, what do I expect? Through multiple stops and sudden brakes, I try to visualize a scenario in my head. Pick a certain memory. I find this familiar image of Sophia and I riding the same cab. I look at her focused at the view on her side. We are moving at a speed and the lights blur as they pass by. With every light shining on her face, every color only reflected how beautiful she is. She wouldn't look at me, must be something I did.
I call out her name. But she's not with me. I get so lost in my own thoughts that I forget where I am, and what I am doing. The cab driver waves his hand at me, "We're here sir." Looking out the window, we are no longer near any city light. The trees lining up on the side of the street are identical. A dark road is up ahead with only the headlights illuminating what it can. I step off the vehicle after handing some bills from my wallet. Quickly, the cab drives away leaving me in front of a steel barred gate.
A flashlight points at my face and I hear the clanking sound of the gate being opened. "How you doin' tonight, Mr. Noel" a man in a uniform checks my pockets for any dangerous equipment. Standard procedure. Just like every night I have been going to this research facility for the past 4 days. There are more guards patrolling the premises as an assistant leads me to the building. We took a different route from what we usually go through. I ask why but the assistant can only give me a vague reply. "We're currently fixing some problems in one of our laboratories."
I ask no further. I only come here for one thing.
Soon, I find myself standing before a familiar face. Dr. Rosemary. He's that glass-jawed, old man with graying hair and beard. The lines on his face show how much laugh he has had in his time. There is something different about him today. He's awfully quiet. I follow him to an elevator which took us on a short ride a few feet below the ground.
The room is colder than yesterday. I try to rub my own arms to create some warmth for myself. Before us is a huge glass window and beyond it is my wife sleeping under a blue light. Intricate machines display her status; it's not getting better. It pains my chest seeing her lying there with all of these tubes attached to her skin. But I am more than eager to talk to her again so I drop my clothes and put on the patient dress. Sitting on the bed adjacent to her, I watch Dr. Rosemary set up some equipment. It is a metallic headgear reflecting the blue light from the lamps surrounding us. Between our beds is a large white machine that resembles an eggshell. A vessel with ports on each side. The doctor moves over to my side and applies a transparent liquid gel on my temples. After which he puts on me a similar headgear, locking the orange visor in place. All I could see was a bright orange color, forcing me to close my eyes. He helps me lie down on the bed and taps me on my shoulder.
"Once you locate her in the dream plane, remember not to rush. She's not going to recognize you. Befriend her and ease her into what really happened to her. We don't know how she's going to take the news or what will happen when she becomes aware. What we do know is that she's not always who she is in the dream so you've got to be more patient in finding her. You've got 8 hours in here, in the dream plane, it could be four times than that."
He has been telling me this for the past four days. On our first try, I couldn't find her. We were in a crowded pedestrian. There were so many people in the scene and the noise were just as real as it is in the city. Everything was in vivid detail and it scared me knowing what our minds are capable of. I found my ID and it showed me my name in the story, Ahmed, a Pakistani marketing consultant. The green bulb lights up and the people beside me started walking. From office workers to tourists, there were faces everywhere I turn my head. Everything became blurry and I felt the rush of blood in my nose. I had a breakdown and I woke up from the induced sleep with a blood all over my neck.
We didn't stop there, despite having Dr. Rosemary too worried for my condition. I insisted to try one more night. The second try went much better. It was set on a marathon for charity in New York. I had the number 416 on my green and white tank top and skimpy running shorts. I was Rudy, a gay, blonde runner who happen to have a mirror in his pocket. As strange as it was, 416 happens to be a number so important to her. April 16th, our anniversary. I heard the commencing gun shot and people started running. Once again, I was amidst a sea of faces dashing from my line of sight. It was then that I felt drawn to look away. Far ahead among the people watching on the sides, I found her. She was just as beautiful with her paint stained face. It felt as if time were slower and I could see her clearer than the rest. In my eagerness, I ran toward her and planted her a kiss I've longed for. It was then I felt a strong fist hitting my ear, knocking me down on the mud. I woke up crying in pain in the same laboratory.
I've been a Carl and a Robert, a grocery store janitor and a mall cop, respectively. Two jobs that prevent me from speaking with people in the scene. I've seen her in three different hairstyles. Mostly the ones I hated or stopped her from trying to do. Her face remained the same and her voice was just as before. I missed hearing it ask me how my day was.
My name is Gary Noel.ns 22.214.171.124da2