Authors: Jack Worr
“For the trials. What would you rather be called? Mason?”
“Well yes, actually, that would be nice.”
“Okay then Mason. You are perhaps the most important person in the world. You are the
one who has responded favorably, who has withstood the shatter.”
Mason shook his head, but this time in confusion. “What makes me special?”
She tapped the side of her head once. “You make you special.”
“What does that mean? And, whoa, hold on, what do you mean by shatter?”
“Your mind, the drug you were prescribed, it caused a split. That split allows you to do what others can’t.”
“You are being vague.”
“I’m being exactly how I need to be, telling you exactly what you need to hear.” She sipped her tea. “It can be no other way.”
“Are you both teachers?”
“Whom do you mean?”
“Yep, that’s what I thought.”
“I assume we can proceed then. If it’s worked, which it appears to, we need to get you ready.” She really looked at him for the first time. “You do look horrible. You’re alive though, and the drug is almost out of your system. Its half-life is longer here, but not infinite.”
“Half-life? What are you talking about?”
“That black powder—”
“What?” She frowned. “Yes. Crumble—that’s what they call it. Stopping taking it once you’ve begun… Things could go wrong.”
“Wrong? Like daydream so intently that I don’t see a yellow light and then get hit by a phantom truck the police think I imagined? Like having visions of government agents before they even arrive and then panicking so completely that I jump out a window?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “Exactly! Good, withdrawal means it worked. I knew it had to.”
“Gah! You’re so frustrating. Why did you leave earlier then if you wanted my help?”
She shook her head. “Sometimes you do what you have to do.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Just tell me when the last time you spoke with Martin was.”
“The man from your dreams.”
“Can you be more specific?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Dream of lots—” She shook her head. “He was probably wearing a suit and a hat.”
This triggered something, and Mason remembered. He remembered the time spent in darkness. The man who’d told him about a backdoor to his mind. “I remember. He said the drug allowed him to enter my mind.”
“Yes. It opens a door.” She paused. “But here, it would be more accurate to say it unlocks one. So you’ve spoken to him recently then, after the first time?”
“When you drugged me? Yes, it was earlier today.”
“Oh, no. It’s destroying you.”
“What?” Mason asked, a little wildly.
“That was Tuesday that we met.”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry Mason, but you just said it was today.”
Mason did not shout. “No. I meant. The man. I met. Today.”
She sighed. “That’s good then. Is your voice okay? You should have some tea.”
Mason closed his eyes and took a breath. Then he picked up the tea, took a sip, spit it out, and threw the cup into the trash, where it shattered.
Then he sat there, hands crossed in front of him, as Sera stared worriedly at him.
“Why did you do that?”
“I don’t like tea.”
There was silence for a moment.
An employee came over, looked in the trash. “Please don’t throw glass,” he said, with a complete lack of enthusiasm. He studied each of them briefly. Then he nodded very very slightly at Mason. “You.”
“Yes,” Mason said.
He shrugged. “Okay. Well, glass is dangerous. So be careful.” With that, he went back behind the counter, which he leaned against as he stared at the oven.
“You know him?”
Mason glared at Sera. “No. I don’t know you either, so you better start telling me what’s going on.”
“Did you see the way he looked at you, yet only briefly considered me?”
“If you’re saying—”
“He did it because he can’t see me.”
Mason was stunned into silence for a moment. “What?”
“I am your hallucination. That drug, it’s altering your perception.”
“You’re a hallucination.”
“You’re too weird for that. I can’t even understand what you say.”
“Yes, you’re right. Now if you will stop acting like a mad hallucinating maniac and pay attention and answer my questions, maybe we will get somewhere.”
“Jesus,” he muttered.
“Now, why don’t you tell me what he said?”
“Martin. What Martin said. Earlier today. In what you called a dream.”
Mason’s eyes widened, and he exhaled as he leaned back. Good God she was pushy. “He just told me to find you. That…” He thought for a moment, trying to remember. It was just there, on the edge of recall. “Something about, now that he knew, or tested me? That first time? Now you could— Yes! That’s what it was. Now you could help.”
Mason shrugged. “He disappeared after that.” He frowned. “And you haven’t been much help.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well you’ve just been talking in riddles. I—”
“No, what do you mean Martin disappeared?”
“Oh.” Mason pressed his lips together, shrugged. “He just vanished.”
“What do you mean?” Her voice grew loud and manic. “In the middle of a sentence? Who was talking? What were you talking about? Did you touch his projection?”
“Jesus. I don’t know.” He looked around the shop. He caught someone’s eye, but they looked away quickly. Then he caught the eye of employee who’d come over. The man smiled, Mason nodded automatically, then looked back at Sera. He leaned in. “Shh. He told me to see you.”
She stood, grabbed his hand and pulled him up.
“We have to go. Now.” She pulled him outside.
“Sera!” He pulled his hand free. “That hurt, I have stitches.”
She glared at him.
He pointed. “Your tea set.”
“You need to take more, then you need to get back there and find Martin.”
“This is no time for joking.”
“I think it is! Why don’t you tell me what is going on? Who’s Martin?! And why is he in my
“Where’s your car?” She shook her head. “Never mind, we’ll take mine.”
Mason pointed. “It’s right there.”
“Fine, let’s go.”
“Where? And no!”
She looked at him like he was an idiot. “What do you mean! Your house! Fuck you’re dense.”
Mason hadn’t known this woman long, but this seemed unlike her. All the facts collided together to make him wonder if she was crazy. Bipolar. Worse, schizophrenic.
But then, he had jumped five stories out of a hospital and into… nowhere. And where else was he going to get answers? “Martin” was either someone who knew more than he did, telling him this woman could help him, or his own delusional mind. Telling him this woman could help him.
This woman who was standing by his car, glaring at him. “Coming?”
Mason unlocked the door and got in.
He unlocked the passenger door.
“You don’t want to follow?”
“I’m not going to risk losing you.”
“You really going to leave your tea stuff there?”
“Oh now you care.”
Mason shook his head and started the car. He wanted a shower anyway. He smelled like chlorine and sweat.
He headed home, and neither spoke for a while. Then Sera, staring out the windshield, broke the silence as they were almost to his apartment. “What was the last thing he said?”
Mason thought a moment before responding. It was like trying to remember a dream, but just after waking: difficult, but still possible. “The last thing I think was what I said already: him telling me to find you.”
“What else?” She turned to look at him.
Mason saw this out of the corner of his eye, but kept it and the other on the road ahead. “That’s all he said.” He shook his head. “Before that some stuff about some columns. I don’t think he knows he’s dead.”
“What makes you think he is?”
Mason shrugged. “A feeling.”
She looked back out the window. “You’re right, you know. Martin died. At least, his body did. But not his soul. That’s trapped somewhere. That’s why I need your help.”
“Who is he?”
“Someone I care about deeply.”
When they arrived at his apartment complex, Mason felt like a paranoid drug addict, every sound seeming to be the one that would precede a strike team descending upon him, tackling him to the ground with too much force and putting an unnecessary knee in his back or on his head while they cuffed him.
Sera seemed concerned with none of this, and he had to stop her several times as she went off in the wrong direction.
Finally they were safe inside his apartment and Mason relaxed.
She stood in the living room slash kitchen, looking around. “Where is it?”
By now, Mason didn’t need to ask what. He got the bottle of powder and showed it to her.
She opened his fridge, frowned, then shut it. “Okay, take it.”
“Why’d you look in my fridge?”
“I was going to give you something to drink, but your selection is confusing.”
He filled a glass with water, dumped a scoop of the powder into his mouth, then took a swig. He opened his mouth and held his tongue out. “There. All better?”
She made the vaguest of gestures then sat at the counter.
He leaned against the other side, studying her.
“Anything good?” she asked, picking up one of his scripts.
Mason shook his head. “No. I haven’t read them yet. But no.” After a moment, he asked, “What was that about?”
“That.” He pointed at the script she’d sent him, which of course now he remembered not bringing to the coffee shop.
“I needed a way to contact you that you would pay attention to.”
“You couldn’t have called?”
“How did you find me?”
She looked at him. “I told you, your friend. I don’t recall her name.”
“Yeah, but how?”
She smiled. “Are you hitting on me?”
“No! What? You’re o—” Mason stopped himself.
“I’m what? Old?”
“No, just, you know.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t maul you.”
Mason frowned. “I’d like to get some sleep, and a shower.”
“Oh, so now you’re flirting.”
“Not like that! God, what’s wrong with you?”
“Testy, Mr Grey.”
“And stop with that name!”
“Is it not yours?”
“Ahh!” Mason screamed. He put a hand to his face. “I’m taking a shower and then lying down.”
“Lying down will work. I’ll need to be there.”
“Whatever.” Mason sighed. “Why am I helping you?”
“Because, you want to know. And that’s the strongest desire there is.”
Mason headed to the bathroom.
He made sure to lock the door when he got there.
Ten minutes later, his chest still stinging from soap getting into the stitches, he felt better.
He scowled at his reflection, wondering what kind of surgery they’d done to him.
He realized it could be something serious, that he needed medicine for. He’d have to get back to the hospital at some point and see what they had done. Or he could call them.
After getting dressed, he found Sera still sitting at the table, reading a script.
She looked up. “This is actually quite good.”
He leaned in and tilted his head to look at it. “Divenence?”
“Title’s weird. Story’s good.”
“What’s it about?”
She handed him the script. “Read it for yourself.”
“Later.” He set it down on the kitchen counter, away from the other scripts, so that he would remember later it was different. Because he could really use a good screenplay.
“Are you tired?”
He looked at her.
“I could drug you again.”
“And then what?”
She grinned. “Well, then—” She closed her eyes, gave her head a slight shake. “Then, Mason, you can meet with Martin.”
“To bring him back.”
“From beyond the grave.”
“And you believe this is possible?”
She looked him in the eye. “Because I have faith. Come on, show me to your bedroom.”
Mason eyed her suspiciously. Then he said, “This way.”
“Okay,” she told him once they were in his room, “lie down.”
“On my bed?”
“No, on the ceiling.”
Mason lay on his bed.
“I’m going to try hypnotizing you.”
He lifted his head to look at her. “What exactly are we doing here?”
“Getting you through that door.”
Mason put his head back down. “This is stupid.”
Sera watched Mason, and thought about what he would need to do. How he would be the first. How everyone thought it was impossible.
He had fallen asleep quickly after her hypnotism, likely because of how tired he already was, but after thirty minutes, he was still there. If he had been successful, he’d have taken his physical body with him. Or so Martin had said.
So she shook him. “Hey. Mason. Mason.”
Mason groaned. “I was so sleeping.” He opened one eye. The other was glued shut. His face felt swollen.
“Could you not open the door?”
“The door you were supposed to find.”
“There was no door. I didn’t even have time to dream.”
“It is not dreaming which you need to do Mr Grey.”
“Gah, stop with that name.” Mason managed to get both his eyes open at once.
She grabbed his arm. “Come on, sit up.” When he was up and looking at her, she went on, “Okay, we’re going to try meditation then.”
Mason opened his mouth, closed his eyes. Opened them. “Don’t tell me you woke me up, just to put me back to sleep.”
“There are many different types of sleep.”
“And I’m missing out on all of them.”
“You’re being childish.”
“I’m being tired.”
“I want you to close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Imagine each inhale as a green mist, and each exhale as red light, blowing against a door.”