When Parker woke up he felt an intense pounding behind his eyes. Everything was so bright. He took a moment to try and remember what had happened, but he couldn’t figure it out. He remembered being in the psychologist’s office with Alora, and then everything was blank. It made his head pound harder when he tried to figure it out, but still, there was nothing.
He looked around him and felt a twinge of panic. He was in a small room decorated with white walls and a white door with a small window on it; the door looked like it could withstand a nuclear blast. There was one large window with bars over it behind him, and from atop his bed he could see a courtyard outside; he figured he must’ve been on the second or third floor of the building. The bed was metal without a headboard, and the mattress was covered in white sheets. He saw his pants and looked down at his shirt, which were both light blue—they looked like hospital scrubs.
A scream grew in his chest, up his throat, and escaped from his lips. He stood up and ran to the door, which was locked. He looked out the window and could see people walking around the hallways. He screamed for help, not thinking about the fact that everyone who was walking around was dressed the same as him, some walking in a near-daze.
“Help me!” he continued screaming, over and over again, slamming his fists against the door.
A woman ran up to the door and looked at him through the window, and then ran off. He tried to call her back but she was gone. He stumbled backwards and fell onto his bed, sobbing. He didn’t know what was going on; he couldn’t remember what happened, or how he had gotten there, or where he was.
A few minutes later he heard the door unlock and he slid himself back onto the corner of the bed, away from the entryway. A man walked in dressed in a suit with a white lab coat on; he carried a clipboard with him.
“Parker, you’re awake,” the man—obviously a doctor—noted, walking into the room. A man dressed in white was standing behind him holding the door, and the doctor nodded to him; the man closed the door.
“Doctor,” he began, frantically, “Where am I? What’s going on? How did I get here?”
“Relax,” the doctor suggested.
“Relax?” he exclaimed. “You want me to relax? I just woke up in a locked room in what is obviously a hospital, and I have no idea what happened or how I got here! And you want me to relax?!”
“I know this is confusing, but if you’ll just take a moment and breathe I’ll explain everything.”
Parker held out his hands in a sign of surrender, and then eased himself to the edge of the bed. He closed his eyes and breathed a deep sigh and put his head down. After a moment, he began,
“Okay, I’m calm.” He forced himself to speak slower, calmer. “Please, doctor, tell me what is going on. How did I get here? And where is Alora?”
“You were brought in two days ago,” the doctor explained.
“Two days?!” he repeated, then stopped and visibly forced himself to calm down once more. “I’ve been here for two days?”
“Yes,” the doctor affirmed. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I was at the psychologist’s office with my girlfriend, Alora,” he recalled. “We had gone because I had been behaving strangely and wanted to avoid” he looked around “this. The doctor was explaining something to do me about make-believe worlds or something. And then I woke up here; that’s all I remember.”
“Your doctor will be here shortly—he’s already been paged—but until then all I can really tell you is that you fainted. Apparently, you had some sort of episode, stormed out of the office, and passed out on the sidewalk. After you were brought in, you woke up rather violently and we were forced to sedate you. You’ve been asleep—on and off—for the last two days.”
Parker looked around, searching his memory for any sign of this, but it was blank. “Where is Alora?” Parker demanded once more.
“I’m afraid that you’re going to have to wait for your doctor to get here; he’ll be able to explain everything. In the meantime, maybe you should rest.”
“I’m not allowed to leave?” he questioned, the panic returning.
“There’s a 24-hour confinement to your room at the moment—for your safety and for the safety of the other patients—and after that you’ll be free to leave your room, providing you’re able to remain calm.”
“24 hours?” Parker exclaimed. He took a deep breath—apparently being agitated was not the way to get answers around here—and looked at the doctor again. “Okay, when is my doctor supposed to be here? And where is my girlfriend?”
“He should be here within the hour,” the doctor replied, standing up. “For now, you relax and try to get some rest.”
“What a minute,” he called out. “Why are you avoiding me? Where is my girlfriend? Where’s Alora.”
“Your doctor will be able to answer all of your questions,” the man repeated, and then closed the door behind him.
Parker stood and ran towards the door, barely making it after it closed. “Where is she?” he cried out. “Where is Alora?”
He knew that something was wrong—the doctor was very pointedly avoiding any questions about Alora—and it made him frantic. He banged on the door, first with his hands, and then his fists, and then his feet. When it became clear that the doctor wasn’t returning he felt tears begin to well in his eyes. He stumbled back onto his bed and sat there for a moment, the tears falling to the floor. He felt claustrophobic; his very chest felt like it was compressing inward.
Parker stood up and looked out the barred window, wishing he could feel the breeze. The courtyard was completely enclosed; the building was a giant square. He could see people walking around out there, though they were too small for him to make out. He was right; he was on the third floor. There were benches all around, and a small area for basketball—not necessarily a court, though it had a basketball hoop—and there were trees dotting the region. He couldn’t wait to get out of there already; he knew that Alora would come and sign him out or whatever was necessary.
He heard a commotion outside of his door and his heart leapt. It’s Alora here to get me out, he thought, running to the door and looking out the small window. There was a man being held on the floor by two other men in white uniforms—the man on the floor was dressed in the same outfit as Parker—and they were sticking a needle into his arm. He was screaming, thrashing about, and when he saw Parker looking at him he cried out,
“Don’t let them take you! Don’t give in!”
He stepped away from the window, horrified. The screaming died down momentarily, and he could see the men lifting the unconscious patient and taking him away. Parker’s mind started racing, and most of his thoughts seemed paranoid even to him. He tried to calm himself, but the more he tried the more he could envision the eyes of that man, the terrified expression, the utter fear in his voice. “Don’t let them take you,” Parker recalled him saying, the mantra repeating over and over in his mind. Take me where? he thought.
Just then he heard the door being unlocked and a woman walked in. “Please come with me,” she instructed. He assumed she was a nurse or an orderly, as she was stressed in the same white outfit as the men outside had been, so he followed her.
She led him down the hallway; there were rooms as closely as they could squeeze them together, and most of the doors were open. He walked by one and saw a girl sitting on the bed pulling out strands of her hair one at a time, and another where a man sat in a chair facing the hallway with a completely blank expression on his face, drool coming out of the corner of his mouth. He passed a door that was closed, and as soon as he could see through it a man’s face appeared, screaming incoherently and clawing at the glass. As they passed another open door he saw a woman—barely more than a girl—leaning against the doorframe watching him. He smiled hesitantly and she winked and blew him a kiss.
Immediately after turning away from the woman another one ran up to him and grabbed his arm, pulling it low so she could reach his ear. “Get me out of here!” she implored in a hiss.
An orderly came up behind her and pulled her away. “Sorry, Jill,” the man offered as he pull her backwards.
“That’s alright, Frank,” the woman leading him replied. She then turned her attention back to Parker. “Are you okay, sweetie?”
“Yeah, thanks,” he responded. But he wasn’t okay; he was now more terrified than ever, and he couldn’t wait to get out. “Where are we going?”
“To see your doctor; he just arrived,” she answered politely, smiling behind her. She seemed nice, but he could tell that it was just pleasantries. He didn’t care; he didn’t plan on staying long anyway.
She led him to an office with large windows, and poked her head into a large doorway.
“He’s here, Doctor,” she said.
“Great!” the familiar doctor’s voice uttered from within. “Send him on in.”
She held the door open for Parker to enter, and he obliged. “Thank you,” he offered as she closed it behind him.
“Parker,” the doctor addressed him. “Please, come in and have a seat.”
The office was about the same size as the one he had first met the man in. It had a metal desk with papers in neat piles all over it and a lamp on one corner. The doctor was leaning back in a metal wheeled chair that looked more uncomfortable than it probably was. Parker walked up to the other chair and sat down.
“Doctor,” he began anxiously, “I’m so glad to see you. They won’t tell me what happened, and they won’t even talk to me about Alora.”
“It says here,” the doctor commented, looking inside of a folder, “That you remember being at my office, and then nothing until you woke up here. Is that correct?” Parker nodded. “Are you sure that you don’t remember anything else?”
“Yes, doctor,” he replied, slightly annoyed. “What happened?”
“Parker, do you remember what we were talking about right before you blacked out?” he questioned, taking off his glasses.
“Something about paracosms or something like that, right?”
“Yes,” he confirmed. “I believe that this paracosm is a result—or perhaps a cause, we don’t know yet—of a condition that you have called Dissociative Identity Disorder.”
“I know that phrase,” Parker mused, searching his mind for an answer. Then it hit him and he exclaimed, “Multiple Personality Disorder! Wait…you’re telling me that I have Multiple Personality Disorder?”
“Yes and no,” he offered vaguely. “You see, what I’ve been able to observe is not exactly D.I.D., but rather something akin to it. As of right now, we have you charted as having N.O.S., or, Not Otherwise Specified. What that means is that you have many of the features of D.I.D., but there are deviations that aren’t present in what we have observed before.”
“And what about the blackouts?” Parker questioned. “Where do those fit it?”
“This latest episode, when you blacked out,” he explained, “You manifested one of these alternate personalities. You didn’t recognize me at all, and became very agitated. You began shouting and left my office, fainting outside of the door on the sidewalk.” Parker was dumbfounded, unable to speak. “I believe that your paracosm—or, rather, the objects within your paracosm—have been growing stronger. And I believe what you have been experiencing—the blackouts, the dreams, this latest episode—are a lapse in those two realities.”
“‘Two realities’,” Parker repeated softly, still trying to process what the doctor had told him.
“Yes, two realities,” the doctor reaffirmed, “This reality and the reality of your paracosm.”
“So you’re saying that what I’ve been dreaming is real?” he shot back.
“To an extent, yes,” the man replied. Parker was beginning to really hate how vague this guy was. “It’s real to you. Like I said in my office, if we consider that everyone sees the world differently—a racist seeing people differently than a non-racist, or an abuse victim seeing the world as differently as a non-abuse victim—then we can say that everyone’s reality is different; the term “reality” must be used in the plural as opposed to the singular. Which means that yes, your paracosm is very real.”
“But it’s not real to the extent of the reality that we must all share,” Parker finished his thought. “And that’s the issue.”
“Precisely,” the doctor confirmed.
“So Henry and Monica are...part of me?” he let out curiously, though still not fully believing the story.
“Now, that’s what we ultimately want to figure out,” he noted. “As I mentioned, your case is very different from the classic Dissociative Identity Disorder insofar as, up until recently, none of the alters have shown themselves. In fact, we’re only really sure of one incident, and even that didn’t present like the average case.”
Parker sighed deeply. “Okay, let’s say that I do believe you, doctor—and I’m not saying I do—what I want to know is how do I get out of here, and how do I make these blackouts or this paracosm or whatever you want to call it stop.”
“For right now,” the doctor began, putting his glasses back on and looking at the file once more, “We’re going to be starting you on a regular regiment of therapies—group and individual—and we will also be giving you a mild sedative to help you relax or sleep, if you or the staff feels you need it.”
Parker looked the doctor in the eyes, feeling his frustration grow. “How long will I be here, Doctor?” he asked slowly.
“For now, it’s an indefinite hold,” he stated, putting down the file, “Until we can determine whether you are far enough along in your therapy to have a firm grasp on your condition. At that point, hopefully you will be able to continue forward in out-patient therapy, though I would still strongly suggest signing yourself in voluntarily.”
“What?” he exclaimed. “You can’t do that!”
“I’m afraid we can,” the doctor corrected, “And, in this case, I’m afraid it’s necessary.”
“Where’s Alora?” Parker demanded. “No vague answers or avoiding my questions; where is my girlfriend?”
“Parker,” the doctor sighed. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you don’t have a girlfriend.”
“What do you mean?” he shouted. “She came into your office with me! What kind of game are you playing, doctor?!”
“Son, you came into my office alone,” he explained softly, as if speaking to a child. “There’s no one named Alora, and in all of our sessions you’ve never mentioned any girlfriend; in fact, you’ve claimed the exact opposite.”
“‘…All of our sessions’?” he repeated. “We’ve only met twice!”
“Parker,” the doctor began with a slightly confused expression on his face, “We’ve been seeing each other twice a week for months.”
“No,” he denied softly, standing up abruptly while trying to search his memory. “This isn’t possible. You’re lying to me.” Parker tried to remember, but his agitation was making it difficult; he tried to calm himself but his panic was growing uncontrollably.
“No, son,” he corrected. “You’ve been seeing me ever since the first time you were admitted here, months ago.”
“I don’t believe you,” Parker shouted. “You’re lying; stop lying!” He turned and ran towards the office door.
“Nurse!” the doctor shouted behind him. “Nurse, please sedate him and bring him to his room.”
Two men grabbed him by his arms; Parker thrashed back and forth, unable to wrench himself free from their grips. A woman approached them with a needle and Parker managed to jump up—using the orderlies’ hold on him as leverage—and kick the needle out of her hands before she could even get the cap off. They lowered him to the ground on his stomach and the image of that man he’d seen outside of his door flashed in his mind. “Don’t let them take you” he’d shouted. Take me where? he thought to himself once again; this time he was the one with the knee in his back and the sharp needle going in his arm.
“Take him to his room,” he heard the doctor say behind him.
They lifted him completely off the ground, and as much as he fought he found that he didn’t have much leverage with his feet off the floor. They deposited him in his room, laying him on his bed.
“Please don’t make them restrain you, as well,” the doctor cautioned as the orderlies backed out of the room. “You’ll be fine; in a few minutes you’ll be asleep, and it will all be better when you wake up.”