A PRIMITIVE MIND
As the door opened, Peter Armstrong looked up from the bed he was lying on. A bespectacled woman came in. She smiled at him and adjusted her glasses, as if she needed to focus properly on him. She was holding a folder and a small white parcel. Once inside the room, she closed the door before turning to him.
“I almost thought you’d be gone forever,” Peter said with a sigh. “You took so long to return, Doctor Sylvia.”
“I apologize, Mr. Armstrong. I had to personally check with the lab to make sure that your samples were diagnosed quickly. I was worried that the lab would not understand how urgently we needed your test results.”
“Maybe, they thought I’d come back another day for another appointment.” Peter paused as if waiting to see if the doctor would say anything. But she didn’t, at least not yet. So he went on talking. “So, what did you find out?”
Doctor Sylvia opened the folder. “From what I can see here, you are perfectly alright, Mr. Armstrong.”
Peter sat up and swung his feet over the edge of the bed. “I’m fine? Are you sure?”
“Absolutely, all the tests confirm that everything is alright – with your body, that is.”
Peter frowned. “With my body?”
“Yes, your body, but not your head.”
“What’s wrong with my head?”
“Not really your head, but your brain, Mr. Armstrong.”
“Yes, your brain. The brain scans seem to reveal the reason why you have been having these nasty headaches and migraines. Your brain is under tremendous pressure due to a buildup of ruptured brain cells and neurons.”
“Ruptured? But how come? How did it happen?”
“That is where you might be of assistance, Mr. Armstrong. It is obvious that you are under a lot of mental pressure. Is there anything bothering you? Are you troubled or having any difficulties with anything at all? Now would be a good time to tell me, so that we can determine how best to tackle this. Your brain cannot continue to take this amount of onslaught.”
Peter frowned and rubbed his chin. “Well, I just have my usual work keeping me busy. Is that really pressure?”
“Your work? You mean your writing?”
“Yes – as you know, I’m a writer and that is what I do for a living.”
“Yes, I do know that. But how is everything with your writing? Are you having any problems with it?”
Peter sighed. “Well, maybe. Or not really. I know that my agent has been on my back for the past several weeks now.”
“Is that so? Why?”
“I’ve already missed three deadlines for submitting the first draft of my next novel. I know I can do it, but I just keep getting all these crazy ideas – several at the same time and I really don’t know which one to focus on.”
“You cannot focus on anything while your brain is under such tremendous pressure,” Doctor Sylvia pointed out. “You need to relax and take things easy. Then you’ll be able to focus better.”
“Relax and take things easy? That’s impossible! I have to come up with something unique, and I have to do it right now!”
“You must take it easy, Mr. Armstrong. Why not simply call your agent and let him know what you are going through? I’m sure he would understand and give you more time to recuperate.”
Peter slammed his fist into his other hand. “No, I can’t! I can’t relax, I have to write something unique, and I have to do it quickly.”
Doctor Sylvia placed her hand on his shoulder. “Please try to calm down, Mr. Armstrong. You are only jeopardizing your current condition all the more.”
“Stop telling me to calm down. I can’t calm down, Doctor! I must write something unique for my agent.”
“Mr. Armstrong, when you came in earlier complaining about your headaches, I thought it was something that standard painkillers could solve. But after these tests results came through, I discovered that you are in perfect shape, except for the mental stress you are going through. The fact is that whether you admit it or not, you are under tremendous mental stress. And the sooner you get a hold of it, the better.”
“Fine. What do you suggest, Doctor?”
She smiled and handed him the small parcel. “These are some pills that would help relieve you of the mental stress you have been going through.”
Peter opened the parcel, pulled out a small plastic container and emptied its contents into his hand. Several blue pills fell into his palm. “Stress relief pills?”
“I see. How do I take them?”
“You take them right away, Mr. Armstrong. Two to start with, then another two every six hours.”
Peter nodded. He took two of them and threw them into his mouth. “I hope these pills would work.”
“Of course they will,” Doctor Sylvia replied, handing him a glass of water from the side table. “But you also have to let them work by trying to relax as well.”
“I will do my best to relax. I just hope…I just hope…”
She gazed at him steadily. “Mr. Armstrong, are you alright?”
Peter shook his head, “I don’t know. I feel… I feel… dizzy, somehow…”
She came close to him and felt his pulse. He saw her unhook the stethoscope around her neck. As she brought it close to his chest, Peter felt the room begin to spin. He saw himself falling into what seemed to be a deep hole. Then all the lights went out.
After Peter collapsed onto the bed and began to snore, Doctor Sylvia nodded to herself. She picked up his feet, which were hanging loosely off the side, and placed them properly on the bed. She then tucked him under a blanket and arranged his pillows for him so that he would be comfortable.
Once she was through, Doctor Sylvia calmly opened the file and made some notes with a pen from her pocket. After a while, she closed the file and took a long look at Peter before she walked out of the room.
A couple of minutes later, Peter blinked and opened his eyes. Immediately, a bright beam of light hit his eyes and he squinted, but that was not enough to stop the glaring light. He had to shield his eyes with his hands as he stared ahead, trying to make out where he was.
Then the glare reduced its intensity. As it did, Peter discovered that the source of the light was coming from a distant object. On closer examination, he discovered that it was a strange round object.
Could it be a light bulb, or a flashlight? he wondered.
He spotted another bright glare to his left. Then another turned on to his right, and then another, and another. Soon, there were several bright lights flashing all around him. It was difficult to block them all by just shielding his eyes with his hands.
Peter closed his eyes. It was as if the lights wanted him to do just that, because as soon as he had shut his eyes, all the lights stopped flashing.
He sensed this and opened his eyes carefully. What greeted Peter now was darkness all around. Surprised and amazed, he sat up and looked around. It did not seem real to him. One moment he had been on the bed in Doctor Sylvia’s office, and the next he was somewhere different, somewhere strange. Gone were the familiar furniture and fittings of a doctor’s office in a general hospital. Now he was completely surrounded by a deep darkness that reminded him of the emptiness of space.
As he gazed around, trying to fathom what was going on and where he was, Peter stretched out his hands, as if trying to feel his way through the darkness, perhaps hoping he might feel something familiar, something physical, something to hold onto.
But he could feel nothing. Everything was gone. He could not feel anything around him, not even a bed beneath him, or the side table with his glass of water. The furniture around the room, the walls and the door, none of those were there anymore.
Baffled, Peter bent over to feel the floor underneath, the one he should have been standing on. He thought that he could crawl on all fours to somewhere familiar, like the doorway. But as he reached down, he was shocked to discover that there was no floor.
No floor, he gasped.
Then how… how was it… how was it possible…
Peter spun around. His hands searched frantically, hoping to grasp something, anything.
But no matter how far he reached, or how high or how low he searched, he could not feel anything.
Slowly, several realizations began to dawn on him: he was not standing on any solid surface; he was not inside Dr. Sylvia’s office; and he was not in the hospital.
He was somewhere else entirely.
Peter glanced around and tried to think clearly. He felt that there must be a logical explanation for where he was, what he was doing there, and how he got there in the first place. But his mind failed him. He could not think of any reason.
Then he remembered the lights that he had seen earlier, the ones that had been blinking and glaring at him. He searched through the darkness, then discovered them again, but they were not close anymore. They had moved far away, blinking at him intermittently, but not with the same intensity he had previously experienced.
Peter frowned. There was something oddly familiar about the lights blinking at him in the distance. It was almost as if he could recall seeing them somewhere.
Then it hit him: they were stars.
He gasped as he studied them closer and as he did so, he could feel his body begin to move. It was as if a strange but invisible force was pulling him away from where he had been. He was floating and steadily moving upwards.
Now he could see more of the stars all around him. Even though they were shining from far distances, their twinkling was unmistakable and easily recognizable.
They are definitely stars.
The realization was so profound and almost overwhelming for him to process. There was no doubt that he was in space, floating amongst the stars.
An idea occurred to him at that moment: what if he could create something in the emptiness of space? What if he could create something durable and solid?
Even though it felt odd and strange, Peter found himself closing his eyes and waving his hands. In his mind, he focused on the idea of huge, solid rock formations and landscapes filled with lush vegetation, oceans and sandy beaches. He could see the trees swaying in the wind and the blue skies. He could see familiar images of Earth, places he had visited in person or seen in pictures several times before.
Peter’s imagination was vivid. It was almost as if he could touch and feel everything that he could see in his mind.
He took a deep breath and opened his eyes.
He did not know whether to be shocked or excited at the image that had appeared before him. Only a short while ago, he had been in space, surrounded by darkness with only the distant stars shining at him as companions. Now, there were several planetary bodies circling around him.
Upon closer examination, Peter discovered that the planets were all identical. They were spherical, huge, and beautiful. Their landscapes, vegetation, and skies all reminded him of Planet Earth. At a mere thought, Peter found himself floating through the planets, admiring the beauty of their scenery and environment.
He flew past waterfalls, over rivers and oceans, over mountains and undulating hills, then over wide expanses of rich lands.
Peter flew to the other planets, admiring the beauty that was all around him.
But something was missing, he thought. There were no people.
With a finger on his chin, Peter chastised himself for the gross oversight. How could one have a system of planets that were uninhabited?
He shook his head. No, it didn’t make any sense to have all this beauty around and not have people in it. He had to create some beings to inhabit and reside in the planets he had just created.
But Peter was not going to create just any sort of beings. He wanted them to be human in nature, but also have superhuman abilities and features. He did not want them to have any weaknesses. He was thinking of a race of super beings that would reside in this new system of planets.
Peter closed his eyes and thought of their physique and appearance. He imagined their skin to be green, so they could blend in with the lush vegetation of the planets. He imagined them having enlarged heads, the size of watermelons – with only a single eye each. They did not have human noses, but rather, they each had two slits underneath their eye. One served as a nostril, while the other served as a mouth. They did not have any ears either. Rather, on each side of their heads were single slits. Their heads were smooth, with no protruding appendages for their nose, lips, or ears.
Their limbs were long and delicate. Red scales and streaks could be seen running all over their green skin, reminding Peter of a network of rivers flowing through a marshland and emptying into the sea. Their limbs ended in hands that had no fingers. Rather, each of their hands curved outwards in the shape of a claw, resembling that of a crab.
They each had a slim abdomen. Their legs were long and ended in feet that were shaped like horses’ hooves, split into two toes. This made sense to Peter because he did not want the beings to be restricted when moving around. With their hoof-like feet, they could race through their environment freely, like sturdy stallions galloping.
As soon as the first planet was populated by these mysterious beings, Peter observed that they immediately became active. They quickly set to work – excavating, digging, and building homes to live in. It must have taken these beings several days to completely dominate their surroundings and beautify their planet, but to Peter it seemed like mere seconds because of how efficiently they went about the entire process.
Peter then imagined the same beings inhabiting other planets. As soon as each of the other planets was populated, the beings took over their new environment just as quickly.
Peter was pleased with what was happening in the system he had created. He marveled at how advanced the beings were, and how they went about their daily individual and collective activities in such an organized manner.
Indeed, Peter was excited. He could already see the potential of telling this experience as an in-depth and fast-moving story, one that would serve as a worthy draft for his next novel.
But that was only if he could get back to his own time and place.
When he realized that, he suddenly felt like his head was spinning. The planets and their peculiar beings seemed to whirl around him, like they had been caught in a tornado. The spinning was so intense that Peter became dizzy and weak. He tried to steady himself, but he was helpless. Nothing he could do or think of could stop the spinning.
And then he knew no more.
When Peter came around, he found himself lying down on the same bed he had been lying on earlier. He sat up slowly and found that he was still in Doctor Sylvia’s office.
Just then, the door opened and she walked in. There were three other women with her, each wearing the same white uniform that she wore.
Peter could feel his heart racing with excitement and anticipation as he smiled at her. “You don’t know how glad I am to see you again, Doctor!”
Doctor Sylvia gazed at him with a bemused expression on her face. “Really? And why is that?”
“Because I feel so much better,” Peter gushed. “I don’t know what it is, but I feel wonderful already.”
Doctor Sylvia nodded at her three colleagues. “He is showing some improvement this time.”
Peter frowned. “No, I am perfectly okay now, Doctor. I don’t know what exactly happened to me, but I feel wonderful again.”
“Maybe it was the pills I gave you,” Doctor Sylvia suggested. “They must have started to heal and restore your damaged brain cells.”
“Yes, and I can tell because I have the perfect plot for my next novel,” Peter grinned.
Peter nodded hastily. “Yes, the best plot ever. Honestly, this story is going to blow my agent away.” He then told them all about the planets and the beings he had created.
“And you saw all this in your nightmare?” Doctor Sylvia asked when he had finished.
“Nightmare? No, it wasn’t a nightmare,” Peter corrected. “It was a day-dream or a vision of some sort. Anyway, the point is, I need to get to work right away. I need to leave now.”
Peter saw Doctor Sylvia nod her head. She then signaled to her colleagues and they all went to the corner to discuss amongst themselves. While they talked in low and soft tones, Peter could see that they would glance at him once in a while before they continued talking.
After a couple of minutes, Peter began to feel uneasy and restless. Doctor Sylvia and the others were still talking and glancing at him. He couldn’t understand what it was that they were deliberating and why it was taking so long. “Can I leave now doctor?”
That was when they stopped talking and came back to his bedside. It was Doctor Sylvia who addressed him. “You don’t think we were going to let you go now, do you, Mr. Armstrong?”
“I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t you let me go? I’m perfectly fine now.”
Doctor Sylvia shook her head. “No, you are not and that is why we are going to keep you and the others here with us.”
Peter was now getting alarmed. “I don’t understand. What do you mean? What others are you on about?”
“The other members of your human race, of course.”
“My human race? What are you talking about?”
“What do you think you’re doing here in the first place, Mr. Armstrong?”
Peter gazed around. “You mean in your office? Well, I came here earlier to complain to you about my headaches and the restlessness I’ve been experiencing.”
“Then what happened?”
“You asked me some questions, before counseling me and taking some of my samples for tests.”
“You gave me some pills to take,” Peter paused and looked at the others. “But what’s the meaning of this? Why are you asking me all this?”
“Because you don’t seem to understand why you are all here,” Doctor Sylvia replied.
Again, Peter glanced around the room. “We all? Who else are you referring to?”
“I have already explained, Mr. Armstrong. The other members of the human race.”
“What other members of the human race?”
Doctor Sylvia shook her head. “It seems that your mental state is even more unstable than I initially diagnosed. Let me help you fill in the gaps, as it is obvious that you do not seem to remember what’s happening.”
Peter frowned. “What’s happening? You are really confusing me.”
“We are members of an alien race that abducted you and several others of your kind. We have kept you here in our research laboratory so that we can study how your primitive minds work.
“Unlike the other abductees, you were chosen specifically because you are an author who has a creative mind. We are really fascinated with your primitive but creative mind and would love to study it more to understand how it works.
“Unfortunately, it appears that you are breaking down too fast and too soon. You cannot seem to withstand the rigors of our experiments on you.”
“What’s all this nonsense you’re talking about? I came here on my own! No alien race abducted me at any point.”
In response. Doctor Sylvia snapped her fingers. Peter was watching them all closely. It was like magic. One by one, they each began to morph, instantly transforming from the familiar shape of human beings wearing white coats, into strange-looking beings.
Peter wondered as he watched them undergo the transformation.
He immediately recognized their watermelon-shaped heads with single eye sockets, the green skin with red lines, and their long limbs with hoof-like feet.
Peter gasped. They were the same beings he had created.
Then it dawned on him. He hadn’t been having a dream or nightmare at all. All that he had experienced was simply a vision of what had been happening; what he was capable of achieving.
He smiled to himself. The beings that now stood in front of him were products of his own creation, he mused.
The beings had been silently regarding him, but now appeared to be confused when they saw him smiling. After glancing at one another, Doctor Sylvia spoke. “What’s so funny, Mr. Armstrong? What are you smiling at?”
With the smile still on his face, Peter turned to face them. “Nothing.”
They glanced at each other, but did not think anything more of it.
Peter continued to smile. Of course he found all this amusing. The beings standing with him at that moment had failed to realize something very important: the mind that had created everything that they could see had the ability to destroy it all as well.
Yes! He, Peter Armstrong, could destroy it all because he created it in the first place.
He just kept smiling.
Isn’t this amusing, he thought to himself.
I am an author and they really don’t know what I am capable of.