transcript 5: shattered

 

LEADS 

I think I'm an idiot.

LEADS 

I've been doing these back to back 9 hour survailance shifts... 

LEADS 

My life for the last... Questionable amount of days involves:

LEADS 

Wake up, skip breakfast, head to the camera room, stare at cameras, do a few laps around the third floor, stare at MORE cameras... 

LEADS 

Check for notes from Gina, head down for dinner, sleep, wake up, rinse and repeat...

LEADS 

This routine is becoming SO compelling that I got all the way up here before realizing that it might be my day off.

At least it could be.

LEADS 

I was definitely here yesterday. And the day before that. 

LEADS 

It's all blurring together. I don't know if this is day 5 or 6. Or 7.

LEADS 

I've had at least 3 notable dreams... But I think two of those happened during the same night.

LEADS 

What happened during my last day off? Did I just sleep? Is that what's throwing me off?

LEADS 

You know what? The cameras can watch themselves for a day. I'm going to go sleep.

INT ELEVATOR DAY ALWAYS DAY 

LEADS 

Fly me to the moon, and I will walk among the stars. 

LEADS 

Something something something something worship, and adore. 

LEADS 

In other words, please be true! 

LEADS 

Dadata da dat da dat da!

LEADS 

In other wooooords, I love you!

The elevator shuts off. 

He pushes the button several times.

LEADS 

Uhhh

Jamming the button.

LEADS 

Hey come on. Come on don’t do this to me.

Punching the elevator. 

The power goes out.

LEADS 

This... Just, No, just no.


LEADS 

Heeeeelp! 

LEADS 

It's just you idiot, no one here just you... 

LEADS 

Ffff

LEADS 

Heeelp! 

Kicking the elevator, sobbing 

LEADS 

Damnit, Damnit open up!

LEADS 

Please open up... 

Sliding down against the wall, hyperventalating 

LEADS 

No no no no not now... Not now... not

Breathing deeply 

LEADS 

The vein on the leaf the leaf on the branch the branch on the tree the tree in the woods the woods on the hill 

Punching hard 

LEADS 

The vein on the leaf the branch the  tree the woods the fuck fuck FUCK

LEADS 

Breathe! Breathe... 

Metal, echo metal cold metal closed door

LEADS 

Dark dark red light dark buttons broken buttons bad buttons bad

Shiiit air stale air cold air oxygen breathe use up all the oxygen use up the SHIT

Punching again 

LEADS 

Sarah, Sarah there's a fucking (trails of unintellgibly) 

Que panic attack.


Poor Bastard. 


I had my first panic attack in my 8th grade math class. 

I had a very strange teacher. He was a little guy. Eccentric. Passionate. 

He wanted us to understand something deeper about math. 

He’d quiz us on its essoteric history. Its implications in our lives.

And of course math wasn’t my subject. 

I knew it was important and I knew if I really tried I could grasp it… 

But math explains things about how the universe works. And I knew that once I started delving into that I’d never be able to come back.

My teacher though? He wasn’t satisfied with my hesitance. He didn’t want to leave any doors unopened. 

To him knowledge was always worth the price. 

One day he brought in a 13 page packet containing a simplified mathmatical explanation of how see-saws work. 

He put it up on a projector. It was a 40 minute presentation.

My classmates groaned. 

But I couldn’t look away.

It was beautiful. And terrible. I didn’t want to see it.

My mind cracked by page 8. 

I was shaking. 

Tears were falling.

He noticed. And he kept going.

Page 9 and I was rocking back and forth.

Page 11 and I was gnawing at my knuckles. 

I don’t even know how the rest of the class reacted to me. I was sobbing. I was broken. Not exactly normal behavior. 

When he turned off the projector after page 13 it was like whiplash. It all hit me at once. I was unmade and remade in the moment.

He asked me if I was okay. I nodded.

How else was I suppose to react? I was a raw nerve touching aspects of reality that were previously hidden from me. I was seeing things that I’d always suspected were there but did my best to ignore.

Unseen, unheard. And the world keeps spinning. 


I was a wreck for the rest of the day. 

I saw numbers everywhere. Horrendous equations explaining things that I used to think were simple. The waving of a hand, the scratching of a nose. 

They flew out of everything. It was a fireworks show. I couldn’t hold down a basic conversation, the complexity of lip movements paralyzed me. 

Imagine you want to open up your lunch box. And you realize that a certain amount of force is going to have to be applied in order to undo the latch. 

And then you have the swing of the lid. How many pages of equations would you need to explain the swinging of a lid?

Only that’s the simple part. You have the heat being stored in the metal. You have the chemical make up of the plastic bag. And that’s not even accounting for the finger movement, the neurons, the rate of decay and all the while you’re seeing a filter of numbers and graphs and equations over what was once your comfortable reality.

I didn’t understand any of it. But I had a taste. I couldn’t close the door. 


I was kind of a weird kid. It was the 8th grade, we were all weird.

Nobody questioned my odd behavior too much. Some thought it was funny, mostly people ignored it. The rest of the day felt like an eternity. My memories aren’t quite right from that period. I do remember trying to fall asleep, looking out the window at the stars and taking in how much was out there. It wasn’t fun.


I stopped seeing everything in math after a few days. After a week it was like it never happened. What was so real before seemed like an over reaction after some space. That became a common theme. Have a bad mental episode. Take awhile to recover. Go back to… normal, look back, question the validity of the episode. 


A few weeks later my math teacher stopped me after class. 

He had a surprise for me.

He presented me with a much thicker packer on how seesaws actually worked. No simplication. Laminated in a professional binder. His gift to me.


I think he was proud.

I had cracked the door open. I had paid a small price. I was on my way to learn deeper secrets. 


I spent a lot of time looking through that binder over the years. I didn’t understand most of it, I still don’t. And that protected me. I was shielded. If things are complicated enough you are in no danger of harming yourself by looking at them. 


The attacks only got worse from there. I didn’t have the vocabulary to express what was happening to me. 

They didn’t happen frequently enough for me to try to get help. They weren’t predictable, I never knew what would set them off and after recovering I would usually forget they were a thing… at least until the next one happened. 


I just thought it was teenage hormones. Teens go through a hard time, right? That’s just part of the metamorphisis. By the time I was an adult I knew something was off, but I was… not used to them. I had accepted them as a part of me. An inevitable. 


I would be living my life when

Out of nowhere.

Things would go sideways. 

Sometimes I would catch it in time. A voice in the back of my head would notice the paranoia building. The extreme reactions to mundane things. 

 Sometimes I’d be able to get somewhere safe enough to calm down.

But usually, by the time I realized something was wrong it was too late. 

And it would get ugly.

I’m talking overwhelming fear.

I’m talking laughing and sobbing so hard that all of the capalaries around my eyes would burst. I’d have red dots on my face for a week.

I’m talking blackouts. Missing time. 

Waking up, face plastered to the floor in a puddle of my own drool. 

Waking up somewhere different from where I started. 

Sometimes I would find my wall covered in furious scribbles. Strange imagery of mouths in the middle of foreheads, trees with eyes, shadowy fire. My mind trying to make sense of what was happening to it. 

It would shatter me. 

It would takes weeks to put the pieces back. 

My throat would tighten when I tried to talk to people. My pulse would race.

My blood would run chilly.

I wouldn’t sit in chairs, I would retreat into them, hugging my legs, my hands absentmindedly picking the edges of my shirt to tatters. 

It would be like I wasn’t even there. Like the attack cracked my head open and everything that was me leaked out. 

I would try to hide it. I would avoid people. 

I would tell them I was tired. That I had a lot on my mind. 

I would leave. 


It happened in public once. I don’t remember the lead up. I just remember waking up naked in a hospital gown. 

They wanted to admit me. It was my first year on the road, I didn’t have a stable address and they wanted to admit me. They acted like they wanted to help. But how are you helping when you charge me 2,000 dollars a day just to sleep there? 250 dollars a pill? 10 dollars for the cup holding that pill? Not to mention the Five Grand for the emergency room visit, the Two Grand for the Ambulance that got me there and that’s not even including time with their psychiatrists? Follow up? How are you trying to help me while writing me a Debt Sentence so severe I’ll never be able to climb out? 

You what, you want to help my anxiety? Did you factor in the anxiety of an American Hospital bill? Did you factor in how much a lifetime of treatment would cost me? 

I had to lie through my teeth to get out of there. 

No I’m not a danger to myself.

No I’m not a danger to other.

I’m just tired.

It’s not a big deal.

I had a bad day. It was a breakup. Everyone has break ups.

It’s fine Doctor. No Doctor. Where is my backpack Doctor?

As soon as I got my keys I snuck out of there, drove away and never came back.

One break down in the wrong place at the wrong time cost me all the money I had made over the last 6 months. 


It’s the main source of dread in my life. The attacks.  I hate it. 

That wolf is always at the door. 

Things might seem fine. Life might be fine. But there’s always the knowledge that at some point in the future, could be next week, could be six months, things will build and build, the slope will get slippery and before I know it I’ll be tumbling right off the cliff again. It’s been one of the few constants in my life. 


Listen to him. You think that’s a reaction to being stuck in an elevator? No one to hear his screams, no one to get him out? 

That was just the catalyst. 

Isolation? The dark? Being trapped? That is nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to what’s happening in his mind right now. 

I’ve had that happen to me on a sunny day in a meadow. I’ve had that happen to me in the safety of my own home. 

He can’t even see right now. He’s like a babe in the womb. All he knows is red and lightning storms and the suffocating confinement of his own skin.


Can you imagine it? Carrying that around with you wherever you go? It doesn’t take a research station in the middle of the ice. Sometimes an odd look from a stranger is enough to push you over the edge. Sometimes its a harmless episode of your favorite TV show. Or an old note from a loved one. When the mind decides to unleash every concept you have of terror on you? The real world can’t touch that.


The elevator door opens. 


Though Station Blue certainly tries. 


Come on Leads. Wake up. You wanted that door to open didn’t you? Well it opened. Straight to the second floor. 


That’s right. 


There’s a little gap to the first floor. It’s just big enough.


There you go. 


Now run.


Run.


RUN.