“Let me out! What are you punishing me for? I didn’t do anything! Let me out!”
While it was true that Joshua Peterson hadn’t done anything to warrant confinement, his friends and family called the Happy Place Home for the Weary Mind because they were worried about him. Joshua had been hearing voices, and worse than that, he’d been talking back to them.
Really, though, it wasn’t that bad. It was only one voice. Joshua’s mother told the doctor it was voices, but she didn’t know. She couldn’t see what was going on in her son’s mind. But even one voice would be enough to send Joshua away to a padded cell.
It’s because you’ve been talking to me, isn’t it?
“That can’t be it. I’ve been careful not to talk to you when there are people around.”
I’m sorry I got us into this. I’ll figure out a way to get us out.
Joshua clumsily slunk to the ground next to the door of his cell. He’d never imagined losing the use of his arms would put him so off balance. At least the straight jacket wasn’t itchy. He leaned against the soft wall, wishing the floor was as soft. He had a cot on the other side of the small room, but the it wasn’t padded like the wall.
Joshua felt a buzzing in his mind. He was working on something, but he didn’t know what. For as long as he could remember, there was another side to him, a side that was much more daring and much less afraid than he was. Sometimes it pushed him to take risks. It’s what drove him to ask Michelle Bines to prom. It told him how to place his bets when he went to Las Vegas. He didn’t always listen to it, and when he did, it didn’t always pay off, but he figured everybody had another personality that was totally different from their regular one. He was wrong.
The fluorescent lights in the ceiling buzzed more and more loudly. Joshua shielded his eyes from their harsh illumination. Whenever his friend went quiet, the world outside of him often assaulted his senses.
They’re about to turn off the lights.
“How do you know that?”
The lights suddenly went off, giving Joshua’s eyes a cool feeling of relief. Without the buzzing, he could think more clearly.
I saw them in the office. The tall guy told the short guy to turn off the lights so everybody could go to sleep.
“Really?” Joshua whispered so he wouldn’t be heard. “How did you see that from in here?”
I don’t know. I just went out through the door and floated around. Apparently, I can do that.
“That’s not normal. I thought you were confined to my head. Maybe you imagined what you saw and had a lucky guess.”
You think I was hallucinating? I think you have us confused. You’re the crazy one, not me.
“I’m pretty sure we’re the same person.”
No, we’re definitely not. I’ll show you.
There in the darkness, where the only light was what seeped in through the feeding flap at the bottom from the exit sign at the end of the hallway, something began to take shape. At first it was a yellow mist. Then it gradually solidified until Joshua could recognize it as a flat disc about thirteen inches in diameter. It floated there looking like a large yellow coin, not glowing, but somehow illuminated independently of any external light sources. With a popping sound, two dots and a line appeared on it like a rudimentary face. It smiled at him. Then stick arms and legs appeared where its shoulders and abdomen might be.
“See?” it asked loudly. Its voice sounded the way it sounded in his head, but this time it didn’t sound like it was just in his head. Joshua went quiet as he heard quick footsteps approaching the door.
“Lights out, Peterson!” the angry voice of the night guard yelled. “That means it’s time to stop talking to yourself and go to sleep!”
“I’ll put your lights out,” the smiley face replied. Its voice was like Joshua’s voice if he had inhaled helium.
“He can hear you!” Joshua yell-whispered. “Wait, how can he hear you?”
The lock clicked, and the door opened with a whoosh. An angry, six-foot-seven, bald caucasian man in his mid-twenties stood there brandishing a tranquilizer gun. “Both of you need to shut–what the hell is that thing?”
Joshua looked from the guard to the coin-shaped man and then back to the guard. They were both looking at each other.
“You can see him?” Joshua asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the guard replied, still looking at the thing. “Now go to sleep or . . . just go to sleep, ok?”
The guard lingered for a few seconds before leaving the room, slamming the door behind him, locking it, and then sprinting away.
“What are you?” Joshua asked quietly.
“That’s a strange question to ask yourself,” the face said, whispering this time. “I’m a projection of part of your mind. I figured instead of fighting for control over our body, I’d make one of my own.”
“So you’re a hallucination? A figment of my imagination?”
“Our imagination. We’re the same person, Josh. Everyone has different sides to their personality. We just seem to be more separate than others. I can hide my thoughts from you, and you can hide your thoughts from me. But I don’t want it to be like that any more. I want for us to be a team. I think that we might be capable of amazing things.”
Joshua walked to the uncomfortable cot and sat down on it. “I think Carl saw you. I know he heard you. What does that mean?”
“This,” the figment said, pointing to its projected form, “is a hallucination. I’m manipulating your mind to make you see it. If someone else saw it, then it means I manipulated his mind, too.”
“So we’re telepathic? And you were able to leave the room and look around, so that would be remote viewing.”
“Yeah. I’ve actually been all over. Here, I’ll show you.”
Suddenly, it was like a floodgate opened in Joshua’s mind. Memories of years of traveling all over the world poured into his conscious mind. But more than that, he recalled everything his other personality ever thought at every moment of his life. He had been amazingly patient, sitting back when he could have taken control, staying silent when he could have screamed at him. Maybe it was all those years of stifling himself that built up the energy necessary to harness abilities he had always regarded as supernatural. Or maybe he was born with the potential. Whatever the case, Joshua became intimately familiar with his other self, and it happened so quickly, if he hadn’t been sitting down, he would have fallen down.
“You’ve been everywhere,” Joshua said. “I’ve never even been outside the United States.”
“We’ll travel once we get out of here,” the figment said. “I wonder if there are any other mental tricks we can do.”
The figment floated over to the door and pushed on it. It flew off its hinges and hit the door on the other side of the hallway, breaking it down as well. It was like it had been hit by an explosion. Joshua’s eyes, as well as those of the figment, opened wide with surprise. Then an alarm went off.