The room was filled with the sounds of the secret life of machines. There were hums, whirs, bleeps, and a gentle whoosh-hiss, that rhythmically kept time; as ventilators are known to do. Thin bars of light slit into the room through the few gaps they could find in the tightly drawn curtain. Overall, this place had a dark and somber feel to it. The only source of light in the room came from the numerous screens that filled every place that was not already reserved by vital medical equipment.
In the midst of this machined room lay one of the foldable beds that can be seen advertised on breaks during the sacred “Wheel Time” at your grandmother’s house. Upon purchase this bed had been placed into a dentist chair position and the gears had long since rusted tight due to severe under use. They fulfilled their purpose in life, but once before being left in purgatory, while watching the bed be used constantly.
It has sat in the same place since it was first moved in, slowly sinking into the floor, since it was carefully set up for maximum efficacy by two very caring PSW’s. Once positioned perfectly, its place was never questioned. It just spent its days as a silent sentinel forever supporting its owner whom rarely moved off of it.
As was custom it’s owner was currently laying down in the bed awash in the glow of all of the screens that now made up the life of Brandon Owens There hasn’t always been so many screens, in fact, there was a time where there was only one, yet it was a time that Brandon could hardly remember.
There was a time when he had been normal, had been an active part of society, yet an unforeseen accident changed all of that one sunny afternoon. He remembered the incident clearly because he relived it every time he closed his eyes, even after all these years. The doctors had said that as he got used to his new condition the nightmares would stop, well he certainly proved them wrong. He was a “special” case as his doctors liked to say. He was one of the rare few that would always relive not only the pain but the horror of that day, again and again for the rest of his life.
At the beginning of his new life he used to drive himself mad with thoughts of what if. What if I had just stayed home that day? What if I hadn't tried to be the hero? What if? What if? What if? In those days he would often think that if anxiety were a person, it would be a frail old man with a cane, flinching at every noise, and only able to say “what if”, while looking at you with haunted pale blue eyes that look like they have seen it all.
In the beginning, Brandon spent a lot of time with that old man and his big black dog of depression. They were his closest and most reliable companions; most of his friends could not handle the fact that he was no longer the old Brandon and had left.
After a while, those who stayed and tried to be understanding were quickly shown to the door by Brandon; they were too much a reminder of what he had lost. His old life was gone and now he was left to deal with his new life. His new life would not be an easy one to deal with, that’s why in the end he decided to cut off all natural human contact; even that of his therapists and doctors.
His days were filled with silent suffering while machines kept his vital organs operating as naturally as possible. It was within this new artificial, cold, machined reality that he made himself his new home. It had been long years since he had lost the ability to speak. With everyone cut out of his life he had no use for spoken word and his abilities gradually faded.
The keyboard now spoke for him as his hands whirred across the keys so swiftly, he often imagined them as his thrumming vocal cords. The key clicks had become a language that he now spoke. Connecting his ever racing thoughts to the outside world; he may not have a physical presence yet his virtual presence was larger than life.
To be continued...