Randy White tossed and turned on his little cot. Sweat beaded out of his forehead and ran down his face onto his pillow. The frustrated man now lying on his back gripped his disheveled, soggy hair and he screamed silently at the dark ceiling looming over him. His head thumped in pain and his body felt vastly overheated. The exhausted man could not shake the image of his wife and kids out of his throbbing head. They were staring at him from within in his mind, like an old black and white photograph. The whole family appeared to be standing inside a black oval room with blank expressions etched on their faces. A feeling emanated at him, one of terror, of guilt and of shame.
Randy sat up and gripped his drenched head and then stared furiously at the horrid image three feet in front of him. “What the fuck is happening!” he screamed as he stared into their faces. Still they made no motion. He punched his legs and scratched the skin off his knees which sent waves of pain rolling up his body. As the pain climaxed, the image of his family disappeared, and all was dim.
Suddenly he was staring only into darkness and the pain in his head had vanished.
The drained man smiled. Peace at last he thought.
“Randy” came a whisper from his left.
The tortured man jolted back and snapped his head leftward. His eyes widened as stared upon his wife, Sharon.
“What the fuck is going on? Sharon? Is it really you?” He stuttered in fear.
“Yes, Randy. Are you having a nightmare again?”
“Am I?” Randy begged to know.
“You’re acting like it. You’ve been tossing and turning all night.”
Randy looked at her, then around the dimly lit room. He saw the vague outline of the TV at the far wall, his wife’s dresser, and all their things lying about. He was in his bedroom.
“I am dreaming” he said.
“Yep, another night, another nightmare. This has been every night since you got out of that drug trial. When the hell does it stop?” She scoffed.
“No, I’m in the drug trial, having a dream about you” Randy said shakily.
Sharon laughed. “Oh honey, this is getting more bizarre. You’ve been saying the same thing every night. I’m going to call Dr. Nelson in the morning. Obviously, the drug’s side effects are still affecting you.”
Randy sat there, perplexed, and uncertain. He reached over and touched his wife’s face and she smacked away his hand and glared at him with furrowed brows and a frown.
“I need to go see the kids” Randy said as he sat up.
“Do not wake them up” Sharon said sternly.
The confused and tired man leapt out of bed and noticed he was wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. He stumbled to the closet and grabbed his bathrobe from the hook. He put it on clumsily as he exited the bedroom and crept down the hall to his daughters’ bedroom. All the while he kept slapping his hands against his legs and asking himself if any of this was real. As he opened the door to his daughter’s bedroom he began to feel a great wave of joy.
When the door opened, Randy saw his two daughter’s beds next to one another against the far wall and he saw the My Little Pony nightlight casting a bright, big rainbow across the ceiling. His heart lifted when he heard the soft, rhythmic breathing of his two daughters, Jenna and Rachel. They both lay soundly asleep in their beds. Randy’s eyes teared up and his racing heart swelled with emotion.
He walked slowly and quietly toward Jenna’s bed, the closer of the two and glanced upon her angelic face partially covered by soft, blonde hair. He bent down to touch her and felt a slight quiver of dread jolt directly into his heart. As he reached his hand closer to her, she suddenly disappeared. Randy’s eyes widened. Her bed disappeared. Randy looked over to where his other daughter Rachel lay, she vanished too and then the entire room was gone.
No, no, no, no, no… screamed Randy’s mind. The panicked man turned quickly back toward the door he had entered, it too was gone. Sudden gloom trapped the man in a cocoon of angry and suffocating darkness.
“HELP!” He shouted.
No help came, and his mind drifted as if barreling through a tunnel where he saw flickering mental imagery of long needles, cold bright lights and white lab coats pelting against his semi-conscious mind. Loud words sounded off inside his mind and hammered his sense like the commands of a drill sergeant, “Sleep” “Stop” “Don’t move” “Surrender” and so forth, until finally, a headstone appeared before him on a vast landscape of endless grass and read the words
1970 - 2015:
Father, Husband, Guilty, Unworthy.
Dead to the Betterment of Mankind.
“HELP!” Randy Screamed inaudibly.
Over and over, and over again, the anguished man was shaken, thrown and punched in the gut with haunting images from his past. All of his dirtiest deeds and every cowardly moment he’d lived incessantly crashed into him unrelentingly and with a bitter hatred of the being that was Randy White.
Randy would scream help countless thousands of times. When Randy awoke the next morning his mind was mush, for he had lived inside that terrible nightmare for roughly 100 years and when he awoke he didn’t know who he was, where he was, what he was or that he even was inside the Nexus Research Laboratory. He shuffled out of bed like a zombie, following the commands prompted over the loudspeaker. The other people inside the lab with him were complete strangers and as morning moved on, Randy felt less and less like being alive, less and less like pretending to exist.
Randy was too tired, and who was this “Randy” anyway?