Something is not right. It is subtle at first but noticeable. And it grows. It grows steadily until he can no more ignore it. One day he can actually feel it growing. That day he can say : ‘There! We have crossed a threshold. We have gone from “something is not right” to “something’s wrong.” ’
But what is it? And how? How does it feel, really?
Well – and this is a very approximate way of describing it, you understand? – it feels as if his life is not his anymore. As if, at some point in the past, he has taken a wrong turn, or maybe more exactly a side-step, and his life had carried on, hurtling past him, without him.
His health is not too good, for a start. He’s eating too much, gaining weight. His friends, his family have even started to talk, to remark upon it. This, it scares him. In normal times, they’d know him too well to even think of making such comments. They wouldn’t dare!
But still, they do; tentatively at first, but soon they become more intrusive. ‘You don’t look too good, Mark’, they’d say. ‘You’ve lost weight, haven’t you? A lot of weight. Are you sure you are eating properly?’
What? Are you mad? It’s the other way round, you fools! That doesn’t silence them, though. He can still hear them taking about bulimia and other eating disorders. Or maybe they don’t and he can’t. Maybe he can only hear them in his mind. This scares him too, and he prefers not to dwell on it.
There are so many things he doesn’t want to look at that his life is becoming a little hazy.
Nevertheless, he cannot entirely shake the feeling that they are right after all and that something is deeply wrong with him beneath the weight gain, and the fact that he cannot really move efficiently nowadays.
Because for a start there are many of them and he is all alone (even if some of them do appear to live inside his brain). Occam’s razor suggests that they are more likely to be right than he is.
In spite of this, he will for a while try to play around with the inverse notion: universal conspiracy. But he is rapidly bored by it; his is not a mind inclined to paranoia. So it is in him then that the problem resides.
He seems to remember a condition, a mental affliction. When the sufferer builds a completely false vision of themselves and their own body. What is it called? He cannot remember. It is sometimes an underlying reason of anorexia…
Sometimes also you grow mistaken about the people around you. They have become strangers, aliens who somehow have taken the appearance of your friends.
But no! This cannot be the problem for, now that his health is really failing, the situation is taking a turn for the worse. Or maybe, now that he is continuously surrounded by people, he has more discrepancies to notice. Whatever the reason, his experiences and those of those around him really, massively differ. (What are they talking about? He wasn’t watching the TV! He doesn’t watch much TV as a rule. He was reading a book!)
He is really scared now, for these discrepancies are not confined to the realm of memory any more. In fact it is terrifying. There doesn’t seem to be any agreement between what he does and what they tell him he is doing.
The only thing they all agree on is that his health is getting worse. He cannot easily see the machines monitoring him; they are placed behind him, at the head of his bed, and in any case he lacks the training to understand what they are saying. But he can read the faces of the people around him. It is bad. He really is on the brink.
Eventually, he dies.
Or at least they say that he died, the few time they speak around him.
But he cannot be dead! Look! He moves! Listen! He speaks! But all to no avail, and now some of them argue about the improbable – and frankly disgusting – things they are doing to his body, his corpse as they say. The words ‘scalpel’, ‘incision’, ‘bone saw’ are bandied around. It is very disturbing.
But he doesn’t feel anything.