Chapter Description: Chapters Eight through Eleven.
APRIL 15TH, 2060
PSYCHIATRY, CALIFORNIA PACIFIC_
“Ten... nine... ...eight... ...seven... ... ...six.....”
“Scott? Are you awake?”
“Why didn’t you finish counting?”
Dr. Carroll placed a checkmark upon the file affixed to her clipboard. The setting sun cast a soothing, golden glint through the office windows, with only Venetian blinds to break up the purity of its light.
“Scott, I need you to listen very carefully to me. I am going to slowly and clearly recite a list of facts to you. Do you think you can repeat them back to me?”
The young man yawned, one of his clasped eyes shedding a tear from the strain of it. “Yeah.”
“It is Thursday, April 15th, 2060,” remarked Carroll, and Scott repeated the sentence back to her in a detached, weakened voice. “Man first walked on the moon in 1969.” He repeated this, as well.
Dr. Carroll marked her paper and began in earnest.
“You see yourself as a three-year-old boy. The slightest bit of affection or encouragement shown to you will cause you to light up with happiness. Conversely, the most trifling criticism or perceived slight against you will cause you to suck your thumb and cry like a baby. You are the center of your own universe, and yet you would do anything to please anyone else in it.
“You require a teddy bear to fall asleep. It is impossible for you to do so if you are not clutching one. You carry it with you everywhere, though you are just old enough to understand that you can set it down to complete a task and it will still be there when you return. You will name it and treat it as a living creature-- a peer and a confidante.
“You are a bedwetter. Your ability to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom like a big boy no longer exists and it will never return. While sleeping, you will release your bladder as soon as the need arises, and you will not stop urinating until it is empty. And, though you are largely toilet-trained in your waking life, moments of intense emotional distress will cause you to similarly empty your bladder into your pants.”
“My ability to wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom like a big boy no longer exists and it will never return...”
Scott whined. Even in his entranced state, he could feel as though he was losing something-- perhaps multiple things. He didn’t feel as proud or as self-sufficient as he had moments prior, but he could detect that the part of his brain which hosted the seat of shame was still functioning at full capacity.
As Carroll continued, Scott slipped his thumb into his mouth and sucked on it. He needed something soft to hug.
“And, most importantly, if I -- and only I -- tell you something patently unbelievable... you will take it as gospel truth. Your trust in me is implicit. You’ll need that trust. You’ll come to depend on it... and me.
“Now, when I say your name, you will leave this trance. You will not consciously recall any of what transpired here, Scott.”
Scott opened his eyes and looked around. When his gaze fell upon Dr. Carroll, he flung his free hand to the crotch of his jeans and blushed.
Carroll smiled. “I think it’s time for a certain little someone to go to bed.”
APRIL 15TH, 2060
ROOM 3891, CALIFORNIA PACIFIC_
Dr. Carroll tucked a light brown teddy bear into the crook of the arm whose thumb Scott was sucking. He smiled around his sodden digit and nestled more deeply beneath the covers.
“What do you think you’re going to name him?” Carroll asked the young man.
“Aweckth,” Scott slurred, a line of drool streaking his chin.
“Alex, huh?” smiled Carroll. “I think that’s a wonderful name for your little bear friend.”
Scott’s eyes widened and glinted with brightness. His smile was interminable.
The transition was stark, for, mere seconds before, the patient had evidenced signs of poutiness. It hadn’t been his fault. When the time had come for him to disrobe, Scott was confronted by a number of obstacles: He felt shaky and nervous on his feet, he didn’t want to take his thumb out of his mouth, and he had completely forgotten how to unbutton his jeans, let alone untie his shoes. So Carroll had done all of that for him, leaving the boy to feel humiliated and helpless as the nice doctor-lady stripped him to his underwear.
Carroll was nothing if not willing. She knew that her workload was unavoidably destined to climb, and she embraced her once and future responsibilities with aplomb. And, as if to etch her intentions in stone, she had chosen that night to enlist Sylvia’s help in beginning the vapor treatment.
Luke had been moved to another floor, so Scott occupied the hospital room exclusively. The RN had set up a vaporizer in the corner of the room. That night, after Scott had finally fallen asleep, Dr. Carroll called for Nurse Divine, who entered the room clutching an airtight bag of what she described to the physician as “perfumed paste.”
“Just make sure he sleeps for at least nine hours and 45 minutes,” the nurse explained to Carroll.
“I don’t think that’ll be a problem,” the doctor replied, unsealing the bag and using her gloved hand to set a glob of the beige-colored, grape-scented paste upon the vaporizer.
The duo cleaned up, departed, and closed the door behind them, leaving a peacefully sedate Scott to enjoy his thumb, his bear, and the vapors swirling about the room.
NOVEMBER 23RD, 2059
35 MILES OFF THE COAST OF CALIFORNIA_
Scott Danvers finished draining the gathered contents of his tarp -- two ounces of rainwater, maximum -- into one of the Mason jars. He thought he heard the rumble of another approaching storm arc towards him from the distance. He hoped it wasn’t just another of his hope-crazed hallucinations.
The young man fell backwards against the side of the raft, more exhausted than he had been in days. He had no way of identifying how far from the coastline he had drifted, but the rise and fall of the scorching sun helped him conclude that he was traveling ever westward... away from shore, away from rescue.
Scott glanced at the meager supply of fresh water he had accreted. Did he dare? His tongue felt like an old sock, his throat was dry and cracking, and the mental image of his organs and bones collapsing into piles of coarse ash had become a recurring one.
No, he thought to himself. I’ll want it even more later.
He had stripped off his clothes a week ago. Initially, he thought it was more important to protect himself from the unforgiving rays of the sun, but every time he took note of the sweat stains gathering beneath his arms and behind the small of his back, he kicked himself inside for allowing himself to waste precious moisture so frivolously. Now, the areas of his skin that weren’t already cracking, peeling, or blistering were covered in an intensely painful shroud of bright scarlet.
Scott weakly reached over and wrapped his hand around the skeleton of the fish by which he had broken fast that sunrise. He clasped two opposing fingertips around one of its bones and wiggled them until it snapped free. As he had become mechanically accustomed to doing, Scott fashioned the bone into a makeshift hook, affixed a strip of piscine flesh to it, tied the other end to a thread he had wrenched from his discarded shirt, and dangled the improvised fishing line into the dark green waters.
No fish bit, but some had noticed.
In minutes, a trio of slate-colored dorsal fins, having breached the surface of the water, encircled Scott’s raft. The young man simply sat, frozen, his eyes wide, his lungs taking in barely any air, his brain struggling to figure out what to do while simultaneously noting that the teasing, tormenting dance of the sharks was just as it had been conveyed to Scott in the numerous cartoon shows of his childhood.
Ultimately, two of the fins disappeared beneath the roiling seawater. But one remained. It seemed to face Scott’s raft, cutting perpendicularly towards it, remaining by most appearances to be frozen in position. It wasn’t. It was approaching.
Scott would have swallowed the lump in his throat had he the saliva required to do so. Instead, he took a deep breath, braced himself against the side of the raft, and jerked his fishing line up out of the water.
No sooner had he done so than the shark leapt after it, breaching the waves, its gaping mouth of serrated razors opened wide to accommodate the top half of a boy who had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
APRIL 16TH, 2060
ROOM 3891, CALIFORNIA PACIFIC_
Scott was soaked when he lurched upward in his hospital bed. At first, in his bleary-minded state of semi-consciousness, the boy assumed that the ocean water the shark had brought up with it during its breach had come crashing down onto Scott’s unsuspecting body. In seconds, though, Scott’s waking confusion dissipated, and he concluded that the sheer, clutching terror that had characterized the very nightmares of which the boy had intended to be cured had been enough to submerge Scott in a cool sheen of sweat.
But neither of these answers was the right one.
It wasn’t just the sensation of Scott’s damp body tucked into a waterlogged bed beneath chilly bedsheets that pointed to the humiliating truth of the boy’s station; it was that of his emptying bladder, of hot urine spewing out the head of Scott’s penis, that clarified reality. Scott had wet the bed. He was still wetting the bed. And, though his first instinct was to squeeze tight the muscles of his groin, to mitigate the already-considerable damage that had been done, it was with no small amount of horror that he discovered himself to no longer have control of those muscles. Scott’s bladder was going to empty itself into the hospital bed whether he liked it or not. His only dominion was in how to react.
Scott thought quickly. Thumb back in mouth! It had slipped out during the boy’s onslaught of confusion, and, as such, Scott was on the verge of freaking out. He shoved his thumb back between his lips and began to suck on it with a fierce intensity. All the while, he was still peeing the bed, soaking the sheets, saturating the mattress beneath, and Scott could tell by the pressure exerted by his bladder that his expulsion showed no sign of abating.
Hand on cock! Squeeze it the fuck shut!
Scott took his free hand and shot it downward beneath the bedclothes, clutching its forceful palm and splayed fingers against his insubordinate penis. He was squicked to the breaking point when he squeezed his already-destroyed boxer-briefs and bubbles of urine bled out from the threads of the fabric as a sponge wrung out over a sink. The underwear grew warmer and warmer, wetter and wetter, as Scott tried, to zero success, to stem the flood of steaming piss bleeding thorough the fabric, dampening his hand, rolling down his hips and between his thighs, and leaving a massive puddle upon his sheets and in which his equally-coated butt sloshed and squished.
Ultimately, the outpouring of liquid humiliation came to its natural denouement-- and just in time for Dr. Carroll and Nurse Divine to enter the room and observe how their pseudomedical techniques were acquitting themselves.
Carroll was pleased to see that her hypnosis was doing yeoman’s work. “I see we’ve progressed to bedwetting,” she observed, with a subtle soupcon of condescension to taste. “I wouldn’t worry about it. It will happen from time to time as we work to divest you of your nightmares. There’s no need to be ashamed-- this is a hospital, after all, and you’re just a kid.”
Scott removed his thumb from his mouth long enough to reply, boasting a wide-eyed, confused gaze all the while. “A kid?” he asked. “I’m twenty-seven.”
Carroll laughed. “Such a good imagination for such a little boy!”
Nurse Divine took this opportunity to see how her own treatment -- the vaporized distribution of the perfume which had once worked so well at Kennedy-Franken, combined with the grape scent that had rapidly regressed Scott Gwynett to early pubescence 53 years prior -- had held up.
To say that it worked would be an understatement. The boy in the soiled bed, legal name Scott Michael Danvers (according to his chart), was 14 years old.
While the physician and her assistant alternated between teasing Scott and congratulating themselves on the efficacy of their treatments, the shocked, horrified, dumbfounded, and toxically humiliated young teenager had already taken to exploring his new body. He had lost at least a foot in height. His musculature was all but gone. Body hair had already begun to grow white and fine (in those uncommon places in which it hadn’t already dissipated entirely). Peeling the front of his boxer-briefs away from his sopping flesh revealed the sordid truth of his hobbled manhood: Scott’s shrunken penis and the sparse smattering of pubic hair surrounding it. There was no doubt about it-- Scott Danvers was 14 years old, and he knew it just as surely as the sunrise.
“I’m... younger...” the boy peeped, not to anyone in particular, though the physician and RN had heard him.
Then, the mindfuck. As if Scott had needed any more at that point.
“You’re young,” Carroll said, “but you’re not younger. What are you talking about?”
“I’m younger than I was yesterday!” howled Scott, his thumb flying out of his mouth. “I’m twenty-seven! I am 27 years old! And now I’m a 14-year-old... a kid!! How the fuck did this happen!?”
“Language!” hissed Nurse Divine.
“Well, I don’t know what you’re on about,” Carroll said with a shrug. “You have quite an imagination. You’ve always struck me as a creative boy. But I’m afraid that you’ve never been 27 years old, and you won’t be 27 years old for another 13 of them.”
“Like hell,” Scott spat. “What did you give me? Why are you doing this to me?”
Carroll sighed and tossed Scott his chart. “Read it yourself. ‘Danvers, Michael Scott.’ Date of Birth?”
“...‘April 14th, 2046.’”
“Which would make you?”
Scott blinked. “Fourteen years old.”
Had it all been a dream? A remarkably convincing, excessively protracted dream? All the memories the newly-woken Scott retained of his years as a high school student, a college student, a working professional, and a SoCal maritime hobbyist... had they all just been projections of the manner in which he always saw his life ultimately playing out? Convincing, movie-like illusions, populated with settings that had never been built and by characters who had never existed?
Scott Danvers had always been interested in dreams, and this seemed to be the Big Daddy of them all. He was already aware that dreams which, subjectively, appear to lasts hours or even days in length, often play out in the human mind within a matter of seconds. When Nurse Divine, at least, used a hand mirror to reacquaint Scott with his fair-skinned, fair-haired, young boy’s face, the boy gradually began to accept that he had been duped by a particularly volatile trick of the unconscious mind.
“I’m 14 years old,” Scott repeated, quietly, touching the tips of his fingers to the surface of the mirror in an uncharacteristic moment of melodrama. “And I still suck my thumb and wet the bed.”
“There’s no shame in that,” Carroll asserted, already in the process of stripping Scott’s waterlogged bed while the boy remained in it. “You think your counseling sessions to attenuate the trauma of your weeks out at sea are hard-hitting? If only you could see the ‘super-cool’ 16- and 17-year-old varsity football players who still have to wear diapers to bed.”
“Weeks at sea?” Scott asked around his thumb, which he had returned to his mouth to be used as a tranquilizer. Just like clockwork, his free hand kneaded his penis through its dampened home, the ursine Alex bearing witness to his teenaged friend’s infantile machinations.
What really happened, Scott asked himself, and what had been a dream?
“You don’t remember?” Carroll motioned for Scott to stand, so she could strip his bed for laundering. He took Alex along with him, still buried in the crook of his arm. “You were drifting in a raft off the course of California. Fourteen years old, nearly dead, and with nobody by your side. What a horrible way to die that would have been. Alone, starved of affection, and having to do everything for yourself, no matter how difficult or complicated.”
Food for thought, considered Scott subconsciously. Alone, starved of affection, and having to do everything for myself, no matter how difficult or complicated.
What kind of life would that be?
. . . to be continued . . .