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The White Room

NURSE LOPEZ WAS late. He could tell she was late because the NBC Nightly News had already started. Lateness was something that almost never happened in the very expensive clinic. Nurse Lopez usually arrived before the news to administer the shot, the one that messed up his memory. She usually arrived before the news because the people in white, the doctors and the nurses, were aware that, with the previous shot wearing off, the news tended to upset him. The doctors had discovered this when he'd first been brought to the hospital. What disturbed him was the fact that the regular anchorman, Gary Elliot, had been replaced by someone called Tom Brokaw. The weird, altered details were the first phase of his coming unhinged and the hideous slide into screaming panic. A car that he knew as the Nissan Imperator was being advertised as the Infiniti. Solly the Sailor was suddenly known as Popeye, although mercifully he was still created by Max Fleisher. Everyone he asked claimed never to have heard of Gary Elliot or the Imperator or Solly the Sailor. It was as though they were products of some elaborate fantasy that was exclusively his. At first they'd simply shut off the TV, but he'd dug his heels in and demanded that it be turned on again. After that they had simply made sure that he was doped to the eyeballs when Popeye or this Brokaw came on. The dope also helped him hide from the more important differences, the ones that would have him baying at the moon if he wasn't sedated.

He heard Nurse Lopez outside the door. The shot had arrived. It was time to go down into the happy, unfeeling depths again. Joe Gibson sighed. He was starting to wonder if they were right. Maybe he was insane. Christ, if only he'd never given in to the whim and taken that first ride with Casillas.


Chapter One | Necrom | Chapter Two