Vision Dreams, A Parable
The Final Flash
The Final Flash Meanwhile and with no portent of bad tidings, I had been building toward my own denouement. In the ensuing months after my visit to the psychiatrist, I’d continued to make my weekly pilgrimages to his office for debriefing and renewal of the hypnogogic suggestions the doctor had planted in my head. I told him about my dreams, lamenting that as yet none of them had been visual.
“I’m surprised,” he said. “You are using the IVD, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” I answered. “But I’m averaging only about ten minutes per day. Each time I figure out what something looks like or where something is located, I instantly memorize it and don’t need to use the IVD anymore.”
“Has your lifestyle remained constant?” the doctor asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “Why do you ask?”
“You haven’t felt the need to use the IVD to handle strange and new challenges?”
“Not too often lately.”
“That might explain why your current visual experiences have not begun transferring into your dreams.”
The doctor explained that my hesitation to be adventurous, even with the IVD providing eyesight to make things easier, might be only the latest manifestation of why I had come to see him.
“You asked me to help you become more free, to help you widen your horizons.” He seemed to be scolding me. “Your hesitance to use the IVD is thwarting the very process that might do just that. Try stretching yourself.”
“Why haven’t I seen anything in my dreams?” I pursued.
“You are not storing enough visual experience to nourish your dream world.” Then he asked, “Isn’t there anything you dreamed about doing as a child? Some fantasy you spent time imagining? Something that saddens you to think about because it hurts so much?”
“That’s an interesting question,” I replied. “I haven’t thought about it for a long time, but I used to imagine being able to play major league baseball. How’s that for an impossible dream?”
“Not bad,” the doctor answered with alacrity. “I think it’s time for you to revisit that fantasy. What could you do to reinvigorate the dream?”
“That’s easy, doc,” I replied. “I could get my girlfriend to go with me to a ball game. We’d get ground-level seats near home plate. I’d use my IVD to see the game and pretend I’m actually on the playing field. That’ll get my imagination going.”
The doctor endorsed my idea and sent me on my way. I felt excited. A few weeks later, the ball game etched in my head; I had a dream.
A right-hand batter faced a lefty on the mound. He looked around, taking in with a single sweep the stands rising above him on all sides, the first-base dugout, and the wall and warning track that circumscribed the field. The grass was deep green and the dirt a delectable orange. The bases and chalk lines were pearly white. This was a high-impact item as all he’d ever experienced was the washed out and unattended crosswalk markings on the streets of an unkempt city.
Now I was the batter. The pitcher seemed far away and small. Standing in the batter’s box, somehow the view didn’t look right. There’s no way I’ll ever see the ball, I thought.
Gritting my teeth, I cursed under my breath. “What am I doing here? It serves me right for trying something like this.” I steeled myself to hang in there.
Until that moment, my only previous experiences seeing a pitcher on the mound were the view from the stands with Cheryl and the few games I had watched on television since getting my IVD. These bore no resemblance to what I should now be seeing from the batter’s box. Unfortunately, there was no time to decipher the discrepancy. The pitcher was about to throw.
The ball flew toward me. At the last moment, it appeared as a blip emerging from the whirling dervish that was the pitcher. Before I could move a muscle, the ball smacked bullet-fast and rock-hard into the catcher’s mitt. The umpire called the strike.
As he prepared for his next delivery, the pitcher looked even smaller and farther away. My bat felt leaden in my hands. I shivered, convinced that I wouldn’t be able to swing, no less make contact. Then I heard my mother call to me. “You can do it, son.” Was my dream telling me it was time to connect with her?
The next pitch sped my way. I saw it coming. That was a good sign. Notwithstanding, it whizzed past me with another thud.
“Ball,” cried the umpire.
I allowed myself a distraction. I’d heard Ted Williams could see the stitches of the ball as it rotated toward him. Pay attention, I thought. You’ll be lucky to survive this without a concussion.
With a better sense of when the next pitch would come, I dared turn my head and look toward my mother’s voice. “Mom,” I called. “Is that really you?”
“Yes, son,” she answered. “I’m here, but you don’t really need me.”
“I need you more than I’ve ever needed you,” I called. “Where have you been, Mom?”
“I’ve always been here. Open your heart, and you will always feel me near you. You don’t need me, son. Go ahead and hit that ball.”
The pitcher wound up, the image did not blur this time, and the ball streaked in my direction.
Somehow, I guessed correctly that the pitch would be right down the middle. I swung level and, with all my might. I crushed it.
On contact, the ball felt amazingly soft. I’d expected it to feel hard, the way my cane did when striking cement or metal, stinging with the vibration of one hard object colliding with another. There was no sting. I’d apparently hit the ball on the “sweet spot” of the bat.
The crowd roared. I remembered I was supposed to run. As I circled the bases, I thought, So this is what it’s like!
Rounding third and looking ahead, I peered into the stands. I saw my mother’s face, beatific and shining brighter than the rest. I ran toward it. Tears blurred my vision. I was bathed in warmth. I heard her voice again. “I knew you could do it.”
I prepared to rush toward the light of her face. Remembering my duty, I stomped my foot hard upon home plate. Triumphant, I looked up, but her face was gone. Instead, I was enveloped in blinding white light. Then the world exploded.
Still in the Universe
“Flatline! We’ve got a flatline!”
“Doctor, may I assist?”
Somehow, there she was. [The IVD team Chief] Dr. Arvarian had scrubbed in and stood ready to take over.
“Damn it! It’s over,” the sweat-soaked doctor said.
The neuro-ophthalmologist shoved him aside. “Not yet, it isn’t,” she cursed. Muttering to herself, she said, “We didn’t retain the experiences of all four of them in this one only to have his brain fried by some ridiculous hypnogogic malarkey.”
Dr. Arvarian held a device over my head. It contained no probes, no lasers, in fact, nothing that appeared relevant to the emergency at hand. She activated the device, and an electromagnetic force field formed around my head. The energy field, only an angstrom or two above my scalp, instantly singed my hair. The field frequencies, although invisible, seemed to get the attention of the nanobots.
As she held the device, Dr. Arvarian exhorted, “Come on. Deactivate.”
The nanobots seemed to hear her. Those that were heading there ceased their charge toward my brain stem. Troops in the rear guard halted their helter-skelter melee throughout the rest of my cerebrum. Microscopic laser shut down. Cilia stiffened. Neurotransmitters stopped squirting. The microelectrodes had come to rest.