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The Other Side

by Mickey Caso

It’s been like this for days, weeks…months? I don’t know, time hasn’t felt real for a while. My skin is ice cold and I think my blood has stopped flowing. I can barely look at myself but I know I’m as pale as the room I’m in.

This room is horrifying and the bright whites hurt my eyes. This bed feels disgustingly uncomfortable in a way where you can’t even escape with the sweet release of sleep; moving with bruises and holes strewn about my body hurts too much to even verbalize. I can feel my cells resurrect when I form thoughts, and I can feel them die again and dig their graves throughout my body.

I’m not strapped to this bed, but I can’t move. I am not physically chained, but I might as well be. I can’t even remember when or how I got here, I must have been kidnapped or drugged a while ago, or something of that sort. When I try to remember my name, I can’t. I can only remember my wife and my children, but they’re not here. They’re the only reason why I’m incompletely surviving, I need to see them.

Every once in a while they come in. They come in dressed in all white, they move lightning fast from the door to my bed, to further entrap me here. To drive the point of me never returning home by plugging instruments into my veins and giving me false reassurance. They don’t even have faces. Everything is a blur, it’s all been incomprehensible.

These creatures in their human clothes tell me my family will be here soon, but I know they’re lying. I know they will feed me with false promises to get me to calm down, but I am not calm. I am locked in my fleshy prison and my body vibrates for freedom regardless of my immobility. I need to get out, but I can’t.

They allow the other creatures to come in, they mock my sobbing for hours then leave. They look similar to them, dressed in clothes of various colors.

I miss my family. What have they done with them?

The chill of the fluids they pump into me to initiate docility starts to hurt. It feels like ice then lava is being poured into my veins, I’m being tortured. I scream and I scream and nothing happens, they don’t flinch at my displays of anguish, they have no empathy, they just need me to suffer.

“Why?” I cry to the creatures. “Why are you doing this to me? What have I done? Let me go!” I scream and I sob until my ribs hurt and my guts feel like they’re twisting. It feels like an hourly occurrence that this happens, but I can’t even tell how long it’s been.

They smile at me, “We want to help you, Steven.”

I don’t know who Steven is, I don’t remember my name but I know that’s not it. My sobs echo throughout the room and my words are left for the walls to feel.

It seems as if years have passed maybe, decades. I don’t know, I’m still in this room. I’m still in this f*****g room.

I’ve lost hope, and the creatures have noticed. The drugs are more violent and more frequently being pumped into me. My arms are sore, my body is filled with bruising and I wish they would just let me die.

The others still come into this room, to mock my sobs, I have stopped crying and they have not. They stand in the corners of the room and pretend to feel for me, I know they feel nothing. If I could stand I would kill them. All of them.

The door opens and the creatures and the others are in the room together, seemingly conspiring, which they do rarely but it’s been more frequent. It makes me wonder when they will finally kill me, and I hope it’s soon.

“What’s happening?” I think I can hear one of them say, but everything is blurry, noises and sight.

It’s hard to blur the colorless hue of the room, it’s hard to picture any other color but that achingly bleached one the room shouts.

But the pale does look different towards the center of the wall in front of me, it looks brighter and it’s hurting my eyes even more. Yet, once it shines, my bruising does not seem to hurt, my eyes don’t feel like they’re forcing a close; the invisible shackles on my arms and legs are seemingly lifted.

I’m horrified to stand up, partially because I don’t want my legs to collapse and I don’t want them or the others to hurt me. But I’m drawn to the light.

But they don’t, they don’t hurt me. One of them comes near and they support my arms, the others are not wailing and I am up. I’m alive.

The white hole in the wall has gotten wider and brighter, and it’s calling for me. I step into the wall and my wife is there. My wife!

“Martia?” I say, filled with immense joy, I think I’m crying.

We’re in another room now, it looks like the pale room, but different. It’s happier, I can feel it. Martia’s wearing the blue prom dress she wore when I took her to prom in ’63. She’s smiling and twirling around in the dress that could not possibly look better on anyone else.

“Hi, sweetie,” she says and holds my face. I embrace her and my head nuzzles into her neck, I have not stopped crying. My two children are beside her, Jack and Nathan.

“I- I missed you, I missed you so much, I don’t know where I was I-,” I began. She puts a finger to my lips.

“I missed you too, it’s okay to go,” she says. There are tears in her eyes and she’s smiling. I look down at my hands that are now holding hers, the wrinkles and liver spots are gone.

“I don’t want to go, will you come with me?” I look back at the glowing white hole in the wall. “I’m scared, I don’t want you to leave, I don’t want to leave you.”

“Yes, I will, and I will never leave you,” she says and I melt into her. My eyes grow heavy in a warm way and I feel nothing, happily. She grabs my hand and we walk into the light.

I feel no pain, just my wife. Just love. Something I assumed was long gone, but I was wrong. The faint sound of the others wailing is behind me, but I don’t look back. I hope they’ll miss me.

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