Health & Medicine

  • Issue 97 / January - February 2014



    A Severe Case of Confusion

    Sally Hannigen

    It was too early for Melanie to congratulate herself because the aliens would always be after her. They would always be looking over her shoulder, keeping track of what she did, trying to read her mind...

    Melanie rolled around in bed and looked at her digital clock. It read: 7:39

    She groaned to herself. That must mean it was time...
    She got out of bed and looked around her room. Everything seemed normal. The sun appeared to be bright as it flooded through her window with the red curtains. Her clinical psychology text books on her desk were exactly where she remembered putting them. Her bed was in the correct position along the wall.
    She deliberately avoided looking at the mirror.
    She was safe for now; the aliens hadn’t come for her yet. But she knew her neighbor was a Russian spy so it was only a matter of time before he told the aliens about the key she had found...
    ...the key she had safely hidden under her bed in a Cheerios cereal box. No one could find it there.
    Melanie carefully examined the floor she would walk on. She was certain it was safe to walk, but those aliens really knew how to set booby traps. She really had to be prudent-or else!
    She carefully placed her foot on the carpet. The carpet had a collage of various, colored squares on it. Aliens always had a hard time getting into her room, but they had implanted sensors under the floor that sent them a signal every time she stepped on the red squares. They did this so they could tell how often Melanie was in her room.
    But Melanie had figured out a way how to fight them. If she just avoided those red squares, they would never know.
    Stepping on her toes, she tiptoed around the red squares and reached the other side of the room. She carefully checked the books on the desk, the position of her bed, the window and the curtains-avoided the mirror-and then came out of the room.
    She quietly pulled her door shut and peeked over her shoulder down the hall.
    Oh no! There were too many mirrors!
    The mirrors stretched along the wall on either side, disrupted only by the occasional bedroom door. But there were only supposed to be one of them between the master bedroom door and the bathroom.
    Hmmm; could this be the aliens?
    In any case, she had to avoid the mirrors – the aliens must NOT find out about the key!
    She got onto her hands and knees. If she could just slide under the line of the mirrors, she would be safe. Thus she scrambled to the other side, carefully avoiding the red squares on the carpet, and finally got up on her feet at the end of the hall.
    It was too early for Melanie to congratulate herself because the aliens would always be after her. They would always be looking over her shoulder, keeping track of what she did, trying to read her mind... Oh no, she hadn’t thought about that! How should she protect her mind?
    She would stick it out as long as she could. There was no way she would allow those aliens to get the key! Not while she was still alive.
    She had to eat though, or else how could she have the strength to protect the key?
    Melanie opened the cereal cupboard and confronted a bunch of boxes. There were Cheerios, Honeycombs, Pops, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks and many more.
    Pleased with the variety, she reached for the Cheerios.
    Oh no!
    She remembered something.
    Last night, she had seen only Honeycombs in the cupboard. Yes, she’d Melanie had gone out with her mother, and they’d only bought Honeycombs. Where did all the others come from?
    How could she not have understood? It was the aliens. They must know she had hidden the key in a cereal box. But they didn’t know which one, did they? So they put a bunch of cereal boxes here to see which one she would pick.
    But Melanie would not lose!
    “Oooooo!” she cooed loudly. “We have Honeycombs! Yum! I love Honeycombs!”
    And that’s what she got out of the cupboard and put on the kitchen island. She had to distract the aliens.
    She got out her bowl-not the red one; you could never be too careful-and a spoon. These she laid down beside the cereal box. When she had retrieved the milk from the fridge however, things had changed.
    There were five sets of bowls and spoons on the island!
    She calmed herself down.
    This had happened before. It was the aliens’ way of saying they knew she was lying to them.
    But she could always get around it.
    She touched the first bowl and her finger slipped right through it. Nope, not this one.
    Her fingers slipped through the second one but jammed into the third. Hah! That one was the right one.
    She poured her cereal and milk into it. Suspiciously, the remaining two bowls somehow filled themselves.
    But everything was alright. It didn’t matter how hard those aliens would try to intimidate her, she would be strong.
    However, she was very sad. She didn’t realize at the time, but before she found the key – before the aliens and the Russian neighbor – everything had been so easy, so safe.
    It was hard to appreciate a good thing when its loss was unimaginable. She had never believed in aliens and now they were in her life, changing things, manipulating her. They were always there.
    Her breakfast finished, she finally pulled herself together. It would be alright. Everything would be alright. She was sure of it now.
    As she re-entered the hallway, she saw that the mirrors were gone. There was only one, exactly between the master bedroom and the bathroom.
    Before entering the bathroom, Melanie paused and looked at herself in the mirror. There was a snake coiled around her temple.
    She instinctively reached up but couldn’t feel it.
    “You’re not real,” She said to it. “No, none of it is real... the key? The aliens?”
    The snake in the mirror bobbed its head in a nod.
    It was a wonder why anyone would believe only what they could see when Melanie had to doubt everything in her life.
    Something caught her attention and the recognition of her illness faded instantly from her mind. There was red smoke coming from her bedroom.
    Oh no, the aliens must know! They must have understood about the Cheerios cereal box!

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