Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta treatment. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta treatment. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 28 de septiembre de 2016

Facts of war

   The bombs had suddenly stopped dropping from the sky. There was an awful, eerie silence that occupied everywhere that still stood, which wasn’t much. Most of the city was now ruins, a bunch of unrecognizable rubble where people had lived and tried to have good lives and happy days. But that had ended some time ago, when the war started and things went rapidly downhill for everyone in every corner of the globe. It had happened so fast that no one really knew how to explain it or understand it. It was just chaos in it’s simplest form.

 Before bombs started dropping, people thought it would never come to that. They innocently thought that the war would be fought in empty, far away spaces, where no one would ever get hurt and where countries could argue for long periods of time without really affecting the civilian population. Those who thought that had visibly no idea of what war was really like and how it had destroyed and devastated the world once and again in the past. How cities had been leveled down by fire and force and how the strong ones didn’t really care who they hit and how.

 The morning before the bombs dropped on the city, people were already getting a bit nervous but not nearly as nervous as they should’ve been. They had all heard about the rumors that new airplanes that could fly without being detected could be sent in any moment to attack. But the frontline of the war was so far way that people simply didn’t buy that theory. They claimed that some people were being alarmists in order to get some sort of advantage in the war. They decided to deny any possibility of war coming to them. It was their undoing.

 Most of the people in the city died right then, that morning when the sun was just coming up and then, out of nowhere, the first bomb was dropped in the city. It is strange to say it, but the enemy had the so-called kindness to drop a single bomb on an industrial part of the city first in order for people to be able to run to the nearest shelters or to get safe in any way possible. It was a kind of warning shot. Most people ignored it and that’s why the amount of survivors, on the days following the decimation of the city, was so low.

 The few people that survived did recognize the signs of what had happened and ran to the underground parking lots and places similar to those. There were no shelters because they had chosen not to get ready for a war that was real, even if it was far from their homes. Most survivors had to be dug out from under the rubble because they had been underground by chance. Almost no one had actually run down from their home to protect themselves. They really didn’t believe anything could happen to them, as if they were special in some way.

 But they were not. The city was not treated any differently than any other city before or after that. The enemy had a clear objective and new exactly how to hit a target in order to have maximal damage and be able to withdraw fast if the attacked nation reacted efficiently. This was almost never the case as they always destroyed military bases and other potential points of defense in order to be able to do whatever they wanted. The rules of war were clear to them.

 Exactly two day after the bombing started, the bombers retired and went back home. They had done their job and the ground army was already advancing fast, taking advantage of the new position they had taken. It was a very dared strategy but it had worked perfectly for them. When the army arrived, they helped the survivors out of the rubble and they put them in special camps to be held as prisoners of war. No one was mistreated in any way and that made the whole experience a little bit worse. People couldn’t properly hate them if they were suddenly kind to them.

 Of course, they had been the ones that destroyed their city and probably killed many members of their families and friends. But the treatment in the detention center was not the one of a concentration camp or anything like it. It was exactly as if the hundreds of survivors had been taken to a five-star hotel to be locked down as prisoners. It was a very odd thing to experience and most people had no idea what to feel, what to say to the guards and how to react to anything. However, it was clear who had won and who had lost that battle.

 Many other camps like that one appeared in the region, as the enemy’s army advances through the continent. They had a pretty successful year but then, at the end of it, the expansion stopped. The invaded nations were responding but only with skirmishes and guerrilla warfare. The fact that winter had come was an important factor in them being successful and the enemy deciding that the advance of their troops could hold for a while as they decided a new course of action that would end the war in the favor, once and for all.

 The winter was unusually long and harsh. Snow covered the ruins of many cities and prisoners in camps realized that their situation was harder than they realized. Even though they had a goo reason to feel good about being in a warm place during the violent snowstorms, they realized that they were prisoners because of they weren’t they would be out there, standing in the storm with a weapon, defending their countries and their right to exist. Not all of them thought the same but a general feeling of sadness and confusion could be felt among the prisoners.

 When the winter ended, people assumed the enemy would resume expansion and the war would be over in months. But that didn’t happen. Pockets of resistance had appeared during the summer and they turned stronger once the weather got better. No matter their big guns and strategies, the enemy’s army couldn’t taken them all down as they wanted to. They had to be smart about it and realized that their plan for expansion had problems from the beginning, as they had never thought people could resist them.

 That entire year, the Resistance movement, which spanned several countries with different languages and cultures, was able to have some small victories over the enemy. They robbed some weapons or transports; they temporally blocked their advance or just annoyed them when trying to do anything. It was a very tense year and it was the turning point for everything or at least for most things. Prisoners were still in the camps and the destroyed cities remained on the ground. That hadn’t and wouldn’t change in a long while.

 The following winter, the enemy decided the offensive was taking too long so they did something that no one expected them to do: they reached out to the Resistance and proposed they negotiate a deal to end the war. Of course, the people that had been massacred and persecuted were not very keen on accepting anything that came from the invader. Most people called the move a trap and felt that it was a new strategy by their enemy to exterminate any opposition to their plans for the whole world. They didn’t trust them at all, they couldn’t.

 However, they finally sent a group to discuss what the ideas were for the ending of the conflict. The war had lasted for too long and it was worth the shot to at least know what they could potentially do to end the fighting. The group that met with the enemy was very nervous about everything but the others tended to tend as if they were allies. They gave them a great dinner and told them that they wouldn’t return any of the occupied lands but tht they could liberate some territory for people to leave in what could be called the Free Cities.

Those cities would have access to sea and rivers, would controlled by Resistance but an Occupation Board would oversee anything to do with the cities and their development. They would basically be free but with a few limitations. The group went back to the rest of the rebels with the proposal and, it had to be said, they discussed thoroughly for many days. It was very hard to discuss what was right or what was wrong because any measure is good to end death. But at what cost should that be done? The decision didn’t make everyone happy, that’s for sure.

jueves, 12 de mayo de 2016

Visiting hours

   The large male nurse walked as if it was the most normal place in the world. Esther followed closely, looking sometimes at the windows to sea the weather outside but also to the side, where she could see some other windows but these gave views into the room of several of the residents of the psychiatric hospital. Some of them were apparently silent but when she passed other rooms, it was easy to hear strange sounds like bumping or slapping or strange mouth noises.

 The weather outside had turned worse in the last few minutes. The sky had been dark all day but the first drops of rain had finally begun to drop. Esther thought it was maybe the best weather for such a day, for such a visit. The reached another gate, where she had to show some ID and a guard checked her for anything that couldn’t be allowed inside. She didn’t really know what those objects were, but she didn’t mind at all.

 Her purse had stayed behind, at the first gate. Also her car keys, her house keys, her cellphone and a knitting kit she carried everywhere because it made her feel a lot calmer. The only thing she was able to carry inside was a plastic bag with some chocolate bars inside as well as banana muffins and a bottle of iced tea. They had wanted to open the bottles to check it was really iced tea, but an officer had stated she trusted Esther. Apparently she understood what a mother would feel in such a circumstance.

 When they were done checking her bag again, they walked through another corridor but this one was short and ended up in a large room that was filled with people. The place was very warm and she noticed it was because of the amount of people there. Immediately, she could tell all of them were patients of the hospital. Some of them were blankly staring at nothing in particular. Others were playing by themselves or watching the TV, where a man was explaining to the audience how butterflies mated.

 The male nurse told Esther to wait inside a small room besides the recreation area. It was a small space with a table and two chairs. She sat down in one of the chairs and realized the table had two metallic hooks of some kind, small, possibly to tied down the patients in order for them no to attack or anything. She thought that was awful and decided not to think about it because the image in her mind was horrible.

 The room also had a small window and she decided to stand up, leaving the bag on the table, in order to look out the window and not think about the horrible things that maybe happened in that room, or for the matter, in that hospital. She already felt guilty and imagining situations she didn’t know about, was really not necessary.

 Her son entered the room, followed by the male nurse. She turned around when she heard his voice saying “Mama”. Esther walked to him and huge him as strong as she could and he did the same. They hadn’t seen each other in two weeks, since he had been interned in the hospital by order of a court that had decided that Kevin, Esther’s son, had to undergo psychiatric evaluation and, if necessary, rehabilitation in a psychiatric facility. And that was exactly what had happened.

 They let go of each other and sat down in the two chairs. The male nurse stayed there, by the door, leaning against the wall and pretending he wasn’t hearing anything but it was obvious he was. He had no option. Nevertheless, he had done exactly that for so many years already, that he had learned when he had to be listening and when he could just wander into his brain and imagine what he was going to have for dinner at home or what kind of car he wanted to have.

 Esther told Kevin his hands were very cold and asked him if he was eating properly. The boy, around seventeen years old, told her the food there was pretty okay and that she shouldn’t worry about it. She didn’t really listened to him. She just turned her bag upside down and showed her son all the treats she had brought him. Esther smiled to Kevin and he smiled back but it was obvious he was sad or at least not as happy as she was pretending to be.

 They decided to eat the big banana muffins first and the nurse’s stomach growled because of the delicious smell. Esther offered him a bite but he just raised his hand and moved his face, so she didn’t insisted. She asked Kevin if everything was okay with him, if he felt good there, if there was anything he wanted to tell her about it all. He took his time to answer, preferring to eat his banana muffin, which had been his favorite since he was very little.

 Kevin said to her mother that everyone in the hospital was very nice and that the only bad thing so far was that his room was a bit cold but he slept well with some two blankets and a thick quilt of top of them. She said she could bring more if he wanted it but he just said no and went on to finish his muffin. She ate too but she was more worried about her son. She didn’t know what to ask or how to ask.

 But she had to. She had no choice but ask things. Esther’s next question was about the medication they were giving him. Kevin told her he took a couple of pills everyday to control his anxiety issues and that he took others for physical problems like his blood pressure and such, because it was always very elevated. She nodded when he said that, as she tried to build in her head what that meant for him. Was he getting worse or better?

 Kevin took the chocolate bar next and smiled. It was a weird smile, as he didn’t even know how to do it. And it lasted only a few seconds. He felt the deep scent of the chocolate and took a bite. It was also filled with oranges, which he loved. He thanked his mother and kept eating it, until he reached half of the bar. His mother told him he could have some for later but then he looked at her and, out of the blue, laughed at her. His eyes appeared to transform and his laugh was so exaggerated, she felt bad to say what she had said.

 The male nurse looked at Kevin first and then stated that the patients couldn’t keep anything from the outside in their rooms, no even food. Kevin pointed at the nurse and nodded, indicating he was telling the truth. He told his mother that she should have known that, if she had come earlier to visit him. Esther felt hurt by that but explained to him that they wouldn’t let her in because his treatment had not being properly initiated so they didn’t want her to spoil it.

 Kevin just nodded and it was obvious he didn’t care one bit about what his mother was saying. He didn’t believe her and told her that the first week had been horrible, with all the people there crazier than anyone else in the world and the doctors pinching and poking and asking and everything going on and on every single day. He felt tired every night and in the morning it would begin again and the cycle would repeat, of course, with the horrible therapy that he went through.

 Esther was horrified because he had transformed before her very eyes. He asked her if she knew what the therapy was all about. Before she could deny that she knew, he explained to her that they put him on a chair, with restraints, and made him answers questions and look at pictures and videos and tried to understand what hade being going on at the time he had killed the children in playground. They wanted to know why he had killed three of them.

 The nurse got nearer but didn’t intervene. This time, he was listening carefully. Esther was on the edge of tears, trying to ask for forgiveness about him being there and also asking her son not to say anything else about he did.

 And then he punched the table and told her that was him that’s who he really was and that she had to accept that she had a son who was a murderer and that had enjoyed it. He was hysteric, not laughing or crying, just yelling to make his point be seen. Kevin told his mother that even now, he thought back about it all and even then he enjoyed it. He had taken pleasure out of it and he had no remorse.

 He stood up fast and the nurse was going to grab him but he had no need to do that, as Kevin went through the door by himself, and on to his room. The nurse told Esther to go back to the gate and tell the guard there that her visit was over. But when the nurse went away, she couldn’t stand up. She looked at the food there on the table and then repeated her son’s words in her brain and she just couldn’t understand, she couldn’t.

 What had ever happened to her baby boy?

viernes, 24 de abril de 2015

The hell within

   Ariana had been eating exactly the same, nothing different. She may have been trying a new trail mix, a different cereal and had a little more water in her diet but nothing else was different. Her doctor assured her it wasn’t a nutritional thing. Nevertheless, something had triggered nightmares in her sleep. Every single night she would have a different one and it was not getting better. She had been spending many nights with no sleep and that had started to affect her work.

 She was a model. Her agent would book her for several runways gigs in department stores or for any kind of brand. She would also model for artistic photographers and for several advertisement campaigns involving anything from sunglasses to miniskirts. Ariana had made a name for herself in the fashion world but that was beginning to change, as the nightmares got worse.

 When she had them, she would normally sleep for too long. One would think fear would awaken her but that didn’t happen. She just stayed there, sweating and moaning in physical pain. Then, when she finally woke up, she would normally be late for some appointment so they would hire another girl. The situation got so much worse; she lost half of her jobs in a month. Her agent, a woman called Susan, tried everything. They went to a doctor, a herbalist, a nutritionist, to the gynecologist and even to one of those crooks than cleanses people’s auras.

 Nothing worked. So they finally tried with a psychiatrist. Ariana was not very enthusiastic about it but went with Susan. She’d rather go there that keep losing work and money. The doctor asked her several questions about her family and her personal life but also about the dreams themselves. It was funny, but Ariana couldn’t really remember anything about them. She only recalled parts, feeling, maybe some images but that was it. The doctor said this was normal and asked her if she would accept to do an experiment with him. She agreed.

 The psychologist had two different plans. The first one, the easiest one, was for her to stay in a hospital, under care, so they could monitor their sleep. The doctor and his assistant would check on her sleep rhythm and maybe that way they could guess what was wrong with her. She thought it was a good idea and shook the doctor’s hand, hopeful he would find whatever was causing all of this.

 As the days went by, waiting for the experiment to be done, Ariana kept working. She had mostly photo-shoots, which were never scheduled too early and were kind of relaxing to her. The only thing was that the makeup girl had to put a second layer of everything to make her look presentable. She would hope it wouldn’t be obvious on the pictures but did her job anyway, faking smiles and poses. The truth was she didn’t want to do anything anymore. She felt worried and sick but also exhausted and in need of real calm sleep.

 The following weekend she went into the hospital and greeted Doctor Pike. He and his assistant would stay in one room as she slept in the one next door. They would monitor her with electrodes on her head and the rest of her body and also with video cameras on the bedroom. Ariana was very tired but even so it took her a while to fall asleep. Something in her brain told her it wasn’t a good idea to submit herself to the horrors of the nightmares, once again. But she didn’t want a life like that anymore. She wanted to sleep like a normal person. So, after a few hours, she finally closed her eyes and got to sleep.

 The doctor watched closely as she fell asleep and once she was indeed sleeping, they started to detect something odd. There was a part of her brain that was very active. To be precise, it had activated when she had fallen asleep. And it was sending messages all over the body. The nightmare began as Ariana began moving a lot on the bed. She would moan and pant and sweat profusely. Her brain waves were off the charts at some point but then would calm and come up again after a few minutes. Doctor Pike thought it was amazing that her body was not awaking her. Her body had no answer to the pain the nightmare was causing.

 They watched Ariana for hours until, finally, she woke up. They told her they had wanted to wake her up but they decided that wouldn’t have been a very good idea. Ariana was not looking good at all: her skin was kind of green, her lips had lost all color and she seemed dizzy, not quite there. They decided to give her a nice breakfast for her to recuperate some strength and then they send her home to relax. In her home, Susan made her some soup and left her alone to be more at ease.

 Ariana, of course did not sleep. She decided to distract herself with her computer or with magazines but she realized she couldn’t really read or pay attention to anything. Her body was numb, exhausted and deprived of energy. She had some soup and loved it, as it gave her some warmth. It felt just right, as she wanted to feel when sleeping. She wanted to go back to sleep, her body craving for it but she fought against it. She didn’t want the dreams to come back to her; she didn’t want to die from this. What if she fell asleep and it drained all of her energy? She would become a zombie, a shadow of what Ariana had once been.

 She fought the need to sleep bravely but ultimately, she passed out on the floor. She hit her head hard against the hardwood floor and was found by Susan that night, as she came to check on her. Ariana was rushed to the hospital. Doctor Pike came by too and asked the doctors treating her to tell him about her state. They told him they had too realized something was wrong with her brain. The blow to her head had rendered it erratic so they decided to induce her into coma. The doctor told them about her nightmare problems but they assured him nothing was going on with her besides the brain trauma. She was not dreaming, only in deep sleep.

 Doctor Pike realized this was true when he visited her with Susan, who told her that Ariana’s parents lived in another country and were trying to get there fast but plane tickets where difficult to find. As the doctors had said, Ariana was calm. She wasn’t moving nor sweating. She was sleeping like any normal person would. The doctor then told them that they had detected a brain tumor growing slowly. Apparently, it had begun affecting many parts of the brain that are not normally active. So now they understood the reason for the nightmares.

 Doctor Pike recalled the time she had told him about the feelings she remembered: changes in temperature, the sensation of being watched, and the presence of at least another human or creature. Was that all a product of the tumor? To doctor Pike, it was all a great mystery because he had never seen anything like it. The images she recalled were also confusing. She had assured him something like the devil, the typical depiction, had been lurking around her dreams. Also some other deformed being and a strange weather, where cold and hot coexisted.

 Ariana was in a coma for a whole month. They extracted the brain tumor with great care and when her parents finally arrived, she woke up. They were all there: her family, her doctors, Pike and Susan. But it wasn’t the happy moment they were expecting. The first thing Ariana did when waking up was yelling and crying profusely. Some nurses tried to calm her down but she wouldn’t. She would push them, jumping off the bed and crying, asking for them to step away. Everyone was very scared. Her parents tried to lure her towards them but she didn’t seem to recognize them.

 Ariana ran out of her room, up and down corridors. Some male nurses tried to catch her but she would bite and kick very hard. They chased her all over until they reached the top floor. She ran up some stairs and got out to the terrace of the building. As the hospital was in the middle of the city, they had built a nice garden for the patients there. It was doctor Pike who caught up with her first and he decided to talk to her from a distance. She looked mad, worried and in state of shock. The doctor told her to tell him what was happening.

-       I saw them! They’re all over. They want to kill us.
-       Who wants to kill us, Ariana?
-       The demons. They are planning to kill us all!

 The doctor walked towards her but she moved back, towards the railing. Then, all other arrived, ready to catch her. No one ever understood why the railing had no protective net. Ariana just climb it and jumped, in front of her parents and everyone who had followed her there. She had jumped from the top of a twelve-story building.

 In her funeral, doctor Pike didn’t talk to anyone else. He was troubled. By what Ariana had said before dying and by the doctor’s final analysis of her brain: a region that normally is not active in humans was active in her brain. They told Pike this region was adjacent to the region responsible of communications. Pike was in deeper inner turmoil than ever before in all his years as a psychiatrist.