The cursor on screen continued to blink at the top of the empty document as though mocking Chris for his inability to just write something. He'd tried, he'd been sitting there for hours, an open document before him with nothing to show for it. In all that time he had written perhaps a hundred words but none had lasted and he deleted them almost as soon as the appeared on screen. He glanced at the calendar: it was already the 10th. He was running out of time. The first draft needed to be done by the end of the month and he hadn't even started.
As Chris contemplated his story-less future his phone rang. He startled, overturning the cold coffee cup he had been nursing for longer than he wished to consider. The thankfully cold liquid spilled across his lap and he cursed under his breath as he grabbed his still ringing phone. Chris glanced at the number as he walked to the kitchen to clean himself up. His swearing intensified when he realised who was calling him.
Staring down at his publisher's number Chris wondered if he could get away with not answering, he entertained the though for half a second until he acknowledged that avoiding the issue would just make it worse. He accepted the call and held the phone carefully up to his ear.
"Hello, you have reached the phone of Christopher Johnson."
"Hey, Chrissie, my man," the ever cheerful tones of Mike, his publisher, always put Chris on edge, "How's the latest manuscript going?"
Chris winced, trying to sound much more confident than he felt he responded, "It's going great, it'll be done in no time."
Chris felt like smacking himself in the face, that had sounded about as real as the manuscript he'd claimed he was writing.
"Yeah, how many words have you got?" Clearly Mike had noticed that Chris wasn't being all that truthful.
Chris grabbed a paper towel and mopped at his sodden clothes ineffectively, "I haven't actually written anything yet but I've got some great ideas cooking, I swear."
"Look Chris, you've had ideas cooking for months and I can't give you another advance." Mike sounded more serious than usual, "you're one our best writers but if you can't produce anything I can't justify keeping you on the roll."
Chris felt cold all over, if he couldn't write he didn't know what he would do. He'd always been a writer. The silence stretched out until Mike interjected.
"I understand you're having some trouble at the moment, writer's block happens to everyone sooner or later but I didn't just call you to get on your case, I've got something that could help you."
"You do? What could help with this?" Chris asked.
"It's a new experimental tech that should help get those creative juices flowing, I've already booked you an appointment. I'll email you the deets, be there Chris." Mike hung up before Chris responded, that was typical of him.
Chris wandered back to his computer and checked his email, Mike had sent him an address and time with a note that he was to meet a Dr Tristan Smith. There was nothing else in the email and Chris got a sense of foreboding about it all but if he wanted to keep writing he needed to do this, whatever this was.
Chris looked down at the piece of paper he had written the address on and then back up at the building in front of him. It looked like one of those new age shops that sold crystal balls and offered palm readings. He wasn't sure how this place could possible help him with writing but it was definitely the correct address, he'd checked multiple times just to be sure. Chris settled his laptop bag on his shoulder and walked through the front door on which the words 'Welcome, we're open' were written in large bright letters.
A faint tinkling could be heard from deeper in the building as Chris walked through the door, some sort of automatic doorbell he assumed. Considering there was nobody to be seen in the front room, just collections of odd figurines and collections of semiprecious gems, it seemed a sensible precaution. A short man in an old tweed suit pushed through the beaded curtain that separated the room from the rest of the building. He stared at Chris for a moment as though wondering what he was doing there. Chris fidgeted under the scrutiny for almost a minute before he cracked.
"Hi, I'm Christopher Johnson, I have an appointment with Dr Tristan Smith." Chris held his hand out to the man to shake but the man stared at it as though Chris was diseased and touch would spread it.
The man sniffed imperiously and looked down his nose as Chris, an impressive feat considering Chris was the taller of the two. "One of hers again? Go through there," he pointed to what Chris had originally assumed was a curtain covering a window, "it's the first door on the right."
Chris frowned but turned to go the way he was directed without comment. As he stepped past the curtain he heard the odd man hurrumph, a sound he had previously assumed no human ever actually made, he almost wanted to go back to observe the man further but he didn't want to be late for his appointment.
On the other side of the curtain was an empty and badly-lit hallway with several doors. He dutifully went through the door he was told was the correct one, which he noted had the words 'Dream Write' badly stencilled on it. The room on the other side was a startling change, it looked like a doctor's office or perhaps a dentist, right down to the uncomfortable waiting chairs and strange smell of disinfectant. A pretty blonde woman sat behind a reception desk, when he entered she looked up and gave him the kind of sunny smile that put him in mind of celebrities and politicians.
She stood and approached him, "You must be Christopher, come right this way, the doctor is expecting you."
Chris followed her as she led him into a room with with one of those chairs you find in a dentist or optometrist, he was starting to feel nervous as she started fiddling with some odd and complex looking contraption next to the chair. After she had finished doing whatever she was doing with the weird machine she turned back to him.
"Just hop up on the chair so I can hook you up and Dr Tristan will be with you in a moment to start the procedure." Her smile had not diminished in any capacity and if anything had gotten even brighter. Chris was definitely feeling quite nervous now but he needed to do this if he wanted to keep writing, Mike had practically threatened to fire him if he didn't. He cleared his throat, squared his shoulders and laid down in the chair.
"Excellent." The assistant leant over him. Her smile now put him in mind of a shark's toothy grin, "just relax, this won't hurt a bit."
Chris looked around wildly as the assistant applied parts of the contraption to his body. The first was an odd helmet that covered most of his face and prevented him from moving his neck. He could see her attaching electrodes to other parts of his body on the edge of his vision. The last thing she did was apply a set of straps across his torso and legs, binding him to the table and preventing him from moving. Chris starts to wonder if perhaps he should have asked what exactly this procedure involved before he was strapped to what seemed like an impromptu operating table.
As he opened his mouth to ask what was going to happen, the door opened and a woman in a lab coat an covered in a dizzying selection of tattoos entered the room. She strode to his side with confident steps and looked down at him, her gaze was intense and Chris wilted in it's presence, he closed his mouth without speaking. He really hoped he wasn't about to be dissected or something.
The assistant bustled over still with her unnerving smile, "Welcome doctor, the patient is all ready for you."
Doctor Tristan spared a brief glance for her assistant, "good work Gretta, I'll start the procedure now, you go to the observation room and make sure everything is in order there."
Gretta left the room and the doctor started to do something to the apparatus attached to his head. "Now Mr Johnson, you will start to feel drowsy. You will fall asleep and start dreaming, your dreams shall be recorded and Gretta and myself will be present at all times." His vision had started to fade by this point and her voice was sounding like an out of tune radio but before he lost conciousness entirely he thought he heard her say, "Almost no danger involved."
Obrigado pela leitura!