Noble X — Episode 14: Reflections
HOME AT LAST John’s déjà vu day continues. Foregoing yet another meal, John’s starving brain continues to redline. The urge to eat has all but left him, along with the urge to smoke weed or even sleep. Completely consumed with a swirling tornado of ideas, he calls on his personal crew of Captains to reconvene for a second night of round table discussion.
His friends have been thinking about the approaching party nearly as much as John. They all arrive spilling over with ideas of their own to contribute to the Noble Experiment. John hits record on another voice memo to document tonight’s round table. They review the schedule of performers, who’s getting what supplies, the layout of the room. The group is buzzing.
Setting his bag on the table, John shows them all of the supplies he brought home from school today, reminding them of the mind games he had thought of for the audience to engage in during performances if they so choose. Paul objects immediately, reminding everyone that this would distract from the intention of the event, “An untainted, fully immersive listening experience for both performer and listener.” But Anthony still loves this added wrinkle, particularly using the Post-its. Collectively they decide that these activities could be offered during the break and afterwards in the spirit of expression. Then John adds in a quivering voice, directly at a somewhat disgruntled Paul, "Not everyone has musical talent and some find the same sort of release through visual arts or poetry. The Noble Experiment should embrace all of that.” Paul quickly shifts from annoyed to concerned, noticing that John is on the brink of tears.
“You doin’ okay, John? You look sad as hell. Like you’re barely holding it together.” The group is silent. John struggles to force his tears back down with all eyes on him. “Stand up, John.” Paul hugs him aggressively, provoking him to unleash the torment he’s been bottling up inside over the last five days. “You gotta let it out, man. Have a good cry.” And just like that, John’s exhausted mind caves in, first with gentle sobs and then a demon-scream-cry racking his body, collapsing into his friend. It is a moment of bonding for them all. The moment passes and everyone readies themselves to leave, encouraging John to rest. They are an extremely unorthodox family, but supportive. They’ve all been reminded of John’s pain tonight and the party looms ever greatly in their minds.
John, having relieved some of the pressure building inside him, composes himself quickly and demands that they get together for a dress rehearsal of sorts tomorrow evening and they all agree, minus Paul. “I have a gig, sadly. I’ll see you Thursday,” and he departs with a final hug. Anthony finishes up a tiny Post-it sketch, slaps it on the wall, and pulls his coat on. Thomas and Colin follow suit. With plans set to meet tomorrow at the same time, they each offer encouragement to John as they head home. “It’s okay, dude. Sometimes things are sad and we just got to be sad about it. Let me know if you need anything. Try to get some rest.”
As they leave John’s cocoon wraps around him and he is consumed writing tirelessly, scattered bits of thought onto paper, filling every bit of space. Words overlap and intersect, resembling the scribbling of a small child. Ink changes colors. Calm letters turning jagged and violent, then smooth again. After awhile, John’s notes are nearly indecipherable to anyone else but himself. He feels like he’s close to figuring something out, something great, larger than himself and larger than those around him. He’s on the cusp of unlocking something. Chaotically he scrawls triangles on the page, a free associated triad of random bits of thought. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Beautiful Mind, Little Miss Sunshine. He draws a triangle. Steve Martin, Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking. He draws a triangle. Mom, Dad, Sister. On and on, stuck in a loop.
In his isolation, John has become nearly comfortable with the hallucinations he’s experiencing, willfully interacting with these figments of his imagination. Since he was little, John had been enraptured by reflection. In the water, in the windows, anywhere and everywhere. And on this night, regressing with each hour he continues to be awake, John wanders his apartment, approaching the framed pieces of artwork that have come to life, his own reflection interacting with the paintings on his wall.
JOHN STANDS BESIDE THE SENTRY, knelt with the crutch and the bottle of liquor. It is peaceful. John feels protected by this presence. He tries to pear around the front of the sentry’s face but it will not be shown to him. Panic begins in the core of his chest.
NOW JOHN FINDS HIMSELF IN A LAND COLORED YELLOW. His eyes burn and the wind is high. The grit blasts his skin. Wisps of red fog curl around his legs and a terrible creature with claws is staring at him in the middle of this sand storm. His fear is very real and his panic overwhelming. His chest tightens as he is shaken from his revery, nearly hyperventilating as a coughing fit takes hold. As it passes, he takes some deep breaths while surveying the damage done.
“What a mess I am making,” he mutters to himself as he sees his manic writing has overflowed to the dry wall and door frames of his apartment. Yet the coded language and the symbols make him happy. They comfort him. With a couple hours until morning, voice memo recordings to review, and further notes to make documenting today’s experiences, he gets back to work on his study.
Stay tuned for Episode 15.
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