Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 8

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VIII

In the evening, Richard discussed plans for his release with his doctor. At this point, Richard felt better. Not just a little better, but almost entirely normal better. It was as if he hadn’t almost died just over a day ago. The doctor, quite correctly, wanted Richard to stay for another week. Richard wanted to leave as soon as possible… especially since classes were starting in two days. The doctor was not enthusiastic about this, and kept to his initial assessment. Richard couldn’t leave until they could be sure that there would be no immediate side effects. Afterwards, Richard slept again. He was still tired, but not as much as he had been before.

As he slept, he dreamed. This dream felt somewhat like the last one, where he saw his body. Except, instead of pain, or the idea that something should hurt, he just felt tired. That was a nice change, although he would rather not have felt tired as he was sleeping. It wasn’t helpful. He was trying to not be tired. Could he go to sleep… in a dream? Richard thought about it… and perhaps it worked, because the next thing he remembered was waking up in the morning.

In the afternoon, Richard was released from the clinic. The doctor didn’t look particularly happy about it, but Richard was glad to be able to leave, even after such a relatively short stay. The hospital smells were very overpowering. Richard did have to wear an unobtrusive monitoring system until the doctor was more sure he was fully recovered, just in case. He also had to promise to come in for checkups once a week for a few weeks, and was sworn to come in immediately if he felt even a little dizzy or any pain or even if he sneezed or hiccuped or stubbed his toe.

Richard was happy with his early release, and fully intended to comply with the instructions. Although he may have caused a bit of trouble with his insistence on his recovery, he wasn’t exaggerating. He really felt completely better. He’d even walked around his room the evening before just to make sure that nothing changed with standing and movement. He did somewhat wonder what changed the doctor’s mind about making him stay. Richard didn’t wonder for too much longer though, because he was heading off to lunch with the two people who had basically never left him alone in the past day, Jot and his father.

He appreciated their presence, because he had just gone through a rather frightening experience. Of course, he was unconscious for most of it, but he understood that he almost died. He had several thoughts about this over lunch. Perhaps if he had stayed on Utopia, he would not have experienced such danger… or he might have gotten in an accident and died. That was how these things worked. Then there was a strange part of him that considered that he hadn’t come that close to dying, and that he was fine now. This part was a bit illogical, because he had definitely almost died. In addition, he didn’t feel exactly fine.

Richard was the obedient sort who would normally have returned to the doctor right away upon experiencing strange symptoms. However, he was somehow completely convinced that what he was experiencing was unconnected to his health. Yet, at the same time, he wasn’t. So, while he was confused, his mind kept pulling him in two different directions… and thus he didn’t go anywhere.

Upon further thought, Richard decided what he was experiencing might have been caused by stress. Not that he had much basis for it. However, as he looked around, he felt something was different… and yet that it wasn’t. Richard looked at Jot, and found him to be normal. That was actually somewhat strange in a different sense than he had been thinking about, because he had known Jot for approximately a week, and yet he was “normal” now. However, it was also true in the way he had been thinking, that Jot didn’t look different than he had. As he looked around the cafeteria, and also as he later walked down the halls, he saw people that were somehow strange. Not the fact that some of them had different skin or hair colors, or different numbers of limbs occasionally. Instead, he felt like they had filters on them, as if he had taken pictures and messed with the settings, except they were still obviously walking around near him. In addition to that, they also still looked normal, at the same time.

Richard’s mind kept repeating these thoughts that seemed contradictory- everything was different but also the same. His conclusion was that he was probably tired, and somehow it didn’t feel wrong or bad, just very strange. However, if not for the part of him that was absolutely insisting that he was healthy, he would still have gone to visit the clinic. As it was, he was still undecided, but he was wearing a monitor, so if there were any health implications the monitor should respond.

In addition to his somewhat contradictory thoughts, there were occasional times when he was looking around, and felt like he was looking into a spotlight. He wanted to shut his eyes and he felt like he did, but he found himself still with his eyes open… though the feeling of looking into a spotlight was gone, and so were the “filters”. They continued to come and go occasionally. Richard just thought of it as an interesting phenomenon as it continued… somewhat similar to staring at a white wall and seeing white blood cells scurrying around in the veins in his eyes. It was just something he noticed occasionally and found was somewhat strange. It was just he had an explanation for that, and didn’t yet have one for what he was seeing. However, he felt there was probably a very reasonable explanation. He just didn’t know what it was yet.

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