Day 5 of my incarceration: The air conditioning has failed for the second time, heralding a new onslaught of horrors upon me and my fellow captives. I start counting the ceiling tiles again to determine whether any have left since the last time I did this.
A kind but harried face emerges from the inner sanctum sanctorum and captures everyone’s attention in anticipation of The Name.
Two stand and yell “Yes!” They stare at each other, arms frozen in mid-air celebration.
The one who is not T. Jones sits resignedly as T. Jones walks towards the light that lays just beyond the open door. The door then closes in finality, and we return to our vigil.
Day 6: My rations had run out several hours ago, which is fortuitous since no food or drink can be in my system when I am at last summoned. Knowing that the wait would outlast my body’s ability to function without sustenance, I also had brought my preparatory material with me. I sympathize with my compatriots, but it is in their best interest that I am the sole user of the lone restroom for the remainder of this day (they can use the one in the lobby and have their companion hold their place in the metaphorical queue).
7 8 9?: The delirium takes hold as the advertisement for
rheumatoid arthritis treatment that has played on the television every hour on
the hour starts speaking to me directly. I did not come in with rheumatoid arthritis,
but I may have it now.
Day ????: My body has begun to cannibalize itself, I’m sure of it. The book that I had started in optimism at the beginning of the ordeal had been completed ages ago, along with all the magazines, pharmaceutical literature, and local events flyers at hand. For hours now, I have been reading my memories of entries in the dictionary from school days past.
Day: More victims arrive from the outside world to join us in our wait, yet no one has emerged from the inside. The math does not add up. Calculating this should kill a few weeks.
….: Kind but harried emerges once more. “Patel?”
Can this be true? Have I heard correctly, or has my mind finally broken and this is merely a fever dream from which I will awaken all the more despondent?
I risk all and stand. “Yes?”
“Right this way.”
I am led to the back in a quiet rapture, not moving too quickly in fear of destroying the illusion if it is one (and also from the great lack of fuel for my motor functions). My fellows cheer me on as I am escorted to The Room.
I lie on a table in my skivvies, cold but at peace as the drugs to induce a temporary coma work their magic. My true ordeal at an end, I realize that I never would have thought that, in comparison, I would now have an easier time with the actual colonoscopy.