LifeGames Corporation

By Michael Smorenburg All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Horror

Chapter 7

“Calling Doctor Rupert, Doctor Rupert to reception please.”

The military nurse snapped the public address system off, “Doctor Rupert will be here in a moment, please take a seat;” she indicated for Ken to proceed through to the adjoining waiting room where he saw Leon sitting reading a magazine.

“Thanks.”

The nurse smiled, unable to resist his charm.

“Leon... Ahead of time as always.”

“Ahh.. Ken’o, isn’t it strange how somebody always disturbs you as you reach the juicy bits in a waiting room magazine.”

“Shall I sit over there?” Ken pointed to the far side of the room.

“No, no. No, no!” peering over the top of his glasses at Ken, Leon patted the seat beside himself, “What’s Gerald’s problem then?”

“Gerald?” Ken was stumped, “Gerald who?”

“Yes, Gerald... The one you wanted me to come here to visit,” Leon removed his glasses and twirled them by one arm as he spoke, a puzzled look on his face.

“Gerald...? No Leon, not Gerald! General... The General with the issue... Daly... General Daly,” Ken laughed at another of Leon’s eccentric quirks.

Leon was a brilliant psychiatrist, with a string of books on the subject of hypnosis to his credit, but when it came to mundane everyday life his mind was off doing greater things than filtering through the humdrum of ordinary conversation;

“Golly... General Daly... right! How did I get that muddled?” he shook his head and replaced his glasses.

Ken spotted a tall regal gentleman marching up to reception. The nurse pointed toward Ken and Leon, and Ken immediately rose to his feet. It took a moment for Leon to realize that he was still seated.

“Andrew?” Ken inquired of the approaching man.

“Yes, you must be Ken?”

They both extended hands to shake as Leon still discussed his own confusion with himself.

“This is our in-house psychiatrist, Leon Goldstein,” Ken was hesitant to mention Leon’s official title at LifeGames. He thought it prudent to first gauge Doctor Rupert’s reaction to Leon’s peculiar mannerisms.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, please call me Andrew.”

“The pleasure’s mine,” Leon was still sitting, looking rather bewildered.

“This way, please gentlemen,” Andrew signaled for them to move on and Leon stole the instant to ask Ken, “... now who is this man?”

On their way up to the psychiatric ward, Andrew filled them in on the details;

“Roger... the General... has developed the notion and is utterly convinced of it, that his name is Fernando Sanchez... that he is or was the Spanish Emissary to the Vatican in Rome. He claims that he was wrongfully hanged for the crime of preaching Deism and it was, according to him a plot to frame him, perpetrated by a subordinate who coveted his position. The strange thing is that a whisper of scar tissue does encircle his neck that would be consistent with trauma associated with hanging. But there’s nothing like it on his medical file... and we record all prominent features. It’s only a whisper of scar, so it’s arguable that it’s not prominent.”

The lift doors opened and Ken glanced at Leon whose eyes looked as if they were about to pop out of their sockets; they were wild and ablaze with excitement. This smacked of his pet subject—Reincarnation!

As they made their way into the corridor, Leon grabbed a hold of Andrew’s arm, “Go on!” he insisted.

Leon’s sudden impulse and ferocity startled Andrew and he stammered a moment, “Th... the Latin is another oddity.”

Leon leapt at the clue, “Latin?”

Ken realized that it was time to explain, “Sorry, Andrew, this is my fault.” He turned to Leon, “Leon I’m sorry, but I haven’t had a chance to fill you in on details; Roger Daly is somehow faking Latin and perhaps you should let go of Doctor Rupert’s arm, Leon.”

Ken pointing at the offending grip struck Leon like a bolt of electricity and he leapt away from Andrew then darted back to pat him on the arm, “So, so sorry, Doctor. Sorry, I get a little carried away with things like this.”

“Not to worry, old chap.”

Andrew made it sound convincing, but he maintained a healthy distance from Leon as they ambled onward.

“As I was saying, the only thing that I can think of is that he must have picked up Latin as a child. He went to Catholic school, that much we do know… it’s plausible. Your people must have done a hell of a job on him to trigger a suppressed memory.”

Ken kept silent on his own lapsed Catholicism and recent rebound of memories.

“No!” Leon lost control of his dignity again. His eye’s were focused on Andrew with the raptured concentration of a fanatic, “It’s a past life regression; the first I’ve seen with our program!”

Bewitched by the possibility, Leon’s brain caution in front of Ken had checked out. Immediately he began rattling off a hypothesis of the benefits that might arise out of such an incident.

They’d reached Andrew’s office and Ken used the instant of entry to momentarily hold Andrew back, allowing Leon to proceed through the door first, “Sorry, I should have warned you. Leon’s quite brilliant in his job, he just gets a little carried away...”

“No problem, old chap,” Andrew was no longer uneasy, “I’ve been thinking about his name, Leon Goldstein. Not the author?”

“The same,” Ken grimaced slightly, Leon’s books were controversial and each successive publication was known to be more outlandish than its forerunner.

“Doctor of Psychiatry, isn’t he?”

“Yes. He doesn’t like...”

“Excellent!” Andrew cut in, “I’ve read all of his books. He’s as mad as a March Hare of course, but revolutionary and that drives the profession.”

With that, Andrew shot past Ken into his office to re-introduce himself.

From that moment the meeting changed its character; Ken became a spectator, his interest in matters esoteric was nil.

Since childhood he’d lost all interest in all but money.

The son of God-fearing wealthy industrialist parents, he’d fervently opposed everything they’d stood for. Then, as a troubled youth, his internment at a strict Catholic school had set his repulsion for the mystical into gear. No system, not even one that tried to beat spiritual matters into him, could match his devotion to money.

His experience with the monks had only cemented his revulsion to authority, and treading the established paths to wealth through tertiary education proved too confining too; his path to cash took more devious directions and he’d become increasingly apathetic until he dropped out of university altogether. He’d gone travelling to find himself. He’d learned that the road away from inherited riches is a tougher one than the road toward his own quest for it. After some lean years in poverty, greed had stepped into the shoes of his rebellion and hiked him up a new ladder to success.

His family had become as important to him as the God he’d never seen, and to them, he had come to embody all that they despised in the modern world.

Ken’s inadequacy in contributing to the fast evolving discussion between the two doctors was painfully obvious.

Unaccustomed to being an observer, Ken began to seethe at being marginalized.

The doctors were like a pair of bantam cocks flying at each other in a flurry of good spirited disagreement.

Andrew argued for pure neurochemistry driving the ailing General, Leon argued back, citing quantum fluctuations and entanglement.

“That is just absurd, old boy!” Andrew waved in frustration. “The purest nonsense... non-science.”

“You cannot say that! Quantum entanglement and healing is a very well respected field,” Leon had his glasses off and was twirling them by an arm.

“Then show me the mathematics for it... Ha!” Andrew sued for victory.

“You need to give it a chance...”

“I will, when you show me the mathematics! Quantum mechanics is not a branch of philosophy... it wasn’t derived of contemplation, it is a science of mathematical probabilities... The advocates...”

Ken’s ego could take it no longer, “There-is-a-patient-to-be-visited...” he spat, not even attempting to hide his peeved tone.

His interruption was like a bucket of ice water over the pair.

“Oooh... sorry, Ken’o... so sorry old boy. It’s philosophy, you see; the very essence of being!”

Andrew rose silently and indicated for them to follow him.

Roger Daly was trussed to his bed, hand and foot.

Andrew had explained as they moved from office to ward that, due to heavy sedation, it was unlikely he’d register their presence in the room.

He could not have been more wrong in his prediction.

Roger stirred as the trio entered his ward. His lids fluttered as he tried to make out the silhouettes approaching.

Ken was the last through the doorway; as he stepped over the threshold Roger’s expression snapped from groggy sedation to menacing intent. He raged into life, rising up onto his elbows, his eyes blazing ferocity; all his attention fixated directly on Ken. A growling monologue of Latin antagonism began boiling from deep in the man’s chest.

The unexpected confrontation drove Ken back on his heals in an uneasy retreat to the door.

Then, without warning, like a magnet feeling its opposite, Ken flew forward in a murderous rage. They slammed into one another like a pair of wild cats. Both doctors tackled Ken as he hit Roger in the chest with his shoulder, the bed overturned with all four tangled in a spaghetti of hospital drips, lines, cabling and flying equipment.

Roger’s demented thrashing had broken one arm-tether and, as the two doctors tried to drag Ken back toward the door, Roger came clawing after them with the bed still strapped to him.

The commotion brought hospital security tearing into the ward. They packed onto the demented adversaries, smothering them with sheer numbers, cuffing them; but only achieved a degree of calm once Ken had been removed far from Roger’s presence.

“What the hell was that all about?” Andrew was bitching as he dabbed at a fast closing eye.

Ken lay un-speaking, looking fixedly at the door and down the corridor through which he’d been hustled, longing to get back to the scrap.

They’d shot him full of sedatives and had him cuffed to the hospital bed. Two security personnel were posted at the door.

Leon was surprisingly calm, sitting on a chair alongside the bed as if just a visitor on a routine afternoon visit, “How are you feeling, Ken’o...? Relax, you can relax now.”

After a moment Ken’s eyes defocused from the doorway and he relaxed, coming back to his senses;

“Better, thanks,” his eyelids were drooping to half-mast as Leon’s spell meshed with the sedative and took its hold.

Leon’s voice had assumed its slow and deliberately warm rhythm, the same he used during hypnosis sessions, “Can you tell me what went wrong?”

“I... I don’t know?” Ken was now completely relaxed and cooperative.

“Have you ever met this man before?”

“Never.”

“Do you think he knows you?”

“I don’t know. I doubt it.”

“Why did you get so angry?”

"RAGE...!”

Though it carried little volume, the onomatopoeic word boiled from deep inside Ken’s body. If he’d possessed power over his faculties, he’d surely have growled it... and just as quickly he slid back to docility.

“I saw your rage Ken,” Leon coaxed gently, “…why couldn’t you control it?”

“I... I’m... I don’t know,” Ken fought for reason.

Leon had hypnotized Ken on several occasions in the past and knew that he would be open to his best suggestion.

“I’m offering to help you Ken, but I’ll need your help. Do you want me to get to the bottom of this?”

“Sure.”

“I’d like to hypnotize you, do you feel strong enough?”

“Yes.”

Since Ken was not military personnel, Leon had taken over his case.

All the while Andrew had been watching from a distance, making sure to sit where Ken could not see him.

“All right Ken, I’m going to begin counting you down from five... the closer that I get to ‘one’, the deeper you’ll go into a relaxed sleep. Five... your eyes are shut tight and you cannot open them... Four... you are beginning to feel very, very tired. All you want to do is sleep.... Three... there is warmth and peace all around you. Two... you’re deep in sleep and you cannot open your eyes... Try, Ken... Try to open your eyes. You cannot open your eyes, Ken.... One... you are in a very deep sleep,”

His task concluded, Leon’s voice changed from its slow and methodical rhythm to its normal intonation as he turned to Andrew, “Ok he’s gone, how’s your eye?”

“Feels like hell, I took a dreadful whack—didn’t see it coming. Must’ve been this cretin’s elbow. What possessed this lunatic? Suppressed resentment of some kind...?”

Andrew was guessing at the deep resentment Roger may have created in Ken for putting LifeGames under scrutiny.

“I doubt it, Ken’o isn’t bothered by that sort of thing, very sanguine. He’s money motivated... puts no value on moral issues at all. Frankly, all the psychological angles we could ponder don’t apply here. I know that you would probably expect this from me, but my guess is that it’s something faaaar more sinister.”

“Well he’s your patient, be my guest. Bloody man should be incarcerated,” he grumbled.

Leon returned his attention to Ken, “Ok Ken, we had a little problem next door. Do you remember the incident?”

“Yes,” Ken’s answer was staccato yet still tinged with anger.

“You can relax Ken, it’s all over, we’re far away and there are guards here to protect us. Ok?”

“Ok,” Ken relaxed.

“The man on the bed, Roger Daly... have you definitely never seen him before?”

“Never.”

“And could he know who you are?”

“No.”

“Were you angry at him?”

Ken hesitated.

“I’m not asking if you’re angry with him... were you angry with him before he got angry?”

“No.”

Leon nodded to Andrew, both men concluded that Ken was not covering up any resentment towards Roger.

“Roger was tied to the bed, Ken... he couldn’t really threaten you no matter how angry he got. Did you know that?”

“Yes"

“Yet you attacked him. Why?”

Words were trying to form on Ken’s lips, his mouth moved spasmodically but no intelligible utterance issued.

The two doctors looked in puzzlement at one another and shrugged.

They both knew that Hypnotized patients would answer plainly and with unguarded honesty.

On the evidence of it, Ken’s actions seemed motivated by something of which he was truly ignorant.

“Ok Ken, we can talk about that later. Is there something else bothering you. Something at work possibly?”

Ken’s eyes filled with terror and he began to shake, “Craig!”

The response stunned Leon momentarily, he hadn’t expected such a plaintive reaction, “Everything is all right, Ken, you’re safe.”

As Leon calmed his gibbering, Ken slowly relaxed.

Leon quickly explained the circumstances of Craig’s death to Andrew. Both doctors were further puzzled, the death of a work colleague; even the circumstances of this particular case; shouldn’t have had such a dramatic effect, particularly given Ken’s personality.

“Homosexual? a relationship between the two men?” Andrew ventured.

Leon scoffed at the thought.

“You never know...” Andrew pressed it.

By now, Leon was prepared to try anything, “Your relationship with Craig, was it special to you in any way?”

“No.”

“Did you ever have a sexual relationship between yourselves?”

“No,” Ken’s answers were unimpassioned; they may just as well have been generated by a computer.

“Did Craig threaten you in some way?”

Ken hesitated a moment, “No,” His answer was certain, but it had been well considered and responded to with some angst.

The doctors glanced at one another again.

“Significant?”

“Did Craig threaten you physically?”

“No,” Ken’s answer was definite again.

“In what way did he threaten you then?”

“It... it wasn’t a threat,” Ken portrayed childlike honesty in his answers.

Leon wrapped his questions in all the understanding and support that his tone could convey, “What was it then, Ken?”

“The... the recordings,” Ken was becoming uneasy as Leon probed close to the core where his fear lay.

“The recordings? What about the recordings, Ken?”

“His message on the recording.”

“Craig’s recording?”

“My voicemail,” fear quavered in Ken’s voice.

“Calm Ken, calm. That’s good, very good,” Leon gave Ken a moment to relax, “What was the message, Ken?”

“A prayer,” Ken maintained a long pause. It seemed as though his subconscious mind wanted Leon to drag the information out of him.

“And?” Leon asked.

“STOP!”

Both doctors were flummoxed by the brevity of Ken’s reply, and even more so because there had been something in his tone that communicated that the threat was the word STOP!

They knew that it was not Ken’s own wish to terminate the session.

“Did Craig say the prayer before he said Stop?”

“Yes.”

“Stop what? What did Craig mean by Stop?”

“I don’t know,” a deep crease etched into Ken’s forehead, proving testimony to his genuine confusion.

Leon decided to try the other lead, “What prayer did Craig say?”

Ken hesitated.

“What were the words?”

“Our Father who art in... heaven.”

Leon halted Ken, “Okay, that’s good enough. Did Craig say anything else?”

“No.”

“Are you afraid of prayer, Ken?”

“No.”

Leon wanted to test if Ken had secretly converted to religion, anything was possible, “Are you religious?”

“No.”

“Do you believe in a God?” Leon widened the constrained definitions of religion.

“No... I... I’m not sure.”

Ken’s extended answer surprised Leon, so he broadened the definition even further, “Do you believe in a spiritual world, Ken?”

Ken didn’t answer though his frown suggested that he was wracking his mind for a response.

Leon could see that Ken was becoming increasingly uneasy, “Calm Ken, forget the question.”

Ken immediately relaxed into his zombie-like state whilst the doctors discussed the unfolding enigma, concluding that headway seemed scant.

Leon was most perplexed. Ken enthusiastically denied any plane of consciousness beyond the physical; “Bullshit and crap,” he’d always termed Leon’s hobby.

Indeed, Ken would find any opportunity he could to poke fun at Leon’s books, all of which centered around the technique known as Regression Hypnosis, a method for patients to recall their past lives. As far as Ken had always been concerned, the claim begged for ridicule.

“From what you’ve told me Leon, Ken’s newfound attitude today is rather a sudden and material change in his conviction,” Andrew observed without adding any solution to the riddle it posed.

Leon decided to dig deeper into Ken’s subconscious;

“Ken, has Craig perhaps made you more aware that there is a spiritual world?”

Ken hesitated before answering, “Yes.”

“And this fact frightens you?”

“Yes.”

“Has your belief in the spirit world got something to do with Craig’s message on your voicemail?”

Ken became edgy again, “Yes.”

Suddenly the sister burst into their ward, “Quickly please Doctor, there’s trouble with General Daly, he’s broken loose!”

Andrew leapt up and bolted for the door.

Leon could hear the furor echoing down the passage and he was overcome by curiosity to investigate, but he thought it sensible to first end the session.

Then he had a second thought, he decided that it would be best to ensure that Ken got some induced rest;

“I’m going to count you up to five Ken, and as I count you will begin to awake. When I reach five you will feel wonderful, however, you won’t remember this conversation and you will be dead tired. All that you will want to do is sleep. All right.... One... you’re slowly beginning to wake up... Two...”

After Leon had finished the routine, he waited a moment longer to ensure that Ken was comfortably asleep. Then he retreated to the door, watching Ken’s chest rise and fall in an even rhythm of relaxation. He exited, taking the security guard into the corridor with him.

Beyond the closed door, he briefed them with his own set of instructions; “Mr. Torrington will probably be asleep until morning, wait here until someone tells you otherwise.”

He departed at a trot, itching to see what was brewing in Roger’s ward.

The scene that greeted Leon was akin to medieval barbarism than scientific medicine. Six hefty security guards were bodily restraining the patient who was straining with every sinew against the constraints of the straight jacket that he was being bundled into.

Andrew was the impassive overseer who double-checked each broad leather-strap as it was fastened into place.

“What are you going to do with him?” Leon asked, his mind already imagining the worst.

“Nothing. We’ll have to let him cool off,” Andrew remained indifferent to his patient’s terror as he tended to the bloated shiner that his eye had become.

“You’ve given him all that you can?” Leon mimed the use of a syringe.

“Unfortunately. I suppose that you’d like to have a go at him with your hypnosis?” Andrew could see Leon’s disapproval of the prescribed methods.

“Definitely, old boy... definitely,” Leon’s eyes were filled with challenge, the heat of doing battle with Ken had cooled and the quirky old genius was back within him, “I guess that he’s too excited for hypnosis at the moment. Too excited by far.”

“How’s your one?” Andrew was too bitter about the knock he’d received to forgive Ken. He signaled his disdain by deliberately avoiding Ken’s name.

“Out like a light, he is. Out like a light.”

They stood a while longer, watching the tormented man’s weakening fight against his restraints.

Back in Andrew’s office they dissected the evening’s startling twists of events until Andrew checked his watch, “Wow, almost eight! I’d better get a move on.”

“Doesn’t time fly, when you’re having fun! Such fun,” Leon muttered as he rose.

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