I’d never had a hallucination that vivid before.

To be honest, it wasn’t immediately startling. Sophomore insomnia usually doesn’t hit after a Saturday night out. Yet there I was, wasting away in front of the harsh glow of my laptop. Will-o’-the-wisps danced around the edge of my vision, and I constructed desultory fantasies of alternate life choices. When the black started swirling in, I barely noticed it – even if I did, I was quite ready to embrace sleep. Waves of shadow lapped at the shore of my eyelids.

A sharp jab ran through my right eye, pain was what set this apart from my usual existentialist stupor. Flashes of complete darkness, with sporadic intervals where I saw the world in a reddish tinge. I fumbled about, starting to panic about losing my vision. It was then.

Watch carefully

It was unsettling, red streaks on a tar background. There was something unnerving about it.

Watch what you’ve done

It was my handwriting. It looked exactly like something I would scribble in a hurry. My body went into a lockdown, and I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or not. The text dissipated, and a large white room, with cabinets from floor to ceiling, swam into view. Heavy breathing echoed in my ear, as hands underneath me opened each cabinet slowly. It was a morgue.

Then there was a series of rushed scenes, of an older me being fired from my job, in a black suit at someone’s funeral, signing up for human trials for a wonder drug. The images barely moved, were sometimes unclear and accompanied by groans, and yet I completely grasped them. It was re-watching, reliving a movie that you’d soon see.

All trials failed, with one exception

Blood and a mangled pink rope which rose from a dead scientist’s belly and ended in my clenched hand. Cuttings of newspaper obituaries on a wall. Solitary confinement. Repeated testing under restraints. Watching through the eyes of something under a cloak manoeuvring itself out of a facility, killing and attacking with precision and ruthless ferocity.

With our enhanced body, we escaped

The information stream stopped. A low, painful voice said “We should never have. We were Patient Zero.”


The visions continued every single day from then. It had taken 20 years from then for all of them to finally come true. I ran out of the facility, escaping the exact same way as the vision. It was no coincidence. I merely followed the methods I had seen in my nightmares every day.

It was impossible to escape this fate. I had tried to, yet my naïveté wore off soon when I realised that choice was an illusion, all roads led to the same destination. I stopped dodging it, and started predicting the future by strictly following the visions.

I heard the alarm being raised, but I already knew I wouldn’t die. How would I send the visions to myself if I perished here? There was little comfort at the end of my journey. I knew I would be alive, I knew I would be searching for answers. I knew, when I had finally found a way to contact the past me, I would still do it, hoping against everything that maybe there was a chance at salvation.

At the very least, I wouldn’t be tormented by the message anymore.

Kartik Reddy


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