Doctor and the Red Sun Temple
P1 . . . Poem
Day 1 of isolation.
My name is Dr. Jack Robbins, I am 28 years old. I’ve been stricken with an illness that no one has seen before. It started with a visit with my doctor. I felt tenderness in my quadriceps, I was unable to walk fast and often had to lean on things for support. This was accompanied by a high fever (roughly 103° F) and a jitteriness in my feet. Symptoms I have had before, but not together. After bloodwork and my follow up, it was discovered that an unknown bacteria resided in me.
My doctor informed me that since this was my field, he would release my charts to me. I’m not sure if he was allowed, but it had been done. I took a sample of my blood and looked under the microscope. This unknown bacteria has already multiplied by 30%, but it is likely that it will slow or possibly stop. This bacteria is unique in that it is slightly larger and denser. I have decided to call this cell H7C131.
The irony, is that it would seem I am the only member of the world to be infected. My wife is not, nor any kin. When news of my illness reached the powers to be, it was confirmed I am the only case. I built an isolation chamber in my lab, and it is here I will remain. Until I am cured or worse.
Day 2 of isolation
I woke up this morning after tossing and turning. My eyes were open and yet I was surrounded by darkness. Silence swept my chamber with an unending loop. The lack of sleep has affected my legs greatly. My hamstrings now feel the same ache as my quadriceps. Walking is quite the chore, but I must persist. I also have some soreness to my abdominal region, I’m not sure as to the cause but it’s a different feeling,- almost if I tore the muscle.
My eating habits have greatly changed. I manage to only eat a couple pieces of toast before feeling bloated. Water is also a great gift now. I can drink one glass and feel sustained. I know dehydration is near; however, my body will not let me drink more. I am also repulsed by any heavy foods. The mere thought knots my stomach. My fever has reduced to 102.3° F, but I have begun to suspect this is temporary. My skin feels as if there a forest fire raging across the whole west coast. My estimated fever before testing was roughly 104.5° F. I was needless to say,- quite surprised. The jitteriness in my feet has gone away, but now I twitch my legs without any warning. It is not wild, they are small twitches but frequent. Interestingly enough, the rate of growth was minimal. Only 30% to 31%, a very small advance I must say. I'm not sure I've ever encountered any illness that varies more radically.
Day 3 of isolation
Today I was under my fever’s control. It reached the highest point yet, 105.1° F. It was certainly unexpected, and I began having audio hallucinations. Mostly whispers of people calling my name. I hear them often, “Jack” long and accented. Whispered close and far, loud and soft. It has been distracting but not to the point where my work would cease.
My chest has mild compression. But it is not a bothersome thing. My tender legs have begun spreading to my calves. My symptoms are changing, often. Too often,- evolving and trying every path. This virus is nothing I've seen before.
Today a man came to see me as well. He had urgent news, so urgent that he only gave me his first name. Stan, a decent enough fellow, NSA I believe. Wanted to give me top clearance to find an antidote,- the entire bureau is under my thumb. My wife Margret has made it down to see me; although, I must say I remember more of Stan's visit than hers.
Day 4 of isolation
I have found myself tossing and turning. Dreams and ‘real life’ are becoming much of the same thing. Margret visited me, but I couldn’t tell if it were merely a dream or she was just beyond the glass; but, what I’m guessing was a dream, I saw a vast desert. Cacti, Palo Verde and rubble as far as the eye could see. It was barren in between the scattered mountain scape, not a single life in sight. The sun was red, aged through eons of damage. I walked forward, after hours (or so it seemed) I came to a temple chiseled in the mountain’s horizon. I climbed the long staircase to a courtyard: filled by dirt and columns in ruin. Beyond I could see the entrance, and what appeared to be a shadow. I am almost certain it was waving—telling me to come inside, and talk to it. I suddenly awoke, dripping in my own sweat. I had the tiresome feeling of a broken fever.
I have decided to design a log on my monitor to track my body temperature. My best guess is that my fever reached possibly as high as 107° F. I fell back asleep but woke again with a mild fever: 101.3° F. I took my medicine to get it down for good. The bacteria has worked its way into my lungs. My X-rays show that it is creating an artificial block in my breathing. A lack of oxygen can increase paranoia. Something I do not welcome at this time.
I lied down on the floor. The coldness of the white floor made me forget how warm my body was becoming. But I did not waste too much time on this. After a brief and unsatisfactory nap, I was visited by Stan again, and he brought his partner. Lou was his name. They told me, they would supply me a new heart monitor. I requested new files as well, ones on rapidly changing cells. I would get them in a week or more. My full body aches now. Not a triumphant soreness of a champion after a victory. But a weak, defenseless ticking in every fiber of tissue and flesh. I reported this to them and they talked about rest. Who’s the doctor here?
Perhaps they’re right. I haven’t slept much. Dreams and visions.
Day 5 of Isolation
After another restless night I was able to accurately track my body temperature. Stan and Lou will have to cancel that order, I created a patch on my computer. Now my vitals and temperature are on record and re-entered every hour on the hour. My aches and pains are still constant, at least it does not feel like they have gotten more out of control. Due to the night of sleep (or lack thereof) napping was an all too often occurrence. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shaken by the events of the other night. It seems liked weeks ago. The shadow in the door waves to me in my memories. In my mind like a slow motion movie on repeat. ‘Come to me’ I imagine it saying. The redness of its eyes, glare into my soul. Trapping me still as stone.
My aches maintain their level, annoying at most. I drift in and out during the day, most of my reports are put together sections at a time. Staying awake for more than three or four hours is a chore. And much of that, I must admit, is spent lounging. Merely trying to regain my strength. My fever never stayed,- settled it dropped as low as 101.2° and reached as high as 105.6°. I have connected myself to an IV to get extra fluids and added medicine. Margret visits me regularly, sometimes to check on my mental state and other times she visits just to see me. Either way I am grateful that she loves me enough to come and see me all the time. We met and fell in love right away. We are truly happy. She like I, is a doctor. Only of the mind. Her expertise is greatly needed in an endeavor. Stan and Lou also came by, checked on me. They were very reassuring that the whole government was behind my efforts. There was no suggestion that the bacteria couldn’t infect others. Although there were still no others. That takes a large amount of pressure off of me. The thought of Margret coming down with this illness is heart wrenching.
The whispers started again today, many voices this time. Uttering my name again and again, ‘Jack. Jack . . . Jack . . .’ over and over. I am also still having unexpected twitches in my legs. Sometimes so violent that it wakes me in the deepest sleep. But that isn’t much these days, too often tossing and turning. Movements are limited,- slow at best. I find that this IV is my lifesaving grace.
Day 6 of Isolation
I slept for the first time in a while. I started dreaming about the desert again. The red sun beating down on my face—glaring in my eyes. There is a heat to this place, hounding my senses. Heat that sticks itself to your skin, scratching the surface of your soul. Instant sweat from the solar gaze. I see the temple from before,- off in the distance. I roamed the pathless plains for an eternity. Dragging my aching feet, scrapping dirt and kicking rocks. Walking without an aim, no purpose at my disposal. I am a speechless spirit in anything but a silent setting. Loud brushing from the wind. The skies were painted with the same bloody tint as always, the clouds,- fading pink puffs, perfectly placed in the horizon. Boulders and chipped stones littered the ground, scattered among the sun and shade alike. I walked in the in the sun for what seemed like many more hours, until I came up to what appeared little more than a shadow of a man,- sitting upright. Sitting on a sanded-down stone, stern posture and all. It was unlike anything I had seen before, it was a shadow, but same as the man that would've casted it on the pavement. It had nothing more red ovals for eyes, and a disappearing, reappearing red slit for a mouth. It looked up at me, asking in a high pitch screech:
“Who might you be?”
“Hello, Jack. I am the one they call Saint Wormwood.”
“What are you?”
“I am a dweller of shadow, forsaken by the wrath of my sin. I reside solely as a spirit. In short, you would call me a demon.”
“Are you real?”
“As real as your imagination will provide.”
“Something can be real without the imagination to think of it first.”
“Indeed . . . you are not like the others.”
“Others . . . ?”
“Am I dead?”
“Then, what is this place?”
"It has many names over the ages. Hades, underworld, the nine circles,- but they all speak of the same place. This place. The place that collects the lost men and women that never found a path, and worse—stopped bothering to look, darkness isn't a crisis. It is a creeping, hidden dragon; eating the golden pride of your humanity. Strong men do not fall from an all-out attack to their livelihood; no, they require time, patience and a subtle hand. And when they fall, this becomes their abode."
“Why have I been sent here, if I am not dead?”
“Sent? You chose to come here. This time and the last.”
How did he know about the last time? “I never chose this.”
“I’m afraid you did. As do all souls. Whether by choice or not enough care to live a different way. Stupidity does not justify action.”
“Are you saying I’m stupid?” Anger began to sweep over me.
“No, naïve perhaps.”
“You like all humans see the world as a constant struggle to do the ‘right thing.’ Thus spawns two ideas, that there is such a thing as right and wrong, and that the only method to the home of your maker is always doing the right thing. What you fail to realize is that an all-knowing, all-loving being would not judge you on faults and stumbles. But rather would applaud an honest effort. Even good can come out of a bad deed. If a man abuses his wife, but then that encourages the wife to stand for not only herself but all abused spouses. Did a dishonest deed not breed an honest result?”
“You mean to tell me there is no such thing as right and wrong?”
“ Of course there is, but that does not dictate anything. Evil is nothing more than the habit of dishonest behavior. There only two types of ill breed; first: dishonest,- second: stupid. The reality is that smart men, and men with heart of gold do not act out. Grateful to share the land with their brothers and sisters; only a dishonest man steals his brother’s love interest. Only a dishonest man terrorizes the weak for a cheap victory. Some aren’t intelligent enough to take note of their actions, but just as imagination isn’t needed for factual cases—nor is intellect for wrong doing. Even an idiot knows if they are doing something correct, they just may not be able to express it.”
What Wormwood was saying made a great deal of sense but didn’t seem correct. If he was truly a demon, would none of his words be truth? Is it some trick? Since childhood I was taught evil sources have no truths. Was this no more than a verbal sleight of hand, simply fooled by fancy words.
“You have grown awfully quiet. Wisdom can come from all sources, even the ones that frighten you.”
“That temple, beyond the hills. I saw a shadow inside. Who lives in there?”
“All who have fallen from grace.”
Day 7 of Isolation
Stan and Lou came by today; I was feeling well enough to talk. They told me that I mustn’t tell Margret about our arrangement. The less people that know the better. I guess that would make sense, being a government project and all. I asked them how they were getting in, Margret apparently thought they were doctors from a firm I worked for a long time ago. She kept letting them in, no questions asked. Although, she always was the smartest one out of all of us. I might study disease, but she understands the brain in a way I could only dream.
I told them about my night of profound vision. They told me that it almost seemed as if it were a spiritual awakening. A doorway to the other side. I didn’t expect the NSA agents to think along the lines of god and devil, but they are people too after all. With a life threatening condition, I understand all too well what it’s like to pray. I was also able to check up on my symptoms for the first time. All my sleep habits had been getting in the way of why I was here.
I spent some time working on the disease and looking closer at it. Since my last direct observation, the disease has exploded. It was last 31% growth, from there it has reached 410% growth. It is more likely to keep growing. My fever has gone every direction, but seems to peak in my dream-cycle of sleep. My muscle soreness and general aching have subsided for the time being. I asked Margret to start working on the studies with me. She concluded that this not an actual disease at all, that I am the sole creator, in a few words, it’s in my head. I went to sleep in disgust.
Day 8 of isolation
Once again in the dream world, I found myself on a mountain looking over the temple I saw before. I am afraid of this ‘father’ they mentioned. But I don’t know where else to go; and I head towards it. After about only a hundred yards, I saw a man hanging by his feet from a tree in the distance. He looked like any other man I have ever met. He began waving to me,- waving with the same eagerness as a child who spotted someone he knows. I walked a little closer, and I began to hear children’s laughter. A group of kids playing games in the park and giggling. The man remained the only one in sight, however. I crept closer to him, caution clinging my senses. Once I made it close enough to see, he had the clear face of a boy. A child, no more than four or five in age. His eyes were closed and he was humming—rocking gently side to side from his branch. “Hello.” I said rather scared. Black eyes peered now at me, there was no color at all. Just endless darkness.
He has the voice of a man. “I’m sorry, I thought you were . . . well, a grown up.”
“But you stand little higher than a four year old.”
“That’s how we look here.”
“All the men and women that never really grew. Men that never grow wiser, come here, and are trapped as a child.’
“So you’re a demon like Wormwood?”
“Yes and no. Wormwood possesses humans,- I was a human.”
“What do you do then?”
“Live in oblivion. I sometimes call souls to play with me.”
“Are you all the voices I’ve been hearing?”
“Why do I keep coming back here?”
“Because you keep thinking about it.”
“So then I really did choose to come here?”
“As do all souls. Come often enough and you will live here forever.”
I was baffled but mostly overwhelmed by what this child was saying. He spoke as a man but acted and appeared as a child. What’s worse is I felt tricked, tempted to come here. If here even really existed. The child continued:
“Will you play with me now?”
“Play how? I don’t even know your name.”
“Is that important? Do you need to know the name of someone your helping? No. Let us play now.”
“What do you want to play?”
“Hide and seek.”
He then disappeared, and I never saw him again. I think he had been playing his game all along.
Day 9 of isolation
The dream world brought me back. I sat on the ground gazing into the fire-roasted sky. Behind me I heard some scrapping that sounded like footsteps,- dragging feet from a tired soul. I turned around but there was nothing. It must be the wind, I thought to myself. I sat up for the usual ever passing stillness, then more feet drags. Once more, when I turned there was nothing. My mind is playing tricks on me. When I turned to look forward again, there was a man sitting in front of me; wearing a mask or so it would seem. His face bore no facial detail, and with the look of aged lumber. His hair was puffing upright, fried by the heat of the desert. Black as a starless night. His clothes were torn but covered all his extremities.
“Yes, you. You are my friend, as are all lesser beings.”
“Why do you call me a lesser being?”
“The same reason I call a cow—a cow.”
“Are you mocking me?”
“Does a blue jay fly?”
“Who are you?”
“My friends have called me lots of things. Pick one.”
“I don’t know any!”
“Silly lesser beings. Impatient, really. What happened to manners?”
“Why don’t you tell me your favorite, then?”
“How polite. Yes. I always liked Loki. That amused me.”
“The one and only.”
“Are you a god?”
“More or less. By your standards, anyway.”
“How do you mean?”
“I like the effort you’re taking to get to know me. This is nice.”
“Can you answer the question?”
“You lessies, can’t you enjoy the moment. Patience is a virtue after all. People, are gods. They think too poorly of themselves to realize it.”
“So then you are a demon.”
“What a linear mind you have. No I am not really that either.”
“What are you then?” I was beginning to lose my temper.
“What is never as important as why.”
“Stop talking in circles!”
“Patience, child. Who I am is Loki, what I do is walk between this place and the one of cloud and light.”
“You mean heaven.”
“If you want to call it that.”
“Then—why do you do that?”
“Why would you?”
“That’s not important now!”
“Of course it is, principles are the same no matter what you do. But to answer your question before you yell some more, why is simple. Knowledge.”
“What can this world possibly teach you?”
“Oh, lesser beings. You never cease to make me laugh, you can learn anything—anytime. I imagine you think only doctors save people’s lives too; school is the only place you learn things. Listen and filter for yourself. Even a broken clock is right twice a day—unless it’s a sundial in the wrong spot. The maker is great at so many things, but every bit as bad at providing resourceful information. People deem that something is evil,- therefore nothing can be learned. Following any one system of thought other than your own makes a style of thought,- law. Once something is law it cannot be broken.”
“Are you actually suggesting that I can learn from wrong-doers?”
“If nothing else, you’ll know what not to do.”
“Why can’t the maker just give us the information?”
“A teacher doesn’t share completely, but is a guide. You have to decide for yourself to accept what’s offered. The maker would only interfere if you are trapped by another force nearly as great as itself.”
I awoke in my bed seconds after Loki stopped talking.
Day 10 of Isolation
Again in this dream world, I roamed the dirt and unpaved rubble. If it was the last thing I do, I would enter that temple and remain until I sorted this. The words the child said to me held its ground in my thoughts. I was going to talk to this ‘Father’ and finish this crusade. Margret thinks it’s in my mind but I know better. I made my way to the stairs outside the temple. At this moment there was no turning back; every step brought me close and made me feel further. The stairs faded into the skyline as if it were a portal to heaven itself. I walked, and walked,- and walked. Feeling the endless sense of time slipping by. When I made it to the top I felt as if I were an older man. Shackled by the wear and tear of time. Slowed by age and dulled by experience. It were as though I lost two years of my life every step. Once in the courtyard I saw statues I had not seen before. Outside the entrance there stood a lion; its roar frozen by the trapping spell. It would stand proud for the rest of eternity.
I stood staring for so long I didn’t see the waving invitation. I entered the temple, it was an empty room. Filled only with an altar centered in the distance. A church with no pews. There was no one around, but what sounded like three voices speaking in unison sounded in the distance:
“Dr. Robbins, why have you come to this place?”
“I did not wish, nor do not wish to reside here. I want to go back to my realm.”
“That cannot be.”
“What does it matter? You are a slave to this plane of existence.”
“I was told that ‘I chose to come here’. If that is so, why can’t I leave?”
“It is not of importance. Should you chose to come to this place enough, you will stay in this place.”
“I never chose this, I ended up here once and kept returning.”
“All souls choose it.”
“Not this time.”
“All souls choose it. Expression is different than action. You can commit a noble act, and not know why. Therefore, the opposite becomes something of a possibility. Why can’t a bully beat down a child for no other reason than ‘I can’? Idiots disguise their true intentions by creating false convictions and making new versions of their so-called truth. They blind themselves with unused passion thus sparking misdeeds. But the end result is the same.”
“You speak in riddles!”
“Hardly. You are not listening. You’re naïve mindset brought you here. Your insensitivity towards your wife alone, would curse you for ages. Even as she attempted to inform you of your disease weakening; you pushed her aside. For what? Studies of this world. You have no love for your current state, only the possible outcome over the horizon.”
“I love my wife! You know nothing!”
“I know everything about you, everything someone would need to know. Whether it would be religion, money, power or food. You would wear it as a badge of honor. An open door to boastful arrogance. Nothing would satisfy you.”
“I wished to progress!”
“ You wished to isolate. Studying the result of a matter rather than looking at the core. You can fly a man to the reaches of space, but you can’t conquer your own thoughts. You are the very disease that spreads through your filthy race. You and all that think like you. Your research, your wife, your accomplishments,- all of them are trophies on a collapsing shelf. You use them to gloat, and look down at others. Why can’t you just research to make your fellow man better, or because you love it?”
“You feed me lies!”
“I feed you truths.”
As I was beginning to lose hope I felt a warmth behind me. A warmth I had not felt before. It was . . . comforting. I fell silent, unable to talk. I felt a hand on my shoulder—as if someone was telling me to remain speechless. I look and there was a white light, for lack of a better word,- an aura. It wasn’t blinding, I felt the urge to gaze into it endlessly. Finally, the voice of the temple spoke (with great anger):
“Why have you come?”
“He will be let go.”
“That is not your choice to make! Only your father can make such a demand of me!”
“I have spoken. I have forgiven his injustice. He has learned what he needs to know”
“That is not enough! This is not your realm, this is not you decision, and this will not stand!”
“Do you dare defy my father? Do you dare defy me? I am the one created of him and his people, should you defy me—you will defy him.”
An enraged scream burst from the walls. I awoke then, in my own bed, but no one was around. There is no sign of my illness, my new charts I ran were conclusive with Margret’s.
I am disease free.
Dr. Jack Robbins discovers that he is the victim of a new, unknown disease. However, he is the only one on the entire planet infected by this bacteria. As an expert in the field of new disease and research, Dr. Robbins isolates himself to study its progression. He soon finds that this bacteria is more than he could've ever imagined.