Saturday, February 22, 2014

Letter from Tony Roquentin

(一個與被害妄想有關的故事--寫給我的學生們 A Rather Daft Paranoid Story for my Taipei Students: Can you read it?)

This is my third message. Why aren't you responding? Are you even getting these? Respond if you get this.

I think there's something wrong with the connection here. Incredibly slow. I'll go over it again, assuming you haven't gotten the last letters.

It happened yesterday. At least I think yesterday. I'm guessing I've been here a day. But I'm still not sure what happened. Kind of paranoid actually.

It started yesterday morning in the bathroom after I pulled myself out of bed. I flicked on the light and looked in the mirror and did a kind of double take. I looked normal, a little groggy and unshaven, but there was something odd about the mirror. It seemed the mirror was doing something--that's the only way I can put it--that I wasn't alone in the bathroom. Then I felt it: I wasn't looking at myself in the mirror; no--the mirror was looking at itself in me.

I know that doesn't make sense, but that's what it felt like. I didn't really know what it was.

Anyhow I shook myself a few times to get the feeling out of my head. Of course a mirror can't look. I put it down to the five mojitos the night before and reached for my toothbrush. I fixed my eyes on the bathroom counter so I wouldn't have to see the mirror.

Then I started brushing my teeth; and I began to feel it again: an odd kind of tickling, a pressure working from the inside. It was a kind of knocking about that made me almost lose my balance. Then I realized: I wasn't actually brushing my teeth. No, my teeth were brushing me.

I started to think someone had drugged me, thought I should go back to bed. But I didn't. I was a bit scared actually.

I dropped the toothbrush, spit out the toothpaste. I rinsed my mouth and went to the kitchen.

I took out the orange juice and poured half a glass. I leaned against the counter and raised the glass to my lips. I noticed my hand was shaking. Then as I took the first gulp, there it was again. At the faint sound of my swallow I clearly felt it, a sickening hollowness. Because I knew--I hadn't taken a gulp of that orange juice--no, the orange juice had taken a gulp of me!

By now I was starting to panic. I went to the living room to turn on the news, hoping the noise and images would clear my head. As the TV came on, I could see the newscaster at her desk. But she wasn't speaking; she just sat there, a pert smile on her lips, glaring at me from the TV. I stepped back and flopped onto the sofa. It was as if she was waiting for me to say something! This continued almost thirty seconds, when she finally raised her eyebrows at me, as if to say: "Well?"

I shut off the TV.

Breakfast wasn't an option. No. I had to get outside, get some air. Had I maybe really been drugged? Everything seemed normal about my movements, about the room. I had to get outside for air, go to the office, talk to people. I pulled on my clothes, grabbed my backpack, and headed for the door. But as I was slinging my backpack over my shoulder I nearly tripped. Because what actually happened wasn't what I thought. I hadn't really slung my backpack over my shoulder. No, what it felt like was totally different, as if my backpack had slung me over its shoulder! It didn't make any sense, but there it was--I'd nearly tripped.

Walking carefully, I went straight to the bus stop and began to wait. I tried whistling to calm my nerves. People were looking at me kind of funny, like they didn't expect me there; I couldn't figure it out. Everything looked normal, but the air seemed quieter; the city was quiet too, there was no wind. I tried whistling again, but couldn't come up with a tune. I fell silent.

Finally my bus heaved around the corner and began to approach us. I wanted to get to work as soon as possible, to talk to someone, to see Marcy. I stepped off the curb to get on the bus as it pulled up, but something inexplicable happened, something impossible--no doubt it explains why I'm here, typing this now; it explains why I seemed to get to work yesterday, but then didn't; it explains this place, what is this place, I can't get the door open and nobody responds when I yell. They've got me wearing these red sneakers, too small for me; I've never had red sneakers in my life.

I remember the bus pulling up to the stop, I remember seeing the driver clearly, but I can't say just what happened then. It was my bus, 292, the one I always take to work. But something happened. Did I get to the office or not? I can't say for sure--I seem to half remember it, but not really.

Respond to this message as soon as you get it! I don't even know where they have me or exactly what happened. You've got to help me, Alex. If you get this respond ASAP!


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