I’M NOT CRAZY
by Brian Haycock
I’m not crazy.
I know what people think, what they say about me when they think I’m too far away to hear. But I’m not crazy. I can say that for sure because the last time I got picked up they took me to St. Joe’s for what they call a psych evaluation. And I passed, lights out. Just flat nailed it. I even have a paper they gave me, a release form, and it says I’m not crazy.
What happened was I was out in the park, watching the squirrels play in the trees, watching the dogs, trying to figure out which of the dogs were just regular dogs and which were the synthetics. The way you can tell is, the regular dogs are always looking up at the squirrels, trying to figure out how to get up in the trees and get their jaws around the squirrels, but the synthetic dogs don’t care about squirrels. They get excited about cats sometimes, make a show of chasing them when they have to, but that’s just a subroutine, something to make them seem like regular dogs. Mostly they watch people going by, vehicles on the streets, anything that seems unusual, out of place. I’d spotted a really big boxer and some kind of a lab mix that weren’t acting exactly like regular dogs, and I was watching them, seeing what drew their interest. And then they noticed me watching them. They both swiveled their heads at once and stared at me. I could picture their silicon minds processing my image, uploading it to whoever was running them. I decided to get out of the park.
A few minutes after that a couple of cops came up to me outside the Grab-N-Go over on Monument Ave. I was coming out with a styrofoam coffee, focused on acting normal for the surveillance cameras, and suddenly they were standing in front of me, smiling those police smiles, saying, mind if we talk for a minute?
That’s about how long it took before they had me in the back seat of their cruiser on the way to St. Joe’s. A minute. I don’t remember what we talked about there on the sidewalk, but I might have said something about the aliens or Microgoogle or the NWO, or something like that. I’m usually very careful about that, but sometimes when I’m nervous something slips out. Either that or they’d simply gotten orders from whoever was working the dogs, telling them to take me in, find out what they could about me.
I didn’t really mind them bringing me in for the psych evaluation. It got me off the street for a while, gave me something to do. Besides, I figured it would be a learning experience. It’s always good to learn as much as possible about the way the world works. The implants are always telling me to keep learning and I try to do what they tell me. Besides, I thought if it took a while I might get a nice lunch out of it. You have to be practical. When we got to St. Joe’s they took me to the front desk, where they gave me some forms to fill out and a questionaire that asked about my medical and psychological history. I’ve filled those out before, and I’m pretty good at it. Of course, most of it is pretty obvious. For example, any question that starts “Have you ever been diagnosed with…” is an automatic no. The trick is to make it look like you’re being up front with them. So it’s best to answer “yes” to a few of the harmless questions. Like, “Have you ever suffered from headaches.” Everyone has, so I checked the “Yes” box for that one. There were a few of those, and I felt really good about checking them off. I felt like I was doing a good job with the questionaire.
Some of the questions don’t really make sense if you think about them. “Have you ever suffered from hallucinations?” for example. I mean, if you saw an alien spacecraft hovering outside the twentieth floor of the Downtown Hilton sucking people out the windows into a hatch in its side, you might think you were hallucinating. Or you might not. How would you know? Of course, I answered “no” to that one. That’s an easy one, unless you’re crazy enough to talk about having seen something like that. Which, of course, is the whole point. Only crazy people would admit to that. And like I said, I’m not crazy.
After I finished with the test, the cops and an orderly took me up in the elevator. They led me to a room with a metal table and some hardback chairs and told me I’d have to wait. Someone would be along in a while. There was a mirror on one wall, covered with dust. I pulled a chair over to the window so I could look outside. On the ledge outside the window there were a dozen or so pigeons walking around, bobbing their heads, watching the street below. Most of them were regular pigeons but I noticed right away that two of them were standing together, ignoring the others. Then I noticed they were swiveling their heads around behind them, checking me out. When they blinked their eyes it looked like a couple of camera shutters going off. I almost smiled, but I didn’t want them to know I was onto them The two pigeons looked at each other and flew off together down the street.
I watched the street for what seemed like hours, but I’ve pretty much lost my sense of time. I’ve been working on that. Time just makes things harder. More confusing. The traffic flowed by, the pattern broken by screaming ambulances and police cruisers, an occasional phone company surveillance vehicle. I watched one of the streetlights swivel around to watch different directions. People never notice that. They never look up. There was a flower vendor at the far corner holding up sprays of carnations, waving them at the cars. He didn’t seem to be selling any, and I started to wonder what he was really up to out there. He kept looking down the side street like he was waiting for something to happen, but I couldn’t see down there. I counted six surveillance cameras mounted on poles where they could cover wide areas of the street, but those were just the ones I could make out. Most of them are pretty well disguised. I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m paranoid. Like they’re all plotting against me. You’re wrong. They aren’t just plotting against me. They’re plotting against you, too. They’re plotting against everyone. But if you say anything, you’ll be crazy.
Finally two men came in for my interview. One was a doctor of some kind, a therapist, maybe a full psychiatrist. Probably not. He was a little guy, balding, with thick glasses and red skin. He had the worried look of someone who’d interviewed way too many psychopaths. He was afraid it would rub off. The other one was about six-four, three hundred pounds. He stood over me for a few seconds and stared at me with a bored expression, letting me know who was in charge, then he backed away and sat down near the door. The doctor told me to pull my chair over to the table and sat down facing me. He pulled out a laptop with a mike on a cord and started typing. Great. Microgoogle would be getting the whole interview in real time. And they’d be selling it to the NWO, Halliburton, the aliens… I’d really have to watch myself. “My name is Doctor Something,” he said. I’m not good with names. “And this is Mr. Something.”
“I’m Jake Mackie. Pleased to meet you.”
He nodded. “All right, Mr. Mackie. Let’s get started. Do you know where you are?”
“Sure. I’m at St. Joseph’s Hospital.”
“That’s right. And do you know why you’re here?” “Because those two cops picked me up and brought me here. We came in their police car.”
“Why do you think they wanted you to undergo a psychological evaluation?”
“Probably because they were bored and needed something to do. And they couldn’t arrest me, since I hadn’t broken any laws. So they brought me over here. Don’t worry. I don’t really mind. I know how these things work.”
The way I understand it there are two ways to handle a psych evaluation. One is to just be mild-mannered and reasonable and hope they don’t have any empty beds they need to fill up. The other is to be overtly hostile, excitable, the kind of patient that will be a lot more trouble that the per diem from the city is worth. With the orderly sitting there eyeing me like a slab of sirloin I wasn’t going to try the second option. That would have been crazy.
“Do you remember what happened in the convenience store?”
Sure I did. I’d fixed myself a coffee with five sugars and some cream, paid for it and left. I told him so.
“According to the police report,” he said, waving some papers at me, “You spilled coffee, cream, sugar and gourmet ground cinnamon all over the coffee area and when Mr. Baku asked you to clean it up you yelled at him, created a scene. You even called him a towelhead, which he thought was extremely offensive, seeing as how he’s from Thailand.”
“No, that’s not true. That didn’t happen at all. Not like that. The coffee area was a mess when I went in, but I didn’t say anything about it. I just fixed a cup of coffee, then when I went to pay he gave me a hard time. I didn’t really think anything about it.”
“And what do you think the security tape will show?”
Actually, security tapes are doctored all the time, but I didn’t tell him that. “It’ll show me getting coffee, trying to pay for it, like I said.”
“Well then. Why do you think Mr. Baku would say that you trashed his store and treated him in an offensive manner?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he’s an agent for the aliens or Microgoogle or something and they wanted to keep an eye on me because of what happened in the park.” I admit it. I was flustered. It just slipped out. As soon as I said it I realized what I’d done and I tried to grin, like it was all just a joke. The doc stared at me, and the orderly sat up straighter and rubbed his hands, suddenly interested. Doing that, he started to look like he could be one of the new alien drones I’d heard about. Suddenly I realized that I could be in real trouble here. That thought just made me more nervous. I wished the implants would help me out here, feed me a couple answers. They never seem to help out when I need them.
“I won’t have to have an MRI, will I?”
“Why would we send you up for an MRI, Mr. Mackie?”
“Um, no reason.” Of course, the problem was that I didn’t want them to find the implants. I knew that if they found the implants bad things would happen. Very bad things.
“No, I don’t think an MRI will be necessary right now. We just want to find out if you pose any danger to yourself or others, that’s all. And of course to help the police decide how to proceed with your case.”
The orderly spoke up. “You know, if he wanted, we could give him a nice ride in the MRI machine. I’ll bet the city would pay for it.” He was grinning like a cocker spaniel. A regular cocker spaniel, not a remote unit. And a really big one. I decided he probably wasn’t a drone after all, but just a really stupid, really big, regular human. Probably. Either way, I didn’t like him at all.
“No, I don’t think that will be necessary. We’ll just talk a little more, then maybe you could have some lunch. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?”
“Yes, I’d like to have some lunch.” I could feel myself calming down. I looked over at the window. The two pigeons I’d seen before were sitting there on the sill, looking in. It looked like they were laughing at me. I wanted to reach out there and wring their scrawny purple necks.
“Good. You mentioned the park. What happened there?”
“Oh, really nothing. I just… ” I didn’t know what to tell him. I knew I couldn’t tell him the dogs were watching me, sending messages about me to their handlers. Sometimes the dogs can tell I’ve got the implants and they report in on me in case the implants… “Nothing happened in the park. I don’t know why I said that. It just slipped out. You know how it is.”
“Sure. According to the police report, you’ve been in trouble before. Several arrests for vagrancy, disturbing the peace. There was an incident, you were protesting against the internet…”
“Not the whole internet. Just its use as an instrument of social control on the part of, well, you know. I was a little stressed out. It was a long time ago. A couple of years.”
“It was a month and a half ago.”
“Oh, right, what was I thinking? That was something else. I was trying to warn people about the…”
“DO NOT SAY ANOTHER WORD!” It was the implants, suddenly screaming inside my brain.
Great. I’m on my own for the whole interview, now I get yelled at.
“DO NOT TELL HIM ABOUT THE ALIEN MIND-CONTROL PROGRAM.”
Well, no, I wasn’t going to tell him about that. I mean, that would be about as bad as having an MRI. Maybe worse. I took a deep breath, tried to calm down. I could get through this. I knew I could.
“Mr. Mackie? Are you all right?”
“Oh, sure. I’m fine. Where were we?”
“You said you were trying to warn people. What were you trying to warn people about?”
“Oh, that. I was just worried about all the spam being sent out, some of it had viruses, data worms, maggots, that kind of thing. It turned out it wasn’t that big of a deal. You know, Microgoogle was right on top of it, like always.”
“Oh. Okay. I thought for a moment you were going to say something about the alien spacecraft and the abductions and the government mind-control transmitters and all that.” I heard the doctor saying that and suddenly I felt waves of relief washing through me. Finally, someone else who knew what was really going on, someone I could talk to about it all. Maybe together we could make sense of it, even find some way of fighting back. I’d waited so long for this, hadn’t even dared to believe it was possible. The implants were screaming in my head, “IT’S A TRICK. DON’T TELL HIM ANYTHING. DO NOT SAY A WORD.” I didn’t care. I just wanted to have someone to talk to about the things I’d seen. I’ve been so lonely, felt so helpless against the forces that were fighting to control our lives, our destinies. Suddenly there was hope after all. The doctor laughed. “Of course, if you were saying things like that you’d have to be crazy, and we’d have to lock you up, just for your own good.” He laughed some more, and the orderly joined in. It was all a joke to them.
I wanted to scratch a hole in the floor, crawl down into it and pull the floor back over my head. I wanted to run to the window and crash through, fly away with the polyethylene pigeons. I might have tried, if it weren’t for the bars. They had me. Instead, I forced a smile. “Sure,” I said weakly. “I’d have to be crazy to say things like that. And I’m not crazy.”
“That’s right, you’re not crazy. Of course not. Confused maybe, but then, who isn’t these days? There are times I look around, see how the world is, nothing seems to make sense… Well, never mind about that. Look, how about we get you some nice lunch, send you home?”
“Sure. I’d like to go home.”
“And I wouldn’t worry too much about the police. They said they’d just forget about charging you as long as you didn’t pose a threat to anyone. And you’re not going to cause any trouble, are you?”
“Uh, no. Of course not.”
So I went down to the cafeteria with the orderly, and I had a nice lunch, something that looked like meat loaf with gravy, soft carrots, toast, Jello. I watched the others, the patients who wouldn’t be going home right away. Most of them were just regular people, a little lost, but like the doctor said, who isn’t? After a while I noticed a couple of them were acting a little different from the others. They were alert, looking around, taking things in. They looked over at me and I looked down at the pyramid I’d been building with my carrots and toast. I know better than to get them interested. And all this time, the implants were quieting down, letting me eat in peace. After that the orderly walked with me down to the front desk, where I signed a form that said I’d been treated well during my captivity. I think that’s what it said. I didn’t read it. I just signed it. Then he led me to the door. “We’ll see you again, Mr. Mackie,” he said with a nasty grin. “I’m pretty sure about that.”
He handed me a little box of cookies for later. A parting gift. Then he gave me a copy of my release form. I still have it with me, in case I need to show it to anyone. It’s pretty complicated, full of technical jargon. I think some of it is in Latin. And there are a lot of numbers. As far as I can tell, it says that I’m not crazy. I’m pretty sure that’s what it says. Otherwise, why would they give it to me?
I walked out of there onto the sunlit sidewalk in a city with robot dogs and telescoping lampposts and subliminal whispering all around me. It was a pretty day, the air all blue and shimmering. I was glad to be out there and back in the world.
So, like I said before, I’m not crazy. The way this world is, what would it even mean to be crazy? I know enough to keep my mouth shut about the things that are going on. I know how to nod when the police ask me what I’m doing and say, no, sir, I’m not up to anything at all. I know when to smile at the doctors and say, you’re right, there’s nothing to be worried about. The aliens aren’t replacing the animals with drones and changing the people into soulless automatons. They aren’t working with Microgoogle to convert our world into a digitized electromagnetic zoo. And if they are, they must have a good reason.
See? I can say that with a straight face. I can smile about it. Then I can just walk off and enjoy this fine spring day without worrying about the heuristic rats that hide in the sewers of the city, watching us from the dark, reporting everything back to their controllers in their virtual bunkers. None of that really bothers me at all. Isn’t that what it means to be sane? Isn’t it? See, it’s like I told you. I’m not crazy.