MUSE

         I’d heard about it before, but I never thought I’d need it. I thought that MUSE was for hacks and bores who couldn’t have an original thought with a gun to their heads. But, it seems that I was the biggest bore and the hackiest of hacks, because I had absolutely no clue what to write. Every day I’d sit down to a blank page. If I was lucky, I’d turn out a sentence or two of something utterly worthless and insubstantial before I had to get up and puke from reading what I’d written. Most of the time though, I’d just be completely stuck. I’d have no idea how I could spit anything out. So, here I was, driving to a clinic to get an operation I used to think I was too good for.

         I can’t say my experience with medical procedures was great, or existent. I’d never gone to a hospital, I’d never broken a bone, I’d never even gotten wisdom teeth removed. So, it’s safe to say that when I was walking into an operation that would not only involve strangers messing with my body, but strangers messing with my brain, I was a tad nervous. Still, I was desperate, and I needed to crank out something to feed myself with, so here I was. I walked into the clinic, got checked in, and waited on an uncomfortable chair in the waiting room. There were a couple of other people there. One was a young woman, blue hair, a piercing or two, artsy. I never saw the other patient’s face, all I saw were his hands, his legs, and a newspaper that came out years ago.  Evidently, though, both of them were here for the same reason, and the woman was at least as nervous as me. Ideally, we would have talked, commiserated, comforted each other, but nobody was really in the mood. We just listened to the far-too-loud clock tick far-too-loudly.   

     Eventually, my name was called, and I got up. I’d done some research on MUSE before deciding to undergo it, but it still seemed foreign when I walked into the operating room. The room itself was clean, white, and sterile, but the contraption in the middle of the room looked almost completely out of place in it. It was dull black and duller grey, quite out of place amidst the polished shine of the room. It was almost too big for the room too, and it had more monitors and controls on the sides then any machine has any business having. There were two main components I took notice of. One was a giant tunnel, not dissimilar to the type used for brain or body scans, and the metal panel in it seemed to portray a similar purpose. The other looked vaguely like what you’d get if a demon somehow managed to have a baby with both an octopus and all of the tools a dentist would use in your nightmares. I certainly wasn’t thrilled about this operation at all at this point. Still, this was my only option.

            They told me to get on the big steel plank, and I agreed. They put a big breathing mask over my face, and I was hoping that I’d fall asleep, but alas, no such luck. I’d done research on the procedure before, and they’d been very clear that the chemicals, while they numb the pain, were not there for that reason. Rather, they’re meant to stimulate and distort the brain while they performed the procedure. They also made it clear that, as a side-effect, these drugs tended to cause one to experience very vivid dreams and hallucinations. Honestly, many probably would’ve found that sort of experience to be inspiration enough, but that was only a byproduct. Honestly, I was terrified of this. I have a history of nightmares, and even they failed to inspire me much. So, I was going into this fully expecting it to be a horrifying ordeal. And frankly, I was entirely correct.

          It started when the panel I was lying on slid into the tube. It felt like whatever this thing was, it was devouring me whole, like I was being drawn into the gullet of some horrifying creature. When I heard the machines of the octopus-tool thing rev up and approach me, I could’ve sworn that they were the resounding boom of this creature closing its mouth.

     I heard what sounded like the metallic grumbling of a gigantic stomach, and then, suddenly, as complete darkness closed around me, the tube began to tilt! I tilted, my head going up and my feet down, until I slid smoothly into a long, dark metal chute. Down I plunged, then left, then right, then, maybe upside-down? It was impossible to tell in the darkness. I didn’t know how long it was. It could’ve been centuries or seconds, but somehow, my brain couldn’t tell the difference.

       When I reached the end, I found myself in a small, fleshy enclosure, just as dark and just as quiet, and where time was just as ambiguous. I don’t know if I was conscious for the full time there. I feel like I must have blacked out, though, because the next thing I knew, I blinding, white light opened up, piercing my vision and reaching out to grab me. I screamed in terror and anguish, but I was no use, the light took me, and I could see the hospital room all around me, but as the infant I now was, I had no idea what any of it was. I didn’t know anything. I was a new being.

           Now, this may sound crazy to you, or maybe you’ve experienced something just like this, I don’t know. But, I lived a full life as that baby. I grew up, I went to college, I got married, I had children, I grew old, and, eventually, I died peacefully in my sleep. It was when I woke up in the casket that things went downhill. I woke up, it was dark, I was in a long, tubular space. Immediately, I panicked, I screamed, I banged against the top. I tried to yell at them, 

      “I’m not dead! I’m not dead! I’m not dead!”

          It was then that they pulled me out of the the device, and I, panicking, confused, and scared, tried to run from the room. Two nurses grabbed me, a needle went into my arm, and I blacked out. When I woke up, I was still groggy, but by then, I knew what was happening. The drugs had worn off enough for me to leave the fantasy. Still, there was enough in my system that I still felt disjointed. Even now, I’ll say that it feels weird to be back in this life after having lived as someone else altogether. Still, after a quick overnight stay at the recovery center, I drove back home and opened my laptop.

            MUSE worked like a charm. Suddenly, I was overflowing with so much creativity and inspiration that I could hardly keep up as my brain raced through the vivid scenes and stories that I wrote. My books were bestsellers, in fact, you probably know my name. But, I want to remain anonymous, because, you see, I’ve been having a problem that I can’t quite tackle. 

      There have been times recently when things have felt… off. Not disturbing, not creepy, just unreal. Lingering uncertainty at having done certain tasks, maybe flashes of deja vu or brief images that were probably my imagination. Just today, I found myself at a grocery store, and though I vaguely recall driving there, it doesn’t feel like it actually happened. Occasionally, my friend will mention some event that I don’t remember happening, or seem to say complete nonsense before I understand their words perfectly. Now, I know this doesn’t sound abnormal, but here’s the thing. I don’t think I noticed these things in my life before I had MUSE. Worse still, I remember those things in the life I lived during the surgery. So now, I’m wondering. Did the operation ever end? Or worse, is my whole life a side-effect of somebody else’s surgery?

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