"INVERTED VIEWPOINT ", A short-story by David Healey

A huge searchlight prised open the man's eyes and a whirlpool washed around and around inside his head. He closed them again, but consciousness had brought with it a flood of pain and nausea. After a few minutes he opened his eyes and tensed his sto-mach muscles against the urge to vomit. A whole series of conflicting signals raced up and down shattered nerve fibres looking for a home. Several more minutes passed before any of the surroundings registered any coherent image on the man's retina. Gradually his body started responding to motor impulses from the brain and he surveyed the area around the bed in which he lay.
He was in a small room with one other unoccupied bed and a single door next to a walnut cabinet. The walls were all cheerlessly painted in a pastel green with no decoration of any kind other than a framed certificate above the cabinet and a number of electrical switches and sockets. Light streamed in at a low angle through the only window in the room. It was a small casement window with a series of iron bars on the inside securely embedded at the top and bottom. The sunlight cast a gloomy magnified shadow on the wall opposite - giving the depress-ing impression of a prison cell. It appeared that he was in a small private room of a hospital. There was a definite smell of antiseptic in the air, but he could not recall the reason for his being there.
The door swung open and a pretty nurse glided across the room to the side of the bed. She was dressed in light blue frock, functionally designed with large pockets on either side and a watch pinned to a single breast pocket on the left. A tray of food was placed on a small bedside cabinet and she produced a thermometer from her top pocket and thrust it into the man's mouth.

"Good morning," she said. I hope we're in a better mood than we were yesterday. It's a beautiful day outside and I'm sure you'd rather be out than in here. You'll never get out though until you learn to co-operate and behave yourself. I'm just going to take your pulse." She took hold of his wrist and lifted her watch with her free hand. After fifteen seconds she released his arm and plucked the thermometer from his mouth. She held this up for a few seconds, shook it and returned it to her pocket. "I've brought your breakfast. Would you like me to help you sit up. "Do you think that I'm a helpless child?" he shouted at the nurse, with an indignant scowl.

He found it difficult to drag himself into a sitting position, but pushed away the nurse as she tried to help him. She placed the tray in front of him and handed him a knife and fork wrapped in a napkin. He took the fork and prodded at the food on the plate as the nurse walked over to the cabinet. He turned over a slice of lean beef and saw a small white circle of dissolving powder. His eyes fixed on the nurse who now had her back to him. With a herculean effort he flung the plate at the wall, narrowly missing the nurse. He recoiled onto the bed like a twelve bore shotgun as stabbing pains racked his body from head to foot. The nurse walked quickly to door with an urgent stride to be met by two tall white-coated men. "He's gone into seizure, the exertion of throwing the plate was too much for him," she said. One of the two doctors brushed past the nurse and prepared a hypodermic syringe at the cabinet left open by the nurse. Gravy dripped from the top on to his sleeve and he looked down at the brown stain.

"Nurse, would you clean up this mess?" he said with a grimace as he walked over to the bed. He held the syringe up to eye level and depressed the plunger slightly. One or two drops of colourless fluid appeared at the tip of the hollow needle. The other doctor held down the patient who was now convulsing on the bed, involuntary muscle spasms causing his limbs to dance in a mac-abre fashion like an upturned crab. The injection was administered with swift efficiency by a skilled hand, and the contorted body relaxed almost instantly. The nurse was kneeling down with a cloth as the two men left the room five minutes later, the patient no deeply sedated. A third doctor joined them as they walked down the corridor and was filled in on the latest developments.

"He seems to be a classic scizophrenic, one moment he's calm and coherent and then he gets excited and completely loses control," said the first doctor. "Over the last week he seems to have created a complete fantasy inside his head. He thinks that he is being held against his will in strange village and that his identity being eroded away. He seems to think that he is now classified No.6 and that someone wants information from him." 'What sort of information?" "I've no idea, but he's adamant that we aren't going to get it."

They carried on down a short flight of steps and passed through a checkout desk, the security guard perusing the small identification discs which they each wore pinned to the right lapel of their coats. They pushed through two sets of double doors and walked along a tree-line grove to the main entrance. They were again checked through a security gate before being given clearance to leave. A large wrought iron gate clanged shut behind them, framing the stet face of the guard. As they turned walk to the car park they were passed by a man in brown slacks and a navy blazer edged in white piping. He paused for a moment of side the gate and grinned slyly at the guard before continuing on his way.