Voltage and Visions

This is just something I felt like writing. It might be good or it might be gibberish, but either way I hope you like it!

Electrocution is capable of having a lot of strange effects on the mind and body. This includes but isn’t limited to impaired judgment, slowed-down mental processes and a sort of ‘fog’ in the brain. Electricity coursing through the body, especially in the large dose that hit Tim Murphy, can also cause hallucinations. These are rare but possible among victims of near-deadly electrocution. Tim, of course, didn’t know any of that, even prior to the unexpected invasion of 10,000 volts of pure electricity into his entire body. All he knew was that everything had hurt and his brain had started to feel weird ever since he’d fallen off that fence. And that he had no idea how he’d gotten so deep into the lab section of the Visitor Center building, much less to the door covered in warning labels and clearly marked “DANGER—TOXIC RADIATION—AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY”. And that, despite what he was doing, he probably wasn’t supposed to open it. But for some reason that he could barely grasp, he did.

The door was unlocked, the first unlikely factor that made Tim consider that this could have been a hallucination. It was heavier than he’d expected, and it yielded with a quiet creak when Tim lowered the handle and shoved it open with all his might. As soon as he stepped through the doorway, the door rushed to close behind him, settling back into place with a quiet click. Tim looked around, immediately noticing the most noticeable part of the room: the enormous wall that was covered entirely in electronic screens. Blinking, as he was unexpectedly bathed in bright blue and green light, Tim’s eyes wandered from screen to screen, seeing but only barely registering what each one displayed. After he’d taken it all in for a moment, his searching gaze reached the bottom of the screens. Searching, he found the even bigger, horizontal panel of dials, switches and things that looked like his Atari joysticks. Buttons and switches periodically blinked, lit up and emitted very quiet beeps, slightly interrupting the low mechanical buzz that filled the room like bees swarming inside the walls. The sound seemed to swallow Tim up at first and then became comforting, a kind of consistency that Tim’s mind began to crave among this new world of confusion. The odd calmness made it all the more surprising when a voice broke through the noise, saying, “Nice job, Tim.”

With his newly-impaired reaction time, it took Tim a second to register the sound and another second to jump in surprise. He hadn’t even noticed the figure seated in front of the control panel, and now that he saw the man, the other person in the room seemed to be much tinier and less important than adults usually were, dwarfed by the sheer size and power of the machines in the room. “Nice job,” said the computer man again, unusually calm; shadows fell over the upper half of his body, making his face. “The one room in the whole damn building you aren’t supposed to find, and you wander right in. That’s great of you, Tim. It’s so nice to have you drop by.”

“…What? Why shouldn’t I be here?” Tim asked the stranger, which seemed like a perfectly natural first question to ask at the time. “Why not? I came here to look at the park, didn’t I?” The amount of time it took to realize that the man was being sarcastic was a testament to just how much damage the electric shock had done.

The stranger man paused, leaned back in his swivel chair and exhaled. “Tell me, Tim, what made you come back here? There was all that food in the cafeteria. Thought you’d be eager to get some lunch in you after all that. And your sister, why’d you leave her? She’s worried about you.”

“I—I dunno,” the little boy said, genuinely trying to remember. He was indeed hungry, as his growling stomach was quick to confirm. So why did he wander into the lab area and start looking around the building? Even digging as deep into his fuzzy brain as he could, he couldn’t remember anything. He didn’t even recall leaving the dining room in the first place. His blood started to run cold; the whole situation was starting to feel like a bad dream.

“Well, it doesn’t matter,” the man said decisively. “If you leave right away, it won’t impact anything. Go on. Get out.” He flicked his hand in a dismissive gesture and looked at Tim expectantly. When Tim stood still, mesmerized again by the rows upon rows of screens, he repeated, “I said get out, Tim.”

“But what is this?” Tim leaned back to see the top row of screens, which extended higher than he could see, even if he craned his neck and stood on his tiptoes. Looking at a different, eye-level monitor, he managed to make sense of one of the images displayed. “Is that a brachi—a brachiosaur?” He looked to the right, at a different cluster of screens, and the unmoving pictures on all of them made him shudder. “Is that the T. rex?” The images were of the dinosaur that had attacked him hours ago, showing the animal from several different angles. The tyrannosaur was slumped over, its eyes closed, almost as if it were sleeping.

“Ask questions, why don’t you?” the man sighed. “All right, fine. Watch the T. rex, and watch close, ‘cause I’m not doing this twice.” He leaned far across the control panel, yanked down on a red joystick and pressed down hard on a button above it. Immediately, the T. rex on the screens jerked upward; its miniscule arms flopped up and down and its jaw dropped open in a wholly unnatural gesture. From the maw of its mouth emanated a loud roar which was muffled and tinny through the room’s speakers, but which made Tim involuntarily tremble nonetheless. The man said, “See?” and jerked the joystick to the left. Abruptly, the animal’s jaw still hanging further down than it should have been, the whole rex swung to the left and went still again. The computer man pushed a small button next to the joystick; the T. rex slowly turned back around, closed its jaw and assumed the unmoving pose that it had been in a moment ago.

It took at least a full minute for Tim to realize what had just unfolded. “Did you just make that T. rex move?” he finally asked the man, who was tapping his foot in impatience.

“Did I control it? Yes, I did. Good job, I thought you’d never figure it out.”

“Do you… do that with all the dinosaurs?”

The man said nothing in response, instead leaning over the control panel again. He moved a different, smaller joystick up and down, and the tyrannosaur on the screen nodded its head yes in accordance. Then he turned to Tim and gave him a tiny grin. “Now what do you think of that?”

“Is that the whole park?” Tim asked, slightly slurring his words and indicating the entire wall full of screens. “Is that… can you see the whole park from here?” The stranger silently nodded. “Do you watch us? I mean… not just the dinosaurs, me and my sister and Dr. Grant?”

“Of course,” the man told him. “I’ve been watching you this whole time. I see everything that goes on here, Tim. I’ve been sitting here and seeing you and the others move through the park for the past two days. I monitor all park activity from this room.” The strange man’s willingness to divulge such information was something else that made Tim later think that all of this was a product of his mind.

Of course, Tim didn’t consider that possibility at the time. He was too busy arriving at the conclusion that he would have much earlier, if his mind hadn’t been impaired. “So you control all these dinosaurs?” Tim asked carefully. “You—make them do all the stuff they do?” Once again, the man nodded. “Did you make them attack us? And… eat Mr. Gennaro and hurt Dr. Malcolm? And everything?” he asked, the pitch of his voice rising as the pieces of the puzzle came together. The stranger nodded again, crossing his arms. “Why’d you do that?” Tim said, hurt and confusion crashing over him in a terrifying tidal wave. “Why would you make them do that?”

“I didn’t have a choice,” the man sighed. “I’m just doing what they tell me. Wish I didn’t have to, but that’s the job.”

“But why did you hurt us?” Tim persisted. “Why did you make the T. rex hurt me and Lex? Why’d you have to do that?”

“The hell if I know,” the man shrugged. “I’m just the tech guy. I do the grunt work. Someone said this is some kind of an experiment, but even I don’t know. They want a T. rex attack, I give ‘em one. Sorry, kid. At least you only got out with a couple of scratches. I thought you’d have gotten off much worse than that by now.”

“Are… are…” Tim’s mind flailed helplessly, failing miserably to make any sense of this load of new information. “What do I do? Are more dinosaurs coming? Are you gonna make them eat me now?”

The man tapped his finger on the arm of his chair, pondering. “I don’t know. If you’re lucky, you’ll be okay. And what do you do? Tim, look up there.” He pointed to a screen right above his head; on it, Tim could see his sister in the dining room, covered in dirt just like he’d left her, heaping vegetables on her plate from the buffet. The sight of Lex was enormously comforting, one familiar sight to cling onto in this new ocean of confusion. “Go back to your sister and eat. Do what you can. You never know, maybe she’ll need you really, really bad soon. Go back to the dining hall and get some rest. Who knows, maybe you’ll need it.”

“I’ll need it?”

“Never mind. Said too much again. Listen, Lex needs you. Go back to her.”

“Well… okay.” Tim took one last look at the control panel and wall of monitors, drinking in the sight, and turned to leave when the man’s voice rang out at him one more time.

“Oh, yeah.” Tim stopped. “And I know I shouldn’t say this, but— where does the cereal go?”

“Where does the cereal go?” Tim said slowly, turning his head back. “What? Why would you ask me that?”

“Think about it, Tim. Where do you put cereal?”

“Um, in the cabinet—”

“Don’t say it,” the computer man quickly cut him off. “They could be listening to us. But that’s right. You just—might want to keep that in mind.”

Why?”

“No reason,” the man said dismissively. “Just go. Find your sister. Good luck, Tim.” Tim didn’t move. “Get out!” the man yelled, and Tim obeyed, throwing the door open and running back into the fluorescent-lit hall.

A lot happened after that, to make an understatement. The raptors attacked the dining room, Dr. Grant found them, Lex got the fences back up and the T. rex saved them at the last minute; Tim went to a hospital where everyone spoke Spanish and no one would believe his stories about dinosaur attacks; he was sent home, went back to school and generally resumed his life from where he’d left off. After he learned what had happened to him and the normal side effects of the type of electrocution he’d survived, and he managed to gather all his memories of the island and put them in their proper order, he thought more and more about the strange room he’d stumbled upon. The island, the dinosaurs, all the times he’d nearly died—those were definitely real, because Lex was always there to assure him that they were. Other people had seen all of it. The mysterious control, room, though, was his own problem to deal with.

After a while, he reached the only logical conclusion, which was that the entire incident, the wall of monitors and the puppet-robot T. rex, were hallucinations brought on by his shock-addled and sleep-deprived mind. He dismissed the memory as such and filed it away, an unimportant story that was really only worthy to be mentioned to his therapist, Dr. Hughes. She confirmed his suspicions, and after her explanation of the incident in light of his brain damage at the time, he had no real reason to believe that a room like the one he thought he’d seen even existed. Still, though, sometimes he wondered. He lay in bed in the early hours of the morning and remembered the exact things the man said to him, the glow of the screens and the huge, huge control panel, the pure, terrifying uneasiness he felt when he watched that T. rex jerk around, a feeling like being slammed to the ground out of nowhere. He remembered, and he wondered if it was really possible for all those minute details and that incredible sense of smack-in-the-face reality to be just a hallucination. He thought sometimes that there had to be more to the story, that there had to be a reason that he couldn’t stop thinking of the incident no matter how hard he tried.

But then again, it was all probably only a dream.

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