"The procedure is still evolving."
"I am aware of that."
"You do realise that there could be collateral consequences beyond my control."
There was a pause.
"It's worth it."
She gave out a long sigh and nodded giving up on the hope of convincing him otherwise. She pressing few buttons on the panel by her side and few lights beeped up.
"I need you to relax. Close your eyes and try to stay as calm as you can."
He felt a sting in his arm as she inserted the needle and emptied the syringe in one go. She reclined his chair even further till he was almost lying on his back. He relaxed into it.
"Recall the memory. I want you to think of it as vividly as you can. Let it run freely through your head. Let it overtake your senses."
She pressed few more buttons and the metallic gear surrounding his head resonated into gentle vibrations.
"You might feel a gentle pang."
He felt hints of drowsiness as the drug hit his senses.
"There you go," she whispered all so quietly, "Concentrate on the moments."
She looked at the screen on her panel. Her expression saddened as the digital waves of his brain started forming and falling, "Oh you poor thing."
The beeping gadgetry subdued. The vibrating headgear seemed to be drifting away. The surroundings were melting into a fuzzy, fluid matrix and then slowly it recomposed itself into a web of hazy pictures. The room expanded. He felt the walls and roof moving away. Or is it that he himself was shrinking? He didn't know. And she pressed the final button.
"Argh!" he gave out a muffled scream.
Andre blinked and stared at the bustling office in front. There was a ringing sensation in his ears and his head felt a little giddy.
"Are you okay buddy?"
Andre swiveled on his chair to see the tall guy sitting by his cubicle. He seemed familiar. Andre tried to think and suddenly felt a series of sparks running through his head as if taking care of some loose ends.
"Ah ouch," he reached for his head and winced. He felt as if a needle was punctured through his brain.
"What is it? Are you okay?!"
Andre opened his eyes, "Yeah, I'm fine.. Anwar."
He suddenly recalled his name as if an old memory came to the forefront. He wasn't even sure of its presence in his head till now. "Anwar yeah you're here!"
"Where else would I be? By the way did you see that new Nolan movie?"
"And I've to meet her." he mumbled dreamily. Another wave of twitching rippled through his head, constructing newer dimensions and furthering a new mesh of neurons. He let out a small yelp of agony.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Anwar looked at him suspiciously.
"Fuck! It has happened!"
"What has happened?"
"What day is it?!"
"12th November of 2016."
Andre jumped out of his seat and grabbed his coat before making a dash for the exit.
The whole building was swarming with people who were appearing for the exam. Andre made his way through the crowd. Every face looked vaguely familiar. There were random "hellos" thrown at him. He was least concerned. He was just jostling his way to the examination room.
"Woah woah relax buddy. Your admit card?" the guy at the entrance pushed Andre back.
"My admit card?" a wave jolted through his head yet again and he felt darkness in front of his eyes.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, yes my admit card!" he haphazardly ran his hands over his pockets, "it's got to be here somewhere here, " his hands dug into the pockets of his jeans and he pulled a parched paper out of it in bewilderment. He was more than sure that it was not there when he left the office an hour back. Nevertheless, other pressing matters were to be dealt with for now.
" Here! See its my name here, Andre. My photo too."
"Yeah yeah fine move in," the invigilator pulled down his arm that he had placed across the entrance.
He rushed in to see the ocean of heads sitting in long rows throughout the exam hall.
*How do I find her? *
He started running in through the spaces between the rows. All the eyes were prying him in surprise. He was unable to locate her.
*What if I shout out her name? No no that will be too stupid of me. I've to talk and explain everything to her.*
He started running through the next row looking up and down the length of the hall.
*Where are you? WHERE ARE YOU?*
And he felt the first wave of numbness running through his spine.
"Arghh! Time is running out. I've gotta meet her."
He swivelled in dizzying circles eyeing every face possible. His hand ran frantically through his hair and sweat beads formed across his brows.
"Arghhh!" a pang emanated from the bottom of his spine and ran in the form of dendritic waves through his back towards his neck. The matrix was dissolving. He was still turning and running with whatever willpower he had and searched for her elusive fave. His hand clasped around his pulsing head. The pain was unbearable. The newly formed paths were getting erased. The convolutions recently twitched into existence were beginning to fade away.
"No, no, no please just few more..."
And his eyes met hers. There she was. Sitting innocently in a black dress. Her big, indolent eyes blinked dreamily. Her eyes. He had dreamt of those eyes so often now that they seemed to be a part of his being. What is it that he felt in his chest? It wasn't pain. It felt like his heart was bloating. A rickety dam holding unbound love that was about to flood the whole world. She didn't recognise him. How would she? She'd never met him. She looked amused and slightly irritated. Afterall he had just raised a small pandemonium. He smiled. He loved that expression of hers.
It was as if everything had slowed down. He wanted to scream her name. He wanted to tell her who he was. He wanted to tell her where he'd come from and that she was the only reason that he had breached the realms of the physical world. He parted his lips but the sound didn't come out. He couldn't utter a word. He tried to take a step and reach out for her with his hand. He couldn't. The matrix was dissolving. Her face was dissolving. He felt his head expanding or is it the room that was contracting? He couldn't tell. There was pressure on his back. He felt like he was floating backwards. There is this light that's rushing to him. It's getting bigger. And closer. It's too close now.
"Shh it's alright. It's alright. You're here. You're back. " she pushed back the headgear away and stroked his head gently. He was sweating profusely.
"Oh God are you alright? You look so pale. I told you it's not ready yet!"
"I saw her.."