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Title: Intersection Point
Author: jsblume
Style/Genre Prose / Fiction / Fantasy
Description: If you're not happy with this universe...
Notes:

There it sits, innocuous enough under the light of the lamp on the vacant cobblestone footpath. The conditions are right - the fog is rolling in and will soon be "a cubic mile of cotton" as Niven would say. The moonless night adds to the macabre feeling that plays with my nerves. Goosebumps crawl along my skin like ants.

Mark said this would be the best way to change my life for the better. As opposed to accidental death.

I shift uncomfortably on the sofa. Mark, my therapist, watches me in that quiet way he has. He's like a cat, waiting for me to say something that he can pounce on. He doesn't waste energy.

"I can't help the way I feel," I say.

Mark says nothing. I know what he's thinking. What he's told me a million times already.

"I'm too old and tired to change." A cop-out. I know that. He wants me to dig deeper. I look around the room and smile at everything except him. The office is pleasantly decorated in soothing colors - light blues and greens mostly, with a splash of yellow for accent. Sometimes I imagine I'm sitting in a field of grass under the sun.

The rest of the hour ticks away in silence. I walk out with all the nonchalance I can muster and eventually find myself wandering the subway platform. Standing on the edge of the platform helps to settle my thoughts, even though it makes the waiting passengers nervous. I love to gaze down the tunnel. There is something about the way reality fades away into darkness that draws me. I hear a train coming, so I turn to face the tracks and stand with my toes at the edge. The train swooshes to a stop in front of me, and I can feel the power of the machine thrumming in my veins. It's very exhilarating! I stand there grinning through the window like a fool. The passengers inside the car look at me and move away. What is it they think I'm going to do, anyway? I'm not an axe murderer or anything.

The train starts up and I feel the pull on me, inviting me down the tunnel and into the nothing. I stare after it with a deep longing. Without even thinking, I hop off the platform and land beside the closest rail. I know better than to touch the middle rail. I gaze down the tunnel and think about following it to see where it goes. Maybe it will lead me away from this world. I can only hope!

Six inches from my foot I can feel a vibration coming from the rail. The power of It is electrifying! I put my foot on the rail and let it flow through me. I feel myself being pulled and my head cracks against something very hard.

I wake up in a hospital bed.

"Good morning, sunshine!" A nurse is standing beside me, adjusting the IV.

"What happened?"

"You got lucky," the nurse says. "You almost got hit by a train. Good thing those fella's were able to pull you out in time."

"My head hurts."

"Concussion. You hit your head on the sidewalk and passed out." The nurse finishes with the IV and glances at my chart. "The doctor will be along to see you soon."

She leaves the room. I hate hospitals. So sterile. And I can't do anything but lay here and stare at the ceiling. I can see the clock on the wall by the nurses' station if I crane my neck. It's almost noon. Mark walks past my line of vision and stops at the station. The nurse points behind him to my room.

"How are you feeling?" he asks.

"Oh, you know."

Mark blinks slowly at me, just the way a cat does when he wants you to know you've failed to engage his interest. I'm spared an awkward silence when the doctor walks in.

"Good morning!" she says. "I'm Dr. Flores. How are we feeling today?"

I try to blink at her the way Mark does. By the look on her face, I would guess I didn't pull it off.

Reading my chart, she says, "Mild concussion. No sign of a hematoma. The light doesn't seem to be bothering you. Follow my pen?" She moves her pen from side to side. "Headache? Dizziness? Ringing in the ears?" I shake my head.

"Well," she says. "There doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong. Can you tell me what you were doing on the track?"

I proffer my most idiotic smile. It's bad enough I have to sit with Mark for an hour a week; I care even less about answering her questions.

"Okay. You can either tell me or you can spend the next ten days in the psych ward telling them."

Mark's expression doesn't change. I sigh.

"It's the tunnel."

"What about the tunnel?"

"It... draws me."

"What do you mean it draws you?"

"Uh," I look helplessly at Mark. "It draws me."

"I'm Mark, his therapist." He shakes hands with her. "He suffers from a dissociative disorder. I've been treating him for several years."

"In what manner does it manifest?"

"Depersonalization triggered by tunnels."

"Tunnels?"

"Yes."

"Any history of suicidal tendencies or thoughts?"

"None."

She turns back to me. "Okay. You're free to go. The nurse will be by with your discharge papers."

"I have an opening at ten tomorrow," Mark says, and follows the doctor out.

I get dressed, sign my discharge papers and wander home. This has been too much excitement for one week, and on top of it all I have to see Mark again tomorrow. I decide to spend the rest of the day in my favorite chair and stare out the window.

It's with a heavy heart that I return to Marks' office the next morning. He surprises me though.

"I've been your therapist since you were fifteen," he says. "Almost two decades. I'm worried you're going to get yourself killed."

I practice my cat blink, but he's not paying attention.

"Do you know what an Intersection Point is?" he asks. I shake my head. "Do you remember that Larry Niven story you told me about? 'For a Foggy Night'?"

Okay, now he's got my interest.

"What if I told you it was a true story?"

"True?"

"Yes. San Francisco is one hot spot. There are many all over the world. In fact, there's one in our town." He hands me a three by five card. "Here's the location. Take the card with you. This is probably the best way to change your life for the better."

And there it sits, innocuous enough under the light of the lamp on the vacant cobblestone footpath. Just like the card says. A wooden bench on a lonely stretch of path. Leafless trees line both sides of the path like silent guardians. This is the Intersection Point. The Point where all the myriad universes Intersect on rare occasions. If you're not careful, you might find yourself in a different universe.

I sit down on the bench and watch the fog slowly roll in. I look up and down the path and feel a chill of excitement; it's like being in the tunnel but more intense. I think it's the fog and the dark that does it. Before long I can't even make out the lamp; all I can see is a hint of a glow.

I must have dozed off because I feel like I'm falling and my head jerks back up. It takes me a moment to get my bearings. I hadn't expected this. Did Mark know? As I stand up I can feel it fading with the fog. My memories are reforming. I look up and down the dark tree-lined path. It reminds me vaguely of a tunnel for some reason. I shrug my shoulders, pull my jacket close and walk home.

Copyright @2012 by jsblume. All rights reserved.
jsblume has granted JS Blume Publishing™ non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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