After a while, the boy regains consciousness. He spends the first few moments trying to clear up the confused thoughts in his head, trying to remember what happened.
But he can’t, so he decides to open his eyes.
He is in a white, object-free room. The room is also very small, almost claustrophobic. Despite this there is too much mess in his head, he sees things he shouldn’t see and from angles that are not possible, he hears things he shouldn’t hear, and he smells non-existent and senseless flavors …
He wonders what’s going on. He feels so many things, too many things, and none of them can be real. Musical backgrounds without time or notes, fixed and immobile flavors and smells, sensations he had never experienced before.
Many minutes pass. Minutes of confusion and daze.
He looks around for more information, but doesn’t find much. He is aware that he is on a bed, he sees it for some strange reason, sees it in its entirety and sees himself lying on it. He can see it from above as if he were experiencing an out-of-body experience … how is it possible?
What’s even more frightening is that the bed can be seen from all sides. He can see it from above, from below, from the right, from the left … all at the same time, as if suddenly he had not just two eyes but hundreds.
He does not understand. His head starts to hurt.
He closes his eyes, but he doesn’t stop seeing himself. The view only becomes more… smoky. Blurry. “Wrong”, as if it were the visual of a cartoon. But it remains. Marius continues to see himself from every possible angle, it is as if he has millions of cameras around him and he is watching them all even with his eyes closed.
He opens his eyes again. He’s out of breath. His heart is beating fast. He’s afraid. He almost feels like he’s suffocating, even if it’s totally illusory.
He runs his hands through his hair and face, then he pulls himself up abruptly and tries to figure out what’s going on.
There is nothing around the bed, not even a bedside table. He and the bed are the only things in the room, which at least has a door. Should he open it? Should he go out? Something tells him that he shouldn’t …
He continues to study the environment in which he is located. It’s easy as a thing because he doesn’t really need to move to do it: he finds that the “cameras” pointed at him can be pointed at other places as well, so he can see most of the room without having to move.
There are some dark areas though… for example, part of the floor is dark, as well as some parts not reachable by his eyes.
Marius is finding this very strange; curious and almost fascinating, but strange and scary. For a moment he even reflects on the possibility of being dead.
After all, this is a weird place. It is all white and devoid of objects … it cannot be a hospital room. And it’s certainly not his bedroom. So … where he is?
He would like to call someone but he is afraid to make noise, and that closed door is unnerving and disturbing at the same time. He does not know why, but he knows that there is something on the other side. Something that for now he neither wants nor should see. Something that … is about to enter?
Marius stiffens as soon as the door handle lowers and the door opens. He even holds his breath. But what comes in isn’t as threatening as he feared.
She is a tall woman with wavy black hair and a chocolate-colored skin; she’s wearing an elegant white suit, but it doesn’t look like a doctor’s coat.
Seeing her fills Marius’s mind with sounds, tastes and smells. As soon as their eyes meet she smiles, a smile that only exacerbates those abnormal sensations.
<<Look who is giving signs of life! >> says the woman with a cheerful voice <<Did you sleep well?>>
Marius looks at her with bewilderment. Every single part of that woman gives off sounds, colors, tastes, smells, everything! His five senses seem to be going crazy.
Her voice is also strange. He hears his words expand in the air as he would feel a drop of water slide down his back, he sees every single thing he says come out of his mouth and then crash and bounce off the walls … and those words have a smell! And a flavor! And a color too!
<<Oh gods … you have a terrible face darling. I guess you haven’t slept that well. Maybe ->>
<<SHUT UP!.>> Marius’s voice resounds in the room like a gunshot; the woman immediately falls silent, while the boy follows his own voice with his eyes until it disappears completely <<A.>> Marius says again, and the thing repeats itself: the letter comes out of his mouth in the form of … a color? And it bounces off the walls until it becomes more and more faded, and then totally invisible.
But what he sees is not a real color. First of all he can’t give a name that color, he doesn’t think he’s ever seen it before, so it’s not a naturally occurring color. Besides, it doesn’t even look like a real color, it looks more… an hallucination?
But it’s not just a color. It is also a flavor. An initially intense flavor, which then becomes increasingly weaker until it disappears.
And it is also a physical sensation, like a needle resting on the skin that slowly releases the pressure and moves away.
And finally it is like a smell… a sudden, quick, pungent smell, which however disappears immediately, which is no longer felt after a few moments.
Marius does not understand. He is confused. His head hurts even more than before. He wants to pass out.
<<Can I speak now?>> the woman asks, then the boy turns suddenly towards her.
That body is still producing all those strange sensations… and the strangest one is perhaps the music. Looking at that woman is like listening to a song. A song without voices though, a timeless song… immobile like the notes of a piano held down for eternity.
<<What… is… happening?>> Marius asks <<I’m not understanding anything.>>
<<I only asked you if you’ve slept well.>>
<<No? So the bed is uncomfortable.>>
<<No! That’s not the problem! It’s that … I feel things!>>
<<You feel … things?>>
The woman assumes a perplexed expression <<You are not helping me, boy.>>
<<I just don’t know how to explain it! But they are everywhere! I see those fucking things everywhere!>>
<<Try to use an more elaborate nouns.>> she proposes with a smile.
<<I hear … noises. No, they’re sounds. Like musical notes.>>
<<Musical notes, huh?>>
<<Yes, musical notes.>>
<<What kind of music?>>
<<I-I don’t know ->>
<<Then tell me what kind of musical instrument are you hearing.>>
<<I don’t know! They aren’t the sounds of a piano. Not even guitar … or violin …>>
<<Are they an accordion?>> she suggests.
<<Uhm … maybe it’s an organ.>>
<<No, no, no!>> Marius slips his hands through his hair and closes his eyes << I feel too many things! I see too many things! They do not stop! Even with my eyes closed I keep seeing things! And then the flavors, and the smells … >>
<<Okay, okay. Calm down. Now I’m going to order you something to eat. You will see that after a good meal you will feel better. Okay?>> the woman says at this point, advancing rapidly towards the door <<I’ll be right back! You just … try to avoid going crazy, okay? Wait for me! DO NOT GO CRAZY! >>
That said, she goes out of the room.
The door of the bedroom reopens <<So, how are you now?>> asks the woman entering inside <<Do you feel better?>>
Marius puts another little white pizza in his mouth, then looks at her <<Worse.>> he says with his mouth full.
<<You seem much calmer though.>>
He swallows the pizza almost without chewing it <<You gave me only junk to eat.>>
<<But you’re eating it.>>
<<Because I’m hungry.>>
<<Hungry, uh?>> the woman glances at the plastic plates that Marius has left empty; in all they are seventeen.
<<Yes. I’m hungry. And it doesn’t go away. I don’t know why.>>
The woman approaches us and takes our eighteenth plastic saucer from our hands <<Maybe you ate too much.>> she says.
<<You mean too little! I want meat! Enough of this stuff that tastes like nothing! The blankets have more flavor!>>
<<If you don’t liked it you could have avoided eating so much. >> she says placing the plate on top of the others, all placed in a corner of the bed.
<<I know. It’s just that every time I finish a dish another comes along. From there.>> and points to the ceiling.
<<That’s how room service works around here. >> she replies <<Nice, isn’t it?>>
<<Cool as a system.>> Marius comments <<It’s a pity that the dishes are not taken back, though.>>
<<Well … you should put the empty dishes on the tray when it comes down, actually.>>
<<Ah …>> Marius looks at the woman <<anyway … who are you?>>
<<Who am I? >> the woman gives him a look of fake bewilderment <<You are in worse shape than I thought. Tell me … how do you feel now? You seem to have calmed down a bit.>>
Marius looks at his hands and turns them in front of his eyes. Each of their movements produces music, and the more the movements are beautiful to look at, the more enjoyable the music is … the more complex the movements, the more composed the music … the faster the movements, the faster the tempo of the music.
<<Nothing has changed. I’m just used to it.>> he says.
<<Do you still hear those annoying noises?>>
<<There are not just noises. I also feel smells. Flavors. Strange sensations, like things that touch me but are not actually touching me.>>
<<And … can you describe these sensations in a more precise way?>>
<<No! I cannot do it! I do not know how to do it. But every time I speak I see … I see what I say.>>
<<You see what you say like… letters?>>
<<No.>> Marius moves his gaze on her <<I see like… colored waves.>>
<<And what color do they have?>>
<<I don’t know.>>
<<How do you not know?>>
<<I don’t know! It’s not green, it’s not yellow, it’s not blue … I just don’t… I just don’t know what color it is. I’ve never seen it before.>>
<<And everything you say has that color?>>
<<No. The baddest words, like the swear-words, have dark and… heavy colors. While sweeter words are clearer and lighter. And they taste better too.>>
The woman raises an eyebrow <<Interesting.>>
<<But I don’t just see colors! I also see where they end up! They even have a scent. And if I say the word “cold” … those waves become cold. And I feel the cold. Not too strong, but I feel it.>>
Marius sighs <<I’m going crazy, right?>>
<<Most likely yes.>> says the woman with a broad smile <<But don’t worry! I’m here to prevent it!>>
<<Are you a doctor?>>
<<Oh hell no!>> she replies with the same broad smile.
<<So … uhm … who are you? >>
<<I’m the one who’ll put you back to health, my boy.>> is her answer <<Come on, time to get up! You need to do some physical exercise if you want to feel good.>>
<<Uhm … wait …>> Marius frowns <<Why?>>
<<Why? Don’t you know?>>
<<Exercise helps the mind! But being lazy help being crazy! So if you don’t want to go crazy, you’d better get up right away big boy.>> she says <<Now I’m going to get you some suitable clothes. I’ll be right back!>>
<<W-wait …>> Marius touches his legs, and realizes one thing <<Oh my god, but I AM COMPLETELY NAKED!>>
<<Always has been!>> she says going out of the room and closing the door behind her.
Marius is standing up now.
In the meantime I am activating his dormant muscle units and oiling the nervous communication system, so as to speed up both his movements and his reflexes.
When I’m done his body will be fully functional. It already works fine now, but with the new communication systems I have been setting up the brain orders should reach the limbs at the speed of light, if not faster.
My host is looking at his body carefully now. He recognizes the various parts, but feels that there is something different, especially around the lumbar area.
<<I’m back!>> the woman returns to the room with folded clothes in her hand <<Clean and perfumed, just as you like them!>> and as soon as she notices that Marius is out of the bed covers takes on a slightly worried expression <<Hey, aren’t you a little bit too exposed? You risk getting cold!>>
Marius shrugs <<I don’t feel cold. Not even hot. Here everything is at room temperature, I think.>>
<<If you say so.>> she puts the clothes on the bed <<Anyway, enough with posing naked, time to cover up! We’re not in a porn industry.>>
<<It is not my fault if I am naked.>> Marius answers while retrieving the clothes.
<<You’re the one who doesn’t have the clothes though.>> she replies.
<<Yeah. Because someone took them from me!>>
<<Don’t look at me. I have better things to do during the day.>>
Marius lets out a sigh, after which he finishes dressing.
What he is wearing now is a very simple and sporty suit. It does not satisfy my guest’s aesthetic tastes however; it is completely white and a bit too tight … and there is no shoes.
<<I’m ready.>> says Marius once finished <<So?>>
<<Follow me big boy. Let’s go and see if you are all ok.>>
Leaving the small white room we find ourselves in a room … always white but bigger. His brain is filling up again with symphonies and sensations never experienced before, but they are very light and all of them are connected to the white color and the emptiness of the room.
Marius remains confused though. He looks around not understanding what is happening or what he is actually feeling.
<<Hey.>> the woman gets his attention back <<Are you okay?>>
<<Y … yes.>>
<<You don’t seem very convinced though.>>
<<It’s that … I told you, I’m hearing strange things.>> Marius turns to her <<Are you sure I’m not dead?>>
<<Why should you?>>
<<It’s all white here.>>
<<I’m black though.>>
Another sigh escapes Marius <<Okay. Everything is white except you. And you are also dressed in white.>>
<<So… maybe this is the heaven.>>
<<If this were the heaven I would ask God for a refund, my boy.>>
<<Still better than hell, right?>>
<<Maybe.>> the woman advances towards the center of the room, and Marius follows her: every step they take is a bass in their melody, every meter they travel generates unique sensations… walking has never been so incredible for him, it is an experience totally new.
He is still able to see himself from the outside. He can see the direction he is taking from every single point around him, he can even look over his shoulder, but this strange “sight” is not totally the same as the one he has when he uses his eyes, it is more… “surreal”. It is much more like a dream than reality.
Yet it is true.
<<Very good.>> she stops and turns towards him <<Now I’ll let you do some exercises, okay? Just to see if after that long sleep you are still ok.>>
<<Get ready!>> she smiles.
Marius is out of breath … but he is satisfied.
He passed the physical tests of the woman excellently, but since he is able to see himself from the outside and, consequently, to “feel” his movements… he was amazed. From himself.
His movements produced precise in tune and pleasant sounds. They weren’t always perfect, there was some jarring from time to time, some slow down not catchy … but he has a great balance and great body control, he developed both by doing calisthenics, so overall he moves pretty well.
In addition to the sound it was also the smells and flavors that delighted him. His movements had an exquisite and inviting smell and taste; sometimes the aftertaste was questionable, true, but in the end seeing himself was like eating a dessert.
And then there was the sense of touch that gave those movements a … solid consistency. Seeing them, Marius felt as if he were holding a piece of metal in his hand: solid, hard, resistant … not very pretty or delicate, true, perhaps a little rusty, but reliable.
<<So? >> the woman regains his attention <<Have you got your breath back?>>
<<Yes … It wasn’t as difficult as I thought.>>
<<Of course, I just had to make sure you can move well, I didn’t have to kill you.>> she replies.
<<Yes but… it was easier than expected nonetheless. And I’m sure that I can do even better than this.>>
<<Good to know! Maybe it’s time to work on your brain now.>>
<<On my brain?>>
<<Yes! Since you woke up it seems that you have the symptoms of synesthesia.>>
<<Do you know what it is?>>
<<More or less. It’s like when you see a color and feel a taste, right? Like… you see red and you think strawberries. Or you see yellow and think of bananas.>>
<<Or when you see the blue and feel the cold. Does it remind you of something?>>
The woman chuckles << Exactly! Synesthesia not only connects sight and taste, but also sight and touch. If you see red you might feel hot for example. Or if you touch something hot, you could think of the red color.>>
<<Oh no … so … you’re saying that ->>
<<Yes! You have total synesthesia boy! A potentially fatal mental condition that cannot be found in nature!>>
<<N-it’s not a big deal, right?>>
Hanna puts on an eloquent expression <<I just told you it’s potentially deadly.>>
<<Y-yes but … but I’m alive!>>
<<For now?>> he exclaims.
<<For now!>> Hanna confirms with an encouraging smile.
<<Oh fuck …>> Marius runs his hands through his hair looking around with a pinch of desperation and fear <<but what does this total synesthesia do, exactly?>>
<<Nothing special. It only connect every one of you sense to all the other sense. So if you see an object… you feel a taste. And a smell too. And also a noise. They are all illusions obviously, caused by the brain, they are not real things … but they are very … strong illusions, let’s say.>>
<<Ah…>> Marius looks at his hands, then looks around; he was finally starting to understand what was going on in his mind <<that’s why it’s all so strange.>>
<<Come on, don’t do that face! Artists would pay with their lives to have a total synaesthesia like yours.>>
Marius goes back to look at her <<Why?>>
<<Imagine being able to hear the music of a painting. Or to be able to see the colors of a song. Got it? This is synaesthesia. Your brain connects everything it sees with every other sense and vice versa. Every word, every smell, every taste, every color… everything is connected. Isn’t it magnificent?>>
<<I don’t know.>> Marius scratches his head <<I’m just confused right now.>>
<<Imagine going to a concert.>> she continues <<Generally you would only hear the music, right?>>
<<But now you will be able to see that music! As if it was a movie! So you pay for a concert, but you also attend to a movie! >>
<<Uhm… well… it’s not really like that… they are mostly colors that move at random directions …>>
<<So it’s like watching a theatrical show!>>
<<Worse. It’s more of a carnival madness. Or a mental trip.>>
<<Then why are you complaining?>> she exclaims <<And in addition to what you see, there is also what you smell! If the concert is good it will smell good. And it will taste good too! It will be like eating in a luxury restaurant!>>
<<Uh … but this work also in reverse, you know?>>
<<What do you mean?>>
<<If the concert is bad … it will taste bad.>>
<<Well … yes. This is how it works. The beautiful is liked, the ugly is not.>>
<<Yeah but in this case I don’t know if is a good thing…>>
<<In general musical concerts are beautiful. And if you don’t like them you could still avoid going there.>> she comments.
<<Yes but … these things you say also work with simple words. Like you … now you’re talking to me, aren’t you? Everything you say has a smell and a taste. The more I am convinced, the more it tastes good. The less I am convinced, the less I like the taste.>>
<<And now what does it taste like?>>
<<It tastes like shit.>>
<<Ah …>> the woman rolls her eyes <<well … you don’t have to listen to me if you don’t want to.>>
Marius sighs <<Listen, out there is full of people talking bullshit. I don’t want to taste shit every time an idiot opens his mouth.>>
<<Understandable.>> she admits <<But … by saying this you indirectly called me an idiot, or am I wrong?>>
Marius looks her straight in the eye, and the woman holds his gaze with an expression between the investigator and the fake offended.
The two look at each other for a few seconds without saying anything.
<<Who are you? >> the boy asks once again.
<<You’re a curious boy, huh? I’ll tell you, but let’s do the mental tests first. I want to see if your brain is holding synesthesia correctly or not.>>
<<First I want to know who you are.>>
<<I’ll tell you after the tests, I promise!>>
<<What does it cost you to tell me now? You can even invent a fake name if you really want.>>
The woman raises her eyes to the sky and sighs <<So many whims … names are powerful boy, inventing them from scratch is disrespectful! Come on, we don’t have too much time. >> once she said that, she looks up at the ceiling, from which a trapdoor opens and a table slowly descends.
I’m the one who applied the total synaesthesia to his brain. I have not limited myself to this however, I have also improved the communication between neurons by creating immediate passages between the brain cells. Now Marius’s thinking speed should be unmatched by other humans and almost on par with that of computers.
This didn’t make him any smarter though. Just faster.
I could make other changes if I want, but I need more organic material to work on in order to improve him.
I need more food.
<<Fuck, I’m so hungry.>> Marius says as he sits in front of the test table, then sighs, slightly irritated <<Okay … so? What should I do?>>
The woman sits down in front of him <<What do you see above here?>>
Marius lowers his gaze, but in reality he doesn’t need to look to see what’s on top. He already knows.
<<A photo … a glass of water … some scissors …>>
<<Let’s start with this!>> she takes the photo and puts it right in front of him <<What do you see?>>
<<What do you feel?>>
<<Er … some quiet notes. Familiar notes. I’ve heard them before. They are delicate. And they are nostalgic. They make me think of … something …>>
Marius shrugs <<I don’t know what this sounds make me think of. It’s just nostalgic.>>
<<Do you feel something else beside the sounds?>>
Marius focuses on the photo <<Uhm… a familiar taste. Something I’ve already eaten many, many times. Same thing goes for the smell. While the consistency tastes solid and safe. It is also comfortable and soft. And warm.>>
The woman smiles <<Interesting.>> she puts the photo down and tells us to pick up the glass <<And this? What do you feel about this?>>
Marius makes an annoyed face <<It has bothered me since it entered the room.>>
<<Yes. It’s cold. It’s wet. It tastes wet. But it has no smell. The taste… it’s fresh. Like a popsicle made only of water. And it doesn’t emit particular sounds, only a very thin constant note.>> the boy says <<If I move it the note changes, but it remains thin. I don’t know how else to describe it.>>
<<Try to drink it.>> the woman proposes, and Marius, albeit with a bit of hesitation and doubt, does so.
He feels the water run down his throat, down to his stomach. That “thin note” first transforms into a rapid musical sequence, and then mixes with the composition that his body is producing, and there, little by little, it gets lost in the other sounds.
Marius puts the glass on the table immediately after. Now that it is empty that note has disappeared, only a sound light and imperceptible remains, almost non-existent. It is because the glass is transparent probably.
<<So?>> asks the woman with a smile.
<<It taste like nothing.>> is the answer of Marius <<My mouth is even drier than before.>>
<<Great! Let’s continue.>>
She puts several objects in our hands, one after the other. They are laces, scissors, pens, syringes… she asks us questions, and Marius answers as best he can.
When the objects finish, the woman makes a mock applause.
<<Congratulations! Synesthesia looks great on you! Most people die because of it. But not you. Well done!>>
<<Dies?>> asks the boy with a slight concern.
<<Told you that it’s mortal! Under synesthesia the brain tends to explode, for obvious reasons. The problem is that the field of consciousness is very difficult to contain. Many people can’t stand it.>>
She sighs <<You really don’t know anything, huh?>>
<<I don’t even know what I’m doing here! >> Marius replies.
<<Exactly. You don’t know anything.>> she remarks, then smiles <<Come on, let me explain it to you big boy. I’m here for this after all.>>
<<Do you know what the five senses are for?>> she asks.
<<Er… to feel things?>>
<<Yes. They are used to understand what you have around you.>> she explains <<Synaesthesia unites your five senses with each other, and this causes a particular effect in your brain. Call it “sixth sense” if you want.>>
<<So … I have an extra sense now?>>
The woman takes the scissors from the table and puts them behind her back.
<<Tell me … are they open or closed?>>
<<Open.>> Marius answers confidently.
<<Always open. I can see them.>>
She smiles <<Exactly.>> puts them back on the table <<Do you know why you see them?>>
<<Uhm…>> Marius shakes his head <<not really.>>
The woman then opens and closes the scissors in front of the boy’s eyes; in doing so they produce a very loud and recognizable metallic sound.
<<For the noise.>> she then says <<When you open them they make a noise, which they repeat when you close them. This is the secret. You didn’t hear the sound of the scissors closing, that’s why you knew they were open.>>
<<Yes but … I saw them open as well. I mean … I shouldn’t have saw them. Right?>>
<<Sight is now connected to hearing. Your brain simply uses the information it has to recreate what it feels. In reality you are not really seeing them, you are just imagining them.>>
<<But I saw very well! It didn’t seem like just an hallucination.>>
<<Are you sure about that? >> the woman puts her hands behind her back <<Tell me … how many fingers are closed at the moment?>>
Marius hastens to give an answer to prove he is right, but he is forced to stop because he does not see her hands. Instead of them he sees only a brown spot, as if her hands have merged together …
<<See?>> the woman puts her hands back in sight <<You don’t really “see” them. It’s just imagination. But your imagination will be correct most of the time, the important thing is that your five senses are functioning well. For example, if you see a person walking, while closing your eyes you will continue to see him walking in the direction he was moving. However the image will be blurred, and eventually will evaporate. If you feel that person with other senses that image will be more solid instead, and will disappear less quickly. This creates a field of consciousness around you… a field where everything you hear and sense you visualize as well.>>
<<S … so …>> he closes his eyes, and exactly as before the sight does not disappear <<so I have like … super senses? Something like that?>>
The woman giggles <<Something like that, yes. Aren’t you happy?>>
<<I…>> Marius returns to focus his attention on the woman <<I don’t know. Why do I have these … “super powers”?>>
<<They are not super powers, boy. They are privileges. Privileges kindly granted by the DNC.>> she replies.
<<And what is that?>>
<<Divine Neural Chip. Do you know what neural chips are?>>
<<Ehm … I only heard about it. Are they like those chips that connect your brain with a phone, or something like that?>>
<<Exactly!>> the woman gives a little applause <<I see that you are informed, boy.>>
<<Yes but… isn’t that an experimental technology?>>
<<Just know that it is this chip that gives you synesthesia and the field of consciousness.>> she replies with a smile.
<<Uhm… o… okay.>> Marius tries to rearrange his thoughts; he got too much information all together, he is not understanding them much <<But … but then … I have … wait. That’s mean that I have a neural chip in my head?>>
<<I don’t know.>>
<<How do you not know? You said I have it!>>
<<I don’t know if you have it exactly in your head, you may have it in other parts of your body.>> is her answer followed by a cheerful smile, and seeing her like this Marius doesn’t know whether to get angry, cry, scream, or be afraid.
<<Who are you?>> he asks him at this point, more nervous than before <<You promised to tell me.>>
<<Oh, you’re right … well, I can tell you who you are, if you want.>>
<<What sense does it make? I already know who I am.>>
She smiles in a light and more mischievous way than usual <<Oh, really? So tell me. Who are you?>>
Marius thinks about it for a moment. He has the answer exactly on the tip of his tongue. But…
<< I-I… >>
<<Do you at least know your name?>>
<<Tell it to me, then. What’s your name?>>
He blocks. He can’t answer. He don’t remember his name.
The woman smiles <<Let’s do a fair exchange.>> she says <<You tell me your name and I tell you mine. So? What did you think?>>
<<I-I don’t… remember my name.>>
Marius shakes his head <<No.>>
The woman’s smile lengthens, the melody she is producing is starting to generate tension and it’s getting creepy like the sweet yet somber tunes put in horror movies <<See? Isn’t it better if I tell you who you are, rather than who I am? That’s more important, isn’t it?>>
Marius takes a deep breath <<Okay.>> nods <<Who am I?>>
Now, the one on the woman’s face is no longer a smile. It’s a grin.
<<Such important information cannot be given for free.>> she says in a light but sharp voice <<Don’t you think? Honey?>>
Marius opens his eyes. This time for real. And he is the first time in his entire life that he wakes up without fatigue. He doesn’t feel pain, he doesn’t feel tired, he doesn’t feel discomfort… he opens his eyes as if he had never closed them. He wakes up as if he has never gone to sleep.
He is in his bedroom. Our bedroom.
He pulls himself up. The room is clean and tidy, but there are sounds he doesn’t like, aftertaste that indicates hidden disorder… he looks around with a dazed, confused, but perfectly lucid stare: he knows what’s going on. He knows what those sounds and lights are. He recognizes everything.
He stands up. He feels great. Maybe too great. Maybe he should go to the hospital.
Or maybe he should rearrange the room. His eyes tell him it’s okay, but the rest of his senses don’t agree. Those discordant notes, that aftertaste… he don’t like them. He has to understand where they come from.
He start with the school books, the new ones. He moves them until their sound becomes crystal clear and pleasant. Move on to the old ones, the ones that perhaps he was better off reselling when he was still in high school. Technically they are already in “place”, but his ears are not in agreement: they produce a better sound if placed somewhere else.
He then moves on to the other books, the ones he reads for pleasure. Books about photography and personal growth, little books written in foreign languages, stories that he no longer has the time to read … he puts them all in the place where they sound the best.
What is missing?
The clothes. He opens the wardrobes and a cacophonic melody overwhelms him, followed by a pungent smell and prickly taste. That wardrobe is too messed up. Is that where those out of tune sounds came from?
He empties it, takes all the clothes, divides them for use, folds them and then puts them back.
It only takes ten minutes to do a job that yesterday would have taken hours. His hands move quickly and precisely, his brain is concentrated and devoid of any distraction … he looks himself from the outside, and what he sees produces a magnificent, rhythmic, clear sound: he is like a work machine, tireless and perfect.
He makes the bed, repositions the objects well on the table and inside and outside the furniture, makes sure that even the pencils and pens are perfectly aligned and separated according to their use, color and brand.
When he finishes he realizes that it took only thirty minutes to give that room a calm and precise symphony.
He is amazed, both by himself and his work. The room is now almost unrecognizable, it’s like those bedrooms you see in real estate offers, too good to be true … yet it’s real. And it was he who made it that way.
He looks in the mirror. His face makes nice sounds, but what about pajamas? It has to change it.
He goes to the bathroom, takes a shower and leaving there he makes sure to leave it clean and dry, and on returning to his room he dresses according to what all his senses suggest.
He looks in the mirror again. Now he’s perfect. He likes what he hears and what he sees.
The world has never been more exciting than this. It is full of colors, flavors, smells, different and unique music and symphonies. It is wonderful, like a dream mixed with reality.
This dream can become a nightmare very easily though.
Walking near a garbage can, Marius not only perceives its stench, but also its vomiting taste, its out of tune and slow music, its moist and sticky consistency …
This synaesthesia is an amplifier. If something is beautiful, synaesthesia makes it five times more beautiful; if the eye likes a geometric shape, it shares that pleasure with all the other senses, quintupling it. But if something is bad, needless to say that the “displeasure” is equally fivefold and shared between all the sense.
Horror movies now terrify him much more than before for example. Scary noises create frightening shapes, scary smells and tastes (like the smell of blood) and give frightening sensations to the skin, which varies according to the type of noise (a sudden scream gives the feeling of being attacked, while a slow and disturbing symphony gives the feeling of being tied up, and so on …).
Now Marius also struggles to see simple horror movie trailers.
Funny movies have gotten a lot better though. If a joke makes Marius laugh, it also takes on a hilarious taste, a hilarious smell, and gives him the feeling that someone is tickling him … and that makes that joke five times more fun than it really should.
Many times Marius found himself bursting out laughing at stupid nonsense and continuing for minutes without being able to stop.
Over time he has also discovered that synaesthesia works “the other way around”. He found that some foods are funny, for example. They are good, but if their taste is turned into sound… that sound is fun. And he laughs.
Other foods are disturbing instead. Good or not, if eaten they echo an unnerving and slow background. Some chips he loved to eat have this weird effect. Eating them his brain begins to produce a good but sad melody, and only later did he realize that what he was eating was actually poisonous to him: those chips were slowly damaging his organism, so as good as they were their music was also sad.
Studying this phenomenon, he understood that by combining “fun foods” with comedy films or evenings with friends, a multiplicative effect is created: everything becomes more fun. But not only for him, his friends also seem to feel the effects. They eat with more relish and laugh more often.
On the other hand, combining “scary foods” with horror films creates the most terrifying effect he have ever experienced. For several days he also struggled to sleep because of this. Even now he sleeps with a light on in fact. The mere memory of that evening is almost traumatizing for him.
Knowing how to cook, he also decided to start cooking based mainly on the other senses and partially ignoring the taste. The results for now are very good, much better than his expectations.
If he cooks healthy but horrible tasting food, the melody he hears will be “good” but the taste “bad”. Cooking good but unhealthy foods has the opposite effect: good taste but bad music. Thanks to this Marius is starting to cook foods that are as good as they are healthy, so that he can enjoy both good music and a good dish.
And then there is the calisthenics. He saw a boy moving so well on the bars that he produced a background sound that he has never heard in his life again. Not only that: the smell and taste of his moves were exquisite, addictive.
And now Marius is addicted to it.
He started to train more frequently and not only for the fun of it, but also because he wants to produce sounds similar to what he had heard. He hasn’t reached that level yet, but he has certainly improved his body control, which is well above average thanks to the improvements he has received in the nervous system from me.
The world has changed for him. Completely. It is something else. Now even just seeing people walking can be interesting. There are people who walk generate a cheerful jingle, others who walk generate a sad litany; there are people who smell perfume while walking, and there are even people who sparkle when they walk while others appear transparent, half invisible, like ghosts.
But this means that there are people who cause unpleasant sensations when walking. Children, for example, generate out of tune and out of time notes, flavors that are sometimes salty and sometimes sweet, lights that are first strong and then weak … they are really difficult to watch because walking in an uncoordinated way produces equally uncoordinated sensations. Now Marius always tries to avoid them.
They are not the only thing he avoids though. He doesn’t like some sports, and if he didn’t feel anything in watching them in the past, now he feels annoyed by them.
He also notice the little things too easily now. Microexpressions during a discussion have their own, albeit tiny, sound; the bread crumbs falling on the clothes generate sounds different from those falling on the table; the right hand generates a different, albeit similar, noise to the left hand… and so on.
At first he hated being forced to notice these details, they make him seem too picky. Now, however, he is learning to exploit them.
He adapted perfectly.
Since I installed myself in his body, in addition to synaesthesia, total muscle control and faster cellular communication I have also restructured his internal organs, and repaired the excessively damaged parts of the genetic code.
One day, looking closely in the mirror, my guest finally realized the level of definition that his body had reached without too much physical effort, and since then he started asking questions after questions.
He doesn’t remember what happened. When he woke up only three things remained in his mind: the total synaesthesia and the effects of him, the black woman in the white room, and… the lumbar area. He has something in the lumbar area, at the tip of the spine.
He started doing a lot of research on synaesthesia, but initially he didn’t get satisfactory answers.
By searching on the internet, however, he attracted the attention of a very special world-famous medical company. A multi-billion dollar company that also operates in this country. Marius does not know when or how he attracted their attention, he has always kept a low profile, but he was called by them, and the person he spoke to on the phone was kind, polite, and he invited him to make a medical examination.
Marius is distrustful, but he has the feeling that with the help of this technologically advanced company in the medical sector he will receive an answer to his questions.
And so he accepted the invitation.