Slouching Towards Bedlam — 12 of 76

Star C. Foster and Daniel Ravipinto

Release 2

Chapter 9 - Written Material

Table of Triage Operators Manual

"Cover"--"Emblazoned on the front is a charcoal drawing of a black box on wheels, beneath which is written the words:[paragraph break] OPERATOR'S MANUAL [line break] TRIAGE PERSONAL ANALYTICAL ENGINE [line break] PROFESSIONAL|INDUSTRIAL [line break] MK. III."--
"The FUTURE is NOW..."--"The FUTURE is NOW...[paragraph break]One glance at the TRIAGE line of PERSONAL ANALYTICAL ENGINES will show them to be the finest now available. Each one is made of the materials of superlative quality, its thousands of interlocking parts are HAND MADE and HAND ASSEMBLED.[paragraph break]From its alphanumeric kinograph display to its specially designed internal power and propulsion systems, the TRIAGE is simply the most advanced technology made available to professionals for the portable storage and analysis of complex information.[paragraph break]In fact, the TRIAGE is so incomparably the best machine made that all we ask an intending purchaser is to compare it with any other before buying.[paragraph break]For sale by all first-class mechanist's shops."--
"A brief catalogue..."--"A brief catalogue of the TRIAGE, both within and without...[paragraph break]- PANOPTICAL SCANNER: set within an attractive faux-emerald, TRIAGE's latest version has updated both its scanning technology and methods such that it can visually analyze a given subject and begin processing within seconds.[paragraph break]- INCREASED CAPACITY OF BOTH MILL AND STORE: The TRIAGE line is now capable of analyzing, compiling and storing literally thousands of pieces of information simultaneously.[paragraph break]- LATEST CORE ENGINE WITH FOUR-FOLD INCREASE IN EFFICIENCY: TRIAGE has always been famous for its relational algorithms and its capability in connecting seemingly disparate data into a coherent whole. Our latest edition strives ever closer to perfection, improving the system's already impressive functionality.[paragraph break]- SMOOTH-OPERATING FULLY ALPHANUMERIC KINOGRAPH DISPLAY: With its compact yet expansive 16x8 symbol display (each one capable of displaying any one of 36 characters), the TRIAGE speaks as well as it listens."--
"Analysis Mode"--"ANALYSIS MODE[paragraph break] the TRIAGE[']S default and most important mode of operation. Once activated by simply pressing its beautiful faux-emerald scanner, the system will run through its initializing phase and then notify the user that it is ready to begin.[paragraph break]The TRIAGE will then follow its identified operator of its own accord, utilizing path-finding and obstacle-avoidance algorithms of the latest design. The system is constantly aware of both its personal environment and the actions of its operator.[paragraph break]Once TRIAGE has locked on to its user, operation is simply a matter of making the system aware of particular subjects in the environment for analysis and storage. This can be accomplished by simply POINTING or GESTURING to the object in question.[paragraph break]Nothing more is necessary. The system will reply (via its kinograph display) of any pertinent data the operator might find of use.[paragraph break]Triage store data is organized as follows:[paragraph break]- CAT [bracket]category[close bracket]: Triage maintains a strict hierarchy within which all subjects are stored - is the object in question alive? Is it a tool? Is it not yet recognized?[paragraph break]- UTIL [bracket]utility[close bracket]: Of what immediate use is the object in question? How may it be interacted with?[paragraph break]- PART [bracket]particulars[close bracket]: Specific information on the object - completed analysis data is often stored here."--
"Optional Expanded Input Mode"--"OPTIONAL EXPANDED INPUT MODE[paragraph break]...can be utilized to directly enter information into the TRIAGE[']S database store. Such data manipulation is not to be taken lightly, as all TRIAGE data must be kept as consistent as possible to prevent internal errors. However, advanced users may find it convenient to input information into the system immediately rather than allowing the system to accrue it via examination and analysis.[paragraph break]Expanded input mode requires the optional data input system, which is not sold with the basic TRIAGE. Contact your local mechanists' to special-order yours today."--

Table of File F6A142

"Personal Information"--"Patient Name: Cleve Anderson[line break]Age: 23[line break]Physical Description: 5[']10' 12 stone, grey eyes, brown hair[line break]Distinguishing Marks: small burns on palms and inner forearms, these should heal within a few weeks (possible scarring?).[line break]Residence: 1428 Fleet Street, second floor loft[line break]Possessions: money (a few pound notes), a key, and identification papers"--
"Patient History"--"Arrival Date/Time: 2 - 3 - 55 23:00[line break]Processing: James Houlihan[line break]Attending Alienist: Dr. Thomas Xavier[line break]Depositing/Transporting: unlisted[line break][line break]Patient arrested for disturbance of the peace, neighbors described screaming and raving at all hours. Found comatose in his flat (see personal information). Awoke in transit - mostly compliant though some resistance -- *completely silent*, refused to answer questions.[line break][line break]Diagnosis: (for specifics see attached) Disassociative disorder, acute schizophrenia with paranoid tendencies. Does not, however, seem dangerous to himself or others.[line break][line break]Prognosis: To be kept under observation until such time as attending alienist decides on further treatment [bracket]uncertain of necessary duration[close bracket].[line break][line break]Departure Date/Time: 10 - 3 - 55 5:50[line break]Status: Deceased"--
"Initial Diagnosis"--"[bracket]23:00[close bracket] Patient initially in comatose state. Initial brief physical examination reveals bruising along the upper arms and temple, and burns on the palms and inner forearms.[paragraph break][bracket]23:30[close bracket] Patient awoken via the use of smelling salts. Immediately catatonic, unresponsive to physical/auditory stimuli.[paragraph break][bracket]23:50[close bracket] Patient *physically* responsive to stimuli, though eyes are unnaturally dilated. Seems to be uncertain where he is.[paragraph break][bracket]23:55[close bracket] Patient allows a more thorough physical examination. Seems to be suffering from symptoms in line with shock, exposure, and exhaustion. Constantly shivering as if from cold.[paragraph break][bracket]24:00[close bracket] Patient still refuses to speak. Examination of tongue/throat reveals that he is physically *capable* of speech. Violently shakes head when asked to do so. Otherwise compliant and nonviolent.[paragraph break]Refuses to make *any* noise whatsoever - even to say [']ah['] during examination. Possible phobia towards noise? Seems fine with *others* making sound. Bite marks along inside of cheeks and along tongue -- possibly epileptic?"--
"-[bracket]March 3rd[close bracket]"--"Placed patient in 6D and have made sure to retain the only key to Corridor 6. D seemed the best choice, all in all, at least it's structurally sound -- several of the rooms have completely collapsed.[paragraph break]Patient completely compliant - no struggling whatsoever. He even seemed to calm considerably once led through the Panopticon to his room. Went to sleep almost immediately.[paragraph break]Checked on patient early via prism - still sleeping. Went in with breakfast and a sheaf of papers. Asked him if he knew how to read as he ate. He laughed - a short bark.[paragraph break]His response to this was immediate -- a look of horror and both hands clamped over his mouth. Brief panic attack - heavy breathing. Calmed down soon after, nodded and gestured for the papers.[paragraph break]Communicated via writing for about an hour. Very basic answers to questions -- who are you (name), where do you live (address), what do you do (occupation - a mechanist's assistant). Refused to answer any deeper questions -- simply stared."--
"-[bracket]March 4th[close bracket]"--"[fixed letter spacing][bold type][bracket]afternoon[close bracket][roman type][variable letter spacing][line break]Some progress made, as the patient is at least answering questions. From a 'conversation' this morning:[paragraph break]'Do you know why you[']re here?'[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]PENANCE[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'What do you mean, penance? Have you done something wrong?'[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]HUBRIS[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'Pride? You think you're here because of your pride, Cleve? What were you proud of?'[line break](Patient stared for a long moment, before writing...)[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]DOING SOMETHING NO ONE WAS MEANT TO DO[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'What is it, Cleve? What was no one meant to do?'[line break](No response.)[paragraph break][fixed letter spacing][bold type][bracket]night[close bracket][roman type][variable letter spacing][line break]Made the mistake of leaving a pen in the patient[']s cell, returned to find a series of words engraved into the wall - it must have taken hours. Confiscated what barely remained of the writing instrument. Patient refuses to talk about what he wrote."--
"-[bracket]March 5th[close bracket]"--"[fixed letter spacing][bold type][bracket]afternoon[close bracket][roman type][variable letter spacing][line break]Wheels within wheels within wheels. The patient has built a complex inner world for his delusions to play out within - complex and self-referential. At least part of these delusions revolve around an unseen [']they['] - a shadowy group that is paradoxically powerful and weak: powerful enough to control the world, but so weak that Cleve was able to steal their [']secrets['] like some modern Prometheus...[paragraph break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]THEY HAD ME BROUGHT HERE[close bracket][roman type][line break]'Who did, Cleve?'[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]THEY CONTROL EVERYTHING[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'Who are [']they[']? Where are [']they[']?'[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]EVEN HERE. THEY CONTROLLED THE ONE THAT CAME BEFORE YOU UNTIL...[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break](Patient stopped at this, looked unsure.)[line break]'The one that came before me? Who do you mean? They controlled who until what?'[line break](Patient seemed to come to a decision.)[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]THEY KILLED HIM, YOU KNOW.[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break](Tried to speak at this but he kept writing, furiously...)[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]HAD HIM KILLED. I LISTENED. I SPIED. THEY NEVER KNEW I KNEW.[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'I don't understand.'[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]THEY'LL CONTROL YOU, TOO, SOON.[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'No, they won't, Cleve. You can trust me.'[line break](Patient almost smiled at this...then seemed struck with fear, melancholy)[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]NO THEY WON'T[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'Right, Cleve.'[line break](Patient shook his head, furiously.)[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]MY HUBRIS MAY KILL US ALL LONG BEFORE THEN.[close bracket][variable letter spacing][paragraph break]Someone who came before me. Someone who is dead. Could he possibly be referring to Dr. *Brand*?"--
"-[bracket]March 6th[close bracket]"--"[fixed letter spacing][bold type][bracket]evening[close bracket][roman type][variable letter spacing][line break]Yesterday's push seems to have been too much. Patient upset most of the day, crying (though still silent). The only event of notice happened when I brought dinner. I placed the tray down and attempted to get his attention, repeating his name several times. This apparently made him angry, and he seemed for a moment about to yell when he caught himself and grabbed a sheet of paper...[paragraph break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]NOT CLEVE[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'You're not Cleve? Who are you, then?'[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]NOT WHO[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'Not...who? You're not... not *who* are you...? All right. What, then. What are you?'[line break]Patient seemed taken aback by this question, thought a long moment, then wrote...[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]SOMETHING NEW[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'And how did this happen? How did you become [']something new[']?'[line break]A look of utter disgust crossed his face.[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]INFECTION[close bracket][variable letter spacing][paragraph break]The patient refused to answer any more questions."--
"-[bracket]March 7th[close bracket]"--"[fixed letter spacing][bold type][bracket]morning[close bracket][roman type][variable letter spacing][line break]Complete change in mood, again -- possible mood swings? Entered patient's cell to find him awake, alert and rather happy to see me. Immediately signaled for pen and paper.[paragraph break]Patient proceeded to write a long rambling message - thanking me for my understanding and referring to conversations we never had, but that were eerily probable. Tried explaining to the patient after reading it which portions had happened and which hadn't.[paragraph break]Effect of comment was almost immediate -- confusion, sorrow, then understanding. Patient began nodding and almost laughing with a sardonic smile on his face.[paragraph break]Asked the patient to explain what had happened -- did he now understand the difference between things that had happened in real life and those scenarios he played out in his mind?[paragraph break]The patient stared for a long moment, before writing, almost angrily...[paragraph break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]IS YOUR MAGNETOPHONE STILL BROKEN?[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'*My* magnetophone? How did you know I was an aetherist, Cleve? I never mentioned it.'[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]A DIFFERENT YOU DID, THEN. TO A DIFFERENT ME.[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'A different me, Cleve? Well, then he was wrong - it's not broken, its signal is just not strong enough.'[line break](A look of confusion and fear from the patient, then...)[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]YOU DIDN'T SAY THAT LAST TIME.[close bracket][variable letter spacing][line break]'Last time?'[line break](Patient's hand was shaking as he wrote:)[line break][fixed letter spacing][bracket]SOMETHING HAS CHANGED.[close bracket][variable letter spacing][paragraph break]This exchange broke something in the patient - in a rush, he began writing - trying to explain at least part of his delusions to me in detail. I've tried to summarize my understanding of it as best I can:[paragraph break]The patient has - in his mind - somehow come unstuck in time. He speaks of it as if it were a malleable thing. He mentioned several times in his notes to me that he could [']save['] moments, as if in a delaying glass. He kept several of them with him, and [']restored['] them as he wished, reliving the past/present/future.[paragraph break]When asked about the [']different['] me he replied that he'd tried restoring several times, changing them -- seeing different paths that resulted. This, he said, was the best he could find.[paragraph break]I asked him if he had saved a moment from before this all happened, before his [']infection[']. Back when he was simply Cleve.[paragraph break]He said he'd [']restarted['] from time to time, but that it only took him as far back as his [']new creation['].[paragraph break]The patient refused to speak any further of this infection."--
"-[bracket]March 7th, addendum[close bracket]"--"Couldn't sleep - patient's remarks kept bounding around inside my head. His internal fantasies have a nature not unlike the new engine-science of fractals - the further I dig into them the more there is to find. Of particular distress is the source of some of his information - I'm certain I never mention my hobbies to him and Dr. Brand's ... unfortunate end has been kept out of the public eye.[paragraph break]Ended up in the Panopticon in the early morning hours, with Corridor 6[']s key in my hand.[paragraph break]Wasn't certain at first what I was hearing when I brought up 6D - the system is far from perfect and chamber's acoustics hardly help cut down on the echoes. Looking through the prism revealed patient jerking spastically - almost rhythmically - in his sleep.[paragraph break]Patient was definitely speaking, and while some of the words (some English, some Greek, some Latin?) seemed understandable, I believe what I was listening to was, in fact, glossolalia - random phonemes and syllables which my mind tried forming into some meaning.[paragraph break]Conclusion: uncertain. Patient is, again, clearly *capable* of speech. Perhaps some form of stroke or mental trauma has caused his speech to become unintelligible and the patient's schizophrenic delusions were built to explain this?"--
"-[bracket]March 8th[close bracket]"--"[fixed letter spacing][bold type][bracket]afternoon[close bracket][roman type][variable letter spacing][line break]Further investigation and discussion with the patient has resulted in what I believe is a complete structure and definition of his internal world:[paragraph break]- Patient has [']changed['] and is no longer himself. Patient claims change has resulted from an [']infection.['][paragraph break]- Patient is a glossolalic though this is only revealed when he sleeps and cannot keep conscious control. I conclude that that [']change['] was the onset of glossolalia, though the source is still unknown.[paragraph break]- Patient claims the infection resulted from the [']secrets['] he stole from a shadowy group he refers only to as [']them.['] I am still uncertain if this group is real and the patient has simply incorporated them into his delusions or if they were created out of whole cloth.[paragraph break]- The infection was never intended -- it resulted from his hubris - even [']they['] would never use it in such a way. Again, I am uncertain what this represents. Possibility - the patient has associated some action/event that took place in his life concurrent with the onset of glossolalia.[paragraph break]- Patient claims the change has caused time to become distorted for him - it is not a linear thing. This may be an metaphor for the internal mental confusion of which the patient's inability to communicate is a symptom.[paragraph break]- Patient refuses to discuss or even think on the infection - what it is, where it came from, if it may be catching. When confronted, patient cuts off all communication entering a semi-comatose state, often shaking the head spastically.[paragraph break]Possible conclusion:[line break]The patient believes that his glossolalia is infectious and will spread if he speaks. This may be the key to his eventual recovery. Perhaps by confronting him with a cognitive dissonance - specifically showing him that my listening to him has not [']infected['] me - he can begin to tear down the walls he has built about himself."--
"-[bracket]March 8th, addendum[close bracket]"--"[fixed letter spacing][bold type][bracket]night[close bracket][roman type][variable letter spacing][line break]Witnessed patient's babbling and spastic movements again -- possibility they may be connected. Patient's speech definitely has a pattern about it which encourages listener's attention and conscious attempt to find meaning. I have decided to attempt a direct intervention/confrontation with the patient tomorrow.[paragraph break]On a personal note: I must start taking James['] advice and cut down my hours - while observing the patient I noticed that my vision blurred and I experienced a distinct dizziness. When I shook it off I found that I must have fallen asleep at some point - I checked the time, found that several hours had passed."--
"-[bracket]March 9th[close bracket]"--"This will be this case's final note.[paragraph break]One would have thought I would have learned. Everything has told me one thing and I have thought another - my hubris is such as to put whatever Cleve thought he ever did to shame.[paragraph break]Cleve is dead.[paragraph break]Too far, too soon. My initial confrontation accomplished nothing - he refused again to speak of the infection and my interpretation of it. He almost laughed when I told him my theory of glossolalia - writing back that he was quite aware of what it was and that no - that was not his problem.[paragraph break]I think that what I did next was out of anger.[paragraph break]When I told him about my nightly observations, he was clearly confused - said that he knew that no one had entered the chamber while he slept - that he had checked over several of his [']saved['] times. Which is when I explained the Panopticon to him, and pointed out the listening tube hidden in the corner of his cell.[paragraph break]All of the blood drained from his face and he once again entered his catatonic state, though this time with much more vehemence. He spasmed and shook.[paragraph break]It took a long moment before I realized what was different.[paragraph break]He was *speaking* - a single word, yes - but speaking nonetheless. All he said was [']no,['] again and again in a constant stream.[paragraph break]He looked up as he realized what he was doing and yet he didn't stop for a moment. He clawed at his mouth, bit until it bled, but the word kept coming.[paragraph break]And then it contorted in his throat into a snarl as he leapt at me.[paragraph break]I am a fool. I had thought him nonviolent, and more - he was still weak, tired. Of course, I'd never had an orderly there with me, for fear of discovery, but I'd never bothered with any restraint whatsoever.[paragraph break]Though weak, he was far stronger than he looked. We struggled as I attempted to force myself towards the door and help. I slipped from his grasp and was almost away when he leapt upon me again. I pushed back, kicked with all my might...[paragraph break]I didn't understand the sound I heard until I turned around.[paragraph break]He didn't stand a chance - his head had hit the side of the metal door with such force that half his brains must have spilled out in a moment. The flicker of life in his eyes continued only for a moment as I dropped to my knees beside him.[paragraph break]He only managed to say one thing -- [']too late['] -- before it went out forever, leaving a look of horror -- and oddly pity -- on his face.[paragraph break]I write this now, and will seal up the file in the archives in some half-hearted penance, such as Cleve sought here. If sometime in the future my sins find me out, then I shall pay for them then. For now, I simply wish to forget all of it..."--