First Draft

Page 20

The caffeine helped Ben focus, and the warm drink helped him to relax. Mara, who now sat sulking atop a filing cabinet next to the window, stared down at Ben with wide, motionless eyes. She was angry, though had clearly abdicated. And Benjamin, content, took pleasure in this moment of tranquility, as he continued about his work.

Again, he noted that Mara, while still certainly being her usual self, was much more well behaved than she often was. He made particular effort to avoid looking in her direction, or to give her occasional growls and hisses any attention. At one point, he could sense her becoming agitated again, and anticipated that she might be considering dismounting her perch to engage in another tantrum. Without paying her any mind, however, Benjamin stood and marched into the other room, to make himself another cup of coffee.

When he returned to his desk, Mara was nowhere to be seen – though a slight shuffling from the vent overhead gave clue to her whereabouts. He continued his work for the next several hours, occasionally listening to music, and one by one was able to strike the items from his list. He felt the surge of delight that comes from entering into a flow state of mind – like riding the perfect wave. He worked and worked, his mind focused and sharp, until at long last, he crossed out the very last bulleted item on his sticky note. He sat back in his chair. The clock on his computer read 7:32 pm. He looked to the window, and saw that the sun was setting. It had been a long day, though it hadn’t felt like it. What he thought would make up a week’s worth of work had been accomplished in only one day.

“Why can’t every day be like this?” he thought to himself, as he glanced about the room. Mara was hidden. With a smile, Ben clicked out of his software, closed up his workstation, and packed his things.

That same grin remained on Ben’s face as he drove home. He’d elected to take the long way, which did take a few minutes longer, though avoided most of what little traffic remained at this hour. Mara, who sat bucked in the passenger seat, sulked in stony silence. But Ben didn’t even notice her presence. He was enjoying the drive home, and the music playing on the stereo, and the wind rushing in through the open windows.

Arriving home at around 8:30, Ben immediately set about making a quick dinner. It was a nice night out, so he elected for a steak, a few baked potatoes, and a salad. He basked in the clear, warm night as he hovered next to the grill, waiting for dinner. And then he enjoyed the dinner that he had made, accompanied by a few pages of the novel which he was reading. And then, upon realizing that he was still feeling tired from the night before, Ben enjoyed crawling into his bed at a reasonable hour, to get ready for the day in store for him tomorrow.

“So…no hallucinations? None at all?” Dr. Davis, who sat facing Benjamin on the wheeled stool, apparently was unable to see the seven foot tribal warrior that was slowly sidestepping its way around the two of them in a wide semi-circle. It hissed as it stared down Benjamin through its grotesque, hand hewn war mask. Its blood-stained spear, which it held in its outstretched left hand, and its open, extended right palm made the entity appear even larger and more menacing than it already was – it was a pose that read, “Your move, place your best shot.” An anklet of human teeth jingled with each sidestep behind the doctor, as it slowly positioned itself between Benjamin and the only door leading into or out of the cramped exam room.

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