Davy heard screaming through a door he passed on the way to the therapy room. Davy could barely hear it, but he could make out the words “The Burning” come up repeatedly.
“Ignore her,” Consecration Tony snapped, still maintaining his goofy smile. “Her screams are unending, and she is thoroughly unpleasant to talk to.”
Davy went up to Steve and whispered, “Are you still feeling good about this?”
Steve’s stomach growled. “Honestly, I’m more focused on how badly I want more ice cream,” Steve whispered back. He gestured towards Consecration Tony. “Was this guy really putting brain stuff in there?”
“That’s what Lady Gut Possum said,” Davy replied. “And now we’re letting this guy access our brains directly.”
“But it’ll probably look so funny,” Olivia cut in. “Big, goofy, smiling, lizard poking at our brains and stuff. I want a poster of that to hang on my wall!”
“But what about the risk of going insane part?” Davy asked.
“Pssh,” Olivia replied. “I only grew myself a brain pretty recently. I can always grow myself a new one. Besides I went along for however many million years without a brain at all and did just fine.”
Steve’s jaw dropped slightly. “However many million years?” he said incredulously. “How old are you.”
Olivia realized she may have said too much. “Don’t worry about it,” she said quickly.
Connie came up behind them with a sly grin. “Davy’s got a point. He’s a sharp guy, just like the rest of you. But sometimes, it feels like life’s really too short to worry about whether or not you have gone insane as a result of indeterminate brain therapy conducted by a two-legged, smiling lizard.”
“You’re an awfully relaxed person, you know that?” Davy chimed.
“I just like not having to worry,” Connie responded casually.
They had arrived at the end of the hall. Consecration Tony stood in front of a black door and opened it. He beckoned to the group. “Enter this space,” he ordered. “Begin your mind opening.”
The group proceeded into the room. It was dimly lit from blinking fluorescent lights on the ceiling. Rows of metal chairs with worn-down leather padding stood in front of them, arranged in rows like in a movie theater. In the front of the room was a blank white screen hanging down from the ceiling.
“You must sit,” Consecration Tony declared. He pointed at the chairs.
Davy and the others looked at each other and shrugged as they shuffled to four chairs next to each other in the front row.
After they say down, Consecration Tony went up to Connie. He pointed to an armrest on the chair she was sitting on. “Your arm goes here,” Consecration Tony said, still smiling.
“You got it, boss,” Connie chirped as she placed her arms on the armrests.
Consecration Tony pulled out a leather strap from the right side of the chair and fastened Connie’s right arm down to the armrest. He did the same thing with her left arm. He then bent over and pulled out leather straps from below the chair that he fastened to Connie’s legs. She was now completely constrained.
Connie wiggled her arms and legs. The restraints were tight enough that she couldn’t break free. “Heh,” she laughed. She looked down the row at the rest of the group. “Looks like I’ll see you on the other side fellas.”
Davy ruminated to himself about how weirdly relaxed Connie had been about this whole thing. He wondered if this was unusual for her, before he realized he knew nothing about her. Davy noted that maybe he should make more of an effort to get to know his prophesized companions. Of course, that all depended on whether he was going to still have a functional brain an hour or so from now.
Consecration Toby moved on to Olivia. He pulled out the straps and restrained her the same way he restrained Connie.
“You know I can shapeshift, right,” she asked with a grin. “Like, I could get out of this chair easily if I wanted to.”
Consecration Tony looked directly at Olivia with his wide smile. “You have the ability to escape,” he admitted. “But you will not exercise this option. Mind therapy is engrossing. Remember this fact.”
As Consecration Tony finished restraining Olivia and began to restrain Steve, Steve looked to Davy. “Okay, I admit, I am getting a slightly bad feeling about this,” he said, visibly worried. “I don’t like leather straps,” he continued. “They chafe.”
Consecration Tony finally reached Davy. “How exactly does this kind therapy work?” he asked nervously as Consecration Tony applied the restraints.
“You will watch and then you will see,” Consecration Tony answered. “You will see the mind and all its acute fabrications, a laser light show of resplendent implications.”
This dos nothing to answer Davy’s question. Davy would have asked for clarification, but he figured any furthers answers would be just as nonsensical as the one he just received.
In another moment, all four of them were restrained to their chairs. Consecration Tony proceeded to the space right in front of the screen.
“Prepare your brain for abject penetration,” he stated. “Direct your eyes to the images; do not deviate from this course. You will be interwoven into the heart of your mind. Seek the truths from within; do not make a failure of your life.”
He held up a small electronic device and pressed a button. The lights in the room went off as Consecration Tony walked to the side of the room.
Steve’s voice meekly rang out in the dark. “Uh, so I just realized that I kind of need to go to the bathroom.”
Consecration Tony did not respond as the first image appeared on the screen. It was a blurry, black and white photo of a tree, sunlight pouring through from between the branches. Davy didn’t have time to soak in all the details, because the image of the tree was promptly replaced by a new blurry image, also on black and white. It was a small dog sitting on the floor looking up at the camera. Was it a poodle?
A new image promptly appeared on the screen. A fried egg sitting on a frying pan. Then a new image, then a new image, all in black and white and equally blurry.
A solitary basketball sitting alone on a concrete floor.
A dirty toothbrush lying in a grimy sink.
A tarantula crawling through the dirt.
The images began to cycle through more and more rapidly, almost rhythmically. Davy noticed what sounded like a bass drum, heavily distorted with what sounded like feedback from a poorly functioning speaker. The drum was barely audible in the back of his perception, pounding away in time with the flashing images.
A plastic chair sitting in a landfill.
A tornado ripping apart a wooden shed.
A crying baby.
The drum was getting louder. Its tempo picked up as the speed of the flashing images continued to escalate rapidly. Soon, the beating was too loud for Davy to handle. He wanted to get up and leave, but the restraints held him in place. Davy heard a new sound over the drums, a cacophonous roaring as if a running jet turbine had been placed right behind his head.
Davy clenched his eyes shut. Whatever was happening, or whatever was supposed to happen, it wasn’t working. The drum and the roaring were even louder now; Davy felt like he was about to snap. He couldn’t take the noise any longer.
And then it stopped.