THERE ARE DEGREES of darkness,
that's sure. Unreasonable. Think about it. The small room is
inside the large one, and it is the large one that's lightproofed?
- that must be the word. So why is it darker. . . no. . .keep
clear. . . why does it seem darker inside the small bed
chamber? And not only that, but darker still when I shut the door?
Dark and silence. I wonder if they checked the diet. Wind would
be a bad thing. From their point of view, not mine. Brighten up
the senses to wallow in a good fart. But it would break the silence
unless. . . no. . . even they don't know that much. Jar the nostrils
awake. And help the memory.
But it's easy enough. At first, after a few hours, I thought I
might have gone blind. And how could I check? As I say, it's easy
enough to get out. Ring the bell. They'll come. But then that's
the end. The experiment is cancelled. In this darkness how can
you tell if you still see? Answer: press your fingers on your
closed eyelids. The coloured patterns are still there. Or can
the blind do that? Still there. . .
I got lost in there for a while. Watching them. Going deeper and
deeper into the crystals. Your story they said. Now did they tell
me that, or ask me, or just suggest? That's
important to remember. And how will I keep track of time? By the
number of meals I eat; the supply of food? But how often is it
brought? Always when I'm asleep. It's never hot, so I can't go
by that. Always a sandwich, a cold drink. And they leave it until
I've finished. So if I slept through one complete day the same
food would be there. Not even the bread goes stale in that plastic
bag. And how long do I sleep? How can I gauge and
count? Even outside, some nights I wake at 2 a.m. refreshed
and force myself back to sleep for another five hours. Other times
go right through the alarm. I don't want to smoke. It's forbidden
of course. The glow would ruin the experiment. Though they could
run a plastic tube in from outside. Like a hookah. Problems of
soundproofing again. Unless on the other side of the wall they
built another lightproof soundproof room. But what about the glow
of the cigarette in that room if I looked down the tube?
A right-angle bend in it? Or the smoke in cylinders? A system
of valves open only when I suck? Anyway, like I said, I don't
want to smoke. I wasn't surprised. Half (now why do I say half
when I really thought all?) the pleasure is in seeing the smoke.
I tried that years ago, smoking with my eyes shut. Not much enjoyment.
So I wasn't surprised. But then I thought well, blind people smoke
and seem to get something. Perhaps I was blind and if I
had a cigarette I'd enjoy it and that would be the proof. But
I got rid of that with a little pressure on the eyelids, like
this. . .
Orange...Dark Red...Green...That's the complementary colour business
I suppose. There must be something in there if I could just
focus. . .
We are not supposed to talk aloud, or sing. Trust. Like those
newspaper stands with coin slots. Why did I say we? I
am not allowed to sing. Or rather, requested not to. Do they
watch us, no, me? With infrared or whatever they have.
They're advanced enough in those ways. Must be something. Or how
do they know when to bring in the food? Knock me out with odourless
gas? No. If they could do that they could pump in cigarette smoke.
They don't want me to be too uncomfortable. Yes they have
the machines but they still have to put me in here on trust.
On trust! That's what the man over the road used to say to
his dog. Die for your country! And over on his back he'd go. A
wirehaired terrier. Theirs was the only detached house on
the street. His wife was Belgian and grew grapes in a glass conservatory
in the garden. Middleaged. Chic black dresses. I liked her.
When television began again after the war she had me over every
Saturday to watch. Nine inch screen. Café Continental.
We want MUffin, MUffin the MULE. Dim in the room. Always a
smell of curtains, carpets and deep old chairs. Caesar was
the dog's name, I just remembered. Not Tray. That's what I thought
it should be. And wherever I went, went my po-or dog Tray.
My mother used to sing that. I nearly had a dog once. During the
war. Arthur brought it for me one Sunday, he always came on Sundays.
White with black patches. But I couldn't keep it. The bombs. The
food. Played with it on the grass while he talked to my mother
by the kitchen window. An old piece of tree trunk to hold the
door open in summer. Behind the shelter a clump of gooseberry
bushes. I hid with it there. But he took it back. I had a book
once about a dog called Ginger. Another called Six Little Travellers.
A white rubber doll called Bobby.
So how long do I sleep? Construct a clock. With what? Pulse rate
is about 72 a second. Respiration 21 or 22. Breathing's the easiest.
Can't hold my wrist all the time. Why not? Nothing else to do.
I could hold my right wrist and still pick up the food. Though
I was once lefthanded. Still am for some things. Bow and
arrow for instance. But the cold I had this morning has gone.