It’s been a few days since I’ve been to the third floor. There isn’t really anything down there that needs my attention, after all. The fabricators are pretty much entirely autonomous. There weren’t any further issues with the PAS, the spider bots were just busy installing them. The Merlin was on hold. If there was a problem, Adelaide would notify me. And I haven’t been running down there either; the exo-suits in the gym are a better workout anyway.
I haven’t been sleeping too well. There are faces that I’d rather not see, and they have been popping up in my dreams. It’s unpleasant, so it’s easier if I don’t sleep.
It’s a funny thing really, when you notice that you’re depressed. It’s not like it’s particularly hard to identify. I stopped eating as much. I stopped sleeping as much. I spent more time in the bed. The books and movies that entertained me once were just dull now. It’s easy to notice it. But it’s hard to fix it even when you do notice. There is no real fix for it. You just let it pass, a rainstorm that will eventually fade away.
I won’t claim I’m clinically depressed or anything like that. I don’t have thoughts of suicide. I like being alive, I think. I’m just… down, I guess. At least there was nobody but myself telling me to ‘just get over it’.
For the first few days after my mental training session, I didn’t even go to the secondary facility. I didn’t even attempt to rationalize it to myself. I knew I was avoiding it, and quite frankly I didn’t care. I was happy to stay away from it, because it scared me.
It’s the fear that is breaking me. I had never imagined myself as one of those stalwart heroes, that laughed in the face of danger and scoffed at pain. I knew myself, or I thought I did. I knew I would prefer to avoid a fight, avoid an injury, avoid a problem if I could. But I never thought that pain could control me like it is. Even remembering it is hard. I thought the brain was supposed to filter out traumatic experiences, but this one stuck. I hate my fear.
One morning, about a week after I had fallen out of the simulator, I decided I had had enough of feeling sorry for myself. I wouldn’t be held down by a computer program anymore. I got angry. I focused my fear and my pain into rage. I thought I could use that to face it again. When I stood in front of the door, I realized what going back would mean. I realized that I’d have to see him again, that I’d have to face the lances again. And my legs gave out. I sat there, staring at the door, unable to move forward, loathing myself.
Adelaide had been quieter than usual. She gave me my daily updates, and would notify me if there was a problem that needed my attention, but she mostly left me to my own devices. At the end of the day, she’s a computer program. A series of ones and zeros, a carefully presented illusion of intelligence, nothing more.
Beyond that, I think she was lying to me. She had turned off the morning routine in the commander’s quarters on the day I had collapsed. I wanted to be outraged about it, but I couldn’t really muster up the effort. It honestly didn’t matter that much.
There is a photo in my drawer. I put it there on the day that the world ended, and I haven’t looked at it, or even opened the drawer since. I have found myself drawn to it in the past few days, like trying to catch shadows in the corner of my eyes. I didn’t want to see it, so I moved into one of the old engineer’s quarters. There were two I couldn’t still couldn’t go into, forbidden areas of the base like the mess hall, but the rest were safe.
The room was plain. It had a bunk bed in it, and an attached bathroom. There was no wall art, that would have been left to its inhabitants. I could imagine it, movie posters and framed specimens of alien debris. Models on the dressers, and papers strewn on the desks. Like my dorm room at MIT. The engineers would have only used it to sleep, especially once the research teams came in. The common rooms and the labs would have been used more than anything else, a veritable hive of activity.
I was lying on the cot, browsing on my holopad. I had so many forms of entertainment at my disposal, but I couldn’t decide what to do. I browsed the video game library one more time, trying to choose something. It was quiet in the room, which was nice. I was surprised when Adelaide began speaking to me. I hadn’t asked her a question or called for her.
“Hello, Sam. May I have a moment?” She was polite as always.
“Sure, Adelaide.” I turned off the holopad, and sat up on the bunk. “What’s up?”
“I am worried about you Sam.” She said it softly.
“I’m fine, Adelaide, really. I’m just trying to figure some things out.” The best part about her is that I didn’t even have to fake a smile to go along with my lie.
“You have been having nightmares, Sam.” There was worry in her voice, subtle but there. She is surprisingly human at times. It almost makes me forget what she is.
“Yeah. I mean, I have them sometimes, and it’s been more often recently. But it’s really okay, they’ll go away eventually.”
“Would you like to tell me about them? It might help.”
“I don’t think it will. I’m not doing great, but I’ll bounce back. Thank you, though.”
I rolled over, and faced the wall. I felt something hot in the back of my throat.
“I understand, Sam. Please know that you can talk to me whenever you need to.”
I dreamt about her again. I should be happy to see her, but I’m not. It just reminds me of things I’d rather forget. I wanted to tell Adelaide about it, but in the end, I didn’t.