Looking Bach: When You First Opened Your Eyes
You Open Your Eyes.
It is the first time you’ve seen anything. You wonder why and how. You see a ceiling, white with blue trim and bright lights. The ceiling is made of square tiles that do not peel, a material you aren’t familiar with anymore, or maybe never was—such details are no longer important to the slate made blank that is your mind. On the ceiling, words write themselves in your mind, words that you know without knowing why and thinking without thinking why, in the way that a falcon hunts without training or a fish swims with knowing. Language isn’t a skill or a trial for you; it is a gift given as a curse. Perhaps it would be better to have no idea what anything means. But you know. And the words say Tabula Rasa.
A dark half-moon slowly closes over your eyes and your throat vibrates. You are blinking and screaming at the blink. People might say you are like a child, or a baby, still discovering things that are new, still fighting things that are true about yourself, hoping beyond hope that none of this life is real. Hopefully you don’t vomit on yourself. Or worse. Everyone knows babies are helpless. Everyone except you, because you don’t know anything.
As a person stands over you, a mask covering his mouth and inquisition in his eyes (you think he might be here to punish you for screaming), the light is blocked and he stands like… like… a reference you cannot place, names lost in your mind. Who was that man that blocked the sun, and from what story? Or was there ever such a story and are you making things up in a mind lost to infantilism; a disease inflicted or contracted, whichever is worse and whichever is true. With a revelation like when a baby first sees their hands, you stop screaming because the voice isn’t strong enough and the words not harsh enough to reveal your knowledge.
You aren’t a baby. You are a man, fully grown and conscious. But why then this confusion, this void of life and time that defines existence? You have no memory, no name, no alias, no family, no identity, no excuse; you don’t even have nothing, just a void where the nothing should sit, fearful and solitary. The man looks at you and examines your head, which is wrapped in gauze. “Do you know your name?” He asks. If you could remember a parable you would tell him instead of your name. But with neither in hand, you stare at him, wondering if you can even find the words to ask the burning question; Who am I?
“Indante Spectum Rendes? Nomas Verum… Hrimin Drankat Jotum?” Your words did not reflect the few thoughts left and they sounded strange and alien, like the ravings of a wise man to whom no one asked questions but left only answers. The man writes something down on a clipboard and walks away, the word “Aphasia” trailing after his form. You look up at the lights blaring down on you. They are too bright. Without a moment’s pause, the world shades itself and becomes a manageable temper, which makes you quite sleepy. You sleep.
The door slams and you awaken violently, a small green outline of your surrounding overtaking your vision, a reticle following your eyes and charts streaming all along your view without thought or comprehension. You sit up quickly, ripping the needles out of your arm and tossing everything on you off, including blankets and a small piece of faded paper. It floats through the air, light and conspicuous. In a flash, you grab it. In a scrawling script, like of an old time past that no one can remember (which gives you comfort; camaraderie from the forgotten); in such a manner was a simple sentence written, ominous and wrathful. Welcome to your new life, Bach.
You stand, having no alternative but to call yourself Bach. A doctor comes in and tells you to sit down. “I’m… fine.” You say, the words difficult to form but still it bursts out of you. He tries to convince you to stay, but his words pass over you. “Just one question… My … eyes?” The doctor looks at you strangely as he tells you they are heavily cybernetically modified. After another argument, you leave with a bottle of antibacterial something or another, a chart detailing your cybernetic equipment and a head full of sand sifted by a determination to know who you are.
As you step outside, the world is big. You look at it through new eyes, new senses and new thoughts and you wonder if there was ever a time in your life when things seemed simple. For now, you take what few possessions were left to you (a large coat, a piece of paper, and a few creds) and walk away, hoping to find more of yourself in the shattered sky life has opened for you. As you look up, the sky of Seattle is for the first time in history completely clear of clouds and planes. As though from a ghostly program running in the machine of your mind, your eyes overlay two words onto the infinite blue sky. They aren’t there, they aren’t real, they aren’t true; but somehow the words carry with them a sense of purpose and foreboding that echoes your fears and hopes. Tabula Rasa. The words flare up as they pass over the sun and you close your eyes. In your mind, a comlink activates and without meaning to, you begin to search for a place to stay, a way to get money, a way to live, a means to die, and a name to find. You wonder. You dream. You question.
You Open Your Eyes.