Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

“I’ve been to space.” He says.

His wild blue eyes match the hue of the ass-baring paper dress he’s wearing. The plastic bracelet is a nice accessory.

We’re in the interview room in a small-town hospital. I’m a visiting federal psychiatrist. I’ve travelled to a lot of small towns to interview crazy folks who say they’ve been to space. I work for the government. It’s like being Fox Mulder from the X-Files except that it’s really, really boring.

The fourth floor of this hospital is for suicide risks and delusionals. Every single small town I go to, the people with the highest suicide risk are kept on the top floor. Every glance out the window must be like a dare to the patients here. I shake my head.

I feel the need to end this interview quickly. I’ve been doing this for ten years. Collating, recording, classifying, defining, and sifting nine kinds of bullshit for an ounce of truth. I’m like a prospector panning for reality. I’m tired.

“Okay. Prove it.” I say, giving this nutbag a little of the deadeye for wasting my time. That usually starts the list of elaborate excuses that ends up drawing the interview to a close.

“Alright.” He says, and holds his hands up. His brow crinkles in concentration. He’s clenching his jaw. He closes his eyes. He takes a deep breath and holds it.

Well, this does happen from time to time. I like it better than the stories. It’s a little entertaining. Eventually, the patients will express surprise that the transmitter installed in their fingernail is suddenly no longer there or that his or her powers don’t work in my presence.

It must be like a judge watching criminals lie or hit men watching the light go out of their target’s eyes. After a while, they must just sit back and enjoy it like I’m doing.

He grunts.

His hands shine bright blue and the room splashes with light. The walls turn semi-transparent and I can see the architectural structure of this entire hospital below and around me. I can see the wiring and the radiators showing up solid greenish-white like an x-ray of scissors in a stomach. I can see the skeletons of the doctors and patients milling around, bored on the night shift.

The man is front of me opens his eyes. They’re glowing green. He starts to hyperventilate. I can see his muscle fibers, capillaries, and bones, depending on which layer I concentrate on.

With a sigh, he slumps forward. Everything around us returns to being opaque. He is staring forth, drooling. He is a dead battery for the time being and I can’t blame him.

I found one. I need to bring him back and add him to the sixteen we already have.

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