Davis, Jerry – Wall Of Delusion

Wall of Delusion Š2000 by Jerry J. Davis Scott Hague couldn’t feel the microscopic nanobots tunneling through his brain, but he noticed their effect. Every once in a while it was like a flashbulb had gone off in his small cell. He would jump, startled. The brightness would fade, leaving the gray-blue walls, wires, and medical equipment. Sometimes he could hear noises that he knew were not there. Voices from the past. His mother, his father, an occasional old friend, and … his dead wife. One sound that happened over and over, torturing him, was his wife’s laugh. It was right in his ear – he could even feel her breath. He would give an involuntary start, and turn to see only the unblinking eyes of the monitoring equipment.

The way Dr. Kline explained the nanobots and what they were doing, they sounded like happy little Disney creatures – like microscopic dwarves singing “Whistle While you Work” as they tunneled their way though his brain, leaving sparking trails of connections. They were building a spider’s web network so Dr.

Kline could plug him in and peer into his memories. After they were finished they would die, or go away – Scott didn’t know, that part hadn’t been explained to him. All he knew was that his brain would become compatible with Dr. Kline’s computer network, and Scott would be reduced to a peripheral.

Of its own violation, his arms or legs would suddenly give a jerk. Out of nowhere, Scott would give a single hiccup. Once his vision froze, like his mind had taken a snapshot picture and that’s all he could see. Before he could worry about it the picture was gone, replaced by normal vision. It was annoying, but Scott always tried to look on the bright side. There was a good 30% chance this would kill him. That would be such a relief. Scott felt he was the living dead anyway, he had ended his life as he knew it just a little over two years before. He had needed three shotgun shells, but fate had only given him two.


The clues that something was wrong kept appearing, sad little warning signs that Scott had tried to ignore but never forgot. A broken shoelace on the bedroom floor that did not belong to one of his shoes. A blue bandanna between the bed and the wall – where did that come from? Terri washing the sheets when she’d just washed them the day before. Why? Checking under the bed because he couldn’t find his shoes, discovering a disgusting, dried up used condom. They hadn’t used condoms since he’d had his vasectomy. Could it have been there that long?

Terri worked nights. Scott worked days. They had four hours a day together plus weekends. Scott never saw a problem with it until the sad little clues started chipping away at his willingness to ignore them. He didn’t consciously admit to himself the reason why he took a day off from work and didn’t tell Terri about it. He got up that day and prepped as usual, ate breakfast with Terri (it was her dinner), kissed her goodbye and left. Scott drove five blocks, parked, and walked back. There was an old 1950’s car parked in his driveway, shiny and lovingly maintained, and Scott knew exactly whom it belonged to. It was an intern that worked with Terri at the trauma center, a cocky jerk named John Wahler. That quick? Scott thought. John must have been sitting in his car waiting for me to leave!

He crept into the house feeling like he was floating, feeling light and full of air. Like he was dreaming. He was detached, calculating, suspended in utter disbelief. Terri was cheating on him? Terri? A side of her he didn’t know, his own wife … they shared everything with each other, they told each other everything. He loved her with a conscious single-mindedness that he felt was pure and joyous. It had never occurred to him to mistrust her, to be jealous of her ex-boyfriends – Scott simply accepted and loved her. She was it, his woman, his wife, and his life partner. How could it be otherwise with her?

The bedroom door was open a crack and he peeked in. He heard noises, and expected to see him on top of her. It was a shock to see them side by side and upside down to each other, pleasing each other orally. All he saw was Terri’s black hair and John’s hairy legs.

It was like a dark mask was pulled down over his face. The light seemed to go dim and his vision pulsed and flickered, the scene lit by flames. His chest hurt. Scott spun on his heal and rushed with terrible purpose to the hall closet, yanked open the door, and pulled out a long gun case. The sound of the zipper ripping open filled his whole head. He pulled the long, heavy gun out and then fumbled with his free hand for the box of shells on the top shelf. It rattled as he picked it up. There were only two shells. He didn’t think about it, he just chambered them with a reflexive motion and walked back down the hall.

“Scott?” It was his wife’s voice. It sounded scared and startled. “Is that you?”

He heard scrambling sounds and rustling cloth as he pushed the door open. John Wahler was hopping on one foot, trying to get into his pants. “Was it worth it?” Scott said to him. He let go the first shell, a shocking explosion in a small room. Fire blossomed out the muzzle of the long barrel, and skin and blood sprayed apart from John’s hairy chest. It slammed him into the wall, his eyes bulging. Scott didn’t see him fall. He turned the gun on his wife, who was on the other side of the room, naked, her mouth wide open. She was trying to scream but couldn’t get enough air into her lungs.

“Was it worth it?” Scott had to shout to hear his voice through the loud ringing in his ears. “Was it worth it?” He put the barrel right into her pretty face.

A few seconds after he pulled the trigger, the horror of what he’d done wiped away the rage of her betrayal. He turned and became violently ill across the gore-spattered bed sheets. Lying there, shaking, finding it hard to breathe in the smoky room, he bitterly cursed fate for only giving him two shotgun shells.


Scott pleaded guilty and asked for the death penalty. The judge called it a crime of passion and gave him 20 years. For the first few months in prison all he could think about was how to kill himself. Having all that time on his hands and a single thought going through his head was worse than death. I deserve this, he thought.

None of the guards or his fellow inmates ever gave him trouble. Everyone knew why he was there. It was as if the local gang leaders and the warden herself felt badly for him. It was the warden who approached him about the medical experiments. When it was explained to Scott that there was a possibility the procedure would leave him lobotomized or dead, Scott agreed to do it. The warden nodded to herself, as if it confirmed what she’d been thinking.


The FMA Center in Livermore was a long, four-story glass and brick building built in a semicircle, curved around a park with a fountain. From his cell window Scott could see the fountain; it was usually surrounded by medical personnel standing around in small groups, smoking their cigarettes. FMA, Scott learned, stood for “Federal Medical Authority.” From what he could tell, the sole purpose of the FMA Center was for performing mandatory sterilization and abortions, and for conducting medical research using convicted felons. It was high security with auto-locking doors, metal detectors, and video cameras everywhere he looked.

Scott never came in contact with any of the other prisoners. He only saw Dr. Louis Kline and armed guards – and there were always armed guards around Dr. Kline.

Dr. Kline ran him though a series of medical, psychological, and intelligence tests. Scott enjoyed the intelligence tests, as they were all trick questions and it appealed to his sense of humor. He thought they were funny. He gave a little laugh as he answered them, which made Dr. Kline frown. Scott couldn’t tell if Dr. Kline was mad that he was laughing or because he wasn’t falling for the tricks in the questions. “I’m going to tell you the truth,” he said to Scott. “I don’t like you.”

“I don’t like me either.”

“I know.” Kline, who was a small balding man with a gnarled, graying beard – actually more hair on his chin than on his head, so that his face looked upside-down – he looked over the top of his glasses at Scott, peering at him with owlish eyes. “I have strong reservations using someone with a death wish as a test subject. I prefer someone who hopes the experiments succeed.”

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