—and all at once, I’m back in the chamber.

This part of the experience is almost always the same.
Disorientation. Screaming.

Sometimes I piss myself.

Other times I just sit and cry uncontrollably.



“Mr. Tessler, it’s crucial that we begin
the recovery debrief as soon as possible.”

“I need a minute.”



When I finally calm down enough to communicate with the operators in the control room, I’ve usually forgotten most of what happened on the other side. This is like waking from a dream. Occasionally my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex will be activated enough to imprint a partial short-term memory, but even these are fleeting. Fragmented images. nonsensical jargon. Disconnected streams of consciousness. I know these terms now; six months ago, I didn’t know my parietal lobe from a hole in the ground. Now I’m jotting keywords in the margins of EEG printouts in an attempt to parse semantic and syntactical data relative to various—ostensibly—recurring stimuli.






What happens over there is always different, right up until the very end.

In 97 of 162 tests I have attempted to return to the Praxem Group headquarters. I know this because EEG diagnostics show precisely the same delta wave activity in all 97 tests at the moment of waking; while I only retained partial memories from 31 of these sampled experiences, all 31 recovery journals denote affixed visual recognition of the Praxem building, security officer—and to varying degrees, with less than 3% deviation—a long white hallway that does not exist within the Praxem building.

Then the camera stops rolling.

Recurring analysis:

Involuntary experiential sequencing shifts into phase distortion due to instabilities in atmospheric resonance.


My world dissolves to black.

Sensory dampening.

There is no tunnel filled with light. No flashing memory that plays like a home movie behind my eyes. No disembodied floating through time and space.

It just is, and I am, until it isn’t, and I’m not.

Then I wake up in the chamber.




Today’s attempt was #163.

Amara has been gone for 181 days now. It took 11 days to get the company to clear me for experimentation and train me on standard operating procedures, trial safety protocols, etc.

I began live testing on day +11. That was 181 days ago, counting today.


181 days.

She had a 181 day head-start.

I’m no closer today than I was yesterday.



I think I’ll start the journal with that.


There’s something off about him. His face is vague; partially ensconced in shadows thrown by the glaring fluorescents overhead. Some adrenal rush surges through me, blurring my surroundings. The outlines of the columns to my left and right sway and jitter drunkenly, strobing like a stop-motion film with every step. We’re fifty feet apart now, neither of us moving, and I call to him again:

“Listen, I don’t want any trouble. I just want some answerssssss

The words buzz across my tongue, anodic.



The stranger is a thing of stone.



I take a step forward. He takes one with me.

I take another. He matches.


It’s a game.


Just to test, I start to take a step and stop. His muscles are in perfect tune, timed to mimic my reactions faster than my mind can compute them.


Is it
some kind of


The company invests in all sorts of secret projects. Is this one of them? This room, these lights, this figure; is it all some elaborate prototype simulation?

Is that what I’m experiencing now? What happens if I get stuck here? Stuck in this hall. Stuck experiencing—






I take a step forward. I should be able to make out his face now, but no. There’s a fog between us; one that covers only the eyes, the teeth…


All the parts that reveal the soul.


I move. All of me at once.

He’s moving too. Barreling ahead. Straight at me.

The overhead lights begin to shut off with a loud chhhunk. It starts at the end of the hall behind him. Darkness like a tidal wave, advancing.

We’re thirty feet apart. Another set of lights goes off. A quarter of the hall is pure black.

Twenty feet. Chhhunk



Darkness closing


I can














blank space for blog gaps































Empty my eyes.

Empty my smile.

Empty my soul.











E      M      P      T      Y




The last light goes off.
The universe goes with it.