FICTION: Asmad by Eliot Keirl

Last known written correspondence of case 219A 8C. The patient asked for this to be sent to his friend ‘Asmad’, despite having no known friends, relatives or associates that go by such a name.

It’s me. I’ll cut to the chase… I think on some level the drumming had always been there, or at least the counterpart to the drumming, the X to its Y, so to speak, had always been there, ready for it. Maybe that’s a better way of putting it. A bit like how when you connect an electrical circuit the current is always there, ready, instantly. So when he played his drum that night it’s like it awakened in me some kind of dormant beast, or whatever you want to call it – you know what happened anyway, better than I do I dare say. The main problem now is that even when I simply remember the drumming, it starts all over again. It’s why they put me in here – it’s not a punishment, or at least not just a punishment, so much as a containment. They’re sticking to the story that they intend to cure or rehabilitate me, but they don’t care, and even if they did, they don’t have the faintest clue about this thing. They send a new psychologist in nearly every week. They always look like they’ve just been thrown to the lions. I suppose I can’t blame them. Anyway, the psychologists don’t know how to understand it, and neither do I, but I’m working on overcoming it nonetheless. The way I see it, I don’t need to work out why this happens. It happens. I’m not accepting it, so much as simply observing that it happens. Now, since live drums aren’t a problem anymore, the issue lies with my memory of them. Before you say anything, I know as well as you do, deleting memories is a no-go. No. My solution is to end memory itself, to have no capacity to recall memories. I know that sounds absurd but it’s really quite simple once you understand it. It’s all about thinking… and not thinking. I can’t try to explain it to you because some doors can only be opened from one side – your side – but trust me on this, please. Of all the people I know, you’re the one – the only one – I feel I can talk to about these matters. All I will say is: whatever you do, think it all through, right to the end. Mysticism… who’d have thought it? Me, a mystic! Ha! Anyway, wish me luck. If the universe is on my side I’ll already be on my way back to you by the time you read this. Love

Over the course of the subsequent 7-10 days the patient fell into a deep withdrawal, at the end of which he stopped communicating completely, and was seemingly unable to recognise simple familiar objects. Between 17-04-2004 and 23-04-2004 the patient sat completely motionless on the floor by his bed, with legs crossed, in what would be described as a meditation posture. As a result he had to be force fed, offering no resistance.

Two weeks passed in this way until the present clinical psychologist, Dr. Eric Steinhoff, having read the patient’s note, and in light of his behaviour at the time, entered his room and started a conversation about drumming. To the amazement of all those present, the patient still sat motionless, with no observable reaction of any kind. The following day, with the approval of his superiors, Dr. Steinhoff again entered the patient’s room, and played an audio recording of tribal African drumming. Still, the patient sat motionless, with no visible movements, mental or physical. The only indications that he was still alive were his slow, rhythmic breathing, and his eyes blinking, exactly every twenty seconds.

After remaining so throughout a week of further testing and analysis, the patient was moved to a low-security psychiatric rehabilitation centre in North-West England, with the hope that he would start to re-engage with the world. Since the intended recipient of his letter, ‘Asmad’, remains unknown, and the patient himself never provided any details that could be used to contact him, the original, handwritten letter, remains here in our files.

Eliot Keirl

Photo Eliot Keirl

Eliot Keirl lives and works in London as a support worker for people with autism. He has previously been published in Anima Poetry and Spread The Word’s Flight Journal, and is particularly interested in the topic of consciousness.

If you enjoyed Asmad, leave a comment and let Eliot know.

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