Gordon G Hall
Writer and Neo-Philhellene

Other Short Stories


The hovering shimmers, ghostly in whiteness. Then a glinting, a familiarity; this is a thin point that I should know; floating quietly towards the side of me I can no longer see where it is. Perhaps I am frightened? Or is it an object of reassurance? I feel no insertion, but the white is fading. I am slipping back to grey.

Can I feel a Me, a proper, unflinchingly certain Me? Aha, we approach The Cogito do we not?

The grey is around me, it envelops me, consumes me. I become it.

Do you remember an Inn?

Could this be the something? Perhaps I am nearly there.

A plain, a great yellow plain, a deserted strand, stretches outwards, beckoning towards the far-off places, grasping after an ending. There is sky, an orange sky that flickers over that yellowness. Great misty grey clouds hang above the sky. They bellow.

As consciousness returned the colour started to regain his cheeks. His left arm clattered outwards, disturbing the bottle of saline drip so that it had to be steadied by a professional hand.

Duncan slowly opened his eyes. The world appeared to be shimmering slightly. He considered the proposition and decided that it was unlikely that there was something wrong with the world. Ergo his mental process was at fault. He needed more facts, and he needed them immediately.

He rolled his head to the left. Looming above him was a figure dressed in something blue, blue with a bit of white on it. He noted these facts and indexed them for storage.

Duncan was not afraid, but he was most certainly worried. He coughed a dry cough to attract the attention of Blue.

The plain contracts, not much, just its edges. The orange curls upwards. The clouds are clearer now. Discrete images move, not to some meteorological constant, or even to a pre-ordained pattern, but each to its individual whim. Do they have regard for each other? Are they truly free of will?

Prospero the magician, what did he beget?

Where the hell did that come from? What is it trying to tell me? I am only just aware of this Me thing, but I have opened my eyes and the world is resolving itself. Separating out into Things Tangible and Things Ephemeral. To which of these can say Me to my I?

The nurse turned and smiled. "Ah, Duncan, welcome back to us, and how are we feeling?"

He looked at the blue-grey irises of this middle-aged woman. How irritating that he could not remember why he was here. What was he doing here, lying down in bed? And why was she speaking in the plural?

The facts were clear enough. He was in a hospital, he was sure of that. The bed was hard and single. Blue was a nurse. He brought his left arm back into his field of vision. There was a cannula inserted into his vein to which a saline infusion line was attached. He carefully recorded this information; it was clearly relevant to his present circumstance.

A moon swims into focus.

Is it a moon that I search? If so, then where is it? Not our moon, not Earth's Moon. So what is my moon?

The shadows quake and roar again, but I can discern between them, they have different cadences. There is speaking, that is what it is. I listen to the hum and the patter of the words. They fall light upon my ears and trickle with a gentle insistence from thence to my brain.

There is a person. I see a Galatea, a neo-Galatea perhaps; thus the inanimate is animated.

"Where am I? What's happened to me?"

"Now don't you go upsetting yourself, Duncan. We're here in Recovery, and we're fine."

"No. I'm not fine. What's happened to me?"

"Just our little procedure, dear."

"What procedure? What are you telling me?"

"We'll be as right as rain soon, dear, just relax."

"There's something on my head."

"Just a bandage, don't worry about it. It all went very well they tell me."

"What went well?"

Duncan closed his eyes against this inrush of information. He needed to file. OK, filing now. Some terrible accident must have befallen him; he must have been knocked out. An ambulance would have brought him to casualty. He had, presumably, suffered some sort of head injury. He tried to remember what he'd been doing that morning, but those drawers in the filing cabinet were stuck fast. He would have to wait.

He opened his eyes. Blue-grey was still watching him. "When can I go home?"

"We'll just have a little rest, dear. We can ask Doctor as soon as she's here. She won't be long."

'Wonderful'. 'Strange'. 'Admired'.

Now I am a dictionary, no not a dictionary, a thesaurus. Hardly even a thesaurus, but a reference to mythology. A mythological thesaurus trying to find the answer.

There are too many references. And yet I strive. I strive through them. I strive a name. It is a name I must have. Tarantella, that's it: 'The spreading and the tedding of the straw for a bedding',

I grin. The answer is indeed in the very first line of that poem; also a moon of Uranus; and a daughter of Prospero, finally a word that means wonderful, strange, or admired.

Why do I need to know this? A dread creeps. A deep, dark shadow crosses my path and, metaphorically, I shiver.

I feel a touch upon me. I open my eyes. A nurse stands there with her hand resting on my shoulder.

"We were shaking, dear."

Not so metaphorical then. She is middle-aged with clear blue-grey eyes. She looks worried.

"Where am I?"

"Like I said, we're in Recovery. Now we should get some rest. Doctor will be along shortly."

"Have I been badly hurt?"

"Like I said before before. We just have a bandage around our head."

"Didn't what?"

"You didn't 'tell me before' about that."

The nurse shakes her head slightly. I seem to worry her although I have no idea why that might be. She is pretty, this nurse, with golden curls. Beyond her curls the room is bleak and Magnolia. There are hinged metal things clinging to the walls like giant limpets, embarrassed by their nakedness. She of the golden curls looks at each of my pupils in turn. She looks more perplexed than worried now. She makes a note on a card she is holding.

"We just need to rest, dear, Doctor will come shortly."

He watched carefully. The Doctor must have been her doing her rounds. She was young, this one, hardly thirty. He knew that he knew her. She wore a white coat. There were two others with her including Blue. The other had more white than blue. Duncan noticed these things. They were things for filing away.

The Doctor was listening closely to the nurses, pausing for discussion with each them, and that was good. Except it was taking ages for her to get around to talk to him. Never mind, he had plenty to do. He started to pull drawers at random, searching frantically for recognition. She was there somewhere, of that he was certain.

Duncan considered what the hell he must look like. He would take some rip from his colleagues. He would need to counter that. He smiled slightly.

"Glad to see you smiling Dunc."

"Not sure I have that much to smile about. Are you going to let me out?"

He looked carefully at this competent Doctor. Her face was as familiar as if he had seen it on the far side of his breakfast table this morning.

Miranda was looking at Duncan's notes. She had a quiet word with Blue.

"You're a bit more confused than we would have expected."

"I don't feel in the least confused."

"You keep asking Nurse the same questions."

"That I can't recall."

"Well I think we need to carry out a few tests just to make sure that everything is as it should be. Do you remember how we discussed the possibility?" With that Miranda stooped down and shone a small light into each of Duncan's eyes.

The light is blinding me; then again in the other eye. I focus properly as the face of a woman clad in a white housecoat pulls away from mine.

"No sign of any concussion. But all the same we need to keep you here."

Have I missed something? Was I dozing? What the hell is going on?

"Who are you? Are you the doctor?"

"Don't you know me?" She is looking rather puzzled, also just slightly pleased with herself. I have no idea why.

"Am I OK to go? I know I'm a bit confused, but I'm sure I'll be just fine."

"You just said you were not confused."


"Dunc, you are doing so well. It is almost exactly as we had hoped. The interesting thing is to see what happens after a day or two." Miranda turns to Golden Curls and talks seriously to her for a full minute. She then makes a note on my record sheet. She is just a couple of metres away.

"Is there a problem?"

It seems an innocent enough question, but my Lady sans Lamp declines to hear it. She turns towards me.

"Can you remember what happened to you?"


"And my name?"

My thoughts wander at random, playing with poems, planets and the Bard. "Miranda?"

Duncan needed to be sure. Things like this should never be left to chance. He had the drawer open now, the one he had carefully labelled 'wife'. He had cross-referenced that this was his. "Doctor."

Miranda turned.

"I am sure that you are my wife."

Miranda looked at him with a detached air, clearly assessing him and the immediate state of his consciousness. "That's true."

"And you are called Miranda, and we had breakfast together this morning."

"That's also correct."

Duncan was opening filing drawers as fast as he could. He found it. "And we agreed that I should go through with this?"

As they left the room the Nurse turned to Miranda. "Will your husband be any trouble now?"

"Partial sectioning of the corpus callosum is a tricky procedure, even under Laboratory conditions, but I now have all the advantages of polyandry without the criminal drawback. One body containing two husbands, one right-brain, the other left-brain."

"If you don't mind me asking," said the Nurse, "what made him agree to it?"

"He was in a bad way. The choice was being sectioned or being Sectioned."

Back to Short Story Menu
Distant Fells
Inspiration from this glorious world.