August 28, 2048
"They're talking to me."
"Seriously. You have to believe me. They talk to me and sometimes visit me personally. I've been in their spaceship and flown to stars beyond the universe."
"I'm listening. Go on."
Mr. Lagumdzjia uncrossed his legs and leaned toward his therapist, Dr. Hamikus. "They're human, you know. Or very nearly human. Their eyes are larger. They're shorter."
"OK. Go on."
"Well, they talk to me."
"What do they say?"
"I don't know. I have no clue. I feel good when they visit, but I have no idea what they're saying."
"Sounds harmless to me."
"That's what I think. But I'm worried what others might think."
"Well, there could be some difficulty with others if you discuss this with them. Have you told anyone besides me?"
Dr. Hamikus rubbed his chin. Stubble. He liked the feel of stubble towards the end of the day. "I don't see how anyone will find out if you don't tell them."
"What if the aliens talk to someone else?"
Go with his flow. Don't contradict him. Dr. Hamikus adjusted his horn-rimmed glasses. He looked around his office. Beige walls. Brown leather furniture. Sparse bookshelves. Simple Matisse collages. A portrait of Isaac Asimov, circa 1958, in the mirror hung just above the patient's chair. Everything sane, concrete, experienceable. Stark contrast to the power of the words hanging in the air.
What if the aliens talk to someone else? What's the right answer for that?
Dr. Hamikus looked back at Mr. Lagumdzjia. "Is it probable nobody else will understand them?"
Mr. Lagumdzjia puzzled his mouth. He shook his head.
"Well, there you go. And wouldn't it also be likely others visited by the aliens will appreciate your version of the story? They'll have the same experience more or less, wouldn't you agree?"
Mr. Lagumdzjia smiled his mouth. He nodded.
"The alien visitations aren't affecting your work or relations with others, are they?"
"No. No, they're not. They just show up when I'm dreaming or bored."
"Do they ever show up when you're driving? Think about when you drive long distances."
"No." Mr. Lagumdzjia puzzled up again. "No, although I don't feel comfortable driving alone for long distances. You know, though. The acid flashbacks."
"But these aren't flashbacks, these aliens. It's really happening. I could draw pictures if I knew how to draw."
"You keep insisting. Are you doing that to prove to me or prove to yourself?"
Mr. Lagumdzjia sat back in the comfort of the overstuffed leather. Pause. "Well, it is rather far-fetched. I mean, aliens talking to me. Who am I to be worthy of their attentions?"
"Are you a worthless person?"
"No. But I'm not a major player. I'm just Joe Earthling, you know?"
"Why wouldn't they want to talk to you?"
"I dunno. I suppose they're aliens, they can talk to whoever. Maybe I'm just able to hear them."
"Does that bother you?"
Dr. Hamikus paused in a way that said, "Yes? Go on. You have nothing to fear."
Mr. Lagumdzjia looked down. "I'd like to be sure. I don't want to be losing my mind. I gotta know. This isn't acid. This is real to me, and I don't think something like this should be real to me. I see pictures of the aliens on the teevee and in the news. They don't look human at all. They don't seem human in any way. Why do I got humans in my mind and think they're the aliens on the moon?"
Dr. Hamikus jotted notes in his notebook. He looked up at Mr. Lagumdzjia. "Would you like me to run some tests to see what we can rule out?"
"All right." Dr. Hamikus looked at his watch. "We've got enough time, I can get you some results this hour. I'll just need a urine sample."
"Oh? OK. Sure." Mr. Lagumdzjia stood up. "Ah, where?"
"That door, there. The cup will be in the cabinet to the side of the toilet."
"OK. Thanks." Mr. Lagumdzjia disappeared into the water closet. A few minutes later, he was back out. A few minutes after that, Dr. Hamikus got a printout from the urinalysis.
Dr. Hamikus studied a few figures. Made notes. Adjusted his glasses and looked at the printout, just to make sure. Nodded and wrote a few more notes.
"What is it, doc?"
"There seem to be indications of possible chemical imbalances."
"Crazy happens to people 30 years ago. We've made quite a bit of progress since then. And we're just looking at possibilities. We'd need more tests to make a final diagnosis. Would you like me to refer you to the hospital for them?"
"Yeah. I gotta check this out. Book me a date."
Dr. Hamikus walked into his apartment. Classic uptown Manhattan. Dr. Hamikus wasn't one of the beautiful people, but didn't have an ugly life, either. He loved old Woody Allen movies and his apartment looked like something out of Hannah and Her Sisters. He even imagined the jaunty Cole Porter opening theme as he hung up his overcoat and hat and walked into the mellow light of his living room. His wife looked up and asked, "How was work, Laszlo?"
"Would you believe two schizophrenics today with the alien thing?" Laszlo Hamikus sat down next to Mira, his wife. "It's like these people are deciding to be insane."
"Is that impossible?"
"But not impossible. I got a theory." Of course Laszlo wants to hear it. He makes a comfortable expression and Mira continues. "It's like the Great Awakenings in early American history. Lots of people are interested in religion and lots of people start having religious experiences. Some even see Jesus and God. Religion loses its fashion, God shows up for dinner less often."
"So you're calling the principals of a series of major religious movements insane?"
"They were certainly abnormal in the sense of not being the average person. And, yes, I think when people fixate on something, they can become less sane about that thing and behave irrationally about it. Religion's inherently irrational, but we've already had that discussion."
"So my patients are fixating on aliens and having schizoid episodes about them as a result of that fixation."
"One hundred years ago, everyone saw flying saucers. It's happening again."
"So if the aliens really do contact people through mental impressions, the only ones who will know will be the therapists and their patients."
"Looks that way."
Laszlo and Mira laughed. Then Laszlo seized up: "God, Mira! What if the aliens actually land here?"
"Unless I start fixating on them."