Sipheriam walked towards the only window in the room; standing near the dark glass, his reflection – a small-framed, slender man with rich saturnine features – looked out the window with thoughtful eyes; he observed the passing and going of handsome, airborne mix of aircrafts. He perused the path in which they were passing – their movement was smooth, as if they were gliding on ice; Sipheriam, for a moment, thought about their freedom as they passed by – their never-ending movement like luminous asteroids of Saturn’s ring.
He thought about all those people; where were they going? Where have they been while he himself had to stay in the same building for the past month? He wanted to write stories about them, but there was no ambition; he wanted to push himself to do it, but why do something pointless? He wanted to meet every and each one of them. He wanted contact. He would pay for contact, if he had the funds. He knew utterly well that those people would accept those funds for the sake of having it. But he longed to have contact with them, albeit for a limited amount of time. Albeit their offer was at a high price.
His eyes focused on his reflection. I’m of no use for human contact, he thought to himself. He perused his image one final time: a nonchalant face with prospective callousness in his eyes looked back at him with a beautiful constellation of zits. When he was out there, trying to live a normal life, he used to tell himself that the tyranny of mirrors shouldn’t dictate his image. He still tells himself that; his belief still withers to this day. He wondered if there was ever going to be a cure for his illness; he wondered if he ever was going to be like the rest of those aircraft drivers, with creases near their cheeks caused by countless of laughs, cackles, and shrieks, and sly smirks; he knew very well that a smile would only be richer and more handsome if bitterness, resentment, and sadness had lurked behind it before; and the longer it lingered, the better the smile would be – marvelous like the birth of a supernova.
It wasn’t thus for him.
“Sipheriam,” muttered a TECH who stood nearby his bedroom door, writing on his notepad. “Sipheriam, check.” The TECH’s patronizing demeanor conveyed Sipheriam’s insignificance, then he moved on to the next room. Sipheriam never had the nerve to start a conversation with the TECH’s because they were busy all the time, making him feel like a burden to them. He wondered if the sun ever felt the same to the rest of the solar system – burning for centuries without end, likewise for the vulnerable pollinators towards flowers, and the same for those lost cries of wales blaring across the depths of the Earth’s oceans. Was that a burden? Or was that nature?
He kept wondering; he wondered until he was kissed by the sweetness of sleep.
Sipheriam walked behind the TECH in a sluggish motion, mentally counting his steps as his feet lightly landed on black tile and then a white one (“light, darkness”; “life, death”; “God, devil”). The TECH never looking back at him as it walked. Sipheriam observed the TECH: it was tall with flawless, clear skin; its hair reflected the lights from above, making Sipheriam imagine an ocean’s shimmering horizon. An android.
Sipheriam touched his own hair; it was clammy.
“Mr. Topher, patient number 93 has arrived,” the TECH said once it opened the door. “Objective, accomplished.”
“Thank you – uh, please, let him in,” called Mr. Topher from the inside of the small room. Sipheriam entered the room – a small room with no windows; its walls white as newly fallen snow. In the middle of this small space two chairs were placed, each facing each other. Mr. Topher sat on the one near the door; Sipheriam walked past Mr. Topher and sat on the next one.
“Good morning,” greeted the doctor, “have you been feeling better? Aren’t you glad I’m not an android?”
“Good morning,” Sipheriam fidgeted on his chair for a moment. “I have been feeling a lot better.”
The conversation was the same as always. The same inquiries and the same conclusive responses; inside Sipheriam’s head, it always took the same image containing two currents of air chasing each other, forming a small, rascal twister. Once in a while, Sipheriam would elaborate on his condition for a particular day, resulting in a vortex rather than a twister.
Mr. Topher paused for a moment, looking pensive. His glasses slid down as he looked down at the wooden floor (“no good or evil,” Sipheriam thought. “Just wood”). He raised his eyes over his iridescent, thick glasses.
“Sipheriam, what would you say – what would you think if I told you that maybe, just maybe, this illness of yours could be fixed?” He stood up and then leaned on the white wall, perused through his notepad and then raised his head. “What would you do?”
“I reckon that you should give me an outline–an idea–and I might evolve it.”
The doctor smirked, then he spoke with carefulness. “This has been tested for quite a long time – I mean, this is your solution, Sipheriam. This could be the solution to almost everyone right in this building. And now we get to prescribe it – after a long time.” He cleared his throat. “Basically the way our system works is like this: After you have exhausted every medication there is on depression, and when we consider that you should take electroconvulsive therapy, we then move to this type of medication. The ultimate solution.”
No, the ultimate solution is death. I’m basically hanging on an invisible rope and you keep placing that little stool on my feet. Let me be, euthanize me.
Sepheriam was counting the wrinkles on his own hands; for a moment he thought that he would make of his life a profession as a palm reader, since money wasn’t a major concern for him (“It will never be – even if it was abundant!”). The doctor’s words were like meteors: they were raining out of his mouth, and once they got closer to Sipheriam’s stratospheric layer, they would start to lose cohesiveness. Sipheriam then imagined, for a moment, a meteor shower – he sat on the highest meadow, trying to keep count on the souls that were descending to Earth. He would meet them someday.
Sipheriam was one of the unfortunate 21.5 million Americans who have suffered from depression. After the early 21st century (to be more specific, after the 2020’s), depression was known to be one of the largest killer. After the 2020’s, the number of depressed individuals began to gradually increase due to advances in technology; long gone were the days where people used to greet each other, fostering an environment of interaction. Now, Sipheriam is one the many victims of technology, its effect spreading like wildfire, and it won’t stop.
Dr. Topher once explained to Sipheriam that the depression might have been inherited from ancestors who can be traced as far as the 19th century. If this was true, then technology in Sipheriam’s time might not be the cause, but the perpetuation of an illness that is difficult to get rid of.
Comfortable misery, he thought forlornly. Blinking everything away, he then heard Dr. Topher asking him, “Sipheriam, will you take this medication, then? It’s only one dosage once every five years.
“I’m sorry, which one again?”
Dr. Topher explained with sharp diligence, reviewing every detail. “But, Sipheriam, you have to take into account that its effect varies – meaning that it might take you from one month to five for you to start seeing a change.”
“What can I lose?” Sipheriam said, “how can you lose nothing?” He looked around the small room: The blank walls, the wooden floor, the chairs, Dr. Topher; he almost wished that anything could rebuke his own nonchalance – his apathy. At that moment, what he was synthesizing from every living and nonliving thing, was that he was in control of his own destiny.
Sipheriam has been hospitalized several times. The first time happened when he was fifteen years old; the second time happened when he was in his late teenage years; after that, the visits to the behavioral hospitals have increased, as well as the time that he has to complete for observation. This current time, Sipheriam had to be hospitalized for one month before going out to the world. Again.
The small, sphere-shaped pill rolled on top of Sipheriam’s palm; it slowly rotated like a small planet held by simple human being of colossal stature. Looking at the pill, Sipheriam suddenly snapped out of his daze by a group of people whose blaring cries were loud enough to fish everyone’s attention at Real Dishes, No Pills, a popular restaurant. Sipheriam slid over to his window and had a look at the sliding aircrafts: they looked like beams of neon lights racing each other in the middle of the air. He sighed, then leaned his head on the window, closed his eyes, and tried to listen to the coursing river of the aircrafts, the obnoxious group of people bellowing next booth, a distance voice of an unknown reporter through a hidden intercom (“When time traveling, please follow the rules. Do not – and this is highly emphasized – do not alter anything”), and felt gratified for the small things in his life – he suddenly felt as if he wanted to take part of any group – but he couldn’t – but that feeling itself was valuable enough for him to feel curiosity.
That feeling drastically changed like a smile stunted in front of fear: Sipheriam imagined himself flying through the dark air, miles beneath the restaurant, his face being washed by the wind like windburnt pegasi until he could feel the impact of his fatal landing. Sight focused on his imaginings, Sipheriam reached back, grope for the sphere-like pill, brought it to his lips (human lips which were never truthfully kissed) then popped the pill to his mouth. No water, nothing is easy in life; he felt the small sphere sliding down into his stomach. Eyes closed, he tried to foresee his life weeks, months, and years ahead.
He then wrote a quick note. Curiosity came to him once more. He had to listen to it. Sipheriam had to act fast due to the fact that depression attacked in sporadic times: he wrote the goal to visit the near future to see if the medication, the pill that Dr. Topher had given him, had an effect on him and how that would play about in his life. He had to know.
Walking out of the cries, the hidden voice of the intercom, and the food scents, Sipheriam made his way to the nearest teleportation door near the edge of Real Dishes, No pills station, arriving at Time in a Minute, and walked into a door, teleporting himself to a near time travel expedition hosted by an Andromedan.
An Andromedan can read minds, Sipheriam thought, Can it read every sad feeling in my head? He thought about this for a minute, but apathy took over.
Apathy, a symptom of major/clinical depression. The individual does not care about anything in his or her life, this can even go beyond as not caring about being sick, having hunger, thirst, or relationships. When apathy it’s at its peak, the individual does not care about living, about existing, any longer.
At the expedition, various humans passing by Sipheriam started entering the time travel vehicle–a bus-shaped vehicle. As Sipheriam entered, he caught a glimpse of the Andromedan: a tall, slim-like alien with pale skin; her oval-shaped eyes were focused on the passengers. The expedition started, prompting every passenger to request a time in the future and in the past with a device that had to be placed on the wrist (pity for the Insectoids whose limbs were constantly covered in slime; “No fit – no fit,” they croaked).
Sipheriam thought of a date, then he tapped the date with diligence; he tapped five years from the current present. The other passengers turn came first: a variation in history of insecta, artificial intelligence, and wars periods; Sipheriam’s blood rushed to the surface of his face when he saw, through his window, a river full of human corpses.
Then Sipheriam’s turn came next. With his sly plan carefully mixed with poignant memories and feelings, Sipheriam requested to have a walk outside the bus-shaped vehicle, at which query was then approved by the Andromedan (its abysmal eyes piercing Sipheriam’s). He wanted to find his own self, that is, if he was lucky.
He walked with swift movements to a nearby station; he glanced over his shoulders for a moment, seeing that some of the passengers were getting off the time vehicle to explore the time era; a Feline passenger tried to get hold of a scent as it made its way out.
Sipheriam ran to a nearby communication booth, and on his device, he tapped the location in which he had lived most of life. Being nearby this location, Sipheriam walked away from the expedition until he stopped midway an alley of broken androids – their skin peeled off, exposing their inner mechanical structures. The need to sleuth further was now obsolete when he picked up one of the many posters on the floor: a slender man with rich, saturnine features as a public figure; Sipheriam didn’t perused further once he synthesized the word arrogant.
The man he saw in this poster was himself. Upon glancing at this poster, Sipheriam almost wished that he would’ve payed more attention to history class from the 20th century: He saw a photograph of himself resembling Che Guevara, but the photograph did not portrayed Sipheriam as a good symbol of rebellion. The poster elaborated wars, hunger, and even problematic conflicts with other universal races. The Milky Way had problems with its neighbor, Andromeda; and it seemed that the problems were not decreasing. In fact, the poster explained that The Milky Way was in no condition of accepting other races from the universe because mankind was starting to “devolve,” creating problems in the universe. All of this, somehow, blamed one man whom the poster described as “someone who used a good amount of intelligence for evil.” How could arrogance and hatred grow within him? How could he have gone from longing to be with someone to nearly destroying the world?
He walked back to the expedition.
There was no going back now. He had already taken the medication. What is he supposed to do now? He knew that the future was flexible–it can be changed.
From this moment on, and for every future moment, he’s now walking on thin ice; ice as thin as a dried leaf.
The Andromedan sat next to him on the way back to the present. “Everything will be alright now,” it kept saying. “Mankind always strives for that which seems impossible, but when he does achieve it, he wants more. He always wants more.” Sipheriam wanted to hug this being, but the poignant feelings came back. Looking at his reflection, he tried to shift his mentality; and when he looked into his reflection once more, he tried to see his own beauty, and when at last he accomplished it, with a finger, he traced his numerous constellation of zits spreading over his smooth cheeks as if a professional painter had painted him on a cosmic canvas, and in his own image.