“You ever heard of the fourth dimension?”
I sat back in my chair, one hand on my chin, watching my patient closely as I had done every Thursday for two months. Over the course of each hour, he’d prattle on about the voices in his head, his compulsions, and his perversions. However this time, he was slightly different.
Before, J.P. (as I knew him), had what was known in the Psychiatrist profession as ‘Little Man’s Disease’. He was rather short, balding, but in decent shape. He had a gruff personality and a deep, deep psychosis. I was treating him for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Schizophrenia. Normally, he would sit comfortably in the leather chair across from my desk. Normally, he would tap his fingers in the arm of said chair or the worn out knees of his blue jeans. But today, he was nervous. Today, he was wringing his rough hands together; his eyes were shifting around the rooms, sometimes lingering on the corners.
“The fourth dimension, you say?” I asked finally.
His nervous gaze met mine. “Yeah, Doc, that’s what I said – the fourth dimension.”
“Of course I’ve heard of it, J.P. But last week we were speaking about your compulsion. We were getting somewhere.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, Doc, I know,” J.P. interrupted, waving his hand in the air. He kept it there for a moment as if he’d forgotten what he was doing. “But this is important. I’ve been there.”
“Been where, J.P.?” I asked, letting my exasperated sigh taper off so I didn’t offend him.
“To the fourth dimension, Doc!” he nearly shouted, slapping a hand on the arm of his chair.
I checked my watch. “Have you, J.P.? How did you get there?”
“Well… it all started about two days ago. I was lyin’ in bed tryin’ to sleep, and I heard this voice in my head. It asked me ‘Do you want to see?’. I didn’t answer it because you told me not to talk to the voices in my head, so I just stayed still. But, then it asked me again, ‘Do you want to see?’.
“At this point, I was gettin’ annoyed, so, in my head, I said, ‘Whatever, just leave me alone’. For a while, nothing happened. But then… then… Jesus, Doc, it came in my room.”
“What came in your room, J.P.?”
He looked up at me, fright causing his dark eyes to widen. “A being of the fourth dimension! It came into my room!”
“I see,” I replied, jotting the note down on my pad. It seemed J.P.’s psychosis was getting worse. “And what did this being look like?”
J.P. passed a hand over his bald head and smiled uneasily. “Crystals,” he said simply.
“Crystals?” I asked, one eyebrow raised.
“Well… that’s what they look like when they pass through our dimension – colorless crystals that change shape at random. I don’t grow crystals in my bedroom, Doc.”
“Go on,” I said, urging J.P. to continue so I could try to draw some meaning from his hallucinations.
“The crystals were just moving around in my room for, like, a minute. Then, it asked me again, ‘Do you want to see it?’. This time, I knew it wasn’t in my head; it was asking me out loud. Doc… I was so damn scared I just screamed at it. I screamed, ‘YES! Just leave me the fuck alone!’”
I sighed. “J.P., what did I tell you about using that kind of language in our sessions?”
J.P. wasn’t listening; he simply continued speaking over me. “Then it started screaming. Jesus, Doc, it screamed this high pitch scream. It was like a Banshee’s wail, man. It hurt my ears. But the… the thing started moving toward me. It got real close. Then… then it touched me! This piece of crystal was, like, an inch from my hand, but I could feel it wrapping around me. That’s when I started disappearing.”
“Disappearing?” I demanded.
“Yeah, yeah, Doc. First, my hand went away. It was just gone! A freakin’ stump but it didn’t bleed or hurt. I started freaking out when my whole arm went away. Then, my shoulder went, and then my head. And that’s when I saw it. I was there, Doc. I went into the fourth dimension.” When J.P. finished explaining himself, he was shaking. The whole chair was vibrating with his fear. I watched him for a moment before checking my watch again.
“Well, J.P.,” I asked, “what does the fourth dimension look like?”
“Shapes,” he muttered.
“The shapes are different. There ain’t no geometry there, that’s for sure. They have perpendicular lines that never touch, they have spirals that are actually circles,” he explained frantically.
Suddenly, it dawned on me and I smiled. “You’re speaking of a tesseract, aren’t you?”
“A tesseract is a four dimensional analog of a cube. A square within a square but it’s still a square.”
J.P. pointed at me wildly. “Yeah, yeah, there was one of those, too! And, Jesus, Doc, the corners!” He stared up at a crook in the wall behind me. “There’s four lines comin’ outta every corner, but it’s still a ninety degree angle.”
I nodded. “Yes, but these are all things you can read in Science Fiction novels.”
“This ain’t no sci-fi shit, Doc,” he said.
“J.P…” I warned.
“No, Doc, listen! The… the things that looked like crystals in our dimension… they ain’t no crystals over there.”
“What do they look like?” I asked, leaning forward.
“They… they…” he trailed off, his dark eyes glazing over. I waited. I was a therapist, I was accustomed to waiting. I let the room fill with silence, comfortable that he’d answer me when he was ready. I allowed him sixty whole seconds before trying again.
“J.P.?” I asked.
“They want me to come back,” he said simply, staring into empty space. “They’re telling me to come back.”
“Right now, J.P.? In your head?” I asked.
“No!” J.P. suddenly jumped out of his chair. It fell back onto the carpet with a muted thud. He held his arms out to me, reaching. “They’re here! They’re here! Their voices don’t echo like they do in my head! You can’t hear them??”
“J.P., calm down,” I tried.
“Don’t let them take me, Doc! I don’t wanna go back! I don’t wanna go crazy!”
“J.P.—” I stopped dead mid-sentence when I noticed something wasn’t right. Where J.P.’s hands had been, there was nothing but clean stumps. I could see bone, muscles, and veins pulsing. He didn’t seem to notice. I couldn’t say a word.
“Doc, please!” he pleaded. Now, his arms were gone up to the elbow. He finally turned his gaze to them and began screaming. “No! Don’t take me!!”
Suddenly, his chest was gone. I could see inside the cavity. I could see his heart beating wildly and his lungs expanding as he breathed.
“No…” he whispered. And then, his face was gone.
I stared at his brain, defying gravity inside the cavern of his skull. The roadmap of veins pulsed quietly for a second or two, then, J.P. was gone.
I said nothing for several moments. All my prior teachings in psychiatry screamed at me that I was the one going insane. I was crazy; people don’t just disappear at random! But then, something in the corner of my office caught my attention.
I’d never noticed that gray crystal before. It moved, changing its shape randomly. Then, I heard the words.
“Do you want to see it?”