Fellow Brewer lovers, I am in a daze. Please forgive me for using the site as a place to work through my own feelings, but I’m afraid I really don’t know where else to turn. Something so odd… so dismaying has happened to me that I am beginning to question my very grip on reality. Allow me to explain.
I couldn’t sleep tonight. For hours I lay awake in bed, unable to keep my mind from retreading worn and desperate thoughts of my former student and Brew Crew Ball poster Jacob Einstein. Ever since he was declared missing, a nagging sense of guilt has gnawed away at my very soul. I feel like a shell of my former self – withered, brittle, and old. Over and over, I tell myself that I should have recognized his cries for help. That I should have ensured that he receive proper medical care. That I should have reached out at a time when he felt vulnerable and alone. Never once did it occur to me that his stories – the same stories I so callously dismissed as foolish – could actually be true.
But tonight, for the first time, I felt a shadow of a doubt begin to creep across the darker recesses of my mind. Earlier today, I read through the comments on my previous post. One of them unnerved me, and the ensuing sense of ill ease is what ultimately encouraged me to act. According to the commenter, all I need do to bring Jacob back was turn on the cathode ray tube I had switched off days before. Of course, this would make sense within Jacob’s fantasy. Real science works differently. Or so I thought.
At a quarter to midnight, unable to withstand the thought of any more wakeful and restless hours, I got up, pulled on some shoes, and drove to my lab. It was pitch dark, and I tripped over a large bag of table salt on my way to turn on the lights. Once I managed to locate the switch, I saw that the crystals had cascaded across the floor, forming a kind of path to the table upon which the cathode ray sat, dull and lifeless. Already feeling somewhat spooked, I walked over and turned it on.
At this point, I am ashamed to admit that my recollection becomes somewhat muddled. I recall a flash of blinding light. My initial impulse was to believe that something had gone wrong and that the lab was on fire. I quickly turned towards the extinguisher, but I must have fallen down and hit my head. I passed out, leaving a small gap in the narrative that I am sadly unable to illuminate.
When I came to, I had the acute sense that I was somewhere else. And yet, the lab was just as I had left it, and certainly not on fire. Still, something was off. The smell of grass seemed to linger in my nostrils. A thin film of dust coated my fingertips, but everything around me was gleaming and clean. And the strangest thing of all – a single typewriter key was laying a few feet from my outstretched hand. The "shift" key. I'm sure it wasn't there before. At least I think I'm sure.
At this point, I expect that you can imagine the storm of emotions I had raging within. Fear and confusion, for the most part, I’ll admit. I stumbled to my feet and ran for the door, feeling at once scared and fatigued . I managed to drive home, where I brewed a cup of coffee and tried in vain to make sense of what had just happened. I wanted to put my thoughts on paper, but I didn’t know what to write. And somehow, eventually, I found myself here on this site.
An interesting thought occurs to me now. In my rush to leave the lab, I neglected to switch off the cathode ray tube. But after my experience tonight, perhaps it’s better that way. Could it be that Jacob was right all along? Have I opened the door for his return? Or am I simply allowing my stress and guilt to trick my brain into believing incredible things?
I will think more on this in the morning. For now, I need to sleep. Perhaps when I wake up, I will realize that this all was some sad and strange dream. It would be better that way. But a tiny part of me continues to hope otherwise, against all my wishes and rationality.