Sunday, May 13, 2012

False Memory: pp 92-149 (with intervals)

When we last left Dusty, he had picked up some things from Skeet's apartment to bring to his brother in rehab. In the apartment, he was surprised to see a sheaf of papers with the name "Dr. Yen Lo" written on it, over and over, 39 times, with growing distress, until the pen broke.  Now we are getting into some serious clues.

Dusty takes Valet the dog and a couple of suitcases to Skeet in rehab.  Because Skeet is on suicide watch, Dusty has to follow him, even into the bathroom.  As Skeet is washing his hands, Dusty asks who Dr. Yen Lo is. Skeet says, "I'm listening," and goes catatonic.  He ignores the water on his hands getting hotter and hotter.  When Dusty turns off the hot water and replaces it with cold, Skeet ignores that, too.  Dusty leads Skeet back into his room, where he appears to be in a semi-catatonic trance.

Skeet again says, "I'm listening," and a very odd exchange follows:
"Listening to what?"
"Listening to what?"
"What're you doing?"
"What am I doing?" Skeet asked.
"I asked what you were listening to."
"Yeah, okay, so tell me who's Dr. Yen Lo."
"Me?  I'm your brother.  Remember?"
"Is that what you want me to say?"
Frowning, Dusty said, "Well, it's the truth, isn't it?"
Although his face remained slack and expressionless, Skeet said, "Is it the truth?  I'm confused."
"What club do you want me to join?" Skeet asked with apparent seriousness.
The exchange continues in much the same manner until Dusty asks if this is some sort of Abbot and Costello routing, and Skeet says, "Is it?"  But when Dusty tells Skeet to look around, Skeet looks around.  When Dusty says, "I'm sure you know where you are," Skeet does, indeed, know.  When Dusty, assuming Skeet's odd behavior is the result of taking more drugs, asks Skeet if he sneaked any more drugs, Skeet answers, "Is that what you want me to me to say?"  When Dusty tells Skeet just to tell the truth, Skeet says no.  Dusty then asks what is wrong with him and Skeet says, "What do you want to be wrong with me?"

Skeet is having weird eye movement, similar to REM during a dream, except that his eyes are open.  He complains that Dusty is not following the rules.  Naturally, Dusty asks what the rules are.  "You know the rules," says Skeet.  "Pretend I don't," says Dusty.  Skeet identifies three rules.  The first rule is, "Clear cascades."  The second is, "Into the waves scatter."  The third is, "Blue pine needles."  Dusty demands an explanation.  Skeet says he is the waves, Dusty is the clear cascades, and the pine needles are missions.  He also says that Dusty is Dr. Yen Lo, and that Dr. Yen Lo and the clear cascades are one and the same.

Valet the dog is quite disturbed by this conversation. He growls, raises his hackles, and goes out into the corridor, looking for an intruder.

The incomprehensible exchanges, much like the one above, then continue, until Dusty, frustrated, tells Skeet to give him a break and go to sleep.  Skeet obediently falls asleep, to Dusty's great alarm. His alarm grows when he is unable to wake Skeet.  Nurses and the doctor come in any try unsuccessfully to wake Skeet.  When they are unable, they start examining him for various conditions that could have made him fall into a coma.  All are negative.  The drugs he took that morning have largely been metabolized.  There is nothing medically wrong with him, nothing to indicate that he is anything but asleep, except that he can't be awoken.

But then, after causing great consternation, he finally yawns, stretches, and awakens, with no memory of the odd exchange.  Dusty doesn't dare ask about Dr. Yen Lo again, but he does ask about the "rules."  They sound vaguely familiar to Skeet, and he immediately recognizes, "Clear cascades/Into the waves scatter/Blue pin needles" as a haiku that seems vaguely familiar.

Okay, this is our second introduction to haiku.  The first time was the never-explained "Pine wind blowing hard" haiku that Martie could not quite remember whether she heard in Dr. Ahriman's office or read in the novel while waiting.  It is also the first clear introduction of a parallel between the two stories, although the implied theme of memory lapses and mind control is also present in both cases.  It is also another opportunity for a strange semi-catatonic reaction like Susan's.  If Dusty presses Skeet as to where he learned the haiku, this would be another example of Getting Too Close, and an opportunity for Skeet to react like Susan -- going catatonic as the questions become more and more dangerous, and then abruptly snapping out and remembering nothing.  But apparently Koontz decides that he has put Dusty and Skeet through enough for one night, because Dusty decides Skeet has had enough for the night and declines to press.

Then Dusty starts getting a strange, paranoid feeling that the clinic is not safe.  Somehow everyone seems just a little too perfect to be real.  This would seem to suggest that at the time, Koontz was thinking of making the entire clinic be staffed with brainwashed pod people under Ahriman's control.  This is later determined not to be the case, so I can only assume that Koontz changed his mind.  (Ahriman does turn out to be connected with the clinic, though, so Dusty's suspicions are at least partly justified).  After leaving Skeet, Dusty goes sleuthing around.  Standing on the ground outside, he thinks he sees a male figure, too tall and wide-shouldered to be any of the clinic personnel, standing over Skeet's bed.

This is more or less the last of the dangling clues.  Nothing comes of the mysterious figure Dusty thinks (but is not sure) he sees standing over Skeet.  It is possible that Dr. Ahriman pays Skeet a visit in the clinic that night, but nothing else in the novel says so, and it is distinctly implied elsewhere that he does not.  So why bother with that mysterious figure at all?  Like so many clues up till now, this one is raised, goes nowhere, and is then dropped.

Fortunately, this is about the end of the misleading clues, and everything becomes increasingly relevant.

Dusty head home, where, unbeknownst to him, his wife is totally freaking out.

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