Pencilman arrived at Club Sink ten minutes before her appointment. She was greeted by a bearded young man in a plain white shirt and yoga pants. He gave her a cup of herbal tea and told her that the sensory deprivation tank she would be floating in was being cleaned and would be ready in a few minutes.
She felt annoyed as she hastily sipped the tea. She wondered what “a few minutes” meant. She looked in her purse to make sure she had the sign off slip the therapist had given her. Although, it seemed ridiculous, floating seemed preferable to group therapy. She drained the cup, wondering how it was that something that was an herb could call itself a tea when in fact it was not tea.
‘Maybe it will work,’ she thought maybe she would have an out of body experience or some sort of epiphany. ‘Eh, probably not.’
The man in yoga pants led her into a small room that contained a shower and the tank which looked like an above ground coffin.
“After you shower simply get in the tank, this switch closes the lid and this switch turns out the light. The light will come on in 90 minutes, he said with a soothing smile.” He exited and she undressed and showered.
She stuck a foot into the tank, ‘but what if someone peed,’ she thought. She wondered if there were cameras in the room. She could simply turn out the lights and be very quiet for 90 minutes. She thought about the prospect of being absolutely still, she decided she might just as well try it.
She lay in the tank and turned out the light. She took a deep breath and closed the door. It occurred to her that the door might get stuck so she opened and shut the door a few times.
She floated there for a moment in silence, it was so dark that she could not tell if her eyes were open or closed. She went to touch her face and promptly got an eye full of salt water. “Goddamit she scream. She opened the door, got out of the tank she slipped around almost crashing on her face until she found a towel she wiped her face off and grappled around until she found the shower. She opened her eyes and flushed the saltwater out.
She got back in the tank and closed the door. She kept her arms straight down at her side and was sure to rest her head on the tiny inflatable pillow. She rocked back and forth a bit knocking her shoulders against the wall.
She thought about what had brought her here. The fist fight with her boss at work. The order into anger management, the therapy sessions and the option to float or go to group therapy. The thought of sitting in a circle and pretending to be politically correct was too much for her. At least she was alone in the tank; her thoughts where her own.
She had heard of people being ordered into anger management before, but she had never heard of a float tank being an alternative. She remembered she’d heard that Timothy Leary was part of float tank experiments back in the 60’s.
‘Maybe this was an experiment. Maybe there was a padlock on the outside of the tank. Maybe they would wait until she fell asleep or into some sort on an altered state and do some sort of experiment on her. What if there was something in the tea? What if there had been acid in the tea that she just drank and couldn’t undrink. What about that?’
She realized she was probably just being paranoid. She tried to relax. 90 minutes. It was nothing right? She was at work 8 hours a day chained to her desk by headphones listening to old people discuss their diarrhea. She was only allowed two breaks and a lunch there. She thought this was much easier than work.
She remembered the day of the fight; her car wouldn’t start, she was late, a customer yelled at her then complained about her. She went into the bathroom to catch her breath and her boss followed her and told her to list three things she was grateful for. The punches had seemed to come from some unknown force in Pencilman’s body. Before she knew it she was pummeling her boss into the dirty bathroom floor and all her boss could do was kick her back hard in the stomach. The two were taken to the emergency room and Pencilman was arrested and charged with assault.
Pencilman began to feel a strange sensation come over her she opened her eyes and saw her own face looking down at her. She though she heard herself trying to say something. With this the lights in the tank came on and music began playing. She opened the tank door and stepped out feeling disoriented. She showered and cleaned her ears.
She walked to the front desk feeling quiet relaxed. Yoga pants rang her up. His smile faded when she handed him the voucher to sign. She could feel his judgment traveling through her veins.
She took the signed voucher and headed out into the street. She wondered what she was going to say to herself before. She thought about going back but decided it couldn’t have been anything important.