Howard was able to label hundreds of mental hallways and corridors in his subconscious. The symbolic exercise was so effective that he could ‘see’ them as clear as day. These pathways in the chemical realm led to countless destinations. Some where desirable while others were dark and dreary. The therapist wisely recorded the session to draw out a detailed ‘fire exit’, once he regained consciousness.
All was going very well until Howard stumbled onto a rare ‘forbidden door’. From his animated description, the hypnotist recognized the dangerous phenomenon and ordered him to back away, immediately. The mysterious doorway leads hapless victims to an unescapable psychological trap. The therapist breathed a sigh of relief as Howard obeyed his command. It had been a close call.
Howard was instructed to never go near it again and to completely avoid the area. Under no circumstances was he to even utter the name he saw on the doorway. Howard expressed a natural curiosity about the forbidden corridor but reluctantly obeyed the order to leave it alone.
After the hypnotherapy session was over, they discussed the details of his mental maze. The therapist explained how he could use it to escape the maddening loop of his endless thoughts. To avoid temptation, the therapist omitted to even tell Howard about the dark corridor. It was a well-meaning but deadly mistake. Instead of using the established ‘road map’ to escape his incessant thoughts, it made him even more curious to explore the uncharted area. In only a matter of a few days, he found himself standing in front of the Cthulhu corridor. Without the aid of a conscious warning, he opened the virtual door with no fear and went inside. It was a maddening, dead-end passage.
Howard was found in a catatonic state by a relative and rushed to the hospital. The ER doctors could do nothing to revive him and admitted him to a regular room. Blood tests were ordered and sent to the lab for analysis. After a series of MRI’s and cat-scans revealed no measurable brain activity; they transferred him to a specialty ward for the terminally ill. There he would receive intensive, long-term care.
“If he isn’t in a coma, then what is it, Doctor?” His family were desperate for answers. They failed to grasp the difference between his persistent, vegetative state and that of a more traditional coma.
“A coma is usually brought about by a significant physical trauma to the body or brain. Howard has no visible injury or brain damage that we can detect. His brain scan shows absolutely no mental activity. Coma patients typically exhibit some unconscious brain patterns so by our estimation, he isn’t in a coma. My colleagues and I believe he has a very rare condition called ‘locked-in’ syndrome. The exact causes are still unknown but there have been some interesting new theories in the past few years. We are doing all we can but unfortunately it’s permanent and irreversible.”