The Half-Hour Baptism
Unique Therapy Yields Unique Results
She had come to wash it all away. The grime of the street, the haze of the skyline, the 15 minutes of power-injected bloodletting shoved in her mind every time she visited Comm/Ent. Gail Smith had come to let it all slip into the water and down the drain, hopefully for the last time.
She had been coming to the Health Center for months now, the results always the same: first few days she felt great, the end of the first week she was good, and then by two weeks time she was back in the doldrums. And of course this all happened on the back of a “one-and-done guarantee for spirit lifting.” She didn’t feel as cheated as she should’ve, if only because she preferred having a reprieve from the sadness over wallowing in it.
Black fur popped off the crisp white tiles as her thin figure refracted a thousand times over in the curves of the opaque glass blocks of the chamber walls. The silver tubs were always filled before patients would enter, so all she had to do was drop the towel and set herself down. She did so without hesitation.
It wasn’t long before she felt the water tug at her all over. Like a thousand pincers clutching at every strand of fur, it stung for a moment, but the pain gave way to an electric rush from within, and then a soothing warmth. Before she knew it, the water began to cloud. Plumes of deep, deep blue swirled throughout the tub, the city’s cobalt color pouring out of her.
Then came colors she had never seen during her time in these soakings. Puffs of fluorescent yellows, a neon green she had only seen in street-side signs. Then that frightful burst of red. She clutched at her fur, digging in to see if some horrible wound was opened, only to find that she was still there, all in one piece. Just a part of this strange new process.
The last step, as always, required a moment beneath the water. She took a deep breath and let her head drop. Ears, eyes, snout and all fell beneath the psychedelic collage of color that painted the water’s surface. And it was beneath the waves that she saw it all. All those horrors from the news, all those scares walking down the street. All the hideous thoughts that had ever visited her in her anger or despair. The fights, the hate, the little deaths she died with each day. Only now they were as vivid as the moments she experienced them. And as soon as she had gazed upon them, they drifted away into the murk.
When she came up for air, she found that the tub was clean again, the water pure. Startled, she stepped out, dried and dressed herself, and went to the mirror. She felt something within her, an urgency, and upon looking into the reflective glass, found something she never thought she’d see again; her youth.
“By God, it’s like I’m 25 all over again.”
The glow was all in her soft face, her black fur no longer dulled, and in her hazel eyes was a radiance she had never known. The tiredness that had clung to them was gone. For a moment, she looked back at the tub.
In her gaze sat temptation, confusion, and shock all at once. The shock of it having happened, the hows and whys coursing through her mind without answer, and the creeping temptation to see how just far she could push this rejuvenation.
But as soon as they had arrived, the thoughts left her.
“Maybe this is it.” she sighed. “Just enjoy it, huh Gail?”
She didn’t know for sure, but she felt as though something was finally smiling down on her. Someone flicked the switch and made the machine run to its fullest potential. Whoever it was, it made a new hound out of Gail Smith that day, one she hoped to forever remain, and one that was on her to maintain.