Her words were muffled as she stared into my eyes and her face melted. I watched in a state of tormented wonder as her eyes slid down into her mouth and I could only wonder if this was my worst ever idea. I thrust my hand out towards her and said, ‘Black please.’
The girl behind the coffee shop counter took my cup and refilled it with strong black coffee. It had been forty-eight hours since I had slept and I was obviously failing to cope well. My ability to focus upon any sensory input had become severely diminished. Words had become mere sounds and it felt as if my eyes were continually attempting to roll backwards into my head in an attempt to cut-off the sensory input. Sitting in the cafe was an attempt to extract myself from the comfort of my bedroom and the familiarity of the office or research laboratory. With familiarity and comfort, there comes a sense of safety. You find it most difficult to sleep without comfort and a sense of safety. The cafe served to provide both caffeine and a feast of analytical amusement that aided me in my quest to remain awake.
Bean around town, had opened mid-way through my time as a bachelor student. Having never been fond of the local pubs, I found myself developing a finer appreciation for the varieties of coffee offered there. The beneficial stimulation provided by the caffeine powered me through hours of cramming. I had been a frequent customer of the coffee shop since my degree. The continental stylings of cobalt blue walls, matched with dark wooden furniture, certainly gave it a distinctive contrast to the rest of Monkford’s high street. I had come to know the owners, John and Richard McGuire, well over the last few years. Their arrival in town had caused some tribulation amongst the elder population, and not simply for the clash of the aesthetic of their cafe against the older parts of town.
Monkford was a medieval town, founded in the twelfth-century around the monastery from which the town drew its name. The university had grown out of the scholastic works of the monastery and had a reputation for excellence in the humanities. Professor Hall, my tutor and colleague, had been responsible for the introduction of psychology as a specialist field at the university. His argument that psychology was inherently linked to the philosophical field of metaphysics in his PhD paper on Jungian psychology had led to his recruitment by the university board of directors.
The town wrapped around the river, a series of small bridges linking each bank. The narrow streets were a veritable maze of townhouses, restaurants, and shops. The presence of the university had provided a naturally renewing population of students, resulting in the towns major offering, and claim to fame, being that of having the highest density of independent book stores anywhere in England. I had spent many hours over the years in each of the book shops. Whilst most catered directly for the speciality humanities courses offered at the university, there were a few who had a wider offering, although only one who sought out any rare books. I had spent a good part of my student loan on collecting rare books as a result of my bibliophilic tendencies.
The continual flow of customers in the cafe provided me with ample amusement as I observed their behaviour. Having studied analytical psychology for five years at Monkford University, where I had gained my master’s degree, had equipped me well to decode the array of customers and their personality traits. The sales manager who made use of the shop as his office amused me. Having seen him in the cafe before, he was either local, had a local client or made use of the coffee shop in order to avoid visiting his company office. The amount of time he spent adjusting his fantasy football line-ups on his laptop suggested that it was the later. The middle-aged lady who waited for someone to meet her demonstrated the fundamental nature of the human psyche. She had barely drunk the cup of tea that sat on the table before her, a bottle of mineral water beside it also stood unopened. Perched upon the edge of a comfortable armchair, she was clearly nervous. When she was finally joined by a man, the blushing of her cheeks betrayed her discomfort at meeting in a public place. The wedding ring on her finger completed the picture – the man who had met her was not her husband.
Breaking the forty-eight-hour barrier of sleep deprivation was only the beginning for my research. Periods of eight to ten days without sleep had routinely been achieved in trials, without any serious long-term impact upon the welfare of the individuals. Those studies had given me an idea as to what I could expect over the coming days: the issues with concentration and perception were most of interest to my study. It was already proving to be a tough challenge, although I expected that I could develop some tolerance. Failure at this level would have ended my PhD research before any real research had even began, regardless of my place on Professor Hall’s team. Professor Hall had been my tutor throughout my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the university. His mentoring and sponsoring had seen him employ me as his teaching assistant. He had also managed to persuade the university board to allow me to combine my PhD research with research he was undertaking into the effects of fatigue upon an individual’s memory facilities and willpower.
The first stage of my research would allow me to offer an insight into the possibilities of my research, specifically the nature of consciousness and its relation to the requirement for sleep. The first review period was where I would have to demonstrate its relevance to the board, both as an isolated study and with the wider scope of the Professors work. I knew that I had to justify my allocation of funding originally sourced for Professor Hall’s project and that any uncertainty as to the relevance of my research would see my project terminated. In these times of austerity, university funding is a highly-complicated subject. I knew that I would have struggled to have sourced funding for my research and so I was grateful to my friend and colleague for his faith in me. Knowing that I would also have to justify and repay that faith in the quality of my work added to the pressure. Failure for my study also reflected upon the Professor.
With the Professors backing, I was also able to take on an under-graduate assistant and make use of a dedicated study laboratory, rather than using Professor Hall’s whenever possible. Although my research came within the broader scope of the Professor’s research into the effects of sleep deprivation, my own research had a greater attention upon why we need to sleep and its relationship to the very nature of our conscious minds. Whilst the Professor was happy to take funding from various interested parties within military circles, I was relishing the opportunity to have some autonomy and produce my own paper aligned with the wider field of enquiry.
Having collected my coffee, I decided to change my perspective and headed outside to the tables that lined the small courtyard in front of the coffee shop. Sitting back into a chair outside of the coffee shop, I breathed in the cool morning air, hoping that it would help to keep me awake, and pushed my earphones into my ears before turning the volume up as far as it would go. I had already become somewhat reliant upon the mental stimulation provided by punk-rock music played at high volumes as a means to resist the urge to sleep. Sipping my Columbian blend, I took out my journal and made some notes as to the experience.
Monday 17th July 2016, 08:16
Level of sleep-deprivation: 48 hours 16 minutes
What had been classical symptoms of fatigue have now altered. No longer do I simply feel tired. It is as if my senses are being distorted. It feels like my body is attempting to reduce the external stimulus in an effort to induce, or allow, sleep. Sounds have become muffled and my eyes are struggling to focus upon objects. I have now begun to hallucinate.
It is uncertain if the nausea which accompanies the intake of caffeine and sugars is caused by the fatigue or if it is a further attempt by my body to reject external stimulants which may prevent the onset of sleep. Why would the body form such a paradoxical intolerance to food and drink in order to bring about sleep? Surely the need for nutrition is a survival instinct? Or is the need for sleep the primary survival instinct?
It was only as I placed my pen down beside my notebook, that I then realised that it had taken me nearly twenty minutes to make a small entry into my research journal. As I rubbed my eyes, pressing my thumbs deep into the corners, a voice spoke to me.
‘Hi, is it Peter?’ asked a female voice.
Upon looking up, I had to blink twice to focus my eyes. When my eyes cleared, I saw a young lady stood before me.
‘Hi,’ I replied as I stood up to greet her. ‘Yes, I’m Peter. You are Miss Seeres, I assume?’ Looking at her, I decided that she had to be Rachel Seeres, the under-graduate student whom Professor Hall had recommended as an assistant. I had only e-mailed her yesterday and asked if we could meet to discuss the possibility of her assisting me in my project. She had never replied to my e-mail and so I had no expectation of seeing her. I could only assume that she had contacted the office and that the Professor had directed her to where she could find me.
Visually, Rachel Seeres was captivating. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, despite it barely being long enough, so that a few strands had fallen out to frame her face. Her dark framed glasses suggested a degree of confidence and intelligence. The choice of such prominent frames, given that most of the under-graduates who needed corrective lenses chose to wear contact lenses, suggested that she was at least confident enough in herself to have no concerns with vanity. I could not discount, especially with a psychology student, that she may even have chosen them based upon the general assumption made by people that glasses convey intelligence. Her attire was suggestive of a student who knew the importance of first appearances. The jeans and skinny-fit black t-shirt suggested a student, especially in Monksford, whilst her fitted blazer gave the impression that she meant business. A smile eased onto my face as I knew then that I liked her and would be working with her.
‘Yes,’ she answered. ‘Please, call me Rachel. I’m here to discuss how may be able to assist you with your research project.’ Her eyes opened wide as she smiled. She had certainly been studying the psychology of forming bonds and social allegiances. Of course, there was also the possibility that she was naturally good at creating rapport.
Professor Hall taught a variety of psychological tricks during his second-year classes. I had helped him with a few and we both thoroughly enjoyed demonstrating the ways in which simple techniques could be covertly applied to manipulate the thoughts of a subject. Students loved learning these psychological “levers.” The “levers” we demonstrated could easily be applied to a range of situations and were generally indefensible if done correctly, hence we called them ‘levers’ as a reference to Archimedes. Nothing else came close to reigniting the interest of second year students like a practical demonstration of how they could use psychology. The “hypnosis and subliminal levers” lecture always took place at the start of the second year to ensure that their enthusiasm for the course remained high after the completion of the first year. I could not recall seeing Rachel in the class however. Her curly auburn hair would have stood out in my mind. It certainly did make her memorable.
‘Please, take a seat,’ I said as I pulled out a chair beside me. ‘Would you like a coffee?’ I asked as she sat down.
‘Oh, no thanks,’ Rachel said as she smiled. ‘I don’t really drink too much coffee and I have not long had one.’
‘Oh…that may have to change,’ I said as I smiled wryly and raised my eyebrows. At least I think my eyebrows raised. It was becoming increasingly difficult to know if my body was doing exactly as I willed it to do so.
Rachel laughed. ‘For the research?’ she asked.
‘Yes! Yes, I guess so,’ I laughed. ‘I don’t generally go around forcing coffee on people.’ She smiled as she reached into her oversized red handbag, pulling out a journal and pen. As she opened the journal and found a blank page, I found myself stifling a yawn. ‘Oh, I am sorry,’ I explained, ‘I’m conducting some preliminary trials.’
‘Ah, I thought you were bored of me already,’ she said, smiling.
‘I have to ask; how should I pronounce your name?’
‘Rachel, not Raquel.’
I smiled at her. ‘I mean…’
Her laugh interrupted me, ‘Seeres, it is a Latin name. Sear-ez.’
‘How long has it been since you slept?’ she asked as she removed the cap from her fountain pen and readied herself to take notes.
‘Only forty-eight hours,’ I said, ‘besides, I believe that I am supposed to ask the questions.’
‘Oh, I am sorry!’ she replied as a slight look of horror came over her face.
I raised my hands as if surrendering. ‘Woah! I am sorry! That was meant to be a joke,’ I began to explain, ‘although I imagine that I am not very lucid right now.’
Rachel gave a little laugh and brushed the fallen strands of hair back behind her ears. It was a gesture that I found captivating. ‘Is it more of a physical or mental challenge at the forty-eight-hour stage?’
I took a sip of my black coffee and smiled at her. ‘It’s a little of both right now. Any lull in mental stimulation drives the urge to sleep,’ I explained, ‘although I have a strange physical feeling that is hard to explain unless you have experienced it.’
‘It is as if your insides are shrinking, kind of withdrawing from the extremities of your body?’
I stared at her as I realised she knew exactly what I was experiencing. ‘Err… yes, I would…yes, that works,’ I said as I looked at her in puzzlement. ‘Have you had experience with sleep deprivation?’
Rachel smiled at me and glanced at her watch. ‘On and off over the years. I find that I am more productive at night and so tend to sleep an hour or so during the day. In expectation of working with you, I have resisted the urge to take even those few hours. I make it a little over fifty hours now.’
I found myself shaking my head a little as her words registered in my mind. I squeezed my eyes together as if focussing my mind and said, ‘You have not slept in fifty hours? Seriously?’ She looked as fresh and energetic as someone who had slept for 10 hours.
She smiled at me like a chess player who had allowed me to move myself into a position where her next move was checkmate, and then she said, ‘So I know exactly what you are experiencing.’
I realised then that my mind was playing tricks on me and that she must have said fifteen hours and not fifty. ‘Sorry, I misheard for a moment then,’ I said and gave a small laugh, ‘I thought you said fifty and not fifteen!’
‘Fifty,’ she reiterated for clarity.
I mentally recoiled. ‘How are you coping so well?’ I asked. ‘I mean, you don’t appear to be showing any signs of fatigue.’
‘Meditation.’ she answered.
‘Yes, it clears the mind and develops control over the function of the body.’
I felt my eyebrows raise at her explanation. ‘So, you suppress your consciousness and rest your body?’ I asked her, probing further for details. She had already proven to me why Professor Hall had suggested her to join the research. Suppression of the need to sleep was a field which both the Professor’s and my own research needed to address. As my eyebrows returned to their normality, I continued to further question her. ‘That is very interesting, although I am researching into why the mind needs to sleep and what happens to our consciousness during that sleep.’
She made a note in her journal, summarising the goal of my research. ‘So, control over the physical side to sleep to allow a focus upon the element of the mind would make me… invaluable?’ she asked bluntly. She stifled a smile as her words registered in my mind.
‘Yes, I guess so,’ I said, ‘although, Professor Hall’s research has an interest in both mental and physical effects.’
‘Am I correct in understanding that the Professor is researching the effects of sleep deprivation upon both the body and the mind? If physical fatigue can affect the ability to recall information?’ she questioned.
‘Yes, he is directing his research towards an understanding of mental and physical impairment resulting from sleep deprivation,’ I replied. I took a sip of my coffee, finding that I was further craving the caffeine out of fear that my own fatigued mental function may be making me appear at least somewhat stupid to Rachel.
‘And you are concentrating on?’ she asked, leaning forward. She jotted another note in her journal. I could see her notes clearly as she recorded the Professor’s direction of research and pausing after writing my name.
I liked her level of interest in my work and her knowledge of the field. ‘I am interested in why we have to sleep. My query is: does the need for sleep provide any insight into the nature of consciousness? What happens to our conscious minds during sleep? I am investigating the effects upon our consciousness if we deny it that ability to do whatever it does whilst we sleep. Does a part of our mind sleep and the dream world merge with the real world?’
I nodded whilst smiling, realising then that Rachel was the perfect assistant to both the Professor’s and my own research. ‘Yes, indeed. Are they hallucinations or a merging of causal and acausal planes?’
‘A convergence between the manifest world and the realm of forms?’ she asked, displaying a grasp of Platonic metaphysics.
‘Yes, that is correct,’ I said. I found myself to be increasingly impressed with her as the conversation progressed. I found myself looking forward to working with her.
‘Are you trying to prove that the conscious mind state is other than a by-product of electrical activity in the brain,’ she asked with a frown upon her face, ‘that there is another source of consciousness which perhaps connects to the Jungian collective unconsciousness? Perhaps evening asking if dreams are another form of reality in which we dually exist?’
‘Let’s say that I am leaving it open to whatever conclusion the research leads towards.’ I had some pre-formed notions towards the origins of the mind, yet I was reluctant to discuss them with her. I was determined to conduct objective research, without directing them towards my own metaphysical bias. A bias towards a model of the mind as a devolved consciousness that reconnects with the divine plane during sleep. I had never discussed those views with the Professor and was certainly nowhere near ready to elaborate upon them with Rachel, having just met her. In truth, within me was an urge to explore, to allow my mind to wander freely, beyond my body and cross the bridge of sleep.
‘I guess you want a guinea pig?’ she asked and raised a single eyebrow in a mischievous manner. ‘To experiment on me?’
Something about her mischievous smile made me think that she was flirting with me. ‘Yes and no,’ I replied, ‘you would be observing mostly. It is my intention, as well as Professor Hall’s request, that I am the main test subject, at least for the first phase. You would be observing and assisting me to develop the research. You have no need to deny yourself sleep Miss Seeres.’
‘I see,’ she said. ‘You want me to document your tests and monitor any degradation in your faculties.’
‘For phase one, yes.’
‘And for phase two?’
‘For phase two, if approved by the board and sponsors, then we would proceed to a wider trial with a group of volunteers. You could then be one of those volunteers.’
She looked at her notebook pensively. It occurred to me then that she may decline the position. I had left it rather late to find an assistant. Foolishly, I had been pre-occupied with outlining my paper and conducting preliminary research to think about the need for an assistant. It was only the previous Thursday when Professor Hall had asked who I had recruited to observe and document my trials that I realised I had completely overlooked the recruitment. Fortunately, Professor Hall had a good idea of a suitable candidate from one of his undergraduate courses and had volunteered to ask her. If not for the Professor, I would likely have been delayed for at least a week. Whilst a week is far from a vast amount of time, it would have put my research behind schedule for the review panel that was scheduled to take place in four weeks-time. The review panel would expect to see a presentation of my preliminary trials and results before they would issue a full approval for me to proceed. If Rachel turned me down at that time, then I at once would find myself at a disadvantage.
‘Oh, I must be honest with you – there is no financial reward for phase one,’ I added. Although I ran the risk of deterring her from accepting the role, I had to be honest with her. It would save arguments later on. Having her walk out mid-way through the phase would be more disastrous.
‘Professor Hall will give me credit for my work though?
I made a mental note to ask the Professor to give her an extra credit for research volunteering, hoping that he would agree. I smiled at Rachel, ‘Yes, of course he will. He had already agreed to it.’
‘Great! Then, when do we start?’ she asked as she closed her journal and placed it back into her bag. Her assumption that she met my approval did nothing to detract from her being ideal for the research.
I laughed, her presumptuous statement amused me. She had a degree of self-confidence to match her intellect. It was highly likely that she was aware of the timeframe for the research and knew that I had few options. Knowing that I could not afford to reject her was sure to boost her confidence. ‘Be at the Professor’s office tomorrow morning at nine and we will outline and begin the first phase.’
She stood and stepped around her chair and I stood in response. ‘So, are you going home to catch some sleep now, Peter?’ she asked.
‘Me? Oh no,’ I replied, ‘I intend to be at seventy-four hours without sleep for our meeting tomorrow morning.’
‘Thank you. Until the morning.’
She smiled and turned. I watched as she walked down the street and vanished around a corner. She certainly had a degree of knowledge and interest in the research and her ability to suppress the physical effects of fatigue through meditation posed an interesting question that I had not considered. I made a note upon the page of my journal:
Rachel Seeres – undergraduate
Interesting aspect of the research raised: what affect upon the minds need for sleep does meditation have? Is the benefit of meditation greater within the physical body, or does the calmness of mind also reduce the need for sleep?
Note: consider relation between purported hallucinations that result through sleep deprivation and what is commonly held to be dreams. Are they linked? Are hallucinations a form of more vivid daydream? Of what possibility that the sensory perception is altered with sufficient fatigue? Could some hallucinations merely be the result of a different subjective interpretation of the objective world?
I closed my journal and sipped the last of my coffee, opening the pages of a thesis on the origins of consciousness as part of the research towards my own study. My mind wandered from the pages as I struggled to concentrate, instead finding myself thinking of a research career working at the Department of Noetics. To work solely upon research into the profound and hidden abilities of the human mind would be a logical step for myself. My thoughts of working in the Department of Noetics were interrupted by thoughts of Rachel. Her distracting strands of hair that continually fell as if desperate to caress her face, the way her eyes shone behind those glasses and her passion when talking about aspects of the research. As my mind wondered, I found myself distracted by the thought of Rachel. My thoughts were interrupted by the waitress.
‘Sir?’ asked the young lady whose face I had earlier seen melting into he mouth.
I jumped and snapped to attention. ‘Yes?’ I said.
She looked down at me and said, ‘Can I get you a lunch menu?’
‘Lunch?’ I asked, puzzled. ‘I think I will have some breakfast, please.’
‘Sir – I am afraid that it is lunchtime and we are no longer serving breakfast. We stop serving breakfast at eleven.’
I looked at my watch and realised that I had fallen asleep. The notes in my journal slanted off to one side as if I had written them whilst falling off my chair. I must have lost consciousness as I wrote, never even picking up my book. Beneath my scrawled notes was something written that made no sense. The handwriting looked as if someone else had written it, such was my degree of fatigue. At the foot of the page, a single word stood out. I had no idea as to the significance of it at the time. It said: cabullus.
I arrived at the university building where the office that I shared with Professor Hall was located just before nine. This morning’s meeting would set out the way in which our research would proceed for the immediate future, or at least until the end of phase review. I had planned on having had no sleep for seventy-two hours by the time we met to officially begin our work. My unplanned slumber whilst sat at the coffee shop had slightly forced a deviation from that plan, still, there was no need for me to tell the others. After spending some of the morning asleep at the coffee shop, I had conducted some deeper research into various methods of meditation achieved by the Yogi’s of India. The research supported my own practical understanding of the mechanisms of yoga. Breath control, referred to as Pranyama, was a fundamental part of the process by which the dual effects of physical relaxation and mental enlightenment were able to be achieved. I at once found myself wanting to also include monitoring of blood oxygen levels, both during regular sleep patterns and whilst engaged in the deprivation trials. The ability of the mind to withdraw from the physical and focus inwardly during advanced forms of yogic meditation, towards the achievement of Samadhi, could possibly have a partial cause in either increases or decreases in oxygen levels. I would need to investigate and document any possible links between this and the intensity of oxygen during delta brainwaves and REM cycle sleep where dreams are most vivid and have their most powerful effect upon the individual.
As I walked down the narrow corridor that led towards the Professor’s office, I notice my left eye assuming a dominant role in my vision. It felt as if it was almost bulging forwards out of the socket, with my right eye feeling somewhat redundant and withdrawn into the socket. I had felt this the previous afternoon whilst in the library and again that night whilst entertaining myself with a series of films in order to stave off the onset of sleep. I had made a note of it at the time; the possibility that this physiological symptom was caused by my physical fatigue was very real. I stopped and made a note of this further recurrence prior to my arrival at the Professor’s office. This time I also noted a possible issue: I had slept for some time and quiet deeply whilst at the coffee shop. Any manifest effects of fatigue should then no longer pose a viable source of causation for the sensation in my eyes. I found myself wondering if it could it be the case that the dominant sensation within my left eye was linked to a change in activity in the right-hand hemisphere of my brain?
I noted several questions in my pocket journal:
Does sleep deprivation suppress the function of the left-hemisphere of the brain?
Is the right-hemisphere then empowered?
Do dreams arise through the creative right-hemisphere?
Is the right-hemisphere truly the Dionysian artist and creator, or interpreter, of our dreams?
I opened the Professor’s office door and walked in. There was no need to knock as the Professor had given me my own desk in opposite his two years prior, whilst he tutored me through my master’s degree and I supported him as a teaching assistant with his undergraduate classes. To my surprise and relief, Rachel was sat in my chair. She had arrived in ample time for our meeting. Although Professor Hall placed no great value upon punctuality, tardiness was not something I had ever been tolerant of. A sense of punctuality had been instilled in me at a young age by my grandparents. The day was too short as it was, without poor timekeeping wasting further time. I despised any and all ineffective uses of time. Extending the usable and effective hours of the day through the elimination of the need to sleep may have been a highly unlikely goal for our research, yet it was one of the considerations which had seen the funding board show an interest in our work.
A much more interesting result would be if we could somehow find a way to allow the physical rest of the body whilst enabling the mind to continue in its conscious work; that was where my own special emphasis upon the nature of consciousness and its role in dreaming during sleep would be important. If we could find a way for the mind to interact and still be productive during physical sleep, then the benefits for the productivity of non-physical industries would be huge, effectively benefitting from a work force which never rested and could work twenty-four hours a day. Such a prospect was both intriguing and simultaneously terrifying. A separation of mind and body that could lead to a form of non-physical enslavement within select industries. Despite the terrifying potential, I had emphasised the benefits in order to gain a specified allocation of funding within the overall project funds. Employing all of my inner salesman’s trickery, I had even stooped as low as to suggest that a realisation of how the mind may be separated from the body could even pave the way for the immortality of consciousness. It is no secret that the wealthy fear nothing more than the loss of wealth through death. The retention of material possessions was the ultimate motivation behind their apparent willingness to do anything to gain immortality. Such was far from a modern tendency, the tales of Elizabeth Bathory, amongst others, attest to the innate human instinct to strive for immortality. If they will pay for cryogenic freezing, then they would surely like to fund my aspect of the research, or so I reasoned.
I had expected the Professor to chasten me for such a shameless display of sophistry, yet he never did so as he himself espoused the possible benefits of interest to the military and intelligence communities of our research into the effects of sleep deprivation and the nature of consciousness. Our efforts paid dividends, literally. Not only did we receive the initial funding we requested, but Professor Hall would be given access to additional resources by one of the sponsors. The potential increase in funding that would be forthcoming should phase one and two deliver promising results would ensure that Professor Hall and myself had sufficient resources to complete the research project, obtain my PhD, and continue to evolve our work for the next ten years. It was then that I realised the attraction of such a Faustian pact.
‘Professor,’ I said in acknowledgement as I entered into the office. I flashed my best smile and gave a polite tip of my head to Rachel. It made a change to have some female company. For the last six months, the only person I had any real interaction with on a daily basis was the Professor, having removed myself from social circles in order to focus upon my research outline. Rachel’s perfume was also a welcome change to the office. Its spicy blend cut through the smell of coffee and the Professor’s tobacco for his pipe. It was as if she had brought with her a total change of environment.
‘Morning, Petey,’ said Professor Hall. He had called me ‘Petey’ since I had been an undergraduate in his class. I knew him well enough to appreciate that he meant it as a term of endearment.
‘Good morning,…Petey,’ Rachel said, pausing, and smiling before repeating the Professor’s name for me. I shot her a glance instinctively, finding myself frowning. She stifled a laugh and raised her hand to her face to conceal it. I wondered if she was simply being mischievous because of nerves or if she was flirting with me.
‘Shall we get straight to it?’ I asked, eager to begin work. ‘I would like to get some brainwave readings, documenting the Alpha and Beta patterns, the Alpha and Theta waves during meditation and compare it to patterns for REM sleep.’
‘Sure,’ Rachel agreed and began to rise from my chair.
‘We are just waiting on one person before we commence,’ Professor Hall interjected between sips from his espresso.
I was surprised. I took a step closer to the Professor and said, ‘Oh. I didn’t realise we…’
‘Part of the agreement in exchange for full funding from…,’ began the Professor as he cut me off to explain who we were waiting upon, only to find himself cut off by a rapid triple knock upon the door.
I turned to the door, keen to see who else the Professor had seen fit to bring onto the team without consultation with myself.
‘Come in!’ called the Professor.