Fear threatened to overwhelm Sean the helmet was attached to his head. The psychiatrist tried not to admit that fear even to himself but how could he not be afraid. Two men had been driven insane by the device he was wearing but it was his job to heal them and the only way he could start doing that was to understand what had caused the insanity.
He had already sat in the chair for almost two hours as they monitored his brain waves and adjusted the machinery to it. He had done his best to put the others at ease as he waited. He told jokes to the scientists as they attached monitors to watch his heartbeat and told the nurse about his cat. He only dropped when they pull the straps tight over his arms so he couldn't injure them when he began thrashing.
"The machine will turn off automatically after thirty seconds."
"And if I take my thumb off the button it will turn off immediately," Sean said.
"Correct. Start whenever you want."
Sean took three deep breaths. He didn't understand the machine well. He thought not knowing might help protect him. What he did know was that it was designed to let him see the paranormal world. A spirit world which had driven two trained paranormal investigators insane.
After a few seconds he pushed the button and waited, uncertain what to expect. The room became fuzzy then cleared. The room was no more than twenty foot square and held hundreds of people. They moved slowly passing through each other and never showing any sign that they saw any of the others.
As the machinery continued to power up the walls faded away and the landscape came into view. It was a flat, white plain filled with millions of people none of them interacting with any of the others. How had this caused men to suddenly become violent? They had recognized something he hadn't? He tried not to think about it too much. Better to think about it when it was less real.
But as he watched the faces. No one looked up, no one spoke and no one smiled and Sean began to understand.
These people were here because there was no place else to go. This was all there was. To wander isolated and alone in a world without even landscapes to entertain and to do it for eternity. If there was a God he didn't care and the truth began to eat at Sean's mind and as he let go of the button he began to pull at his restraints.
"You have to let me out." Sean said as he struggled against the bands of cloth which held him down. The image of those people wouldn't leave his mind, an eternity with no hope, no joy, with nothing.
The thought continued to push inside his skull while he continued to pull against the straps unable to face knowledge that no matter how long he lived, no matter what he did he would end up in that endless nothingness.