The Screech

The alley was dark and reeks of asepsis, which was strange because narrow streets like this usually smelled like cat piss. I originally planned to spend the evening with ice cream and my cactus Bob; however, when my teeth started to throb I was forced to schedule an appointment with my new dentist that I had never seen before. The last thing I recalled was walking toward the dentist’s office fifteen miles away, because my car’s engine decided to drop to the ground when I pulled it out of the garage.

When I raised my head to take in my surroundings, I found myself looking at a man wearing a white coat who was staring straight at me. Suddenly self-conscious, I reflexively started to fix my hair. Then I realized that I couldn’t feel my arms. In fact, I realized with sudden horror, I couldn’t feel anything below my neck. A rush of adrenaline forced me to focus, and it seemed that I was sitting in a cheap plastic chair that looked ridiculously uncomfortable. Good thing I couldn’t feel anything.

“Ummm…” The man in the white coat started.

I shifted my attention to him. His face seemed vaguely familiar… Then I remembered seeing him on the web site.

“Wait a minute, you are my dentist!” I screamed at him, causing him to jump back in surprise. Even I cringed under the sheer volume of my voice. It seemed that I had lost control over my larynx.

“Yes, I’m Dr. Yokioasmo, nice to meet you,” He regained his composure rather quickly.

“What is this? Why am I here?” I yelled, starting to feel rather annoyed.

“This is my clinic. I started it all by myself. ” He looked proud of himself. The way his face lighted up made him look stupidly young.

“Well this is a very sketchy clinic started by a very sketchy and unprofessional —” I didn’t cut myself off in time.

His face suddenly darkened. We were plunged into darkness as a flock of crows obstructed the sky. Faint sparks of light danced on his sharp features, making him look twisted with menace.

“What. Did. You. Say!” The man’s mouth shifted like an opened scar, and a horrible screeching sound came out of his throat.

Terrified, I started to scream. His eyes were suddenly filled with feverish excitement. I struggled harder when he snapped on a pair of yellow gloves and took out a black mask, the type that had been abandoned by medical facilities a long time ago.

Before I had time to take another breath, the man grabbed my face and pushed the mask over my face. Everything went black.

I woke to a rhythmic pounding sound and a stiff neck. I was on a train. A very ancient train with all the windows stained with black smears, making it impossible to see the outside. Getting up awkwardly, I tried to wipe off the stains on the glass, but found that I was handcuffed to a metal brief case that just wouldn’t budge no matter how hard I pulled at it. The train was eerily empty, and I seemed to be the only thing alive on it. Unable to move freely, I dropped heavily back into the battered seat, trying to think of what to do next. Then my hand brushed against something stiff on the right side of my jeans. I reached into the pocket and took out a small piece of paper.

No, not paper. It was a small card. In fact, it looked like a business card.

Exited that it might lead me to someone who could tell me what was going on, I anxiously flipped the card over and came face to face with the letters “Yokioasmo” imprinted expensively on the front. Letting out a shriek I threw the card as far as I could and tried to scramble to the other side of the car, only to be hindered by the annoying case. A wave of nausea hit me as I threw myself on the ground, and I started to heave violently over the dusty carpet. My skin was turning cold and clammy as my eyes watered, tears streaming down my face.

Just when I began to believe that I would die alone on this ghost train, my ears picked up muffled footsteps coming from the end of corridor. I froze instinctively, heart fluttering with dread, feeling like a trapped prey. As the footsteps became louder and louder, I felt that I could no longer stay still under the impending doom. As a last attempt at survival, I stood up and charged at the closest window and threw myself against it; my strength boosted by waves of adrenaline coursing through my veins. The glass shattered and it was the sweetest sound I have heard in my entire life. I flew out of the window and when I risked a glance back at the train, I saw a man staring straight at me, with a metal brief case handcuffed to his hand. His face was as pale as the business card under the burning white sunlight.

I hit the mushy ground hard, the air rushing out of my lungs, and I could hear the case clattering beside me. Suddenly furious, I stood up and yanked hysterically at the handcuff without watching where I was going. I tripped over a boulder and fell backwards, banging my head on the rock. Dark spots came over my eyes and as I fought for consciousness, I heard a distant screech that sounded suspiciously like the harsh scream of Dr. Yokioasmo.


Thoughts on Ralph Ellison Interview

The famous writer Ralph Ellison’s first impression to me was unimpressive. He slouched on the sofa and had his hand supporting his head throughout the interview as if he would fall asleep at any second. Ellison also stuttered several times in the beginning, but he became more fluent as the interview progressed. On the other hand, when Ellison was reading an excerpt from his unfinished novel, his face was lit up with expression and his voice was coated by a dreamy quality. In addition, it was interesting to see how much the writer payed attention to small details. When he was recounting his personal stories, Ellison would constantly correct himself on specifics such as “70th street” and “69th street”. This trait revealed Ellison as a man of observation in all aspects of life; thus it was not surprising that he wrote “The Invisible Man”, an extremely deep and intricate novel. I was surprised by the fact that Ellison “frequently employed a tape recorder to test the rhythm of his writing” ( 8:07-8:13). No wonder in many parts of his novel the passages obtained an almost poetry-like quality.

Ellison’s several ideas in the interview also reflected themselves in “The Invisible Man”. The writer realized that “every time people see [his] face they start interpreting in terms of [his] racial identity rather than equality” (3:40-3:43). It was from that time that Ellison found his invisibility, which in part lead to the novel. He saw that many only judged the others from their stereotypes and appearances rather than their true characters. Ellison also uncovered an important issue in the society: the black leaders were depended upon the “white supporters; they have no particular way in affecting their will” (11:25-11:30). This idea could be seen in the Brotherhood, where almost all the leaders were white and T.I.M.’s thoughts were often crushed by them. In addition, Ellison mentioned a mentor of his that later turned insane and went to an institute for treatment. The wisdom of old man from the institute in “The Invisible Man” revealed Ellison’s respect for his mentor.

Ellison saw a connection between writing and art, and he believed that “a given work of art, if it’s really working, should engage all of the importance of one’s being” (20:02-20:09). Ellison’s dedication to his writings can be seen in every work he ever published, and it is a combination of his unique character and approach to novel writing that made him one of the greatest writer in America.