The Samsara Effect
The Samsara Effect
2. Maybe you'll learn something.
"How did this kid get into his father's gun cabinet? And how did you get this video?"
Trenna Anderson clicked back to the point where the boy pulled the trigger. The angle was high, apparently from a camera mounted in a corner of the ceiling. The living room was dark, and she couldn't make out much until the flash of the gun filled the frame with horrifying details.
"Eric's night terrors have been getting worse," Thomas Prost explained. "My sister's doctor suggested videoing him because he wanted to study what he did during the episodes. They're way out in the sticks, and getting in to their doctor can take weeks."
Anderson watched again as the rifle discharge illuminated the room. The shot went wide of the father. The recoil sent the boy flying backwards over the headboard of the chaise. When the boy landed, the gun fired again and must have hit the video camera, because after the second flash the screen went black. She clicked back and paused on a frame that showed the boy's face. His eyes were partially rolled back, like a character out of a horror film. "You didn't answer my first question."
Tom Prost was a rumpled, thickset man who didn't seem to care about fashion or style. A theoretical geneticist and tenured professor, he had been a good friend ever since Anderson had arrived on the University of Chicago campus. Prost was nice enough, always confiding in her about his latest dating debacle or asking her opinion about this or that. He looked away, then back. "You tell me. You're the kid shrink."
"Tom, I can't help unless you help me." Anderson leaned onto her desk and nudged the picture of her and her dad at the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton the week before she had shipped out to Iraq. She pushed it back into position next to the photo of her at the surgical unit in Al-Asad. "What about the German Eric was speaking? You said he's never taken a class. Does he watch movies or have any friends who speak it?"
Prost stared at her wall of books like he was grappling to find an answer.
" Tom ?"
Prost scooted his chair forward and leaned onto her desk. He regarded her through his thick, outdated glasses. "Tren, this is serious."
"You're damn right. Your brother-in-law should have locked his gun cabinet."
"Kim and Scott are good parents. The cabinet was locked. And no, he's never taken German in his life."
His tone suggested Anderson had hit a nerve. "I'm sorry, Tom. Go on."
"Eric has never had an episode like this. Usually he sleepwalks, mumbles to himself, occasionally has a screaming fit, but nothing Kimberly hasn't been able to handle. They consulted with their family doctor because they didn't want Eric to hurt himself. He's already fallen out of bed once and almost knocked himself out." Prost looked away again.
"Tom, what is it?"
"There's something weird about all this." His attention went to her wall of books. "Eric would never point a gun at his parents."
"I could show you a hundred case studies of seemingly perfect kids who turn into monsters overnight. It happens usually around puberty, but I've seen it happen earlier."
"I'm telling you," he said, "Eric wouldn't do this. It's not in his nature. Kim and Scott are fundamentalists ... I'm talking the Right of the far Right. Eric's never been exposed to anything that's bad. Kim censors everything he comes in contact with. And Scott is very responsible. He's taught Eric about gun safety. Hell, he hasn'