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9. THE YELLOW PILL
Dr. John Frame agrees readily enough when Detective Inspector Slinn of Scotland Yard phones to ask if he will make out a psychiatric report on a violent criminal. But from the moment Wilfred Connor is escorted into his consulting room and handcuffed to a chair, the doctor starts to feel uneasy. Connor, charged with shooting three robbery victims to death, is clearly in an acute state of hallucination. He claims he is an R.A.F. astronaut on an interplanetary space-shot in the year 1995. What is so uncanny, however, is the earnest conviction with which he insists that the doctor is his co-astronaut and chief on the flight.
The Detective Inspector, a forceful, authoritarian type, is utterly disdainful of the prisoner's condition and concerned solely with obtaining a statement. There is an argument when Dr. Frame insists they humour the man's hallucinatory pattern. But when Connor accurately reveals not only the name of the doctor's wife but also that he's having an affair with Helen, his receptionist, Frame becomes increasingly alarmed.
That evening Helen is righteously indignant when the Doctor accuses her of some sort of conspiracy against him. She succeeds in rationalising his fears and calming him. But when the detectives return next morning with their psychotic prisoner, Frame's fears are soon intensified. Connor, he realises, is totally unaware of the detectives, has his own interpretation of all the visible furnishings, Frame's desk is the space-ship chart table, etc., and his own rationalisation of all the incidents - (the "murdered victims" were invading space-creatures, Frame is suffering space hallucinations and has mistakenly tied him to this chair, etc.) All Frame's attempts at reasoning with him are met with the same stubborn conviction that he take one of the yellow anti-hallucination pills in the chart-table drawer - and spoon before they go into orbit.
Frame, surrounded though he is with the solid evidence of his own world, finds himself forced increasingly to suspect it. Could he be living in a dream? Could this office and these people really exist only as distorted creations of his own imagination? Could this comfortable, established life of his really be a terrifying illusion? He fights against it. Searches in growing panic to establish reality. But not until Connor taunts him at last to violence does his desperation drive him to swallow the pill. The result is both shocking and tragic.
Written by Rog Phillips Dramatised by Leon Griffiths