I admit that I am powerless....

After the introduction I can see the group leader, aka my counselor, looking at me after each speaker and I finally stand up.

"I am Meh, uh, Mark. I admit that I am powerless...." I go on. I describe it all. It takes a long time. Most people recognize me. Some have heard me before. The faces that are new to me get locked hard, a few compassionate souls just deeply sad.

There is silence when I am done.

"Inpatient." says one of the older women harshly. Others nod and then all are saying it. "You have to go inpatient."

"You're the fifth group that has said that." I say. "In two days."

I meet my counselor's eyes and he shrugs. "Ok." I say. "I'm ready."

"We'll finish group." he says coolly.

After the group is done I get in his car. He won't let me drive. There is no long term parking anyhow. We head to the facility. "But--"

"Don't." He says. "Or I will just turn around."

At the intake we go through the first set of doors. "Code black." he says. The woman at the desk looks up and another woman standing back in the office swings around. "What? On a Friday night?" She looks enraged.

"Deal with it." says my counselor. He is handing me forms to sign. I am reading them but not taking much in. My lawyer has reviewed them already four times over the last year.

The intake is smooth until we get to medicines. "Are you on any prescribed medicines?"

I feel a ray of hope. "Yes, all physician prescribed." I pull my duffle forward.

"FDA approved prescription medicines, not self prescribed." she says sharply.

I stop. I am embarrassed. "No. But what about exercise?" I am writhing.

"You will be able to go from your shared room to group and to the bathroom. It is two hallways. You may walk the hallways, but only at certain times when you won't disturb anyone. Slowly. No racewalking. No running."

I turn to my counselor, sweating with panic. "The website. I should have it taken down. Just let me take it down for now."

"No." he says. He is sweating too, into the folds of his suit. He must weigh close to 300 pounds. He pops a couple of tootsie rolls in his mouth. I shudder. "We work with your kind. If you take it down you won't do the steps."

Step 8 and 9. They are what terrify me.

8. Made a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

My website, it goes out to millions. There are Youtube videos. I have been on talk shows, written articles. RealAge has people fill out a questionaire and then markets to them based on the medical information they give. I am crying, silent. He hands me a box of tissues.

There are more staff arriving, looking tired and grumpy. "Code black." says the other woman at the desk. She's been on the phone since that moment of rage. "Great." The staff grumble and eye me. "Ok, I see." says one.

I look at my counselor as we go through the locked doors. I am voluntary of course but some aren't. "Code black. Well, you'll hear anyhow. Dr. Mercola has been in here five times but he keeps relapsing. And the fourth time was fake. He had two other people voluntarily commit right before him and they had a guy hired to maintenance who hid cameras for them. They were going to do a reality show or expose or something. But one of his guys had gone through a recent ayahuasca experience, with apple cider vinegar and then turns out he was on meth. The withdrawal was the most amazing tweaking we've ever seen. Blew the whistle. So now we triple the staff when we get a high profile like you." Of course I've read the statistics. 85% recidivism rate. My odds suck.

We were in the doors and at the nurses station. "Here he is." said my counselor.

The staff member smiled, kindly. "It's tough, but we know you are someone who is willing to work."

No exercise. No supplements. And worst of all: no organics. They had me the shirt and pants I am to wear. Polyester. My skin crawls.

"From nude on out. Everything." she says. And pushes a bowl towards me. I take a handful: candy corn and the little plastic tasting pumpkins and not even separately wrapped. It's been years. I open my mouth and close my eyes. A handful of candy corn. My body starts to shift, back to the way I was.....

In the Nodes of Madness: The 2015 Halloween Horrorquest

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