"Marcelo, are you ready?"
I lift up my thumb. It means that I am ready.
"Okay, I'm going to wheel you in."
Then he slides me inside the tunnel of the machine. I like the feeling of being closed in. The lights are not bright enough to hurt my eyes but I close them anyway.
"Don't forget to lift your finger when you first hear the mental music." The tunnel has a speaker. Dr. Malone's voice comes out from there.
I wait for the music. It always comes. The hard part is remembering to lift my finger. There's a tiny camera that allows Dr. Malone and Toby to see me from up in the control booth.
"Marcelo, Marcelo." I hear Toby in the distance. I like Toby. He's a medical doctor just like Dr. Malone but he doesn't let me call him doctor. Once I called him doctor and he corrected me and said, 'Toby, please.' His face is covered with freckles.
"Ready for the so-called real stuff?" he asks when slides me out.
"Yes," I say to him. The "real stuff" is what he calls the music that is piped in through the speaker in the machine. The music that comes from inside my head is not considered real.
-Marcelo In the Real World (Francisco Stork)