Gabriel wakes up in his room and can’t move. He hears the door open and someone enters. They move around his room, investigating his things and breathing heavily. He can just make out a dark shape out of corner of eye. The figure comes closer and leans into his, stroking his cheek and whispering into his ear. It’s breath smells like rancid meat, “not yet”, it whispers in a voice that Gabriel recognises from long ago, “your not ready yet. Soon…” The caresses turn to a long deep scratch and Gabriel wakes up screaming. He inspects himself in the mirror and finds he does have a scratch accross his face. A nurse knocks to check on him and sends him to the surgical ward to get it checked out.
In the surgical ward Gabriel meets Nathaniel Moorcroft (Doctor), a distinguished looking man with swept back black hair and piercing blue eyes. As he chats with him he straps him down to a restraining bed and begins to mutter to himself whilst inspecting a variety of painful looking surgical instruments. Gabriel screams for help and a nurse appears. Moorcroft looks disturbed and asks the nurse to finish the job and hurriedly exits.
Gabriel is given butterfly stitches and then spends a couple of hours on an observation wards, struggling to stay awake. Eventually he is released and heads out. Outside he sees a man stood on the edge of a tall building. Fearing the worst he begins to run, but the man steps forward and drops headfirst. Just before he hits the floor he sprouts wings and begins to fly, soaring past Gabriel. The man has long blonde hair, and beautiful angelic features. He flies up into the sky, spiralling upwards towards the sun, laughing manically eventually crying out “Father, no!” as the wings dissolve and he plummets towards the earth, seeming to hit the ground far outside the asylum’s perimeter.
Gabriel continues on and passes Alex Freeman sitting under a tree who invites him to join him. He congratulates him on weaning himself off the reality imposed on him by the asylum’s drugs and tv, but advises him that the next step is to stop eating the food as it is poisoned. He offers Gabriel an apple from the tree they are sitting under, which Gabriel eats, whilst they begin to play snakes and ladders.
As they play they discuss philosophy – Alex comparing the game to an analogy of life itself, wondering whether the greatest illusion is that of choice or randomness and suggesting that by giving in to the winds of change one will always find oneself exactly where one is meant to be. They question whether aspiring to go up truly means anything as once you get there there is nowhere left to go but back to the bottom. Alex also asks Gabriel why he thinks snakes have got such a bad press – he says in many old cultures they were revered as the guardians of secret knowledge – he blames the Christians for attempting to suppress things. He then apologises to Gabriel, saying it is seriously uncool to alter another consciousness without permission but he doesn’t think Gabriel would have gone along with it otherwise, and “You really need to see this” Alex advices.
As Alex explains that the apple was laced with mescalin, Gabriel finds the apple slipping through his fingers as if they were made of liquid. He melts into the ground and watches as the apple dissolves into the ground too, and a snake slithers away up the tree. His vision seems to focus, becoming microscopic as a miniature apple tree grows out of the remains of the old apple, sprouting more apples, growing and dying and spreading more apple trees that grow into orchards, then fields of crops and cities begin to grow in complex geometric designs, rising, growing and dying before his eyes. He watches as many civilizations rise and turn to dust and eventually finds himself wandering through the desert.
He spots a huge statue in the distance and heads towards it. It is a huge headless statue of a man, as he inspects it the wind uncovers an engraved plinth. The words on it read “I am no one. King of nothing”. The wind uncovers the head of the statue, which he has time to recognise as his own, before everything crumbles into dust.
Out of the dust another tree grows, a snake winding up through it’s branches as it grows, growing into the tree, becoming a microscopic serpent of dna. Gabriel’s consciousness expands into 5 dimensions and he sees the tree in multiple dimensions, realising the tree is connected to everything that has ever existed in an unbroken chain of existence. Something else is there too in the tree. An absence of being that laughs, writhing in the branches, consuming the tree. Gabriel realises he is both a part of the tree and is simultaneously looking at the tree. He finds himself looking at the partially consumed apple that Alex gave him, and sees there are maggots writhing in the core.
Alex is gone and his head feels tender so he curls up under the tree and falls asleep. He is woken up by Louise Johnson from group therapy who asks him if he is OK. She tells him group therapy is due to start and suggests they walk together.