February 28, 2010


‘Welcome, friend, welcome’ said a voice, sounding strangled. ‘And welcome back’

He blinked, which felt very strange. It was a conscious effort and nothing felt different, like his eyes were no more moist or whatever else blinking did. The world was swimming into focus now, which helped little. The walls and ceiling were painted a deep black and the only thing noticeable was a ring of light highlighting the also black door, and a speaker up in one corner.

‘We understand your recent transfer may have been very disorientating. Studies show seven out of ten find this experience deeply unsettling. Please take five minutes to reorientate yourself.’ The voice was clearly coming from the speaker. It was asexual and monotone.

He made to hold his head, a bizarre mixture of pain and regret overloading his senses, but found he couldn’t feel his head. He couldn’t feel anything at all actually, or smell anything. There was no sensation going through him other than this new type of headache, a terrible new feeling added to a terrible day.

What had happened recently? Last thing he remembered was… was… what was it…

‘By now, you will have remembered your last moments. Studies show eight of ten find this memory emotionally distressing. Please take five minutes to compose yourself.’

Oh yes, the car. He had been out buying a gift for his wife in the city. It was a lovely day, blue skies, no clouds, birds singing and other clichĂ©s. He stepped out, a necklace stowed in his pocket as he took a great intake of refreshing air. Then another step out into the road. His legs were suddenly swept out from under him, his knees no longer connected. There was no control over his arms as they shot for the sky by themselves. He flew, ever so briefly, through the air. All he saw for that second it took was a flash of a taxi. And then…

And then he was here.

What happened in-between? Where was he? How did he get here? Who fixed his legs? Where was his wife? All these questions spinning round and round and round in his head. He reached for the wall, but couldn’t feel it. Looking, he was clearly touching the wall. His hand had contact with the wall. But there was nothing, no contours or friction or gradient to the wall. Both hands now and yet still nothing. He was numb all over.

‘By now, you will have realised you are dead. Studies show that nine out of ten cannot accept this straight away. Please take five minutes to accept this fact.’

What? How could he be dead? He was here, wasn’t he? He was touching this wall, seeing this pitch black room. He was still wearing the same white shirt, same blue jeans, same black shoes. No, wait, no he wasn’t. Where his jeans should have ended, they didn’t. Instead they flowed out, spreading out until they disappeared without end. It looked like he was wearing a pair of faded bell bottoms. He tried to pull the trouser legs up, exposing his shoes yet no mater how much he pulled the jeans still flowed. Then he tried moving his feet, but there seemed to be nothing there. Where were his feet? What was going on?

‘Welcome, friend, welcome’ said the voice. ‘And welcome back to the land of the living’


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