Nothing. That’s all there was. No sounds. No light. Just this huge, dark emptiness, as if I had fallen into an abyss, deep and unending.
I felt like I had been away some place. Some place far away, but now I was slowly coming back, my senses and awareness gradually returning, although with still nothing there to actually feel or hear, just an awareness that I was… errr… here.
Then it happened. Somewhere in the distance there was a sound. Very faint. Just a humm really. Nothing that I could actually recognise. But it was something at least! It was SOMETHING!!!
I wanted to scream out. I wanted someone to hear me, someone to know I was here, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t make any sounds. I couldn’t do jack shit!
Strange thoughts started to invade my mind. Was I floating, weightless, through the darkness? Was I laying somewhere, lost, or hurt? Was I dead?
Like I said. All very scary.
As hard as I could I tried concentrating on that sound, that humm that was all I could hear, the only thing that was giving me hope, the only straw that I could clutch onto. It was still quite faint, but it was constant, so that was something at least.
I couldn’t tell you how long I spent listening to that sound, not knowing what it was, where I was, or if I was alive or dead, but at some point I became aware of another sound, faint, but close by.
It was something like a machine, and it was going… beep… beep… beep…
I knew that sound. Now, what was it? Think man, think!
…beep… beep… beep…
Then came another sound. It was a noise like… like a wheel, squeaking as it went round and around, starting out faint, then growing louder, before then fading out again.
…beep… beep… beep…
Oh man, how great is this? I’m actually hearing things. I guess that means that I’m not dead then? Maybe just half dead? Now all I need to do is figure out just where the fuck I am!
…beep… beep… beep…
Damn! I know that sound! I know it!
…beep… beep… beep…
Then there was nothing. Again!
* * *
How long I was out to it for I wasn’t too sure. It may have been just minutes. It may have been days. Or weeks, even. How could I tell? I guess though that time becomes irrelevant when you are in a state of limbo.
When I did come around again, or at least as close to coming around as I could get, things seemed different. I could still hear those same sounds around me, beeps and squeaks and whatever it was that they were, and that was kind of reassuring, let me tell you.
What was different though was that this time, for the first time, I could actually feel something.
Somehow I figured out that I was lying on something soft and cool. And there was a breeze coming from somewhere. Faint, but it was definitely there. Every so often I could feel it on my skin.
Now that’s what I call progress!
I tried to move. Just my fingers at first. Then a foot. An arm. A leg. My head. But whenever I tried anything like that my body reacted by sending bolts of pain coursing down my limbs, paralyzing me yet again.
Eventually I gave up trying and after a while things would settle back down again. But then I would forget about the consequences and try and move again, and the pain would start up all over again, leaving my head aching, my body aching and my limbs throbbing.
‘What the fuck is going on?’ I screamed in my mind. ‘Will someone please tell me?’
But no one could of course. They didn’t know I was even asking.
As time passed I found myself trying to focus on remembering what it was that I was doing before I ended up in this state of nothingness, but try as I might all I managed to conjure up were vague images, brief flashes of scenes that meant nothing at all to me; like storm clouds… and a dark ocean… a glimpse of blue sky and sunlight… and smoke.
They had to mean something, I was sure of that at least, but nothing came to mind.
After a while I drifted off once more. That seemed to be about all I could do. Wake up. Drift off. Wake up. Drift off. But I really wasn’t waking up at all, was I?
When I was asleep… if that’s what you could call it… the storm clouds came to me over and over again. It was daylight, but it was very dark, as the clouds were directly overhead, blocking out the sun and the sky. Every now and then, however, they would open, ever so briefly, showing a patch of blue and allowing a shaft of sunlight to burst through from the heavens, then just as quickly they would close again. I could smell the salt air. I could feel the rain and the wind against my skin.
Looking around me I could see people. Faceless people, moving about, looking at me. But who were they?
Then in the distance I could see a shape. What was that? A mountain? Surrounded by sea? What do they call those? I just KNOW they have a name for those things!
Fuck… I AM in a mess, aren’t I?
‘What is happening to me?’ I wanted to scream. But of course, I couldn’t do that. All I could do was lie there and wonder what the hell this mess was that I was in. And how the hell I got here!
Suddenly, I felt a stabbing pain in my head.
Then there was nothing. Again!
* * *
How long was this see-saw ride going to last? First I was awake, or at least my mind was, then there was nothing once more. My eyes couldn’t open. I couldn’t say anything. But I FELT as if I was awake, even if it were only for short periods of time.
I could hear the muffled whispers of people around me, and the sounds of footsteps, and I could hear that infernal, constant, beeping sound. I’m not sure if that meant that progress was being made or not, but at least I knew now that I wasn’t dead. I had convinced myself of that fact at least.
Then came another revelation. I finally figured out where I was. It was a hospital. It had to be. Things were finally starting to make sense.
All around me I could hear sounds, and as I recognised each one I found myself trying to visualise its cause. The sound of footsteps. The sound of a trolley being wheeled along. Doors opening and closing. The clang of metal on metal. The humm of machines.
Yes. This really was progress.
I found myself trying to concentrate on one sound at a time. I could hear a trolley with squeaky wheels coming down the corridor, accompanied by the footsteps of the person pushing it along. The sound was still quite faint, but it was definitely growing stronger, getting louder and louder, until eventually it stopped, seemingly quite close.
For a moment there was only silence, but then it started again, and it sounded like it was coming closer still, until eventually there was a ‘clunk’ and I felt a vibration. It was like… like the trolley had collided with my bed!
‘Fuck! I actually felt that! I felt the bed shake!’
All of a sudden I wanted to yell out. I wanted to go ‘Woo-hoooo’ and pump my fists into the air!
Too bad I couldn’t do that, but I took the fact that I WANTED to do that as being yet another small victory. I was on the way back.
The next thing I heard was a ‘whoosh’ type of sound, but I couldn’t quite make out what that was, at least not at first. Eventually it came to me however. It had to be a curtain, a curtain being pulled along its tracks, and quite close to me.
Was it me that was being covered up? Or was there someone else in this room with me and they were covering them up?
Geez, I hope they haven’t gone and died or something!
Funny the thoughts that can go through your mind when you are lying there with nothing to do.
The next thing I felt was the sheet or blanket that was covering me being pulled back and my body being caressed by a cool breeze. All over. I could even feel the hairs on my skin bristle as they were caressed by the faintest of breezes.
I heard the sound of water being splashed around, somewhere quite close. Then there was the sudden feeling of dampness and cold on my chest, which immediately sent shots of electricity throughout my entire body, causing muscles to jump and quiver. It was a mixture of pain and ecstasy, not entirely unlike a feeling that I knew I had felt before, but at the moment I couldn’t quite recall what had been the cause of that.
Slowly I felt the cold and the dampness wash over me, as my carer, whoever he or she happened to be, continued with his or her work. Eventually I figured that I must be receiving a sponge bath. I couldn’t ever recall having one of those, but I soon found myself hoping this one wouldn’t be the last.
First it was my chest and stomach that was gently washed, with the soft touch from my carer sending shivers through my body without them even knowing it. Then came my arms and legs, each in turn being gently lifted and washed, then wiped dry, before being placed back down on the bed.
Then, for the first time, I suddenly realised that I must have been totally naked.
And I was being washed. All over. And… and…
‘Oh God, what comes next?’
I didn’t have to wait long of course.
I heard the sponge being dipped into the water again. I could even visualise it happening. A bit of a sloosh around, then the sponge being held up and squeezed, with most of the water falling back into the container. I imagined it then being brought over to me. As I was thinking this I felt a drip of water splash onto me, then almost instantly I felt the damp sponge touch me, midway between my navel and my... well, you know…
The sponge was squeezed and water ran out of it and over my skin. I shuddered. Then the rubbing started. Then… then…
I could feel it happening. All I could think was, ‘Oh God! How embarrassing!’
The next thing I heard were footsteps. My carer had apparently left me.
‘Doctor,’ a woman’s voice soon said. ‘I think you should see this. He seems to be responding.’
‘Responding? In what way?’ the doctor asked.
‘I… errr… think maybe you had best see for yourself,’ was the reply.
Then I heard some heavier footsteps coming into the room, eventually stopping right beside my bed.
‘Oh, I see. That’s what you meant!’ the doctor said, sounding quite surprised. Then I felt him touch me. Yes, right there, his hand taking hold of me, firmly, giving me a squeeze which sent shudders through me once more. He squeezed again. I felt like I was going to explode. It’s even possible that I did explode, as somebody gave a gasp.
The last thing I heard before I blacked out again was: ‘That was quite impressive, wasn’t it?’
* * *
The next time I came around there was still darkness. But somehow it was different. For a moment I struggled to understand, but then I realised that what it was. It wasn’t TOTALLY dark… it was…
‘Holy crap! My eyes are open!’
I tried to move my arm, but the wave of protest that surged through my body quickly put paid to that idea. I did, however, manage to roll my head from one side to the other to try and take in my surroundings. At least I wasn’t lying flat on my back, so it wasn’t too difficult to be able to see what was happening around me.
There was darkness, but within the darkness I could make out shapes, like a doorway, and another bed in the room with the shape of a person lying on top, sleeping. There was a window, with curtains drawn, though not quite fully closed. Through the narrow opening between them some light from outside was coming in, just enough to let me see what was what.
There was also a chair, like a big comfy chair that you might watch television in. And in it there was a person, a young woman to be more precise, covered with a blanket, fast asleep, her head tilted back. I couldn’t make out any features, and while there was something familiar about her I had absolutely no idea who she might be.
After that I drifted off once more, only this time I knew that I was sleeping… really sleeping.
The dreams came to me once more. The faceless people. The clouds. The ocean. The mountain. Then came the sunshine, and as the dream went on it became brighter and brighter, until finally it jolted me awake, to see a room bathed in light and with sunshine streaming in through the window.
I looked around, trying to focus, which I found quite difficult at first, but pretty soon I managed and could make out the door and the bed with my sleeping neighbour, and finally the chair, in which a young woman was still fast asleep.
She looked so peaceful there, half curled up on the chair, her head resting against the top of it with her long sun-bleached hair cascading down over her shoulders. The braid in her with the ribbon attached to it somehow made her look like a school girl, but I liked that.
The blanket was covering her only from the waist down, leaving her upper body exposed. She was certainly attractive, I had to say that, and there was definitely something familiar about her, but beyond that I still had no idea who she was.
Then something else hit me. For the first time I realised that I had no idea who I was either, and once again I found myself scared as hell.
Just as that thought struck me however, I was distracted as the girl turned in her chair, causing the blanket to fall to the floor. Moments later she turned again, then with a start she woke up, yawning and stretching and rubbing the sleep from her eyes, before finally looking my way.
‘Hey! You’re finally awake!’ she said to me, jumping to her feet and coming to my bedside.
‘Hey,’ I managed to croak back at her, my mouth so dry that I could barely even manage that.
Leaning over me she kissed me on the lips, then picked up a cord that was hanging from the frame of the bed and pressed the red button on the end of it. Somewhere off in the distance I heard a buzzer going off. Actually, I think there was more than one buzzer going off, but one of those was only inside my head. It had to be.
‘They said you would come around soon, once the swelling inside your head went down. That’s what they were waiting for.’
‘They?’ I croaked.
‘The doctors of course.’
My brain was jumping all around the place, trying to take all this in. While I was doing that, however, in rushed a nurse, apparently in response to the buzzer that had been pressed.
‘He’s awake!’ she exclaimed.
I thought for a second about asking her if she graduated at the top of her class, but that would have been just too difficult. Instead I think I managed a grunt, receiving a rather patronising smile as she poked and prodded and wrote stuff down on a chart, before proceeding to fluff my pillows, waving her ample bosom in my face as she did so.
While this was happening the girl from the chair continually held my hand.
‘What happened?’ I asked, after the nurse had left.
‘You’ve been in an accident.’
‘No shit!’ I thought.
‘Two weeks ago.’
Next came the killer questions that I just had to ask; ‘Who are you? And who am I?’