Threnody: Closest to Heaven – Chapter 1

April 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm (Threnody: Closest to Heaven)


I remember pain, bright lights that stung my eyes, and I can still hear distant muffled voices, clinging to my mind like cobwebs, telling me to open my eyes, to pull myself together… and I remember trying to swat them away, those annoying, condemning voices that sounded as if they were urging me to disappear, to get out of their way as efficiently as possible.

The lights hurt so much.

‘Missie, we need you to do what we’re telling you,’ they said, in clipped, precise tones.

More bright lights – I blinked and tried to turn away, but something seemed to be stopping me from moving my head.

‘Pupillary reflexes are working,’ somebody was saying in an impersonal voice.

‘She’s definitely conscious,’ another voice, a female authoritative one, said somewhere vaguely to my right. ‘She’s just not cooperating.’

She… I was a ‘she’. Funny, that was quite surprising to me. I seemed to know perfectly well what a ‘she’ and a ‘he’ was, but I genuinely hadn’t realised that I was one of the two. I was just ‘me’.

‘Right!’ someone shouted very close to my ear, making me flinch. ‘You need to do what we’re telling you, miss. Raise your right hand for us.’

My right hand? Everything was so bright and blurred out – where was my right hand? I felt disembodied. I was just floating about in the whiteness, with loud boisterous voices that shouted orders at me.

‘Miss. Move your right hand.’ This voice wouldn’t go away.

I made an effort. It was as if I was trying to lift a hundred kilos with one breath and no hands, as if I was in one second trying to jump all the way up the Kilimanjaro. But I had to try, I had to do this – I just want them to leave me alone.

‘She’s trying to talk!’ a voice, the first one I remembered, was saying, with a sudden excited hushed tone.

There was a notable pause, as if everything in the world had stopped and I was the focus of its attention.

It was hard, it was so very hard. I couldn’t feel anything at all, and all I had to go by was that determination that I’d had enough.

‘Get…’ It sounded more like a croak than a word. I tried to imagine swallowing, and when I felt something burn my throat, I assumed that it had worked, and tried again to speak. ‘Get…’

‘Yes?’ the loudest voice said, normally pitched now, excitedly.

‘Get those… out of my face.’

There was an even heavier silence. This time I could hear only a faint beep in the background, and I could even make out somebody’s breath not far from me, at my right. I assumed that this sudden silence meant I had been heard, so I waited a while, and then said, more forcefully – this time I heard my voice –, ‘The lights. Out of my face.’ Nothing happened, and I wanted to either scream at them or shake them, except I couldn’t do either – talking was in itself such a gargantuan task. ‘I can’t see! How do you want me to move my hand?’

There was a rustle on my left side. ‘Right.’ It was the commanding female voice I had heard earlier. ‘Dim the lights slightly.’ I could detect a note of… satisfaction in her words, and wondered what was going on, and why they wouldn’t listen to me.

‘Professor?’ the voice to my right said, queryingly.

‘She’s with us,’ the female voice said, decisively, triumphantly. ‘Dim the lights.’

And then the world slowly came into existence before my eyes. Green and more white… and dark spots where heads were… I gritted my teeth and forced my mind to focus on seeing. I was looking at a huge kaleidoscope of swirling green and white, straining to make out ripples and individual blots in this desperate sea of mistiness – nothing made sense, nothing was recognisable. I felt as if I was staring at the world through a massive raindrop, except that things weren’t inverted – they were simply lost in the curve of the drop.

‘Can you see anything now?’ the female voice asked me, peremptorily. It was an order, not a question.

‘No. Yes.’ My voice sounded gravelly, thick, foreign. I closed my eyes in frustration, and tried to muster even more determination. See! I commanded my brain. Speak! Obey me, now.

I opened my eyes again, and exhaled slowly, forcing myself to focus on the hazy outlines I could distantly make out amidst the pale green fogginess. Slowly… I breathed in, and out, through clenched teeth, and tried again. Once more… The shadows became darker, sharper… then receded. I repeated the cycle, breath in and out, and focused again, ignoring the insidious headache that was growing with my efforts.

‘Professor, she –’

‘Be quiet, she’s trying to focus. What we wanted was a response, and we’ve got it. Give her a minute.’

I just wanted to get away from them all. I had been a lab rat for too long already – I could not see their faces, but I could feel their gazes on me. Their silence was tactile, as if they were grabbing me with unclean hands, and it repelled me violently. I shuddered and forced my eyes to concentrate on the now darker shadows. Heads… those are heads…

‘CN seven efferents are working, Professor,’ a voice muttered somewhere a bit further from within the room. ‘She’s definitely looking frustrated.’

‘Her cranial nerve reflexes are all intact,’ the woman was saying. ‘The spinal accessory might not be perfect, but there is no reason for it to be affected, the synaptic activity did not extend to those nuclei.’

Enough, oh god. I was going to burst from the effort, and still it wasn’t sufficient to enable me to see, to become functional so I could run away from these… people? Were they… the woman was a professor. I blinked and grasped once more at the shadows around me. Was it me, or… was that looking rounder, like a head? With something attached underneath it, a vaguely dark green patch that blurred even as I let go of the shadow to look at it. Who were these people?

Green. White. Aseptic smell, faint bleach, starched sheets, bleep in the distance…


‘No,’ I exhaled, feeling something sting my eyes, as I promptly lost hold of the shadows. Everything was suddenly back to the blurred out sea of paleness. ‘No!’

Hospital. I felt something tightening about my throat, choking me, cutting off my air supply. I tried to reach up to it, but my hands were not here – I couldn’t feel them. Something hit me on my side, dimly but heavily, and I screamed – the sound that came out hit my ears as a strangled squeak. My hands, my arms – where were they, what had they done to me? I was strapped, I was sure of it – I tried to tell them to let me go, even though I knew that this was it, this must be the end of the line, that was why I was in hospital… There were voices around me, muffled but with a sudden purposeful tone, a cacophony of barks and grunts; the blurs of green and faint darkness were moving about frantically, coming nearer to me, dancing to and fro across my visual field…

Stop it! I tried to tell them. No!

‘Panic… much… sudden…’ Voices mumbled around me, cobwebs of faint clinging sound once again. ‘… sedate…’

I squealed again, that strange inarticulate sound, as I caught the last word. Not sedated, no, no, no! I vainly tried to recollect hold of my absent limbs to struggle, but everything slipped away from me – my mind would not even obey me. Blind terror crashed inside of me, making me lose hold of all rational thoughts.

Blurs, colours, choking, no air, drowning, darkness, horror, screams, hospital, white, death, death… sinking…


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