The Call of the Stars
I wake to the feel of ice cold, sterilised rubber, pressed gently against the numb skin of my finger. My body gives forth no reaction; from where I lay, the touch feels distant, broken even. I struggle within my imagination to remember what a touch should feel like. It seems impossible. My eyes remain closed. This heightens my focus, which allows me to stretch further into unfamiliar surroundings. I set forth tendrils, gathering information, building the world around me. Sounds, smells, and my new-found sense of touch all supplement the experience of nothing. Somehow, there is nothing.
Nothing but space deep within.
I have, since I remember, not trusted my eyes. When opened, they flood me with painful white. Lodged in my mind is the image of heaven; that same horrific reality that may just lie beyond the protection my eyelids afford.
I squeeze my eyes tighter still, somehow anticipating a change in the currently peaceful state of affairs. A sudden piercing pain strikes through my skull, cutting through any concentration that may have been. My mind runs blank save for the pain. Dry tears begin to well. A hoarse cry tries to escape my arid mouth. I show no response to the outside world. The pain numbs itself, but it remains, only now with a muted draining sensation. I try desperately to move, to break free, escape, but my body shows no willingness to do so.
Stars in the sky start to extinguish themselves, retreating far away from the pain.
Once the pain has receded, I begin to dream. Dreaming for me, since I can remember, has consisted of flying. It is a short flight, from which I always wake up. The colour all races by me, in a state of perpetual blur. When I dream, I feel the breeze. For the few brief moments that I dream, I am allowed to forget my crushing reality.
The pulsing beat to my left, rhythmically rousing me from my slumber, drags me crashing through reality. I can feel movement around me, and I dare not open my eyes. The air around me is much colder, chilling me through. Light pressure sits around my mouth. The air tastes different. The walls are closing in around me, and I hear the echo of my own breathing, though it seems different, as if assisted. I realise there are more differences now: icy plates rest against my head. No hair obstructs its way, as I thought it should. They seem to be fixed in place. I feel a light tug when I slip under.
The night sky is almost non-existent when the fireworks begin. Colours of every shade, the indescribable sort, bombard the darkness, lighting the black for mere moments. The embers fall to the floor. After the intense barrage, nothing has changed.
Somehow, my hearing feels stronger. From beyond some wall, I hear mumbled voices. No words seem legible, but they are not addressing me. I want to tell them something, anything, but my mouth remains limp. I want them to hear.
My mind struggles, but my body remains motionless. I am, it seems, away from the cold, at least for now. I cannot stand the restrictions, and my overwhelming inability. That feeling alone is enough to make me imagine death as a mercy. And yet, I cannot be sure that I am not already dead. I cannot fight any pain, and I am unable to cry out, to make myself known. As I feel my hope slipping from me, I hear it. Clearer than anything else.
“Wake up.” An angelic voice, close to my face, whispers to my ear. “Please.” It begs.
A spark lights up within me. I try to respond. Nothing. I grow more and more panicked. Nothing has changed, but there is a newfound urgency, as if this were to be my last chance out of here; out of hell. Activity is present in the deeper reaches of my head, responding, flicking switches, to find my mouth. Frantically scrambling for the necessary switch, something clicks. I wait to be allowed to speak. I want the ability to twitch a finger, anything.
A fuse blows.
Only a few stars remain. They shine bright, but fail to light up the night.
I wake to feel new tubes, new senses of discomfort. They scrape against my skin, and inside my head. The skin halfway up the length of my arm was ruptured. My senses slowly attuned to the presence of a singular dead instrument, inserted into the hole in my flesh that remained. Liquid trickled through. Unable to move, my extreme discomfort was accentuated.
Once more, tears are impossible.
I feel my rights slowly drift away. I have no control of what is happening to me. I question the reasoning behind my situation. A dogged search through the fog of my own memories, an interrogation of a version of me that I no longer recognise.
I flash away. I am flying once more, and the colours have ground to a sluggish pace. There is no breeze. I see my own, personalised, endless torment ahead of me, and yet I still cannot look behind. For one brief moment of clarity I see it. Then the colours fade and the images themselves cloud and vanish. I cannot remember what I saw. There is nothing left.
This is the ultimate torture: Nothing.
One star remains, and it shines brighter than ever. The light itself seems to be screaming out. The scream is long and harsh, giving no signs of ever letting go. The lone star fights the night, twisting its own light into its battle cry. The darkness shirks back, contorting and hissing, like the shadows it consists of. The light is winning. This is the call of the stars.
I shudder. I revel in the achievement that lies deep within the living vocabulary of a newborn. The simple movement has exhausted me of energy. And yet, the outside has not changed. To it, I am nothing. Not even dust. Not yet.
The rhythm of the pulse and a more methodical, pounding beat are competing. I cannot sense what they are, but I know that they are close to me. They haven’t stopped, not since I can remember. Their effect has, however, evolved. They buzz against me, forcing an inability to focus on anything else. There are echoing taps, remaining endlessly inconsistent. Accompanying the tapping is the thundering roll, only audible when the taps scamper and the crashes begin. They crescendo close to me, only to disappear far away.
They are still there. Only just out of my ear’s sight.
Some stop close. They have stopped unexpectedly. Once more a searing pain pierces my skin. I do not try to cry out, for that effort is worthless. It is a waste of what energy I need to escape.
That word now means nothing.
I hate you! My thoughts shout out to me. This is how I am to suffer from here on out, I decide. But my self-resilience allows me to endure. But one everlasting fact about endurance is that every single thing has tolerance, but sooner or later, everything has a breaking point.
I am no longer flying, but falling. My own imagination has given up on my dreams. My body feels much like that of an anchored feather, obtrusive force used on the weak. I am enraged, but for all the searching, I don’t know who at. The anger begins to eat away at me, whilst fuelling me in the same way. I still can’t use it in any useful manner. I want the ability to scream out, but still no voice. No voice, I repeat to myself. Silently I curse the world I find myself in.
I was too young, too young for this. Watching it over and over again, the only conclusion I can make is that of my death; my sudden expiration, drawn out since I can remember. There is nothing I can see ahead of me.
I try one more time.
One last cry for help, a scream of the life left inside me, to prove my heart still beats. The cry contains in it the hopes of a singular life, the future that may have been, that cannot, and never will. The pain is more direct than ever before. My soul still fights, and will do until the end. I fight with it, and never surrender, giving up is no option. I fight for myself and no one else.
I try for the last time.
Outside a window, a single dewdrop slides off its leaf and hits the earth with a sound akin to thunder. The pain stops.
The darkness begins closing in, trapping the little light that is left. Soon, it is gone.