In that moment, like a flame in the wind, my senses trembled. I gasped for air with a panic that exploded at the realization that none would enter my lungs. My eyes froze open. The world tore away before me and I fell to the horizon as though it devoured all that was along its endless curve.
For an unknown time, I was nowhere, and everywhere; conscious of all, and then blind to existence.
The voices came, desaturated and broken.
“... twenty milligrams, hurry.”
“Shane, he's not looking good.”
Then darkness, until the pain of sunlight stabbed at me through horizontal blinds. There were two people in the room; my wakefulness remained unnoticed.
“He's had enough.” said a woman. I could see only her back, she faced an aging man. His rasping voice came after.
“I'm giving him one more day of rest Janice, and that's it.”
The woman turned to face me as her quarrel left the room. She called him an asshole under her breath and took a few steps toward me. I couldn't help but feel a stab of emotion when her eyes locked with mine and her mouth opened in sobbing awe.
“Oh God, you're awake.” she said, with her hand at her lips, undoubtedly holding back the obvious cascade of feelings that she kept locked up beneath her ribcage like an imprisoned beast. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
“What color is my blouse.”
“Blue, or some sort of blue green hue.”
She laughed and cried at the same time. Then it came. She might as well had put her heart out on a plate when she asked it. “What's my name?”
The hesitation was minute, but devastating. It could have been worse if I had told her the only reason I knew was because the other man had uttered her name before leaving the room, but I felt I had done enough damage.
She knelt beside the bed and took my hand, carefully avoiding the intravenous lodged within it. “Do you remember who I am?” She asked.
I couldn't answer.
The next day I was rolled down hall ways and into a room that was dominated by a spherical device, every inch of its surface sprouting tubes and wires that culminated at an opening in the ceiling and slithered into it like an android serpent.
“You know why you're here don't you?” asked the aging man.
I did not answer.
“You're serving your country soldier, you signed that dotted line, and though you've been on the battlefield, your country needs you in other ways now. We're making history here, I hope you know.” He winked. “If you're successful, maybe we'll even go back and re-make it.”
The speech wasn't for me, I was a tool, strapped to a gurney and about to be fed to a machine that did god knows what. The speech was for the six men with golden stripes stitched into the cuffs of their jackets standing at the back of the room.
The aging man smiled the most fake of smiles and held it for as long as he could before awkwardly turning to his assistants. “Alright, get him in.”
As they rolled me into the opening of the device, he came to me one last time, while the others were busied elsewhere. He leaned over me and examined me as though I were a meat he were to potentially purchase. Then, just as the opening began to close, he stuck his wrinkled face near the shrinking gap. “Just tell me one thing. What's it like?”
I turned my head as much as the restraints and probes would let me and I stared him in the eyes.
“It's like being nobody, and everybody; like being nowhere, and everywhere all at once.”
“Fascinating.” he said.
I sighed. “No.” I rested my head, and from the corner of my eye I could tell he had leaned in closer to hear my final words before the capsule closed.