Of all the moments it could have chosen to hit me, it just had to be then, didn't it? Standing in the darkness, surviving on pure adrenaline by that point, it hit me just how big this whole thing was.
I stood as the last in our orderly line, which was plastered flat against the cool brick wall, taking in the surroundings as much as I could in the gloom. The air was horribly hot. Jamming my nearly non-existent fingernails into my sweating palms in time to the music, I realised that this was It. This was The Ultimate.
And bizarrely enough, I wasn't scared. Ok, that morning I hadn't been able to swallow a morsel of food for fear of bringing it back up again, just out of nerves alone, but now, I was just excited. That strange kind of excitement pulsed through my body - the wanting to do it, but not. How many months of work had we put into this? No, I decided there and then. I felt not one glimmer of fear.
Someone came down the line, giving each of us a hug and a muttered 'Good Luck'. I wasn't concentrating though, and only realised who it was once she was upon me.
"Good luck," I whispered back into her ear.
I was tapped sharply on the shoulder, and another unknown, wearing a black t-shirt and a headset, hissed at me to sush. She gestured wildly to her left, where the lights swirled in uneven circles, glaring at us.
So there weren't any nerves, I thought to myself, as I seemingly couldn't even wish my friends good luck without being frowned upon, but there was just one thought that wouldn't escape my exhuausted and thoroughly confused mind.
Whatever you do, just don't mess it up.
It was only a small requirement. But I couldn't afford to mess this up. This was too big.
Uh, this song was long. I could have gone for yet another pee by now, the length of time it was taking. So I turned my attention to the monitor a few metres down the narrow passageway, and watched them (our unofficial rivals) dance in perfectly straight lines and in perfect time. I found it relaxed me, watching them on a screen instead of peering through the black curtains, in real life. It made it seem like none of us were really here, and I was watching at home on the TV.
Another equally clammy hand grabbed my right, and squeezed. I squeezed back. I realised that reason being, that the dancers, with a final stomp and a clap, had finished. The music died, and the applause raptured. Suddenly their bright lights were dimmed and we were bathed into even more blackness. Oh God. It was now, here, right here, right now. I jumped up and down a few times on the spot and breathed in the stuffy air deeply, which did nothing to calm by pounding heart. We glanced at each other.
"Go on," I whispered with faked calm, and we began to file out through the darkness and onto the stage.
And then the sirens started.