For an explanation of this project, please read my previous post. Otherwise, enjoy! And PLEASE-provide feedback, and ideas for the next installment! Let's make it a fun project!
Consciousness dawned slowly as light gradually filtered past my hooded eyelids. Long damp eyelashes sticking to each other gave the impression that I was behind bars.
My right arm ignored the command from the brain to bring my hand up to wipe my eyes. It was as if the arm was absent; I felt nothing. I focused, tried mightily to remember where I was and how I’d come to be here, but it felt as though someone had packed my head full of pillow stuffing. I could think of nothing other than the fact that I no longer had a right arm.
The room came slowly into focus. The flickering light hurt my head. I had to clench my eyes to shut it out, but not before I saw that I was lying on my side, cheek resting on cracked terracotta tiles, some missing in places- grimy, strewn with the detritus of neglect. Corners and crevices were piled with dirt and trash.
The tile ran up the walls (although numerous pieces were missing there; in falling off, the missing tiles had torn away huge chunks of sheetrock, so that, in some places, rotted framing showed through). Pipes stuck through the wall in various places-small pipes. From one, brackish water dripped
dripdrip dripdrip dripdrip
steadily, running across the uneven floor, then pooling about a foot in front of my face. Mouse droppings floated in the pool.
As the room began to register, my thoughts came into focus. I heaved myself onto my back, then I lifted my head. Somewhere deep in my head, a jackhammer began working desperately to break its way out. I clenched my eyes shut, let my head fall back to the dirty tile floor and rested for a second, let the clamoring in my head subside.
This time, I rolled my head to the right, opened my eyes slowly, and used my left arm to search about for my right. I groped about, then, screamed involuntarily. My right arm was gone. My heart beating frantically, I felt for the stub- then breathed a sigh of relief; the arm was apparently asleep. It was twisted abnormally behind my back, and was pinned beneath me. I used my left arm to push my body off the ground enough to swing my lifeless right arm around from underneath me. It lay cocked off strangely to the right, but almost immediately, a painful tingling started working its way up from the fingertips.
I let the fingers of my left hand feel for my legs, and having confirmed the presence of all appendages, moved on in my mind to the next pressing issue: Where was I?
I used my left arm (and my still weak right arm) to grab a pipe sticking from the wall, and pull myself against the wall. A lifetime later, I’d pulled myself to a slumped, sitting position, back resting against the wall.
The room had no windows. The single door in the far wall looked to be made of steel- painted and repainted, then repainted again-countless times it appeared, as virtually every color in the rainbow, and every variation thereof, showed through somewhere on the door. It had no handle, knob, or visible lock of any sort.
The wall I rested against had a line of pipes sticking from it. One of these was the one emitting the steady drip of water. There were holes in the floor too-in fact, at some point in my gradual awakening, my olfactory senses had returned. From these holes in the floor emanated the most offensive of smells. Had I any strength, I likely would have vomited. As it was, I barely had the energy to smell.
The light came from a bare bulb attached to the ceiling. A string hung down a few feet, well within reach were I standing. From the floor though, it might as well have been 100 miles away.
I looked down at myself. I had on a torn sweatshirt, grubby jeans, socks and no shoes. I can’t recall having put any of this on, but the clothing was mine. I looked around for my shoes. No shoes in the room.
I tested my strength-leaned forward and rested my upper body weight on my arms. They wobbled, but held. I bent forward, pulled my legs around behind me, and duck-crawled toward the door. The door couldn’t have been more than ten feet from where I rested, but it felt like ten times that. I stopped and rested twice during the journey. When I finally reached the door, I rested my weight on my elbows, and used my head to push against the door. Solid. It wouldn’t budge.
I pulled myself into a sitting position, rested my back against the door, and pushed. Still no movement. It was locked from the outside.
I’ve never thought myself to be phobic, but the thought of being locked alone inside this dirty, cramped room, immediately pushed the remaining cobwebs from my mind, and replaced all rational thought with raw, stark terror.
I screamed. Long and hard. I must have cried because at some point, I looked down to see fresh, wet drops on the front of my sweatshirt. I don’t know how long I screamed, but it was enough to make my voice hoarse, my throat raspy.
My energy finally spent, I sat, gasping for breath, almost hyperventilating. I found myself staring, but not seeing, back at the opposite wall. The human mind, I think, has a built in mental defense mechanism, because I don’t recall any coherent thought penetrating the stark fog that enveloped my mind. I think that when we run up against a mental roadblock, a situation or circumstances that are utterly incomprehensible, the mind begins to shutdown to protect itself, otherwise insanity begins to set in. It only allows rational thought once the mind has begun to take in and organize the situation.
Here I sat, in an old, abandoned bathroom. Nobody, it seemed, had been here in the recent past, except for me and some number of rodents (although the building still had electricity and at least one working light bulb). The door was secured and locked from the outside, seemingly impenetrable. I had no idea whether it was day or night. I had no idea, in fact, what day it was. I didn’t recall dressing in these clothes, or any circumstances that led to my being here.
And I was alone-completely alone.
This time, I wept silently.