9 – The Big Jump

I remember:
A gentle breeze, of fresh air on my face. A soft voice, whispering something. Half opening my eyes, to see stars spin past. Then the sun, pain in my eyes. Closing my eyes, pain in my head.
I remember:
A whisper in my ear, then a shout of static. A jolt as I come to a stop, another as I am pushed on again. A voice, coated in static. Opening my eyes to see an armored glove pressed almost to my face. Closing my eyes, pain in my head.
I remember:
A long, low moan, maybe mine. Fresh air blowing in my face, then stopping. A gentle voice, whispering about fear and safety. I open my eyes, to see gray walls, I close them again. Feeling snug and warm, I drift into sleep.
I woke and yawned. Tried to stretch, but could not move my arms. I could not arch my back, nor move my legs. I panicked. Thrashing about, pushing and pulling, this way and that. But not moving. Then I realised that I could not see anything. I stopped. I could not tell if my eyes were open or not. I blinked, it made no difference. I was in complete darkness.
The sound of my heartbeat grew louder in my ears. I remembered the stories I had heard of the effects of sensory deprivation. I panicked at an even deeper level. A fear dragged up from deep within me. The thought of madness echoed through my mind. Yet I was paralyzed.
Then I heard a whimpering sound. It sounded like a badly wounded animal who saw its enemy bearing down and knew it could not defend itself.
I strained my hearing to locate the source. But I could hear nothing except my heartbeat and the sound of my breath.
I cleared my throat, and heard the noise.
I shouted. A single long, meaningless scream.
And I heard it, and I heard its reverberations. I stopped. It sounded as if I were in a large empty chamber.
My heartbeat slowed, my panic subsiding as I knew I was not in sensory deprivation. My anxiety growing as I realised I was in a large, completely dark chamber, utterly defenseless.
I heard a sharp noise. I turned my head to face it. A thought flaring in my head, that I was not completely defenseless after all.
I waited, but nothing happened.
“Hey ! Is there anybody there,” I shouted into the darkness.
I listened, but there was no answer.
“Hey ! Answer me !” I turned my head and shouted in the other direction.
There was no sound, just my heartbeat and my breathing.
And another sharp metallic crack.
Followed by silence.
I do not know how much time passed as I floated there just listening to my heart and my breath, punctuated by a seemingly random series of sharp metallic sounds and occasional dull thuds.
But even the most frightening of unknowns becomes dull when nothing happens and at some point I started to doze. And then to dream. A dream, that like all my dreams, consist of memories.
I remembered standing in the iced rain outside a hamburger restaurant. Clothes, soaked through to numbed skin, surrounding frozen flesh and bones. Hands pressed to the window. Feeling rejected by people who were not exactly friends. Leaning forward to peer through the distorting droplets. Looking for somebody. Who I can’t remember. Afraid to enter with no money to buy anything. Afraid to go into the warm, only to be kicked out again too quickly.
Then footsteps stopping behind me. I didn’t look around. A man clearing his throat. I tensed myself to run. A soft voice saying “Hello there.”
I looked around. Just a turn of my head, hands still on the window.
He smiled.
I dropped my hands to my sides and turned to face him.
“Would you like something to eat?” he asked softly.
I said nothing.
“I’ll pay for both of us. Hum?” he cocked his eyebrows.
I felt very hungry.
He stepped across to the door and held it open for me.
I paused, then walked in.

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