had this awful feeling it was happening again. His mouth gasped for air as the
water lapped at his face; the few seconds during which he could breath were
becoming increasingly shorter.
‘I must be drowning’, he thought desperately to himself.
Though distracted, the only neural messages he could form into a coherent train
were related to his immediate surroundings and his current all-encompassing
desire to stop the nasty urge to gag that the water surrounding him was causing.
To him it felt like there were enormous weights tied to his feet and that it
was these hunks of a dense substance which were pulling him under. The act of
flailing his arms around desperately was managing to provide him with a few
last moments to breathe, but unfortunately it was also tiring him out quickly
and he feared it wouldn’t be long before his last breath would be gasped
and his head would go under. He already knew at that moment that he was entirely
helpless and that there was no one to pull him to freedom.
Yet this terrible, desperate fear – this last effort to stay alive –
echoed back from distant corners of his conscious mind an ominous sense of familiarity.
Although it was obvious that no one could completely drown (to death) twice,
he was sure that his extinction was imminent and inevitable. There seemed little
other choice and no matter how hard he tried he was unable to recover a memory
relating to the enaction of the set of circumstances and physical forces which
had resulted in this awful predicament. All the same, it hardly seemed to matter
anymore as he began to sink under the surface; a centimetre was as valuable
to life as a mile if downwards was the direction of your fall.
Besides, what he thought about his predicament no longer seemed to influence
the behaviour of his body as he continued to fight the terror of this slippage;
these were instincts he no longer seemed to have any control over at work. At
that point he didn’t think he’d ever felt such a sense of abstraction
from his corporeal self which was making its own decisions, and in its desperation
causing its own growing exhaustion. He didn’t like it at all.
‘What is it I’m being pulled away from’, he thought as he
distantly watched his body struggle. ‘Air? Freedom? Life? Was I on a boat?
Was I swimming? Where am I?’
He felt paralysed from the waist down, although his immediate concern was no
longer the enormous forces at work keeping him from breathing or even the possibility
of his being rescued. He knew he was drowning. Or that he had drowned.
‘This looming darkness must be death’, he thought as he gave up
the ghost of a fight and let himself slip under the surface.
But then, as if pre-arranged, the panic stopped and the urge to breathe was
no longer the cause of this desire to stay on the surface. The ice cold water
must have numbed his limbs to the bone and it felt like he was just floating.
Of course, he must be sinking – he was simply unable to make use of his
senses; there must be no more transmissions through his nervous system communicating
simple messages to the brain. The constancy of logic was telling him that he
must still be moving quickly in a downwards motion; perhaps ever faster. His
eyes, glazed over but inevitably open since he no longer had the ability to
close them, were numbed into extinction and were also giving him the impression
that everything was totally black; without any colour at all. An emptiness.
‘Was this what it felt like to be born blind?’, he thought.
The strong feeling of being able to recall a moment exactly like the one being
lived soon slipped away because the loss over the power of his limbs and eyes
was soon followed by a quick erasure of all sense of temporality as well. If
knowing why that initial conception of recall had occurred yesterday, five minutes
ago or during some primeval rebirthing experience many years ago had been important,
it certainly no longer seemed to matter to him then because he just couldn’t
tell the difference any more. The weightlessness and lack of sensitivity started
giving him the impression that he no longer had a body: Was he enormous? Was
he everywhere? Had he become the water in which he’d drowned? Or were
these the last vague thoughts of a being dissipating into non-existence? If
there was something he was aware of it filled him with a sense of doom. As it
dawned upon him that the icy tendrils of the water must have rendered his inner-ear
inactive because he no longer had the ability to perceive sounds, an inconvievably
awful emotional detachment arose around him. It was the inevitable result of
the sudden silence that fell after his ears had given way; his whole sense of
corporeality had dissipated and he was faced with a far too familiar sense of
an utter noiselessness; not only no ringing in his ears or the gentle sound
of a normal silence, his brain seemed to have stopped communicating with his
senses entirely – no thoughts buzzing, no heartbeat, no pumping of blood.
Nothing; it was a genuinely awful realization that he no longer existed in any
way he had been familiar with..."
- Excerpt from
the Prologue of the novel 'Music for the Emperor' by Zachàr
Laskewicz, 19 December 2007, Gent, BELGIUM.