Chapter 2: RANCHO BERNARDO, CALIFORNIA (Part 14)
I sleep, and wake almost instantly. I turn toward the alarm clock on the bedstead, but it gone. I think that strange as I don’t remember moving it. Richard was here and maybe he took it with him. It’s my clock, on my side of the bed, as I am always the first person up, but he took it in spite. It’s indicative our relationship: Rickard takes, takes everything.
I sigh, sorry for myself, castigating myself for descending into self-pity. I try pushing up and swinging off the bed, but I find I can’t move. I can’t lift my shoulders off the mattress. I attempt raising my arms. They won’t budge. It’s not even that they are heavy; it’s as if they have vanished; I have no sense of them, or of any other part of me. I feel nothing, except panic in my stomach first, an ache deep down in the pit of me. It entwines my spine and creeps upward like a pernicious weed, and it blooms in my chest, forcing my heart to beat faster and faster to give it life and spread itself throughout me.
I can move my eyes and I swivel them furiously in an attempt to determine what is happening to me. I scan the room. It’s a blue room, a deep sky blue. I remember the bedroom as celery green, not blue. I recall arguing with Richard. He wanted blue, an awful blue the shade of Bobby McFarlane’s Belair. I said, “It’s not even a good color for a junkheap like Bobby’s.”
I should be awaking in a soothing celery green room. But the room is blue. And the walls, they are bizarre, not regular walls, nothing I would have in a bedroom. They shine. It’s a dull shine, as if reflected off matte tile. I might use a tile like this in a bathroom, but never in a bedroom.
I’m concentrating on the color, on the tile texture, when noises distract me. I hear a thump, thump. At first, I mistake it for my heart pounding in my chest. But it does not emanate from me. It’s everywhere and I am drowning in an ocean of rhythmic sound. Drumbeat. Thumping. But not entirely thumping. There’s also a faint click, infrequent but constant, susurration in a long, lazy melody. It distracts me from the thump that diverts me from puzzlement over the color of the room, until everything explodes in a cacophony of racket, concern, and distraction.
And now I hurt, or maybe now I feel pain that’s been with me all along. The pain is in my forearms and covers the tops of my hands. It’s a piercing pain, as if something hard has invaded me, something metallic and unyielding, and paralyzing. I would shriek, but my mouth won’t move; I cannot bend any part of me to my will, except my eyes.
Terror seizes me. It’s not the weirdness of the room, of uncertainty about the color of my bedroom, or the noises, or the pain. My eyes are failing me, or they are working too well. For they record shadows materializing and dematerializing. These phantoms weave in and out of the light. They gesture to each other, to me. They glide close to me, and then retreat into the corner of the room, where they merge, separate, remerge. They continue this rhythmic dance for some time, until they again drift over to me. My ears detect sound from them that modulates up and down; that passes between them. They aren’t disembodied shadows; they are people. They can’t be people. Yet they seem to be. Why are people in my bedroom? They seem to fiddle with an object, a black tube, black as they are. They handle it; they stare at it. Next I sense something new in my arm. At first, the sensation is warm, not unpleasing, but in a few seconds it intensifies into searing heat. Like ignited gasoline, it surges through me until I burn, cooking inside out. When it invades my heart, the effect is as if my heart bursts, and everything, room and shadows, fade away.