Edited by Luka Riot
George screamed into the abyss in front of him. There was an echo, but it was very distant. There was no light; George could not even see his hands in front of his face.
He had no memory of how he ended up being in this place. He was not hurt, so he was not shoved violently down a hole. There was no noticeable smell, so he could not gather hints from that sense. There was only a faint breeze that seemed to come from everywhere.
It was like he was in total sensory isolation. He tried to scream again.
There was no response. He was alone.
George was not sure how long he had been in that place, but he was starting to get more and more panicked as time went on.
He did not even have a cell phone on him to check the time. He only guessed that he would not get signal in this place to use it for other reasons.
Suddenly, murmurs. Whispers and hushed voices seemed to be carried throughout the air around him.
“Hey!” George screamed. “Who’s there? Please notice me!”
He no longer cared where he was. He just wanted, or needed, to be noticed. He was alone: trapped in a void away from everything and everyone. A simple “hello” would raise his spirits high. He would then know that he was actually part of the reality around him.
George decided to do a body check, finally. He knew that his eyes, throat, and ears were all intact. He lifted what he was sure would have been an arm, and that felt right. Torso and legs seemed to be in a working order, of sorts. He was going off of feel. There was always a chance that he was impaled and just not feeling the pain for some reason.
The voices were getting louder. Regardless of how scared he was, at least he was warm. Kind of. He was actually more apathetic towards his body temperature, but he was convinced that was because he was a decent temperature.
Suddenly, everything happened.
A feeling of disorientation. There were no motion blurs or sudden visual jolts, just a feeling of complete disassociation with his body. He watched as his eyes opened, and was immediately blinded by the light. Then, figures stood all around him, looking down with faces of excitement and joy.
He was in a hospital. He had been stuck in his head, only mildly aware that there was a world around him. He could account for about an hour, voices made him aware that it had been weeks.
George was frightened. He hurt. His back and his head felt like they had been ripped open and sewn back together several times.
He was naked, but under several sheets. He was still having a hard time figuring out exactly who was around him, but he was sure there were at least five people above him. All the people-shaped outlines looming over his face. Drops of water caressed his brow.
Where was he? Where had he been? What happened to him just before he found himself in that cave?
Slowly, he put his hand on his head.
Slowly, he sat up in bed.
Slowly, he started to lose consciousness again.
Quickly, the shadows of people ran to his aid. Quickly, a code blue was announced overhead. Quickly, he stopped feeling any sort of discomfort.
Another figure was added to the pantheon. This figure was carrying two rectangular shapes in their hands. The figure slammed their might into George, forcing the two shapes into his chest. There was a loud sound, and George felt a surge flow into his chest.
Everything then came to focus. His vision, his hearing, and his breathing all coalesced into what would be described as normal. The figures were no longer just that, they were doctors, nurses, and friends. Sadly, George saw no family in the group. That is when he started to figure out what happened.
He had fallen over in pain almost a month ago. His chest was tight, and the pain caused him to lose conciseness. He could only assume, but he felt confident in assuming that it was a heart attack. He did not dare to assume what caused it, however certain he might think that he is.
The rectangles were defibrillators. His heart had started to palpitate again, and they were used to put everything back on an appropriate rhythm. George started to wonder who or what dictated “appropriate” but was also sure that now was not the time to ask those around him.
Now, George was back. Finally, he was back. He expected an onslaught of questions, but none were asked before everyone had left the room. Now, he was left alone with just one of the figures from earlier. Now, he could tell that it was a doctor. She was probably the doctor who had been with him since moment one.
His chest still hurt, and there was a distinct smell of burnt flesh and hair in the air. Probably due to the event that saved his life. Again.
George wondered if he had ever been pronounced dead during this whole ordeal. He had died once as a younger man: he had been struck by a car and doctors were very unsure if he would pull through. To say that he would get to the age of 30 would just be irresponsible of the medical community, but to say that he had no chance was just as arrogant. To dismiss the abilities of everyone who was trying to save his life the first time was naive. George and his family took great pride in him walking out of the hospital that day.
Even George, through his clouded judgement and uncertainty as to what exactly is going on, was not sure if today would have the same outcome as before. At least that time he still had his wits about him. He could feel himself forgetting his family, friends, and sense of self.