I was in the laboratory discussing atoms and their structure. I had a research paper I was looking forward to present and I took it out of my satchel. I took a pause and diverted my attention to several diagrams and drawings in the paper. I could see electrons spinning in their orbits on the diagram. I couldn’t believe my eyes and closed them for a moment and shook my head. I felt a slight pain above my ears and on my temples which was felt only if I moved my head. I opened my eyes and my body suddenly felt warm all over. I began breathing heavily and loosened my tie. While doing so my eyes met the white circular light on the ceiling and momentarily blinded, I wanted to collapse. I couldn’t think clear. There was a constant humming in my head which I could almost hear. I hastily stuffed the paper in my satchel and without buckling it up walked out of the laboratory.

I felt like the world around me was in slow motion and everything was hypnotically hazy. I felt like I could lose balance and fall. With each step that I took I could feel weights strapped around my ankles. I slowly made my way along the small concrete pathway and it felt as if I wasn’t wearing shoes and my soles could feel the hard rough concrete. I reached the sidewalk and made a hopeless attempt at climbing upon it. There were two balding research scientists smoking in front of me and looked at me as if I was going to bump into them. They took long satisfying drags on their cigarettes and the acrid smoke poured out their mouths and dissolved into the air I breathed. I knew I hated the smell but I could not react. I looked down at the slab of cement pavers which was 6 inches high and lined the entire sidewalk. I couldn’t lift my foot to get onto it so I slowly turned my head to the right and peered through clear air to spot a gap in the lining. I couldn’t focus so I stood there like a mural.

I shook my head once again and I felt as if a part of my head was dislodged and bounced off the inner walls of my brain. The object in my brain was sharp edged and had corners and with every movement of my head it bruised the walls. I could feel a drop of cold sweat trickle down the back of my left ear and I wanted to wipe it off but my hands couldn’t move. My eyeballs swerved pushing my pupils to my left lateral canthus and my right caruncle in attempts to try and see the drop. My eyes opened wide and I could see the hanging dim lit cheap street lamps with their sulfurous yellow lights. The rays of light looked as if they were continuously escaping the confines of the polygonal bodies of the lamps. My lips parted for words I hadn’t even decided to speak. I could hear myself breathe through my mouth. It sounded like slow silent gasps of air characteristically observed in a poisoned laboratory rat; desperate to live. My nostrils felt dry and my ears were burning up.

Now the dislodged cuboid in my brain hammered against the walls violently even if I moved my head slightly. My eyes closed in cringes of pulsating pain and the breeze knocked me off balance and I collapsed. I couldn’t feel the hard concrete as my chest, shoulders and knees slammed on the sidewalk. I was spread out like a mat. My eyes saw a horizontal world vertically now. I could hear muffled sounds of cars and their horns; their blinding headlights sweeping the tar and large black tires following them. I fought one last time in a deep subliminal fear of my vision closing on me forever and then there was darkness.

Siddharth Pathak


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