DRIFTING OFF

The fluorescent bulbs flickered off and she froze, holding her breath, eyes wide with adrenaline. It is this abandonment in complete darkness that she feared most. She knew the blackness would wrap around her like a tight knot, like the wet towel around her head absorbing the beating of her pulse at the temples into its cold and heavy, spineless twist. From a far recess of her memory, as if propagating from the inner backside of her skull, a muffled melody made its way into her semi-consciousness, softly flooding her senses with spaced out, delayed reverberations that she couldn't quite keep track of. She tried to follow the rhythm, but the rhythm kept getting tighter, more fractal-like, more mathematical, and she finally let go and just let it envelop her, and make her heavy to the point where she began to sink into her bed. The sensation of sinking got unbearable when her head began to spin, then her body, around her head, as if her head was the pivot point. Spinning counterclockwise at increasingly nauseating speed she finally willed herself to open her eyes but when her brain gave the command to the eyelids to open, the eyelids didn't because they had been open all this time, and it was at that moment that another violent rush of adrenaline into her blood made her panic for real and the spinning became not only counterclockwise but also circum-axial, and the rhythm went from white noise to focused and eardrum-piercing ringing, and the mattress disappeared entirely, yet she still felt like she was drowning and at the same time like she was floating upward into the darkness, and the only thing keeping her from floating away completely was the heavy coldness of the towel pressing down on her white forehead. She tried to open her eyes again, throwing her head backwards as if her eyes were simply stuck looking inward due to a mechanical failure of some sort, and as she kept trying to twist her neck in all kinds of ways the coldness of the towel started to turn into heat, first mild, then severe, then completely unbearable, and so she screamed for help but her tiny squeal, constricted by the thickness of the pain in her chest, failed to escape her head and got stuck to the far end of the roof of her mouth just outside of reach of her tongue. She tried to swallow but her throat was dry and inelastic like an old cracked tire, and when the muscles finally contracted something went terribly wrong and she felt cold air in the back of her throat and then she felt her sinuses fall through the hole that had appeared in the back of her throat and she heard them land on the cold bile-colored linoleum floor. Having lost her ability to inhale she started to bite at the air, her jaw protruding forward to the point of dislocation and attacking convulsively, uncontrollably at the used-to-be air that had so suddenly turned into what seemed to be denseless vacuum. The field of her pseudo vision started to glow brown-red like caked blood, flashing bright occasionally, epileptically, as if back-lit by a malfunctioning strobe light. Her temples pounded like sledgehammers against the sweat-drenched towel, her arms began to shake violently, until her shriek finally got unstuck and got propelled into the darkness and suddenly she froze, and the spinning stopped, and the rhythm slowed down and decayed, and it all got silent and peaceful, and what remained was the very final-sounding reverberation of her small cry until it too was completely absorbed into the impenetrable and all-surrounding dark.