I’m stuck. There’s nothing I can do to move. My legs are pinned by what feels like 12 tonnes of plasterboard, ceiling paint and rubble. It’s dark here, in my three feet of space. All I can see is the glow of this laptop, the white light of human engineering, miraculously unharmed by the fall. All I can do is type. Dust has filled my mouth, the result of so much GIB shredding I guess.
There was no warning, nothing. Just a low rumbling of the earth, the nano second of growl before the impact came. I’ve felt earthquakes before, of course I have. It’s hard to live in New Zealand and not feel them at least once. But always the slow rocking type, gentle, almost lulling me to sleep as I lay in my bottom bunk, listening to the trees creaking outside with the rhythmic swaying. Never this violent. It was like something hit me, something huge and feral and intent on my death. I saw the far wall reach for me, lurching towards me like a drunken man outside a brothel. I hardly had time to react, only pulled my legs closer. The next thing I was aware of was dust in the air and a white light, and, so faint I almost thought I was imagining it, the far sound of sirens.
My head hurts. I was hit on the left side, and I can see blood trickling down my chest from a gash on my scalp. I can’t reach it though. I can’t move my hand past my shoulder, something is squeezing me from all sides. I tell myself that it’s fine, head wounds always bleed a lot, don’t they? I’m saying I a lot. But there’s no one else here. There’s no one else that I can see or feel, just the heavy, muffled silence of eight floors of rubble. I was on the eighth floor, so high the lift didn’t even go right up. I don’t know where I am now. I don’t remember feeling as though I was falling, but I must have. I don’t remember anything actually. Because I was hit on the head. I remember learning about this at Uni, that your current thoughts are just swirling around in your mind, not committed to memory until a few seconds later, and a jolt to the head can interrupt that. That’s why all people remember of being mugged sometimes is someone rushing towards them, then blankness before the sound of the attacker’s running footsteps.
I guess that’s what happened to me. I wonder where I am, how many metres of space are below me and the earth, how high I am, suspended in this teetering pile of rubble. There were people in the room next to me, I could hear their music earlier. I try to call out, but stutter on the dust. I try again. Nothing. My heart begins to beat faster and I imagine them, just metres away from me, pinned by the tonnes of bricks and wood, maybe a rogue brick smashed through a skull. This makes me shiver and I wrench my mind back, through the tiny fissures of air and space that lead to them, back into where I sit in my tiny bubble of space.
I force myself to take stock of my situation. I am alive. I have light, and a functioning laptop. I have air, although I don’t know for how long. A cold finger of fear touches me at that thought and my breathing immediately becomes shallower. I am bleeding, but not in considerable pain. The blood from my head has made its way to the middle of my bra now, it’s working its way through the dense fabric of underwire and lace. A few moments later I feel it roll down my stomach and off to the side, curling around my back before it drips off. The space is so silent I almost hear the droplet hit whatever is below me. A bed. I was sitting on my bed, writing for work. Now the pillow is shoved up behind me, the mattress curled up in front. My legs trail into the darkness behind the computer light. I try tentatively to move my feet. A white hot spark of pain shoots from my toe to my hip. Good. They are still connected to me. I can still feel them, still move them. I try again, and the pain makes me retch. My mind begins to drift, begins to see other places that don’t exist, a red haze descends.
Is this how people die? Is it more a giving up, a last release than anything else? It’s tempting, if it is. It feels like sleep. The blood is still sliding down through my hair, pooling on my collarbone then rolling down my chest, following the set path until it drips, with a tiny, almost inaudible thunk onto the white duvet beneath me. Maybe that’s what’s making me tired. It feels warm and friendly, a part of me come to the surface.
No. A tiny, insistent thought patters at the soft folds of sleep that beckon me. No. Try. At least try. My eyes close, then snap open, before slowly closing again. Maybe this is it. There are worse ways to go, than being tucked up in a soft white cocoon, red blood meandering down your spine. There are terrible, horrible, violent ways to go, surrounded by hate and spite and tearing noise. But here there is only me, and the soft press of everything around me, and my eyelids, so soft and heavy. It would be so easy, to go like this. Like I had come full circle, back to the womb, tucked almost in the same position, surrounded by the same warmth and darkness and lack of air. Just for a few minutes. Then I’ll try. My eyes flutter closed, and the dark engulfs me.