Tag Archives: blood

stuck – part five

Voices. I can hear voices. My eyes pull open again and I am unsurprised to find that I am in the dark, unable to move. It’s as though this is my reality now, I’ve come to terms with it. But there are definitely voices. They sound loud and rough, somewhere to my right. I turn my head sluggishly to stare into the darkness at the sound. There is quiet for a while, then a definite word.

“Hello?”

I watch, puzzled. Is someone on the phone? Maybe there’s someone else with a phone, and they are calling for help. I watch the black some more. The word comes again. It’s a man’s voice, loud and abrupt. He sounds like someone who gets shit done, I think to myself. He probably wears overalls and fixes his own plumbing. And a hardhat. Something in my brain is trying to tell me something. I can almost feel pathways zig-zagging furiously through my head, but the thing I am trying to realise is just out of reach. My brow furrows, and I listen again.

“Hello? Anyone alive in there?” The voice is getting quieter.

An explosion of movement from my body as I realise they are outside, that it’s help. The pain sears through my legs again but I ignore it, gritting my teeth as I yell back.

“Hello! I’m here, I’m in here!” I scream until my throat is ragged and sore, the huge noise threatening to break my tiny space apart.

There is a moment of silence, then the voice again, a little louder.

“Are you in there? Yell again!” It sounds as though it’s above me, still somewhere to the left.

“Yes I’m here! Below you!” My heart is thumping in my chest and my throat constricting with the eagerness to be heard.

“Okay, we’re going to get you out. You’re going to have to keep yelling, can you do that?” His voice has changed now, it’s softer, gentle. This scares me, it makes me wonder how bad it is.

“Yes,” I shout, my voice breaking.

I begin to rant and rave, my voice dropping and cracking on occasional words. I yell to the clicker, but there is no answer. When the voices get quiet I panic, but they chat back mostly. I can hear things being moved, huge heavy things that sound painful and intimidating, scraping and heaving above me. There is a sharp sound of metal pulling against metal and a shaft of light enters my area, making me squint in pain.

“In here! I can see light!”

“Can you hear me now?” The voice sounds as though it’s right beside me, a disembodied sound in the semi-dark. The light dims as he speaks.

“Yes!”

More things scrape and bang and I can hear the talking and grunts of the people moving them around. There are screams in the background and sirens, and the jarring drill of a jackhammer from far away. With each passing second the light surrounding me gets brighter, until I can see the laptop on my thighs and my top soaked with blood. The thing against my head is the wall that lurched at me, lying on an angle from my feet to my face. The window frame that sat beside me is warped and twisted, shards of glass littered across the duvet beside me.

I know I should feel euphoric but I just feel tired and dazed, as though nothing is real. A face appears beside me beneath low angle of the wall and I turn to look at it, taking in only the white dust settled in his short beard.

“Hey there. We’re going to get you out, okay? Can you do that?” He says it gently, like he’s speaking to a wounded animal, or a particularly stupid child. Usually this would annoy me, but today I just nod.

“Good girl.” He looks down towards my feet, at where they trail into darkness. I see the shadow cross his face.

“It’s alright,” I say. “Just get it off.”

He nods briskly.

“Alright boys, she’s under here, so we’re going to lift this wall. Her feet are crushed underneath it so –“

I stop listening, my mind telling me I don’t need to hear what they are saying. The man with the white dust beard tries to warn me, to count down until they lift it but I shake my head, gritting my teeth. When the impact finally comes it is worse than anything I have ever experienced, ripping and tearing, like knives in my flesh and fire on my skin. The pain comes with a hyper-reality, a heightening of noises and sensations. The sirens blare from below and my scream hurts my own ears.

A light rain is falling and the drops kiss my skin, melding into the dried blood on my clothes. The sky above is grey, beginning to tinge black at the edges. Night is already falling, or is it finally? I watch the clouds as the men lift me, ignoring the red ambulance lights tossing their beams into the ruined street. I hardly notice the men’s passage over the uneven ground. It’s only when they have deposited me into the street, into an ambulance with a woman with a head of tight black curls and a hooked nose that I notice the destruction.

The street around us is gone. Crumbling ruins of building spill onto the neat yellow and white lines of the road, like Lego structures broken by a toddler. A needle punctures my arm and I wonder idly what it is. For pain maybe? I try to form the words.

“How long ago was the earthquake?”

The woman looks at me in surprise. She seems startled that I can speak. This makes me feel sick. How many others couldn’t speak?

“Ten thirty. Eight hours ago.” She returns to my feet. I don’t watch.

Eight hours. Eight hours I was stuck in that hole. I turn to look at what was once my building. Only a pile of rocks remain, just two storeys high. The man with the white beard is stepping lightly across the top stones again, ducking down into holes. From another I see a man and a woman pull a large, heavy shape from one of the pockets. I realise it is a body and the world spins for a second.

The lady with black curls tells me to shush, and I lie back. Within seconds everything goes black.

Read part six here

Read from part one here

stuck – part two

A click. Loud, and insistent. My eyes snap open from sleep. My mouth is dry and caked, the blood on my chest and back cracks as I move. I look to my left, trying to ascertain if I had imagined it, that loud sound in this tiny dark space. The space is dark now, my laptop must have gone to sleep. But my finger stays where it is, despite the temptation to swipe the trackpad. I know I can hear better in the dark. The darkness grows longer, the silence deeper, until my entire being throbs with the energy of waiting.

And as though something knows I am waiting and doesn’t want to disappoint, it comes again. Loud and metallic, striking through the silence. I jump. My leg shoots fireworks of blinding pain at my hip again and I yelp in surprise. It takes a full thirty seconds before the pain subsides and I am able to unfurl my knotted fingers. By then it has clicked again, methodical and perfectly timed. What is it? I listen for a few more minutes, and the click comes seven times.

I can hear sounds from what seems like far below me. Rescue crew? People removing mangled bodies, both alive and dead? I wonder idly how long it will take them to reach me. Wellington is a big city. It could be days. I’ll be dead by then. It both frightens and comforts me how calmly I accept this. I feel tiny, insignificant, one tiny pod of being in a world of billions of others. What do I matter, really?

Where will they start? How many high-rises are there in the CBD? The quake hit mid-morning, so every one would have been full of office workers, men in ties, water cooler chat and women who had kicked their heels off under their desks. Will they start at the bottom of the building, or the top? I think of the seven floors below me and the people crushed there. Panic begins to rise in my throat like hysteria. I squeeze my eyes closed and count, a technique my father taught me. I get to three hundred and six before I open them again.

The blood on my head has dried and cracked, the clotting mechanism finally kicking in. I swipe at the laptop and my tiny chamber fills with white light. I squint at the screen, trying to understand. The WiFi isn’t working. I hadn’t really expected it to, but I feel a pang of despair that one connection to the world is severed, one tiny way to light a flare for others to find me. But sitting on that list of connections is my iPhone. I can’t see it, and I can’t move to find it, but it sits there on the list, an available network for me to join. I click on it, my breath slowing until it stops completely.

It works, and the bars fill with black. The relief that floods my body is almost physical, as though I can feel and recognise the serotonin mixing with the cortisol in my blood stream. Somewhere near me, whether below my bed or digging into my hip, is the most breakable phone in the world, which just might manage to save my life.

Read part three here

Read part one here

stuck – part one

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.

Read part two here