Darkness… All I can see is boundless, unending darkness. I can’t hear a sound either. I try to move, to speak, to cry for help, but nothing happens. I truly have no idea how long I’ve been here. With all my senses and faculties gone, or at least muted, I really have no perception of time. How did I get here?

I remember the day before. It was a Saturday, so I just stayed at home and watched some TV for most of the day. Afterwards, I managed to motivate myself to do a couple of household chores, namely cutting some unruly tree branches and taking out the garbage. It was an average Saturday for me.

But if everything was so normal, then what happened to bring me here? There must be something I’m not remembering. Perhaps I fell asleep at some point and this vast emptiness is just some kind of vivid nightmare. I have heard of sleep paralysis, which is a state between awake and asleep where your body can’t move and you may experience intense hallucinations from the dream state. That could be it.

I can’t shake the feeling that this is something else, though. Think, goddammit! What happened to me? I took out the garbage and then… lights, I saw lights. But where were they coming from? God, they were blinding. And what if they literally were? Is that what’s going on? If it is, then why can’t I hear or move?

There was a noise, too. It came with the lights. It sounded like a high-pitched moan, and it never stopped. But was it loud enough to deafen me? Had my senses been taken away by some unexplained phenomenon I just happened to walk into? That can’t be it. That’s just stupid.

Wait a minute, after the lights and the noise I remember feeling a sharp stinging pain all throughout my body. It felt like I was being run down by an eighteen-wheeler at high speeds, but like it was hitting me over and over again without so much as a fraction of a second going by. Oh God! Now that I remember the pain, it’s like I’m feeling it all over again! Help me! Somebody please help me!

It feels like it’s been an eternity, but the pain has finally subsided. I’m going to focus on remembering what happened after… well, you know. I must have blacked out because the next thing I can remember is being somewhere cold. The light seemed blinding like before and I heard voices all around me, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I started to feel myself slipping away… dying.

Is that what happened? Am I dead? Is this empty awareness the so-called afterlife? It can’t be. I wouldn’t go down that easily. I’m a fighter, goddammit! I must have been clinging to life, no way would I just let go. But where was I and why can’t I remember what happened next?

I think that took longer than the amount of time I was… not feeling well before. Of course, it could well have been half the time and I wouldn’t know given my circumstances. But I think I’ve finally seen through some of the hazy confusion and foggy memories. It stands to reason that I was in a hospital, and I seem to have an image in my mind that supports that. So the next question that I have to answer for myself is: what was it that put me there?

I seem to recall a feeling of labored ascension, like trying to swim to the surface after diving into a deep body of water. Although, it felt more like doing so while being pulled down by something as if in quicksand. When I finally reached the surface, it felt like I could finally breathe again after drowning for so long. I turned around, only to see my unconscious body heavily bandaged and connected to all manner of steadily beeping machines.

Separated from my own body, I suddenly realized there was nothing I could do. Of course, being the stubborn son of a bitch that I am, I certainly tried everything I could think of. Pushing the call button did nothing as it seemed I couldn’t touch anything. Calling out was just as useless because no one could hear me. I wandered aimlessly around looking for anyone or anything to interact with. What did I find?

I’ve been in this void for God knows how long, trying to remember how I ended up here. I don’t even know where here is or for that matter if I have any kind of physical presence at all. Am I sitting, standing, lying down, or none of the above? I need to get back on track and remember what happened in the hospital. I remember seeing someone staring straight at me. What a relief that must have been! Now what did they look like?

I don’t remember much about the stranger. Just pale grey skin and a smile from ear to ear. I was so relieved to know that someone could see me that I immediately thanked God and told him everything I remembered at that point. He spoke in a peculiar voice and said “You don’t know how you got here? Don’t worry. I do.” He sounded almost monotone, but was talking through a big smile. I didn’t really care what he sounded like. I just asked him to elaborate.

“The lights you saw were spotlights. You were out late doing something naughty and you got caught.” This only confused me more. Was I sleep-walking or something? He went on. “That sound you heard was a police siren. You really have been very naughty.” Police? What had I done that would warrant the police to come after me? “That… unpleasantness you felt came from the souvenirs they left you. Enough gunshot wounds to put down a grizzly.”

I had been shot? My memory of that night was distorted at best, but I couldn’t think of anything I would have been doing that would cause the police to gun me down like an animal. That’s when the stranger chuckled. “Don’t you remember what was in the garbage bag you were holding?” I gasped in horror as I realized the contents of the black plastic bag were the limbs I had been cutting that day, but they were not branches from a tree. They were dismembered human appendages.

Everything was beginning to fade into darkness around me, until only the stranger and I were left. I looked into his eyes and saw that they were just as black as everything else. He said “You’ve been very naughty. So now I leave you to your punishment.” And then he just disappeared, and I ended up…

Darkness… All I can see is boundless, unending darkness. I can’t hear a sound either. I try to move, to speak, to cry for help, but nothing happens. I truly have no idea how long I’ve been here. With all my senses and faculties gone, or at least muted, I really have no perception of time. How did I get here?


The eyes of the stranger.