Silence.

Total, utter, silence.

I can't hear a bird chirp, I can't even hear myself breathing.

If sound were light, I'd be blindfolded, at the bottom of a pit, on a moonless night, with my eyes closed. It's that quiet.

I try to open my eyes, but they won't open. Something trickles down my cheek, toward my mouth. I reach out with my tongue. It tastes like copper. Almost like I'm licking a penny. Is that blood?

I try once more to open my eyes. Slowly, painfully, they agree to open. The world looks wavy and distorted, like I'm watching it through a glass of water. Blurry things surround me. Poking at me, lifting me, taking me somewhere. Do I smell hamburgers? My mind must be losing its grip on reality.

I'm strapped down by several strangers.

'What are you going to do with me?' I thought.

I must've said it because one of the strangers looked right at me. I could see his lips moving, but there was no sound. Like I was watching a TV show on 'mute'.

Wait a minute, I think I can hear something. What is that? It's constant and annoying.

Ringing.

My ears are ringing.

What happened to me? What have these people done to me?

I'm seeing a little better now, but it comes at a priceā€¦pain. Unbelievable pain.

A man's face hovers in front of me. He's moving his mouth again, but I still only hear ringing. Incessant ringing, driving me crazy. Is the man causing this?

'What have you done to me?' I think, as I feel a sharp pain in my arm. He's moving his mouth at me again.

'I can't hear you.' I thought. His reaction surprised me. He searched for something, then scribbled on a small tablet, and turned it so I could see.

"What is your name?" The tablet read.

'Why should I tell you? What have you done to me? What's your name?' I thought.

He scribbled again.

"Bob."

'Ok, where am I, Bob?'

(Scribble) "On the way to the hospital."

'What happened to me?'

(Scribble) "I don't know, you tell me."

My brain doesn't want give me answers. I remember my house. There were streamers and balloons. (That's an odd thing to remember.) Something else was happening, there was a fire. Strangely, I seemed to be enjoying playing with the fire. I remember the smell of burning meat. It suddenly comes back, the pieces fall into place.

'Barbeque.' I thought.

Bob turns away for a moment, as memories flood back. Friends telling me they'll come to the party, my wife asking me to fix the gas grill last week. My thoughts are interrupted when Bob holds up my driver's license, next to the pad.

(Scribble) Happy Birthday.