The bright light was always there.
It made the whole world white.
And there was a noise, always that same noise, hissing and sucking, like some mechanical snake.
It was the noise that scared him most.
It wasn't human.
Sometimes he heard screaming, but only for a moment and then it was gone.
It faded away, like a bad dream.
He tried to move his body, his foot or his finger, and found he couldn't.
His throat was tight and dry. When he tried to speak, nothing would come out, not even a rasp. It was as if something was blocking the airways.
Time seemed to stretch forever into a long stream of never ending consciousness. He didn't know where he was but he was alert. There was no way of knowing what was around him because he couldn't see, hear or even feel his way around.
A terrible thought occurred suddenly, as if brought up from the depths of his fears.
He could be locked in a room, deprived of all senses, in one of those experiments done on people for science or against terrorists.
Was he a terrorist?
He couldn't remember. He didn't even know how he'd gotten here, wherever here might be.
All he could remember seemed to be a faint forgotten memory, or was it a dream?
He had been in the car with someone and they were going somewhere, a deserted place far away in the forests.
It had been raining then and the wipers made a sound-
the same sound he heard now in the room beside him-
swish, thump, swish, thump,
over and over again.
There was music too and laughing-
a woman was laughing beside him.
He didn't know her name but he should've known it because-
because she was his wife.
His wife from junior college-
Parties, majors and library study time, lunch time, dinner time, breakfast time, in bed together time, graduation time, time to get up, time to get married, time to have children-
Did he have children?
He thought no, but maybe they were on the way, they were-
"I'm ready to start a family now... Let's start now," she said.
Laughing, more laughing...
Yes, she was crying now, beside him in the car.
They'd been hit by a truck, a lumber truck, skidding down the road.
He hadn't had time to hit the brakes as it came around the sharp corner, right in front of them.
There was no time, no time to honk, no time to steer away, only time to-
She screamed and then it-
"Somebody help me!" he tried to scream. "Anybody, help me, help us!"
No one came.
There was no one around and he couldn't move. He was stuck there, struck there, there in the road with no one around.
Nothing but that awful sound.
That awful hissing, sucking, pumping air through tubes sound.
The beeping of machinery sound as it kept his body going in this vegetative stationary state.
How he wished it would end...
Why keep going?
There was nothing left to live for, he was already dead.
And his wife, his wife-
He heard her now!
People coming, nurses rustling past, curtains opening-
"Help me!" he wanted to scream. "Get me out of here!"
His body didn't even move.
He could feel her now, close to him, like an angelic presence. She was alive and she was going to help him. She was going to get him out of here, at last! She had heard his cries, his never ending agony of distress.
This was the end.
She was crying.
She was leaving.
"No, don't go!" he tried to grasp at her but his fingers wouldn't budge, they wouldn't even twitch.
Nobody could hear him screaming. No one heard him, screaming and crying.
It was too late.
There was a click and a snap, like the push of a button, before a long steady beep sounded through the air.
The hissing and sucking noise had finally stopped.
All was still and quiet.
Henry tried to open his eyes.
The white light was still behind his eyelids.
He could feel the pressure inside himself, building, or maybe it was from the lack of oxygen that had stopped pumping into his lungs.
The air pressed out of his mouth, in a rushing sigh, before escaping into the room.
Henry lay there on the hospital bed, in his last moments, reliving the few precious memories of his life as they played over again in the stillness of his mind-
like a never-ending loop-
or like a dream that never ended.