Everything is black. I can hear nothing, see nothing, nor feel anything. It's an uneasy silence in a land of apparent non-existence that's seemingly devoid of everything – even reality. Yet, at the same time, I seem to be aware. A state of loneliness and confused thoughts start to consume me as I begin to wonder, “Where am I? What am I doing here?”
A deep, echoing thud suddenly fills the void, breaking the silence. Another soon follows, and then another. Ka-thud, ka-thud, ka-thud. It's the sound of a beating heart. Whose is it? Is it my own?
A familiar feeling returns to me: Fear. I feel that I have experienced this feeling plenty in my life. A life of sometimes-overwhelming anxiety that I found increasingly difficult to escape. A mental snare that's so claustrophobic that it bled into my heavily-masked appearance, shattering the illusion of “I'm okay”, causing my heart to race and my body to tense with unease. At its worst, nausea would overwhelm me and I'd have a surging feeling of wanting to escape. I'd look for escape routes, but sometimes there weren't any. I remember this feeling. Life can be tough. The heartbeat begins to sound faster. Ka-thud, ka-thud, ka-thud, ka-thud.
Another feeling returns to me: Sadness. A familiar feeling that burdened me for a long time. Memories of times past begin to flow into sight. I see myself at school. Unsure where to go, what to do, or how to act; I'm alone, unwanted, afraid. I see myself with my first love. As I beg, she walks out the door for the last time of a half empty apartment. I always felt alone, unwanted, afraid.
Ka-thud... ka-thud... ka-thud. The heartbeat slows.
“Cory!” a desperate voice echoes out into the darkness. It's my mother's voice calling my name. I try to call out to her, but my voice is silent. I see a scene of my mother gently cradling me, softly whispering that “it'll be okay.” This reminds me of when I was a child. My father comes into view with my sister at his side. I realise that I wasn't always alone. For once, I felt happiness. Life's pursuit had blinded me to what I really had. Why couldn't I just see that before?
As I feel at ease, the heartbeat stops. A floating sensation envelops me and I have a feeling of being pulled slowly away. My grief-stricken family surround me and my mother embraces my motionless, lifeless body on the hospital bed as the darkness consumes me completely.