Short story

* * *

 Imagine your head has just exploded. It has been completely obliterated.

That is what I feel like. Except, I’m still alive.

When I passed through the doorway, the music slapped me in the face, encased my head, squeezed inside it, and occupied it. Its pounding rhythms are so familiar, but they’ve changed so much. They’ve matured, almost. I think of the times family members told me how I’d gotten so big. That I’ve grown up so much. That the last time they saw me, I was only this tall. I feel warm tears well up and flow down my cheeks. They roll through the air and splash onto the floor, leaving unnaturally large splotches. The music had gotten so big since I walked through that door.

I think the music exploded my head. It literally blew my mind. But how can I still hear it?

The melody had intensified so much that it is now causing me pain. Where my ears would be if my head was still in tact feels far too warm and dull. I can’t tell if my nose survived the explosion. My eyes – I still have eyes! – are still watery, creating a veil of tears I can barely see through. I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t have a mouth. But I can still hear the music.

The song reaches its climax for what seems like the thousandth time and I can’t take it anymore. I somehow activate my muscles – though I have no head, therefore no brain to send signals to my body parts to move – and run blindly to where the music’s coming from. I can’t find it though, because it’s everywhere. I swing my arms. Nothing. I kick as high and as hard as I can. Nothing. I even spit into space, hoping to affect something. Nothing.

At this stage in my journey, I finally become helpless. I had survived using only my ears in the darkness, only my eyes to search the circle room, only my skin to feel my way to this very room I am in. All I have left is my thoughts. And they’re probably gone, too, since my head exploded.

Maybe this really is the afterlife. But, then why is the music so darn loud? It’s pulsing in my whole being. I never thought that one simple melody would – could – get so gripping. How the feeling has changed, but never the notes. Just the feeling.

I slump to the floor and weep again, weakly. I’ve become absolutely Nothing. I’m certain I found the Source, but for what? Why? Where am I going? How did I even get here? …That’s a question I never asked before. How did I get here?

I barely notice the end of the song come around since it’s happened so many times – the song had become one continuous sound. I only notice because it stops. It finally stops.

It. Finally. Stops.

I don’t know what to do. What am I supposed to do? I’m heaped on the floor, the terrible floor, in this terrible room, in this mysterious place, with this mysterious, terrible, sweet music that lead me so far to gain nothing at all. So I close my eyes and wait. For anything.

I am struck by a horrifying image. My life scrolls across my eyelids at a sickening speed. I know I am young, and with memories sliding this fast, my life will be over in no time. I whimper and paw at my head – my head! – like a dog who came home from the vet’s with a cone. Stop! Bring the music back! Anything! Please?

In response, whoever is controlling this state I am in slows the speed of the image down. I shriek, realizing the grief will only last longer the slower it goes. I pound on the floor and scream, “Make it stop!” At last, accepting I can do nothing else – there’s no way out – I wipe my tears away and face the images with dignity. At least my last moments will be strong ones.

As my vision clears, I am struck with yet another realization: this is not my life flashing before my eyes. It is one single image. I never focused on what was flitting around my eyelids. What’s worse, however, it that I’m utterly unaware of why this image of all images is facing me now. My life flashing before my eyes was a warning of death. What is this?

But, of course, my thoughts race when I look into the eyes of a complete stranger. Who has the nerve to ask me, in my current state, “Are you alright?”

What on earth is going on?


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