Martin was dying, and brain cancer was a bitch. The pain was horrible. Even morphine hadn’t cut it. He’d slipped further and further away into the black and it felt good. He wished for it. He longed for it. No pain, no more pain. Was this heaven? An eternity of nothing: floating painlessly, sightlessly, breathlessly. No light to go to, no voices calling. But there was something…something…because he was still…conscious? Not the right word. There was no right word. There was no precedent, no experience to compare. He was here alone, timeless—resting in peace. RIP. Alone…no that wasn’t the right word either. Because he wasn’t alone… he was something else…something. He reached out….
The pain came back. A different kind of pain. The all over kind. The my-everything-hurts kind. He longed for the black, but the light seared him. He was a dark house and scorching rays pierced his windows. Martin’s eyes felt like coals of fire burning into his skull. And the not-aloneness was gone. Now he felt all alone. Completely alone. Abandoned to torment and fire, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. This was hell. He was certain. He’d been judged and tried, and now he would burn in eternity.
“Mr. Coswell? Can you hear me?” The voice rung like giant bells in his head, amplifying the pain.
Martin said, “It hurts!”, but the giant bells, they said, “Croak Croak!” His throat was molten lava running over cracked rocks.
“We’re giving you something for the pain. It will just be a moment.”
Martin didn’t want something for the pain. He wanted the black. The cool dark, dark black. He wanted it more than anything he’d ever wanted. He wanted the not-aloneness. But instead a sickly blanket slid over him, dulling the pain. Dulling him. Dulling his thoughts. Screwing with his consciousness. This was not the black. It was the grey, and he knew somehow that he would never get to go back.