Above him, strips of light rush past: beneath, the onrush of the gurney wheels, rhythms in counterpoint, treble and bass. Their song teases his memory –what is it? He cannot think. He cannot remember. ‘It means nothing to me…’
Concerned faces look down upon him as they steer his progress, watching his face, clinical figures in clinical scrubs – clinical concern. So many times now he has taken this desperate ride, each time with that vague, intangible strand to reach for: but there is no strand this time – this, he knows, must be the last.
He clasps his hideously bloated abdomen and he knows. He feels that great alien presence inside him that has grown relentlessly through months of burgeoning agony, consuming him, and he knows. All the therapies, all the treatments; all done. His destiny lies at this journey’s end. ‘It means nothing to me…’
In a momentary remission and before the next wave of pain’s powerful fist clamps down on him, his arms flail wildly. “Mr. Carmody?”
“I’m here, Michael.” The consultant stoops over him, his gentle hand touching, an oasis of calm in the hot sands of his terror. “Be of good heart, Michael. It is soon over now, you know.”
The pain has lost him for a time. He wonders, ludicrously, if the pace of the gurney was too fast for it? Could it have been left behind? Maybe it is somewhere back there, writhing in impotent fury upon the tiled floor, lashing out at all who pass? But no; it finds him. It creeps in, uncertain. It probes. It seizes.
Oh no! Oh no! Oh please, please God! Worse this time – worst this time. This must, must, must be over, please! Let me go? ‘It means nothing to me; nothing to me, nothing…’
“We can manage your pain.” Carmody had assured him in those first days. “Things have improved so much, Michael. You needn’t be afraid.”
He had hope then. Oh, the hope he had then! But he was still very afraid.
“We’re going to do everything we can.”
“Is there any possibility…?”
“Well, we have come close to a solution many times…”
The gurney has turned a corner. Doors opening, closing; floating figures in gowns, new and different lights. Operating Theatre One.
“Right, people! Places, everyone!” His consultant’s authoritative voice.
Pain coming again; a tsunami this time of massive, unstoppable proportions. The needle he so needs thrusts home, imparting a little numbness, a moment of comparative peace, helping him, finally, to remember: ‘This means nothing to me….Vienna’.
Carmody’s words murmur in his ear:
“Alright, Michael, this is our time. Let’s make history together. Push!”
© Frederick Anderson 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.