Locked In

I think I’ve had enough now.  In fact, I’ve had more than enough.

barbed wire fence

I ’m ready to die now, thank you.I can only estimate how long I have been stuck in here, but it is over a year, for sure.  When you have been trapped as long as I have, time moves slowly, each second passing like the dripping of honey from a spoon, stretching out, before falling, soon to be followed by another elongated second.

Time is a very strange construct when you have little else to do; it seems to be slowing down.  Every day I am here passes just a little bit slower than the previous one, my prayers last a little bit longer, and I grow a little older, weaker.I hope that when you get this message, my darling, you will want my prayers answered:  you will want me dead.  I know it will be hard for you to make that decision, but please let me make my case.  If I could speak to you, I would tell you how much I wish for death, but I cannot speak to you.  Some days I try so hard, I scream until my throat feels like it has been opened up, and a sharp knife dragged along it, but you have never given any sign that you have heard me.

When I first found myself here, it was not so bad, it was almost tolerable.  The silence was the first thing I noticed.  It was palpable, thick.  I spent days trying to swim through this oppressive silence, trying to hear something, anything.  My heart was the first thing I heard, beating slowly, rhythmically.  It was my only companion through those first days.  Shortly after that, came the light.  Not a clear, crisp light that you might get on a bright spring morning, but a hazy pale light, filled with shifting patterns of colour that throbbed in time with my heart.  Gradually, I heard other sounds that I could not recognise, but they were not altogether unpleasant.  Sometimes, they even comforted me before I drifted into dreamless sleep.

If I said I was scared initially, I would be lying.  I spent days, weeks, getting used to my new surroundings, listening to the strange sounds that seemed to come from outside.  I don’t know how, but I still felt you near me.  Your love carried me through those early days, before time started to slow down, but day by day and week by week, the haze didn’t lift, and the sounds ceased to comfort me.  At some point, time slowed to a crawl, and the days began to stretch longer, and longer, leaving me at a loss to track the time.

I know that you want me to live.  We talked about it.  And I wanted that too, but that was before I found myself trapped in here.  Now I pray for death.  It is the only release I can think of to get me out of the prison I find myself in, and my last gift to you.  I know it goes against everything you believe in, but you have to let me go. I’m trapped inside, but still alive, you may say.  It’s still living, isn’t it?

You would not say that if you knew what was trapped in here with me.

*   *   *

When the haze finally lifted, I could see out.  I saw the world outside, but I couldn’t reach it.  It always remained tantalizingly close, yet unreachable.  You were there, I could see you.  You looked tired, troubled.  I tried to comfort you, but it was futile. Like the rest of the world, you remained out of reach.  I called to you, but you gave no indication that I had been heard.  I continued trying until all I could hear was my own voice screaming.  I think it was my screaming that awoke whatever it is that is in here with me.

I first began to notice it like you would notice something out of the corner of your eye.  When I turned my attention to it, it would move away, melt into the background like smoke from a just-lit cigarette.  It was never gone for long, returning to my peripheral vision, and fading away when I turned.

At first, this was nothing more than a curiosity, something to amuse myself with as the days dragged on.  The more I tried to see it, the further away it moved.  It was a game in those early days; could I turn my head quickly enough to see it?  The answer was always no.  Like everything else, I tired of this game when it became obvious that I couldn’t win, so there it lurked, in the corner of my vision, watching and waiting.

After a while, I stopped noticing it, and went back to observing the world out of my tiny window.  I think that it didn’t like being ignored, because that was when it introduced itself to me.  I say ‘introduced’, but it didn’t walk over and offer it’s hand.  It snarled and growled and moved over me and through me.

I felt dirty somehow, like I’d had the insides of a rotting animal smeared all over me.  That is the best way I can describe the stench and feel of the thing.  My mind was filled with images of death and decay.  The first time was a shock.  I was powerless to stop the intrusion.  It moved where and when it wanted, reaching, probing into the corners of my mind.  After a time, although I was unable to stop its incursions, I did get good at hiding.  By retreating into my mind and my thoughts, I was able to remain hidden.  I thought back to the holidays we had taken when we were first together, to the windswept beaches, and the rainy days we always seemed to find.  I thought of the long walks we would take by the beach, and the plans we made for our life together, the children we would have, and the fun we would have making them, and for a while, this strategy worked.  I could feel it searching for me, the holes that passed for nostrils raised in the air, as if tasting the air for any sign of my thoughts.  Of me.  But it couldn’t find me.  The thoughts of all our years together were too strong, and when they failed, the thoughts of our children became my next haven.  My thoughts moved through the years, always staying one step ahead, but it followed and it was relentless.  As fast as I moved, it moved faster, and hour by hour, day by day it grew closer until I could feel it’s hot breath on me.

The beast, as I had come to think of it, probed and prodded, looking for the best way in.  I always knew that there would come a time when my running was not enough, and I would have to stand and fight, but I was not prepared for the nature of that assault when it came.  It was not a physical assault, although the talons, claws and teeth it delighted in showing me, would have given it a distinct advantage, it attacked my mind.  Bit by bit it attacked my memories.  The happy days you and I shared were transformed into burning images of suffering and pain.  The images of our children’s births were destroyed, a shroud of black clouding those memories, lost forever.  I managed to cling on to some of my life, our life together, but it was hard, fighting off the relentless pressure exerted by this growling, snapping beast.  And tiring.  So tiring.

*   *   *

Through our fighting, the beast has revealed itself to me.  I understand it now, which is why it is imperative that you let me die.  I do not know how you will do it, but I implore you to try, your safety, and that of others is at stake.  The creature is looking for a way out.  Where it came from, I cannot say, but where it is going is clear.  It needs someone like me to be the conduit that delivers it into the world.  I do not know what destruction it will bring, but from our time together, I know it will not be pleasant.  My failing mind is all that is keeping it in here, but failing it is, and day by day I grow weaker, and my resolve slips a little further.

I am grateful to the doctors for giving me this chance to communicate with you.  I am still amazed at the technology that allows me to write messages using only my eyes, but without it, I would not be able to make my plea.  If I could speak to you, the terror would be obvious, but I cannot, so this will have to suffice.  I do not know how long I can withstand this onslaught, or how long before I can no longer communicate with you, so please hurry.

The doctors call it cerebromedullospinal disconnection, you call it locked in syndrome, but I have been locked in here with this creature for so long, and I don’t think I can protect you much longer.

I have had a good life.  Know that I love you and the children very much, but please let me go.  I do not want to live.  If I could take my own life I would, but I can’t.  I don’t know if they will let you do it, but you have to make them understand.  My life is almost at an end anyway, so please let me do this last thing for you.  It’s ok.

I am ready to die now.

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