Falling

by Snow Marchant

I

am

f

        a

          l

            l

              i

                n

                  g.

Ive been falling. Id tell you for how long, but I honestly dont know. Days? Weeks?

Months? It feels like forever. I dont know how or when or why I got here, stuck in this

dark thing that I cant really tell you about because I cant see.I was just in the car with my mom, like any other day. I... I think I dozed off, and when I woke up I was...

here.

At first, I was terrified. (I still am, but Ive adjusted.) I spent at least two hours bracing

myself for the impact of landing. The impact never came. It may not ever come, for all I know. I finally got tired of waiting, stiffened in fear, so I relaxed a little. After all, if I survived the landing, no matter what Id still end up seriou

sly injured.

As I said before, I cant see anything. Its dark. Beyond dark. Even in my worst nightmares, I could not have imagined a color (or lack thereof) so sinister, so...

wrong.

To an extent, Im alright with the darkness. If not being able to see a beginning or an

end, walls or doors, an entrance or an exit, to whatever Im in means I dont have to see what is going on around me, Im ok with it.

I cant see them, but I can hear them, and that is plenty for me. When they arent

laughing their horrible, awful, high pitched laughs, theyre crying. Sometimes, they just scream. These things make this awful noise. Theyre anguished, maniac cries, but they have an underlying theme of joy. They make the same noises one would expect from a mother whose child has died, or someone being tortured, and yet, they sound as if they are enjoying their pain.

However, its not the crying, or the laughing, or even the screaming that scares me. Its when they get quiet that I get scared. When theyre making noise, I know where they are. When theyre quiet, I have no idea.

It was during one of these quiet moments that one of them touched me.

I was just getting adjusted to the quiet when I felt a prick on my neck. I absentmindedly reached up expecting... ok. I dont know what I was expecting.

I reached up and felt a human hand. But... it wasnt... normal.

It was cold. No, beyond cold. It felt like the hand of someone whod been dead a few

days. It was freezing and clammy and maybe it was the sudden sense of panic clouding my sense of touch, but I swear I felt scales. Not all over, just in a few spots, but there were scales.

Naturally, I tried to jerk my hand back, but as soon as I went to pull away, it grabbed me.

I could feel myself stop falling, and while it held me, we were just floating in place, the thing and I.

I screamed and kicked and thrashed, but its grip on my hand only tightened. I reached up with my other hand, only to have that one get caught, too. The pressure intensified once more, and I felt a tiny prick on the palm of my hand. Then, I felt it on the other hand.

It wasnt bad at first, not bad at all. It wasnt any worse than a mosquito bite.

Then it started burning.

At first, it was kind of like a fire ant bite, but it slowly intensified. Suddenly, my palms

were on fire. It was as if they had been plunged into a raging inferno.

I jerked away again, and thats when it happened.

I was enveloped by feathers.

They smothered me. I couldnt move, I couldnt breathe, and for a moment, it seemed that the darkness surrounding me got darker. I felt thousands, no, millions, of tiny pricks all over my body. Then, the thing let out one of its horrible cackles and let me go, knowing what was to come for me.

I was falling again. Only this time, the fall was much, much worse. It took about 2 minutes for the pain from the pricks to intensify. After those 2 minutes, I was offered no mercy by the universe. I was on fire.

As I fell, I realized I was screaming. It was a scream that Id never heard another human make before. It was worse than the screams that they made. It surpassed any noise of pain or anger or anguish ever made before.

They started making noise again. They were mocking me, trying to imitate the noise I was making. However, not even they could copy the pained scream coming from me.

This, in a twisted way, gave me a sense of accomplishment. I had beaten them at something. Although the burning did not lessen, my screams did. I managed to calm myself down. I decided to count the seconds that passed until it stopped, in hopes of distracting myself.

One, two, three.... What if it never stops burning? Four, five six.... I need to stop thinking about it. Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven....Will I ever land? Twelve, thirteen...maybe I dont want to land. Fourteen... what if whats down there is worse than whats up here? Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen.... Oh God, what if I never get out of here? What if Im falling forever? What if there is no landing or what if whats at the bottom is worse and oh my God what does my mom think happened to me? Is she ok Eighteennineteentwentytwentyonetwentytwo... Ineedtobreathe. I need to calm down. Its ok. Its all ok. Everythings OK. Twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five...

4529.

I burned for 4529 seconds.

Roughly 75 minutes.

An hour and 15 minutes.

I fell and burned and counted for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Finally, the pain began to subside. I could take in normal breaths again; I could move without an extra burning sensation shooting through out my body, I could fall deeper and deeper into this dark void in peace.

So yes, I have one fear that overrides all the other fears. This fear takes precedence over my fear of a landing (or lack thereof); it is a bigger fear than my fear of what has happened to my family. It is no longer my fear of the dark that consumes me, but my fear of the silence.

Up until this experience, Ive never had a panic attack. I never took the concept of a panic attack seriously; I never really applied much thought to the people stricken with panic attacks and how they handle them. Now, I do.

When they go quiet, I experience the shortness of breath, the dizziness, the uncontrollable choking feeling, the rapid pulse and sweaty palms. I know what true fear is now, and I know what it is to be gripped so tightly by that fear that there is no escape from it.

When I no longer hear anything, no matter how hard I strain to hear something, that is when I feel the fear taking over.

So, here I am, falling.

Half of the time, Im ok, relaxed even. The other half, I refuse to move or even breathe too heavily.

I think I may be nearing a bottom. The noises the creatures make have stopped sounding so hollow and have begun to echo back to me. This is good and bad.

It is good in that I now have some hope of a landing. Not a lot of hope, but some. And maybe the landing wont be any better than this, maybe itll be worse, but its still a landing.

It is bad in that the echoing means the noises being made when they are being loud intensifies. Ive had a pounding headache for God only knows how long, and in the silent times, my ears continue ringing so much that I can no longer even attempt to try and hear to be sure that one of them is not behind me again. But still, I cannot help but feel slightly happy.

There might actually be an end.

I might not have to spend forever falling through nothing into more and more nothing.

I grin at this thought, but then suddenly, it all goes quiet. The noises normally fade away. This is different. This stop is sudden and abrupt. This drop in noise is choked, as if the things have been cut off mid scream.

I feel the familiar sense of nausea overtake me.

I feel sweat begin pouring and suddenly Im shaking again, worse than I ever have before. I cant breathe, no matter how hard I try, I cant get in a breath. I can feel my heartbeat quicken and I know that this cant be normal or safe but then again what about this situation is normal or safe?

It feels like Im holding my breath but I know Im not and I fight again to take in air. Im thrashing and kicking and gasping for air.

Air.

You never realize how much you take it for granted until you run out of it, until you cant get any more of it.

Finally, blissfully, I black out. The last thing I sense before the darkness clouds my senses is something grabbing me.

My dreams are not pleasant or sweet as we so often say. They are filled with the stuff of nightmares. Images flash, they come and go.

Subconsciously, I realize that this is the first time since Ive started falling that Ive seen colors. I havent slept or ate or drank anything this entire time.

The last nightmare is the worst of them all. Perhaps because it is so real, perhaps because it is a memory.

Im in the car with my mother, front seat. Were bickering. About what? I dont really know. My brother is in the backseat yelling at us to stop, to grow up a little. I turn around in my seat to tell him to be quiet. My sister takes this as an opportunity to throw something at my face. Its just like any other day,really.

Suddenly, theyre both wide eyed and screaming. I turn around and look at what has made them panic, and there it is.

A truck has run a stop sign and is speeding towards us.

My mother jerks the wheel, but all this does is send our car out of control. We crash into the truck and then ricochet backwards, off and over the bridge, and into the depths of the lake below.

I awake with a start. Somehow, I know. I know that this is how I got here. I drowned.

Im... dead. And I know that they didnt make it either. My mom and brother were never strong swimmers, and my little sister was far too young. Even if she did know how to swim, she would have panicked.

Theyre all gone. Were all three gone. So then where are they?

I feel the ground around me.

Ground

I feel the ground.

I have landed.

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