Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The Death of Virtue: Part 1
His ears were ringing. No, they were burning. All he could hear was a sharp, popping noise. His ears felt like he was in the ocean, water pressure pushing on every micrometer of his eardrums, and coral was all he could hear.
He was staring at the carpeted staircase, but he couldn’t see anything. Somehow the fog had crept its way into his living room.
His hands were heavy, and too far away. His blood felt diluted and sluggish. His heart was an un-oiled engine, with every pump more difficult and more damaging than the last.
He hadn’t felt like this since the car crash.
Slowly, the ringing gave way to something else. A soft, but growing noise that hurt as it built upon itself. Reality was ripping its way back into his conscious. The noise culminated in a painful crescendo as he became aware of holding the phone to his ear again. Her words were like audible lightning, and her usually sweet voice seared as it left the clammy, black receiver.
“Peter? Peter did you hear me? Are you still there?” Earth regained its axis; gravity kicked back in; and oxygen flooded into his lungs once more. He was clutching the railing of those carpeted stairs; his body was holding itself up, but he had no idea how.
“…I’m here. Sorry. So sorry. Wait… What did you say? Please tell me I didn’t hear what I think you just told me. You’re kidding. You have to be. This is some sick joke. Annie, this isn’t funny. Stop it. Please tell me this I heard you wrong. Please tell me -“ The soul completely bypassing his brain, his words streamed out at hurricane force. Emotions sped past so quickly that his voice could not keep up the pace. It cracked and strained as he spat out syllables, sounds, anything. The silence coming from his phone was as hollow as the tightening in his gut. Then her words came crashing back with all the force of a sonic boom.
“Peter. I’m so sorry. Its… I…” Annie stopped. Words stumping her flustered brain. She breathed deeply. Reset herself, closed her eyes tightly, and tried to exhale without sighing, but couldn’t. The sorrow escaped her lungs, “James. James is…” She reset herself again. Her tear-stained palm involuntarily clutched to her forehead. She was freezing, shaking, and nauseous. Every mumbled sound felt like a scream, no matter how hard she tried to stay level and quiet. She could only smell the copper of blood and taste the salt of tears. “James is dead.”
There it was again. Reality detached itself from his mind. Vertigo was all Peter knew. The impact of her words sent him careening. Except this time the words stuck with him. Reality was gone; all that was left was dizziness, burning, and those three words.