Air is Heavy

by D.F.S. Jennings © 2002

The red light continued to flash, although it was difficult to see now--more a faint flicker than a proper flash. Dimly, she recalled that the light signified an emergency. Dimly, she thought she should be hearing the alarm. Dimly?yes, it was all dim now. Dim, yet colorful: the colors swirled and rippled around her. They tickled her until she giggled as if she were young again. They cooed at and coddled her until she felt safe and warm, as if she were born again. She felt buoyant and free. She knew she need never feel heavy again.

The buoyant colors shattered into a harsh, bright light. The light felt alien--how could light have no color? It was heavy and oppressive. She was unable to move, although heavy things pushed down on her, blowing air into her. She felt water come out of her. She found herself accepting the air, although she knew intrinsically that this was wrong. Air was heavy, and had no color. She struggled to return to where she felt soft and free.

"She's moving!"

The harsh noise slammed into her delicate hearing.

How could they stand it? Even words were heavy here--falling straight down and bludgeoning when they should float along softly and gently caressing. "She's breathing on her own, now. I think she'll be all right."

"What the hell happened down there?"

"I don't know--she's the only survivor. We had to seal off all of Levels Fire and Grace. The South Pod is completely flooded, too."

The crashing din was too much. She gasped and tried to make this heavy thing work.

"Stop her from thrashing around!"

"What's wrong with her skin?"

She squirmed and thrashed, but the heavy things held her down and shouted at her. She gasped and, grasping a fleeting memory of another lifetime, tried to emulate their clamorous cries, tried to tell them to set her free.

Abruptly, the heavy air lurched, and she slid across the slick, cold surface beneath her. The surface suddenly ended and, for one brief, blissful moment there was nothing above her and nothing below her. Just as she became aware of this state of buoyancy, she crashed down painfully onto another slick, slanted surface where she slid and rolled until crashing with a sickening crack into something else. As pain shot across and throughout her being, she began to hate this heavy place. Such an unnatural thing--hate. She knew it to be a remnant of her former self.

Then the soul-shattering shriek of rending metal exploded across her consciousness, a hideous noise so large and voluble, so monstrous and oppressive, that she was rendered completely immobile. The heavy things cried and fled, and she knew they were no longer there, but she was unable to move. The weight of this place was crushing her spirit, and she began to despair of ever being free again.

At last a blissful silence filled the space. The air was still heavy, and agony filled her body, but at least the pain of the crashing noises was gone.

In this moment of silence, she heard her heart's desire. A thin, trickling sound. A soft, splashing sound. As she lay there, she felt a wetness slowly pool around her body. Unable to move, she simply lay there calmly as a glorious weightlessness gradually gathered beneath her. She felt herself become lighter and lighter, and the hate and the heaviness and the din that marked her previous life began to fade blissfully away. The harsh light began to fade away as well, and was replaced gradually with a flickering, soft and shadowy dimness.

She waited patiently--not eagerly. She knew emotion was unnecessary here.

The colors appeared, and she knew she need never feel heavy again.

x x x

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