Catalepsy. (Flash fiction)


I may have opened my eyes, but I could not be sure. There was only the suffocating blackness. I could as easily assume I had been struck blind. Paralysis of muscle made it impossible for me to sense my surroundings, impossible to move, impossible even to scream.

The silence was like a tangible entity, smothering me against reality in an insulated cocoon, drowning me in a tide of oozing darkness until only my thoughts screamed in their cacophony of chaos. I felt as though I had withdrawn, deep inside my own body, a minute ray of awareness inside an inanimate, lifeless corpse. Even the beating of my heart seemed now to be still, no more the audible, delicate rasping of air being drawn into my lungs. The stillness was so complete, as if my eardrums, the sensors that pick up the faintest vibrations in the air, had been removed.

In the silence, disorientation was such that I could not discern if I was lying on my back, my stomach, or even, perhaps, if I stood on my head. There was no sensation of heat or cold. I may have been entombed in ice for all I knew. The awareness of suspended animation could not be so mind numbing as my present predicament.

With no way of measuring the passage of time, an eon may have passed as I searched the depths of my mind to bring some logical recollection as to how I had arrived in this situation. I seemed to have no memory, no past, no expectancy of future; only knowledge of this instant of awareness we call now.

And then, so softly at first they seemed only to enhance the loneliness, I became aware of the faintest of sounds creeping into my perception. I hardly dare term the vibrations as sound, rather that they invaded my senses, coercing me into awareness, almost as if they emanated from within until they took physical form. My entire universe seemed to pulse with the slow, rhythmic thud… thud… thud…

The noise seemed to drag from the obscure depths of my consciousness, the memory of something that had lain dormant, something I had learnt to dread throughout my entire life. At the now, slowly diminishing thumps, I realised the sounds for what they were, sounds that could only be shovelled earth falling on the lid of a coffin, sounds that brought home to me the living horror of my interment.

© 2009 Robert A Read. aka Mysteral.


A medical condition of unconsciousness where muscles become rigid and where heart rate and breathing slow to almost undetectable levels. In the early days of medicine the condition may have been mistaken as death.


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