The feeling of his body faltering was hard to describe. If he tried to describe it he sounded like a hysteric–there were so many sensations that, while naggingly present, had no words to put to them. Thus the illness that was physical was experienced also as psychosis and dissociation. Words themselves started to feel like part of the infection. To reach for them was like desperately trying to find the root of the illness. He found some that were close to describing a certain sensation but that sensation would take flight too quickly for the leaden words. My brain feels dry, too dry, like it’s screaming of thirst he would think, and then the feeling would have changed, as if the words had put it into flight. Sometimes he would feel a general aggressive malaise in which everything inside him felt sick, as if red and inflamed and hot, but he had no fever. Other times it would feel like the cells themselves were bursting of this heat, like they had started to bulge of their own weight. It seemed that nothing could be done. These were problems for a witch, not for a doctor. The parade of doctors started to seem like a flock of viciously healthy, normal predators. They listened and nodded dumbly, constantly, insensate. Each visage took on a shadow of unknowing, as if the face were composed of plasticine–as everyone knows, a material that words cannot penetrate.
One day when he was far worse than usual, he made his decision. He had been feeling like he couldn’t breathe, even though he was breathing. It was as if every individual cell was thirsty for air, their walls crumpling from the lack. They were all screaming in unison, and to shut them up, he knew what he had to do. He logged into this chat channel he sometimes frequented. He knew he had taken up everybody’s time a little too much, and that his request was a little difficult, so the phrasing was important:
I have a request. I really, really, really need your prayers. I need you all to pray for me. It’s not a joke. I’ve been very difficult and taken up too much time in the past, so now I need to emphasize that this will be the last request I will make of you. I know that my soul is in peril, that’s all.
He logged off before he could read any of the responses.
He thought that that was worrying, but as vague as he could make it. Nobody would call the cops or anything. His heartbeat quickened as he drew a bath. What scared him wasn’t death, but the doctrines in which suicide landed one’s soul in hell. He could not shake this superstition, no matter how hard he tried, and it left a far more morbid stain on the events awaiting him. They were tainted by something nastier than tragedy, from the start.
He stripped quickly and pragmatically, his breathing growing hungrier by the minute. The screaming cells were growing louder, but now they felt almost like good company. They would be with him until the last.
He submerged himself into the painfully hot water, thinking that this stimuli would take his mind off the pain of the cutting. He lay back and purposefully hyperventilated deeply–he had been taught to do this before lifting weights, a way to pump himself up. The pack of razors was on the side of the bath, already opened, along with a sharp hunting knife, as a backup. The thing was to be done in one gesture.
Slicing open the underside of his arms was simultaneously easier and more painful than he had expected, so much so that he couldn’t suppress a loud yelp. The yield of blood was plentiful, bursting like ambergris from a fetid stomach. He started to relax, and felt better already, too relaxed, already high. Words started to escape him, and his chest heaved less and less frequently. Suddenly a tear dropped out of the corner of his eye. All of his life now appeared in retrospect as a massive, bloated waste, which could have been salvaged, but it was too late. Black and red spots were occluding large portions of his visual field, they shimmered and seemed to circle him like scavengers. As words and will dissolved, as he was starting to lose himself to what was calling him, he struggled to hold onto one thought as an anchor, as if this thought could burn itself onto the wall, could make him tangible and therefore immortal. Losing his words, he thought, was exactly the same as losing his breath.