The darkness is absolute. For a moment I’m not sure if my eyes are open or closed. I strain to push the lids up, but they’re already wide. Not a pinpoint of light penetrates the space I’m in. Something covers my mouth and nose, making breathing difficult. My lungs burn for air, but I can only suck in tiny mouthfuls through whatever smothers my face.
I turn my head, crying out as a savage bolt of pain shoots through it. For a moment I waver on the edge of consciousness, wavy grey lines wafting across the blank space before my eyes. I struggle to keep my wits about me - what’s left of them - fighting the the darkness threatening to drown me. I gasp for breath, certain now I won’t pass out. Reaching out my left hand, I try to find something to hold onto. My fingers scrabble over some small objects, pebbles perhaps, that skitter away beneath my touch. I reach further, wrapping my fingers around them. Pain prickles through my fingertips. Not pebbles. Glass. Small, sharp shards of glass.
Using my scored digits, I drag myself forward, an inch, maybe two. A huge weight pins my legs to the ground. I can’t move them, can’t even feel them. Raising my head, I see light. Not a lot of light, but light. Red light, bright at one end, dull at the other. I know what this is. I do. My heart thumps at the side of my head and I can almost hear the gears of my brain creaking to make sense of this weird red glow.
I let my throbbing head drop as a reward, a surge of relief passing through me at this small achievement. It’s a taillight. But why is it up there? What is up there? And if that’s there, where am I? The questions whirl dizzying circles around my skull. What day is it? I struggle to remember. What did I have for breakfast? My eyes fix on the taillight, broken I realize, staring into it as if hypnotized. That’s why it’s brighter at one end.
More light. White this time, sweeping in an arc across me. I blink, dazzled by the flood of brightness. All around me I see fragments glinting in the beam, tiny jewels strewn across what I can now see is a road. The yellow line is inches from my nose. Why am I lying in the middle of the road? Ghostly music drifts in my direction. A song I know, an oldie, The Beach Boys. It makes no sense here, must be in my head. I try to drag my other arm forward, wanting to raise myself onto my elbows for a better perspective. It won’t move. Pain rocks through my shoulder, my chest and courses up my neck to my still-aching head. The heavy, metallic scent of blood hangs over me. When I glance back down at the road, I see the yellow line is smeared red.
The slamming of a car door breaks through the dull thumping in my skull, chases the music away for a moment. Footsteps scuff across the gravel, heading away from where I lie.
“I’m here!” I cry, unsure if the voice I hear is my own.