In a haphazard pile of sweaty clothing and shivering flesh, my body tumbled out of the rickety bed, while my brain leapt off the pillow to catch up. Unfortunately, my mind didn't have enough speed to reach the pile of bones before it began to dance on the floor, which left me fearing the damage that would come to me if my own mentality couldn't control the humanized frame.
And, it was, at that time, that I went into the first seizure in over a year. At this point, I had been able to realize that I was no longer in control of my body, thereby, being left to feel the pain it would inflict upon itself, for the flesh knew no better. Bright lights flashed before my eyes as I vainly tried to clutch the mildewing floorboards beneath my dried and cracked fingertips, praying to collect any sanity before I was spotted. The last thing I needed was to have a roommate come barging in and find me seizing on the floor, while my hair exposed the streak of black ink on the back of my neck. But, not just any tattoo, mind you: A genetically engineered barcode that was doomed to follow me around for the rest of my life.
Fumbling blankly in the darkness, I reached out one hand in the direction that I assumed to be my nightstand. Unfortunately, my arm smacked into the window panel, causing an immediate burning sensation to spread through my already agonized body. Still, I willed myself not to give up, and vainly continued to blindly search. Finally, my hand made contact with the legs of my flimsy nightstand, and the wooden structure collapsed to the ground because I was unable to correctly grasp what I desired.
Swearing mentally, because the lips I had were unable to form intelligent words, I madly pleaded with my body to get itself back under control before something truly dreadful happened. Then, as I quivered, pulling my aching self across the paneled floor, desperate fingers found the much-needed plastic bottle. I nearly screamed with joy, and immediately, I began to work diligently to open the childproof cap. Normally, I wouldn't have kept the lid on tight, but I had, as of late, and now cursed myself because I was having the most difficult time getting the lid off. Yet, fortunately, I was able to pop the cover off, sending it flying somewhere off into the darkness, where I would retrieve it the next morning.
I grasped the translucent orange container with madly jarring hands and attempted to shake a few pills out into my palm. Unfortunately, due to the rapid movement, at least ten white capsules landed around me, some in my hand, and even more on the floor. Barely caring just how much Tryptophan I was consuming, I managed to tilt my head back and gulp the numerous pills down without the aid of water.
Slowly, a warm rush spread over my body; a warm sensation of tranquility and peacefulness that reminded me vaguely of the time I had first put my toes into the warm Gulf of Mexico. Heavy eyelids sank shut, causing darkness to collapse in on me. My brain, sensing that there was a weakness in the mental wall, propelled itself back to its proper placement as the commander of my body, and hesitantly, my limbs began to cease their aggravated quivering. And at last, the seizures ended, and I was free of the physical prison.
For a moment, I waited, lying on the floor, my nose pressed harshly into the rank floorboards that smelled of smoke and alcohol, as I debated about whether or not to give a shot at standing. After all, I certainly did not want to rise to my feet, only to come crashing back down again with an abominable force. So, I rested.
About a foot or two away from my pained eyes that were once again adjusting to the night, a large rat scurried along the scratched wall, searching for food. He eyed me suspiciously as if wondering whether or not I was either a threat or a meal. Wrinkling my nose, I hissed like a cat, which wasn't that difficult with the enormous quantities of feline DNA whizzing through my veins, and the rodent squeaked in shock and hurried away. Ah, the pleasures of living in downtown post-pulse Detroit: You never know quite who or what your next door neighbor will be.
As I watched the vermin scurry away into the shadows, I convinced myself that I was well enough to stand. I clutched the mattress of my bed so hard that my fingers created nearly permanent indents, and I swayed, for a moment, willing myself not to fall. Then, I collapsed onto bed, causing the flimsy floor to shake below.
Not surprisingly, one of my roommates, a twiggy redhead, poked her head in, eyes pinched tight from exhaustion. "Somethin' wrong?" she whispered in the late night hours. "I thought I heard somethin'."
"Just a rat."
"Yeah," I responded, hoping she'd leave me alone in peace because now that the seizures were over, I could sleep in serenity.
Shaking her head, she yawned and closed the door, muttering, "Whatever you say, Laura", and left me alone in the darkness.
For a minute, I paused, wondering if she would come back, then, finally realizing that she had gone back to bed, I lifted a tentative hand to the back of my neck and felt where my barcode was. And, who would have thought that such an innocent looking tattoo would be the root of some of the greatest physical debilitations that any man has ever faced?