She knew she was going to die. And she knew dimly, somewhere far inside herself, that she ought not to want to die. She was drowsy and calm. She could feel her heart beating at twice its normal rate, a prisoner hammering frantically at her chest. Yet her brain was sluggish, dreamy. Which was a mistake, because they all needed to stay awake, keep moving, until they pulled through this. She was too comfortable. It was good to lie down and rest at last. She had been tired for such a long time.
She wondered who else was dying in the hospital. The world beyond, the life before, this hospital, all that had now sunk beneath the surface of her lethargic consciousness, until only traces were left. She knew that every minute she lay there millions of her brain cells were being erased. A tiny part of her mind was watching herself die and was terrified, full of pity and horror. She wished it was over. She just wanted to sleep.
She knew the stages of death. She had watched almost with curiosity as her body protested against the machines that surrounded her: the headaches, the clotting, the gasping shortness of breath, the swollen lungs. Perhaps hallucinations would come to her before she died. She knew numbness had invaded her arms and legs. She couldn’t feel any of her body, except for her charred lungs. It was as if her mind was the last thing that was left, still burning dimly inside her finished carcass, she was waiting for her mind to flicker and die out.
What had gone wrong? It should all have been so simple. There was something she had to remember, something wrong. There had been a wrong note. A piece of the puzzle didn’t fit. She closed her eyes. The darkness felt healing. Life had been so busy. All that effort. For what? Nothing. She just had to remember. Once she had remembered, nothing else would matter. If only the beeping of the machines would stop. If only she could think. Yes, that was it. It was so stupid, so simple, but she understood. She smiled. She felt the cold spread through her, welcoming her into the darkness.