Reborn In Gillingham


When I had imagined (as I had done)  that I had died and been reborn in a hell-realm I had been mistaken. This had not in fact been the case at all. My thinking process had been in error in this regard. It had gone awry. I had – as turned out to be the case – been reborn in Gillingham. Only I hadn’t been reborn at all really – I had merely woken up! I had simply fallen asleep. I had simply dozed off, and woken up abruptly in a bit of a confused and disorientated state. The way you do sometimes…


It had been an easy mistake to make I told myself – and a perfectly understandable one too. Anyone could have jumped to the same conclusion. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the hell-realms and what they look like. It was a perfectly natural mistake to make. I kept telling myself this…


I was going on like this in my head because I was a bit rattled. I had had a bit of a fright. It’s no joke being reborn in a hell-realm, after all. No joke. No joke. No joke. Hell-realms aren’t very funny places to be. There’s nothing funny about them. They are in fact the most completely unfunny places to be in you ever could be. What kind of a hell-realm would it be if you could laugh at it. If you could see the funny side of your predicament. The funny side of hell…


This line of reasoning made me feel like laughing. I actually did laugh – albeit a choking, gasping, coughing kind of a laugh. A laugh that hurt as it came out. Like I was laughing shards of broken glass. I stopped laughing as quickly as I had started. I realized that it wasn’t that funny after all. Plus it hurt to laugh. My lungs felt tight and raspy. They actually seemed to be burning, as if I had breathed in fibreglass or asbestos particles. Some major kind of an irritant. Or maybe I was simply smoking too much. I should probably cut down.


Or maybe I was in a hell-realm after all, it occurred to me then. Maybe that was why it hurt when I laughed. Why I couldn’t in fact laugh… I looked around me. I was in the high street. Dull grey smoky-looking figures passed me by on both sides. They emerged out of a tunnel of obscurity and then disappeared again at the other end. I was in the middle of the tunnel, it seemed. Or maybe I had tunnel vision. Maybe I wasn’t seeing thing right. Maybe this was normal, and then again maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it wasn’t normal at all. Maybe I was dead.


What I was seeing certainly didn’t look that normal. Vague grey figures rushed up to me in an unending single file and then they filed silently away again. They dwindled rapidly back into obscurity. It was all happening and at the same time it wasn’t happening at all. It was happening very slowly. Nothing was happening. I was just standing there in the tunnel in a frozen moment of time. I was trapped in an endless smeared-out moment. Like a puddle spreading out in all directions around me. I was trapped in the moment, it occurred to me. Smeared out in a dirty great puddle of stagnant nothingness. Like in Jean Paul Sartre’s Nausea.  Oozing out forever, but at the same time going nowhere.


“Breathe,” I told myself. Take a breath. Relax. Walk on. Engage in something. Do something normal. Light up a cigarette. I wasn’t in a hell-realm at all, I was in Gillingham.


Icy fingers of dread played around with my insides. Infiltrating my large intestine – turning my innards into soup. A slow paralysis overtook me. An unbearably intense feeling of déjà vu came up on me then – stronger than anything I had ever known. As if all other feelings of deja vu had just been a dress rehearsal for this. I realized that my whole life had been leading up to this point. I realized that everything had been leading to this. I realized that I had always been here, experiencing this moment of dread. There was no other place for me to be…


Then I came back to my senses. I pulled myself out of it, finding it unbelievable how easily I had fallen into this paralysing trance of dread. “For God’s sake,” I told myself irritably. “Get a bloody grip will you… It’s only Gillingham…”





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