My world was in total darkness, except for a warm light above me. I was a tiny atom, like a speck on the second hand of a gigantic vertical clock. The light above me was at twelve o’clock and as I circled beneath it, the light grew alternately warmer as I moved upwards towards it and cooler as I dropped away from it.
Gradually, I began to realise that I was in some kind of pain, but would have been unable to describe why, or even what kind of pain. It was the pure sensation of an indescribable and hitherto unknown throbbing agony. Round and round I circled, and as I reached the top of the clock-face, directly beneath the light, the agony would rise to a dreadful unbearable crescendo. I screamed out but no sound came. I tried to struggle but I seemed completely immobilised.
This must be a dream. A dreadful nightmare of the worst possible kind. Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for such an experience. Never had I dreamed of an unremitting agony like this, and yet still I could not have described what or from where the pain originated, only that it continued relentlessly. I tried to rouse myself out of the dream, as I had sometimes done in the past, but this time my efforts were in vain. This must, then, be reality but such a reality as I had never before in my life experienced or could have ever conceived of.
And when it seemed that the agony was as much as I could bear…. it got worse. Even in my dreamlike state my mind still reasoned and functioned perfectly. There was an overwhelming sense of betrayal, a sense that all my life I had been led to believe in the existence of a general fairness, a humanity, a mercy and that now, in the midst of all this torture I realised that I had been most dreadfully misled.
There was, my mind screamed out in dreadful realisation, no God after all!
And then gradually the darkness began to fade to grey, the light above me grew brighter and the agony began to fade to a dull reverberating ache. I began to make out shapes all around me, and eventually realised that there were faces above me, concerned and nervous faces.
People seemed to be holding me down but as I surfaced from the darkness, they tentatively released me and stood back, clearly shaken. The room seemed to be full of people I’d not seen before, and who’d not been there earlier. Where had they all come from?
The dental surgery was strewn with broken glass. Instruments were lying on the floor, a man in the corner was holding a pad to his bleeding nose, and the dentist’s glasses were cracked and askew on his pointed nose. The freckles on the nurse’s face stood out in bold relief against her ashen face, looking for all the world like a bad case of the measles. With a hand that shook, she passed me a glass of pink water and motioned to the sink beside my chair.
‘My God’ said the dentist, rubbing his face and examining the damage to his spectacles, ‘I’ve read somewhere that red-heads need more anaesthetic than others. That was a revelation.”
“It certainly was,” I mumbled, spitting blood into the bowl.
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