Just a tiny taste of Side Effects. Enjoy!
I should have been accustomed to the feeling, but the stark room made the loneliness more acute.
To make matters worse, a low throbbing filled my ears–like a bass drum muffled by dozens of pillows. I had no idea where the sound was coming from. Blinding white walls and a tidy wooden floor were all I could see.
The throbbing persisted.
The steady beat grew louder and louder, as if pillows were falling away one by one. I clutched at my heart as unexplained panic filled my chest, and when I pulled my hands away they were covered with blood. It had to be my own; there was nothing else in the room. Not a chair, or a bed, and especially not another person. White—only white. And the crimson that flowed steadily from the gaping hole in my chest.
Dazed, I started toward the door, only to watch it slide across the wall to the opposite side of the room. Help might have been through that door, but when I changed course, the door only returned to its original position. If I wanted out of the room, I would need to find another way. The persistent thuds filled my senses until the entire room seemed to shake with the percussion; walls trembled and the floor beneath me shuddered. And the pain in my chest intensified with every beat of the drum.
Streaks of red smeared across the white surface in front of me as I searched for a crack that would lead to salvation. There were swirls of fingerprint patterns in the blood, and I studied them with mounting horror as the room continued to shake apart around me.
And still the drum pounded.
With a jolt, I realized that the perpetual thump was coming from the heart that should have filled the gaping hole in my chest. Terror gripped me as the agony grew. Rather than escape, my mission was to find it and make myself whole again.
There was a slim chance that my salvation really was through the door that eluded me, but mind told me that I would find the answers inside the room. With a howl of frustration, I punched the wall as hard as I could, feeling the vibrations from the impact all the way to the tips of my hair. In answer, the cadence increased in tempo and volume. It was unbearable, filling my whole soul with pulsing fear.
Again and again I struck the wall, praying for a crack—a tiny fissure that would reveal the source of my pain. Again and again I was met with a solid barrier marked only with my blood. My fingers were raw and shredded, but I couldn’t stop. When the wall didn’t give way, I moved to the floor, plucking at the floorboards uselessly. I knew it was in there somewhere—the root of life, the infernal never-ending surging, swelling, maddening—