He stood ankle deep in the shallow liquid and could not see his feet. The liquid was a dark and lifeless grey, and the lake extended further than he could see.
He had counted a hundred thousand steps now. He could still see no shore and he could feel no wetness. As he raised each foot out of the liquid there were no droplets falling from his toes. Whether submerged or elevated, his feet seemed completely dry.
Where am I? he thought as a memory arose in the space of his mind. A memory of his mother telling him to be careful in the bath, because many children have drowned in only an inch of water.
But this is not water, mother. he replied in his mind. This is… something else. This is… Where am I?
He took more steps.
Grey was the liquid, but also grey was the sky. Yet, despite the perpetual greyness of it all, he could still tell what was sky and what was lake.
‘How long have I been here?’ He tried to speak out loud. But no sound came. He looked down at his hands for the first time since walking this lake and saw that his hands were also grey.
There must be light. he thought. Light can be the only thing that allows me to see the difference between my skin and my nails.
He looked up. Grey. He looked around. Grey. He looked down. Grey.
His movements were not sudden or frantic. They were steady, perfectly even. His head turned as fast as his body turned, and his feet moved at the same speed as he had raised his hand, no faster and no slower.
Nothing appears to have changed. He walked, and he looked. He counted, and he forgot to count. He raised his foot out of the liquid, and he placed it back into it. He briefly wondered how long he had been here, and then he forgot to wonder. Thoughts came and then they left. There was no holding onto the thought, the feeling, or the physical sensation.
He raised his foot out of the liquid again and this time he looked down. Empty space where a foot should be. He raised his other foot out of the liquid to be confronted with the same issue.
Each subsequent step into the ankle deep liquid was then followed by a subsequent empty space where there once was body.
Soon his legs were so short that he began to walk with his hands. And like his feet, he looked at where his hands once were, briefly, before continuing his pace.
I was a body. But now I am a head. he thought. I must be a head, because that is all I am. Or I must be inside my head, because my body is lost, yet here I am… if I am inside my head then… I must be wrong.
He looked down at the liquid, now only inches from his eyes. Does it get closer to me, or do I get closer to it? It has been endless, why now the change? he thought as he rolled forward, nose first, into the liquid.
Without a head, there is no memory.
Without a head, there is no pain.
Without a head, I am.