MDCCCLXIV – Jasper Bothwell.
Unable to move and I cannot see, it is so dark. My nose touches a solid surface, I feel my breath bounce back towards me, moistening my cheeks. Pitch black and confined.
All limbs are stretched, and I encounter hard surfaces. My breath quickens, and I feel my heart racing to panic.
I try to make noise I bang and rap on what seems like timber. Fingers and nails scratch and I feel blood droplets on my face as I frantically rake the rough surface of the upper panel.
I feel heaviness against my knocks and have the heaviness of the world on me.
I call out, but no sounds are emitted. Help me, I scream in my silence, as I whack some more. No help comes. I breathe shallower and my pulse quickens as it sprints into a panic. What to do? I am trapped, where am I? It appears as if I am entombed.
I cease all sounds and gestures as they are futile, why bother? No one knows I am here. I conserve what little oxygen and energy I have left. I close my eyes and join in the darkness. My ears are deafened. I can smell and almost taste, the musty wet earth, I am underground. I can taste my death.
Take me now, let me leave, for it must be my time. I am sure everything was done that could be done before they buried me. I cannot recall anything of how I came to be here.
I feel my consciousness clouding as I know I am consuming the remaining life-giving air contained in my constricted space. There is no more, and no way out. This is my goodbye.
MDCCCLXXXIV – Jack McKellar.
I feel the beginning of my end. I have been out here for so long now, with no sign of life except one lost and lonely seabird who took a short respite on my boat during migration. I have no idea how long ago that was, I know day and night have come and gone many times since I last saw him, or the crew.
This vessel is small and holds little except for me and my meagre possessions. I took a portion of the rations and have eaten it slowly. Not knowing how far away from the wreck of the ship and having no way of getting back to land. I have no sail, or paddle, the ocean is flat, and the air is still.
On this day as the sun retreats, I have three lumps of stale, hard bread, a few meagre shrivelled apples, and oranges. My water can is half gone.
Tonight will be cold and chilly once again, rattled to the bone and shivering to stay warm. I have on my shipman’s clothes and my large coat to keep me snug. On the open water, the night temperature drops to single figures, sometimes with a minus. The sun is on the horizon and the glowing pinkish moon is on the rise.
Taking another sip of the precious water, carefully trying not to spill a drop, I break a small piece of bread and savour the taste as if it were a treat. It is indeed as there is no more once it is gone.
My body has stopped asking for food, but I know I must feed it anyway. I sweat so much and lose fluid that way in the blazing mornings, as they have been so boiling and cooking me on the open ocean. The overcoat protects me from skin burns but is not the most ideal and adding to the warmth.
I would cool myself with a dip overboard, but I would be too weak to climb back. I fall to sleep, despite the heat and cold diversity.
The next morning, I am floating, flying, hovering above the briny surface. I look down and see the boat. I see my emaciated, dry, lifeless body adrift in the small wooden vessel, on the emerald surface.
MCMIV – Marion Spencer-Jones.
A day at the beach, I have not been here for many years, maybe since my teens. I am now in my fifth decade. I have never lived near the coast; I am a rural dweller by choice. A long line of farming stock preceded me.
Having never been a strong swimmer and I avoid the ocean as it is not my favourite thing to do. I have a fear of the unknown, the depth. Today is Ladies Swimming Morning, and I am dressed accordingly neck-to-knee is my woollen swimwear. Tempting myself to venture further, as the cold water laps around my unshod feet and ankles. A cooling, relaxing sensation for me, I have missed this, when was my last seaside vacation? It would have to be at least twenty-odd years.
I gingerly move through the eddying waves and before I realise it, I am immersed to my navel. The freshness has enveloped me, and I no longer feel frozen, both literally out here, and figuratively with my emotions.
I jump as if by memory over each wave that greets me, my fondness returning, and I smile with glee. I am not alone as the other ladies are also enjoying the same sensations as I. They too are in their own world and don’t notice me as I spring and sway as my feet lose touch with the sand below. Next, I am under the frothy liquid, flattened by the unexpected, its strength deposits me to the seabed, the weight above holds me submerged. My limbs attempt to flail.
I held in my last breath I took in an automatic response, but I fear it may not be sufficient to expand my lungs for the time I am powerless. Somehow, I don’t panic but I cannot move under the strength and volume restraining me.
I attempt to regain my footings, but I am pinned. As I feel the pressure suddenly lift, I float and raised to the surface once more. I blink rapidly clearing the sea salt and sand and splutter the briny fluid from both my mouth and nose, as I cough. I awkwardly stagger to my feet.
Looking about I see all the same faces, laughing and giggling as before. Waving to these strangers as to join their thronging glee, and to let them know I had survived the ordeal.
It is not so long after, that I realise I did not.
MCMXXVII – Joseph Sinclair.
People were accompanying me, but I am alone now. I hoped they would all return soon; I look in all directions as I watch them arrive. Wanting to talk but unable, I try to get their attention but if they can see me, it appears they don’t acknowledge my gestures. They are going about their business as if I didn't even matter to them.
I move in close to their small groups engaged in conversation, they bade farewell to each other, turn, and walk in opposite directions. I tried to follow them, but they rush off.
Others I know enter and I wave as they look my way. They don't signal back, and I repeat. Again, I am ignored. I call their names, to deaf ears it seems, as they are so engrossed, and the music and background noise drowns out my words. But I am more than just words, aren’t I?
My failed attempts are all in vain. As I move deeper into this familiar building, I see the gathered throngs, all of whom are all well known to me. Why are they so absorbed to notice me? All ignoring me.
As I reach the far end of the building down the narrowing walkway I see why. Gathered around sobbing and full of animated emotions, beyond them, seeing ever so clearly now.
I see the coffin emblazoned with a name in elaborate font, with a photograph of a distinguished gent.
'You are now with the Heavenly Father, Rest in Peace, Fr Joseph Sinclair'. The plaque bears my name and portrait.
MCMXLI – Leroy Washington.
Make it look like an accident, then the police will never know. I have been thinking of this day for ages but only now do I have the courage. It must go ahead, all those needing to know have been informed.
Sitting behind the wheel, keys in the ignition, engine not turned over yet. The radio bleeps out a country ballad helping distract my thoughts but it does not. It is only an irritation to my thoughts; this must go to plan or there will be consequences.
No one is around and that is part of the plan, solitude, and darkness, the two key factors.
A photograph on the dash stares at me, it has become one of familiarity, I ignore its glare. Therefore it must be done, with great reluctance and dread the key turns and the engine jumps to a start.
Hearing the thunderous waves crashing through the night sky from the beach the car on the clifftop, I am fumbling with the gears and then accelerate, I hesitate in thought.
Foot to gas and straight ahead, planning complete, 'job' underway.
Without care or another desperate whim, I loosen the grip, letting the wheel free. Raising my feet to my chest, curling to the foetal position, the car glides over the precipice, airborne with thoughts and memories racing and entwined, of what has been and what never will be.
Breaking the surface, crashing into the sea, the saltiness vacuums into the chassis through the opened windows.
Taking my last breath, job complete
MCMLXXIX – Laura Charlton.
All eyes would be on me today, the centre of attention something I am uncomfortable with at the best of times, but especially today. My clothes, jewellery, hairstyle, and make-up was chosen for this day.
This day had come upon me and my family, I was not prepared, but whoever is, and here it was happening. All the best-made plans as they say. Well in this case I just had to be ready.
I imagine the assembled inside, and unprepared as I, but needing everything to be right today. I see my family and friends and scurrying, but I can do nothing to help. The church would be busy today, as I know I am loved. This day is for me after all.
The car pulls up outside of the church and the next thing I know I am gliding down the aisle. My attendants ensuring there is nothing out of place. To me, this time becomes a blur.
I catch sight of my fiancée ahead of me, in front of the pulpit. He looks so handsome, he always does. As I reach his side, a tear drops from his eye, he gazes my way.
My attendants gracefully in formation, gently lower my casket onto the readied plinth.
MCMXCIII – Fiona Benson.
I dialled the emergency number, the pill bottle was open and upturned, contents gone. The chemist label stated it had been dispensed this morning, all fifty pills gone.
The dispatch service asked which emergency, too shocked to speak. The sight of the empty medicine bottle numbed me into silence.
‘Which emergency please?’
‘Ambulance, come quickly please, the pills are all gone’. I finally managed with a muted, stuttering voice.
‘The state of the patient? sending an ambulance, Stay on the line please’.
I couldn’t move at all, looking around the room, the vision of the empty medication container sent my thoughts racing. Was this to be my end? Is it too late? What should I do now? Too many questions, and no answers.
The front door had been left unlocked but closed just as I left it when I had entered, an hour ago. Was this to make it easier for them to help me? Unsure of what was to happen, an escape plan? The room was neat, but untidy at the same time. Takeaway containers from meals gone by, pizza, Chinese, hamburgers and more. There were empty bottles, many of them empty of alcohol.
My hungry and worried cat, Sheba, was trying to get some nourishment from the remains of a Chinese meal. She scurried away to a favourite hidey-hole, timid as a mouse, who would care for her now?
I lay motionless whilst waiting for the ambulance, nothing to be done. Stay on the line they had repeated. Many questions were asked but I could give little information in response, I am stunned by the scene playing out before me.
It was horrific, not knowing what to do, except wait. Hearing a siren in the distance or my imagination too.
Trying to listen more intently through a dazed, semi-conscious state, thinking the blaring help was getting louder and clearer. The state of the patient, just words in my head, stay on the line, repeated over and over. Yes, they were coming. Thank you, I managed to whisper to everyone, but to no one in particular.
Then the siren screeches stopped at a screeching crescendo. With my eyes closed the next was the door bursting open and two paramedics entering.
Sheba meowed nervously and shot off into another room, the paramedics cleared the way, moving refuse and furniture to make way for their lifesaving equipment.
Not knowing what to do I just remained motionless and let them do their thing. The burly gentle giant of a fellow, came closer to the bed and said, ‘What have we here? Let’s see if we can get you some help and feel much better’.
They went about their business, tubes and stuff went into veins, down the nose and prodded and probed every which way. The pill bottle was collected and examined. I could do nothing, no movement, no sounds, or words. I could see them actively trying to get me well and safe.
The cat made her entrance to see what all the fuss was about. All too much she scuttled away once more.
The second paramedic, a slight female of mid-twenties age, passed equipment upon request and took note of what was going on. Time passed quickly, so much had happened since the siren ceased to wail. Fluids entered veins, IV and pumping of my stomach contents.
The first responders looked at each other, sweat on their brows. Any response was good. I am oblivious the last fifteen minutes was a blur.
Then the next words said it all. ‘I am calling it, time of death, 1536 hours.
MMXX1 – Lucas Flintoff.
These lives come to me in dreams and visions. Their histories merge and have become one, trapped together asking for help to move on. Catching my ability and requesting assistance from me to accept what was and to gracefully journey to the next plane. I cannot deny their requests.
They have become one force, and become real, and I am all of them.