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The light above my head was too bright, but I could neither open my eyes to see it nor close my eyelids tighter to escape it. A vague murmur found its way to my ears, that I identified as two voices whispering in an unknown language. I could not place those voices, they were too low for me to recognize them. I think someone touched my head or my neck, but I could not tell exactly, then put a cold, metallic object on my chest. One voice felt somewhat familiar and the other one was somehow a voice I had heard before. A pinch in my arm, the sensation of a cold fluid running in my vein, a little pain, then everything dissolved again. 

Trying to open my eyes later, as I felt I was awakening from a dreamless sleep, I found my eyelids to be heavier than lead. How long has it been since I got this strange injection in my arm? Lying flat on my back, I felt a slight stiffness in the lumbar region, so my brain commanded that I moved but to my great surprise I could not even lift my little finger. I vigorously protested my disappointment, only to understand that I could not speak. I thought I was shouting, but my lips remained sealed and my face, still as marble. In the silence surrounding me, walled up within my body, I felt cold and lonely, and scared. I noticed that the light was dim, and that it was soothing, in a way. I tried to evaluate if the temperature was warm or cool but it was impossible to determine that. 

I think I was covered with a blanket, because I did not feel any kind of slight breeze or draft. Yet the air seemed clean, but not too cleansed or saturated with antiseptic like in a hospital. Very muffled, and sporadically, a sound like a purr was noticeable when I listened attentively. Where was I then? Why was it impossible to move, even my eyelids, or the corners of my mouth? Why was I able to smell? I tried to swallow only to discover I could not. I could not even sense my tongue. And my mouth had no particular taste, not bitter like after too much alcohol, nor sweet like after a chocolate binge or after my morning honey tea. 

Nothing. 

So, two of my senses were impaired : touch and taste. 

As for my sight, I could not tell, because I could not open my eyes. But I could hear, or at least, last time I was awake, I could. But was it a dream or was I really awake? The light became brighter on the other side of my eyelids. So yes, I decided to list sight as not impaired. 

I heard again the voices and their strange language. I focused hard to analyze them : one had a calm, soothing, neutral tone ; the other was a little more feminine, perhaps? But definitely a voice commanding respect nonetheless. 

Objects clanged beside me, that I could not identify.

A metallic voice announced above my head over PA : “COB to crew : port remains on target. Prepare. COB to CPO of the watch. Assemble lookouts.”

Another metallic voice answered : “CPO of the watch to COB. Lookouts in the control room.”

The strange conversation continued, sounding like Chinese to me, which is not a language I am familiar with.

“COB. Lookouts to the bridge.” 

“Port clear.”

“Land, two-thuh-ee, ten thousands…”

Those words made no sense to me, I just had figured we would be entering a port soon, so we were at sea…

“Radar, make an automatic sweep on PPI. Use a five thousand yard scale.”

“Radar, two contacts…”

Icy fingers on my arm, smell of rubbing alcohol.

“Captain to Navigator, for communication with the base. Captain to IDC, get to the bridge…”  The rest faded away.

I felt the cold fluid under my skin again, invading my system, stripping me of my consciousness and drowning me into an artificial sleep. 

“You are being taken care of, you had an accident, fear not.” 

I recognized the language, this time. I had a brief sensation of fingertips slightly touching my arm, just where the needle had entered my flesh, a little pressure that may have lasted less than three seconds. 

Then the obscurity swallowed me just as I wondered, what accident were they talking about…?

(Deep Waters copyright Florence Vitel 2016-2020)