At some point, I heard that if I was to place myself in mortal peril, I would experience a near-death experience. I had thought that many of my previous experiences to this point were dangerous, perhaps death dangerous. I was told at this juncture that I was wrong. I was wrong, my source told me, because if I was in mortal peril, my life would flash before my eyes. I don’t remember who my source was; someone I knew, or some popular culture movie masquerading as art. I was, however, convinced that the source, whatever, or whoever they were, was wrong. If dangling on a manky strand of rope behind a killer Cadillac wasn’t near death, I wasn’t sure what was.
And during that moment – and many others, I had seen nothing. With this a priori logic in my belt, I was smugly satisfied of my righteousness. As far as I was concerned, the void was all that waited in that moment, a quick flip of a switch, just like turning off a household light. There would be no personal highlight reel; no top ten moments; there would be nothing. It was cold; but that was life without the metaphysics.
Then I learned that I was wrong. To say that I was wrong would be to grossly understate the gravity of my error. I was incorrect; I was off base; I was so lost and foolish that looking back on my previous statements of ignorance made me cringe with revulsion. I learned that a near-death experience was a hard and simple thing to describe; words could approach the moment, outline the seconds, and yet obscure the moment like a shadow.
It began simply. My eyes blinked at the tableaux of strange people in front of me, including my antagonist. They opened, and I watched the sheen of the world disappear from my vision, stripped away in a torrent of memories and images. I could taste an old-fashioned donut from a summer holiday eight years ago. I could hear my first words jumbled up with a dozen other odd phrases. I could smell a flower from my old house’s summer garden. I felt everything; every minute emotion that I had ever possessed rushed across my bones and up my spine. Overlaid across the present, the cacophony of my visual life rushed nonstop.
All of it overwhelmed my senses as the point of the thirsty knife skittered and sliced across my ribs smoothly. It had all began four hours earlier. I had been at home on Saturday night pondering my extensive options. The sad truth was that I had none. Then the phone rang. It was Mysterious. The dialogue was quick. He had heard of a big party. He had heard of it because he had been invited to it. He wanted me to come along with him because his other friends were otherwise occupied. I didn’t feel slighted that I was his backup. After all, he and I did go to different schools. To be further fair, I hadn’t really spoken to him, nor had we seen each other more than a handful of times in the two years since the Dead Souls had broken up.