When he looked at his alarm it was 2:55. AM. He had told himself to wait until at least three o’clock. He would still be early then. He decided to spend a few more moments completely conscious of these old and all too familiar surroundings. He stretched his legs, his hip cracked; he alternately flexed his left and right leg, and then pulled his knees towards him, closed his arms around his legs. He stayed in that position for a few moments with his eyes closed. A ball. A human ball. A round and circular thing, no beginning, no end, head on foot, foot on head. He could feel his heart beat on his thigh. Baboom. Baboom. Baboom. Regular. Maybe a little faster than usual, but regular. As if it was a normal day. As if nothing was going to change. He had stopped believing that body and mind were in any way connected. They both seemed to be leading a life of their own. One could be healthy whilst the other was in agony; one could be tired while the other could not come to rest; one could be exhilarated while the other was ready to shut down. His body did not seem to understand what his mind had long ago comprehended; his body was unaware of what his mind had long a go agreed to. And this was probably a good thing too. He was relieved his physical instincts did not decide to battle a decision his mind had made. Instincts. He was convinced that the human race had been deprived of instincts a long time ago. Every step we take is a decision that is consciously made. Or a decision that is made for us. Or an impulse we follow. But impulse and instinct is not the same thing. Animals are lucky. They follow their instincts which are poled in a way to protect them from harm. Impulses, on the other hand, often lead us towards the opposite end of the spectrum. The chances they lead to a negative outcome are around 50/50. Would you want to trust somebody or something with your life knowing the chances of survival are but mere luck, unpredictable?
He noticed his thoughts were digressing again. He breathed. Slowly. Inhaled. Exhaled. Inhaled. He. Had. Thought. This. Through. He did not want to feel the need to justify himself anymore. He stretched again, rolled over onto his stomach, spread arms and legs, and buried his face in a pillow. He felt his warm breath against his cheeks. The darkness surrounding him was complete. The warmth was soothing. He waited another twenty seconds, listened to the clock’s regular tick, tock, tick, tock, and then unhurriedly sat up, his feet flat on the floor, his back straight, his arms left and right resting on the soft fabric of the duvet. He wondered why his hands were still able to feel such tenderness. A soft touch comforting his battered palms. He thought he would have forfeited the right to kindness, thought he had lost the ability to experience sensitivity. He almost wished he had, but maybe this was the final test, the ultimate torture he had to endure.
He stood up, stretched his arms above his head. Feel, feel, feel, everything and as much there is. He switched the light on in the bathroom. It was bright, almost blindingly, and hurt his eyes. He slowly stepped into the shower. The water changed from freezing cold to boiling hot back to freezing cold for the first few minutes. He endured. He had been oscillating between the extremes his entire life, so why try to avoid it in the shower? Why wait for the moderate middle? Moderation. Everything in moderation. Food, drink, sleep, fun, sex, work. Moderation is the key to happiness, isn’t it? Don’t get too excited, you might get disappointed; don’t get too sad, you might not be able to get out of it; don’t eat too much, you might feel sick after; don’t drink too much, you might make a fool of yourself; don’t spend too much money, it’s wasteful. You have to do it just right, moderately, have it under control. Fiery passion will burn you, warm affection will keep you comfortable. No, you have to do it just right. Remain calm, remain quiet, remain moderate. Don’t be too adamant, compromise. Don’t be too assertive, be considerate. Don’t be too ambitious, be motivated. Don’t be too excited, be enthusiastic. Just right. Just moderate. Be moderately moderate. Love thy neighbour. Honour thy father and mother. Do not steal. Do not envy. Do not sleep around. And most of all: do not fucking kill.
He slipped into the freshly ironed shirt and trousers he had laid out the evening before, put on his shoes and picked up his bag. It was 3:30. It would only be a short walk to the agreed meeting point where someone would be waiting to collect him. He did not know the address, for obvious reasons. He looked around his apartment. It was quiet, calm even. He closed the door behind him, but did not lock.
The air outside was damp. His breath left little patterns as he hasted along the abandoned streets. Baboom, baboom, said his heart. Tick tock, tick tock, agreed the clock. Clink clonk, clink clonk, replied the soles of his shoes. A taxi driving past him complemented the constant rhythm, breaking the regular pattern of this composition. He increased his pace. He had left his phone behind – again, for obvious reasons. The location was to remain secret. Instead of being alarmed, this assured him of the professionalism of the people he was dealing with. He had never talked to the person in charge. He did not know the name. He did not know the age. He did not know the methods. But once you have gone down that dark road, you will suddenly find yourself surrounded by people who can point you towards even darker paths that lead towards yet even darker alleys. Someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. You need to trust. But it’s easy to trust if you have nothing to lose.
Under the dim light of a lantern he saw a small woman leaning against a car. He walked towards her. She looked up.
“Are you here for the will?”
“Yes.” He noticed his mouth was dry.
“Please, get in the car.” She opened the door for him. She walked around to the other side and sat behind the wheel.
“This might seem a bit unsettling, but I have to ask you to cover your eyes.” She handed him a blindfold.
“Oh. Yes. Yes, absolutely, no of course. That’s no problem at all.” He took the fold from her, wrapped it around his head and knotted it in the back. It was a soft silk. It felt nice. The darkness was complete, it was comforting.
“It will be a 45 minutes drive, approximately. There is nothing to be concerned about. If you experience nausea, this is quite normal.” She handed him a plastic bag. “Please do not be concerned. If you need me to stop the car and get out, please let me know. I will make sure to pull over as soon as the circumstances allow me to. But please, Sir, do not remove the blindfold.”
“Are we ready?”
“Ok, let’s go then.”
She started the engine and made what felt like a u-turn. After a few minutes he stopped trying to sense which direction they were going.