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The flat, purple and orange checker board extends in all directions into total darkness. There is no feeling of self, merely of loss and aching. A tiny, jet black sphere floats above the diminishing squares, casting little shadow, capturing all that's precious. A wave of despair sweeps its way in from the infinite edge of darkness, rolling the squares as it powers toward the ball. I give every ounce of effort to lift the ball, to keep it out of reach of the terrible grip of fear. The pain builds as the wave approaches, my head fills with a nawing buzz, the ball slips closer to the surface. I struggle against the unstoppable force with every last bit of determination and then I feel my body again.

My fingers clasp around smooth leather chair arms. My spine presses against a hard wooden back and my toes curl inside my shoes. As the wave reaches the ball it pushes it up into the dark and my eyelid fights to open. Voices mutter around me and I hear a hiss from beside my face. Consciousness loses the battle and my eyes squeeze shut. A second wave begins its journey towards me. I have to protect the shining black sphere. My hyper tense fingers dig into the leather. The wave sweeps in faster than before. The buzzing noise grows louder and I feel a tugging at my jaw. With all my energy I lift the ball high out of the reach of danger and my eyes finally open.

Long dead vines lie upon damp slate tiles. Behind them a grim, grey sky, below them the eroded remains of black mortar clings to broken bricks. The voices become clearer, "He moved." and, "He can't have." My buttocks slip slightly on the highly polished seat and my fingers tighten their grip. I feel a punch of nausea and something seems to stab at the back of my eyes. The pull on my mouth suddenly ends with a jolt and I can taste blood. Something hisses once more and I drag my attention back through the flakey, white painted window frames. In unfathomable horror I recognise my surroundings. I start to drag myself into a sitting position when I hear the dentist's voice and the hiss returns.

The room swims away, the voices blur together and the checker board returns. There are no waves. There is no ball to protect. All is lost. The darkness creeps in from the edges of time and all perception fades away. There is only black.

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