Snakes and Pills

108 - ear clean

The sun was warm, and the skies were blue. It was not quite summer yet, but with today's weather, it might as well have been. Martin decided to step off the boardwalk and stroll down the beach on the sand directly.

There were a few other people who were also taking advantage of the nice weather for a visit to the beach. Still, for the most part, the sands were not crowded, and today's crowds as they were would be of no match for the hustle and bustle that would be present in a month's time.

It was quite relaxing, Martin thought, as he listened to the waves gently crashing upon the shore. He ventured closer to the water's edge. His shoes were already getting a bit wet, so he slipped them and his socks off, and carried them in his hands.

The cool, wet sand, paired with the occasional splash of cold ocean water spread across his feet and between his toes. It felt very good, and Martin considered that, had he been more properly dressed, he might fancy going for a swim. Next time, perhaps, as for now he contented himself with wet feet as he kept walking along the water's edge.

Martin was not quite sure how long he had been walking, and his attention was focused mostly out at sea. He tried to find the odd rhythm of the rolling of the waves, and his eyes would follow along when the occasional seabird swooped on by.

Then, he heard their voices. He had heard a few other voices earlier, beachgoers enjoying their outing. The sounds had never been too emphatic or boisterous, though. Just idle chatter, not enough to distract Martin from his walk and thoughts. These new voices, though, were louder. More rambunctious. Joyful, too, Martin though, enough now to get his attention and cause him to avert his eyes away from the ocean and back to the beach, to see the source of the noise.

As his head began to turn, he instantly regretted doing so. He would have felt stupid for putting himself in such a situation where he could so easily trigger his phobia, but he didn't have any excess cognitive abilities to feel anything at the moment other than sheer terror.

Martin wanted to scream, but he couldn't. The object of his terror had been the source of the joyous noise, and it was only mere footsteps away from him. He felt dizzy, but he knew he had to get away.

He extended his legs, but they moved lazily and haphazardly. Apparently, he had forgotten how to run or even walk, or so it felt. As his feet dug into the wet sand, he was thrown even more off balance. Awkwardly, his body lurched forward, and Martin soon found himself with a faceful of water and sand.

There was no time now to worry about his wet clothes. Indeed, Martin also forgot about his socks and shoes in his hands, and let them start to drift away with the rolling tide. All he cared about was getting away now. Away from it.

His vision was tunneling, and all the world kept spinning. Martin could feel his heart about ready to rip out of his chest. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, a thought called out. A memory from his therapy, trying to remind him that this was all ridiculous, that there was nothing to be afraid of at all.

It was of no use. The thought got drowned out in an overwhelming undercurrent of fear. Finally, he began to wonder if this was how he would actually die after all.


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