The men in black uniforms pay no attention to the short bald man, they just continue their job in robotic fashion. The door to the little room lies on the floor, broken off its hinges by heavy boots moments earlier. Outside the wind is frigid yet there is no moisture in the air, no chance for rain or snow, just an ashy dust floating down from the white sky.
I slice my hands through the water, gliding my surfboard towards the breaking waves. The sun is high and there’s not a cloud in the sky or another soul in the sea. In the distance, gradually getting bigger, waves gain speed and turn over in perfect clear barrels, stretching off for miles. I push my arms harder and faster. All I want, all that consumes my thoughts, is to reach the break, turn, and ride the perfect wave for as long as my legs will carry me. Here I am happy. I don’t want to leave.
In the room, a dozen men and women lie on mattresses under mountains of blankets. Individual wires run out from a central machine that dominates the gloom. Each wire in turn is plugged into the head of a resting body. Peaceful faces stare up from where they lie despite the terror that now rocks the air.
“Please, please just let me disconnect them safely at least,” the bald man screeches. In response a gloved hand clamps around his mouth and drags him backwards into the street as if he is made of straw.
My vision crackles and pops like an old television losing its signal. It can’t be over yet, I cannot go back, not there, not now. I shake my head and my long hair sends a thin mist of water through the air. I look up and the breaking waves seem to have retreated away from me but they are still rolling and crashing; just as magnificent and strong as before. With relief I put my head down and swim as hard as I can. I feel I can do anything.
More men pour in; dust and ash rising from the wooden floorboards. Gloved hands grab at wires and rip from skulls, once peaceful bodies begin to shake and twist into horrifically impossible positions. One by one they are dragged out into the half-light.
I look up and the surf is closer but it has gained in size and intensity, the barrelling waves are no longer clear but ragged and white and full of anger. I have to make a wave. I need to soar along the water just once. I can’t go back but I can feel it falling away from me.
Among the tangle of bodies and wires, a young man lies, his long hair rests about his face. Softly smiling, his mouth twitches and his head wobbles from side to side as boots thunder around him.
My vision cracks again, like I’ve hit my head very hard on something sharp and metallic. The waves soar into the sky as the curve of the sea rushes towards me. My heart falls from my body and I embrace my destruction. I can’t fight it.
I feel a tug at my hair and then nothing.