He passes the bakery quickly and, from the corner of his eyes, can just about make out that the lights inside are being turned on. The radiating orange warmth seeking its way through the thick glass panels, the invisible, muffled voices hardly make an impression on him – he is still consumed by the ugly, dead twilight air of a dawning Thursday.
Whoom. The man gasps – he is sure, completely positive, that he can physically feel his tired heart convulsing one last time underneath his sweaty skin, pumping, pumping, pumping a wave of precious, sticky blood through his veins. It tingles through his trembling fingers, he can taste it in his dry mouth. Hears it ringing and screaming in his ears. And how absurd it sounds – he thinks -, his heartbeat: Desperate. Substance-less. Lying.
Whoom. Another wave comes over him, but this time no life-giving red fluid flows through his body. Instead, his torso is filling up with hundreds of tiny, black insects, multiplying into the thousands and millions. An army of ants, hell-bent on death and destruction. They make their way upwards, into his throat, onto his tight tongue, until his whole head is filled with an intense, crawling darkness, drowning the air around him, drowning his mind, drowning his sense of self. Polka dots fill his eyes as he stands there, right next to the orange-glowing bakery, paralyzed, shaking.
“Relax”, they say. “It’s just a panic attack”, they say. “Just go outside and take a walk, should it happen again. It’s all in your head, you know? That’s all.”
“That’s all. That’s all. That’s all.” he keeps repeating in his mind for what seems to him like hours – mainly to fight the overwhelming black emptiness within. He is sure, completely positive, that, this time, he is going to die. His ears still ringing, polka dots dancing, ants itching on his tongue, he is holding on for his next heartbeat – somehow wishing, it would never arrive at all.