No matter how tightly he curled in on himself on the freezer floor, Michael Martin could not stop his body from shivering. He was as if a man possessed. He imagined he could feel every skin cell, hair follicle, and nerve bundle shaking as his muscles performed their irresistible dance. His body was still pressed into the gap between the staging room and the refrigerated room that lay just beyond his reach. The force of his body’s shivering occasionally spiked, driving his back, his elbows, shoulders, and hips against the cold unyielding wall that propped him up. Michael knew he should stand, that he should keep moving, but his body refused to listen.
And then, all at once, the shivering stopped. It was as if his brain had flipped a switch that said, “That’s enough. We’ll take it from here.” He tried to sit up and found his movements weirdly slow and seemingly disconnected; it was like he was floating through a clear, dense fluid that resisted his every motion. Michael found himself struggling to connect his thoughts to the respective movements: He wanted to raise his right hand and clench it into a fist, but his left hand sort of wobbled unsteadily in the air and only managed a weak closure that even a newborn baby could best.
It didn’t make sense to him, this intimate betrayal by a body, his body. There was an explanation lurking somewhere in his memory banks, but he couldn’t retrieve it, maybe wouldn’t understand it, and it wouldn’t help him if he could.
The room became an unfamiliar setting. Where was he? How did he get here? Why was it so cold?
At least I stopped shivering, Michael thought to himself, unable to form the words with his numb lips. Little puffs of heat continued to escape him with each shallow breath. He stared again at his outstretched hand which had ceased to follow his orders and was acting of its own accord. He didn’t remember his hands ever being so pale, or that his fingertips had ever been such a lovely shade of blue. They were quite beautiful, really. He wasn’t sure why this fact didn’t bother him, despite the nagging suspicion that it should. He sent a powerful suggestion to his hand to make his fingers stretch and flex, but all that he could muster was a limp sort of curling, like a jellyfish’s tentacles in an undulating current.
That was okay. The blue color, deepening like twilight, was lovely to look upon.