Sequel to The Devil's Trill Sonata
Although their relationship has been repaired since the disaster that was Cambridge, Darren has not. His depression has worsened over the years until it is no longer an option to watch the illness play out its patterns. Treatment is a must.
Treatment is also a difficult disaster. When the second attempt at medication goes as badly wrong as the first, and Darren is forced through a rapid deterioration of mood swings, insomnia, nausea and increasingly dangerous thought patterns, his partner Jayden begins to fear that the only end to this disease will also be the end of Darren himself.
Apart from a single glimmer of hope: when Darren's best friend asks Darren to play at his wedding, Darren begins to slowly return to the half-forgotten piano. As he slowly sinks back into the music that he deserted seven years earlier, the shadows -- finally -- begin to fade.
It was like suffocation.
It was like ... like Darren was fifteen again, and drugged up to the eyeballs in a hospital bed after being stabbed, with the world drunkenly drifting without him and even the slightest movement resulting in a dizzying whirl around his eyes. Like his brain had been scooped out of his head, wrapped in cotton wool, and put back in to ensure that nothing -- nothing -- would get through. An insulating layer, to keep him in and the universe out.
It was far worse than any of his bad days had ever been, because not only was nothing getting through, Darren felt though he were actively sliding away. He slept purely to avoid the feeling of slipping, the feeling that when he lay in bed, his consciousness was slowly working its way loose of his body. A balloon on a fraying tether. What happened when it freed itself?
He was paralysed with the fear of that coming loose effect, the terror drowning the rational part of him that said there was no such thing as a soul and no way that he could actually float out of his own skin. Rationality had no place at the table. He was afraid, afraid of the numbness and the distance and the deadening of every sense he had, and he was furious with himself for being afraid at all.
At least, he was in the academic sense. In the pure, raw, emotional sense ... he wasn't even irritated. He was nothing at all. The cotton wool -- the fluoxetine -- crowded out even feeling, until there was nothing but a void in his head. Darren would have hated it if he'd been capable of dredging up the feeling at all. Perhaps that was the trick of it. How were you meant to feel sad, if you couldn't feel at all?
But that, to Darren, was even worse. This was an episode, but at an extreme, like he'd succeeded and was an inch from death and simply waiting now, and he was terrified. Trapped in himself, he was absolutely terrified. This was unabating, with no come-and-go like the usual shadows. This was a blacked-out room, with no doors and windows and no way of creating light.
And he was trapped here too. Between Jayden and the doctor, he couldn't stop taking the pills, couldn't shake off the cloying decay, couldn't punch through it, physically or otherwise. He was too exhausted to box, and when he tried, nothing happened. He was being smothered in clingfilm, and there was nothing that could be done to break through it, no way out. There were nights he lay awake just trying to breathe, just trying to feel the way his lungs expanded and collapsed, and had to assume he breathed because he hadn't died. Nights he wanted to scream just to get some of the air in his lungs out, to get sound out, to get out.
This was worse. This was so much worse than the bad days, and he wanted to lash out, to break through it, to something, to ... to die, even, if that would let him out. To die, if it would break the film that had settled over him.
When the saucer smashed on the kitchen floor, Darren snapped.