5

Land.
cough cough cough cough
gasp
breath
cough
cough
gasp
cough
gasp
drown
Tiberinus Silvius in the River Tiber.
Hippasus of Metapontum following the discovery of irrational numbers.
Percy Shelley. Virginia Woolf. Natalie Wood.
down down
Down down down down down
Down down down down down down down down down
Water is part of a closed system; it is moves continuously from ocean to atmosphere to earth and back to ocean in an endless cyclical loop. Water moves under the effect of gravity. Water always takes the easiest route, and covers most of the earth's surface. A 71% chance of hitting water may be deduced when travelling a straight line for one mile in any given direction.
Water, he thinks. Water.

4

He tears at his clothes, attacking himself like a man possessed. He is upright. He is wild. He is feral. He must get away from himself. Giving no thought to direction or place, he runs. He runs fast. He runs hard. He runs blindly.
His left hand awakens. It scratches his cheek while his right moves across to his side. From his cheek to his neck. From his side to his stomach. From stomach to back. From neck to arm. His hands will not stop. They can not stop. His body writhes. He rolls back and forth, rubbing against the green ground to get at each unreachable part. His skin reddens. Purple streaked lines raise and spread in every direction. Blisters form. He can not stop. His eyes swell shut. He is crazed and convulsive.
Everything hurts. Lumpen, his hand lays motionless by his thigh. In response to something - a trigger, an itch - one finger moves ever so slightly. Within seconds, the others joined in.
Pain and itch evoke very different responses. Pain invites withdrawl, leading the body to retract and protect any endangered part of itself. Itch stimulates the need to scratch, a reflex that draws all focus to the affected skin site. Controlled by the part of the brain largely responsible for reward and decision making, scratching brings with it the promise for relief. This promise is not always fulfilled. If the source of an itch is not physically removed - ie. an insect removed from the skin - scratching can actually increase irritation, leading to an uncontrollable, relentless, hedonic need to scratch.
Collapsing in the tall grass, every muscle lets go.
Emerald. Jade. Olives. Lime.
Spring. Youth. Money. Hope.
Sickness. Mold. Misfortune. Envy.
He sees green, and heads straight for it.
He pulls himself onward. He moves face down, parallel to the ground, drawing his hind forward before advancing his upper body. He moves slowly. Over a period of time, maybe an hour maybe a day, he clears the splintered pile of hardwood, ivory and string and continues to inch along the pavement.
He pauses. Everything hurts. Birds circle round his throbbing head.
Time passes. Silence returns. Painfully, he begins to crawl from beneath the wreckage.

3

And he is flattened by a deafening, cacophonous, seismic plane of sound.
It fills his head. He prises open an eye.
For a moment it is hardly there. It is clean and sibilant; constant and growing. It comes from above. The sound is familiar and strange – it is not of nature. It grows louder. And closer.
There is a stillness. There is a silence. There is a whistling sound.
Pressing a key on a piano’s keyboard causes a felt-covered hammer to strike a steel string. The hammer rebounds, allowing the string to continue vibrating at its resonant frequency. This vibration is transmitted through a bridge to a sounding board that couples the acoustic energy of air. The greater the velocity with which a key is pressed, the greater the force of the hammer hitting the sting, and the louder the note produced. Similarly, a blow to the head causes movement of the skull. When the skull moves, the brain moves; when the skull moves suddenly and with force, the brain is forced up against the skull and compresses. The result of such incident is concussion. Concussion can result in heightened sensitivity to sound, and is often associated with the sound of circling, chirping birds. It is perhaps not surprising that a large object, for example a piano, falling from a height also produces its own sound, through the displacement of air. This sound is oddly reminiscent of the sound of a flute, or more precisely, a piccolo.

2

A sudden thud, and his descent comes to a halt.
His chin catches the third step from the bottom, snapping his head back forcefully.
Two things about falling: it can not not go on forever; and it rarely ends well.
He continues to strike flat surfaces and sharp corners. There is nothing he can do to stop himself. Nothing will break his fall. His arms and legs instinctively tuck in tight for protection. He tumbles downward and forward. He picks up speed. His hands go in the direction of his head. He begins to take the shape of the ball.
Hip. Back. Hand.
His feet nearly touch down.
Thigh.
Others are too short to register.
Elbow. Foot.
The intervals between each strike are inconsistent. Some last as long as seconds.
Hand. Forehead.
Then his head. A rib. His first hip again.
His knee strikes an edge.
He lands first with his hip. Then his opposite shoulder.
He hits the top stair.

1

Then, he falls.
His field of vision fills with sky. Coffee splashes. Papers fly. His body takes formation midair in the shape of a jagged-V, and a small, birdlike sound comes from his throat. For the briefest of moments he is motionless. A tug from below, and his path changes.
His left heel touches down directly upon it. Rather than flattening into position, his foot slides forward, carried by the slip of the peel. It moves quickly and smoothly and efficiently. His centre of gravity fails to shift, holding still in the pelvic area. His right foot continues its transfer from heel rise to toe off, heading toward swing. His weight stays back. His right arm shoots up. His left arm reaches out. His left leg straightens, his foot lifts off and out, and he jackknifes at the waist. All the muscles in his body stiffen at once. With his left leg parallel to the ground and at right angle to the rest of him, his upper body torques, his shoulders tighten and his neck jerks hard to the side. His right foot toes off. He is airborne.
It probably had been there a few days. It may have been tossed from a car window, the remains of a quick snack enjoyed in transit. Or from the hand of a careless child. Perhaps it fell out of a bag. But there it lay rotting, the humble peel of a old banana, brown and black and flecked with yellow.
Only arthropods and vertebrates have the means of rapid surface locomotion. In both groups, the body is moved forward by means of the legs. Because legs provide support as well as propulsion, the sequence of movements must be adjusted to maintain the body’s centre of gravity within a zone of support; if that centre of gravity falls outside this zone, the body loses its balance and falls. It is the necessity to maintain stability that determines the functional sequence of limb movements. During propulsion – which begins with footfall and ends with liftoff – the foot and leg remain stationary as the body pivots forward over the leg. During recovery – which begins with liftoff and ends with footfall – the body remains stationary as the leg moves forward. The advance of one leg is a step; a stride is composed of as many steps as there are legs. To ensure a cycle of continuous movement, friction-reducing properties of a stable surface (ie. the ground) are needed to enable the appropriate and continuous transfer of weight from heel to toe.