Cyclops, by Romeo Esparrago

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The Cyclops Syndrome
by Anthony R. Heffernana


On Christmas Day in 1998, at 4:45 PM, somewhere within the country of Indonesia, Sidney Jones died of a massive coronary. He had known of the facts of this reality since birth, and had lived his life with a purpose to avoid them.

At a certain age, all of mankind realises, through the handing down of such information, that some day we all will die. When, where, and how usually are mysteries for most, and something that keeps our reckless behaviour in check.

Sid had entered this world with vision in but one eye, the other suffering from a detached retina and inoperable. The strange trade-off, it seemed, had come in the form of having known some details of his demise. For some people, this might have been a lifelong hindrance, but for Sid, this conviction was embraced as providence. This foresight had caused him to live a life filled with high risk, without fear of falter. Women had swooned at his bravado, and some men revered him. Though to most, he was regarded as just plain lucky.

* * *

It was Christmas Day in the year 1998, a sunny day for Melbourne, Australia, and most were outdoors, enjoying barbeques, or doing a spot of last-minute present buying. Unlike most, though, which Sid had always been, he sat alone in his apartment, not wishing to engage in any acts that might tempt the hand of fate. Today, he was reserved in his actions, and his safety, he believed, was enhanced by confinement. He thought, as he sat, and believed, that the touch of death could be cheated in the taking of certain precautions, such as never even setting foot in Asia. He believed that the taking of such would leave him still breathing the next day. But this belief mocked his gift, as he had been happy to have its protection over the years, especially in those times of daring feats. Now, when the moment came to pay the piper, he proved to be more than unwilling.

When the clock struck five past four, he was swept with alarm as his left arm went numb, and pins and needles tickled at his right foot. He had been waiting in morbid anticipation all day for these symptoms to show, and when they finally did, he wished he had spent his day engaged in some other activity, or had believed more in his gift and sat himself outside a hospital’s emergency room.

He stood, as his heart rushed with a flood of anxiety, steadied himself, and dashed for the phone. There he made his mercy call, and then, awkward in his gait, returned to sit in his chair.

Time raced on and sweat dripped thickly down his brow, as his heart stabbed him with the sensation of a frenzied knife attack. He prayed for a change in his condition, hoping that in doing so, he might be saved. But it was a false hope and the pain only worsened.

"I know your play, death! I’ll beat you! You just wait and see!" he yelled, shaking his fist in defiance at the empty air, while at the same time his other hand clutched his failing heart.

A loud knocking eventually sounded from the door. The doorknob twisted with an effort to gain entry and jammed with the mechanism secured. From behind it a voice sung out: "Sir, are you able to let us in?"

He stood up to grant his saviours entry, and as he did, the world span violently around his eyes. He staggered to the door and opened it, while a crushing pain struck his chest like a ton. His heart was wishing the world goodbye, and he couldn’t fathom to understand why. He’d taken precautions to avoid this moment, and to the fuel of his burning ribs, he had to grasp the notion that his efforts might well have been in vain. Death’s hand still reached out for him, and in this moment he felt powerless to escape its grasp.

Two male paramedics rushed through the now opened door, as he collapsed to the floor. Without hesitation, they secured him on a gurney and wheeled him out to an awaiting ambulance. He was loaded into the back of the transport, accompanied by a paramedic, who sat beside him to monitor his condition.

The vehicle lurched, and the sirens wailed -- the journey to salvation had begun, but it was short-lived. The traffic beyond Sid's apartment block was chaotic. The roads were chocked with stationary cars, filled with last-minute shoppers eager to spend. Sid despaired at the hold-up and moaned in his mind for circumstance to change in his favour.

Thinking death may well beat him after all, with gasping breaths he asked the paramedic the time, to know just how much of it he might have left. His strained heart heard the answer: "Four thirty-five."

Despite the mounting evidence of his seemingly certain ending and his feelings of panic, deep down inside he firmly believed that his symptoms would soon pass. There simply wasn’t time for all that had been revealed to him to fall into place. Surely his heart would ride out its tantrum, and salvation, not without a liberal dash of victory, would soon be his.

The ambulance moved at a speed outpaced by those walking on the pavement. The traffic was unrelenting, and time ticked on unimpeded.

"Do a U-turn in that car park, up ahead," suggested the paramedic next to Sid, making reference to the driver by pointing to the mark. "If you turn around there, we can take the back streets to the hospital."

"All right," responded the driver.

"We’ll have you in hospital in no time," reassured the paramedic beside him.

The ambulance turned into the car park of the Indonesian consulate, and before coming back onto the road, Sid’s fight was over, and death was yet again the undisputed victor over Man.

Story copyright 2004 by Anthony R. Heffernan

Illustration © 2004 by

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