Flash Fiction: When Panic Attacks

Whenever the people around me seem to have faces that become disfigured and blurred, my heart surely continues to beat, but I cannot feel the blood pumping. I can feel a greyhound bus equipped with nas speeding down the freeway through my nervous system, its momentum rising. I can feel an earthquake inside my skull, the discs and muscles that have dwelled there are scratching and clawing for instinctual survival at the cost of my stability. I want to die. Better yet, I want to explode. I might as well. I’ve gnawed my fingers into bloody nubs and no matter how yummy the copper fluid tastes, I had not shrieked at the sight. I shriek now, apparently.

The casino is filled with smoke and stern words, the occasional friendly, but if I spy a smile it is because the slot machine has blasted its game show jingle. I am nauseous, which isn’t unusual, but I was hoping for tonight to be the exception. I stumble outside, pushing the double wide doors out of my fucking way, and the air is the same as the damn building filled with old coots and disgruntled manopoly bankers. 

Back inside. I’m back inside and I am in dire need of a cease and desist posted upon my liver and kidneys, so I order a drink. 

“C’mon,” said some woman in a sea of uncomplimentary colors.

C’mon, I think to myself, or that is how I will recall it afterward if I survive, as the bartender pours my glass, sets it to the side, and then attempts to catch an apparently more flattering tip from another, albeit more handsome (even if his face has warped into three floating eyes with a flaming nose and a mouth concealing a portal to the eventual abyss), probably human-man. “Thank you,” I say to the bartender, I think, as she hands me the glass and I hand her some cash. No more worries about hiding my bloody digits as the browning of the green paper cried out my secret for me. My eyes can’t count and my feet commanded that I head South anyway. 

I continue – or did I begin? – to blink excessively. My left cornea’s irritation presents the image of a single strand of hair upon a platter for my consumption. For all my effort to tear it away, it stays. For all my effort I see red. For all my effort I can no longer see through my left eye socket. For all my effort, I down my whiskey like a goddamn champion and spot out of the corner of my working eye a security guard wearing a yellow jacket with a real life firearm strapped to his side. Or so I assumed, naturally. 

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