Glass. Shining glass, curves and cylinders and beakers. Fire. Leaves and plants and extracts and powders. Metal. Edges and blades and tiny knives and needles and POISONS.
The room was endless, black in all directions but for the workstation at which he stood. There was a bunsen burner ablaze, its blue flame flickering and dancing like it had ought not to dance and flicker. He found himself holding a volumetric flask over it with tongs, swirling the whining and writhing contents around. He looked into the substance, and briefly he thought he saw a face.
Then he was at a centrifuge, pouring the mass into a test tube to be separated and handing it to the amorphous arms the machine stretched toward him. He did not remember the machine spinning, but he was decanting the tube just moments later, pouring off the thinner layer into a petri dish and leaving the weeping precipitate to cry alone in its glass prison.
He studied the delicate liquid, watched as its fragile tendrils formed shapes he could not describe, turned colours for which there were no words. Observe me, it called silently, so silently he covered his ears, and the noise that emitted from his palms made him feel like he was melting.
Then he was there with the dish, inside it and not inside it, part of it and yet separate from it. He watched himself become things reality forbids, things that trespass on the edges of the corporeal world and taunt the living and dead with their impossibility. In the midst of these images he could not hope to comprehend, he saw a shape he recognised--
He reached out, but then how does one reach out when one is not? And then she was gone, replaced by improbability imbued with form. He tried to turn away from it, but then he was there at the workstation again, and the smell of gunpowder invaded his nostrils. He became aware of a falling sensation, and he watched the room itself spring away from him, leaving him behind in the black.
Needles. Water. String. Knives. Hands.
He saw his lung, a weakly heaving, deflated ball of tissue, reaching up with hands it did not have to tear at the wound in his heart, whose face constantly morphed this way and that, whose mouths spat words that had no meaning or sound. Then it was all zipped up in a sack, and as he saw the zipper ascending, locking the teeth together in a dance that could not be performed, he felt a sudden coolness in his lungs.
He sat up straight and gasped, turned to the side of his bed, and let spill all of the contents of his weakened stomach on the linoleum floor. The orderly looked up from his comic book, and when he saw the boy wretch, he immediately called in for a doctor as he rushed over to his bedside. The boy breathed heavily, and wiped his mouth with his sleeve.