It was an invisible voice, driving him onward.
He took comfort in knowing he wasn’t completely alone, but he paused, motionless, for someone else to lead the way.
“Hide,” the voice repeated, this time almost a shout.
Faint rustling, as someone else approached, were muffled through his own heavy breathing as he turned to stare, head on, into yellow evolving eyes. He was face to face with death.
He remained, unmoving, assessing what it would mean to his survival: the choice to fight.
He glanced behind his shoulder, out of options, as the eyes grew less distinct and he was forcefully pushed back into his helpless body, unable to run, no longer in time to hide.
Heart beating wildly, chest rising, yet he felt no air reach his lungs.
He opened his eyes and the room was no longer spinning—chest no longer growling. His stomach felt heavy, a bead of sweat meandered down his right cheek. He swiped at it, halfheartedly, with the back of his hand. There was no forest, no golden eyes staring him down, just a microphone in hand and an audience on looking, an uncomfortable pause between applause and speech, hanging in the air as they waited for him to begin.
“Yes-” he cleared his throat.
“Thank you all for coming out tonight.”
The hairs on his arm still stood on end. A shiver ran through his body. “Keep calm,” the voice now instructed.
He closed his eyes to shake himself of the attack, there was a bottle of Valium waiting for him at home, for now, the task at hand remained.
From the author: “The harsh edges, intensely vibrant colours, and the vivid animal-like quality of the artwork inspired an intensity motivated by animalistic instinct. The jagged edges and bright lines were reminiscent of a sense of anxiety, in this case manifested in the form of a panic attack. Such an episode takes place as the body’s natural “fight or flight” instinct to combat present danger replaces logic. While many people have suffered from panic, our society rewards silence around the issue, perpetuating a stigma around mental health.”