I’ve been thinking about oxygen a lot — more specifically not having enough oxygen — like being in space and finding a small tear in my suit and suffocating, but really slowly. And my insides become cold and inanimate.

There isn’t any sound. I’m a rat trapped inside a vacuum dying, but I can still hear the scientists laughing at me on all sides. They’re laughing because I don’t know anything about anything. And I start to laugh because it’s funny. We laugh. But there’s no sound and there never has been.

And I die.

I’m reborn into a speck of dirt with complete consciousness and mental faculties. And I know I’m a speck of dirt, and I just don’t want to be stepped on, even though I’m dead.

Right now, I’m this speck of dirt that died and doesn’t know anything. And I’m lying here. And I’m okay with my stupidity and the darkness.

And I’ve been thinking about oxygen a lot and space and how many nauseating streams-of-consciousness-tangents I read from creative writing students and how I’m making you suffer that same fate by reading this. And I’m sorry. I really am.

I’m sorry for everything.

Stories Inside the SHADES OF GREY Special Feature:

The Difference Between
My Sister and Her Photograph

by Tim Gilmore 
by Mark Ari 
I Have Been Asleep
For a Very Long Time

by Sal Bilheimer 
Gathering Sounds
by Matthew B. Shaw 
In the Sun Too Long
by Hurley Winkler 
Oxygen and Apologies
by Carl Rosen