I woke up this morning and there was a hole in my hand. I don’t mean like stigmata or anything like that, I’m not Jesus and I hadn’t rolled over onto an inconveniently placed nail, screw or drawing pin in my sleep. I just mean there was a hole in the palm of my left hand, a perfectly round black hole about two inches in diameter.
To be honest I can’t remember how I discovered it, I’m not the most alert person in the world during the first minute or two of wakefulness. Maybe I was facing my hand as I opened my eyes or maybe I touched it with my other hand. The details are irrelevant though, suffice to say it confused the living hell out of me once my brain was engaged enough to absorb what had happened.
Almost immediately, out of natural curiosity, bafflement and not a little horror, I started to investigate. At first I gingerly touched it, or attempted to touch it, with my right index finger. You may get the impression that the hole just looked like a black disc painted on my palm but there was something more than that – yes it was pitch black, an utter absence of light, but it was somehow instantly obvious that this was no drunken tattoo, club entry stamp or other such drunken tomfoolery. I knew it was an actual hole, knew that my finger was about to go inside my hand, but even still the second the fingertip passed over the rim a chill went through my body the likes of which I’d never felt.
My brain did something of a spastic somersault and shut down for maybe thirty seconds or so.
When I recovered and managed to hoist my train of thought back onto the tracks I decided to experiment and find out just how deep this hole was. My initial exploration had resulted in no pain whatsoever, just an icy feeling of dread at the utter senselessness of the situation, so I steeled my nerves and launched my probe on it’s second mission.
Again the fingertip crossed the threshhold although this time round I managed to remained calm and completely in control, save for the odd involuntary shudder. I reached in past the first knuckle and felt absolutely nothing, just empty space. The second knuckle entered the void also without incident – no sign of any bottom to the hole and no sensation from inside my hand. Up until this point I had kept the finger completely rigid, for no apparent reason other than my primal brain telling me it was safer that way. (I understand why we have residual fears of snakes, spiders, heights, the dark and so on from our evolutionary past but latent instructions on the safest way to investigate mysterious new orifices? Seems odd but not as odd as the phenomenon in question I guess…)
After a few seconds to build my resolve I curled my finger around, my fingertip now running parallel with the entrance to the hole. No sign of any walls, no change in feeling or lack thereof. And here’s where it gets wierd.
I continued to slowly curl my finger round to touch what should have been the inside of my palm but… it just kept going. Where I should have at least felt some resistance, some muscle mass or skin, there was nothing at all. There was no bulge coming from my palm indicating the pressure from the fingertip, and indeed my fingertip felt no pressure either. It simply curled downwards into, well I have no idea what. I should have been able to see it, to see something. My brain started its gymnastics routine again and this time I must have been AWOL for about ten minutes before I could function at anything approaching a normal level.
At this point any thought of a world beyond my hand and the hole was a million miles away. My entire universe consisted of the simple fact that there was a hole in my hand and I had to understand more about it. I wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders at this point, in fact my skull seemed to be cracking at the seams, so I never considered how reckless my next experiment was and can only be thankful that there were no adverse consequences. At least not yet. From the corner of my eye I saw a neglected five pence coin lying under my clothes rack, picked it up and determined to get some idea of just how big the hole really was. Holding my left hand palm upwards I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and dropped the coin in.
I listened. And listened.
There was not a single sound, no sensation to indicate that the coin had made contact with any kind of surface or had done anything but continue and indefinite freefall. Inside my hand. A combination of emotions was sweeping over me at this point, a dizzying mixture of fear, disappointment, confusion and sheer exhilaration. All caution was out the window by this point, I had to go further. I turned my hand over so the hole was facing the floor, figuring I may as well recover the coin if possible. It had maybe been 15 seconds since I dropped it so I waited another fifteen for the return journey but to no avail. Another fifteen seconds and still no sign.
I scrabbled around the room for more money, eventually finding some stray coppers under the bed. Holding my hand palm-downwards, up at eye-level, I slowly pushed a one pence piece inside and over the rim. It dropped away but did not appear anywhere below my hand, it was simply gone. No sounds, no feeling. I shook my hand around frantically but deliberately, searching for some sign of the lost currency but as I had guessed I was again disappointed.
I pressed my eye up to the hole. Pitch black. Nothing to see here. A flash of ingenuity stuck me and I maneuvered the screen of my mobile phone between my eye and the hole for some level of illumination but the darkness seemed to swallow the light whole, mercilessly devouring every last photon. I then moved my palm over my mouth and quietly spoke into it. It was deadly quiet in the room as no-one else in the flat had awoken yet and the central heating had yet to kick in but still I heard no reverberations from inside, no echoes and no sign of any acoustic qualities whatsoever. The sound was consumed every bit as efficiently as the light.
Something about the utter lack of reverberation intrigued me so I placed my palm to the side of my head, fitting the hole snugly against my ear. At first I heard nothing, and I mean literally nothing. Not the white noise ‘ocean’ sound you hear in a seashell or the ever present background hums you get in even the quietest of rooms. Nothing at all, total absence of sound. My first thought was that this indicated a vacuum but this was clearly impossible – if there were a vacuum in my hand then all of the air in the room would be rushing in to appease nature. As I listened for longer I did begin to hear things, all kinds of sounds from a faint sloshing liquid to a low moaning, very unsettling at the best of times but doubly so when it’s coming from a newly discovered alternate dimension in one of your appendages. Mind you I’ve ingested more than my share of hallucinogens over the past couple of decades so the objective existence of said sounds is still open to question. I’ve learned not to put all my faith in the veracity of my senses and especially not in times of stress.
Around this point I heard a noise from the hallway, obviously one of my flatmates getting up for a shower. I tended to use these bumping noises as a makeshift alarm clock, the doors opening and closing signalling “time to wake up” and the shower turning off meaning “get your ass out of bed”. This was not good; it meant I had about half an hour to get showered, dressed and leave for another day in the office. With a hole in my hand.
Suddenly my brain recovered its senses, stood to attention and started barking orders. There was no point in worrying about this as there was clearly nothing I could do to alter my situation in any way. Doctor’s appointment? I’d be stuck in some creepy hospital for months, being probed and scrutinised, no regard being paid to the fact that I was meant to be running a half marathon in a matter of weeks. Priorities are important. Call in sick? Probably too dangerous, I’d just sit all day and play with the hole: try to widen it; see what happened when different objects were inserted; try to fill it with water to see if it overflowed. I was curious as all hell but had no intention of ending up like the cat. Call my dad? When I was a kid he did seem to have the solutions to all of life’s problems no matter how great or trivial, but somehow I doubted his ability to respond to a phone call about a bottomless well of darkness in my hand at 3am (Toronto time) with anything other than swearing, silence or hanging up and having me committed.
There was nothing else for it. I waited until said flatmate was safely back in her room and rummaged through the kitchen and bathroom until I managed to find some bandages. After a quick shower, being oddly careful not to allow any water into the hole despite the knowledge that there was six pence rattling about in there somewhere, I carefully bandaged the hand up, got dressed, ate my breakfast and left for work.
Every single person I passed on my way to work, all along Regent Road and through St Andrews Sqaure, was looking straight at me, staring as if were wearing a Hitler costume or riding a unicorn. Of course they weren’t, they were just going about their normal business, but that’s not how my brain saw it; not a pleasant walk.
Having arrived at the office I powered up the PC, made a cup of horrific generic instant coffee and sat down, using every ounce of willpower to resist removing the bandage and start fidgeting. One by one my coworkers arrived, all asking about the hand. I go to the gym regularly so managed to concoct a vaguely believable excuse about trapping it in some complicated piece of weights equipment and needing to spend an hour or so in A&E. Their curiosity sated I logged on to the office network and attempted to get something constructive done while I waited for the evening to arrive. Of course I couldn’t concentrate on anything so trivial and reality-based as internet marketing so I decided to get my thoughts straight on the matter and document what had happened so far, just in case my brain started farting again and deleted or altered any precious memories.
Which brings us up to date, as I sit typing this. With a hole in my hand.
(Happy Rabbit Hole Day!)