The Last 4.5 Seconds of My Life
- onNovember 10, 2014
- Vol.13 Autumn 2011
- bySong Sokze
- The Last 4.5 Seconds of My Life
He heard the sound of a small bomb exploding. A BOOM—no, a BANG—no, it was like a gang of safe crackers tunneling into the earth finally demolishing a reinforced steel wall. It was like a plane breaking the sound barrier. Is it important—the sound? No. This is just the way it is. There is no sound when there’s no one to hear; and since there is no one there to hear it, its nature cannot be established.
A car is falling. It is beginning to accelerate. Just before it began its fall, it violently transferred its energy to the guardrail of a bridge, and the front end is smashed. Smoke is puffing from the hood, which is crumpled on one side like a folded umbrella. The engine is still running. The energy created by the 6-liter engine of the 4-9-seat SUV still turns the wheels with great force. The tires are only spinning in the air, not speeding the car along a city street by creating friction against the pavement; they can no longer propel the car. Nor can they stop it. Floating through the air, the car looks like a long jumper demonstrating a nightmarish hurdle jump. No. No one is looking, and thus there is nothing to see. This is just the way it appears.
0.5 seconds have elapsed since the tires lifted into the air. The man inside the car regains consciousness. He had been speeding around a curve just before the fall. The road connecting to the west side of the bridge has a sharp curve and a slope. A speed limit sign is posted there, a warning sign, even a danger sign. But the man did not reduce his speed; he wasn’t careful. He had been angry. The woman in the passenger seat sat with her body hunched the whole time the man was angry. That was before the crash. She is unconscious now. When the car collided with the guardrail she hit her forehead against the windshield. The man also hit his head. That’s why he was momentarily unconscious. Isn’t it good news at a bad time to regain consciousness within one second? Good news?
As soon as he’s conscious, the man is angry. There are babies that cry when they first wake from sleep, and among adults there are those who wake up angry. It’s a habitual thing. Like for the man—habitual anger. He realizes something is wrong. He sees what it is. From perception to comprehension, it takes him a total of 0.2 seconds. He realizes he is inside a car plunging off a bridge. Is it good for him to know this? Is it good that he regained consciousness? He doesn’t know how to fly, let alone what to do if he were flying. So it’s not possible for him to calculate how much time it will take for his expensive car to fall. Couldn’t someone just put on a pair of wings, like an angel, and explain from outside the windshield? We don’t know if angels really exist, nor do we know if there are truly angelic people, but let’s say for a moment that there are angelic people and that they have white wings and have no reservations about flying through the air in broad daylight—but then, even if they did have wings, why would they be flying by a car that happens to be falling from a bridge, just so they can say, to the man who is falling, “You have X number of seconds before you plunge to your death.”1 There’s absolutely no reason for it.
Let’s say there was a car that fell from a height of 80 meters. It would take about four seconds to hit the ground. But what good would it do the person inside the car to be able to calculate that? If an angel or an angelic person were to convey that information, and if the falling man were to listen, wouldn’t it be a shame then to have to hit the ground? Knowledge is power? Well, it’s not the angel who’s falling. Never, in his life, had the man encountered an angel. But now the man who is falling is falling and knows he is falling.
He—the party in question—also knows something else. That there is no parachute in the car, and that no matter how expensive this SUV happens to be, it is not an airplane, not an airborne unit, not an armored car, not an amphibious assault vehicle. A whole airborne regiment, 5,000 armored cars, 10,000,000 amphibious assault vehicles—what use are they now when he’s falling with no intervention? There’s no point in making such calculations. Those are just thoughts that come floating up in his head. But he also has a realization. That he will not live through this fall. It’s his sixth sense, which has never been wrong. Let’s respect that. He’s escaped mortal danger many times because of it. But will this unique, precious sixth sense save him this time? Will his sixth sense—clanging like a school bell, whimpering like a puppy—get him out of this predicament? No.