When the doctors told him of the disease he never expected it would attack him so rapidly. He had never heard of the disease before, it was very rare, there were only a few cases in the world, unfortunately he was one of them. This particular illness attacked the muscles of the body, slowly wasting them away to a useless remnant of decaying flesh, the disease ended terminally with the eventual failure of the heart.
The idea of paralysis came as rather a shock to him, he had never been athletic or interested in sport but the idea of being unable to run or even walk terrified him.
The pains had started at the back of his knees and at the elbow joints then came the rapid weight loss and severe attacks of muscle cramp. Within two weeks he found it difficult to walk with out extreme pain. He was a 24 year old man walking around like an 80 year old. Within a month he was a total invalid, unable to walk at all, his legs pathetically thin and useless. The disease began to spread to his arms, he became clumsy, unable to eat his food, sign his name or even go to the toilet on his own.
He felt disgusted within himself, his brain was as sharp as ever but his body failed to do his bidding, as if he were in a dream. His speech became slurred and unintelligible, the muscles of his tongue had become weak and uncontrollable.
Saliva dripped from his mouth, he tried to wipe it away with his hand, his twisted emaciated body merely twitched uselessly.
He was now completely helpless, unable to control any part of his body apart from his eyes, he could still see but even these could cease to function at any time. He prayed for death to come soon and relieve him of this torment, what good was he alive, to himself or anyone. If he could move he would have thrown himself from the window, he was 4 floors up but he was not even capable of suicide.
There was only one thing that kept him sane. Everyday the nurse would wheel him towards the window to catch some of the sunlight. Laying there in the chair he would sit and watch the Lilac tree that grew just outside. The tree was often visited by a beautiful Blackbird. It would flit gracefully down from branch to branch, singing sweetly. It seemed the Blackbird sang and danced for his entertainment alone. In his pain racked mind he believed the bird knew of his plight and was trying to make his last days on earth more bearable with it's graceful and effortless dance.
Occasionally the Blackbird would land upon the window ledge and tap the glass with it's beak, it would look through the window with what looked like pity in it's eyes, then it would let out a restrained trill and fly off to from where ever it came.
Everyday he would watch this bird, envying it's graceful ease of movement compared to the erratic jerks of his own wasted limbs. He marvelled at it's sleekly muscled chest and it's beautiful shiny black feathers. His own body was now wasted and immobile.
This bird became an obsession with him, it was the only thing he cared about, nothing else mattered, he loved this graceful creature. He wished that he could be like that, leave this decaying body and fly through the window to join his friend outside, no more pain, just the sensation of the Sun across his back and the rush of wind in his face as he soared effortlessly across the countryside on black shiny wings! But all he had was the wheelchair and the oblivion of drug induced sleep.
Today the pains that raced through his body seemed more acute than ever, he was building up a resistance to the painkillers and they were losing their potency. Outside his body gave the occasional twitch or jerk, inside his mind screamed in silent pain for release from this Hell on earth. No man should be forced to go through this, to experience such pain and not even be able to let out a scream to relieve some of the pent up torment within. How much longer could his heart hold out? When would it mercifully stop?
In the middle of the night he awoke to a tapping on the window, in the moonlight he saw the Blackbird, it chirped at him, it seemed to be trying to say something. The bird blinked twice, then flew away, leaving behind the scent of the night sky.
In the bed his eyes became heavy, he fell asleep. He dreamed of flying that night, of white clouds, blue skies and black birds.
He awoke, today was Sunday, it was a beautiful day. The nurse had sat him by the open window, he could smell the aroma of the Lilac tree. The doctors had given him a new drug to relieve the incessant pain but it did little to alleviate the seizures. The only thing that helped ease his mind was the sight of his friend the Blackbird.
As always he could see the bird dance from branch to branch, singing the songs for him and him alone. Then pure horror struck! His eyes began to roll and blink uncontrollably, he was losing his vision! The one thing he dreaded, it meant he would never be able to see his precious Blackbird again.
He heard a fluttering at the window and glanced through dying eyes to see the Blackbird fly through and land upon his shoulder. The bird stopped still as stone and gazed into his face. Tears poured from the man's eyes, silent tears. The bird let forth a gentle sound, it's eyes began to blink, then tears began to stream from it's tiny face, it lowered it's head to the man's ear and whispered things no man had ever heard before. The bird flew from the room and took to the skies without a backward glance.
The man's eyes were dead and useless like the rest of his pain racked body. He felt his heart twist and swell as if it was being torn from his chest by some demonic claw. It was upon him, death was at hand. The pain became unbearable, growing and growing in intensity, it felt as if the entire Universe consisted of pain, of pain upon pain! His legs burned in white hot agony, his arms felt as if they were being shredded by knives, his whole body screamed in silent, immobile torment! The darkness in his blind head became deeper and deeper, the intolerable pain increased and the darkness became darker, then everything stopped! His arms didn't hurt any more, his legs didn't burn, there was no pain. The blackness had gone, there was only blue skies and white cloud, he could see again. His body felt new and fresh, no longer wasted flesh but strong and youthful muscle. He looked through the window and could see his friend the Blackbird in the Lilac tree. The bird sang sweetly but not just notes, there seemed to be words among the song. He walked towards the window frame to become closer to the Blackbird, with the song of the bird still in his ears he fell head first through the window.
The nurse rushed into the room towards the window, below her in the car park lay the twisted broken body of the man.
How he had managed to reach the window and jump out in his condition was a mystery that would never be uncovered.
Above her in the blue summer sky, two Blackbirds flew gracefully upon shiny feathered wings.