He felt a creeping sensation begin to spread, starting in the centre of his body. First it spread upward through his chest and into his throat then backwards into his shoulders and neck. It seemed to partially paralyze him. He felt it trickling down into his groin, causing his genitals to shrink as if to hide or shield themselves from the unknown threat. His bowels began to loosen and he knew he’d soon have to run to the toilet, if he could run.

Finally his legs, the muscles felt trembly and weak and he wouldn’t trust them to support him if he stood.

It had happened before but he’d dismissed it as tiredness or maybe just being run down, recently though it had begun to happen more and more frequently and he couldn’t dismiss it. He knew he had to face it and fight it but also that he dreaded to do that.

It was his biggest fear and it was fear itself. What if it beat him as it always did in his nightmares and anxious imaginings.

What would happen? It seemed as if it would be utterly catastrophic and impossible to recover from but he didn’t have a clue what form it would take. Would it be a physical attack, maybe rendering him permanently disabled? Would it be more psychological, feeling helpless and hopeless to the extent that he could see no other course than to swiftly end his life?

Would it perhaps involve some sort of public humiliation or a beating administered by an unknown horde, summoned by his dread, to thrash him to within an inch of his life, leaving him cowering and terrified.

Perhaps he would be slowly starved to death, occasionally fed just to keep him alive long enough to have to continue with the misery of his tortured existence. Restrained so that he was unable to end his torment in anyway but was simply forced to face the second by second, minute by minute pain and agony of his withered and emaciated form being denied over and over gain until death seemed as if it would finally embrace him, when he would be force fed back to consciousness and the whole thing would start again.

He knew he was prone to exaggeration and after all, the only real thing that he had to face, as far as he knew, was going back to work after a week’s holiday. It seemed dreadful, it appeared to be leading in only one hellish direction, but if he stopped to think about the last time, although it had felt bad, all it really meant was that he was miserable for  a day or two, then slowly managed to get used to the idea of being at work and once or twice, if he allowed himself to feel it, actually quite liked it, got a sense of achievement and a small buzz from the knowledge that he knew what he was doing some of the time and had a certain degree of competence. In fact, now that he remembered that feeling he recalled also a sense of pride and thoughts of future possibilities and hopes.

He had been planning to apply for promotion; he had imagined his success and new found feelings of worth and dreamt that same night of winning the world cup, scoring the winning goal, being carried aloft by his teammates to the cheers and adoration of the huge crowd.

Just another day at the office, that’s all it was going to be; time to come back to reality.