Consciousness seemed to return from somewhere at the back of his head, seeping through to the part of his brain that had been some other place. The sound of galloping horses filled his ears, piercing into the side of his head and meeting somewhere in the centre from where it exploded into an intense pain that he thought would shatter his skull form the inside. His nose detected acrid smells the like of which he had not experienced but which he wished he had not. They forced their way through his nostrils and into his throat which felt as if it has swelled to twice its normal size. He very gradually lifted his eyelids in anticipation of the devastation that he was sure would be surrounding him. It was gloomy but not dark. The room was filled with smoke and what seemed to be a fine dust, through which he could make out the flickering of some distant lights. He was sitting on the floor and appeared to be propped up against something soft. The thought of what it might be brought a cramp to his stomach. He could make out his legs stretched out in front and his arms and hands resting on his thighs but there was no sense of touch or feeling in them. He concentrated through the pain and imagined his fingers moving. Result! Still no feeling but they worked.
In the distance was a bright vertical white light which he guessed was the light filtering through a doorway. Very gently easing himself forward from the soft object he was leaning against, he rolled gently onto his hands and knees and manged to stand up by leaning on the person who lay behind. As he staggered forwards towards the door, he was aware of the number of people still lying on the floor or slumped in chairs and sofas. Upturned furniture and drinking glassed were mingled on the floor with pools of liquid and other slurry the source of which he could only imagine. He knew he should be helping them but first he need fresh air.
His chest hurt with the effort of breathing, because although he was able to draw breath, the atmosphere entering his lungs was not what his body needed. The horses in his ears were now at a canter and the thumping inside his head had changed to a fierce but constant pressure, no longer threatening to split his skull. The flickering lights no longer pushed needles in his eyes. Feeling was beginning to return to his fingers and feet making the journey to the doorway seem more likely to be successful than when he started. Then he slipped. The trip to the floor seemed to happen in slow motion and he landed awkwardly in a pool of “stuff”. The feeling of disgust provided an instant reaction and he leapt to his feet and took in a huge gasp of foul air.
Throwing himself against the door he fell into the bright daylight and greedily replaced the foul air with fresh. The intense light caused an automatic reflex to close his eyelids. Even although his eyelids were tightly closed, the brightness of the light punched through to his brain causing his forehead to feel like it was about to blow out. There seemed to be little point in keeping his eyes shut and as the lids lifted to allow the searing light to reach his optic nerves he began to see blurred images of the outside space. A figure gradually came into focus from the surrounding landscape. It was the figure of what he assumed was a female dressed in a ragged cape. Her orange coloured hair was completely dishevelled and streaked with bright red strands. Her blackened eyes stood out starkly against her white face and black tears seemed to run down her cheeks. Beneath her blackened nose, her lips were a bright crimson and streaks of red dribbled down her chin. Her mouth began to move and through the ringing in his ears he could hear her say “That was the devil of a Halloween Party last night, I can’t imagine how they will better it next year”.