Psychaesthenia by Joshua Arthur Knutson

The lights in the hallway flickered in a cryptic rhythm, reflecting off the puddles on the floor as well as the drips that fed them. Every flicker sent a shudder through my being, every drip, a twitch. My brain was experiencing some kind of electric impulse-tic reaction to external stimuli. I was unable to take any shortcuts through the winding canyons of my thoughts; long winded explanations filled my mind, being faced with these sensations. I now know it was merely intense fear, manifested through instinctual physical reflexes.

A million scenarios were being played out in my head; I couldn't help but wonder if this was a natural result of primal fear or consequence of damage done to my brain via psychoactive drugs. Fleeting thoughts of a consciousness scarred, paired with whirlwind theories ( ex. - damage in the corpus callosum possibly disrupting harmonic communication between the hemispheres of my brain) pulled me away from the focus and awareness I need to make it through this place.

I try to take deep breaths but it causes a sharp pain in my upper abdomen that is foreign to me. I clench my right hand in a fist and hold it up against the bottom of my right pectoral. I wondered if I might be dying. I wonder what organ is the source of this pain, as I know it cant be muscle or the like. I then felt this sort of inactive panic, like when you are in a plane and feel turbulence for the first time. It is strangely ironic that I silently long for death to sneak up on me, unless I no longer have control.


I found a dry spot along the wall and sat down slouched over and still wincing and slightly angered at myself for not knowing what was wrong. I wondered if I was just frustrated at the mugginess in these tunnels or the darkness in the area, which was lit only by reflections on the surface of the water. But this was not fear, it couldnt be. And frustration requires a certain passion I was incapable of at that particular moment. I grimaced as something jabbed into my thigh, then extended my leg to reach into my pocket and pull out my Winchester folding pocket knife. I briefly admired it but in retrospect it was actually admiration for people who slit their wrists and actually succeed. I would never have the courage to do something amazing like that.

But this persisting pain in my chest interrupted by thoughts which werent evolving. Normally my thoughts automatically and rapidly metamorphose into self doubt and masochistic admonishment. This was a self-hate much different from the usual fare. It was there, just not as focused, centered. I loathed at being physically incapacitated at the moment, loathed the concept that it wasnt my brilliant mind paralyzing me but something I believed to have no control over. I remember being slightly entertained after those last bits of inner monologue. I was frustrated at not being able to walk through rank sewers in Des Moines and I actually thought I had control over the workings of my mind. I was still quite unsure of that.


When I heard that ominous sound my heart didnt just skip a beat, it came to a screeching halt and the physical sensation was nearly identical to when I spot a wasp or a hornet flying nearby. I have an obscenely pathological fear of bees and wasps that significantly disrupts my life during the summer months. I become moderately agoraphobic and avoid walking near areas containing patches of flowering plants, tool sheds/barns or other things that attract them. Only two responses are possible in my realm when it comes to these vile creatures, eliminate; evade. I heard that ominous sound, that small thwack and splash and every muscle tightened and I clenched my chest and pocketknife in either hand and longed for a silence sufficient enough to make me believe thwack/splash was an auditory hallucination.

I never had many of those, but my hearing isnt the best.

Anyways, the psychological response I had to that noise, that unforgettable noise that I am sure will manifest itself in another form and maintain a physical existence extending long past my death, that noise made my mind go blank. That never happens, Im fairly certain.

An empty consciousness was a very different instinctual response from the way I react to stinging insects. There was no fight or flight, no adrenaline making decisions as to methods of evasion or less ideally extermination. There was a noise, a shadow, a touch then a voice. I didnt realize it was a voice until a period of time later. While I cant say for certain how long it was I think it must have taken about two minutes for the events that I ascertained to have occurred to play out. Here is a rundown.

00:01 - 00:07

I hear the thwack/splash. Initial tension phase. Unintelligible vocalizing, perhaps drunken or under the influence of strong opiates or moderately large dose of benzodiazepines. Seemed to say, Doom bottom through Hell, juicy. My physiological reaction occurred. A freak transmission of neurotransmitters I believe to be superhuman phenomenon allowed the bypass of adrenal reactions in the synapses to utilize a much more efficient method of survivalist instinct in which conditioned responses are sparked by bulked up nerves and neurons which do not require the presence of epinephrine/nor epinephrine when responding to a perceived threat on the life of the organism. These super cells have their own command centers that have their own powers over physicality at these moments, which are developed through repeated response to debilitating fear and tension.

I have sent numerous letters to science publications and universities but have received no responses. One thing that I am actually frustrated with in my life is not being able to offer as evidence the blazing fast speed at which I was able to swiftly flip out the blade of my Winchester pocketknife and lodge the entire blade along with a small portion of the handle/casing into the left side of the boys chest all in one motion. I apologize for getting slightly ahead of myself in my recollection.

00:08 - 00:0893

I stabbed the boy in the chest.

00:0894 - 01:58

Boys inevitable adrenaline response. He must have had pure adrenaline flowing in his veins because he was able to pull the blade out of his chest and then swat the knife at me cutting my wrist lengthwise. While I am not particularly interested in irony and if I was this certainly wouldnt be a good time for coincidental humor, it is sort of funny. If I was conscious of these events I might have chuckled after having my wrists cut. Perhaps in an almost cinematic fashion I would have spat out a brilliant one-liner, something like: All that time I spent hating myself and being too much of a coward to slit my wrists I could have been dead. That is just a rough idea, by no means would it be unpolished and stilted like that if I was actually writing some sort of screenplay.

That is one thing I have come to terms with. I am not the leading man with the unwavering good looks to match his unbendingly dashing charm. My good looks waver with phases, hospitalizations and fluctuating grooming habits. My dashing charm bends when courting a female I perceive to be of higher standing then me which is all of them. Or If I perceive her to be perceiving me as of lower standing than she. This is all of them as well. For I am the conductor of the scene, the composer, actually. To say conductor in a way analogous to filmmaking would imply director but I am terrible at delegating duties to others. I either have immense respect for the free will of other human beings or am simply unconfident or uncomfortable being in a position of authority. This is for you people to analyze so I will not try to persuade in any direction.

As a personal reminder (I most likely will never be able to read these accounts but merely jotting something down triggers an enhanced etching into memory) I should start writing and honing my skills. Perhaps I should read some novels with lighthearted fear to gain a sense of warmth in literature. I think if I sat down and tried to write a novel right now it would feel cold and detached, very clinical. I would have to work on my sense of humor too as well as expressing it through written word. My current sense of humor is very dry and biting, laden with sarcasm only I can appreciate, it seems. Many of my attempts at humor during everyday situations end with one-squinted eye facial expressions blasting me with shrink rays through their overtly expressed disapproval/distaste/discomfort. I am quite adept at deciphering a persons impression of me by quickly glancing up at their face, although I dont get many chances to see people. Actually now that I have ran through all of this I dont think I have what it takes to be a writer, since you really do have to possess a knowledge of people and how their hearts and minds work, and how they relate with each other. I will write a letter to the science magazines about my new theory on writing and its effect on memory.

The rest of this period of time was the boy dying from blood loss which was accelerated by his intense writhing and screaming.

01.58 - 02:00

Final sounds of death.

After all these events had transpired and I was back in my conscious existence something in my brain must have carried over from the reaction of all the unexplainable phenomena that occurred to give me the power to fight off the attack, because I went through the corpses pockets and took his wallet and a bag of round off-white pills, which I immediately swallowed with a cupped hand of sewer water to wash it down. I then walked for what seemed like days until I reached the end of the tunnel which was located in a quaint little valley/ditch with beautiful, monstrous willow trees simultaneously breathing and beckoning me to cross planes into a new dimension. The sun was about to come out and after scanning the surroundings beneath the majestic tree/gates the dandelions and morning glory patches told me that stinging insects owned this land. I ever so slightly praised myself at that moment for my quick and critical thinking, then marched into the beautiful pastels in the cel-shaded dimension through the willow trees. I held my hands to god as a stood between the trees, assured his presence would fill me, along with the love of Christ. I felt extremely lightheaded at that moment then looked up to see the divine presence. Blood dripped into my eyes and I collapsed, still awake though unable to move. A large, bright purple glowing hornet landed just in front of me. I closed my eyes and tears and blood began pouring from them. I let out a slight whimper and the hornet stung me between the eyes. I passed out and woke up two weeks later in the hospital unable to move.

Joshua Arthur Knutson, Male, 28, Shitty Town, Iowa. Growing up in an area with no culture, Joshua Knutson, inspired by Mel Brooks' Life Stinks entertained himself by sleeping in a cardboard box for two months and pretending he was homeless at the age of 6. Started compulsive writing at 17, after becoming an over-enthused psychonaut. Now lives a mostly sober life and hopes to one day gain the clarity and perspective to finish one of the dozens of unfinished novels in his closet and also hopes to spread a wave of contagious intellect to the brainwashed masses. Joshua is a Pisces.