My lips and face seemed to myself to be rigid and stony. I thought that I was dying, and, instead of the peace which I had always hoped would wait on my last moments, I was filled with a bitter, dark despair. It was not only death that I feared with a wild, unreasoning terror, but there was a fearful expectation of judgment, which must, I think, be like the torture of lost souls. I felt half sundered from the flesh, and my spiritual sufferings seemed to have begun, although I was conscious of living still.
One terrible reality—I can hardly term it a fancy even now—that came to me again and again, was so painful that it must, I fear, always be a vividly remembered agony. Like dreams, its vagaries can be accounted for by association of ideas past and passing, but the suffering was so intense and the memory of it so haunting that I have acquired a horror of death unknown to me before. I died, as I believed, although by a strange double consciousness I knew that I should again reanimate the body I had left. In leaving it I did not soar away, as one delights to think of the freed spirits soaring. Neither did I linger around dear, familiar scenes. I sank, an intangible, impalpable shape, through the bed, the floors, the cellar, the earth, down, down, down! As if I had been a fragment of glass dropping through the ocean, I dropped uninterruptedly through the earth and its atmosphere, and then fell on and on forever. I was perfectly composed, and speculated curiously upon the strange circumstance that even in going through the solid earth there was no displacement of material, and in my descent I gathered no momentum. I discovered that I was transparent and deprived of all power of volition, as well as bereft of the faculties belonging to humanity. But in place of my lost senses I had a marvelously keen sixth sense or power, which I can only describe as an intense superhuman consciousness that in some way embraced all the five and went immeasurably beyond them. As time went on, and my dropping through space continued, I became filled with the most profound loneliness, and a desperate fear took hold of me that I should be thus alone for evermore, and fall and fall eternally without finding rest.
"Where," I thought, "is the Saviour, who has called his own to his side? Has he forsaken me now? "And I strove in my dumb agony to cry to him. There was, it seemed to me, a forgotten text which, if remembered, would be the spell to stop my fatal falling and secure my salvation. I sought in my memory for it, I prayed to recall it, I fought for it madly, wrestling against the terrible fate which seemed to withhold it. Single words of it came to me in disconnected mockery, but erased themselves instantaneously. Mentally, I writhed in such hopeless agony that, in thinking of it, I wonder I could have borne such excess of emotion and lived. It was not the small fact of life or death that was at stake, but a soul's everlasting weal.
Suddenly it came. The thick darkness through which I was sink-