I squeeze my eyes closed, arms crossed over my chest as I'm propelled into the machine. Air blows across my body and I attempt to slow my breathing by sucking in large gulps. I am trapped. Thick tape binds my feet together and my hips are strapped down to the table on which I lay. And now, inside this small tube of a tunnel, I can barely move my arms. I lay there, keeping still. If I can just do that long enough... A voice, tiny and distant echoes into the tube, "Can you hear me?". I answer back that I can. Then there is silence.
Back to my breathing. I notice it too much. It's too fast, too hard. So I try to slow it down again. But it just gets harder the more I notice it. Think on something else, I tell myself. Then the voice issues a warning and the loud noises begin. Very loud. First a few pops, then a series of clangs and bangs, more and more of them, some faster, some slower. There are plugs in my ears, but that doesn't matter. It's still loud. My thoughts jump around. Breathing too fast. Don't open eyes. Don't move. Too small. Too tight. I'm trapped. I swallow hard and suddenly my throat feels scratchy. On the right side. It itches more. And then more. I swallow, trying to sooth that itch. I swallow again. Then as the banging stops I begin to cough and to choke. The voice comes again, "Are you okay?". I answer with more coughs. "I'll bring you water", the voice responds.
Moments later the table shifts and I glide out of the tunnel, opening my eyes to see the gentle smile of the technician and then the bottle of water in her hands. I sit up as much as I can and take a few gulps. Then I lay back again and close my eyes as the table glides me back into place. There will be more loud noises, pops and hisses. This time my breathing will settle and my mind will gain focus for the time that remains. No more coughs, no more itches. Just vibrations and strange sounds. Just the passing of time in slow motion, where fifteen minutes feels like hours.