Having long since lost the concept of time, he wasn’t aware of how long it took for someone to take notice of him. At first, all he did – could do – was to crouch in a defensive position, shielding himself from the continued assault of light and trembling in the bliss of warmth and sound. And then he smelled something – food – and another source of pain exploded, this time in his abdomen. The pain sought his depleted body like a parasite, assaulting first his abdomen, then his heart and loins, and finally his limbs so that he had to scream to alleviate it.
It was perhaps the savageness in that voice that stopped many passers-by, who (naturally) neglected his existence at first. And then his withered frame and foreign clothes retained their attention, and soon gathered them around him.
“Hey Sir, how’re you feeling?”
“He looks sick.”
“Hello? Can you hear us? Are you okay?”
“Someone get the ambulance!”
“Oh god, stop screaming. You’re giving us a headache!”
But he couldn’t stop screaming, first because he was used to screaming as a way of alleviating any form of discomfort, second because he had long forgotten what it meant to be bothered about what other people thought, and finally because all the hubbub that was gathering around him produced an elevated noise level that became yet another source of pain to him.
Instincts took over, and he started to lash out at the crowd, if only to disperse the concentrated noise that threatened to burst his head. Hissing, screaming, groaning, he blindly clawed at the sources of noise beyond him, stumbling and crawling as he did.
“Someone hold him down!”
And indeed, a few men took it upon themselves to grab him and pin him down (they found it surprisingly easy to do so) while his breath shortened from his exertion and the weight of the men. These men, of course, failed to remember the frailness of this man that first drew them to him, and continued to exert unrelenting strength on him. Meanwhile, a few of the passers-by cheered as though they had successfully tamed a lion, while others protested and demanded that the men let him go.
As for him, the simultaneous assault of physical pain and exertion, of persistent noise and piercing light soon cut off his awareness, taking him back into the familiarity of darkness.