He heard the shouts and stood up straight, his dagger in hand. Just as if the sky were burning on the horizon, he saw torches moving between the branches very close to him. The smell of war was unbearable, and when the first enemy leapt upon his neck he almost took pleasure in sinking the stone blade into his chest. Now lights and happy screams had already surrounded him. He managed to slice through the air once or twice before a rope caught him from behind.
“It’s fever,” said the man from the bed beside him. “The same thing happened to me when they operated on my duodenum. Drink some water and you’ll see that you’ll sleep well.
Compared to the night from which he returned, the lukewarm darkness of the room seemed marvelous. A violet lamp kept vigil at the top of the wall in the back of a room like a protective eye. He heard coughing, heavy breathing, at times a dialogue in low voices. Everything was pleasant and safe, without this harassment, but … He didn’t want to keep thinking about his nightmare. There were so many things to keep himself occupied. He began to look at the plaster on his arm, the pulleys which so comfortably held it in the air. At some point during the night they had placed a bottle of mineral water on the table next to him. He drank gluttonously from the neck of the bottle. Now he was able to discern the shapes in the room, the thirty beds, the glass display cabinets. His fever had to be lower now, and his face felt so fresh. His brow hardly hurt at all, as if it were just a memory. He pictured himself exiting the hotel and getting his motorbike. Who could have thought that things would turn out this way? He tried to concentrate on the time of the accident, and it really annoyed him to notice that it was like a gap that he couldn’t manage to fill. Between the collision and the time they lifted him off the ground either his fainting or whatever it was didn’t let him see anything. And at the same time he had the feeling that this gap, this nothing, had taken an eternity. And not even time, but more like he had passed through something and traveled across great distances. The collision, the brutal hit against the pavement. In any case, getting out of that cesspool he had almost felt relief while the men got him off the ground. Considering the pain of his broken arm, the blood from his brow that was split open, the contusion in his knee, considering all of that, it was certainly a relief to return to daylight and feel taken care of and helped. And it was strange. He would have asked any time for the office doctor. Now sleep began to take him over again and slowly pull him down. The pillow was so soft, as was the freshness of the mineral water in his feverish throat. Perhaps he really could have rested if it hadn’t been for those damned nightmares. The violet light of the lamp up high was starting to go out little by little.
Since he was sleeping on his back, the position in which he came to didn’t surprise him. But instead the smell of humidity, of stone oozing with leaks, forced him to close his throat and understand the matter. It was useless to open his eyes and look all over the place; he was enveloped in total darkness. He tried to stretch out straight and felt the ropes on his wrists and ankles. He was tethered to a floor on a cold and humid slab. The cold had taken over his naked back, his bare legs. His chin searched awkwardly for contact with his amulet, and then he knew that they had ripped it off him. Now he was lost, no prayer could save him from the end. From a distance, as if oozing between the stones of the dungeon, he heard the kettle drums of the celebration. They had brought him to the teocalli. He was in the dungeons of the temple. And he was waiting his turn.
He exited with a start into the night of the hospital, into the sky, the high and sweet open air, the soft darkness which surrounded him. He thought he might have screamed, but his neighbors were sleeping in silence. On his night table the bottle of water contained something bubbly, a translucent image against the bluish darkness of the large windows. He panted seeking to relieve his lungs and forget those images which continued to stick to his eyelids. Each time he closed his eyes he saw them form instantaneously, and terrified, he straightened himself while enjoying the fact that he was now awake, that being awake protected him, that it would soon be dawn, as well as the good deep sleep that one has at this hour, without images, without anything … Now it was hard to keep his eyes open, he was no match for his sleepiness. He made one last effort: with his good hand he sketched a gesture towards the bottle of water. He couldn't reach it, his fingers were trapped again into a black emptiness, and the passageway continued endlessly, rock after rock, with sudden reddish flashes, and face up he moaned lifelessly because the roof was about to end. It rose, opening like a mouth of darkness, and the acolytes stood up, and at that altitude he was struck by the light of a receding moon which his eyes did not want to see. He closed and opened them desperately trying to pass to the other side, to rediscover the open protective sky of the room. And each time that they opened it was night and there was the moon as they lifted him up the stairway. Now his head went downwards, and at this height there were bonfires, red columns of perfumed smoke, and suddenly he saw the red rock, shining with dripping blood, and the swinging of the feet of the sacrificial victim whom they were dragging in order to hurl him down the stairways of the north. With one last hope he squeezed his eyelids together, moaning in desperation. For a second he thought he’d done it because once again he was in his bed, unmoving apart from the swaying of his head downwards. But he smelled death, and when he opened them again he saw the bloodied figure of the sacrificer who was coming towards him with a stone knife in his hand. Once more he closed his eyelids, but now he knew that he wouldn’t wake up, that he was awake, that his marvelous dream had been his other state, absurd like all dreams, a dream in which he had ridden through the strange avenues of a darkened city with green and red lights which burned without flame or smoke, on an enormous metal insect that hummed between his legs. In this dream's infinite lie they had also raised him from the ground, someone had also approached him with a knife in his hand, and he had remained face up, his face up with his eyes shut between the bonfires.