Today I wish to share with you the tale of an epic struggle between a man and his-self, a grand story of a subtle conflict, of inner turmoil. Legend speaks of a horrendous villain who knows no physical form beyond that of his victim, El Fatigue. He strikes like a ninja, calm and collected, with his next target sighted. His pursuit is merciless, relentless, and unstoppable. Countless scores before me have fallen to this shadowy force, having left their defences wide open and poorly prepared. Some would resist, a valiant effort, but if El Fatigue sees it fit to mark you, then your fate was sealed from the start. I’d heard of how the creature had terrorised entire campuses up and down the country in quick succession, decimating the faculties of concentration en-masse. Competence would crumble, whilst the surviving fragments of dignity and self-respect were cast away in the process, like ashes in the wind. Once the battle was over, once the bearer’s mind had been burnt to the ground, their heads would fall to gravity, their lifeless bodies left to face the heavy burden of disapproval. Yes, El Fatigue is a monster, whose reputation is only preceded by his lethality.

So that day, when the sky began to grow heavy with an evening mist, as I wearily travelled to my final lecture of the day, I knew that he had already chosen me.

The next offering for his sick manhunt, I felt my heart skip a beat in realisation. The long day had taken its toll, I was ill-prepared for another two hours. El Fatigue knew I was weak, he knew my body was starved of caffeine, and without this formidable ally there was nothing standing in his way. My sleepless nights made me a target, my ill-preparedness made me the game.

I tried to ignore it, I tried to stay focussed and remain one step ahead, but I was terrified. The thought of him lurking in the shady depths somewhere made me feel sick, the fact that I was to fall indefinitely was too much to bear. ‘I can beat this’ I thought to myself, trying to remain hopelessly optimistic in the wake of a strenuous two-hour stand-off. I shook off the image of ‘him’, closing in on my ever-failing person, like a vulture circling above the wounded. If I could remain enthused or at least distracted, just long enough until it was time to stand once again, to let the adrenaline carry me home, then perhaps I would survive this close encounter. Of course I wouldn’t, I surmised hopelessly. It was a fool’s errand to think anyone could outrun El Fatigue, to hide away from him is futile, he can smell your fear. I grew uneasy, sitting this still for this long made me a bigger target, my guard would fall, El Fatigue would surely spot me. Perhaps not, at least until the Lecturer killed the lights, a terrible mistake.

It is universally recognised as a cardinal rule not to dim the lights if one feels as though they are being stalked by the beast. A continuous barrage on the senses is, in fact, one of the few effective methods to fend off the sleep-dealer and keep him at bay. This is why he thrives in the classrooms, where the best of us regress into a state that goes beyond mere idleness, it’s like a feeding ground, there would never be any refuge for the weak.

We were less than halfway through when he finally began his attack. A series of short, harassing assaults that were numbing as they were frequent. I knew what he was doing; I’d heard the survivor stories, who talk of small but persistent attacks on the mind. Old Fatigue did it to test your defences and to sever the lines of thought. It would make you sluggish, ripe for the kill. Sick bastard, it was his signature move. I put up a bigger fight than both he and I had anticipated, not that it was of any use. I would break free from his hold, only to slip back under. His attacks grew more substantial as I grew weaker, to the point where he was dragging me under, into blissful nothingness. Every time I would resurface like a drowning animal, gasping for air, it only made him more determined.

I was exhausted from the struggle, my cognitive batteries were bleeding out, my vision was blurring. I remember trying to write something, anything, like an S.O.S signal to the world around me, screaming for help. It was futile; I was so hopelessly ensnared by this point that my frantic scribblings were quite possibly nothing more than lines of ink. I was alone, cut off from any hope of rescue or revival, the room was getting darker still.

Now, there comes a point where even the strongest of us must admit defeat; El Fatigue gets his way in the end, because we cannot defeat ourselves. He pits us against our fallibility as humans, the need for sleep, for food, for play. The cruellest truth is one we cannot shy away from, nor can we argue against. With the very last of my strength I fumbled in my pockets, hazily observing the antiquated Nokia that lay in my hands. The time, it was all over. There was still the best part of an hour to go and I was already on my last leg, defeated. There is no graceful way to accept annihilation, other than let it happen, and pray you are past the point of knowing any better. The last thing I could feel was the wind in my hair as my head slowly fell to the desk, devoid of sight or hearing. Then, without warning the crack of a light switch came to my side.

Blinding artificial glare filled my eyes, the adrenaline kicked in. I felt the surge revive me like a bolt of lightning, I yawned in a gallon of air as my synapses rebooted. The lecturer, that wonderful embodiment of ironic mercy, he had decided to finish early for the day, and it was with the resounding boom of his voice that I took back what was mine from the clutches of El Fatigue. Saved by the bell… sort of.

I walked out of that classroom in disbelief, for I had been spared from a fate I was not ready to endure. It was by happy coincidence that I survived an encounter with the harbinger of snooze, but I know it is not the end. For you see dear readers, you cannot stop El Fatigue, you can only anger him. He will return one day, ready to claim what he was denied. But for now I am safe, safe from the monster, safe to share my story of triumph.


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Recently graduated from Coventry University BaHons First-Class Media & Communications Complete with a year of studies overseas (Karlstads Universitet, Sweden) Experienced content creator, videography, photography & graphics. For more information contact Ask for a digital copy of my portfolio!

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