When the light returned, Malchus did not know if a minute had passed, or an hour, or a thousand years. Or if he had somehow gone back in time. Or ahead in time. Or if there was no time.
He spun about, specks of light whirling around as far as he could see, a cacophony of sounds penetrating his ear, whooshing, voices murmuring, roarings, a stinging against his skin as if he were falling through a sandstorm. Yet he felt no pain. He thought, so this is what death feels like. Yet he could feel his limbs, his eyelids, his lips, all of his body as if he still possessed it, unlike what he had imagined death would be, a freeing of the soul from the body, or ceasing to be at all.
Instead, his senses were alive to every sensation imaginable, yet none of them were as he had once felt things. The lights were almost too much for his eyes; yet he felt no discomfort in them. The sounds were almost too much for his good ear; yet he felt no pain in it. It was as if each of his senses could perceive the stimulus of the others, as if he could smell and taste and hear lights, as if he could see, smell and taste sounds too, as if he could hear the stinging on his skin. If this was death, then it was a strange thing.
He reached up again to feel for his missing right ear as if for verification that he was really in his body, so out of ordinary were all the sensations he felt, especially the sounds that were not sounds that he seemed now to hear through the ear he did not have. As his hand moved up toward his temple, he felt for dried blood on his throat where his knife had penetrated but felt nothing, not blood, not sliced flesh, just a faint scar.
It was as if all of time had been compressed into one moment, and a single moment had exploded into all of time.