The world teetered into darkness. Beryl's voice sounded far away, as if his ears were covered by headphones with nothing playing through them. When he was a boy he'd had trouble hearing and had to be taken to the hospital. They'd diagnosed glue ear and given him an operations to put grommets in (he thought of them as little rubber washers, even now). Was that happening again? At least he'd get jelly and ice cream in the hospital.
He felt a dull crash and a sharp pain in his arm and across the small of his back. That was unexpected. He didn't remember that happening. It felt like when he was playing with Ginger Dashey and he'd fallen out of the apple tree at Brigg's farm. Ginger had pushed him, he was sure of it, although the boy had denied being anywhere near him and claimed the branch had broken. He'd even taken Cam back to the tree and shown him the broken branch, so hollow with rot the farmer had marked the tree to be felled. Whatever happened to Ginger Dashey? He hadn't thought about him in years. He'd have to have a look in the morning, see if he had a record. Five bob would get you ten he was in prison somewhere.
White took a breath. It seemed to take an age to pull air into his lungs, and even then he couldn't take a deep one. It felt like his whole chest was in a vice; as if he were Fay Wray in the original King Kong movie, caught up in the grip of the giant gorilla.
The monster was roaring at him, filling his senses with the smell of cheese. He could feel the bacon in his stomach winning, the cheese coming back up. Dear God! Why did his chest hurt so much? Had he been in a car crash again? He remembered being in one when he was a copper. Was he still a copper?
“Sir? Sir? Can you hear me? An ambulance is on its way”
Why was Peters standing over him? Why was he on the floor? White twisted to one side and was quietly sick.