It goes by many names - shock, panic, dread. Yet none of these words truly justify the emotion that all humans know but none can define.
It always begins on a day of smooth sailing. You are on a course; you have a plan. Then, suddenly, the event happens. Your car veers off the road. Maybe you receive a call with news that makes you drop your phone and shatter it to pieces. Perhaps you are snapped out of a reverie to an unsettling scene. However the situation beings, the emotion is universal.
Your brain, full of neurons working at the speed of light, suddenly freezes. You can’t form a single coherent sentence, maybe not even a single word. There is a gaping vacuum in your mind. You feel the knowledge that everything has changed rise up your throat like bile; it coats your throat in a sour aftertaste. The air you breathed in so easily becomes stuck halfway between your lungs and your nose. You choke on the gases that keep you alive. Your eyes zoom around, not long enough to focus on anything. You are the ice sculpture you saw days in the park- frozen, skewed by an arrow mid-fall, eyes wide open.
Then, suddenly, the moment is over. Your brain restarts, you exhale, and the world slows back to normal. The residual terror still remains, dissipating into your veins with malice. You shrug your shoulders to rid yourself of the tension you didn’t notice before. And then comes the hard part. You must face the monster, that unpleasant surprise that made you feel this way.