72 hours

About five years ago I took a course in 20th century Chinese literature at my university. I remember an anecdote from one story in particular, especially every time I stay up late like tonight, like right now. It was about a woman (I think) who was working for some company or other and was assigned to write an instruction manual, I forget for what, maybe computer software, some machine or appliance, its not so important. Anyways, she had a deadline, had to finish it within three days, but it was a heck of a task and nearly impossible to get done. So this lady stays up for three consecutive nights, I have no idea how, coffee or running in place or pills or something, but she does it and writes this instruction manual before she’s transferred to another department (I forgot to mention that earlier). Only problem is she works herself too hard and has some brain anneurysm or something and dies. She finishes the manual, but she dies. That’s what her successor relates, as she’s the narrator of the story. That’s actually the only part of the story I remember, and I remember other stories from that class, but thats the one that’s really stuck with me up to now, the one that enters my thoughts in the early hours of the morning when my pupils are dilated and my head is throbbing. When my vision gets blurry I wonder if it’s the first stage of a long and slow 72-hour dying process. I’ve never even fainted though, not from from fatigue or fear or that sort of thing, don’t know if I ever will, don’t see myself as that kind of person.

72 hours straight and gone! Well, I think about it every time I stay up late, every time I miss a night of sleep I remind myself I only have two more nights to go. It’s 4:30 a.m. now.

-Zac Herman 

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