“My head ached. I was thinking of the pain, and wondering how it was possible for physical agony to be so intense. I had never imagined that such a torture could be endured. Yet here was I, both conscious and able to think clearly. And not only to think, but to observe the process and make calculations about it. The steel circle round my skull was closing in with faint cracking noises. How much farther could it shrink? I counted the cracking sounds. Since I took the triple dose of pain-killer, there had been two more. …I took out my watch and laid it on the table.
“Give me morphia,” I said in a calm, hostile, icy tone.
“You mustn’t take morphia! You know perfectly well. The very idea! And what are you doing with that watch?”
“You will give me morphia within three minutes.”
They looked me uneasily up and down. No one moved. Three minutes went by. Then ten more. I slipped the watch calmly into my pocket and rose unsteadily to my feet.
“Then take me to the Fiakker Bar. They say it’s a good show, and to-night I want to enjoy myself.”
The others jumped up with a feeling of relief.
I never confessed the secret to anyone, either then or afterwards. I had made up my mind at the end of those three minutes — for the first and last time in my life — that if my headache had not stopped within the next ten I should throw myself under the nearest tram.
It never came out whether I should have kept to my resolve, for the pain left with the suddenness of lighting.”
A Journey Round My Skull