Chancelade brought his face near Mina’s, until it was so close he couldn’t see any more. Then he slipped his own body over this motionless one and felt every part of his own skin melt into this other skin not his. It was like entering a bath, and the dense mass of hot water swung back and forth. Soon the whole room, and the bed, were caught up in this slow and powerful movement; the white ceiling, the walls, the door, the windows, the furniture all grew and diminished in time with it, and the noise of his breathing rasped his throat as it mounted higher and higher. Chancelade couldn’t see anything any more. He couldn’t hear anything or feel anything; he was caught up in a deep swinging movement that shook the whole world. A strange tempest blew threw the room, digging sudden inexplicable gulfs, then as suddenly filling them up again with a swift invisible tide.
There was no more thought. There was no more action or time or place. Perhaps the world itself had disappeared, even, just suddenly disappeared leaving a painful wound behind in the darkness of space. All that was left was this whirling movement that surrounded Chancelade and Mina; and they too were being slowly absorbed by this silent vortex, which was drinking up their flesh, tearing out their hair, melting their bones and their nails. A sort of heatless heat, a calm too great and too precise, was thrusting them into the anonymous mud and drowning them. Chancelade, suffocating, tried to lift his head, but was at once overcome again by fatigue and fell back once more into the tumult.
He tried to think, too, for a few seconds. Through the fog he tried to compose a long sentence that might do duty as a thought. Something like:
‘I’d like a cheese and tomato sandwich.’
But it was no use. The sentence too fell into the bath, and the liquid mass swung it too backwards and forwards, dissolving it word by word.
Chancelade made several more attempts. He said:
‘I’d like a cup of black coffee with sugar.’
‘The ChanChan civilization was wiped out by that of the Incas at the battle of Paramonga in 1400.’
‘Cigarettes burn at 300 degrees Centigrade.'
But it was never any good. Silence had established itself in the room and devoured every sound. Words just entered the nebulous white mass and disappeared before they had time to leave a trace.
[Terra Amata, Le Clézio, J. M. G.]