Hey, I’ve been drinking and I thought this would be a good time to put up an installment from my work in progress. This will be tweaked as the story unfolds (there’s already ten chapters in the works… supposed to be a short story but hey, go figure). I’ve learned that posting something to my blog will shine a light on the issues I couldn’t see in the original format. Issues as mundane as typos and as big as mid-stream name changes. I’ll probably take this down tomorrow morning so count yourself lucky if you see this draft 😉 As well, I’ve been tasked by a good friend and mentor to put this shtuff up, while I’m working it. To satisfy the writer’s desire to publish publish publish and to overcome the need to perfect perfect perfect into oblivion before doing so. To push myself to put something up at least every week.
My sight came back. A woman leaned into my field of vision, her expression covered by a protective face mask. Blue eyes met mine through the plastic shield and if there was a message in them, I could not read it. I heard the click as she set a syringe down on a nearby metal surface.
“And we’re back.” She blinked and a smile crinkled the corners of her eyes “How are you feeling this morning, Ms. Wheeler?”
“Where am I?” The simple words garbled in my mouth because there was a large dry stone on my tongue. I tried to push it out but after several failed attempts, I realized, the stone is my tongue. I closed my eyes against the harsh light and swallowed. My throat made loud clicking sounds.
“You have a visitor this morning, Ms. Wheeler,” the woman said. “A police officer from-“
“Detective,” someone snapped. “With Sacrament PD.”
I opened my eyes. A man stepped into view and looked down at me.
“I need some answers about the night in question, Gwen.”
The connection between words and their meaning was somewhat frayed and it was difficult to parse their sound from the increasing thunder of blood against my eardrums. When I tried to move my arms, I could not. I lifted my head to look down the length of my body and could see only the white sheet and chrome guardrails of a hospital bed. My dry tongue was now capable of slight movement and I tried to jerk my limbs into action while I spoke.
“Where am I?”
“Gwen,” the detective said. “You need to answer my questions before you get to ask any of your own.”
“Tell me where I am.“
“That doesn’t matt-“
“You’re in Davis Medical.” The woman spoke over the detective, shielding me from his obvious hostility. “Under standard observation and quarantine.”
Quarantine? “I can’t move.” I tried to lift one leg but it was bound to the other.
“You’ve been temporarily restrained for your own safety, Ms. Wheeler.”
The detective delivered a scoffing snort. “And that of those around her,” he added, as though to himself but not.
Nylon straps, I determined by the strength of them. With chains that rattled against the metal frame of the hospital bed when I moved. I closed my eyes again. Battling the light was too much effort. “Why am I here?”
“Gwen, we don’t have time for this bullshit.” I did not like this man. “We need to know how and when and why your daughter and her friends were pulled into this act of terrorism.”
“Damn it, Gwen-“
“Detective,” the nurse interrupted. “She may need a few more minutes to recover from the sedation.”
“Nurse,” the detective snapped back. “National security doesn’t have a few more minutes.”
I’d barely regained consciousness and the man in the dark coat was speaking as though I was intentionally stonewalling, not rising from an induced coma. “I don’t know anything. I don’t know what’s going on. My feet are freezing. My legs hurt. My ears are ringing.” Tears welled up in my eyes. I knew something was terribly wrong but the memory of it was slippery and wouldn’t let me look directly at it.
“You suffered some injuries when you fell, Ms. Wheeler. As well, you’ve been infected with a high dose of venom.” The nurse spoke for the benefit of all. “You will experience some nerve pain and some gaps in memory for a while. This is normal and should fade within another forty-eight hours or so.”
“Another 48 hours?” The detective and I spoke at the same time. Something in my throat popped on the last word. I tasted blood and began to cough. I could not stop.
“Water,” I gasped.
“I can give you an ice chip,” the nurse said.
I heard her shoes squeak away on the linoleum floor. A moment later, she returned. I opened my eyes and then my mouth when I saw the cool slip of sweet relief at the end of long silver tongs. She set the chip on my tongue.
My head lurched up and my teeth clamped around the stainless steel. I heard a demonic growl that made the hairs on my arms stand up. The sound vibrated my chest and I realized that it was coming from inside of me. I jerked my head and pulled the tongs from her fingers. After spitting them aside, I lunged for her hand and snapped on the air, just short of her rapidly retreating gloved hand. My body began to spasm. I’m having a seizure, I thought. I growled again, moaning through the pain of the sound. The spasms of my larger muscle groups weren’t random; they were calculated to test the strength of the restraints. I tried to speak, to ask what was happening, but what spilled from my mouth were mere guttural grunts.
“Damn it!” The detective cursed. He kicked a chair with wheels. I heard it spin across the floor and stop against the far wall.
“It’s just a venom-induced reflexive action.” The woman’s voice was cool, despite getting heat from all sides. “She can’t help it.”
“I thought we were passed this stage!”
“Doctor Spurlock did make you aware that the patient might not be ready for an interview.” I appreciated her tone and vowed not to kill her when I broke free of the restraints.
“It’s not an interview, it’s an interrogation. She’s not a patient, she’s a damned suspect. And Doctor Spurlock doesn’t have Homeland Security breathing down her fat neck. I need information and I need it fucking now.”
I felt something rip and one of my legs came free. The instinct that drove me ramped into high gear and my back arched. Another restraint snapped and my hips shot upward.
“Holy shit!” The detective scrambled back, the sound of his retreat followed by a crash and a meaty thump. He must have tripped over the chair he’d so recently kicked.
When I got free, I knew that the animal inside me would kill him first. Hopefully, the nurse would escape. I liked her.
“I’m going to give her a sedative now.”
The statement was so matter-of-fact that I chuckled. The sound that came out was not amusing. I awaited her approach with trepidation. I knew that whatever ‘reflexive action’ she had mentioned was in high gear. My fingers curled into talons, my teeth grinding in anticipation. When I saw movement on my periphery, I jerked my head to the side and glared at her. I wanted to warn her that I was going to bite her, to tear her flesh with my teeth and nails. If she did not run, she would be an obstacle that must be removed from my quest. The only thing that mattered to me was finding my daughter and I would tear down the world to get to her.
My daughter. A memory of her face, the sensation of falling.
A sudden burst of thick saliva filled my mouth and I spat at the nurse. She instinctively lifted her hands against the spray. Wisps of smoke rose from her protective gear. She hurriedly stepped back out of view.
Good, I thought. Can’t sedate me if you can’t get close enough. I then heard the steady and familiar beep of a button being repeatedly pushed. A cold flush slid up my arm from the back of my bound hand.
“No, no, no,” I snarled as my vision began to tunnel.
“You’ll have to try this again later.”
“Fuck that,” the detective barked.
The light and their argument faded as I plummeted back into the bed, through the floor, to the center of the earth.
Sometimes, I’ve noticed that the longer I work something, the crappier it gets. I am working on walking that fine line.