So I wasn’t dead, at least not yet and my legs were working again. I stretched them under my bed sheets, grateful to have a sense of feeling.
I must have been loaded with meds because my pain had greatly subsided even though I was still conscious of my torn insides and the bullet that was now lodged tightly against my left facet joint. My memories were blank again and my mind was trying to ramp up, searching for answers.
I had already scanned the clean, sparse, windowless room and surmised that I was not in a traditional hospital room. There were no curtains or windows and no noises emanated from the hallway outside. An array of monitors and machines hummed around me in a peaceful, soothing rhythm, while the IV bag kept its continuous drip into my tightly bandaged arm. The only other piece of furniture was a wooden chair and a small table with a medical chart and a pen on it. I was already reaching for the chart.
The penmanship was clean and tight, all the characters printed in crisp, block letters. A name was written on top of the chart (my name perhaps?) and below it was a time-log of sorts, broken into thirty-minute increments. As I read the time stamped entries, memories started flickering crosscurrent into my thinking and I recalled staring into interrogation lights while three men stood across from me. I remembered their odd comments, about being aware of my brain and then I remembered dying, well, not actually dying, just being brought here.
10:15 pm. We killed him. His vitals are still okay but it was probably too much.
10:45 pm. Yes. We’ve definitely killed him. It’s just a matter of time.
11:15 pm. Still alive but barely.
11:45 pm. Interesting. His heart rate is getting stronger and he’s showing what looks like a REM pattern of sleep.
12:15 am. Yes, it’s definitely a REM cycle. He’s dreaming.
The door opened and a white robed orderly entered loudly, interrupting my reading. He chuckled when he saw me holding the medical chart and shook his head ruefully. “What a head trip,” he muttered as he set a thick envelope on my lap and said, “You’re supposed to look through these to see if they help your memory,” and then he was gone.
The icy fingers of fear spread their familiar touch (yes it was a familiar emotion) through my soul as I continued reading the time stamped entries.
12:45 am. He knows. Kevin woke him up and confronted him and even though he didn’t respond, Kevin is convinced that he knows.
1:15 am. He’s a dead man. Regardless of what we get out of him, it’s just a matter of time.
They were right. I briefly considered trying to leave but with the consideration came the horrifying realization that I would probably never be leaving this hospital bed. The bullet had collided with my spine and left several of my vertebrae fatally weakened. The awareness of it crashed into my soul, bringing another wave of nausea with it. My heart began racing and a surge of adrenaline sent a tingling sensation along my spine. I was a dead man.
Fighting back the nausea and a headache that had started building around my temples, I picked up the envelope and emptied its contents on to my lap. They were pictures, perhaps a dozen of them, all close-up facial shots of people I had never seen before, or at least I didn’t remember seeing before. The first one brought a twinge of anxiety to me as I looked into the smiling features of a plain but pleasant looking man. He wore a crisp, blue suit and his somewhat messy, wavy brown hair gave him a youthful appearance. I felt concern for him but he also troubled me deeply and I wondered if he was partly responsible for the desperate mess I was in.
The next photo brought an unexpected sense of relief to me and my fear slightly abated as I studied her features. She was a beautiful woman with flowing brown hair and laughing eyes that conveyed both innocence and delight. She seemed a little younger than me, since I was…well, I couldn’t remember how old I was. Anyway, she seemed younger and kind, very kind. She was wearing a big, floppy hat like the kind that people wear at the beach and she seemed happy. I liked her I decided and I could trust her, if I could only remember who she was or where she could be found.
She showed up in the next photo as well but in this one she wasn’t alone. She had her arm around a younger girl whose features nearly matched her own, except that the younger girl’s hair was red and she had a smattering of freckles that brushed across her rosy skin. The younger girl was smiling and her sparkling blue eyes conveyed as much emotion and delight as her mother. Yes, I realized, they were a mother-daughter duo.
The good feelings left with the next picture however. It showed a very handsome man in a tuxedo whose style and smile could have been ripped from the pages of GQ magazine. There was something unsettling about his body language and the intense gleam in his eye, especially when contrasted with the woman standing beside him. She was the woman from the first two photos, the woman I knew I could trust, but in this picture, despite the smile on her lips, her eyes looked lifeless and flat, like she had witnessed things she would never forget, things she would have longed to forget.
I didn’t like him and I suddenly wondered if he was the reason I was dying in this hospital bed without any memory of who I was or how I had come to this tragic end. “He is my enemy.” I whispered aloud and then I flipped to the next photograph.
It was Rachel. I was startled with my sudden knowledge but yes, that was her name and I loved her. I knew it even before the words formed in my mind and I felt an acute concern for her safety. She was beautiful, the quintessential supermodel and that was all I knew.
I was groping for additional details, searching my blank mind to try to remember something else, when the door handle to my room turned and I was no longer alone.
End of Chapter Nine. To purchase this book and continue reading in printed or electronic form click here.