Note from the author: Before you read this chapter please read the prologue I posted last week, it’s not hugely important right now but it will be important further on in the story.
“For fuck sake, get the goddamned flashlight out of my eyes!” I yelled, swatting at the confused doctor and blinking furiously.
“Oh thank GOD!” said a voice on my right, “You had us worried, Harley, don’t do that again.”
Small arms surrounded me and my best friend continued her motherly tirade, “One moment you were telling me why musicals are better than real life then the next you got really quiet. Then you just walked out the door. No goodbye, kiss my ass, nothing. So I followed you and tried to talk to you but you wouldn’t respond… you wouldn’t even look at me. THEN you walked right out in front of a car! You scared me to death! DO. NOT. DO. THAT. EVER. AGAIN!”
“Ma’am, I need to finish my examination. The fact that she’s no longer unresponsive doesn’t mean she’s okay. We still have no idea what caused her to go into a fugue state to begin with.” The doctor spoke and looked pointedly at Cassie who was still clinging to me.
I watched them both in confusion. Fugue state? What was going on?
“Wait, wait… what?” I was obviously in no shape to form a coherent sentence. Cassie’s words tried to sink through the clouds in my mind and I frantically grabbed at them, “First and foremost, musicals are the shit, spontaneous song and dance routines are awesome. Second… you let me walk out into traffic?!”
Cassie smacked my arm and jumped off of the examination table. “Dude, I didn’t let you do anything. It took everything I had to pull your sorry ass out of the road and keep you there until Thomas showed up. People were staring and Mrs. Pendleton almost called the cops on me. Then on the way to the hospital you kept trying to jump out of the car… while it was moving. Thomas had to hold you down until we got here. And all the while you were completely silent and staring straight ahead.”
“I… I don’t remember any of that. I remember telling you that I would make an amazing Rizzo then… nothing.” I looked at the doctor, confusion and fear in my eyes, “Then he was shining a flashlight in my eyes.”
“You remember nothing at all between those events? No feelings you may have had?” The doctor asked, pen and medical chart in hand.
“No. Nothing.” My voice quavered, “What’s wrong with me?”
Cassie climbed back onto the examination table with me and laid her head on my shoulder. The doctor eyed her disapprovingly before answering, “We’re not sure Miss Decker. We’d like to keep you overnight for observation and run a few test.”
I started to protest, I hated hospitals… they smelled of death and cleaning chemicals and they made my skin crawl, but Cassie pinned me with a glare and I nodded, “Okay, whatever we need to do.”
Several hours, and enough tests to buy the doctor a sports car or two, later and we still had no idea what was wrong with me. The doctors had found no abnormalities in my bloodwork, X-rays, or CT scans, as far as they could tell I was perfectly healthy. Still, they insisted I stay overnight so that they could “keep an eye on me” in case I had another episode.
I was set up in a room (private, how special was I?) and Cassie was sent home still a nervous wreck, Thomas at her side. She protested, loudly, but visiting hours were over and she wasn’t immediate family so I was left alone with my thoughts. Not a safe thing.
My thoughts ran circles in my head as I struggled to sleep, memories from earlier finally began to drift in and panic gripped at my chest. I didn’t know why but I felt as though someone had done something to me to make me forget. I wanted to tell someone but I was afraid that they would think I was crazy… I thought I was crazy. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and willed my brain to be quiet so that I could sleep. My brain had other ideas, it played the events of the day over and over again, each time with more clarity. Finally I resorted to flipping through the public access tv channels for distraction. A sweet man with huge hair, painting “happy little trees”, was more than happy to oblige me, his soft voice soothed me and I eventually fell asleep.
I dreamed there was a man in my room, his features were hidden in shadows. The room was drained of color and mist blurred the edges of everything within it. He crept to the side of my bed and stared down at me, longing in his eyes. He whispered, “This should have never happened, we should have gotten to you first. Soon you’ll be home and away from their influence. Do not worry, I’ll be watching you.” A strange lilt to his voice, then he was gone.
The next morning I woke to a nurse checking my vitals, the dream a quickly fading memory. “It looks like someone is going home today.” She said brightly, removing the blood pressure cuff from my arm.
“Awesome.” I replied, relief washing through me. I still didn’t have any answers but they were letting me go home so everything had to be okay, right?
The nurse spoke again, pulling me from my thoughts, “The doctor will be here shortly, once he give us the okay we can get you released. Your friend is waiting in the hall, is it okay if I send her in?”
“YES! Yes, that would be great.” I was way too excited to see Cassie.
The nurse looked at me funny for a moment then left the room, leaving the door open a crack. I heard the nurse speak in soft tones then a squeal erupted in the hallway. Cassie burst into my room a moment later, face split in a smile.
“The doctors say you’re fine, you get to go home today.” She said, smile still plastered on her face.
“Yeah, I’m ready to g t f o.” I sighed, “Hospitals suck, so bad.”
Cassie nodded sympathetically and plopped down in a chair by my bed. She was quiet for a moment and I could tell by the way she was twirling her hair and looking anywhere but at me that she had something to say.
I let her fidget in her seat for a few moments before I spoke again. “What is it, Cassie?” I asked impatiently, rolling my eyes for emphasis.
She looked at me sheepishly, “Well…” she began and looked away again.
“Fuckin-a, out with it, woman!” I goaded her.
She sniffed at me then asked, “Well… I was just wondering… do you remember anything yet?”
Her light tone belied the anxiety she was trying to hide but I could see it in her eyes, I felt my heart speed up in response. I had been trying to ignore the reason I was in the hospital, the thing that the doctors couldn’t explain. The worried look on Cassie’s face made me think hard before answering. I did remember, everything, but I still didn’t understand.
“Yes, I remember. But…” I paused, not wanting to worry Cassie further.
She adjusted herself in her seat and gave me her best motherly glare, “Yes?”
“I remember it happening but I don’t remember deciding to do it. There was a weird buzzing in my head and then it was like someone else took the wheel. It was my body but I don’t remember being in control of it… I don’t think I’m explaining it well.” I rushed my words, afraid I wouldn’t be able to get it out otherwise.
Cassie tilted her head in confusion, “So, it was like someone was controlling you?”
“Yes… no. I mean, I don’t know what I mean.” I threw my hands up in exasperation, “It’s all blurry and weird. Maybe I’ll understand once it’s had time to sink in.”
“Maybe it’s just stress.” Cassie said slowly, picking her words carefully.
I could tell she didn’t believe that but I decided to ignore her tone, “Maybe.” I agreed.
“Maybe you’re just getting senile in your old age.” She snickered and ducked the pillow I launched at her head.
“Old age? Seriously?” I yelled in mock outrage, “I turn 25 in two days… I’m literally only 5 months older than you.”
“Five months is a long time… old lady.” Cassie shot back, dissolving into giggles.
I rolled my eyes and laughed, relieved to be talking about something “normal”, the 5 month age difference became a running joke after I had bragged about being “older and wiser” in kindergarten. Cassie was never going to let me live that one down.
Snickering, I launched another pillow at her, which she ducked… unfortunately the doctor picked that moment to come in with my release papers. The pillow landed at his feet and I was mortified by his look of disapproval. Cassie continued to chuckle behind her hand was silenced by his irritated glare. He sighed and shook his head. “We can’t keep you here if you don’t want to stay.” He said slowly, “But I recommend you take it easy for the next couple of days. We’d also like for you to see a therapist, as this seems to have been caused by something psychological rather than physical.”
I opened my mouth to protest but Cassie was faster, “Of course, doctor. I’ll be with her 24 hours a day for the rest of the week and I know a great therapist that I’m sure would be happy to see her.”
He gave her a look that clearly said he hoped she was joking. When she failed to laugh or add a punchline he simply sighed and handed me the papers. “I’ll just let you get dressed. A nurse will be up in a few minutes with a wheelchair to escort you out.”
Cassie shot me a warning look before I had the chance to speak. I swallowed the argument on the tip of my tongue and nodded instead, “Thank you, doctor.”
He raised his eyebrow and left the room, shaking his head. Cassie patted my leg, “See, that wasn’t so hard, even you can be cooperative.
“Yes it was… I think I’m going to start bleeding from my eyeballs.” I grumbled. Looking at Cassie I sighed and shook my head. I loved Cassie but the next few days were going to suck.