It’s the noises I become aware of first. But even then, there aren’t that many.
Something’s beeping, slow and steady.
Occasionally there are footsteps, soft and quick.
Rustling of fabric.
Scratching of a pen or pencil.
I can’t move at all, no matter how hard I try. No matter how much I will myself to open my eyes, to move a finger, anything.
Pain is the second thing I become aware of.
My head freaking hurts!
Why? What happened? Where am I?
Voices. I hear voices. Quiet but clear.
“How is he?” One voice questions. Familiar. Why is it familiar?
“Stable.” Another voice responds.
“Let me know if there are any changes.” The first voice replies.
A third voice speaks up, a girl this time. And familiar. So familiar. “What are you doing here?”
“Visiting hours are open to anyone,” The first voice replies.
“Not for long,” The girl responds.
Everything after is a blur. A jumble of voices and sounds as I fade in and out. But everything always stays dark.
Finally, I’m able to open my eyes.
The light shining down on me is blinding. The fabric covering me scratchy. The walls, ceiling, and floor all white. And even though everything’s out of focus, I can tell where I am.
Well, that’s just great.
Movement next to me catches my eye.
A girl. No more than fifteen sits in the chair next to my bed. White t-shirt, black pants, and navy blue tennis shoes. Her blonde hair falls in her face as she stares down at an object in her hands. Any other features are obscured. Everything blurring into everything else.
I’m having a very hard time concentrating. My head pounds and the bandages on my chest are itchy.
I watch her, trying to focus. Trying to figure out what it is she’s holding. Who she is.
I know her . . . no, I don’t. I’ve never seen her before.
Finally, I’m able to make out exactly what the object is. It’s like it’s the only thing I can see clearly. Everything else around it and in the room is blurry.
A gun. It’s a gun.
She turns it over in her hands a few times, just staring at it. Mesmerized by it.
Until I move my arm slightly, then her attention goes straight to me.
Her head snaps up and she pushes to her feet in one quick, fluid motion. She stands in front of me, looking down at me. Her hand holding the gun, her finger over the trigger as she holds it by her side.
I look at her in confusion. “Where am I?” I ask her. I look around the room again. I’m in a hospital. I knew that, right? I look back at her. “Who are you?”
It’s like some kind of switch flips when I ask her that. Surprise colors her expression before it goes blank. I watch as she slides the gun into her waistband and then turns and leaves without uttering a word.
My world begins to blur and fade into darkness again and I struggle to stay awake. I can hear her in the hallway. Hear her talking to someone. Someone I know. I’ve heard his voice before.
I can’t hear what they’re saying. Not all of it at least. Only bits and pieces of it.
“What do you want to do?” Zero questions.
I don’t catch the first half of whatever she says. And even after, I’m only able to pick up pieces of whatever she tells him. “. . . reassign him . . . watch him . . . any sign of . . . lock him up.”
I’m fading faster now. Unable to hear the conversation hardly at all now.
“. . . best idea?”
“ . . . no choice.”
“And should he cause problems . . . future?”
“I’ll kill him.”
That’s the last thing I hear before my world goes black once again.
I don’t know how long I’m out before I wake again, but it feels like an eternity. My whole body aches, my head feels like it’s been split open, and my throat feels like I’m swallowing broken glass.
I let out a groan as I struggle to try and bring myself to a sitting position. When that fails, I end up grabbing at my head as if I can somehow ease the pounding there.
I hear the door to the room open and I turn my head as the nurse comes in. She raises her eyebrows at me when she sees I’m awake and then hits the button to call for the doctor.
“How are you feeling?” She asks me.
“Like someone’s trying to split my skull with an ax,” I grumble, my voice hoarse.
She hands me a cup of water before taking notes on the clipboard that was formerly hanging at the foot of my bed. Moments later, the doctor comes in, checking me over and making sure I’m okay, other than the splitting headache. He’s not alone though. Zero comes walking in with him.
He waits silently by the end of the bed until both the doctor and the nurse have finally left after explaining all my medications and procedures. None of which I understand or am able to concentrate on with the head pounding the way it is.
Zero walks up and stands beside me, staring down at me silently for a long time. “Do you remember what happened?” He finally asks me. “How you got here?”
I start to shake my head, but then flashes of something flow through my mind. Images. Like I’m trying to piece together a movie I’ve seen in my head, but I don’t have all the scenes. Things are missing.
“I was . . . shot,” I finally whisper. “Fell.”
An alarmed look crosses Zero’s face but it’s gone so fast that I think I imagined it. He shakes his head. “You were hit in the by Garrett,” He tells me. “He used a metal folding chair and he did quite a lot of damage.”
I frown at him. “Garrett?” I question.
“Garrett Martin,” Zero tells me.
Like a flood, everything comes back to me. Immediately I try to sit up. Try to get up. “The team, are they alright? What happened? Where is everyone? Thirteen-”
Zero cuts me off when he holds his hand up to silence me. “They’re all fine,” He says.
Relief flows through me and I sink back down onto the bed. “Where are they?” I repeat.
“They’ve gone on to continue tracking down Garrett,” He tells me.
I nod. “When can I join them.”
Something crosses across his expression but I can’t identify what it. “I’m afraid,” He finally says. “not for a while. You need to recover and even then, I think I should have you reassigned for the time being.”
Like a ghost whispering in my ear, the words come back to me. “. . .reassign him . . . watch him . . .”
He pats me on the arm. “I will inform the team,” He says before he turns and leaves the room. Leaving me along with my thoughts.
Something’s not right. Something’s wrong.
Something is not as it should be.
And I think that something, is me.