She awoke to a kaleidoscope of color, disorientated. The night was dark and full of terrors, a murky backdrop to the vivid, livid inferno from which terrified screams emanated. The guttural cry that dragged her out of her comatose state awakened her to a nightmarish version of this mind-conjured Hades. Not that Hell was anything other than terrifying, except perhaps in the PG Disney Animated interpretation, so she forgave herself this redundancy of thought. This equivalent Greek God of the Underworld (Hades: the mythological God of the dead not Hades: the interim destination after death as per the Greek rendition) was a frightening Spectre, leaving her shaken not stirred. Her traumatizing view encompassed a short statured figure with flames shooting from the head, eyes pinpricks of devilish red and mouth agape emitting one continuous, uninterrupted, bat-like shriek. The horrendous sound was an accompaniment to the death dance of the body, whipped into a frenzy trying to escape the covering, spiraling ball of flames. Human Torch, she thought. Was this real or a figment of her bizarre imagination? A dramatic lucid dream perhaps? She had to help…it was what she did. Her body, though, refused to co-operate. Even the prospect of escaping this tour through the Netherworld could not incentivize her neurons to fire up the synapses leading to movement. She did make a valiant attempt, forcing life into her protesting limbs and extremities. The only effect this had was causing her brain to shut-down communication with the rest of her body and thereby derailing her one-woman salvage crusade. If only Astral Projection was a possibility and something she believed in! The likelihood of this type of out-of-body experience was not only improbable but would still not allow her to render assistance. Unbidden, her eyelids pantomimed those of a corpse from the Old West Era, that of being weighed down with lead. She slipped back into unconsciousness.
It could not have been more than a few minutes, or ten, before she was once again jarred awake. People were in the midst of frantically trying to resuscitate what was left of the still smoking Human Fireball, seemingly to no avail. She lifted her hand attempting to summon attention and rescue. The revelation of her presence in their midst, conversely, went unnoticed. She was obscured by the shrubbery belonging to the tiny oasis adjacent to the south-side entrance of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. The overgrown vegetation had, to a small degree, cushioned her landing when the propulsion of the explosion lifted and flung her body like an unseen hand pitching a fast ball. Her mind felt like cotton candy as she tried to hold onto thoughts and the anxious feeling that she was being forgotten dissolved like that very same confection submerged in a puddle of water. Mental acuity fled as she was dragged once more into the arms of Morpheus.
She resurfaced mere minutes later. A feeling of apprehension flooded her veins in tandem with the speeding red blood corpuscles pumping through her heart. All was not right in her world. It was not in her nature to ask for help, she was a woman of strength who did not require a man to save her. Pride, however, took a backseat in this situation and while helplessness rode shotgun, necessity took the wheel. She tried calling out for help but her feeble cries went unchecked. Mustering up energy, aided by her brain sending a burst of adrenaline to her muscles, she managed to lift herself from the ground and even take a few steps. Realizing that her field of vision was clouded by blood from a head wound trickling into her eyes, she managed to brush away that debris, clearing her view but unknowingly smudging and simply redistributing the soot and dust on her face. Her energy depleted by that slight movement she just stood there for a moment in zombie-like imitation, hoping all the while that someone would notice her stillness and sweep her off her feet. No in the romantic sense, mind you, but in the not having to move sense.
Minutes passed and she wondered at not only the lack of ‘knights in shining armor’ but also the nonexistence of freaking doctors outside the Emergency Room of a Hospital where an explosive disaster had just occurred. Unable to sustain either vertical immobility or even upright motion, she breathed a sigh of relief on spotting an unattended vehicle mere steps to her left. Collapsing onto the gurney after a self-forced surge of agility interspersed with embarrassing crawling movements over the Ambulance’s tailgate, she attempted to normalize her erratic breaths. Even indisposed as she was and with detail of her situation blurred by a hazy fog, her methodical, analytical training in instantaneous trauma resolution kicked in. She concluded that her sojourn in the back of the Ambulance was doubly advantageous – it was somewhere to rest her injured self, paired with the expectation of discovery and thus medical remedy of the injuries she’d sustained. These thoughts were both fleeting and fleeing and once more she succumbed to oblivion.
The segue to wakefulness was quite seamless this time, although the accompaniment of motion was new. Immediately, as the thought registered, movement ceased. Before her mind could comprehend the actions and sequence of events leading up to this moment, she was confronted by searing light that simultaneously caused her to wince at the brightness and sigh when the very same light was blocked by a shadowy form. The shadow was welcome as it protected her from the glaring illumination, but it also concealed the coinciding expressions of shock followed by resignation that were etched onto the visage of the first responder who had wrenched open the double doors at the back of the vehicle. The light at his back camouflaged his countenance from her and while her own thoughts were out-of-focus and just out of reach, she knew that he was a stranger to her.
“What are you doing in here? This is no place to catch a nap! Or did you party too hard and now you’re hung-over, huh lady?” His words were harsh, his voice hard and his tone unrecognizable.
“I…I…” she stammered, unable to articulate or recover her bearings. Her mind was fuzzy. Where was she? And how had she ended up here?
“If it’s not a passed out party girl, it’s a homeless drunk using this as a rest-stop! Come on get out of there! We have real emergencies here! And wait until you’re outside to puke, will you? I just hope you haven’t already! I can tell you I won’t be the one to clean up your mess!” the whiny Paramedic rambled.
Confused as she was, one thing she was sure of, his bed-side manner was atrocious. What was the purpose of becoming a medical professional if not to help people, she wondered. Forcing her limbs to obey her, she lifted herself up and pushed past him with all the pride and dignity she could muster. She would not allow him to diminish her power.
Oblivious as he was to her as an individual, he stepped out of the path she would have to take. Being a tight squeeze though she had to brush past him and inadvertently she bumped against his shoulder. His reaction to this was completely unexpected – he jumped as if confronted by a viper about to attack him. Unaware of what to make of his actions she stood there a moment in silent contemplation, the fog in her mind slowly dissipating but leaving remnants – large holes of missing information. It obviously was not respect, her inner voice responded facetiously. Fear, she introspected? No, that scenario seemed equally unlikely. Maybe fear of repercussions as ‘someone’ had to be held accountable for not checking the Ambulance earlier. Obviously she would have been revealed when the Paramedics went to shut the doors – that had been the premise of her getting discovered after all. Perhaps it was a form of prejudice against her or rather what she represented. Gazing down at herself the answer came to her. Disgust, which he now made no attempt to conceal, was the presiding emotion she was able to discern on his face – he was revolted by her appearance.
Her clothing, while not exactly in tatters, showed extreme wear and tear, covered as they were in grime from the explosion and fire. Based on her supposition of the picture that she presented, she assumed that the rest of her correlated to that vision and probably gave her the look of a vagabond. A dirty, dusty, disgusting embarrassment, well his assessment of her. The reality, of course, was far different and she had neither the drive nor the wherewithal to correct his distorted opinions or even to morph this into a teaching moment. To be totally frank she was mightily pissed off with men in general, and the privileged, holier than thou attitude of this man, one who was incapable of compassion, was more than enough incentive to move her in the opposite direction to him. The presence of another more important man, while not clearly delineated, lingered in the mysterious recesses of her mind. The thread of memory leading to him was oh so close, but just out of reach. She would try to unravel that strand as soon as she got away from this unpleasant fellow and disagreeable situation. In an aside, she was in no state, mentally, for a confrontation about such weighty topics as prejudice, sexism and basic human nature. Also, her pride was a double-edged sword – she would not beg for help from someone so obviously looking down on her. He confirmed her perception with his continued mumbling chastisements which emerged in the form of self-talk. He could not even deign to converse directly with her. Such rude and uncouth behavior and extremely unprofessional too! Portions of his rant were audible to her as she made her way away from him, causing her to add ‘racist misogynist’ to his credentials too.
“…it’s the fault of that bloody woman, Nic….think she is? My supervisor? I should be her super…damn affirmative action! I should …how she leaves…letting in druggies and drunks…”
As a sidebar, she called BS on his arrogant rationalizations of the closed minded certainty of his bigoted convictions.
Her physical demeanor was at odds with her mental stability. While her stride was a confident, head held high strut, her roving eyes mirrored the fear and anxiousness she felt at the sieve-likeness of her brain in respect of memory retention. Her head was metaphorically under water, though her breathing was fine…she felt like she was going out of her mind? Why did it seem that sentence should be accompanied by musical notes? Confusion reigned supreme but tendrils of remembrance were reigniting via the combination of chemicals and electricity generated by her emotions, which at the present moment was predominantly fear. Fear of the unknown. She gazed down at herself looking beyond the darkened remnants of the explosion and the residue from embers, to the pale skin beneath. Her hands, though, were what snagged her attention, the left one specifically. It sparked a memory so clear that it appeared to be playing out in her minds eye. It took a split second to reach the conclusion to act on her returning recollections and yet even quicker than that for it all to dissolve, for it to deteriorate to hell in a handbasket.
She’d come upon them so suddenly. While introspecting and prodding her ability to remember as well as nudging the memories themselves, she’d continued walking. Ostensibly the idea behind the action, spurred by emotion, was to get as far away from Paramedic Prejudice as it was possible to get, with no thought as to consequences. Yes, the neighbourhood looked rough, but that wouldn’t have deterred her. She was a freakin bad-ass surgeon after all, she recalled. A strong woman who not only could and did take control of situations, but also one who overrode her own anxieties when a person or situation required her assistance. She was super-confident in her abilities. Which is why she stepped in when the young boy looked to be in mortal danger. Although, hindsight was 20:20. Stepping in to the situation could have been dealt with way more finesse then simply shouting out to the Gang Bangers to leave the young boy alone. For her troubles she watched as the kid hightailed it out of there when all the attention turned towards her and who could blame him? Retrospectively, she realized, she could have handled this better.
The leader of the band of misfits, or well the lead bully who had held the boy by the scruff of his T-shirt and who let him go, turning his attention towards her, was apparently the leader for a reason – his subordinates listened and obeyed. She became privy to his leadership skills when she noticed the slightest, almost imperceptible, eyebrow movement he employed followed by an instantaneous pain in the back of her head. The blow, while severe, did not render immediate loss of consciousness. She was aware enough when Gang Leader Boy approached her, knelt down on one knee, to where her crumpled form lay and put a loaded gun to her head. He thumbed the safety off and absurdly became Dirty Harry.
“Do you feel lucky, punk!” were the last words she heard.