March 7th, 2009
“Keep running, and whatever you do, don’t look back!” A man’s voice screams through the darkness. The black hole is empty and devoid of life, only carrying sounds and a feeling of unease.
Wait, where am I and how long have I been here?
“Do you understand me…” he demands, his voice trailing off and filling the ever expanding room once again. I want to answer, to tell him that I most certainly do not understand what he’s telling me to do, but as I try to speak nothing comes out of my mouth.
No words. No sounds. Nothing.
At this point, I don’t even know if I exist. I could be nothing more than a collective consciousness. There are no observable others through the thick veil of nothingness, so maybe I’m no longer alive. Maybe I’m dead. If I am dead, who was I before I died?
I fire off electrical impulses in my perceived brain, focusing all concentration on trying to feel something…anything, but nothing happens. It’s as if my own body doesn’t exist.
I’m stuck in a place that has no beginning or end, and I don’t even know who I am. Every thought I have only adds another question to the mystery that is myself. Days, months, or years pass in this place where time doesn’t apply. Everything blends together when all I see is the color black.
The man’s voice plays on an endless loop, his commands drifting off into the vast unknown. At this point, I’m convinced I’ll be stuck in this Groundhog Day scenario for all of eternity. Finally, I stop trying to fight for life and I let it be. I relinquish control over my existence, and suddenly, the darkness begins to lift. A tiny pinprick of light materializes far off in the distance and I swim towards it like my life depends on it. I guess maybe it might, but I’ll never know if I don’t float through that beacon of hope.
I have to reach that light.
I need to reach that light.
A low pitched, steadily beeping machine is the first thing that welcomes me to reality. My eyes shoot open and I glance around a sterile, white walled room that appears to be some sort of hospital. The only splashes of life added to this bleak establishment consists of a blue vase of sunflowers by my bedside, a burning orange glow from the setting sun behind beige curtains…and a blonde girl curled up on a pastel green couch?
She’s wearing a white tank top with black shorts and her bright red nose sticks out against her slightly pale skin. I can tell she’s been crying based on the bags underneath her lashes and the sheen coming off her eyelids as they’ve been rubbed almost raw. I cautiously prop myself up in bed and the heart rate monitor attached to my body goes haywire. The commotion causes the girl to wake and she rapidly sits up on the couch. Her bright blue gaze locks onto me and her mouth falls open, her attention fixed on nothing else.
“Oh my god...” she whispers as tears begin streaming down her face. She scrambles to launch herself across the room and throws her arms around my shoulders. I tense up with panic and instinctively use my palms to shove her off me in a frenzy. I inch away from her on my bed and she shoots me a bewildered look. She cautiously makes another attempt to approach me, but I shy away from her just as quickly.
“Don’t touch me,” I demand, moving myself even further away from her so I can jump off the bed if needed. I don’t want physical contact of any type with anyone right now. The sheer thought of someone’s hands on my body fills me with a horrible sense of discomfort. My abrupt reaction saddens her expression and she gazes at me with worry.
“Do you not recognize me? I-I’m Tessa, your best friend. We’ve known each other our entire lives,” she stammers. I skeptically shake my head at her, still not believing a single word she says. I don’t know this girl at all and I’m sure we’ve never met before this moment.
We sit like this in silence while Tessa stares at me with confusion. The wheels in my head are turning, but it feels like the only components of my brain are missing parts and rusted out thoughts. There isn’t a single memory about anyone or anything that I can recall. I’m a completely blank slate on anything besides basic common knowledge.
“Who am I?” My lips part and the words come out before I even have time to register them. Tessa’s mouth hangs slightly agape as she marvels at my inquiry.
“You…you don’t know who you are?” she asks. I shake my head and swallow hard, desperately trying to remember anything about myself, but it’s as if there’s nothing to recollect in the first place; like a life before this moment never existed.
She takes a deep breath and nods her head, quickly running her fingers underneath her eyes to wipe away some of the moisture pooling in her eyelashes. ”Shit…I’ll be right back.” She slowly turns around and heads toward the door, pulling it open before jogging out into the hallway. As soon as she’s gone, I let out a sigh of relief and my tension loosens up a bit. My eyes frantically search the room for any clues that could tip me off about my identity. I’m scanning everywhere for a medical chart, a ‘get well soon’ card with my name printed inside – hell, even someone telling me my name would be a welcomed relief. But, there’s nothing of any value within the confines of these walls which worries me even more. My only philosophy right now is to trust no one because I have to be this way. It’s too risky to hand out my faith to people who might want to harm me.
Anyone could be the reason I’m here in the first place.
I look down at my green hospital gown and note the series of wires coming from my chest. I quickly rip them off my body and toss them to the floor, causing the machine next to me to emit a high pitched flat line. I naturally begin to panic from the unnatural loudness and I jump out of the bed, desperately trying to find a way to shut this thing off before it alerts someone. I kneel down next to the milky white wall and unplug the godforsaken device, flooding the room with soothing silence once again. I stand back up and slowly inch away from it, my breathing hitched from adrenaline and fear. I’m terrified that someone will come in here after they heard it go off, so I brace myself for the possibility of unwanted human contact. I stare at the door for a moment with anticipation, patiently waiting for something to happen. After a few minutes of no commotion on the other side, I sigh with relief and begin assessing my surroundings yet again.
Looks like I get a few moments to myself before someone inevitably comes for the girl with no memories.
I stare down at my bare feet on the pale, cold hospital tile and I wiggle my toes around. My feet look weird, like the appendages of a creature I’ve never seen before. I then proceed to hold my slightly tanned arms out in front of me and notice a few patches of faded bruising just beneath the skin.
What happened to me? Better yet, what do I even look like?
I take a deep breath and make my way to a large window on the right hand side of the room, drawing the beige curtains back. I squint my eyes in response to the abundance of fading sunlight now cascading into the room. So far, the only landmarks outside are clumps of cars in the parking lot a few floors down and a couple of sporadic people walking around, but this doesn’t help me much. It doesn’t tell me who I am or even where I am.
I try to focus on the image of the girl staring back at me. After a few moments, my eyes finally adjust to the light and I dial in on my reflection. I lean a bit closer and gaze at my own face for what feels like the first time in my life. I’ve got shoulder length, wavy black hair that desperately needs to be brushed, light freckles that span across my nose and upper cheeks, and bright green eyes rimmed with long dark eyelashes. Seeing my own face like this should theoretically jog my memory, but the longer I stare at my reflection, the more it feels like I’m looking at a complete stranger. If I passed by myself on the street, I’d never even know it was me. I ease even closer to the window, locking eyes with myself. The jade green color consuming my irises would be beautiful if it wasn’t for the darkness I can see lingering behind my stare.
The beauty is shrouded by shadows of pain with no origin, trauma caused by someone or something that has no name and the confusion of my brain trying to piece together what it can’t remember.
There is an unrepairable fracture to my former existence that will probably never be restored.
The dull hum of people talking in the hallway causes me to whip myself back around to face my impending company. Three distinct sets of footsteps are approaching the door to my room from a decent distance away, although I’m not sure how I can even hear that. These doors are thick sheet metal and sound doesn’t travel very freely thought them, but their footsteps sound as if the door is wide open. My hearing and senses are so on end that I can practically feel the physical presence of sound as it grazes my skin.
I back myself up against the painted metal windowsill so I am at a safe distance from whoever is coming. The silver doorknob turns in place and the first face I see is Tessa’s familiar one. Her eyes find mine and she shuffles in to the left, allowing two unfamiliar men to enter behind her. One of them is a little older with brown eyes and newly graying hair while the other is roughly the same age and height, donning a white lab coat with black hair.
“Hello, my name is Doctor Larson. We’re so glad to have you up and awake.” The man in the lab coat is the first to speak. “How are you feeling?” he inquires while holding a manila folder. He opens it and quickly reads over some of the chart before his eyes meet mine again.
“I-I’m…confused,” I stutter while my eyes dart between the three strangers standing along the opposite wall. They’re observing me like an unstable, wild animal that’s no longer in captivity. There’s no safety net of glass or fence to separate them from me. They’re afraid I’m so unaccustomed to the outside world I might snap at any moment.
I guess maybe I might. I don’t exactly know who I was before right now.
“It’s okay, that’s to be expected. You’ve been in a coma for a little over a week now,” the doctor answers, causing my stomach to sink.
I’ve been comatose for over a week?
I swallow hard and nervously glance around before the man with greying hair takes a small step forward. I back myself up against the windowsill in an effort to get away from him, but it’s not like I’ve got anywhere to go. I’m being backed into a corner, and I could snap at any moment.
“It’s okay honey, I’m not going to hurt you,” he explains. “My name is Zander McCain…do you remember me?”
“No, I...I don’t remember you,” I reply while shaking my head. His face honestly doesn’t look familiar to me. None of these people do.
“David, can you give us a minute?” Zander states as he shoots Doctor Larson a side glance. The doctor nods his head and flashes me a half smile before exiting the room, leaving just Tessa and Zander as my company. I cautiously observe as Zander approaches me with his hands extended in front of his body, trying to show me that he means no harm. He reaches the edge of my bed a few feet away and takes a seat on it.
“Can you tell me the last thing you recall?” His dark brown eyes are probing mine for information, but I have nothing to offer.
“I don’t remember anything at all. Not you, not her, not me,” I answer. Zander takes a deep breath and brings his fist up to his mouth, plotting out his next words carefully.
“Okay…everything I’m about to tell you may be confusing and hard to hear, but I think it might help jog your memory,” he states and I silently nod my head. At this point, I’ll welcome any information if it has the potential to bring back my memories. Zander inhales fully, gradually letting the air leave his lungs before speaking.
“There was an incident that occurred about two weeks ago, and that event is precisely why you are here right now….your mother, father, brother and yourself were kidnapped from your home and vanished without a trace. We searched for the four of you non-stop for a week but weren’t able to find anything. After seven days, you alone turned up on the edge of our territory unconscious, bloodied and beaten. We immediately brought you into the hospital and continued to search for the rest of your family...but they didn’t make it. I’m so sorry,” he explains with sadness. I raise an eyebrow and look over at Tessa who is trying to maintain her composure, but it’s not really working. She can’t seem to stop crying. I’d assume she had an emotional connection to my deceased family even though I don’t really feel like I did. My blood relatives were murdered, and the natural human reaction to that news should be one of pain and sadness. Unfortunately, I don’t feel much of anything at all. I can’t even remember what they look like or anything about them to feel that way. It’s like trying to mourn a complete stranger.
“Why were we kidnapped?” I ask. I need answers, there has to be more to it than this. My only lifeline to this planet cannot consist of a randomly plotted assassination of the family I can’t remember. If it is…where does that even leave me?
“We’re not sure,” Zander answers. “The only information we have is that a random werewolf pack hunted you down. With no information on the black market, it leads me to believe they wanted you all dead just for the sport of it.” A sting of bitterness clings to his words as I narrow my eyes at him in silence, trying to decipher everything he just said to me. He takes notice of my skeptical look and glances over his shoulder at Tessa who is nervously biting her bottom lip. He draws in a deep breath before he faces me once again. “I know it’s hard to believe, but I meant what I said…werewolves killed your family, and that is a fact. Contrary to popular belief, humans are not the only beings to exist on this planet. You aren’t even human yourself.”
I rapidly shake my head in denial with a maniacal smile. This is absolutely insane. Zander said werewolves are responsible for the murder of my family like we are all living in some sort of fantasy novel. There’s no way any of this is real. He’s obviously playing some sort of sick joke on the girl who’s got amnesia. He makes an abrupt motion to reach out and take my hand in his, but the second his fingertips graze my palm, fear and panic overtake my senses.
“Don’t touch me!” I scream while snapping my hand back away from his. I immediately begin hyperventilating, scrambling to curl up in a little ball against the windowsill so I can get away from him. My heart rate is so rapid that it feels as if my chest cavity is going to rip apart from the strain. Suddenly, a searing pain branches throughout every bone in my body and I cry out in agony. My palms shoot downwards onto the cool window frame and I rake my nails across the paint, removing little strips of color only to leave shiny, metal streaks behind. I gasp for air as my fingers begin to shorten, seemingly receding into my wrists. My eyes widen with sheer terror and Zander takes a step back.
“Shit…” he frantically whispers, turning around to move the hospital bed further away from me. He looks up at a panicked Tessa as he rolls the mattress in her direction. “Lock the door, Tessa,” he demands. She nods in compliance and quickly twists the metal bolt, sealing the three of us into this jail cell.
“No…no no no…” I painfully sob through tears. Sharp, agonizing needles of torture web throughout my limbs as they contort and reform into an unrecognizable pattern. I tightly close my eyes in an effort to block out any additional visual stimuli. I’m shrinking in size and I feel like my flesh is being ripped apart from the inside out. I feel like I’m dying.
“Hey…just listen to my voice and focus,” Zander attempts to soothe me with his words. I try to allow his comfort to wash over me, but it doesn’t work. Nothing is working right now.
I’m going to die all over again and I don’t even know who I am.
“This will be over soon…just stay calm and let the transition happen,” Zander’s voice echoes throughout my eardrums. “You’re okay…you’re safe, Raven.”