Chapter 3 – Questions with No Answers
It was night when she woke again. Although a soft light came from the window the darkness clung to her. If she’d been in Heaven before, was this Hell? Had her application to Heaven been denied? Was it because she called that Angel hot? If that was the case, he must be oversensitive about such things and prone to overreaction. It should have been a compliment not a reason to reject her all the way down to the pits of Hell.
If this was Hell, then that could explain why the pain was still there. It felt like someone was stabbing a knitting needle through her eye ball and directly into her brain. She blinked hoping for relief but not finding any. She lifted an arm to rub her forehead and found it sluggish and heavy. There was something connected to it, like a leash to one of those annoying beeping machines. Her mouth felt like a rat’s nest and tasted as bad too. This might be Hell.
The Angel was gone. She was alone. Alone with beeping machines. If this was Hell it wasn’t ‘as advertised’ either. It looked more like a hospital. A hospital? That made sense. This could be a hospital. It had all the hallmarks of that type of institution.
The absence of the Angel made the hospital theory seem more and more reasonable. Is this where she was last time she woke, or was she back from Angel territory? Flashes from her memory suggested to her that this was the same bed she’d been in before, the room looked too similar. If that was the case then was the Angel real or was he ‘real’, as in a real person, not an Angel.
She groaned softly to herself. It would be just her luck that he was a man not an Angel and she’d just humiliated herself in front of him. He must think her an idiot.
Hospital. Hang-on, she looked around again. Why was she in hospital?
She felt her heart racing. Why was she here? What was the last thing she could remember? She searched her memory and came up with nothing. Absolutely nothing. She couldn’t remember anything. She couldn’t remember where she should be.
She started to pull at the tubes connecting her to this bed and the machines next to it. She had to get out of here. If she could leave here, then her memory would come back. This wasn’t where she was supposed to be. She had leave here. She needed to find where she was meant to be. She needed to go and find something familiar. Then her memory would come back and this would all make sense. If she wasn’t so confused, then explanations would come, and this drowning feeling would disappear, and everything would be alright. She needed to get out of here now.
“Miss,” a harsh voice from the dark doorframe caused her to scream.
“Calm down Miss,” the voice extended an outstretched hand barely visible in the darkness to her causing her to shrink back into the bed, “The nurse is on her way.”
She pulled at the cords with her heart in her throat. She didn’t know where she was, she was tied to the bed by these persistent tubes, and there was a strange man, a strange ‘non-angel-like’ man, blocking the door. She felt the tears budding in her eyes. She didn’t have time to cry. With the tubes half off she gave up and figured they would come off as she ran for the exit to escape.
She rolled off the bed, expecting her legs to come up and her feet to hit the floor so that she would be in a low crouch, ready to run for it. Instead she body slammed onto the floor, she reacted like a rolled-up carpet, she just fell face down onto the cold floor. She could hear herself whimpering in pain, she could feel the intense pain erupting all over her body, and she knew there was blood or some bodily fluid leaking from somewhere and pooling making her hospital gown wet, but she still couldn’t move. This wasn’t good. This was a long way away from good. The panic was rising in her throat and she wanted to fight free. She needed to get out of here and away from this feeling.
The tears came hard and fast now. What was wrong with her? Was she a quadriplegic?
“Shit,” the curse came from the man at the door. Then he yelled down the corridor, “Nurse! Your patient just went ass over tit onto the floor!”
“Hell,” a small woman came running into the room. She picked up the buzzer and pressed it multiple times then spoke into something. “I need some help in room 364, we have a G.T.G. situation in here. The patient’s out of bed. I repeat, we have had a ‘Go To Ground’ event. I need some help in here.”
“Go to Ground?” the guy in the door was laughed, “That’s an understatement.”
“Miss,” the nurse was squatting next to her, “I’m here and help is on the way. Don’t try to move. I’ve got help coming.”
Try to move? Was she kidding? She couldn’t move, that’s why she was in this position! She wanted to tell the woman that, to let her know that there was something wrong with her body, that she couldn’t move, but she couldn’t stop crying for long enough to form the words.
The light was on which made the pain in her head worse. She closed her eyes and wanted to die. The pain was horrible, but the fear was worse. She wanted to go home. She didn’t understand why she was here. Why was this happening to her?
She could feel the fear, the panic, the humiliation, the pain but there was now something else edging in. It felt exhausting. There was a dark fuzzy feeling that wanted to overcome her, she was too agitated to let it have her, but it wasn’t giving up. She pushed out with her arms and tried to bring her knees up, anything to get herself off the floor.
“There,” the nurse cooed, “I’ve just injected you with a sedative. You should feel it working soon. Don’t fight it. You need to calm down. Then I can settle you back into bed. It’s going to be alright. The sedative will relax you.”
The darkness clouded over her. She felt no energy at all. Everything else evaporated into little specks of nothingness and left her with nothing but dark goo. It coated her, weighed her down and smothered her. There was a small voice in the back of her mind screaming something at her but she couldn’t make out the words. The voice became less and less clear as her eyelids became heavier and heavier. The darkness swamped her and took her away from the light. She let it take her. All the strength and the fight went out of her limbs and she rested her bruised face on the cold floor and closed her eyes. In the morning everything would be better.
He woke with a bad feeling. He couldn’t place it, but he couldn’t get back to sleep. It was ‘early’, as in not time for him to rise yet rather than early morning. Shift work messed up the whole night and day concept, but he was used to that, it was the way he lived his life. Swinging himself out of the bed, he rubbed his face and headed for the shower. Now he was up he might as well head for the hospital. He could check on her before he started his shift.
He stopped. Check on her? Really? Where had that come from?
He rubbed his face again. This girl wasn’t his girlfriend, not even close, and yet here he was wanting to visit her, check on her. This wasn’t healthy. This wasn’t him.
Just another patient, he said to himself as he turned the shower up to hot and stood under the cascading water. The warmth seared into him as he cursed at himself. She was a patient. She was his patient. End of story. He needed to stop thinking like this and remember that.
Just another patient, he repeated to himself as he finished washing himself and turned the water off. He dried himself with rough movements as he growled his irritation. This wasn’t a good time to be losing focus. If Doctor Peters even suspected that he was thinking inappropriate thoughts about a patient, then he’d be in serious trouble.
Just another patient, he reaffirmed. He could handle that. He was a professional. He didn’t understand why she was invading his thoughts. He just needed to screw his head back on before he screwed everything up.
Screw? That was a possibility. After that tryst with Jay, or Heather, or Helen, or miss-red-lace, or whatever her name had been yesterday, he’d been left tight and feeling frustrated. That could be the cause of this stray thoughts. He might just need a good screw. He’d been sexually frustrated before and it hadn’t left him thinking about a patient but there was always a first for things.
With an explanation that sounded reasonable to him, and a solution to his problem forming in his head, he relaxed. There was always a logical explanation to everything. He just needed to get laid. Problem solved. If he lightened the load then his brain would reboot, and everything would reset, erasing this glitch in his thought process. This patient would go back to just being a number and his concentration would be back on what was really important, getting back on the surgical roster.
The next problem was, that in solving this issue, he stood to jeopardise his end-goal. If he slept with the red-lace-bra-woman then someone would find out, she wasn’t known for her discretion, which would lead to Doctor Peters finding out and, heaven help him, Catherine finding out. He needed to get his career and attention back on track, and he didn’t want a black spot on his career, but the threat to his genitals was even more a consideration. He liked his man-parts and didn’t doubt Catherine’s would carry out her threat, to some degree, which wouldn’t end well for his manhood.
He sighed deeply. The only way forward meant he needed to make an effort to meet new women. It meant working for it, but ultimately the would be easier – no excuses necessary when he left before morning light. He would have to go out of his way rather than have them waiting at his car after work.
He dressed thinking about the new nightclub that had queues of beautiful women standing outside when he passed it on the way home from the hospital. He had a day off tomorrow. His shift finished tonight at ten pm. He could head there afterwards, have a drink, turn the charm on and do some fishing. He hadn’t been to a club for years, but he didn’t think he would have lost his touch. From what he remembered, it wasn’t difficult.
He whistled a tune as he opened the car. Yes, this was a good plan. He wouldn’t need to think about her once he’d had a long night with a hot eager woman. Yes, he was liking this plan very much.
He parked at the hospital, locked the car and took the elevator up. He refined his plans as he opened his locker and prepared for his shift. Smirking as he thought about the women who would be dripping off him tonight, how easy it would be to pick one up and take her back to his loft apartment, he subconsciously headed out onto the wards. He wasn’t really concentrating on his feet, he just operated on auto-pilot.
“Good morning,” the man on the door surprised him, “Can I please check your credentials?”
“Who are you?” the words feel out of Tom’s mouth.
“Officer Charles Lark,” the man showed him his badge, “Now you’ve seen mine, can I see yours?”
“What?” Tom blinked surprised by the man’s bold words.
“Your badge doctor,” the man sniggered.
“Oh, of course,” he showed him his identification, “Where’s Stan?”
“Nice to meet you Doctor Layton, Derek told me about you,” he smiled, “You can call me Chuck if you want. Stan’s finished his shift, I’ll be here until eight tonight. Your girl woke during the night. She’s a determined one, that one. Stan said she didn’t even cry after face planting, even though it must have hurt like hell, but she just lay there still fighting.”
“Face planted?” Tom blinked.
Half of his mind was questioning why he was here, outside her room, another part was still contending with the ‘your girl’ comment, but the rest was struggling with the possibility that she was injured. He didn’t wait for an answer or clarification from Chuck. If the officer answered him, he didn’t listen. Instead his feet pulled him to her bedside, his attention was fixed on her as he hastily grabbed the chart and read the notes. He should have breathed a sigh of relief, when he read the duty doctors scribbled words, but he was too furious. Her face was bruised and one of her eyes was swollen with a blackeye forming.
Hell, he rubbed his face with his hand, how had this happened? He checked her over, reassuring himself that nothing had been missed. She’d clearly ripped the IV out of her and it looked like she had a new catheter line. What the hell happened?
He was torn. He wanted to march down to the nurse station and demand answers but that meant he’d have to leave her side. He smoothed the covers down after satisfying himself that there was no internal damage and the bruises were only bruises. She’d been lucky. She could have broken a bone. Two weeks of total bed rest had the effect of depleting her muscle strength by approximately half, her joints would have contracture in the connective tissues, and she had lost a lot of muscle mass just from this short time. Her body won’t operate like it used to or like her mind expected it to. She needed physiotherapy to recover and regain full mobility.
He smoothed her hair off her face. She must have been frightened. Had she remembered something? Had she been trying to escape her last memory? What he’d told Derek was correct, often coma victims woke up unaware any time had past since their last memory. She might have woken not knowing that she was safe and thinking that she was still witnessing whatever Derek wanted her to remember.
Her eyes flickered. His breath hitched. Her eyes darted under her eyelids, and her body flinched and as her muscles twitched. He sat down and took her hand. Someone should be here this time. She deserved that.
“No,” she croaked as her eyes opened and her body clenched.
“It’s alright,” he said in a reassuring voice, “You’re in hospital. You are safe.”
“What? Where?” her voice was rough as her confused eyes came to him, “You’re my Angel, why are you here?”
“I’m Doctor Layton,” he smiled. “You are in hospital. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“You’re not my Angel?” she blinked and then a soft blush tinted her cheeks, “Sorry, how embarrassing,” then her face changed as if remembering something, “My legs, my legs don’t work.”
“Calm down,” he put a gentle hand on her arm as her hand tightened around his. “Your legs are fine. There was no spinal damage. You’ve been bedridden. You need to take it slowly. You’re are fine, you just need to recover your strength.”
“No, they don’t work,” she whimpered, “I tried to get away and they didn’t work.”
“Let me show you,” he smiled as he peeled back the bedclothes at the foot of the bed. He ran his hand down her leg to her foot, “You can feel that?”
“Yes, but,” she bit her lip.
“I’m just a man,” he smiled at her blush, “You wouldn’t be able to feel a light touch like that if there was any spinal damage. You’ve been immobile, bedridden, for too long. Your muscles need to regain their strength.”
“Bedridden? Why? What happened to me?”
“We were hoping you could tell us that,” he turned to the door as he recovered her legs, “Officer Chuck, is going to contact Detective Salter and he’s going to ask you some questions. The first one will be, what is your name?”
“My name?” her lips pursed, “Shouldn’t you know that if I’m in hospital? I’m,” she paused for a second, “My name is,” her forehead scrunched up, “I don’t know. I don’t know my name? Why don’t I know my name?”
“That’s not unusual,” he smiled at her in a way that he hoped would calm her, “You had a bump on the head. Your memory might be a little hazy for a while.”
“But I don’t know who I am. I don’t know where I’m supposed to be. I can’t remember anything.”
“That’s not unusual,” he repeated. “Your memory will return. Don’t push yourself. You need to rest and allow your body to heal.”
“What happened to me,” she asked him with big pleading eyes, “Tell me what’s wrong with me.”
He sat next to her and in a low voice he told her what he knew about her medical condition, the drugs detected, the tests that were done, and the blunt force trauma she’d sustained.
“Two weeks?” she whispered, “I’ve been out of it for two weeks?”
“Yes,” he watched her panicked eyes.
“And you don’t know who I am,” tears were forming as she blinked, “And no-one came forward? No-one missed me? No-one came looking for me?”
He grimaced. He couldn’t answer that. She looked at him with tears now etching their way down her cheeks.
“No-one cared enough to find me,” her eyes dropped from him as she let go of his hand and bit her lip, “No family, no friends, no work colleagues, no concerned neighbours? No-one. I must be a terrible person to have no one who cares that I’ve been missing for two weeks.”
“There could be many reasons for it,” he soothed, “Don’t make any assumptions yet. Wait for your memory to return then, if that’s the case, you have the opportunity to change things.”
“And if my memory doesn’t return? What then?” she sniffed.
“Then you have a clean slate. You can start again and be whoever you want to be.”
“With nothing,” she laughed with no humour, “No name, no money, no history, no qualifications, no connections, and nowhere to live?”
“You have your life,” he looked her in the eyes, “That’s not something to discount. You are awake, healthy and have your life, you are luckier than you think. Appreciate that and the rest is just an inconvenience.”
She didn’t say anything, she just looked at him. He smiled at her as a vibration buzzed in his pocket notifying him of his commitments.
“I have to go,” He stood up and looked at the door before bringing his eyes back to her.
“Go?” there was panic in her voice.
“I’m a doctor, remember? My shift has started,” he shrugged, “I’ll let the nurses know that you are awake, and I’ll see you a little later when I’m on my rounds. Just press the buzzer if you need anything. Detective Salter is a tall blonde man in his mid-thirties, he’ll be here soon to ask you questions. If anyone else tries to get past the man on the door press the buzzer as many times as you can.”
“Why?” her face showed her confusion.
“I’ll let Detective Salter explain that to you,” he grimaced unwilling to tell her bad news after spending so long reassuring her. “In the meantime, I’m Doctor Layton, have the nurses call me if you need anything.”
She nodded with a small scared smile as he moved towards the door. He’d given her his name. He’d told her to ask for him if she needed ‘anything’. What a stupid thing to do. He was going to be paged all day over trivial things. Why did he do that?
He dragged his feet as he headed to where he was supposed to be with regret colouring his mood. He wanted to believe that regret was due to him giving her his name and his reassurance, but deep down he knew that it was because he’d had to leave her. He knew the insecurities and vulnerabilities she was feeling and how much she needed to know that she wasn’t alone, but he couldn’t be the man who helped her through that. It wasn’t his role. He fixed the physical not the emotional. He had no right to be the man who held her hand and helped her through the fear she was now experiencing. She would have to find someone else to take that role. The problem was that there was no one else, and he didn’t want anyone else doing that for her.
He was in trouble. He was in big trouble.