“Look he’s waking up,” I hear a female voice say beside me and also hear the sound of shuffling feet on tiles as people rush to my side.
Where am I? I think to myself. I slowly open my eyes in order to answer myself but instead of a clear picture, I find many blurry faces hovering above me.
I just remember the wager when I see Dr. Alfred, Alexandria and some other doctors staring curiously at me.
“How are you feel-”
“No time for that,” I cut her off. “Hand me a mirror!” She walks over to a table and comes back with a small make up mirror which I grab from her.
I open it slowly and expect something unholy on my head but almost jump around in joy when I see that my thick, black mane is still intact. This time I rub it romantically and ignore the pain from the prickly spines.
I look at Dr. Alfred who is staring at me with a smile on his face. “I thought you said-”
“Believe me, we tried,” he says. “We tried to shave your hair into a Mohawk but sadly nothing around here was strong enough to cut your hair. Lucky you.”
“Yeah, lucky me indeed.” If they had really cut my hair and died it pink I’d have absolutely flipped out.
No one, and I mean NO ONE, messes with my hair but me.
“Wait, so what you’re trying to tell me, is that I’ve been here in a coma for NINE WEEKS?” I say in utter surprise.
“Yes,” she says. “The final punch by Alfie was so strong that it sent you straight into sleepy town, doze city, comatose country...”
“Okay, I get it,” I interrupt her as she over-elaborates on the biggest disgrace of my life. I see a few of the doctors snickering as she says this and Dr. Alfred massages his fist with a smug look on his face. I have never felt so much embarrassment in my life, and I have peed on myself in public before. It’s a long story, don’t ask.
“Don’t be so down Dr. Blay,” he says with a smug look on his face. “I’m a bit of an old pro.”
“Underline old,” I say under my breath so that he doesn’t hear. “You just got lucky,” I say out loud.
“It’s not luck Dr. Blay, it’s skill,” he says smugly.
“Whatever, Sugar Fists,” I say bitterly. “When can I get out of this place?”
“They said you can leave as soon as you wake up, if you feel up for it,” Alex answers me.
“Okay, let’s go,” I say as I get off the bed and adjust the unbelievably revealing and uncomfortable hospital gown.
“What, now?” Alex asks me with disbelief written all over her face.
“Yeah, why not?” I say. “I feel fine.”
“Okay, if you say so,” she says. “Just let me grab my things from next door.” As she walks past my bed, I see a slight limp as she walks. She must not be completely healed up from her injury yet.
She re-enters the ward clutching a blanket and a pillow. “So now we are stealing hospital items huh? I won’t judge,” I tease her as she sits on my bed beside me.
“These are mine,” she says.
“They’re yours?” I ask. “Why would your stuff be, wait, don’t tell me you’ve been sleeping on that bench out there because of me?”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” she says coldly. “I was just discharged from the ward next door to this one.”
“Oh, okay, that’s good to know,” I say as the warm feeling reduces to something more along the lines of a dying ember.
“But I did get my ward changed so that I could keep an eye on you,” she says as we prepare to exit the ward.
“Really? Well, that’s very nice of you,” I say as I get off the bed and we exit the ward. After Dr. Alfred says something to the doctors there, we make our way down the hallway toward the elevator. We enter it and have to hold the doors for Dr. Alfred who’s Mr. Chatty Pants today. When he enters, we let go of the doors and they slide close almost angrily. He presses a button and we begin to move upward.
“Who’s hungry? I feel like I’ve not eaten in two months,” I say once we’re inside the elevator.
“Sure, I could eat,” Alex says.
“Well, I would love to have lunch with you two but I’m a bit swamped with work right now so next time okay,” he says as he presses the button for the elevator to stop and he steps out as we continue on to the surface.
“Where shall we go to eat?” Alex says once we step out of the elevator and onto the surface. I let the warm sunlight caress my face and my body as I close my eyes to feel the warm sensation even better. I haven’t been outside in so long...
Wait a minute...sunlight? That’s impossible, we’re underground!
“Wait, Alex,” I call out to her and she stops walking.
“How come there is sunlight in the Underworld now?”
“It’s beautiful huh?” she says as she stares into the bright ball above us that illuminates the whole place.
“Yeah but, how?”
“While you were under, some of my guys decided that they missed sunlight so much that they came to me to design a device that could accurately replicate sunlight,” she says. “It took a long time but we were able to do it without the cancer risk as the first two prototypes had.
“It is cool huh?”
“Very,” I say as I look up and see the Underworld in real sunlight for the first time. “This is exactly what this place needed.”
“Our thoughts exactly,” she says as we start walking again. “Now, where to for lunch?”
I ignore her and continue absorb every warm radiant atom of the artificial sunlight. It’s been so long since I felt sunlight. It feels so good, so real.
“I’ve got nothing,” she says and takes me out of my trance.
“I’ve got no idea where we should go for lunch,” she says. “You have no idea what I have been saying for the past five minutes, do you?”
“Ummm, uh, yeah I do,” I say as I lie through my teeth.
“So what was I telling you?” she asks in order to trap me.
“Ummm, well, you were talking about, ummm, how hard it is to find a good, nice, adequate, place to eat and, stuff nowadays,” I say as I try tugging at my collar but there is none and my fluttery gown suddenly gets really hot. It takes being under real pressure to be able to sweat profusely while wearing a flimsy hospital gown and standing outside as strong winds blows by.
“Wow, okay, I guess you were listening,” she says with a disappointed look on her face. I have no idea how I dodged that bullet but my superb powers of guessing have gotten me out of yet another hole.
“So...” I try to change the subject quickly.
“So, about lunch?”
“Oh yeah...what about this?” she says.
“What about we just cruise around and the first restaurant we see that looks good, we eat there. Sound good?” she suggests.
“Hmmm...I like it. Let’s go,” I say as we are about to mount the hoverboard that just arrived. “Wait!”
“What?” she says as she freezes.
“I can’t go to a restaurant like this,” I say as I signal to my hospital gown.
“Oh don’t worry about that,” she says as she steps onto the board.
“Why wouldn’t I worry about this?” I say as I hesitate in stepping onto the hoverboard. “I look like an escaped mental patient.”
“You don’t know this but you’ve become a bit famous in the last couple of months,” she says as she urges me onto the board.
“By famous you mean?” She inputs the systematic tour sequence and we begin moving.
“You are known around these parts as the man who is in a coma as a result of being knocked out by the great Sugar Fists,” she says mockingly. “I think your fans will be a bit disappointed if you didn’t turn up wearing that.”
“Hmmm,” I just hum bitterly as we move swiftly through the air.
She set the hoverboard to tour mode, meaning we will pass through all the sectors and see all the eating establishments; exactly what we wanted.
By the time we finish scanning Sector 44, I’ve seen about FIFTEEN suitable restaurants, but she seemed to have a problem with all of them. Considering that this is the last sector, barring Sector 45, which is where the nuclear reactor is located, we are basically out of options.
“Hey, Dr. Blay?” she says.
“How do you feel about some spaghetti?” she says completely out of the blue.
“Any food sound good at this point,” I say as my stomach makes its presence felt by growling loudly. “Why do you have a place in mind?”
“Well, I bought some pasta recently and I was wondering if you would like to come back to my place for a meal instead,” she says as she looks down at her feet. I was about to decline for obvious reasons but my stomach makes sure I have no option.
“That sounds lovely Alex,” I say. “I can’t wait to taste your cooking.”
“Great!” she says. “Then let’s go.” She inputs the co-ordinates for her room.
I pull out a chair and sit down at the table after I do the same for Alex. The meal she prepared looks delicious. If I delay any longer, I’m a bit worried that my stomach which is growling violently will digest my intestines if that food isn’t ingested ASAP. Anything, and I do mean anything, would look delicious right about now. I’m that hungry.
“The food looks fabulous Alex,” I say as I stare at the food before me.
“Thanks,” she says. “Please, eat, don’t wait for me to start, you gentleman.” I need no second invitation and begin to roll long strips of tomato sauce drenched noodles onto my fork and deposit them into my food hole.
“Wow, this is incredible,” I say as I slurp up a long strip of spaghetti. “What’s in this?”
“I can’t tell,” she says. “It’s an old secret family recipe.” We stare at each other then she suddenly bursts into laughter. “I’m lying. I just threw something together right now. It just felt right you know?”
“Yeah, it tastes right too,” I say. “It tastes really familiar though.” I masticate a tough piece of meat while saying this.
“Really?” she says with a surprised look on her face. “What does it taste like?”
“I can’t really place my finger on it but I definitely know I’ve had this before,” I say as a piece of beef gets stuck in my teeth and I try to use my tongue to get it out.
“I doubt that since I really didn’t know what I was doing when I made it.”
“Anyways, it’s still fantastic,” I say. “You’re a fabulous cook.”
We continue to eat our meal in peace and near silence, barring for the scratching of metal utensils on glassware plates or the occasional slurping of pasta. Be it not for the occasional glance at each other to ensure that we aren’t choking, we are totally engrossed in our food.
The atmosphere in here is getting a bit too awkward for my liking so when I’m done with the food, I get up and send both our plates to the kitchen to escape the heavy air.
“Whoo, that was a lovely meal,” I say as I sit back in my chair and relax.
“You liked it huh?”
“Yeah,” I say as we just sit and stare into each other’s eyes. The air suddenly starts to get heavy again.
I try to get up and go to the bathroom but her green eyes draw me in like a magnet. Somebody, something, anything, please stop this now!
“Alex, have you seen Dr. Blay?” I hear behind us as the door slides open. Thank God! “Aha, there you are!” We both revert to our previous positions in less than a millisecond just as Dr. Alfred burst, well walked in unexpectedly.
“He’s here Alfie. We were just having lunch, or had, I should say,” she says with a bit of disappointment in her voice.
“Well good you’re done because I have to take him away now.”
“Where are we going?” I say as he whisks me off my seat.
“Have you forgotten?” he says as we walk toward the front door. “You’ve missed a whole lot of training due to your, unexpected nap so we need to catch up as quickly as possible. We have a deadline to meet.”
“Deadline? What deadline? Bye Alex!” I call back to her as we reach the door and he swirls it open.
“Bye,” she says in response.
“Yes deadline, we are on a tight schedule,” he says loudly as we exit the room. Once we are safely outside with the doors closed, he lowers his voice back to normal. “Sorry about my loud voice, I had to get you out of there.”
“Yeah and thanks,” I say. “The air in there was getting a bit too...steamy for my liking.”
“It’s good you realise that because we absolutely can’t have my sister’s puppy love for you distracting us from our task,” he says as he calls for a hoverboard which soon arrives.
“Our task?” I say as I shield my eyes to protect them from the artificial sunlight beaming into my eyes.
“Yes, our task to restore this earth to its former glory,” he says. “You haven’t forgotten about that, have you?”
“Oh, no, no, of course not,” I say as the hoverboard arrives.
“Good. Then let’s get going,” he says as we both step onto it and it starts to move after he inputs our destination.
“Where are we off to anyways?” I say once we are airborne.
“Oh my gosh Dr. Blay,” he says. “Did I really knock you so hard that you have developed amnesia?” He has a huge smile on his face.
“I resent that statement.”
“That’s good,” he says. “We’ve got some training to do.”
“Oh yes I remember now.”
“Yes,” he says. “Life on the outside is tough so we all need to be in peak physical condition for this mission, well you do. I’m as fit as I ever was, well, you know that.” He flexes his muscles a bit then winks at me.“Hmmm,” is really all I could muster up to say under the circumstances and I don’t think that even counts as a word anyways.