Sepsis of the mind
When I wake up, it’s dawn again. I must have been asleep for a day at least. My head feels fuzzy. I raise my hand to my forehead, trying to get relief from the fire in my head. Migraine.
The pain is a distraction. I begin to think about going to find John again when it falls on me like a tonne of bricks. John is dead. I helped to kill him. It wasn’t a nightmare.
I can’t move. Everything is spinning. The light burns. Yeah, definitely a migraine. I have to squint to see anything. Roman is sitting in the corner of the room with a mug of tea in his hands. He takes a sip. He stares at the ceiling as if there is something intriguing up there. He hasn’t noticed I’m awake yet. How long has he been sitting there? I didn’t think he’d leave. Of course, he wouldn’t. I am secretly quite glad. He hasn’t abandoned me.
But he said he loved me. How can he love me? He doesn’t even know me. He may think he does but he has no idea about the real me; behind the cold, bitter exterior. He knows what he wants to know and makes up the rest about me like the way he thinks I need to be protected. I have been ready to leave the country for years, on my own. I can protect myself. Emotions and sentiment make me weak as I’ve learnt. Caring is not an advantage. Love is not an advantage.
He suddenly notices me.
“Wakey wakey sleepy head. I thought you were in a coma; thanks for the reassurance.”
“How long have I been out?” I state groggily.
“Three days, I think. Yeah, three days. I’ve never seen someone sleep for three days that wasn’t in some kind of medically induced coma, hence the assumption. Do you remember what’s going on?”
“Three days? Shit. Yes, I do. John’s dead; have you dealt with him already? Cremated him?”
“No,” he pauses “We were waiting until you woke up. Everyone should be there; we all have a right to say goodbye to him, Lex. Deal with him? Funny choice of words. Almost sounds like you don’t care about what happens which would be complete rubbish wouldn’t it my dear? You’re not exactly discreet when it comes to your feelings towards John.”
No I’m not, am I Roman? But I have to conceal the way I feel about him because I won;t be able to cope with this. I don;t need this patronising sympathetic crap. How is it possible for someone to be so blatantly wrong about something? I am not going to say anything; his question isn’t worthy of a response. He’s trying to play the hero as if I’m a damsel in distress. It is complete and utter bullshit.
He is such a vacuous moron. Spouting off false emotions and then promising to protect me against death, give me a break. I was over emotional when I said yes. What was I thinking? I’ve given him permission to play the hero. He would have taken any excuse and now, he’s using my vulnerability against me. Oh god, he’s good. He would have done anything to have an excuse to use my emotions as a way to seduce me. Yes, he doesn’t love me. He just wants to get into my knickers and any excuse would have done. Death or illness. Oh, he’s a manipulative bastard. That’s all they want to do; manipulate me to have their way with me. You see why I wanted to be as far away from humanity ass possible.
“You shouldn’t have wasted the time. He’s going to start going off. I’ve already said goodbye so you’ll excuse me if I won’t be standing watching him burn. Go on, tell Rita to get the bonfire ready. It’s time to cook him.”
“Do you have to put it so graphically? I understand if you don’t want to watch the cremation, that’s fine, but why be so angsty about it? It’ll be happening later today, if you change your mind, okay? Would you like some tea or coffee to tide you over?”
It’s going to be drugged. I know it. Any bloody excuse. He must have injected me with something when I was vomiting so I would be distracted and wouldn’t notice it. I mean I am desensitised to needles. It’s the only explanation. I don’t trust him. I feel like I’m burning up. They’ve drugged me already; they’re all in on it.
“Don’t worry, I won’t no. No. If I want anything, I’ll get it myself. I just want to be alone, I think I have a migraine coming on. I have my own supplies to deal with it. Go on then. Go off and talk to people.”
“God, you’re irritable. I’m going, I’m going. You know I love it when you get all moody on me.”
I bet you do, you incongruous bastard. He walks over to and kisses my head. I don’t have the strength to pull away so I let him.
“I love you. Treating me like shit will do nothing to deter me, you know. It hasn’t deterred me before. Think about it.”
He doesn’t get it. I know. I don’t know what I know but I do. I think. I don’t know, my head is so blurred and now it’s getting intense. Everything is so blurred and jumbled. I don’t feel in control of my own head. My own body. I’ve been drugged. I must have been. Have I already said that? Damn.
I still feel like I’m burning up. I’m sweating but it’s freezing in this room. It always is. How am I sweating? I haven’t done anything strenuous. I slide so I’m sitting with my feet hanging over the side of the bed. Ow, my head. I need to open a window. I need air. I’m being suffocated. There’s no air in here. I just have to get to the window.
My legs are still and uncoordinated. There is not a single part of me that doesn’t burn or ache or sting. Everything is spinning. I can’t gain my balance. I just need to balance. My entire body is weak. I just have to hope for the best. I take one step and nearly fall, only saving myself by holding onto the bed. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This isn’t real. Nothing is spinning. That’s just my mind and eyes working together to deceive me.
I make it to the window. The window needs a good tug before it opens but when it does, it is the first bit of relief I’ve felt. It’s no cooling me down but I finally have good oxygen in my lungs. Air. I don’t feel so suffocated. The only problem is I still feel dizzy. I feel faint.
If I just stay here and get my air into my lungs, I should be okay. I should be. Whether I will be is another matter entirely. I have to get back to the flat, make plans fast. Then, I can think all of this through but there is one thing I know for certain: I am not going to the cremation but I’m not leaving him with them. I will take his ashes and spread them over his home. Allow him to stay there as he desired. I can’t let them know; they’ll try and stop me. They can’t stop me. God, don’t let them stop me. Am I really asking him for help? He’s the most manipulative of them all. The original puppeteer.
I can’t get enough air. I’m being suffocated again. What have they done to me? What is happening to me? Am I dying? Again? Breathe in....and out. In and out. Focus on that. If I focus on my breathing then maybe it will make it better. Oh god. I can’t focus on it. How many seconds are there supposed to be between breaths? How many times am I supposed to blink a minute? Everything is so blurred and painful. I can’t. I can’t keep myself conscious. I think my brain is being deprived of oxygen.
I can’t hold on. So, I let go.
When I wake up, I feel so much worse. I must have fallen backwards. I move my hand to feel the back of my head and it feels wet. I’m bleeding. Great, I’ve got a migraine and now, a concussion. I’m on a bed. How did I get from the floor to a bed? Did I faint walk? Faint walking: like sleep walking only, it’s when you’re unconscious.
Wait. I don’t recognise this room. Have I been here before? Oh my god, I’ve been abducted. No. I do recognise this room. I’ve only been in here once. This is Roman’s room. He would be the one to find me, wouldn’t he? Why did he lay me down on my back when I’ve cut the back of my head open? Is he a total ignoramus? You don’t need a brain cell to know you do not place a person with a cut on the back of their head on their back.
The room smells strange. It’s like a mixture of peppermint and soap. Well, I say soap, more like soapy disinfectant. I like the smell but then again, I like weird smells. I love the aroma of petrol and TCP and petrichor. I even like the smell of damp. How peculiar is that? Of course, I would like the smell of this room. It’s also the same smell as Roman’s musk. There’s something almost comforting about the smell of cleanliness and the refreshing notes of the mint. There’s probably rohyponol in the air; I don’t know how you would do that but I’m sure they have figured it out.
I am too disorientated to get up but I am thinking I have to. I have to get going before he returns. I may have time if they are down at the cremation. I need to escape. Maybe he’s not doing anything. Maybe I’m hallucinating or being paranoid. Yeah, I could be being paranoid. I hope I’m being paranoid. No. No. Ah! I can’t figure things out properly anymore. I need time. Time. Do I have time?
“Elektra, you bounce back fast. You fell and hit your head. I stitched you as much as I could. Don’t worry, I sterilised the needle. Do you remember anything?”
Try to stitch me up again and I will sterilise you, you patronising dimwit. Why didn’t he get Rita to stitch me up? How does he know how to stitch anyone up? Does he want to kill me? God, Elektra you’re already paranoid, there’s no need to fill your head with thoughts of being murdered with a needle.
“I remember. I felt faint and I fainted; no need to look into. No need to analyse it.”
He places the back of his hand against my head. He wipes another bead of sweat from my head. I’m still sweating like a pig. Why?
“Are you sure you’re alright Lex? You’re burning up. I’ll get a thermometer. Don’t go anywhere.”
I could muster a sarcastic response to that but it gets boring after a time. I can’t be bothered to respond. I’m not going anywhere so I can say thank you to Captain Obvious for that revelation. That is my comment on the matter.
I hear him rustling things around in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom next door. We have quite a few thermometers but most of them are with Rita. Why is he rummaging in there? Is he looking for something else? A razor to cut me? A piece of dental floss to squeeze the life out of me? Maybe. If he wanted to strangle me, he could just do it with his bare hands. He doesn’t need help.
Calm down Elektra, don’t over analyse things. You’re already paranoid. Paranoia. First sign of schizophrenia. Am I becoming schizophrenic? Neurotic? That’s all I need. Mentally ill on top of everything else. Aren’t I just the best advocacy for the female population? I wouldn’t take me as an example at all.
He walks through the door swiftly. I’m not going to struggle. I’m going to do everything he says. If he tries to kill me, I head-butt him and get the hell out of dodge. Yes, sounds like a plan. I have a plan. Well, I say a plan...it is adaptable. It’s a terrible plan. Then again, I’ve had worse plans. Like going into a burning old supermarket with no weapons. Yes, that worked out so well for me last time, did it not?
“Open your mouth. Now, this thermometer may look like it is a breeding ground for some form of new bacteria but I have sterilised it to the best of my ability, with TCP. So the taste may make you gag but at least we can see if you’re running a fever.”
I can smell the disinfectant without his declaration; I have to put that thing in my mouth. That sounded a lot dirtier than intended. I meant a thermometer, don’t judge me. I open my mouth. I don’t want to close my mouth so I let him hold it in place. I cannot keep it in my mouth. Can you be poisoned by TCP? I shouldn’t be worried about that. I’m more likely to get infected by the little bit of scum at the end of it. Oh my god, that’s solidified phlegm. Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. You nasty.
He finally removes the thermometer, about time but I’m not complaining.
“Oh god, Lex; you’re burning up. You’re running a fever of 41 degrees Celsius. That’s what is it...Hyperpyrexia.I have to do something to get the fever down. How long have you had this fever? It’s important you remember Lex. How long?”
“Since I got back.”
In truth, I can’t remember. It must have been since then. The migraine could explain the nausea but maybe it was the beginning of some flu or something. Maybe I’m not being drugged. It’s still a possibility but I am burning up.
I need help. I’m sweating. I can feel beads of sweat running down my face like Niagara Falls. I may have to just break the fever. Sweat it out. He picks up the flannel he brought in with him and dabs my forehead. Is it possible to break this type of fever? I’ve heard of this before. It’s usually caused by sun exposure or septicaemia. I pull my shirt up enough to see my scar. It’s red raw. The skin around it is taut and red. It looks like there is some form of bruising around it. There are a few blisters around the site. One of them appears to have burst. How long have I had that?
“Oh god. Let me take your pulse. It’s alright. You might be tachycari...tachycarn...”
“Yeah. I never claimed to be a doctor unlike you, smart arse.”
He puts his hand against my neck just by my trachea. He pulls away after six seconds.
“140 beats a minute. I have to get you to Rita. Damn the cremation, this is more important. Lift your arms and legs up.”
“No,” I mutter “he deserves the respect of a cremation. I can wait. Call her when it’s finished; you should be down there with them.”
“No. I’ve said my goodbyes. Your life and keeping you alive is more important to me than saying goodbye. I’m not going to say goodbye to a cadaver over trying to save you Lex.”
Why is he so desperate to play the knight in shining armour? All of my symptoms make sense. I wanted to believe I’d been drugged but no. All of the signs point to septicaemia. Sepsis of the blood. I’ve got a bacterial infection flowing through my blood. How long have I had it? Has the bacteria been in my blood since the bullet? Has it been festering in my blood for over two weeks? If I can’t get antibiotics or magic bullets, I’m dead. I will go into septic shock where my blood pressure will drop to a dangerous level, leading to not enough oxygenated blood reaching my organs. Multiple organ failure. Death. What stage of sepsis am I at? I’m dying at this moment but why has it taken so long to manifest itself? Did I get it from John’s window? I did cut myself but how? How?
Am I going to die? After everything? Is this my punishment for aiding John to his death? For my callous existence? I did face the odds just to die because of something that is a glorified lodger. He needs to say goodbye to John. I feel like I’m dying, again, but I can hold on. I can do this for Roman because I guess I owe him too.
Even though I did think he was about to kill me. He still might with that bloody thermometer. I do care about him. Do I? I must. If I didn’t, would he not be dead by now? Or wait, is it the other way around? I need his companionship.
I’m dying. I’m not going to disrespect John by interrupting this ceremony. I will not although Roman to take me anywhere.
“Roman. Go. I am asking you to go and say goodbye to him from me. This is the last chance you will have; don’t let yourself regret not saying goodbye when you had the opportunity. I don’t want to put you through that, you numpty. Go or watch me wallow. I’m not going anywhere, am I? I’ll still be here.”
“Okay. I’ll be right back when it’s done okay. I love you. Please don’t die on me. Don’t die.”
“I don’t think I have a choice over that but I will be fine for the moment. I l..lo..love you too. Now go, you doofus.”
He bends down and puts his hand on the back of my head, just above my cut. He places his lips against mine. He places his bottom lip in my mouth and I place my top lip in his mouth. We just stay like that for a few moments. When he finally pulls away, he just wipes my forehead.
“I swear, I will be back as soon as I can. I’ll get something for the hyperpyrexia.”
He walks out of the door.
I’ll be fine. I mean, I’ve only got blood poisoning; I’ve come back from worse.