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Chapter 1: My Awakening
Darkness, deep, deep slumber. Sound, sound again. “I am seeing stimulation in the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus. She is waking up again. We need to administer more sedatives.” A sting of pain, weight, darkness.
Light and a cold shiver. “Damn it, it’s not working.” A man roared in the distant distance. “Administer another dose.”
“I can’t do that sir, she will die.” a young woman replied, her voice close, just beyond the wall of slumber.
“Looks like this one is a failure too.” a woman commented whose voice was as a withered timeworn flower. The shadows gripped hold of my nerves again, tugging me below the eternal nocturne.
“We don’t have time to wait. The cells are already dying.” the older man growled, his voice tugging me towards the surface, but still I could not breach it as though a thick piece of glass separated me. I was nothing in that abyss.
“We could try cloning again.”
“No, we already know cloning does not work.” he murmured. “This time has to work. We have no other options. Get me a dose of epinephrine and adrenochrome. We have to stabilize her.”
I felt it, warmth, traveling down the channels of my veins, pumped along the organ’s path. It expanded upon every corner and a flutter came over me, like wings lifting me out of the maw of this hell; drifting me over past the gates of the arctic black. The entire world tremored as I tumbled into the bright light.
My fingers clawed against the cool, sleek walls of the enclosure. I feel the cool chill run into my arm as my body spasmed. Yet even so, my eyes are blind in the darkness. I tried to let out any noise I could muster, but I seemed to have lost my voice, and she had run far away hiding deep in my throat. My skin crawled as the world spiraled. Darkness returns, my sense of locality melted into an open space, as I was left suspended in the endless void.
“It’s a failure, just like the last ones. Why waste our efforts? Hasn’t the past weeks proven my point. Hellibor, it is time to give up. This is no way to treat a person.” That woman. Who was she? And now the older man had a name, Hellibor.
“Stop! Remove your hands from her!” Hellibor roared, full of command. “We will not abandon this one. My method will work! We need to extract the needed parts. That is all, I will not waste this donor because of the boards refusal to use extreme measures.” I had no idea who they were discussing, but I assumed it was me. They wanted my parts. My parts alone. What would that mean? I wondered.
“Sir, I disagree.” the young woman from earlier intervenes.
“If she dies during the process, she will be ruined.” Dies? Ruined? “Let’s allow her to wake up. Treat her well. She doesn’t have to know.” I didn’t have to know what?
“We cannot sustain her here. She would die of starvation. It is better to put her to rest.” the older woman soppily retorts.
“No, we continue the process regardless of the board’s decision. I purchased it, I will decide what to do with it.”
The passage of time… …is unknown.
“Damn it!” the older man screamed, waking me from the darkness. “The board is terminating her life support! We can’t keep her in stasis much longer. We only have supplies for…”
“Please, I will take care of her myself.” the younger girl begged.
There is a long pause. “If you are so insistent on this, then we will make this attempt. They will charge you with taking care of her and I will take responsibility with the board. They will not like this idea at all.” Hellibor explained. “We don’t wake her from her coma yet, however, we first prepare a place for her. We will ask the board for permission after.”
I tried so hard to scream, “Wake me up now!” but sadly either I never did, or they ignored me.
“Thank you, Doctor Winters, you won’t regret it.”
“I should hope not, dear Vanity. We just need her to pump blood. It should not be too difficult to manage.” Hellibor; Doctor Winters grunted.
Vanity’s voice would visit from time to time. She said things to me like “… your parents loved you very much.” Many things about my history. “Your name is Primina.” That I had a younger brother and two sisters. Primina, I don’t remember being Primina. But perhaps I was, I could not have known. So I took it as my own. Vanity even read me stories from time to time. She told me of sickness and disease. “A sickness? Is this all a dream?”
“She cannot hear you. I don’t know why you bother.” Hellibor had returned, I had not heard him for ages it seemed like.
“You don’t know that. I remember stories about people in comas being able to hear things.” Vanity retorted. So, I am comatose.
I mouthed the words, “I can hear you.” I am not sure if I managed the feat of moving my lips. Though I hoped they did. Even though, I don’t know who Vanity was on the other side. I was glad, truly, simply because she was somewhere near me. Whoever Vanity was.
“Leave her be. She needs to rest for now.” the man said before the sound of a door slamming shut sent me back into that night.
“I won’t feel a thing?” I chirped to a woman dressed in white scrubs. A man stood next to her dressed in a matching pair, although his were burgundy. They might as well have been shadows as I could not see the features of their faces. The room is foggy, at least I remember it that way. The wall of the capsule seemed to contour to my spine. My dainty little uncovered toes came to rest on the platform. A small amount of nail polish remained from days before. I looked up to meet the pair’s smile as they nodded. My cheeks flushed from the white form fitting bodysuit which clung tightly against my skin. It honestly felt as though I was wearing nothing at all, I didn’t like it. The man speaks, but no words left his mouth. “All right, like this?” I said to him, adjusting my arms to rest folded on my chest.
The glass shielding of the chamber closed, locking me inside the capsule. “No! Let me out!” I yelped with every ounce of energy I had left. Immediately the temperature dropped. Then wetness covered my feet. I looked down to see a clear fluid like water rising past my ankles. “No!” I screamed again as the two people gave me a wave flashing those sinister uncaring smiles.
It was all routine to them by this point. “What are you doing?!” I shrieked as the water level reaches my hips. To free myself, I began thrashing for all that I could until my body could no longer move. The orientation of the chamber leveled itself flat, forcing me into a lying position. The fluids came to rest at my face. I pressed my lips against the glass in vain as the surface rises past my cheeks and soon poured into my mouth. I sucked one last breath before the liquid entirely submerged me. The cold and icy fluid surrounds me as I struggled. My lungs burning and as every muscle in my body roared for respiration, I knew that soon, I would have to take a breath. When I did, the worst feeling in the world came over me. The fluids flooded down my throat, filling my lungs as though with molten metal. In my agony, I saw the ceiling retreating as the capsule returns to the wall, locking me into darkness. “Please, someone help me!” I tried to cry. A foul odor enters my mouth, causing me to cough. Soon the coughing becomes a numbing sensation as everything slowed. I gasped to push the fluids free from my lungs until I fell into that long slumber.
“Your family loved you very much. You will be awake soon. Everything will be all right. You can trust me.” Vanity’s familiar voice returned with its comforts but in all honesty, she did nothing to satiate my unyielding desire to awaken.
“Brain activity is returning. Looks like she will wake up any moment now.” The voice of the young man heralded the fading of the darkness. I could see the dull orange-red glow of light shielded through my eyelids. A deep breath bounded into me from my parting lips, chest raising as the sweet sweet air entered my lungs. I squinted, slowly lifting the curtains from my eyes. A sterile padded roof hung above me. It was only then I notice the sensation of a soft pillow resting beneath my head.
“Good, she is moving.” a Hellibor grunted. I turned my head to the voice. The rest of the room appeared to be made of white plastic. A young man manages some sort of switch boards as well as some monitors mounted onto the wall. As my eyes scanned the room, I saw two people standing in the middle of the office just across from my bed. My gaze met the gray-blue eyes of an older man’s chasmic face. “Hello,” he said, pulling a pen from his pocket as he lowered himself to my level. With the click of the pen, a bright light from its tip blinded my vision. From behind the encompassing fog, I could see him giving me a look over before switching the light off. “Fantastic. Her eyes are responsive.”
“Where am I?” I muttered.
“At a hospital.” Hellibor said. “In a medical bay.” He is rather intimidating, standing upright looking at a flat chart of neon blue light, a hologram which projected from thin air. “This will be your new home, well until your treatment is finished that is. There will be a time for question but not right now.”
“Hellibor!” my sights snapped to the source of that voice, the voice in my dreams. “If you have questions, honey, we will be more than happy to answer them.” So that is Vanity.
From what I understood of Hellibor, there is no doubt he would not appreciate any questions, regardless of the multitude I had. “Hello Primina.” Vanity knelt down by my side; a warm, bright and clean smile covers her face. Her hair was tied back into a long ponytail the color of the night sky. “My name is Vanity, and this,” she said, pointing to Hellibor. “Is Doctor Winters.” She looked over her shoulder, directing my attention to the man managing the switch boards. “And that man over there is Cody.”
Dr. Winters returned to my side, placing a hand-held device against my bare stomach. The cool metal sent shivers down my spine as the doctor stares off into space. “What is this for?” I ask.
“Shhhh, quiet.” Dr. Winters snapped. He took in a heavy breath as he moved the device against my exposed belly. Once he removes the device he releases a long sigh. “Good.” Without a word he got up bringing the device to the wall hanging it back into a white plastic compartment.
“He was just checking your vitals dear. You’ve been a sleep for a long time. We want to make sure your body is adjusting well. You had woken up several times during the process and well, that is very dangerous.” Vanity explained.
Cody swung his legs around the white bench, turning from the computer station. “I didn’t have much hope myself.”
“Is that why the old woman called me a failure?” I asked. Everyone turned in my direction at my little inquiry. Their slack jawed expressions and measured glares caused me to take pause. “Did I say something wrong?”
Doctor Winters shook his head. “No.” he flatly replied, holding a gun in his hand. Out the end of it stuck a large needle. “This might sting a little.”
“You are going to do it now?” Cody’s down-turned expression gave me concern. I noticed the same animosity from Vanity shaking her head as Doctor Winters approaches the bedside. Holding the needle tip in the air; he once again crouched by my bedside.
His soft fingers gripped my wrist, outstretching my arm. “Could you sit up for me?”
With a subtle nod, I leaned forward past the lip of the chamber. Doctor Winter’s grip tightened around my wrist as he turns it toward his face. “Hold still.” A stinging pain explodes in my left arm’s anterior as the gun was now placed onto the surface of my skin. I instinctively jerked to get away, but Doctor Winter’s held me in place. “I said hold still.” he lashes. You could seen the thick needle under my skin, draining me. The glass tube at the end of the gun filled with my ruby red fluids. “Good girl.” once filled to his satisfaction, he released the trigger with a click and the metal rod retracted into the device.
“That hurt!” I groaned looking down at my arm. A small plastic seal covers the entry point. A troubling slow deliberate smile crept over Hellibor’s lips as he observed my blood. With a nod of approval, he returns his gaze to me.
“Pain,” Vanity murmured under her breath. “That is the look I am seeing isn’t it.“ Her eyed lock onto me with a suggesting expression of fascination. “It’s been a while since I heard that. Do you mind, describing it?”
“What a weird question.” I thought to myself. I remember looking at the small dot left behind from the gun as a frown masked my face. “It stings, like Doctor Winters said it would.” That little dot, something so simple but it told me that the world had changed a lot since I was in my slumber. I never had a vaccine that did that before.
Vanity maintained her smile, or at least recovered it. “It would, that is such a silly question.”
“So she is the real deal.” Cody raised his posture to sit more upright. His grin growing as he turned to face Doctor Winters. “You were right. Infectio Nervosa is the gift we have all been looking for.”
“We shall see.” Hellibor grunted as he takes the vile of blood from the gun. “I have a meeting with the board. I am expected to present a demonstration to decide how things should go forward.” He made his way to the threshold of the room. Before leaving though, he turns to Vanity. “You agreed, make her comfortable and show Primina to her quarters. I will be back later.”
With the scary man gone, I felt more at ease. Though I was left with all these suggesting questions for Hellibor. “Vanity, why am I here?”
The light shines in her large brown milk chocolate eyes. She looked too welcoming, in some ways it became very unwelcoming. “Well, like I said. You have been sleeping for a long time. A lot has changed since you went to bed. We had to move you from one facility to this one here.”
“Why did I have to be moved?”
Vanity bit her lip, I saw it just for that moment but she did. Her eyes uncomfortably glanced toward Cody, who gave her a gentle nod in response. “Well,” reaching out, she placed her hand on top of mine. The sensation felt nice, but new.
“No physical contact.” Cody barked. “You know the rules.”
A long sigh escaped Vanity before she let into him. “I know Cody.” she chides. “It’s just,” she stops talking as she removes her hand. “You are right. I don’t want to encourage bad habits.” Redirecting her gaze to me, she continues. “Your treatment was failing you in the other facility, we have more advanced tools at our disposal here.”
“Oh, alright, I understand.” I gasped, feeling a lump grow in my stomach. A response so vague only gave me more suspicions as to what is really going on here. “What about my Mom and Dad, and my brother and sisters? Where are they?”
“They are alright, however, this hospital is a bit of a distance away.” Vanity stood to her feet, turning away from me. “We plan on getting you better and back home as soon as possible.”
“Won’t they visit me?” I asked.
“I suppose they might. Though we highly frown upon visitors at this facility. Your treatment is, specialized. We don’t want anyone to interfere with it.” Vanity explains. If she was trying to comfort me, she utterly failed.
“Ok but I remember things from when I woke up… strange things.”
“Enough.” Cody stated, slashing his arms to his sides.
I didn’t listen. I wanted them to know a little of what I already knew. “I remember monsters.” I said, looking down at my feet. “I remember a lot of things. I never thought I would get out of the darkness.”
They remained silent, I watched Cody shake his head confirming my suspicions, they are hiding something from me. “I think it is time we end this conversation. Vanity take Primina to her room.” Vanity remains paused as though nothing was registering to her. Her focus on the wall beyond my sight. She walks to a box on the side of the wall nearest to the door. Her hand glided up to a button in the center opening the box, revealing several sets of folded clothes.
She unfolded a military style set, blue pants with a white stripe down the right leg, a white undershirt, a blue high collar military jacket that buttons to the far left side of the body. The jacket had a similar white stripe up the left side, which extended to the collar. A pair of brief underwear and a pair of white clip on socks with a pair of black boots. “Are these mine?” I asked.
A smirk crossed Vanity’s face as she placed the cloths beside me. “I know not all that fashionable but they will do for now.” I pull myself back into the capsule. I pull the pin zipper of what remained of the white form fitting suit given to me before my long slumber. My skin had begun attaching to the inner lining of the suit. As I pulled the flaps apart I could feel the pull of its fabric from my skin like removing a glued on bandage. It clung tightly to my skin, in patches pink torn edges. I groaned in pain as I finished peeled the thing from my body. Releasing myself from the cacoon, I began changing into my new cloths.
“I think you will like it here Primina. There is so much to see. We even have a beautiful garden park. They designed the whole facility to resemble nature. We feel it makes the patients feel more comfortable.” Vanity chirped as though I was concerned about any of that. My new cloths were ill fitting, but I appreciated the new clothing none the less. “All changed? Well then, come with me Primina.” Swinging my legs off the side of the capsule, I placed my feet onto the floor for the first time in ages. Pushing forward, I lifted myself and in an instant I felt heavy in the chest, winded already. My body burned to keep balance. A groan seeps off my lips as I took my first step. “Are you all right?”
My face falls as my brows furrowed. I looked up from the floor hunched over reaching toward Vanity. “It hurts.”
Vanity gave a pleading grimace toward Cody. With the shake of his head, he let out a sigh. “Help her, just don’t let the others see you.” Cody got to his feet. He stood quiet a bit taller than Vanity. At least six and a half feet tall. He stood, there not even helping as he appeared to be studying me at arms reach. “It is to be expected. Your muscles were pretty much dormant for,” his face sterned before continuing. “A long time. It would make sense, you would experience a little fatigue. That will pass with time. I would imagine moving around will be a little difficult for the next few weeks.”
“This will be awful if this lasts weeks.” To even stand upright was more than a struggle. Without Vanity tucking herself next to my waste, wrapping an arm behind my back, I doubt I could have made it to the other side of the room. “Why can’t you touch me?”
“It’s not just you honey. They do not allow us to touch each other on the hospital to prevent the spread of germs. If we get a scratch, we have to leave the grounds for the safety of others. So minimizing that risk, we have a no contact policy at all times.” Vanity’s help is a godsent, I thought to myself. My legs felt as though they were encased in concrete and my neck had a large bolder tied to it. Outside of the room is a hallway with dirt covering the floor. Grass lined the walls along with ivy and other flowers. I can only describe the sight as beautiful.
The hall opened to a very large parkway. There are trees and a solid polished stone path, and above hung a hologram of a blue sky. Clouds passed over, casting shadows atop the open room. The path meets at a nexus ring with a large fountain in the middle. Several other people were walking in similar suits to the one given to me. Are these all patients? “This is pretty.” I comment aloud to cover up the thoughts running in my head.
“I imagine the people who designed it worked very hard trying to make it feel like being outside. I don’t remember it myself.” Vanity kept a few steps ahead of me, leading the way.
“Why can’t you remember?”
A nervous chuckle dripped between Vanity’s smile. “Working too many hours. I mean I mostly treat patients and when I am off duty I sleep in my room here.”
“Yeah.” I did my best, hiding my concern behind an artificial expression. I suppose with Vanity using the same trick she could see through my rouse as I saw through her own. The whole place seemed weird.
Vanity stopped us at the end of the path in front of a white wall with an electronic door. She holds her hand up to the screen, and the door unfastens opening itself. “This will be your room.”
It was a cramped looking room. A wall-mounted screen covered a quarter of the space. They inlaid a desk into the wall with a black tripod stool. Next to the desk was a bed with white blankets and sheets. At the foot of the bed was a refrigerator with a microwave on top. Above that was a shelf, with a coffee machine and some tall device I am not familiar with. The floor was some kind of patchwork metal, but it was smooth as glass. By the fridge was a rounded glass shower. Beside the shower a hand sink and beside that a toilet. The space was just enough to move around in. “Everything you need should be here. Be careful not to eat too often. The fridge has a few snacks but they will be rare, so ration them.”
I nodded, stepping into my new home. I noted to myself that rations are for times of scarcity. Is there a war? “So this is all mine? Like I can do what I want in here?” Vanity replied by giving a gentle bow. “Then, can I have paper and some pencils? I want to draw, make posters. Liven up the place.”
“Yeah, sure, I will see if I can find something for you like that.” After giving a look around my room and seeing that I was comfortable, Vanity made her way towards the door. “If you need anything, come see me. I work in the medical bay so you will always know where to find me.”
“Will do.” I commented as I take in the place. Vanity shut the door as she left, though I honestly did not notice. Jumping onto my bed, I laid down for a good while. My bones ached and my muscles burned. Still, I was free from the all canvassing darkness. A new chance at life, I thought to myself. An opportunity I would not waste. With the troubling thoughts heavy in mind my lids still grew heavy and unto that familiar slumber again I fell.
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