At the last second, you turn, hoping your best friend will catch you. Better to fall into her arms than those of the man who terrifies you on so many different levels.
Before you get a chance to see if Sharon manages to be your hero, the world goes black.
There’s a vacuuming sensation. You’re unsure of its origin, or reality, at this point. Somehow it feels as if it’s coming from inside you. As if the very center of your being is trying to collapse in on itself in some strange act of self-preservation, or perhaps self-destruction. You feel your heart racing. It’s working hard to pump blood to all of your limbs, and adrenaline courses through you. Although you’re quite confused as to what is going on, you steel yourself to leap and run, to get away from whatever is causing this inner cataclysm.
Your eyes fly open and you try to sit up only to find yourself unable to. Something, someone is holding your arms.
“Calm down. You’re okay.” The voice is familiar, soothing.
Your gaze falls on your Mom. She’s sitting in a chair next to the bed you’re in. Her eyes are puffy and moist, her face, red with the irritation of tears. Your Dad is beside her, holding her hand. He looks tired, exhausted even, and his frown is deep. It’s a frown of worry, not anger or annoyance.
“What’s going on?” You ask as you take in the room around you.
The walls are a baby blue and a picture of a beach hangs on the far wall.
Your Mom and Dad glance at each other, something unspoken passes between them.
“You’re in the hospital.” Your Dad finally answers.
You feel a weight on your wrists and when you look down you see wide, leather cuffs securing you to the bed. “Why am I cuffed to the bed?”
“What can I help…” A nurse interrupts walking into the room. She meets your eyes, her own growing wide, “I’ll get Doctor Shanahan.” With that, she leaves.
“Mom, Dad? What’s going on?”
Your Mom’s eyes tear up and she looks at your Dad.
He studies his hands for a moment, “Do you remember attacking the janitor at your school?”
Horror and embarrassment swirl down your spine, followed by terror. The terror of realizing where you really are, that your worst fears have come true. “Is this, is this a mental hospital?” A sob escapes your lips with the words.
“Calm down, sweetie.” Your Mom says, her own voice choking.
A large man in a white coat comes into the room, interrupting before you can completely freak out. There’s something familiar about him but you can’t quite place it.
He looks at you, little emotion showing on his face. “Hello. I’m Doctor Shanahan. How are you feeling?” His voice casual.
For him this is an everyday occurrence. For you it’s as if your entire world has collapsed, and you can’t help but feel a little anger towards his nonchalant attitude.
“Confused.” You say. You want to wipe your tears but you can’t.
He nods, as if he understands. “Why don’t you tell me what you remember?”
You look at your parents.
They both nod in encouragement.
“I was standing in the hall with Sharon, at school. Then the janitor comes up and starts asking about Mystery…”
“Mystery?” The doctor asks.
“That’s our new puppy.” Your Mom explains.
“I found him,” You pause, knowing you’d be in the hospital forever if you mentioned the mausoleum, the forest, the voices. “I didn’t know where he came from so I called him mystery.”
The doctor smiles, “That’s a good name.”
“Thanks.” You smile back, leerily. There’s still something familiar, and now slightly creepy about the doctor.
“Continue. The janitor was asking about Mystery?” He urges gently.
You nod, “Then I felt dizzy and thought I was going to fall, maybe puke. So I turned away from him. I was really hoping Sharon would catch me.” You look at your Mom.
She gives you a half-hearted smile.
“Then I passed out.” You finish.
“You don’t remember anything else? Not even a fraction of a memory? Something you might have thought was a dream?” Doctor Shanahan probes.
You ponder for a moment. Should you tell him about the strange vacuuming sensation you felt? Could there be a medical reason for you blacking out, and apparently attacking the janitor?
If there was then withholding the information would prevent you from getting the help you need, but if there wasn’t, divulging it could keep you locked up.
You glance from the doctor’s amber eyes to your Mom and then your Dad.
They’re all expecting an answer.
What do you say?
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