I get the feeling diving into the portal might have been a bad idea. Not the bit about going through it in the first place, but diving. In the split second between entering and exiting the portal, I felt a twisting sensation, as if every inch of my body was sliced, rolled, and reattached as it passed through the portal. I wouldn’t call it painful, but definitely disorienting. If immediately flying headfirst into a wall wasn’t what made me nauseous, that sensation certainly was.
Speaking of which, the wall hurt. A lot. I’m not sure how a concussion feels, but my head was pretty rattled. After the initial impact I fell about three feet into a puddle and promptly vomited. You’d think I actually drank at the New Year’s Party.
I should probably mention that the whole experience had left me quite delirious.
I pushed myself out of the puddle, and rose to my feet, using the wall for support. My ears were ringing and the top of my head felt like it was going to crack down the center. I looked around. Everything was blurry. Squinting, I made out what looked like an alleyway. It wasn’t like any alley I’d ever seen though. Aside from the puddle, it looked pristine and… gleaming? Were the buildings lined with silver? I tried to clear my head by shaking it. Bad idea. I threw up again, and the pain in my head throbbed with consecutive retch.
I needed to find help. Instinct took over, and I started moving. I was slumped against the wall on my left and I dragged myself along it with every step. The wall was incredibly smooth, but not to the point where I would slide down it. There was a right turn ahead. The gleam was coming from a light around the corner that reflected off the wall straight ahead. I heard voices. Lots of voices. Was I in a city?
As I neared the turn, the pain in my head dulled a bit. When I reached it, I pushed myself off the wall, hoping I’d be able to support myself. I was wrong. The pain rushed back to my head. I groaned as the strange light began to dim and the alleyway blurred. The last thing I remember was the feeling of crumpling to the ground and the sound of footsteps.
I woke up in a bed. My first thought was, How did I get home last night? But when I looked around the room, it became clear that I was not home. I was in what looked like a hospital room. To my left was a window. The blinds were drawn. In front of the bed, there were chairs, presumably for visitors. To my right was a dividing sheet and I could hear muffled voices from the other side of it. I couldn’t make out what they were saying aside from a few words here and there: “concussion,” “fingerprints,” “ears.” I noticed an IV in my right arm. I also noticed more silver. The bed frame, IV stand, and divider all looked like they were made from the same material as the alley walls.
I tried moving, but pain shot through my skull, and I let out a small whimper. That seemed to get the attention of the people on the other side of the screen. Two figures emerged. The first was a man in a doctor’s coat. He was tall, thin, and had a well-defined face with short black hair under a surgeon’s cap, which his ears were tucked under. The second was a much shorter woman, about 4 feet tall, with a stockier build than the doctor, and several thick braids in her long red hair. She was wearing a blue smock with purple lining. I guess she was the nurse. She was the first to speak.
“Don’t move too much,” she said. “Ye’ve suffered from a pretty bad head injury.” Despite her stocky appearance, she had a light, soothing voice with a faint Scottish accent.
“Wha..?” was all I managed to say.
“It’s okay,” said the man. His voice was deeper than I expected, and it came with a strange accent I wasn’t familiar with. Almost like an English accent, but with something else I couldn’t place. “There’s no need to worry. You’ll make a full recovery. May I ask what your name is?”
“Dra- Dr- Drake,” I managed.
“That’s an… unusual name,” he replied. “Uh… where are you from? Your fingerprints didn’t come up anywhere in our database.” I tried to speak, but my voice faltered and my vision started to blur.
“Don’t push him, ye idjit,” scolded the woman. “Can’t ye see what condition he’s in?”
“Right. It’s fine. You don’t have to answer. I’ll just take a blood sample, and we’ll figure it out. You just rest.” He didn’t need to tell me twice because I fell unconscious again.
I slipped in and out of consciousness for what felt like a few days. The first time I woke up again there was a lot of commotion coming from outside my room. It sounded like a lot of questions were being thrown at one person. I couldn’t begin to guess what it was about because I passed out again. The next time I woke up, it was darker than before. It must have been night. I heard voices again, but this time they were in the room. The nurse was one of the people talking, but there were two other voices I didn’t recognize: a girl’s and a boy’s.
“Poor guy,” said the girl’s voice. “He probably has no idea what going on.” She had a sweet voice and what seemed to be an American accent.
“Where are they going to take him?” asked the boy’s voice. He had a smooth voice, a little deeper than my own also with an American accent.
“They’re taking him to the University,” said the nurse. “I b’lieve they want to figure out his situation. I’m sure your professors will let you check on him if you’re worried.”
“Do you think they’ll let us help?” asked the girl.
“I’m not sure,” said the boy.
“I can put a word in for you, if ye like?” said the nurse. “I may not have much sway with them, but you two seem to want to help the lad. It’s not likely they’ll have many volunteers anyway, given the public attitude.”
“We’d appreciate it,” said the boy.
I blacked out again.
My last period of temporary consciousness was quick. Barely a minute. I was in some kind of vehicle. I couldn’t see more than a ceiling, but the sensation of motion was unmistakeable. I could hear something. It sounded like yelling. Like protestors. I slipped away one last time.