Freedom Isn't Part of the Equation Here

She was shot. She doesn't remember her own name. She's dying, the operation that could possibly save her is more risky than it's worth, and she has no way out. The hospital estimates that she has about a month to live. Just when she can tell she's fading, and is fighting to stay alive with hyper-active feral instincts, two masked men sedate her and take her away. When she wakes up again, she's healed for the most part; and is trapped in a crate at a hidden laboratory run by someone who is o

"You were shot.  You might not remember anything, but you're at the hospital right now. "

I breathed heavily.  I was restrained; there were too many tubes and needles and machines attached to me, not to mention the sheets that seemed to be strangling me of their own accord.

"Alex, do you hear what I'm saying?"

I hissed and bared my teeth.

The man, standing by bed, looked at me for a moment and just shook his head.  "I'll come back later and we'll try this again."

Oh God.  I didn't know where I was.  I could vaguely understand what the man had been saying, but it was like my conscience had just been pulled out of the blue and handed over to the body on the white cot.  I didn't remember my name.  I didn't remember what had happened, if anything had happened, before I opened my eyes twenty minutes ago for the first time, struggling and gasping and snarling like a wild animal.

My shoulder hurt.  It hurt a lot.  I didn't want to move it, but I figured that if I was going to get out of here I might just have to put up with the pain.  I could just ignore it.  Freedom was worth the stabbing sensation anyway.

There were more people.  I could see them around the curtain, through the glass around the door.  They were walking, filing past, running frantically; a group of them were watching me worriedly through the window.  I pulled my lips back from my teeth, and one of them, a woman, looked down with tears in her eyes that were evident even from the distance and the glass between us.

The door clicked open.  A boy with longish brown hair and brown eyes and held some sort of flower stood in the wide doorway.  He gave me a half smile.  I hissed.

The kid looked sad and somewhat frightened but approached my bed anyway.  My knuckles were turning white against the edges of the thin plastic-coated mattress, and I jerked my legs up against my chest when he sat at the edge of the bed.

"Hey..." he said.  I hissed and glared.

He sighed and looked down.  "I guess you don't remember me, huh.  You won't remember that I'm your boyfriend, I guess, but my name is Jake, if that helps at all."  He paused, then apparently figured that it didn't help when my expression didn't change.  "Well... Um... They told me some stuff.  That you had animal-like instincts now and that you probably wouldn't be able to talk.  They said you didn't remember anything."

I relaxed just a tiny bit.  At least he was shouting at me, even though I couldn't make sense of a lot of what he was saying.  It was easy enough to guess that I was supposed to identify him as Jake, just from the way he said it; something about me knowing him, even though I didn't, and something about me being different than I was before, if there was anything before.

"Do you... Does anything hurt?" he asked.

I understood that, and shook my head, even though by now my shoulder was killing.

He half smiled again.  "Liar.  I can always tell, you know."

He sounded like he was mocking me, and I bared my teeth and tensed once more.  He sighed.   "You got shot.  It was in an accident, when we were walking back from the park and the little store was getting robbed.  They said the bullet ricocheted from part of the door and into your shoulder.  It hit an artery or something that stopped the blood flow to a certain part of your brain, I think... Sort of like a stroke or something.  Anyway, that's why you can't remember."  He paused, and took a deep breath.  "You probably won't ever remember.  And..."  He paused again, running a hand through his hair.  I was understanding the main idea, but some of the words were still fuzzy-seeming.  He opened his mouth, closed it again, then blurted, "You might not make it home."

In hospitals, it's not too surprising that someone might not be able to sleep.  The only problem with this statement is the fact that for me, a few hours of sleeplessness was a huge understatement.  It had been three days, and I had hardly blinked. 

There was no window in the room I was in, except for the one that wrapped around the door and only showed me the hallway.  Everything was dark, and oxygen was a problem for me because even though I could tell the stuff blowing out of the tube under my nose was clean air, I didn't feel like there was any circulation in that room at all.  It was like being suffocated. 

Obviously, I remembered some things like the seasons and the passing of time and that I was in a hospital, but I didn't remember at all what people were like.  I felt like an animal.  My ears picked up everything, and my nose wasn't anything less.  My eyes caught all the little things, even though the bigger scenes sometimes escaped my vision, like the time about a day ago when I noticed that one rail on the food cart was a slightly darker shade of grey than the other and then freaked out because my mind hadn't actually registered the fact that the food guy was in my room.

Everything was starting to get foggy.  I hadn't really understood it when Jake had said I might not make it home, but now that I felt it I knew what he meant.  Every creature can tell when they're dying.

Between visitors, for all of whom I had no spark of recognition (except Jake, but only because I had seen him on my first day), I was poked and prodded and asked questions by same guy from when I woke up.  I knew how to speak, and I knew I could do it full well because I talked to myself at night when no one was there.  I just didn't want to break my pride by proving him right when he said I could talk if I tried. 

My shoulder wasn't any better.  At night, I had to sleep curled up on only one side because if I rolled, the pain would ripple from my shoulder up my neck and down my arm and back.  They had told me the bullet was in a place they couldn't reach because of the artery there, and that there was nothing much they could do but keep me comfortable. 

Over the course of a few days I had gotten that the guy's name was Jerry, he had a wife and four kids, and that there was something I didn't quite understand but I knew I wasn't supposed to tell anyone.  He kept telling me that the people here were wrong about me, and that he would take me somewhere before they could throw me out, and even though I didn't understand a lot of it I knew I shouldn't breathe a word about it (not that I would be breathing a word to begin with) and that maybe I should let myself hope a little. 

I was fading.  I could tell.  Recently breathing had become painful, and there was something nasty and dark spreading under my skin from the bandaging.  It laced across my whole shoulder now, across part of my chest and I could feel it on my back.  It hurt.  It was poison.

It was the night before I knew I was done.  I knew because I could see it.  My body no longer felt like it was mine, and numbness had starting preventing me from straining against the bonds that were only becoming more and more numerous.  I would have been finished in the next two nights or so.  I would have been finished, except that they came.

"She's almost too far gone.  Not too much, or she won't wake up."

I recognized Jerry's voice.  I would have struggled, but I could barely move.  Another voice swore as a needle was dropped.  The two dark figures moved about, and the IV in my good shoulder grew cold as some new liquid was pushed in. 

I looked around me, and the last thing I saw was Jerry's somewhat-reassuring, somewhat-hopeful smile before whatever was injected into my bloodstream took effect and my too-heavy eyelids closed themselves. 

The End

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