I found myself coming round, far too slowly for my liking. My first thought was for Shelley. Where was she? Was she okay; had they caught her; had they hurt her? I looked around desperately and spotted her nearby. Her surroundings, however, were not what I was hoping for.
She stood alone, her eyes shut and her mouth open in a scream, but there was no sound. Fear had stolen the breath from her lungs. Rushing towards her were hundreds of the things -- or was it thousands? It might as well have been, because I couldn't see how we were going to get out of this alive. Shelley had nowhere to run and I was not leaving without her.
Was it wrong to feel this way? I had been a doctor since the moment I graduated, and I had never felt anything other than a professional detachment from my patients. In the same way, I had never felt my heart to beat so hard at the sight of a pair of brown eyes, or my breath to come faster when I saw that figure coming towards me.
And yet she was just a child, and I was her doctor. This was wrong. Wrong, wrong, insanely wrong. I couldn't bear to think of the consequences should anything happen, so I didn't think about it. I wouldn't think about it.
"Michelle!" I called. The creatures didn't listen. They were mad on the sight of her standing there. I could have danced the cancan naked in front of them, and they wouldn't have noticed. "Michelle, look at me!" She turned slowly, opening her eyes, though the fear threatened to overcome her.
"Dr Waltham?" she said hopefully.
Why had I never told her my name? What was wrong with me?
"Don't panic," I said. But it was hopeless -- they were too close, and I couldn't lie to her. "Actually, if it will help, panic!"
But she didn't. She just turned and ran towards me, hugging me, as the creatures followed and surrounded us in a big, dark ring. Shelley's arms were like the arms of a daughter. I finally saw what I was to her: a father figure. The person she'd never had to tell her what to do and to comfort her. "Help me," she whispered.
"I'll try," I promised. "I'll do my damndest, Shelley, I promise." Michelle smiled at that, although her terror had now spilled into tears. "And if they try and take you, they'll have to take me first! Over my dead body will you be their queen!"
I was all too afraid, however, that that might be the case.