I hate hospitals. Even for joyous occasions, like the birth of a child has not made me change the way I see hospitals. I know that they are there to help us and I especially trust the system here in Amarkia.
Unlike other places, the doctors here really truly care about the patients. They don’t just care about getting their money. And they never lie. If they have an illness, even if it means less money for the doctor, they don’t withhold anything from them. They tell the patient what’s wrong.
But I still hate hospitals. There’s something about the endless white and light-blue and the feeling of being in a building that houses the weak, the injured, and even the dying…it’s horrendous. It’s really sickening.
I wasn’t in prime condition myself, but I wasn’t worried. I was deeply worried about Darla. She had been in the hospital for a full ten hours now, though it seemed that it had been days since that moment. That…terrible moment. Every time I try to sleep and rest, those haunting images flash in my memory.
The fires all round me…Arnold’s a burning inferno…crowds of people and dinosaurs desperately looking for shelter…the ear-piercing sirens…screeching of tires…the whistling and boom of Red Eye proton blasts…the helicopter going down…and then…
I blinked and shook my head, just in time. I was saved by the voice, so to speak. I had no desire of letting my memory present me with that image of when I saw Roger for the last time. It was too mind-shattering. It caused a huge internal pain that even my aching shoulder could not counteract.
The doctor shook me by the shoulder, not realizing the pain it caused. But even though the pain was there, I didn’t really feel it. I knew it was there, but for some reason I was not reacting to it. I finally snapped out of it and saw the ragged, tired face of the Dr. Nerol. He happened to be a Megaraptor. I’m not kidding; that’s a real species of dinosaur.
They have the name raptor, but they’re more closely related to tyrannosaurs.
Anyways, he shook me out of my trance. “Your Majesty?”
“Yes?” I responded, my voice hallow and my throat parched and weak. Just speaking caused stabbing pain in my chest and mouth. “How is she?”
He let out a huge sigh. “Well, she obviously suffered extreme head trauma. It was a pretty huge fall and a nasty crash. I’m not sure how long she’ll be in coma.”
“Years?” I said, my voice quivering.
He smiled a little, “No, of course not! But maybe a few days. Here in Amarkia, as you know, our medical technology is much more advanced. So even a severe coma can be reduced, but not broken. So I expect she’ll be out of it for a week, 10 days tops.”
I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt so relieved I was dizzy for a while. “Thank God,” I said.
“And now we’re just trying to increase her vitals.” He crossed his arms and his expression hardened. I noticed the crevasses on his forehead. “She hasn’t really gotten worse…but she’s not better than when they brought her in. It was a close call. I can’t think of why she didn’t also…”
He stopped, noticing my eyes getting watery. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. He placed his firm hand on my shoulder. “I know what you’re going through. I really do. I lost my brother in-law in the attacks. And…well, my wife suffered a paroxysm of grief. She’s actually here in Special Care.”
It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but really, I wasn’t interest in other people’s suffering. I was worried about my own. “Doc, can I see her?”
“Sure. She won’t respond or anything, but I’m pretty sure she can hear you. I’m sure you understand her position. You’ve been in comas a few times in your life, right?”
I chuckled quietly. “Yeah. I can say that. Well, I won’t take long, okay?” I headed towards the room, and then turned abruptly. “Have you notified her closest family member?”
“We haven’t gotten a hold of her parents.”
“She doesn’t live with them. She lives with her sister. She’s a college graduate. I think she’s 24 or 25.” That’s in Amarkian years, of course. In Gregorian calendar years, that’s about 19,200 to 20,000 years.
“Oh. What’s her name?”
“Nicholette Baker. She has a bachelor’s degree in Oncology.”
“Ah, medicine-related, huh?” he said with limited enthusiasm.
“Yeah. Study of tumors and cancer. Well, I’ll just go see Darla for a while.”
He nodded but was already on the desk phone, probably locating Darla’s sister. When I stepped into the room, I suddenly heard the silence. I could hear the silence in the air. Only the faint beeping of the life-support resonated. Then I saw her.
I wave of emotions struck me. I felt my heart lurching with a feeling of…something. Something I couldn’t describe. It made me feel warm and a sense of strength came into me. As I was staring at Darla’s beautiful face, blonde hair streaking over it, and the freckles on her nose, I realized that the feeling was empathy.
I had rarely seen closed loved ones in a situation like this. So helpless…so unaware…so confused…so scared…I knew what it felt like. I was completely aware of what Darla felt. Trying so hard to open her eyes, but not being able to. The feeling of being exposed to all the sounds and smells without being able to perceive anything.
It was bone-chilling. It was something that I hoped I would never have to go through. But at that moment, I intensely wished that it was Darla who was awake and I who was in that bed, hanging only by a thread.
I was now standing right next to her. I let out my breath and began speaking, try to make myself sound stable. That was the first word that popped into my mind. “Hey, Darla. What’s up? I’d finish that phrase and say ‘dude’, but I know that the last time I said it, you threatened to punch me in the nose! You keep reminding Larry and I that you’re a girl.
“So…how are you feeling? I know it’s stupid of me to ask since I won’t get an answer, but I’ll say it anyway. You sure suffered a huge fall back there. I'm pretty sure your leather jacket did the trick. You didn’t burn at all, not even a little bit. The doctor did say you suffered some head injury. I’m not surprised. I always thought you were a little…wacky.”
I laughed, trying to sound cheery. “But I guess this one really did it. And um…all I wanted to say was that…I hope you get better. I’m sure you will and I’ll be waiting along with the rest of the Gang. But, I guess I’ll have to find someplace else. Arnold’s is gone now. Just a blackened burnt mass with broken windows and tons of soot. But we’ll find somewhere else. Or we can just rebuild. That’s all we can do, right?”
I shut my eyelids, trying my best to hold back the waterworks. “And…well, I’ll see you soon. Awake and alive as always. I gotta go now. I need to…clean up the mess those idiots left behind. But I’ll come later, okay?” I bent down and pushed the hair out of her face and placed a kiss on her forehead. “Bye. Stay alive. For all of us.”
I left her and once the door was closed, I let the tears flow out. I slumped on the cold floor of the hallway, pressing my back against the wall and holding my face to my hands. I cried in a way that I hadn’t since…since Dad passed away.
All of the sudden, both his memory and Roger’s last image came to mind. It was too much. I started sobbing. I must’ve been quite a sight. I was the loudest noise in that hallway, crying like a child. But I never have cared about that.
I couldn’t help feeling pangs of guilt. I was convinced that in some way or another, Roger’s death was on my head. I could almost feel his blood pouring onto my hands…and his family and friends…and God Himself blaming me.
I heard the quick patter of footsteps coming towards me. I wiped the tears and glanced around. Nicholette was running down the hallway, her hair bouncing all over the place. Her eyes were red and puffy and the black bags under them were very noticeable. I stood up to greet her.
“Spiny! What happened? Is she all right? They didn’t tell me much! Why is my sister here? What happened to your shoulder? What is happening?!” She was hysterical and very close to panicking. I was obviously in no state of mind to explain anything to her.
The doctor came along and placed his arms around her, leading her to Darla’s room, whispering things in her ear. As they entered the room, caught a glimpse of a tear rolling down her cheek.
I couldn’t bear to be there anymore. I was on my way to the elevator; one of the medical staff came running towards me. “Sir! Sir.”
“What is it?” I said, raising my voice.
“We contacted Roger’s parents. They have arrived. We…we would like it if you were present.”
“Why should I? I saw him die right before my own eyes. I don’t think I can stand the sight of seeing him anymore. I don’t want to see him anymore.”
“Please, sir! It’s going to be a tremendous shock to them. I tried to tell them over the phone that I wanted to see them so they could identify the body but…I couldn’t bring myself to. I just couldn’t. And besides that, with the networks jammed all over the nation, I only got managed to say that they needed to come down here about their son. I was cut off and I tried to call them again, but couldn’t.”
I turned my face away as the elevator dinged and the doors opened. “As soon as they come to…do what they have to do…I’m leaving. Is that clear?”
He nodded quickly. “Yes, sir. Very clear.”
I sat on the chairs next to the elevator and closed my eyes as I waited. I had almost fallen asleep when the doors opened and I suddenly heard the frantic voice of Roger’s mom. “Why are we here? What’s this about Roger? What happened? How is my son?”
When I glanced up at her, she was trembling and pretty much having a panic attack. And Roger’s dad was about to have a nervous breakdown by the look on his face. “Why didn’t you tell us what this is all about? Why is Roger in the hospital?”
“Please, both of you just calm down,” the nurse said. “I tried to explain it on the phone but I was cut off and was unable to make contact with you.”
Mr. Loski had just about lost his patience and was about to strike the nurse. “What is it? Why did you call us for?!”
“So you can identify the body of your son.”
Just like the memory of how I went running towards the crashed chopper is blurry, so was the memory of Roger’s parents and I following the nurse to identify his body. It’s all very hazy when I look back on it.
I can’t remember the images. Just the sounds and the feelings. When the blanket was removed from Roger’s body and we saw the cold-white skin, frozen in time. After that the images go black. I’m not sure if it was shock again or if it was because I closed my eyes or covered my face or something.
All I can recall from that moment was the sound of my body collapsing on the floor while Roger’s mom began shouting and crying in refusal. “No…no! No…my baby! My baby! Roger! NO!! No, please!!”
After that…I can’t remember.
After that…time ceased to exist.