Beep. God, that’s annoying.Beep.Beep.


What the hell is that?



Maybe I should look.



Yeah, look. See what’s making that god-awful noise.


Although it’s nice with my eyes closed. Don’t really need to see.



Really is annoying, though.



I’m going to look.




I am. Trust me.


Here goes….I’m opening my eyes….



Guess my eyes disagree with me.



Try again now.


Her eyelids opened slowly, offering resistance, taught by old rusty gates with only slightly less creaking. The light that bled through her eyelids was far too white, as was the ceiling over her. There was the faint hint of a strong antiseptic in the air, as though the air needed to be as blindingly white as the ceiling and the lights. After a moment of watching the ceiling through slightly open eyes, she decided that perhaps looking around the room might be in order. She boosted herself up on elbows that complained more that her eyelids had, and looked around the room. Connected to her hand was a wire that traveled over to a heart monitor, the device being guilty of creating that god-awful noise.

What the hell…? Why am I here? I don’t know what’s going on.

She tried to move off the bed, but her legs seemed to be as incommunicado as her eyelids and elbows had been initially. She tried again, but still nothing.

Is my ENTIRE body on strike today?

An itch was developing sneakily over her left eye, creeping gradually into her attention like a small irritating train in the distance, at first you’re aware of the low rumble too low to hear, but slowly you realize you’re standing 30 feet in front of a long frieght. She tried to reach up to scratch it into oblivion, but her wrist was secured to the bed, her hand enclosed in a soft mitten.

Well, that’s new, isn’t it? What the hell is going on?

She heard distantly someone being paged over a loudspeaker system, followed by what sounded like bells. The bed was soft beneath her,and the antiseptic smell was starting to tickle her nose. The pillow caressed her head as she leaned back into it’s welcoming softness. The friggin’ heart monitor had to go, though. She smiled a little at this, feeling foggy as she closed her eyes.

The next minute, however, her eyes snapped open at the sound of a voice. The voice was speaking in a forced-to-sound happy tone, a tone she had heard from most flight attendants, the No One Gives A Shit What I’m Saying But I Say It Anyway So Deal With It voice. As far as she knew, the room was unoccupied apart from her, so the fact that this person was using it to speak to her was mildly insulting.

What she saw was a small planetoid in nurse’s scrubs. The planetoid kept speaking, apparently unaware that she was being listened to.

“—and the weather outside is really unseasonably cool, we should all be glad we’re inside on a day like this, don’t you think? Of course, of COURSE you do. Do we have enough blankets, there, dear? And are we COMFORTABLE?” Nurse Planetoid began to hum, a cheerless little tune that held all the promise of a cloudy picnic in the middle of ant country. After a moment, she realized the song was SUPPOSED to be “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Great, I get an extra large off-key nurse with a taste for ‘80’s music.

Now she really wanted to move her hands, to take care of the damned itch and also to cover her ears. The indignity was just too much. She tried to move her lips, stuck together by their dryness. They parted reluctantly, lovers after the final dance. She tried to moisten them with her tongue, but found it to be even dryer than her lips. Nurse Planetoid hummed a few more bars of the song, and the torture was too much, it was worth the pain to speak.

“Will you PLEASE stop that?” It had been intended as an indignant shout, but emerged more as the air escaping from a half-filled balloon. The humming continued for a moment, then the nurse (who she saw with some amusement was named Pauline) turned to her.

“Did you just speak to me?” Pauline the Planetoid asked, startled. Her voice was no longer pleasant, but slightly paranoid and defensive.

Is there someone ELSE in here?

“Yes.” Her voice was still as quiet. Damn it all.

Pauline the Planetoid was once again in Full-On Nurse Mode. She lunged forward, the aroma of baby powder and some god-awful perfume cutting ahead of her like a stinky machete. “Oh, we’re awake! Good morning! Hello there!”

“Hello. What am I doing here?” Besides, of course, being smothered in cheap perfume whilst being serenaded by a small moon.

“Well, you’re resting in your bed, you’ve been through QUITE the ordeal, now, Dear, yes, yes, indeed!” The planetoid smiled broadly, but it didn’t reach her eyes. That was when the green stuff caught between her teeth became fully visible, like a shy remainder that said “Yes, Pauline has eaten today!”

Well, I just know a whole lot more NOW, don’t I?

“What exactly KIND of ordeal, now, DEAR?”  She was tremendously relieved that her voice was regaining strength, and that her sarcastic irony was clearly audible in her voice. At least, she hoped it was.The Planetoid fussed pointlessly over her pillow. The damn humming started again. Then, as though the humming were some kind of tone-deaf overture, “Well, it was serious, I can tell you that. Maybe we ought to just let the Doctor tell you what’s happened here.” Sheets were now being tugged, as though the bed wanted to be made with her laying in it. Tug, wrinkle, tug tug, crease, wrinkle. Had the sheets been pulled any tighter she thought she would’ve fallen through bottom of the bed. Her legs, which were just beginning to regain some normal sensation, gave up the fight as the sheets condensed the space between each other, a pair of overstarched, painful-to-look-at, hospital-cornered magnets.“Yes, indeed, VERY serious,” the Planetoid continued. “I’ll just go and get the Doctor for you, why don’t I do that?”

“That’d be just swell. Something to drink would be heavenly, too.” The Planetoid’s smile swallowed her features as she nodded quickly, a bobble-head doll with bad breath.

Really wish I knew something more. What the HELL am I doing here? She looked around the room. Yep, still really white. Clues to her current predicament had not, as hoped for, suddenly sprung into being in burning letters on the wall.

Burning letters just don’t show up when you want them to anymore.

With a dry-throated sigh, she leaned back against the pillow. She tried to shake her head, but, closing her eyes, she found she only had the strength in her neck for a small jiggle.

Suddenly there was a new smell. After shave. A clicking sound, pen scraping across paper.

“Pauline tells me you were awake. Are you still?” Another clicking.sound.

Her eyes tried to fly open. They failed quite miserably.

Maybe the voice will work better.

“Yes, I’m awake.”

Not much better.

“Well, that’s good. I’m Dr. Golden. I’ve been taking care of you since you got here. I’d say you were lucky to be alive, but something tells me that wouldn’t really explain much.”

SO glad you went to medical school for THAT, Doc.

“So, do you remember anything?” Suddenly, with a stomach-twisting lurch, everything tilted to one side.
Whoops! Now I’m GLAD my stomach’s empty!!

She actually got her lips apart without too much pain or trouble, but that pesky voice was still absent without leave. Giving up, she shook her head.

“Not much, huh?” There was another clicking noise, but the Doctor seemed to have made it himself. “Not surprised, really. Amnesia’s a common after effect with an experience like yours.”

WHAT kind of experience? Is this National Keep Me In Suspense Day?

She shook her head slightly. This was quickly determined to be a mistake as the contents of her skull decided to form their own mosh pit with several large spikes.

“How are you feeling? Is there any pain?”
Well, apart from not knowing where I am, what I’m doing here and why I’m laying here like Prometheus about to lose a liver again, I’m hunky dory, thanks.

“No.” No head shake this time, THAT lesson had been learned well.

The Good Doctor nodded, made another note with a ball point pen—

Betcha anything that was the clicking noise. I just betcha.

–then held the pen still, looking at her, contemplative. Absently, he clicked the pen shut—

HAH! I win! What’s my prize?

–and leaned closer.

“I want to look into your eyes, if I may.”

Usually I like dinner and dancing first, there, Doctor.
Without waiting for permission, the Doctor leaned closer. Before she knew it, a thumb, its skin dry, parched really, was gently pressing against her upper eyelid.

Whoa, hey, there—!

The thumb gently stroked the eyelid, drawing it up. The room didn’t seem quite as white, as though a dimmer switch had been lowered. Before she could observe this phenomena closer, suddenly there was a light RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER EYE, PENETRATING DOWN TO HER VERY SOUL, BURNING AWAY ANY SIN THAT IT MIGHT FIND.

Oh,God,Jesus,ohthathurtsohwhatdoyouwantI’lltellyouanythingyouwanttohearIsleptwithRickyPritchardatthepromIstolemymother’sginandthrewupinthebackseatIkilledKennedyandIknowwhereJimmyHoffaisandIknowwhat’sintheCololnel’soriginalrecipejustgetthatLIGHTTHEHELLAWAYFROMMYEYESOHDAMNOH GODOHJESUS—-!!

Then blessedly it was gone, the joyous Nirvana of darkness returned. She would’ve wept had she the strength.

Completely unaware of the torture she’d just gone through, the Doctor murmured, “Yes, that’s very good.”

She had barely begun to feel her breathing return to normal when that antiseptic-and-lemon-scented instrument of sadism pulled up her other eyelid. It didn’t seem possible, but this time the light was even brighter, as though it were trying to shine through every orifice in her body. She felt a scream welling up, tried to claw the flaming light of death away but her mitten-encased hands were still strapped to the bed. The scream drew ever closer to her lips but all that came through that traitorous mouth was a tiny whisper.

“Good response here, as well.”


Click, whir, “Patient’s pupilary response excellent, recommend moving her to step-down.” Click. “All right, enough of that. Sorry about that light.”I’m going to hand you your lungs on a silver platter if I ever get out of here. Just so you know.

Suddenly, all pressure on the bed eased. Her stomach danced again, though this time is was more a slow soft shoe rather than the slamdance from before.

“Unfortunately in cases like these, memory loss is very common. Try to relax, and I’ll tell you what happened to you.” Deep breath, swishing sound. “You were found on the side of a mountain. Your car had gone off the road, down the embankment. Unfortunately, your car didn’t have any airbags, and it seems as though your car rolled a few times. You hit your head quite badly, broke several ribs, and sprained both your wrists pretty severely.” A long, pregnant pause that suddenly gave birth. “Does any of this seem familiar? Is any of it coming back to you?”

She shook her head, the knew knowledge in her skull pushing any memory of pain out.

“Again, that’s very common.”

C’mon, voice, work! WORK, DAMN YOU!

“Was…was I alone in the car?” It almost sounded like a normal voice.

“You sound like you could use something to drink. There’s some water here, would you like some?”

She tried to make a noise that said in one asyllabic tone, “Why, yes, Doctor, I would like to see the hospital’s wine list, along with whatever fruit juices and hard liquor you might have stocked in your desk or the desks of any of your colleagues.” Apparently, he understood, because a moment later a straw was against her lips. She cracked her eyes, wanting to make sure this new tempting happening was in fact real and not a delusion brought on by brain melting lights and extreme thirst. The Doctor sat there, a hideously mauve cup in his hand, straw coming out of it.

God bless you and may your golf scores continue to be low ones, you beautiful man.


~ by Sean on January 20, 2008.

8 Responses to “Perception”

  1. Sean, you write really well. I’m quite envious. The scene is well written, but since I don’t know where you’re trying to go with it, it is hard to tell how well it is going from the point of view of story structure. Is it an intro to a longer story about the person in the bed, or 3/4 of a short story with a surprise ending? I’m not sure.

  2. Thanks, Micha. You people are just MAKING MY MONTH. Seriously.

    Once I get it all written(yeah, for right now, this is all there is of this thing except for what’s in my head and the nagging itch to get it all out. Might just be a flea.) it’s going to be kind of a Rod Serling-esque kinda thing. I either read somewhere or heard somewhere or thought somewhere “Reality is perception.” This story is going to play with that idea.

  3. First, I’m sorry I let it go so long without commenting. We were trying to die from the flu around here since about last Friday and I wanted to wait and read it when I wasn’t seeing everything through “I hate the world and I want to die” eyes.

    I’ll be interested to see where it’s going in regards to why she’s in the hospital and how that ties into the title. Other then that, I quite liked your use of descriptives. They’re fairly original without getting so far away from the “norm” that they feel forced. I’ll be waiting for the next installment.

  4. All right, Jerry, I’ll let you off–THIS time. Next time die on your own time.

    Now, assuming I’m not up to my neck in taking care of sick clone, I’m hoping to get more of this up tomorrow.

  5. Soooooo…. We stil don’t know. Oooooooookay.


  6. I’m working on it, I’m just not sure which way I want to go yet with why she’s actually there. It’s some kind of major accident, I’m kinda thinking either bike accident over a ledge, lotsa rocks and trees, or just a straight up car accident, since I can write from experience with that.

    Okay, it’s later, and I just combined them. When I actually get the whole thing done, the why-she’s-there isn’t going to be as important as what-happens-ONCE-she’s-there.

  7. I just put this on it’s own page with some new stuff that I wrote in a sub-40 degree camera tower today. And, before you ask, yes, you DO find out why she’s there.

  8. Put some more on the other page.

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