Oh when did breathing in become so difficult? I try to suck in a breath of cool air, life giving oxygen and panic hits me like a blow to the sternum. Have they taken my lungs from me? Surely I would have felt it? And wouldn't there be pain? Mind blowing and excruciating pain. Is that why my throat hurts so much, have I been screaming in pain? I don't feel that sort of pain now. There's tightness all over my torso, a constriction as if I am in a harness. A harness? Like those used by the Gua, the ones they hang suspended in whilst they have consciousness inserted, or even removed. I can feel the straps pulling on my legs, across my chest, supporting me because I have no way to support myself. Yes, that's right, I can feel the pressure against my legs, it is almost sharp as if the fabric were coarse like hessian. It would have to be strong and tough to hold a body, a dead weight. My arms are numb; they must be anchored in some way. I cannot move my fingers, maybe they amputated them. I dare not think about it. What I have to do is listen, listen very carefully for clues.
But listening is tricky when you are floating, isn't it? Especially with the wind rushing through your ears.
I feel like I have been dreaming for a long long time. My brain is kind of sluggish. I seem to remember odd things but all out of sequence. I was with Hannah but I was also with Eddie and with Jordan too. Sure, if I concentrate hard I can hear voices hidden within the electronic sounds of the Gua machinery but I can't tell what they are saying. Sometimes I think I hear someone call my name. It could be Eddie. I wish it were Eddie. Or Jordan, or even Joshua. Any one who knows me, just to show me I can see, feel, that I am alive still instead of in this limbo. I wonder if this is what it is like to have your consciousness removed from your body? Has my body been stolen by Mabus and my brain or whatever it is they take away to be pickled in formaldehyde and studied?
Have they finally managed to dissect me?
Voices again. Calling my name now. I'm right aren't I? Should I nod to let them know I hear? Can you nod when you are disembodied, when you haven't got a head? There's an absurd thought, I feel like I should laugh at it. Can you laugh when you haven't got a mouth?
"He's coming round."
Okay then I will laugh, I will open my mouth. It works I can feel something pulling on my throat and it makes me gag. I am going to vomit. Okay so I have a mouth and lungs because now for the first time I can breathe in air and it is a wonderful feeling despite the fact it hurts like hell. So not in a harness at all. I can breathe in relief and it feels so good, so wonderful. I can smell the sweet scent of spring flowers and disinfectant, a hospital smell.
I feel something cool on my cheek, my head, reminds me of my mom when she stroked me whenever I had a fever. She is whispering to me. Please God don't let this be a Gua trick because I am going to open my eyes. I am going to open them now.
Bright, too bright. Blink furiously Cade then focus through the moisture filling them up. Two faces close and above me. That means I am lying on something. It feels like a bed, a comfortable bed, not a harness at all. I lift up a hand to pull at something that is hurting in my arm and feel it caught in a warm firm hand. I can't move my head enough to see whose hand it is. The faces are separating from the blurred mass and I see the two dearest people to me in my world.
Jordan's voice is like a peaceful blessing as it says, "At last."
And when Eddie places a hand on my shoulder and whispers in a choked up voice, "Welcome back, bro," I know I am safe and where I belong and that time has righted itself for good.
I am home.
This story was inspired by my nephew who fell into a coma after being beaten to death. He died 3 times and was revived. When he regained consciousness weeks later he was not as lucky as Cade. He now has no short term memory at all and has severe mobility problems.
This story is dedicated to him.