Carl is not mine, but I'm borrowing him for this story. Publishing on this site is only fun when we get feedback. Please review, good or bad, tell your reactions.

A Slice of Life

by SpunSilk

Part one

The first draught serveth for health,
the second for pleasure,
the third for shame,
and the fourth for madness.

–––– Anacharsis

His eyes shot open, his heart racing. Oh! They were a dream.

He groaned in relief and made to pull the pillow towards him to bear-hug it, but it was attached. Attached? As the terror of the dream slipped away, most of his mind turned to the curiosity of his pillow being attached to the bed. He came up on one elbow to examine it. Huh. The pillow was on two short leashes, and it wasn't going anywhere. He found himself amused. Who would leash a pillow?

A quick glance around the room had him wide awake, fast. The room was unfamiliar in the early morning light. The furnishings were sparse and simple. A flop-house? Had he gotten drunk last night? Could be, he didn't remember. He laid back down. Wait a second. His eyes popped open again –– no hang-over. So that couldn't be it. He was up on an elbow again, looking around warily. A very large mirror dominated one wall, and the metal door had a large plate-glass window in it, with wire mesh embedded inside. The small high window that was letting in a small patch of daylight also had wire mesh. Looking down at himself, he noticed he was wearing soft dinghy yellow... surgical scrubs?... the color of mushy daffodils. What the hell was all this?

He swung himself out of the bed and went to the door. There was no handle on the inside. It was here that he started feeling nervous. Not a flop-house. He couldn't see anyone through the large window that looked out onto an industrial-looking hallway, but he started banging his hand flat on the window anyway. "Hey!" he yelled, "Hey!"

A prison? He certainly didn't remember getting that drunk. What could he have done? No, wait –– no hang-over.

A large man in a blue jump-suit appeared on the outside of the door and unlocked it with a key from his belt ring. "Good morning, Carl. How are you today?"

"How do you know my name?" He demanded suspiciously.

The man smiled tolerantly. "Well, if I didn't already know you, I could have read it off the sign outside your door..."

"What is this place? A prison?"

"Prison? No, no! This is a hospital, Carl."

"Oh! A hospital. Of course." he grinned in relief, "That makes sense now. You would be surprised how may times I have come-to, disoriented, in a hospital..."

"I doubt that I would be surprised." the orderly smiled.

Carl was checking himself for injuries, but found no injuries outside of odd dark bruises ––and callouses?–– around his wrists. "There's a strange place to beat a man." he commented, frowning. "What was I fighting last night? Did I mention?"

"Those bruises are your own fault, Carl."

"How's that again?" he asked, glancing up from studying his forearms.

"You know you shouldn't fight the bands."

"Bands?" His heart seemed to skip a beat. "What bands?" The large man didn't answer, and Carl turned slowly back to the bed, where restraining bands hung limp down the sides of the bed for both the hands and feet. It may have been the sick-yellow outfit, but the color of his skin seemed to turn slightly green. "Wh..." he managed. "...what kind of hospital is this?"

"A safe hospital. You have nothing to fear here. Do you understand, Carl? You're safe."