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(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

This is darkness, and it is pain.

I think I moaned just now. I canít be sure, because this throbbing in my head is so awful I donít think Iíve ever had this bad a headache, not even when I had migraine. What on earth happened?

Is it a hangover? I donít think Iíve ever had this bad a hangover. Besides, I donít remember drinking.

I donít remember anything.

The darkness fades to reddish brown. How did that happen? I canít think how it happened.

I hear a voice, faintly through the pain. It seems to be a very long way away. "Sheís awake," it says.

The reddish brown goes redder, brighter. "Can you hear me?" someone says, closer than the other voice. I think I just moaned again.

"Open your eyes if you can hear me," the voice says.

My eyes? Of course. That reddish glow must be a light, shining on my eyelids.

"Open your eyes," the voice repeats, insistent.

I try. My eyelids wonít open. They either weigh a ton, or else someoneís kept them tied down with hooks.

"Her lashes moved," the first voice says. Itís lighter than the second. Female? Who is she?

Where am I?

Who am I?

I canít remember.

"She probably has some pain," the second voice says. Itís heavier, more formal-sounding, probably male. "Thatís why sheís whimpering."

Some pain? Thatís a laugh.

"Monica," the second voice says. "Monica, can you try and open your eyes please? Just for a while?"

Monica? Is that who I am? He wants this Monica person to open her eyes, and if Iím Monica, then I ought to try and open my eyes. I make a superhuman effort.

The dull red glow is split in two by a dazzle of yellow. It sears through to the back of my head, turning the throb into white-hot agony.

This time I do scream. I can hear it, echoing in my head. But nobody else seems to hear me.

"Thatís very good," the male voice says. "Now open just a little wider."

Wider? Dear gawd. I can barely make it this far.

"I donít think she can, Doctor," the female voice says.


Whatís happened to me?

I have no time to ponder this question. "Sheíll just have to do it next time then," the male voice says. I feel a touch Ė a very slight one, filtered through the pain Ė on my eyelid and the band of dazzling light banishes the red glow completely.

"Pupillary reflexes normal," the male voice says, letting go of my eyelid, and the red glow returns immediately again. Itís a familiar friend by now, as is the throbbing pain. Both are preferable to the agony that comes with the blinding yellow light. "It must have integrated, then." Thereís a lot of satisfaction in his voice.

"Youíre a lucky young woman, Monica," a third voice says, of gender undeterminable."If it hadnít been for these..."

But the darkness is creeping back again, like an old friend, and I donít want to listen. Letting myself go, I sink away.

This time the pain is much less, down to a dull ache around the circumference of my head. And the weights are gone from my eyelids. Opening them isnít easy, but the white-hot agony doesnít burn me like last time.

At first I canít see. Everything is blurred, wavering, as though Iím under a waterfall looking out. I can make out something off-white, looking very far away, and a couple of dark masses closer to me. Then, like a camera focussing, my eyes suddenly adapt, and my vision clears.

Iím in a bed, on my back, looking up. The off-white thing is the ceiling, featureless white concrete. The two dark masses resolve into people. Theyíre nobody Iíve ever seen before, two women, one in a white coat, the other in a nurseís uniform. They both have surgical masks on, and are both looking at me with peculiar attention.

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Medium length story
Rating:7.25 / 10
Rated By:12 users
Comments: 0 users
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