A shrill sound pierced the darkness. Her head throbbed along with the intermittent rhythm of its whine, in time with her heartbeat. Her mouth was painfully dry as if it were lined with cotton. The metallic taste of blood caught her attention. Every inch of her body hurt. Instinct told her to remain quiet and still.
She searched her memory. What had happened to cause such agony? She couldn’t recall much of anything—just an image of a dark SUV in her rearview mirror and a vague sense of foreboding. Those shadowy figures within had wanted her dead.
I must’ve gotten away… or I’ve been captured.
Her left leg felt much heavier than it should. Were the tales of people getting rid of unwanted individuals with concrete shoes true? Is that what they had planned for her?
Maybe it would’ve been better if she had remained unconscious.
A woman said, “Page Ken. She’s waking up,” followed by the unmistakable sound of a telephone receiver being replaced in its cradle.
Squinting at the bright light shining from overhead, she could barely make out the form of a person standing nearby before having to close her eyes again. Her eyelids felt as if they were lined with sandpaper. Tears ran down her cheeks in response to the irritation. But no matter how much it hurt, she had to look around. Knowing the layout might lead to her only chance to escape.
As she brought up a weighty arm to shield her eyes from the light, pain exploded inside her skull and radiated throughout her entire body. She had been hit! Instinctively, she rolled away from where she had seen her attacker. Cold metal blocked her getaway.
A steady, high-pitched alarm sounded, increasing the ache in her head ten-fold. Hands clutched her arms and pulled them to her sides. She hated being restrained, but she was too weak to fight any longer. Besides, she had better save her strength until she had assessed the danger.
“You’ll harm yourself,” a soothing female voice cooed. “Relax...”
She pulled her right arm free and forced herself to focus on it. Realization dawned. I hit myself in the head with a brace.
Everything was white and stainless steel—bed, machines, and wires. A tube disappeared under her sleeve. She returned her focus to the woman and saw she wore scrubs.
The nurse walked around the bed and pressed a button on a machine, effectively quieting the alarm. “I know you’re confused. You’ve been unconscious since the accident. I need to check your IV, or the alarm will sound again. My name is Kitty. I’m your nurse this evening.”
Kitty adjusted the IV and taped it in place. “This should hold you for a while but try not to move that arm too much. I’ll get a new IV set up after the doctor sees you.”
“Water?” she asked hoarsely.
The nurse shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I can’t... not until the doctor says it’s okay. He’ll be here soon.”
As if on cue, a man walked through the door. He was of medium height and weight, completely bald and wore a button down shirt, bow tie, and a long white coat. She tensed.
Kitty patted her arm and said, “This is Dr. Cozzolino.”
He nodded at her, opened the electronic tablet he carried, and swiped the screen several times. She assumed he was reading her file. “In layman’s terms, you’ve suffered a head wound, and your wrist is sprained. The fibular bone in your left leg had a clean break, and you’ve got quite a few cuts and bruises.”
She tried to speak, but that only provoked a cough.
The doctor nodded at the nurse, who helped her take a sip of water. She tried to grab the cup to get more, but Kitty shook her head. “Not too much at once.”
She asked with a hoarse voice, “How long?”
“You’ve been unconscious for five days,” the doctor said.
Her eyes widened.
“You gave us quite a scare, young lady. We weren’t sure you’d awaken at all.” Dr. Cozzolino paused. “I’ll need to examine you.”
After gesturing to the nurse for another sip of water, she was allowed much too little to quench her thirst. “Is it bad I don’t remember anything?”
Both the doctor and nurse raised their eyebrows. He asked, “You don’t remember the accident?”
She began to shake her head, but dizziness overwhelmed her and she closed her eyes. When she opened them again, both were staring at her. “I don’t remember anything else, either. I don’t even know my name.”
The nurse said, “Elizabeth... Elizabeth Becket.”
The name sounded vaguely familiar, but it wasn’t right, either. “Are you sure?”
The doctor looked up from entering information on his tablet and frowned. “Let’s get the preliminary exam done. Your neurologist will stop by later.”
After a few minutes of prodding and poking, the doctor said, “The Mt. Wonnig police keep calling to check on your condition. They’ll want to speak to you soon. Shall I tell them tomorrow would be good?”
Elizabeth nodded, and the doctor left the room.
“Mt. Wonnig?” She glanced at the identification tag hanging off the pocket of Kitty’s uniform. Mt. Wonnig Hospital.
The nurse said, “It’s a college town in upstate New York.”
New York? What was she doing in New York? “But I was in…” She couldn’t remember.
Kitty said, “You just rest, okay? I’ve seen patients with amnesia before. Once the shock wears off, you might start remembering things.” She took hold of a cord with a box at the end of it and wrapped it around the metal bedframe so it was in reach of her good arm. “The controls for the television are on here. Push the red call button if you need anything. I’ll be back in a few minutes with a pitcher of water. Lunch is over, but I’ll see if I can scrounge up a sandwich from the kitchen. Turkey okay?”
I have no idea. She shrugged. “Sure.”
As soon as she was alone, her eyelids became heavy, but she fought the urge to sleep. Looking at the brace on her arm and the cast on her leg, she wiggled her fingers and then her toes. Pain shot up both limbs.
I’m in danger, and I’m laid up, unable to escape? This isn’t good at all.
Her gut told her this was no accident. She closed her eyes, trying to remember the dream she’d just had. Or was it a memory?
Who were those people in the SUV? Why would they want to hurt her?
Who am I?
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