Since starting university last year, there were many nights when I would get blackout drunk and wake up in a friend’s dorm. I somehow knew before opening my eyes that this was a different kind of morning.
An ache spread across my temple and intensified to an unbearable fire behind my eyes. My mouth was dry, and a burn ran down my throat as I took in a deep breath. There was an itch below my nose. I reached up to scratch it, but something dug into my wrist. I yanked my arm but didn’t get far before cold metal pressed into my flesh. I pulled my arm again, and there was a clang of metal. I pulled my other arm toward my face, but the same uncomfortable metal ring held me in place.
Pain shot down the side of my skull. I struggled to open my eyes so that I could look down at my wrists. When I opened my eyes, I was met with darkness. I had the urge to reach up and touch my face, but I was stuck. I tried to pull myself and the back of my hand ached.
I was gasping for breath. A faint steady beep was beside me. I opened my mouth to speak, but only a faint noise came out. I closed my mouth and tried to build up saliva to wet my tongue.
I wanted to yell, but I could barely bring my voice above a whisper.
“Help me.” My voice was hoarse. It didn’t sound like me. “Please, somebody.”
I balled my hands up into a fist and pulled my arms. There was another clang of metal and sharp pain in my wrists.
This wasn’t me waking from an alcohol-fueled night. I didn’t have anything to drink yesterday. I remembered walking home from practice with my music blaring in my ears when someone grabbed me from behind. A large hand had gone over my mouth and it was followed by a sharp pinch in my arm.
A pressure built up in my chest as I continued to try and pull myself free. The beeping beside me picked up its pace and was going faster.
“Please!” I cried. I twisted my back as I tried to push myself off of the bed that I was lying on. “Please, help me!”
The beeping grew even faster.
There was an echo of footsteps. I held my breath and lied back down on the bed. The footsteps grew louder as a person came closer to me.
“Please, please let me go,” I said.
The footsteps stopped and wheels squeaked. A hand rested against the top of my head. I jerked to the side and away from the person. I gritted my teeth together as the pain ran down into my neck. The hand pet my hair and I tried to pull myself away from the person.
“Calm down, Diana,” a male voice said. “You need your rest.”
“Where am I?” I asked.
“You’re in recovery,” he said. “The operation was successful. That doesn’t mean you’re in the clear though. I have only got one patient this far before and she died a day after her surgery.”
My lip trembled. The man tucked a piece of my hair behind my ear. He adjusted something below my nose, and I guessed that it was an oxygen tube.
“What did you do to me?” I asked. “How do you know my name?”
“I wasn’t reckless. I found your health card in your wallet,” he told me. “As for the operation, I will tell you about it later. I don’t want you worrying to affect your recovery.”
“Your pulse is high and your oxygen is low,” he cut me off. “Take deep breaths.”
I bit down on my lip and pulled my wrists against whatever was restraining me. The man’s warm hand covered my wrist that was the closest to him.
“Diana, I need you to do this,” he said. “If you don’t settle down I will have to sedate you. In your current state that may cause respiratory depression and that would ruin all of my hard work.”
“What did you do to me?” I asked.
The intense pain behind my eyes grew worse. I curled my fingers into the sheets. I sniffled and realized that I must be crying.
“Breathe for me,” the man said.
I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew that I did not want to die. I closed my mouth and took in a deep breath through my nose. I did this two more times before I felt the man put his hand back onto the top of my head.
“Good girl,” he told me. “Try to breathe through your nose. I’ll check on you in an hour. If you don’t improve I’m going to have to give you an oxygen mask.”
His hand moved down to my hand. He turned my wrist to examine it.
“You’ve been fighting against your restraints,” he said. “You shouldn’t do that. You’ve bruised your wrists and dislodged your IV. If you survive and make it to the dinner, I want to be able to show you off without any marks.”
“What dinner?” I asked.
“Nothing for you to worry about yet.”
I gasped as there was a sharp prick on the back of my hand. He pressed against it. I listened as the man rummaged through a drawer. Metal and plastic packages were rustling against each other. A cold liquid was rubbed above the inside of my arm just below my elbow. He let go of the back of my hand.
“Ow!” I yelled as there was another prick on my arm.
“Don’t pull this one out,” he said. “I won’t have to do it again.”
“Please, let me go home,” I said. “I promise that if you let me go I won’t tell anyone about this.”
The wheels to the man’s chair squeaked. He let out a deep breath and the chair creaked.
“I can’t let you go,” he said. “You’ll die without me.”
“You’re going to kill me?” My voice cracked.
“Kill you?” His chair creaked again. “Diana, that is the last thing I want. I will do anything to keep you alive. If this experiment goes right, you’re going to be my biggest accomplishment.”
“What did you do to me?”
“Don’t worry about it, Kitten.”
The man walked around the bed. Water flowed from a tap. It stopped, footsteps came closer, and the pillows were pulled up behind me. It forced me to sit up straighter. Something cold touched my lips and I jumped.
“You need to drink,” he said
Water dribbled down my chin as he lifted the cup. The water felt like heaven against my dry tongue and throat. He pulled the cup away and ran his hand over my hair again.
“Get some rest,” he told me. “I gave you some meds to ease the pain. I’ll be down to check on you in an hour.”
I listened to his footsteps as he walked away from me. There was a click when a door was closed.
Those painkillers the man gave me must have kicked in. The pain across my temple had gone down to a bearable throb. The fire was still burning behind my eyes.
I turned my head to the side and felt something shift across my eyes. I tossed my head to the other side and the fabric move across my face. I tried to shake it off, but the pain returned to my head.
I pulled my wrists against the restraints, but it was useless. I was secured to the bed. Pulling my arm would ruin my IV, and he would have to stick another one in me.
This sick man had drugged me and brought my unconscious body to a hospital to perform some kind of surgery on me. What kind of hospital would allow this? Wouldn’t it be suspicious that I was restrained to the bed?
I held my breath. All I could hear was the beeping from the machine beside me. Where were the nurses? The other patients? It sounded like I was the only one here.
“Hello?” I called out.
I groaned and tried to push myself up, but I couldn’t go far. I kicked my leg and my ankle was free. I shimmied my foot across the bed until I got to the edge. I tried to untuck the blankets from around my feet. Cold air touched my toes. I dragged my other foot across the bed. I hit a plastic tube. I traced it with my toe to see what it was and discovered that it ran right up between my legs. Both of my feet were hanging off the edge of the bed. I wanted to melt out of the bed, and onto the floor. I swung my foot down, but I couldn’t feel the floor. My wrists stopped me from going down any lower. I pulled myself back up the bed.
The man told me that I would need to rest or I would die. I needed to calm down until he released my wrists and took off whatever was covering my eyes.
I leaned back into the pile of pillows and tried to clear my mind so that I could fall asleep.
I groaned as my head was being pushed forward. I reached forward to push the person away, but the metal was dug into my wrists. Something was secured around the back of my head before I was rested back against the pillows. Plastic dug into my face and was cupped around my nose and mouth. A rush of air blew against my face. I turned my head to the side, but the mask did not budge. A hand rested against the top of my head.
“Breathe, Diana,” the man said. “Your oxygen levels are low.”
The blankets tightened around me. He was fixing the blankets that I kicked off of my body.
“I thought I told you to rest up,” he said.
“I was,” I said. My voice echoed through the mask. “I move in my sleep.”
He let out a deep breath.
“What hospital is this?” I asked.
“You’re not in a hospital.” The chair creaked and he rolled over to me. “You’re in my lab.”
“Please, let me go,” I said. “Let me go to a hospital.”
“I can’t let you go,” he said. “You need me. You went through a very unique operation, and you need me to stay alive. You have survived longer than any of my other patients.”
“How many others were there?”
“You are patient twelve”
There was another beep, but this one was at a higher pitch and a faster pace. It sounded like a cellphone.
“I have to take this,” he said. He patted the top of my head. “Try to get some sleep.”
The chair creaked and his hand left my hair.
“Dr. Sweeney speaking,” he said. “Ah, yes Mr. Carlisle. How is your new kidney doing?”
His voice faded out as he walked further away from the bed.