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Surveillance – Ch. 14

He opened his eyes, one, then the other, indistinct shapes on either side of him, lights above that made his head hurt. His eyes were gritty, the lids so heavy, and let them slide closed again, letting himself drift through a hazy gray cloud. Some unknown amount of time later, a noise intruded into his peaceful semi-consciousness, a soft touch on his arm, the warmth of skin, a faint smell that meant clean…

He blinked, his vision still blurred, and turned his head toward the smell. Something moved beside him, a figure dressed in blue, dark skin, black hair, warm hands touching his arm, his face. The figure made a noise and jerked back. A stream of sounds washed over him, seeming to come from the figure, who then moved away, disappearing, leaving him alone. The noises shuffled around inside him and he blinked several more times, trying to keep his eyes open, trying to focus, to stay out of the fog. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt like the sounds meant something, and that he should know what.

My God, you’re awake. I’ll go get the doctor. It was like a whisper he couldn’t quite hear, the meaning just out of reach, but before long he lost interest, his gaze sliding from one side of the room to the other, lingering on a stripe of gold on the wall. It was light, put there by something outside the window, and he knew that if he touched it, it would be warm, but he couldn’t picture the source, couldn’t think of the name for it. That bothered him for some reason, like an irritation at the back of his mind, a weight in his chest, but he wasn’t sure why.

The door opened and he slowly turned his head to watch it close again. Two figures came over to him this time, the one in blue with the clean smell and someone new wearing white. They made noises at each other and at him. Speaking, They were speaking. With words. He knew that. He’d always known it, he just hadn’t remembered. He was suddenly tired and he let his eyes slide shut.

A hand touched his face and his eyes fluttered open, a face close to his. It was a woman, her brown hair pulled back. She spoke to him, saying one word more than the others, but he was distracted by the bitter smell on her breath. He didn’t know what to call it, but it would be hot and black, something he would put in his mouth…

“John? John, can you hear me?” the woman said again. “John, do you understand me? Can you squeeze my hand?” She reached down, taking his hand. Her fingers were cold. “John, please, if you understand me, squeeze my hand.” She squeezed his fingers and he looked down at their two hands, hers smaller than his, her skin lighter. It was like she wanted something, but he wasn’t sure what. She squeezed his hand again and he tried to do the same to her, but nothing happened. That wasn’t right. He looked over at his other hand and curled his fingers against his palm. It wasn’t that hard. So why wouldn’t the hand that she was holding do it too? That irritation in his brain came back, the weight in his chest greater, and he felt his eyebrows draw together. He didn’t like this.

“His heart rate and BP are rising,” said the person in blue, also a woman, he realized.

“He’s upset,” said the woman in white, her voice soft. She had something wet on her face, coming from her eyes. That meant she was sad. She reached up, her cold fingers soft against his cheek. “It’s okay, John,” she said. “You’re okay. It’s okay.”

Okay. He knew that word. Okay was good. It made him feel better. He closed his eyes and drifted back into the fog.

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