Chapter 5 - ZombiesAU!
“How are you doing (First)?”
Your eyelids felt weighted as you tried to open them, blinking against the harsh light. A hand brushed your forehead, feeling your temperature and lingering a moment longer. You swallowed but your mouth was dry, your tongue sticking to the roof of your mouth.
“Doctor?” You surprised yourself as the word slipped out before you realized it, your voice a croak.
“This last week has been harder on you than previous ones I know. But don’t worry, we are making great progress.” You recognized the voice but were completely at a loss for where you had heard it before. Instead of responding you nodded as if you understood their words. The overhead operating lamp was too bright to see the room around you.
“The lights.” You croaked. “Too bright.”
“Now now, (First). You understand observation is an important part of medical research.” A metal clink off to your side made you flinch and turn away but your motion was restricted in the bed. “And these lights help me observe.”
“What have you done to me?” Your movements pulled against the restraints at your ankles and wrists that kept you bound to the bed.
“You must stay calm (First).” The voice clucked as you began to twist and turn, trying to escape. “Think about your health. We only want to help.”
“Let me go!” A panic began to settle over you, the blinding lights making the world around you impossible to see. If you couldn’t see how could you escape?
“This won’t do. You could hurt yourself by thrashing. Let’s stay still, shall we?” You felt something slither across your chest. Another restraint. You arched against the leather strap but a sharp tug from the doctor slammed you back down to the bed.
“No!” Your hoarse voice whimpered as the restraint was pulled tighter and tighter across your chest. You shut your eyes, feeling the viselike grip wrapping around your chest and you knew you had to escape or you would die.
“There, there. It will only pinch for a moment.” The voice seemed to wrap around you as a needle suddenly stabbed into your arm. You screamed in pain and panic, thrashing. As you threw your body against the restraints you were suddenly tumbling, falling to the cold floor.
Your eyes flew open as you scrambled backwards, your legs still tangled in the bedsheets and ripped the needle from your arm. A huge shadow of a man loomed over you, but he made a squeaking noise and promptly fled out the door.
There was no one else in the room, no blinding light overhead, no restraints on your body. But the pressure wrapped around your chest continued to tighten as you backed into a corner of the room. You couldn’t breathe, the ghost restraint crushing the very breath from your lungs as you gasped frantically. Your hands slipped on the icy floor before reaching up to tear at your clothes, hoping to lessen the pressure.
The world around you had narrowed to a pinpoint of light and to the crushing grip on your lungs. You could hear noises, pounding footsteps coming towards you. But you didn’t want the doctor to come back. You couldn’t go back to the restraints in the bed. Instead you pressed deeper into the corner and wrapped your arms around yourself as if to hold yourself together, trying to push the outside world away. Your vision was blurry and you’re breathing too fast but you couldn’t stop it, you were going to die. You almost hoped you would pass out just so you didn’t have to feel the crushing anxiety any more.
And then there was a voice.
“You aren’t going to die.”
It spoke calmly, almost emotionless, which was exactly what you needed. Any emotions would simply amplify yours. You glanced up, registering a new face through the haze of terror in your mind. Not the doctor. He didn’t approach, didn’t try to touch you. He just stared, his brown eyes analyzing you before he spoke again.
“Is the corner closing in or supporting?”
Your mind felt disoriented as you processed the words and focused on the corner you were pressed into. The walls were all that was keeping you together at this point, holding your physically in one piece.
“Support,” you managed to gasp out between painfully tight inhales. “The corner is support.”
He nodded calmly as if you had said something very logical, his eyes still analyzing. Your mind was still racing as you tried to focus on his words, his presence, and where you were, but the pressure at the edges of your mind was building again. Your small gasps stuttered in your throat for a moment.
“Take a deep breath.” He ordered calmly as your breathing began to quicken. “You can. You control your own breathing.”
Your eyes widened as you continued to take in little puffs of air, but he simply watched and waited, his eyes never leaving yours. As he watched you forced a deep breath. And then another. And another. He didn’t leave while you brought yourself down from the panic attack, but he didn’t get closer. Instead he settled on the floor, offering support from a distance.
Instead of staring at him you shifted your gaze to the room, continuing with your controlled breaths as the band around your chest started to relax. Faint grey light filtered in from a patched and covered window. There were two beds, hospital-style. One was neatly made, the other a tangle of sheets half on the floor. The one where you had been sleeping.
Sleeping. You blinked. A nightmare, you had been having a nightmare. The previous day’s events filtered back into your mind as you remembered where you were, how you got there.
“Do you want to go back to the bed?”
The sudden loss of silence surprised you as you swung your head to stare at… Daichi, yes that was his name. But then looking across the room at the bed you shivered at the last wisps of nightmare still in your memory and shook your head. “I would like to stay here.”
He nodded and you let the silence settle over you again as you massaged your sore wrist. Once your breathing was almost normal you spoke again.
“Thank you for… well everything. For today and yesterday.”
“No worries, glad I could help, but it was two days ago actually.”
“What?” You looked up to meet his eyes.
“You arrived two days ago. You’ve been unconscious since then. That’s why Asahi was changing your IV.”
You glanced at the small spot of blood on your arm where you had ripped your IV out. “Asahi?”
“He’s the nurse here.”
You frowned as you thought back. The nurse, the one who screamed and fled. You glanced at Daichi sheepishly. “Oh, I think I scared him.”
“Probably. He’s pretty wimpy.”
“But he’s so huge!”
“Yeah, go figure.” He chuckled, which made a corner of your mouth tug up in response. “We were never properly introduced, were we? Daichi Sawamura, at your service.” He smiled and gave a little flourishing bow as he stuck a hand out for you to shake. You smiled tentatively as you reached for his hand. It was warm and rough in your grip. The huge hole in your memory remained but something from the nightmare rushed forward to the front of your mind. The shadow doctor had called you (First). Your name was (First). Your eyes widened in shock and you gripped Daichi’s hand a little harder as you spoke.
“I’m… I’m (First).”
His smile morphed into a look of shock. “You remember?”
“In my dream. Or nightmare I guess.” You glanced away. “They… they called me (First). I think it’s my name.” You shrugged. “It feels like my name.”
He hummed as he studied your face in profile. “Do you want to talk about it?” The question hung between you for a moment before you nodded and swallowed nervously, as if voicing the nightmare might make it real.
“I was in a hospital bed and there was a doctor. They were talking to me, something about making progress and my health.” You squinted at the wall as you filtered through the nightmare dialogue. “They needed to observe me, but I don’t know why.”
“Do you know who it was?”
“I couldn’t see anything, the lights were too bright. But I recognized the voice.”
The doctor’s voice had been familiar but you couldn’t remember ever being in a hospital. If the nightmare doctor was being honest you had been there for weeks at least. Maybe you had been very sick? Remembering the restraints made you shiver but you couldn’t be sure they weren’t just part of the nightmare. You stared at the bed as you sifted through the different pieces, wondering how much truth about your past was hidden within and how much was just a warped nightmare.
Daichi’s gentle voice broke through your thoughts. “Were they hurting you?”
“I don’t know.” You answered truthfully. “I was strapped down, and when I tried to move they tightened the straps which made me panic. But I don’t know why.”
“Do you remember anything else? From the dream or otherwise?”
“Suga said some of your memories might come back through dreams. It’s been know to happen in temporary amnesia cases. These might be memories.”
You looked at Daichi sullenly. “I don’t remember anything else. I don’t even know if there was any truth to the nightmare. For all I know (First) isn’t even my name.”
“Hmm. Well I think (First) is a lovely name. It suits you, so why don’t we stick with (First) for now, and if you remember something different we can change it then. So don’t worry about things we can’t control right now. We’ve got important things to do now that you’re awake.”
Daichi smiled as he stood, reaching a hand down to help you up. “How would you feel about some food and a walk? Suga said simple exercises would help your body heal, and you must be hungry.”
You groaned a bit as you stood, feeling your muscles tighten and stretch. “The food sounds good.” Your stomach rumbled loudly causing Daichi to laugh. “I feel like I haven’t eaten in forever.”
His laugh cut short suddenly as his face turned serious for a moment. You remembered what Suga had said, that you were severely underfed, and knew he was probably wondering how long it had actually been since you had been fed. You wondered as well, but before you could dwell on it his smile returned and he steered you towards the door, aiding your slow, limping steps.
“Well then food will be our first stop, just follow me.”
And in that moment, with Daichi smiling down at you, his eyes warm, his grip steady and comforting, and the promise of food at the end, you thought you might just follow the handsome man you barely knew anywhere. And that was a frightening thought.