Coma

By September 3, 2013stories

(Feb 12, 07)
Kirill Kripak

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlack. Not the coolness of blue or the warmth of red. Black; it’s all I see. I feel softness and I smell cleanliness. Black; it’s my world now. From the sun to the moon, I see nothing and I hear everything. And I’m being far too melodramatic and it must be boring you. Well I’m bored, but for good reason. I want to sleep but I can’t because, well, I am asleep. I’m in a coma.

If you were to ask me my name, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Partly because my motor functions are not-existent, partly because my mother told me not to talk to strangers, but mostly because I don’t know it. Try not to take it personally, it’s nothing against you; I just don’t know my own name. Tragic, I know. Did I mention that I talk to myself? No, you didn’t. Well, I do and so do you.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m in a coma, or how long it’s been. It’s not very easy to keep track of time without a fancy wristwatch, so don’t take yours for granted. Just because it says water-resistant doesn’t make it so. I’m not sure how I know this. I’m sidetracking, you want to know about my coma. So do I.

However long it’s been, I can’t quite piece it together. What I do know is that I have a fracture to my right shoulder and something is hemorrhaging near my right ear lobe. There was some fancy word I heard the doctor use, intracerebral or something? I have an intravenous that feeds me, so I can’t say I’m hungry, but I have a really strong urge for something solid, like a good piece of chicken breast – you hear that? Someone’s coming. Let’s take a listen.

“This is the patient, Dr. Hannah. Comatose. Arrived last week, been on the standard run of colloids and saline. Vitals normal, save for a few palpitations just before he needs to, ahem, relieve himself. It’s quite odd, but that’s the only thing.”

“Relieve himself?” another voice, I guess the Doc’s, “you mean before he has to piss? Or shit? Be specific.”

“Uh, piss sir, he hasn’t had anything solid to eat since he’s got here.” Ah, that explains my need for something solid.

“Any family? Do we have a file on him?”

“Not yet, he wasn’t carrying any identification and we’re trying to match his blood right now. The media’s got wind of our John Doe too.” Does that make me a celebrity?

“Well we can’t do much without knowing any of his stats. Run tests for blood type, allergies, all that fun stuff.” Blood tests? What? I hate needles.

“Already done, it should be in later today.”

“Great. Let me know when it comes in.”

They walk out and I hear the door close. I guess this would be a good time to tell you that I am completely conscious. I should have mentioned that earlier, but what, with all these introductions and the doctor coming in, I just didn’t get the chance. I thought people in comas were asleep. I guess I’ve been listening in for about a week now and they still don’t know who I am. Hell, I don’t either, so it would be nice if they got on that faster.

I know that I’m male, there’s always that, I guess it should comfort me a bit. How do I know? Well, interesting story, actually. For the sake of a timeframe, let’s say it was last Thursday and – ah right on time. I’ll just show you.

“Hey there, big guy,” that’s a girls voice, her name’s Jenny. I know because she told me, but I assume it would say the same on her name tag. She comes in here every so often and today’s no different. “You hungry? Let’s change this drip for ya.” I’m not entirely sure why she talks at me, but I guess it’s just one of those things. “Let me just reach over you here, I hope you don’t mind,” she says with a slight giggle as her body extends over mine and her breasts brush up against my face and I can smell her faint perfume.

Whoop, there we go. That’s how I know I’m male.

“Ah, so you feel that eh? You sly dog. Well, how about this?” Jenny grabs my limp arm and puts it between her legs, “our little secret okay? I won’t tell anybody if you don’t,” she whispers as she giggles at her own delight. Yes ma’am.

Jenny lets my arm drop as she replaces the IV. I can hear her whisper to herself, “You’re cute, you know that?” Damn straight, score! “I think I’ll call you Sonny boy, sweetheart.” Sweetheart? How old do you think I am, missy?

Wait. How old am I? Dammit, another question, there’s just no end. I can hear her leaving; Wait no, where are you going? Come back to entertain me?

“Oh, almost forgot.” My arm had fallen off the bed so she lifts it back and giggles. Oh, oops, I guess I’m still at attention.

“Miss Fox, what are you doing?” Who’s that? A raspy voice. Ah yes, the other doctor, Bowen. I don’t like this guy, he’s quite an asshole.

“Oh, nothing sir, just changing his IV for the day.” Yes, my IV. Bugger off now, leave us alone. After a short pause, I can sense Jenny has stepped closer to me, probably to “cover up” so to speak. Come on boy, at ease.

“Why is he grinning?” Oh that bastard.

“He’s not gri – oh. Wouldya look at that.” Busted.

“This is a hospital, young lady; you can’t go around having fun with our comatose patients. It’s not proper practice. This is a serious institution. So break it off with your teenybopper friend here.” Teenybopper? What the hell?

“Oh come on, he’s not that young!” Jenny exclaimed. She’s standing up for me? “I mean, you’re absolutely right sir. It won’t happen again.” Dammit.

“Ah, Dr Bowen,” that’s that orderly from before, the one who was in here with Dr. Hannah, “I would like you to meet Mr. Truman.”

“Who?” Yeah, who? I don’t think there’s anybody with you.

“That young man over there. His name is Sonny Prescott Truman. We found him.” Sonny?

“Sonny?” gasped Jenny.

“Yes, what’s the matter?” asked the orderly. My middle name is Prescott, that’s what’s wrong!

“Oh, nothing. Just, um, didn’t look like a Sonny to me.” Liar.

“I always referred to him as Mr. Maroon because of the dye in his hair,” Bowen said. Ah yes, I had forgotten about the old doctor.

A beep goes off. “Yes? On my way.” That’s the orderly. “I have to go.” No! Come on man, tell me more!

Silence. And then some shuffling. I can almost taste the suspended awkwardness. At least I’m no longer at the ready. “Well, I should be going.” That’s Jenny.

“Alright Miss Fox. I too have patients to attend to.” I can hear both of them leave and I’m left alone again.

Great, my leg itches. What a perfect time for an itch, when I am utterly useless to do anything about it. Somebody? Anybody? What’s that? I can hear the elevator open and a bunch of voices.

“Where is he? How long have you had him? What is the connection to CERN? Can we see him? Is it true that his DNA matches a forty-two year – ” muffled voices, the door is shut. A forty-two year what?!

“You’re going to be quite the handful, aren’t you?” Dr. Hannah? I can hear him walk up to the monitor by my bed. Can you scratch my leg, please? “Are you grinning? How are you grinning?” Oh right, that’s still there.
There is a knock at the door. I can hear Hannah open it, “Hey Earl, did you hear the news?” Earl? News?

“Yes.” Oh Earl: Dr. Bowen. “If I had known, I would have laid out a welcome wagon for the press; the hospital could use it.”

“I know, but I don’t want this to become a media frenzy; we won’t get any work done for those that matter. All this is rather quite upsetting to the other patients.” All this what? What news? Someone pretend I exist and indulge me!

“This won’t be like old times, Mike. What do you want to do?” How about scratching my leg? This is unbearable. I want to scream, but I can’t!

“I don’t know. Someone from the Agency is on their way. I don’t want this issue on my hands.” Agency? What issue? Another beep. It pierces my ears; he must have been standing closer to me than I thought. “Hannah. Yes, I’m in the room. BBC4. Send him down here. And get some crowd control on the press, I can hear more of them arriving.” I can smell something, something foul. I think the Doc just farted. Great, and he was standing so close to me! “Dreyfus is here.”

Footsteps walk over to the other side of my bed. “How did the press get wind of this?” Passing wind is not something I want to think about now, and your breath isn’t helping, Dr. Bowen.

“I don’t know. That’s a mystery in itself. What the hell he’s doing here is another one. Son of a bitch should be dead. Older by decades, but dead.” I should be older by two decades? And dead? Who the hell do they think I am? “I was here earlier and he had no grin, now look at him.” I can feel their eyes glare at me. “Odd, it’s more of a scowl now. He had a grin before.” Fucken right I have a scowl, explain some shit to me!

“Oh, the grin. I may know what that’s from. I do not think Mr. Truman here is entirely comatose, not in a persistent vegetative state as originally diagnosed. When I was walking by earlier, I noticed a nurse – shall we say, entertaining her curiosity – and I do believe his body reacted to that. I suggest we try the RLA Cognitive Scale to re-diagnose, actually.” Oh how I hate his glare. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. Did I mention recently how much I don’t like Dr. Bowen?

Hannah chuckles, “Really? That’s interesting.” Ah, that’s cold. What is that? And where is that going? “Let’s see if our friend here reacts to this.” Son of a bitch.

I can smell Doc Bowen’s breath from here as – “Ha, did you see that? His face winced.”

“And you’re sure these aren’t automatic body functions?”

The door opens with a flood of voices trailing whoever just stepped in. “Good afternoon gentlemen, I am David Dreyfus, senior staff at CERN. It’s lucky I was only a state over so I hopped a plane here. Is this our man?” Now that is some rich cologne; I can feel the golden aura of the veil it must have been in encompass the room as Dreyfus nears my bed. “There you are old boy, looking twenty years younger the day you disappeared, well, twenty years ago.” I disappeared twenty years ago? What?

“Mr. Truman here was transferred to us about a week ago. Report says he was found on a beach near an abandoned lake house by a man walking his dog. That’s about all we know.” A lake house? How quaint.

Hannah had backed away from me at this point; or at least, his fart had dissipated in my nostrils. I can still taste the pungent odour, it’s not pleasant.

“We have all of his records back at CERN, we have to fly him back to Switzerland as soon as possible and get him off your hands.”

“Gladly. I don’t think Dr. Hannah here wants to disturb the doctors anymore than we are right now.” Ah yes, Bowen ol’ boy, I’ve forgotten you have a voice. But I haven’t forgotten I have an issue, somebody scratch it!

I can sense Dreyfus walking back towards the door. “We’ll have him gone very shortly; don’t worry, gentleman. But first, let’s give the press what they want.”

As the door opens, I can feel cold air rush in. Yes, remember, I can still feel. The cold attacks me like an army of porcupines. “Ladies and gentleman, you came here to get some questions answered. I am David Dreyfus, a senior member at CERN and yes it’s true. Sonny Truman, one of our leading scientists, has been found.” I’m a scientist? “We all remember the headlines,” I don’t, tell me! “and it’s been roughly twenty years,” Years? Twenty of them? “since,” Yes, since what! “the attempts to break speed for data transfer. Today, we know this as the Internet.” The inter-what? “Back then, it was all theory and Dr. Truman,” Holy shit?! I’m a doctor too? “was the leading scientist in his field. Who knew that the technology and power could not handle more than a hundred megabits per second? Not I. Obviously not Dr. Truman here. When the power cut out, he disappeared, and he has only been found last week. To speculate, a few of our boys say he has achieved time travel,” the bastard snickers, “but that’s just for the tabloids.”

I can sense the room was full now and I can hear the shutters and flashes of a dozen cameras. It’s curious, nobody was saying anything, but I could hear them all breathing. Intent on hearing what Dreyfus had to say. I could hear a pin drop and funny enough, tap-click, a pen dropped. So I’ve been missing for twenty years and somehow I’m younger?

“So he’s been missing for twenty years, and now somehow, our prodigal son returns, and he’s twenty years younger.” Thank-you, Captain Obvious.

“I am Dr. Michael Hannah and I would like to say what a discovery this is. This man’s DNA is identical to that of Dr. Truman’s and it has been quite the interesting time here. A differential diagnosis has ruled out locked-in syndrome or akinetic mutism, making his coma very interesting indeed. It is not regular by our standards,” Duh, “and he is actually quite responsive to actions around him. We can’t say he’s in a stupor either, catatonic or not.” Stupid cat what? “We will continue to monitor him until he is safely back in Switzerland under CERN care.”

The air is getting musty and thick with all of the sweat in the room. I can’t imagine the room to be very big and it seems to be getting smaller by the second. It’s as if everyone was inching to get closer to me.

“Yes, you may have a few pictures and then we have to get back to work. This is a hospital, ladies and gentleman.” Dreyfus you smooth cat, I wonder if you actually knew me.

So let’s recap: I am a scientist who was working at CERN, whatever that is, on something called the Internet and something or other happened? Then I disappeared for twenty years and now I’m back? But I’m younger. I’m said to be in a coma but my mind is entirely awake. This is a little too much for me, and this itch has not gotten any better! I can feel all of their beady eyes and lenses tearing a hole in my soul. The pungent air of Hannah’s farts, Bowen’s breath, the rather pleasant musk of Dreyfus’ cologne and the smell of my own sweat really aren’t helping. Wait a minute, the smell of my own sweat? I’m sweating?

“Ah, and here is what Dr. Hannah was speaking about, there is sweat building on his brow and he is rather damp. It’s almost as if he knows about all the eyes that are on him. Alright ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to leave and let the doctors work.”

Finally, but to my poor ears, the noise of their questions and shuffling really isn’t helping the fact that I also have a terrible, terrible itch! If only I could somehow…what? What’s that? A new smell. This can’t be good.

I hear a beep, “His heart rate just fluctuated.”

“He just – ” I just what?

“Who forgot to replace his bed pan?” Silence. I didn’t just –

“Maybe he just looks younger, but he just pissed his bed like a sixty year old.” Who said that? If I only I could move…

Someone’s hand grabs my leg to lift it up and throw the pan under. As the pan comes down, it scratches the precise part of my leg that itched. Good Riddance.

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bonus points to any who find the references (to things that interest me) in this. there’s at least 20.