Sara's Awakening Ch. 01byHelenofTroy©
She woke gasping. Harsh, conditioned air rushed down her throat through a tube. Gasping turned to coughing as her throat tried to work around the tube. She couldn't breathe like this! Who could breathe like this?
Panicked, she tried to pull the tube out of her throat. Her arms wouldn't respond! What was going on? She tried to scream, tried to struggle. She couldn't! Her legs were stuck too, and the tubes down her throat prevented her from forming anything other than a whimper with her voice.
More than one tube?
With her tongue, she managed to count half a dozen tubes of varying sizes in her throat, forcing her mouth open and stretching her esophagus. Four more seemed to have been shoved through her nose and into her throat as well.
So she whimpered, and thrashed against whatever was holding her.
It took a few minutes before she realized that the purpose of the tubes was to keep her breathing. Despite her body and its every instinct telling her something was blocking her airway, she would be okay. That went a long way toward calming her down, but there were still too many questions. Where was she? Why was she here?
Why couldn't she see?
Fear, cold and slimy, crept back into the pit of her stomach. The world was dark and silent. At least she could smell... although chemicals and what might be old blood mixed into an unpleasant scent cocktail. Unable to do anything else, she thrashed again.
Something happened this time!
Silently, why was it so quiet!?, the strap holding her upper body in place snapped. She felt it give with a surge of triumph, and then she was falling.
Without the strap to keep her in place, her upper body flopped forward, drawn down by gravity until she was bent over at the waist with her head pointed toward the floor.
Why was she upside down?
The motion pulled at the tubes in her mouth and she gagged as they slithered and scraped in her throat. With panicky urgency, she grabbed the knot of tubes in her mouth and pulled.
Choked and coughed.
It took a long time, too long, before she pulled the tubes out of her mouth. Her first gasp of air rasped against her abused throat and trigged another coughing fit. When that passed, she grabbed the tubes in her nose and gave those a yank. Starbursts of pain flashed into her dark world, and from some faraway place she heard someone scream. Was that her? She pulled again, harder this time. They came free, and this time the screaming was her.
After the effort to get rid of the tubes, she felt the strength drain out of her. Unbidden, her arms flopped down until they dangled towards the floor. How high was she? At least a few feet off the ground if she couldn't touch it with her arms extended down past her head.
This wasn't going to work.
Despite the weakness, the panic was still there, balled up inside her and forcing her to keep moving. She didn't care how far down it was, she was going to get free of the straps holding her legs.
It took more effort than she wanted to admit for her to raise her arms again, and feel around the spot where she thought her legs were strapped in. The least important mystery of the day revealed itself then: why was she naked?
Ignoring that, she found the buckle holding her legs in and fumbled with it. She worked at it for a minute or more before her arms got too tired and she had to let them dangle again. When the pain subsided, she reached up again to try and release the damn thing.
It came free!
She landed on the ground with a loud slap that shocked her skin back to awareness. Suddenly she was very cold: from the frigid tiles she lay on and from the chill air in the room.
"Welcome." A cheery, female voice swam through her foggy mind. "Please wait." What? "Please wait." She shook her head, tried to look around, and remembered she couldn't see. At least she could hear... "Lights coming on."
She screamed again as searing white light assaulted her eyes. Darkness turned to blinding whiteness, and the shock of it sent spikes of pain shooting through her head. She squeezed her eyes shut, willing the pain to go away.
"Patient 457 is no longer breathing. Action?" The voice came back. This time she thought she heard something... mechanical in it. A rasping, a hesitation between words, told her this wasn't a person.
Good. That meant she wasn't sprawled against a cold floor and crying in pain with someone watching.
Tentatively, she opened her eyes again. The light was still blinding, but it didn't bring the pain anymore, and she thought she could make out the vague outlines of things. Over there was a desk. Over there was a metal table. Up there was a rectangular shape that she'd been strapped to. Attached to her were dozens of wires.
She blinked and tried to focus. She couldn't.
"Go to hell!" She imagined herself shrieking in rage at the voice. Instead, what came out was a strangled rasp, little more than a whisper.
"Analyzing." The voice would not go away! "Sending stimulus to patient 457."
"What?" She looked around, trying to figure out what it meant by tha-PAIN!
Screams, raw and primal, tore themselves out of her abused throat. She spasmed and flopped against the tiled floor, unable to do anything except react to the pain. What was happening? Every muscle in her body twitched, and she could feel her heart skipping like a broken record against her ribs.
"Stop!" Through her screams, she tried to speak. It was hard. She had to keep going. She didn't know if she could survive this much longer. Or at all. "STOP!"
"Stopping... patient is still not breathing. Action?"
She shook her head... she didn't know how long until the crazy thing did that again, and she had to know what caused it. The wires? Gingerly, she tried to turn her head around and get a look at them. They were coming out of the ceiling and were connected to her back, arms and legs by clips.
Her arm shook as she raised it to grab the nearest wire. Her fingers decided not to work; instead of grabbing it she knocked it. That was enough. The clip came off her skin, where it left a jagged set of small cuts, and snapped together with a vicious click when it no longer had her to grab onto.
Fear forced her to move quickly, swiping at the wires to try and dislodge them. They came away without any trouble. She forced herself not to look at the blood which dripped from their angry metal jaws. At least her vision was getting better if she could pick out drops of blood on a tiled floor...
"Action? Sending stimulus to patient 457."
She'd managed to get all the wires off except one, so this time the pain didn't strike her entire body. The arm which was still connected to a wire was filled with agony, and she screamed again. She managed to grit her teeth and get her free arm around to grab the wire. She yanked harder than she needed to, carving a long gash into her skin with the sharp edges of the clip.
The pain stopped!
"Thank god..." Her arm stopped flopping around. The wires continued to dance in the air and she thought touching them would be a bad idea.
"Stopping. Patient 457 vitals no longer registering." The voice continued in its stilted, cheery tone. She'd nearly managed to tune it out. "Recording patient death."
She crawled away from where the wires hung down until she thought she might be able to stand without accidentally touching one. The first attempt went badly. Her arms hurt from the effort of freeing herself, her legs felt like jelly. She made it up to her knees before collapsing with a cry of frustration.
How long did she have before someone came by and noticed that she'd gotten out? Was "patient death" such a common occurrence that no one was going to bother checking?
On her second attempt to her feet, she realized that she hadn't yet asked why she was here. Was she a patient? Why? She couldn't remember anything beyond the last few minutes, and she was very weak. Who suspended patients upside down and put wires in them that could cause pain like that?
No one she wanted to meet...
On the third attempt, she made it all the way to standing. She still wobbled, and put her hand on the cold plastic of the desk to keep from falling. It wasn't a very solid desk; it moved with a loud noise as she pushed on it. At least it kept her upright.
The voice was coming from a speaker mounted next to the door, and that's where she focused her attention next.
"Death recorded. Action?"
She walked a first shaky step and managed not to fall.
The next two steps came more easily.
She made it! She put her hands around the hard metal edges of the speaker and pulled. There was a pop and a crackle, and then the thing came right off the wall. A wire snaked out after it. She pulled and twisted until that broke too. "Actio..." It stopped midway through its dying word.
Satisfied, she discarded the speaker into the corner and set about investigating the rest of the room.
There wasn't much. Gleaming white plastic was the dominant motif, against which the glowing blue of a computer screen and the bright red of a blood bag stood out. She moved over to the blood bag and examined it. It was attached to what looked like an intravenous line. Funny, she didn't remember pulling out any needles. Maybe it came out when she fell? Her sense of touch wasn't cooperating at that point; it was possible she hadn't felt it.
The glowing monitor sat at a still image of a desktop, with a wide variety of icons whose names made no sense. It was perched on top of a collection of machines which were whirring and wheezing. Many of them were connected to tubes which were strung up to the ceiling, and then down to her mouth. Now they hung there, lifeless, some sucking air.
"What the Hell?" She shook her head and made her way over to the door. The fear of the strange situation was starting to subside now that she was in control of things again. Behind it came questions.
Who was she?
Why was she here?
What was her name?
Her only article of clothing was a plastic bracelet around her right wrist and it didn't offer much help. Patient 457 was printed in block letters on it, along with a barcode. She reached up to rifle her hair in frustration. Her hand stopped, then rubbed itself on the prickly stubble which clung to her head.
"What?" Her voice was growing stronger, less raspy... and now more panicked.
Where was her hair?
She spotted a metal tray on the cart with the machines and grabbed it, tilting it so the shiny surface would reflect her image.
Sure enough, an unfamiliar face stared back, its hair buzzed almost to nothingness. For a while, she stared, trying to make sense of sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, pale lips and sallow skin. She didn't recognize the person in the reflection. Was that her? It had to be, right?
Shaking her head, she tossed the tray to the ground in anger. The tray bounced hard, folding in half and ricocheting against the wall before settling to a grumpy halt. It must have been flimsier than she thought.
She went to the door, pressing her hands against its chilly surface. There was no knob on this side, no window, nothing to give her any indication what was on the other side, or even how she would get through. Using her shoulder, she slammed against the door a few times, trying to get it to move.
The slap of flesh against metal was accompanied by a groan as the door tried to give way and failed. She tried again. She gave a cry of frustration and tried again. Again! In desperation, she slammed into the door over and over, succeeding only in hurting herself.
Breathing hard with exhaustion and throbbing from pain, she stopped and slumped against the door forehead first. The cold metal was a welcome counterpoint to her burning frustration. What was going on? And, how could she escape?
She took some time to hyperventilate while leaning against the door. It was good to give in to her fear and worry, and afterward she felt much better.
Standing up, taking a deep breath to steady herself, she walked around the room again. Her eyes kept wandering back to the blood bag. It was the only spot of bright colour in the room, including her. It hung there: a glistening ruby breaking up the monotony of her world.
She realized something was wrong when she caught herself running her tongue along the dewy outside of the plastic bag. Shaking her head to clear it, she went back to looking around the room.
The bed she'd woken up on, the one which kept her suspended above the ground, was bolted into the ceiling. She couldn't move it, despite several attempts.
The desk moved. Too easily. She shoved it back and forth around the room a couple of times, then lifted and threw it into the door. Nothing happened except the bang of plastic on metal and she had to dodge out of the way as the desk bounced off and nearly caught her in the head on its rebound.
"Open!" Standing in front of the door and shouting at it didn't work.
She moved back to the computer and tried to see if it contained any mysterious clues. Since she last saw it, it went to screen saver. Muttering to herself she gave the mouse a flick, and was met with a login screen.
"You bastard..." She glared at it, hoping the heat of her stare might make it sit up and start working. When nothing happened she tried a few combinations that came to mind. 'User'/'password' didn't work. 'Sicko'/'torture' produced similar results. 'Mother fucker'/'die die die die die' also didn't work.
She found herself back at the blood bag, cradling the cool plastic with one hand and leaning her cheek against it.
She tried to drag the wires over to the door and connect them, to see if that painful shock might work. No luck; they didn't reach that far.
She pounded on the door again. Slapped it. Scratched at it. When her nails broke and her fingers started leaving bloody trails down the metal she stopped.
She'd been far too calm for too long, and that familiar fear/desperation cocktail crept back up on her. It gripped the bottom of her stomach, then climbed its way up her spine until it settled in a lump at the back of her throat.
She was never getting out of here!
They were going to come back!
Who the Hell even was she?
Someone would connect the wires again...
And the tubes!
The room felt small. The walls were closing in... the walls were closing in! Someone noticed she was free and was going to kill her!
Her breath coming in short, sharp gasps, she careened off the walls of the room, scrabbling at them, pushing on them, pleading with them to stop.
She found herself curled up in a fetal position under the upside down bed, avoiding the wires, staring at the walls... waiting for them to finish squishing her like an insect.
The interior of the room was no longer colourless, smeared as it was with her blood. Her eyes drifted to the bag. She crawled closer to it; reached out to touch the tube that ran from it. She'd assumed it was intravenous, because that was the only thing that made sense. Right?
Shaking, she traced the tube with her fingers. It ran up to the ceiling, where she tracked it by gripping the side of the bed and pulling herself up, then back down... back down... back down to the collection of tubes stuffed down her mouth. Her mouth!
"No... no no no... no!" She ran her finger in quick circles along the end of the tube, which did not have a needle attached to it. It was another of those tubes that had been stuffed down her throat. Dried blood was visible on the end of it...
She went back to the bag. Licked her lips. Rubbed her hands nervously against her thighs: once, twice. Paused. Three times.
Wild hunger took over with a ferocity that, later, frightened her. She grabbed the bag off its hook and tore it open, shredding the tough plastic like it was nothing. Bright gouts of blood spilled out onto her hands and chest as she brought the torn bag up to her mouth and gulped what was left. It spilled over her cheeks and shoulders. It stained her far-too-short hair. It got in her mouth... it tasted glorious! Her taste buds exploded, and her mouth danced with joy. The world got brighter and louder and tinglier all at once: sensations she didn't even know she was missing flooded her mind.
Suddenly, she could hear the slow rumble of the building settling into the ground. She could see the excited flicker of UV in the room, dancing in waves above human vision. She could smell... well, that was the bad part. Chemicals, fear and blood mixed together, stronger than ever before, and she gagged on the smell. The last swallow of blood almost came back up, but she gulped it back. The smell was bad. Losing that little bit of blood felt worse.
Afterward, she collapsed onto the floor. She licked the bag until it was well and truly empty, then discarded that into the corner. She didn't need to look into the bent metal tray to see that two of her incisors were now so long that she couldn't close her mouth; they reached down to the base of her chin and felt razor sharp.