I woke up in pitch black after a risky but necessary operation. The bedside clock said 404.


The first thing I heard was beeping. Repeated, regular, like it had been going on forever. My fucking alarm. I groped for my phone, but my arm wouldn’t move.

That woke me up a bit more and I opened my eyes. Or, I thought I did, but there was nothing to see. As black outside my head as it was inside. I blinked. I could feel my eyelids dragging over dry eyes, so okay, yes. My eyes were open.

I lay still, trying to see what I could feel. Stiff blankets over me. A thin pillow, half twisted under my head. The air was slightly humid on my cheeks. My arms were on top of the blanket and something was pinching the inside of my right elbow.

IV line?

With huge effort, I lifted my left arm and slung it over my chest, my fingers coming to rest on my bicep. Yup. IV line. Shit.

I probably shouldn’t pull that out when I can’t see what I’m doing.

I spent a minute flexing my muscles without moving my body, then when I thought I’d got enough control to actually use those muscles, I shifted around on the bed and shoved myself upright. Now I could see a slight blinking brightness from where that damned beeping was coming from. It was an old-fashioned digital clock, the kind with the squared-off numbers and big buttons along the top.

The time read as 4:04. No indication if it meant AM or PM, but if this was four in the afternoon, there was a bigger problem than just waking up in the dark.

I tried to call out, but my throat was dryer than my eyes had been. I worked my mouth, bringing up as much liquid as I could before I tried again.


No response.

I pulled in a deeper breath and called louder. This time I heard a slight rustling noise, sounding like it was through a couple doors and maybe down a well.

Crap. Where the hell am I?

I scootched my legs over and dangled them off the bed, sliding carefully forward until my feet touched the floor, but letting my butt remain solidly on the mattress. Luckily enough, this moved me toward my right arm. I’d have been screwed if my IV line was on the wall-side of the bed.

Carefully, I rolled forward and stood, settling my weight on my feet, my left hand still resting on the bed. When I was sure I was stable, I stood and groped around with my right hand. After a second, I found the IV stand and felt up and down the shaft. The only thing attached to it was the baggie connected to my arm. Good. I was mobile.

Shoving the IV stand in front, I inched my way through the room to the clock. It was a pleasure to press all the buttons on the top, finally making that damned beeping stop.

I pointed the red light from the clock face around the room, and startled back when the wall behind the desk the clock had been on turned out to be a mirror.

Why is there a mirror in a hospital room?

I rubbed my face, then ran my hands down over my body, relief flooding me when I felt a soft shirt and pants. This would be less comfortable if I were in one of those stupid butt-out gowns.

I felt along the wall until I found a corner, then kept going. There had to be a door somewhere, right? Even if there wasn’t a window.

I found it on the third wall, after catching my foot on the bed and nearly falling. The knob was an odd shape – triangular – but it turned like a regular knob.

Just before I pulled the door open, I paused.

Wait. Why am I in a hospital at all?

I tried to remember what I’d been doing before I woke up, but everything was blank. After a panicked second, I remembered my name and other things about my life, but everything in my recent past was gone.

“Shit,” I muttered. “That’s not good.” I gritted my teeth and pulled out the IV line. If it turned out I really needed it, someone could put it back. But the darkness, the weird room, and my missing memory made it clear that I couldn’t afford to be stuck to a giant rolling stick.

With a deep breath, I yanked the door open.