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At last, the thrilling conclusion!



May 10, 1987

[Perspective switch: Everyone else]

Had to stop for the day, my hand was cramping.
    The fact that there was a next entry in this diary suggests that I survived what followed. I had no right to; turning my back on that woman deserved to be a fatal mistake. It wasn't any fun. I suspect uneasy nights are a legacy of my origin I may never be entirely free from.
    Anyway, I woke up. This was a bad sign; not being dead meant something much worse was going to happen. My thoughts were clouded, but I could tell that I was strapped down to what felt like a relatively thin, soft mattress. My heart maintained a slow, steady pace when it should have been racing, and I felt very tired. Drugged, I assumed. Someone was in the room, nearby; I could hear them as they leaned over me, then moved away.
    I opened my eyes. It looked like a hospital room. The only light came from a hall outside, through the open door. The person appeared to be a nurse. An IV dripped patiently into my left arm; my right was in a cast up to my shoulder. It took this long for the real panic to set in, but it was firmly in place by the time the nurse turned around and started in surprise. Short blonde hair, angular features, broad shoulders. Looked quite a bit like Lucky, actually.
    "You're up. Are you okay? Can you tell me your name, please?" Didn't sound anything like her, too soft and melodic by a long shot.
    "Where am I?" I tried to keep my voice from shaking.
    My faint, momentary hope that somehow Winters' plan had gone awry and I was safe somewhere vanished when she repeated, "Can you please tell me your name?"
    "First you tell me where I am." I will readily admit to being scared at this point. There's really nothing like waking up and finding that your worst nightmare has come true.
    Well, almost worst. The worst ones have scalpels, but never mind.
    "You're in a hospital." She tapped a wall intercom. "I'm in room 17, can you get Dr. Ellis, please?"
    A hospital. Dr. Ellis?
    Okay, I told myself, try to stay calm. They're going to try to make you think you're crazy. I clearly remembered Winters shooting me and everything that had led up to that. These people are very good at manipulating reality, they're going to try to make this into something it isn't. Don't let it happen.
    "What happened?" I asked the nurse, wondering what sort of story they were going to give me.
    "I don't know the specifics. You had some kind of an accident, according to your chart you have Rogers' Syndrome. You've been in a coma for three months."
    Right. Sure.
    The door opened, the light came on, harsh and industrial.
    "Sorry," apologized the man who had come in. Distinguished-looking older gentleman—again, close, but not quite exactly the same as the late senator. "Nurse, how long has she been awake?"
    "Just a few minutes, I called you right away."
    "Good. Could you get her some water, please?" He moved closer to the bed, smiling. "Hi, I'm Dr. Ellis. How are you feeling?"
    "A little fuzzy, thank you," I replied cautiously.
    "Do you remember your name?"
    "Sasha Banks."
    "Okay. What's the last thing you remember?"
    I hesitated. It seemed obvious that I shouldn't tell him the truth. "What day is it?"
    "May fourth."
    That matched. "What year?"
    "1987. You've been in a coma for three months," he repeated what she had said.
    "Then why do I know what day it is?"
    "People in comas, especially with the type of condition that you're in, can often distinguish things that are going on around them. In addition, you have a fairly rare case. I'll go over the specifics with you tomorrow, but it's very promising that you've actually conscious," he told me gravely—that seemed pretty self-evident, but I remained quiet. "You had brief periods of consciousness before, but mostly they were violent overactivity. There was one period when we were attempting to restrain you, you actually shattered your arm in three places by banging it against the side of the bed. That was three days ago, which led us to believe that you were improving."
    I looked at the cast dubiously. My arm ached, granted, and felt weirdly numb. I've never had a broken bone, so I didn't know how much it ought to hurt, and it was hard to tell, given my general muddle-headedness, what was going on in my body. That bitch Winters could have done anything after she shot me. His story sounded plausible, but I was very aware that everything he had said was something I could have made up myself on the spur of the moment if, say, I was trying to allay someone's suspicions.
    I tried to get a reading on his bio-aura, and there was nothing there in my mind to try with. More panic. I tried to be reasonable—of course they weren't going to keep me restrained here and not do anything about my powers—but still, this discovery did nothing for my confidence.
    "I'll go over things fairly briefly," he started.
    "Don't do that." I no longer wanted to hear whatever he had to say. What were they trying to do, telling me all this? What were they planning?
    "Are you feeling all right, are you clear headed?"
    "Yes," I said precisely.
    "Are you tired?"
    "As I said, you've had periods of consciousness before, but you slipped under again. If you're tired, I think the best thing would be to go back to sleep. We'll wake you—"
    "What sort of accident was it?" I interrupted.
    "That would require going into the specifics. You're suffering from Rogers' Syndrome, you had a brain aneurysm. Are you familiar with Rogers' Syndrome?"
    "No." I had no idea if such a thing even existed.
    "It's the aftereffects of an improper variant emergence."
    "A brain aneurysm?"
    "You've been in a coma for three months."
    I didn't say anything.
    "You all right?" he prompted after a few silent moments.
    "Okay. I'm going to have nurse McKay come back in, she's going to give you something that'll help you sleep. We'll talk again tomorrow. I'm very glad you're awake," he added.
    He left the room. I tried to think of a term to properly express the situation and kept coming back to "bad." Very, very bad. In a sense, whatever they were planning didn't matter, because it looked as if there was nothing I could do about it other than pray that someone was looking for me.
    I looked around the room to stave off further panic. Standard-issue hospital room from what I could see, which wasn't much, being unable to move anything but my head. The restraints were secure, padded, and more than strong enough to hold yours truly even if I felt up to struggling. The nurse came back in.
    "Here's some water for you. I'm going to bring your bed up." She adjusted the incline.
    "What hospital is this?"
    "You're at the Winslow Clinic."
    "Where's that?" Never heard of it. Not that I would have anyway.
    "Just outside New York. We're very small. Here," she held the cup for me to drink and then left again, dimming the lights on her way out.
    I didn't go to sleep.

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson