The red glow of her eyelids was the first thing she noticed. It was that universal sensation of resentment that caused her to roll over. The sun rose each morning and fed the world with life, yet the fireball in the sky was unwelcome not for the job it did, but for the intrusion it made. No amount of face-planting could spare her its stirring, its reminder that she was alive.
Defeated, she pushed herself up from her bed and noticed the thin, gray tank top she wore. She blinked through slitted-eyes to examine her sparse room and the giant landscape window that was letting the sun, and a beautiful view of the beach, wake her. She sat there propped against the mattress and sniffed; there was the aroma of salt and sand. She tucked the strands of her bob hairstyle behind her ear and stared at carpeted floor. In limbo, she sat for several seconds before her eyes panned to the walls and darted across the room.
She quickly stood up and searched the table, the chairs, everything in her vicinity for something. Her purse, a magazine, anything … and nothing was there. Nothing personal surrounded her. She marched across the room to the door and promptly collided with it, before stabbing at the door controls with her fingers. Nothing happened.
“Hello?” she yelled with panic. With no answer, she raised her arm and pounded against the metal slab. It echoed as though the walls it were attached to were hollow. She immediately stepped away, looking the door up and down with the distinct impression it was alien to this environment, which only frightened her more.
She clasped her wrist closely to her chest and bit her lip, caressing the wrist with her thumb as thoughts whirled through her mind faster than she could process them. She turned and gazed at the freedom that awaited her on the beach ahead through the window. She nodded to herself and marched over to it, but became more distraught as she felt the corners and found no way to open it. Whimpers escaped her as she looked around for something, anything, to become the instrument of her freedom. Almost without thinking, she swept the metal chair up and launched it at the window.
Sparks flew. Metal and plastic scattered throughout the room as the chair clanked against the wall before resting on the floor. The sun was destroyed with the accompanying screech of an already nervous woman surprised by the darkness she found herself in. She stood there, shaking in silence and void.
Minutes went by, but to her they seemed like hours before light returned to her small world again as the door shot open. The well-lit, metallic environment on the other side of the door contrasted sharply with the bedroom like setting it illuminated. She was confused by the chemical fragrance of sterilization supplies that overran the tropical smells of her room. In the doorway, a doctor stood looking equally lost. A metal chair laid on the carpeted floor, the corner of it dented from impact and peppered with shards of glass and plastic. The viewscreen above it was completely destroyed: it’s electronic components showed through the broken hole within the shattered display. Not too many feet away stood the frail woman, pale as if she had seen a ghost, arms clasped tightly in front of her in defense. Her eyes were almost unnaturally wide. She backed herself against the wall as he approached.
“Are you all right?” the doctor stepped in and walked over to her, checking her hands for any shards that might have embedded into her. “You could have been hurt! Didn’t you see the call button?”
The woman’s eyes followed the doctor’s finger to the small red button by her bed she hadn’t noticed. None of it comforted her in the slightest. She continued to shake, and her mistrust of this authority figure that had apparently trapped her there remained, if somewhat lessened from seconds before.
“Look, this is my fault, I shouldn’t have stepped away for that long. Though it looks like I’ll need to get a new chair,” he laughed lightly before stopping as he realized she wasn’t joining in the levity. “You’re alright, aren’t you? If you’re worried about the viewscreen, don’t. It’s easily replaceable,” he started, becoming more unnerved by her refusal to respond. “Uh, well, uh … hospitals have been known to put undo stress on patients,” he picked up the dented chair, glancing away only long enough to shoo away the nurses and other faculty that had started to coalesce in the doorway, “outbursts are perfectly natural.”
The woman stared at him, her expression haunting. “Who …”
“Ah! Right,” he smiled and nodded, standing up to offer her his hand. “Doctor Erwin. Michael Erwin. You can just call me Michael, everyone else does,” he outstretched his hand farther, waiting for her to take it. He grew silent again as she continued to shiver in her protective, wrist-wringing pose.
“Who … am I?” she asked. A glimmer of hope was in her eyes, but faded as he delayed. With a sigh, he removed his offer for handshake and tucked his hands into his coat pockets.
“We were hoping you could tell us.”
About the Author:
Heath Rowell is the author of the upcoming science fiction novel ‘Noble Mind.’ Having grown up on a steady diet of ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Star Trek,’ he began creating original stories in those universes in his early teens. When he’s not spreading his time across his obsession with social media, video games, politics, and podcasting, he’s lost somewhere in time and space, exploring and creating epic worlds with complex characters that span millennia. For updates and more on the Noble Mind, follow the official account on twitter @TheNobleMind, like the series on Facebook, and check out the official website at www.nobleverse.com.
If you are an author and would like to be featured in our Short Story Column contact us at Submit@ScienceFiction.com.