Author: Mieu-san PM
Ride hasn't been having a very good week. Her house got broken into, she found TWO perverts in the shower, and she woke up in a hospital with a big chunk of her memory missing. It gets better--now what's left of her sanity is being held for ransom.Rated: Fiction T - English - Crime/Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,051 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 01-15-11 - Published: 01-13-11 - id: 2881978
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter Two: OK Kids, Let's Sound It Out!
I shifted lazily in the warm mass, feeling cooler sheets dragging around my ankles. It was a little warmer than I liked, but turning on my bedroom fan would fix that easily. I wriggled in my blankets a little bit, enjoying the fuzzy heat all around me. It was one of the mornings when yesterday had been hell but now you get to sleep in as late as you want, then wake up to sunlight pouring through the window and birds chattering to each other in the background. A morning of laziness. I hummed in the back of my throat, burying my face into the lumpy pancake that pretended to be my pillow and reaching out for Stormy and Stripe. I shot up a few seconds later because, first of all, the pillow I was hugging was full, fluffy, and smelled vile, and secondly, Stormy and Stripe were both very, very not there.
My head whipped this way and that, taking in entirely unfamiliar and quite honestly, scary surroundings. There were weird machines everywhere, looming right and left, and my bed was entirely too perfect, composed of utterly foreign pastels. Next to mine there was another bed, more machines, and a large expanse of utterly pristine wall. No collage, no bookshelves, no mural curtains. I was probably hyperventilating at this point, and jumping to conclusions that would have made my tragically gullible friend Becky jealous. The only thing I recognized was that I was in the hospital. That was it. I had no idea how I'd gotten here, when I'd gotten here, and I was quickly taking note of a gaping hole in my memory for an undecided period of time. As in, it wasn't there.
Did I get really, really sick? Did I break something? Did I have an allergic reaction? Did I have my tonsils removed? Is this a mistake? Have I just woken up from a thirty year coma—?!
The door opened.
"Goodmorning, Eridan," a cheerful nurse greeted, brandishing a tray of what look suspiciously like food. It smelled like it too. I found that I was hungry and tried not to drool or to look too eager. I was so hungry I didn't even both to correct her about my name. "You ready for breakfast?"
"OK," I said, and to my astonishment, she set the entire tray up in front of me without my lifting a finger. I blinked, and stared at the food in front of me. The royal treatment was weird, but giving me food endeared her to me. I decided to be nice to her, and by that, I meant I decided to open my mouth as little as possible. "Oh. Um. Thanks."
She beamed and made no move to leave, so I started to eat. Hospital food wasn't so bad. It was a lot like the stuff that they serve at school, except they make less of an attempt to drown it in sodium and grease. Probably has to do with health regulations. And what does that say about public schooling?
I ate quickly and the tray was taken by the cheerful nurse, who made to leave. "What happened?" I asked before she could leave, and she turned, her smile a little strained. She didn't look annoyed with me, just… wary. I tried not to let my bewilderment show. What did I do?
"I'll send Doctor Bryans to see you shortly," she told me without answering my question, and was then gone. I twiddled my thumbs for a moment and then threw off the blankets, half expecting to find myself shackled to my bed. When I wasn't I clambered off the hospital bed eagerly, wincing at a sharp pain in my side. I was dressed in one of those weird hospital things, so I unbuttoned it and examined a large, purplish bruise spread across my side. It was absolutely huge. I stared. I've done stupid things before, but what did I do for this? Get hit by a car?
It didn't seem like it was going to fall off anytime soon, though, so I redid my gown, snooping around the room. It had magazines, TV, and some romance novels; all of which were mindless diversions that I despised on principle. The door was locked, which did not surprise me. I looked out the window, expecting to see bars on the windows, but there were none. It was, however, a fourth story window. All and all it wasn't a bad place, but that didn't stop my insane urge to tie the sheets together and try to repel my way down. I have this rebellious streak. It's a curse. Just ask my teachers.
Teachers! I started, whipping my hand out, but my watch was gone. I looked around for some kind of calendar, but there was nothing like that. I was pretty sure I wasn't wrong, though. This was a school day. That would explain why sleeping in felt so glorious. And as long as my memory wasn't too screwed up, today should be Friday. Which meant there were tests. Which I was missing. That I would have to make up later. At the expense of. My. Free. Time. Dammit.
Doctor Bryans—I knew that was who he was the minute he stepped in, even though I'd never laid eyes on him before; very weird—looked surprised when I bounded over to him and asked somewhat hysterically if school buses came to hospitals. He pried my fingers off his jacket in a nice way and informed me that no they didn't, and wouldn't I like to go lay down? The way he asked it so nicely made me think it wasn't a request, so I went back to the bed and its horrible smelling pillow, scowling. "Wassup, Doc?" I asked, just to be a brat. He didn't seem to get it, even when I mimed eating a carrot. No sense of humor, I swear. Although, fair enough, if someone mimed chomping on something miscellaneous while looking as hysterical as I probably did, I doubt I'd have found it all that amusing either.
"So how are you feeling this morning, Miss Eridan?" He asked pleasantly, but I was having none of it this time. If he wanted to use my name, he had to bring me pudding. Pudding sounded good right now. I wondered if hospital pudding was any good.
"Ride," I said darkly. "My name is Ride." He looked taken aback again and I glared to make my point. No one calls me Eridan except my family. It's a dumb name. Ride isn't much better, to be honest. It's just a nickname that stuck, but anything is better than Eridan.
"Alright, Ride then." He smiled, trying to get back in my good graces. This is a mistake professionals tend to make. I don't have good graces. I have people in general, and then I have those who annoy me moderately less than regular people. And if that is to be called good graces, it's highly selective. "How are you? Did you sleep well?"
"I think I slept a little bit too well," I grumbled. "I can't remember yesterday at all. How did I get here, Doc?" He gave me a very strange look, too blank to mean anything good. "I've pretty much worked out that I was in a car accident, but I don't remember it."
"…You weren't in a car accident, Miss Ride." He good doctor folded his hands, looking like he was about to tell me that my dog just died. "You were the victim of a break in."
My eyes widened and I was suddenly sitting up again, rigid and upset. "What? What about my family? Are they OK? Did they get hurt? How did I get—"
"One question at a time," Doctor Bryans held up a calming hand. "Calm down. We have plenty of time." I snapped my mouth shut, waiting for him to go on. He continued to look at me pointedly and I growled under my breath, lying down again.
"Happy now?" I scowled.
"You need your rest," he said kindly, which I just found to be condescending. "Now, your family is perfectly fine. Relax." All the tension drained out of me at that and I felt muscles I didn't know I'd tensed relax. "Your brother had lost a bit of blood and has a mild concussion, but he'll be fine in just a few days."
"And me?" I asked, feeling bewildered again. I didn't doubt what he said about my family, weirdly enough. Normally I'm massively skeptical about other people, especially when it deals with my family. Somehow I just knew my mom was fine, though. And I knew my brother would be OK too. Maybe it was residual memory, but none of it came with nice, detailed spreadsheets of how and why, it was all just a feeling. An oddly trustworthy feeling, since it had me taking Doctor Bryans of the Perfect Teeth at face value.
"You have some severe bruising, like your mother." I touched my side without meaning to, and he nodded grimly. "You'll also be fine in a few days."
He was leaving something out, I could tell. He looked very uncomfortable suddenly. I decided to make it easy for him, since I'm not as patient as I should be. "What happened?" I asked, and he nodded again, without seeming to realize he was doing it.
"We're not entirely clear, of course, but… From what Rex and your mother tell us, your house was broken into while both sets of your neighbors were out. There were four people orchestrating this event. They had intended to rob your house, so they gathered your mother and brother downstairs by force. You were, at the time…" He coughed lightly. "In the shower. One of them approached you and you beat him off, rendering him unconscious. Don't you remember any of this?"
I blinked, trying to force my mind back to the present conversation. Memories were flickering back and forth, slipping out of my grasp like a dream. I remembered the day, mostly, and I remembered going to the gym to appease my father's militaristic obsessions. And I remembered taking my shower. No, I remembered getting into the shower. I didn't remember getting out. Was I… pulled out?
"Ride?" Doctor Bryans looked worried. "Are you alright? Do you need a glass of water?"
"I'm…" My head hurt a little bit. I remembered running down the stairs with something in my hands. And I remembered… I called someone on the telephone. I called 911. And I remembered my brother, sitting in a chair with his head lolled back, blood smeared all over his face—I pushed that image out of my head in a hurry. And… I remembered… my CD case? "That bastard tried to rape me!" I shouted in outrage, sitting up once again. My hands formed fists and I would have climbed out of bed and throttled the creep, wherever he was, except that Doctor Bryans pushed me gently back down. "I'll kill him!" I seethed, and immediately noticed the way that Doctor Bryan's hands tightened over my arms, biting in too hard. I recoiled, and cursed. "Shit—ow! Doc?!"
"Do you remember anything?" He asked again, urgently, and I shrugged, which was harder than I thought it would be lying down. I hurt my side again.
"Bits and pieces," I allowed. "But it's all jumbled up and there's stuff missing."
"Do you remember the gun?" Doctor Bryans asked, and my head jerked up.
"Gun? One of those freaks had a gun? Did anyone get shot?"
"I already told you, your family is fine," Doctor Bryans said, his forehead knitting together into a frown. I frowned back, until the phrasing occurred to me. I pressed my lips together before answering.
"So… one of them got shot?"
"All but the one who assaulted you in the bathroom are dead," Doctor Bryans said quietly, and I blinked. "Two were shot. One was crushed."
Crushed. I was standing in the bathroom when I heard a crash. There was something on the stairs. I frowned, rubbing my own forehead. "Like… by a bookshelf?"
"Yes," he confirmed eagerly. "The bookshelf at the top of the stairs. You recall?"
"Yeah," I muttered, and suddenly everything fell into place. The last bits of the dream suddenly made sense. I broke free of the guy in the bathroom, for a weapon, but he dragged me back in. Not before I grabbed my CD case and slammed it over the back of his neck. He passed out. I heard my mom, and I ran… I ran to my parents' room. I got my dad's gun. I loaded it. My blood ran cold.
"Ride?" Doctor Bryan's voice was far away. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. There was no way. I didn't do it. No way. No way. No way. "You didn't do what, Ride?" Someone was asking and I realized I was saying it out loud. "What are you remembering?"
"I shot them?" I whimpered, pressing my hands against my head, which felt like it was splitting open. "I killed them? I just… I killed them? They're dead?" Dead. The word rang in my head over and over again. Dead, dead, dead. Sorry. I blinked, confused, because this felt like another memory, but it didn't belong in the picture. Sorry. Dead. DEAD. "They're dead?" I repeated, not talking to Doctor Bryans anymore. I was talking to someone… else. The guy in the bathroom.
"Calm down, Ride." Doctor Bryans was moving my hands away from my head. "You can't blame yourself. It was self-defense. You were frightened and worried about your family. No one is going to blame you."
"I shot them!" I exclaimed, going hysterical despite his best efforts. "In cold blood. I knocked down the bookshelf so they couldn't surprise me, and I shot them. I didn't give them a chance. I just… shot them." Heat was gathering behind my eyes like a candle flame. I tried to ignore it. I was not going to cry. I was not going to cry. I was not going to… Oh God dammit.
"It's alright to cry," Doctor Bryans said hastily, pulling a tissue from somewhere in the recesses of his coat. I'd already burrowed under the blankets, thoroughly humiliated and needing to be alone, even if it was an illusion. "Oh—Ride. Please come out. It's alright…"
"I killed them!" I roared at him, misplaced anger surfacing with flair. "How is that alright?! They are DEAD. I killed them. And I wasn't sorry—"
—No, I wasn't sorry at all. I didn't care. I said sorry, but—
"Ride, please calm down," the doctor persisted. "Won't you please look at me?" When I didn't reply he sighed. "Ride. You seem sorry to me. You were panicking and upset. It was self-defense. Killing is never a good solution, but you were only trying to protect yourself and the ones you love." I scowled. How sappy. If he was in the same position, he wouldn't let anyone comfort him either. Well, unless he was really lame.
"…Really?" I asked, feeling really lame.
"Yes, really." I could almost hear the doctor smile. It sounded condescending. "Come out, Ride. Let's talk." I hesitated a moment longer, and then scrubbed panicky tears off my face. I poked my head out slowly. He was smiling. I glared at him.
"Am I going to jail?" I asked, and he shook his head, still smiling.
"I severely doubt that, Ride."
I refused to be pacified. "But I still have to go to court, right?" He didn't say anything, which I took as a yes. My eyes closed. This would follow me forever. Every record and file would say what I had done. Everyone at the school would know me as the girl who killed people. The authorities would probably keep an eye on the crazy girl, probably kill all the privacy I was so desperate for. They'd find out what a freak I was and everything would be… ruined.
I felt sick remembering the resistance of the trigger, so easily broken, and the BANGsplatter that followed. Twice. I had to close my eyes to keep from throwing up on Doctor Bryans.
I deserved it.
"No one is going to blame you," Doctor Bryans was saying. I was pretty sure he'd already said it before. I just wanted him to stop speaking, to go away. I wanted to go back to sleep for a really long time. But that wasn't an option. I needed to take what had happened and deal with it. It had happened, and no amount of shutting my eyes would fix this. For a minute I got the weirdest urge to laugh, because I had been led to believe that this would all be OK.
"Can you leave me alone for a little while?" I interrupted him, not really caring. "I want to be alone. To think."
He hesitated. "I'm not so sure that's a good idea…"
I laughed at that, and even I was startled by how bitter the sound was. "Oh, I get it. I'm already under surveillance, right? You're not even supposed to leave me alone. I don't have to go to jail. I'll just get shuffled from one zoo to another."
"You'll be in for a while," he finally said, patting my head. "But not too long. You haven't done anything wrong, Ride." I frowned, not at what he said, but the way he said it. I kept frowning after the door closed, and my head began to hurt again. You'll be in for. You'll be in. You'll be in. What was that supposed to mean? I was absolutely sick of riddles, but like the word 'dead', these ones wouldn't quit ringing. Maybe I was losing my mind.
Blonde hair. No one in my family had blonde hair. And a smile. He'd smiled, the man in the bathroom. It was a horrible smile. Or was it? No, it was actually rather… soothing. But he was a bad man. He was bad, but he had a nice smile. No? I growled in frustration, burying my head in the pillow and regretting it—the thing smelled like feet and rotten eggs mixed together and left to bake in the sun. The man in the bathroom, was he good or bad? Very bad, so says the gut. Good, so says the memory. But is this really a memory? I groaned again. My head was splitting.
Dead, he'd said that. And he'd said sorry as well. But he wasn't. He was like me. Was he me? No. He was a man in the bathroom. He wasn't there. The CD case took care of him. I threw it. But he was—he was on top of me, wasn't he? The CD case was on his back. And I threw it? No, I hit him over the head. No, I never touched it.
The man in the bathroom's face began to splinter. There were two of him, one that I'd liked, and one that I didn't. Or really, two that I didn't like, one that I disliked less. One was standing, the other was lying still on the bathroom floor. "Bitch," he'd said. Then "spirited", and then "dead". Except 'dead' was something I'd said. He didn't say it. He was passed out on the floor. And he wasn't smiling anymore. Who was smiling? Was it me?
You'll be in.
I wondered if I was about to die, because my head was in agony right now. I'd never had a headache that hurt so badly. I could feel my forehead throbbing in my heads. You'll be in. Not for long, Doc, I thought sardonically. Not for long at all. I was about to die. I'd thought that before, when I was being choked. There were no weapons and he was standing in front of the door. No way out. I'd never left. So someone came in? Who? Rex?
And then the images shifted again, and I could almost feel the carpet under my wet feet as I tore down the stairs, silver in my hands. Hands? I was carrying the gun with two hands? Why? You'll be in. The syllables stretched, turning from a ringing into a grotesque parody. I had had two guns in two hands, of course. But my father only had one. And the CD case was thrown while I was being choked. Not by me. Not by the one on the floor. By the one who smiled and told me they were dead. And that I was spirited, and I had wanted to slap him, hadn't I? And then… And then…
The gun had fallen. My brother. But he was fine. Just fine. Someone said. He said my brother was dead. No, hadn't he said everyone else was? But why tell me when I killed them? And then it wasn't guns, but knives, and the feel of the trigger faded into my skidding to a halt in front of a toppled bookcase and I'd asked something important.
What had I asked?
You'll be in.
Who had I asked?
You'll be in.
What was I in? Why was the stupid phrase interrupting my every th—
Syllables. A word. It meant nothing, but in the right context, it was the difference between the truth and a lie.
You'll be in.
I'm a figment of your imagination.
You'll be in. You'll be in! Yoo-li-in. Youlian. Julian.
And abruptly one image of the truth faded away into another one, quite different indeed.
Suddenly everything made sense and my teeth clenched together.
Julian was dead.
A/N: So now you know that my character's name is not a blatant Maximum Ride rip-off. Nice, right? The plot continues after this, if you want it to. Review if you want more!