Chapter One: Escape to Where?

The sound of her footsteps was muffled; the bloodstained bandages the cause. She was filled with panic; not knowing where she was or why frightened her. Tall men wearing long white coats rushed past her, followed by younger people in green and blue shirts and pants. They reminded Tess O'Neil of somewhere but she didn't know exactly where. She limped along, trying hard to think of where she is. She looked down at her clothes. Somehow, she is wearing a short, bleached white gown. And on her wrist is a tag with a name, I.D. number, and date of birth. "How did I get into this?" She asked herself. "Where am I?" More people pass her, staring at her as if she were crazy. She strains to remember how she got in this strange place, but all she remembers is waking up in a small, uncomfortable bed, and fleeing from the strange room she was enclosed in. Her feet led her to the unknown; she didn't know where to go, all she wanted to do was flee, stagger away to a safe place. But her bandaged feet began to sear with pain. She could feel them begin to bleed. She looked behind; she was leaving a trail of fresh blood after her. Now they ached with such magnitude. A horrible pain shot up her calves, then down to her feet again. She tried to fight away the darkness that now loomed in the corner of her eyes. "No! I can't die now, I've got to get away!" She shouted at herself. "C'mon Tess, fight!" But it began to get darker and darker and the pain in her feet now worked itself into her brain. Moments later, the pain and darkness engulfed her and she collapsed to the white floor with a small thump . . .

"I can't believe these doctors. They watch as injured patients wander the halls all alone, not even bothering to ask if they are okay or if they need any help. I mean, this one sure is lucky to have been still in the hospital when we found her. If she would have gotten out and slipped back into a coma while on the streets, who knows what could have happened to her!" A plump elderly lady shouts as she scurries around the bed Tess was now in. Tess watches her secretly, but can't see the person she's talking to. "Yes, if she had made outside, who knows if she would still be alive this time tomorrow! She'd probably have collapsed on some sidewalk, bleeding to death as people pass her by, caring only about themselves! But, that won't happen now, thank goodness." The woman continues, but the other person doesn't listen. He just stares at Tess, smirking. Tess watches the old woman as she picks up a syringe and turns toward a bag of fluid hanging to Tess's left. Tess follows the tube coming from the bag with her eyes, being careful to stay discreet. The tube hung at her side then rose to a needle stuck in her left arm. I thought I pulled this stupid thing out, Tess thought to herself. She looked back towards the old woman that was now stepping towards Tess. The syringe looms closer to Tess's arm, and Tess is reminded of something. Her right arm shoots out lightning fast and grabs the nurse's wrist. The nurse gasps. She looks astonished, confused, and afraid all at the same time.

"I see that Ms. O'Neil is finally awake and very much aware of her surroundings." The man in the shadows says. His voice is very familiar to Tess. "Well Tess, the surgeon told me you were ready to be taken back to the school. That way, you can see your friends and tell them about your brave little adventure. And you'll also be able to do your schoolwork while you recuperate." He grinned as if his words had secret meanings. Tess couldn't remember exactly who this man was, but she didn't like him. She reminded him of a person ready to take over the world or die trying, like Hitler or Stalin.

"Tess dear," The plump nurse says, breaking the awkward silence. "Just relax Tess, I'm going to give you some pain medication now. This will make the trip back to school easier on you." Tess sits back. The plump nurse pulls the cap off of the syringe and injects its contents into the tube running to Tess's arm. "Now you get better, do your schoolwork, and do well at track meets okay dear? . . . Take care now, you hear . . ." Tess slowly slips into a semi unconscious state as the plump nurse hands the man in the shadows a small piece of paper.

"Thank you, Nurse Miller. Tess means a lot to the school and I." The man in the shadows steps to the bedside.

"Don't worry Mr. Grito, this is my job. I'll go call the Auxiliary Unit to come up and change her into some comfortable clothes and take her down to your car. You'll have to go down to the Out Patient services to check Tess out of the hospital." The nurse gives him directions to the Out Patient desk and he leaves. She then picks up the phone beside Tess's bed and calls the Auxiliary Unit.