It was the middle of the night when She started again. Literally. 3:3O AM since a hospital night starts at 8PM and ends at 6AM.
She was crying. I could hear the soft whimpering and sobbing. It was breaking my heart. I got up and made my way over to her bed in the dim light. I peered through the glass of the door to see the nurse outside idly chewing gum and twirling a pen while staring at the computer screen.
If I were quiet she wouldn't know.
Quietly I hushed her, mimicking Harriet since that seemed to work for her.
I put a hand over hers and pushed the bandage off her face slightly. Suddenly there was a flash and a shock ran through my body like an electric current. Pictured flashed across my eyes making me cry out as they burned into my retina.
Pictures of a young woman laughing with a man. A dog, the woman in front of a house. I couldn't pick out much more before there was white. There was a monstrous thing, like a giant, slimy yet scabby moss coloured kidney bean with tentacles whipping about it, slime flying everywhere. A huge gaping mouth wheezed out hot and foul air at me through rows of sharp teeth. I took all this in, in terror, as it seemed to crouch. I tried to run but my feet where fixed in place.
I yelled as it launched itself at me, tentacles winding towards me.
Voices. I can't see. Eyes aren't open. But they are there.
They're loud now. They are there. So close. Why don't they help?
"Lyle!" They say. "Lyle wake up!"
Lyle… That's me. Open your eyes Lyle.
Slowly I forced my eyes open. The lights were all on and I gasped as it stung my eyes. This was the first time I had opened them in a long time. No it wasn't. They had been open when I went over to Mary. That wasn't long ago. I didn't close them, despite the pain in case I couldn't open them again.
"His heart has stopped!"
I was on a bed. How? I had been next to Mary a second ago.
"Put him on the bed! Prepare the defiblirator!" What where they talking about? I was fine. And on a bed.
There was a low hum, which increased in frequency until there was a thump and it started again. I tried to sit up to see what they were doing, who they were talking to. But my head seemed to weigh a tonne. So I lay still, listening to them try and bring back this 'mystery Lyle'.
Suddenly I felt a tug on my heart and as if a hook had been caught under my ribcage an unseen force pulled me up. I wheezed and coughed as if something was trying to steal my breath. All of a sudden I saw him. Or rather me.
It was me. Lying on my bed, defiblirators hovering above me. I was also struggling for breath. Then I saw the rhythm. Every breath I took in, my body breathed out. How was I here, if I was there?
Realisation dawned on me like a tonne of bricks.
I was Mary Mendel!
I raised my hands to my head and felt rough bandages. I could feel my-her- heart beat rising. Could she feel this too? Or was she dead and my spirit had inhabited her empty shell?
Some of the nurses that were around me started to come over to us.
"Great! Just what we need!"
"He's regaining consciousness!" They were half way here when my world went black…
…for a second before I woke up again, in my own body. Spluttering I sat bolt upright pushing covers and wires away. There was a pain in my right arm and behind my eyes. There was something covering my mouth. I had just ripped it off when hands gripped my shoulders and pushed me down.
"Let go!" I croaked.
"Lyle!" said a familiar voice. "Lyle, please don't fight!" I instantly relaxed. Anything for my mother. I breathed deeply to let my brain catch up with my body's actions.
Where are you? Look around.
White every. The hospital. I twisted my head around and took in the door, the curtains, my mother and a nurse. My ward.
What's happened? What's that nurse doing to your arm?
I realised what that question meant and looked down to my arm to see it covered in blood. The nurse was pressing it hard. It's ok. She's helping.
Once she stopped the bleeding I realised that there had been a saline drip and that I had ripped it out. I felt silly as she plastered it up.
"Oh Lyle!" My mother cried as soon as the nurse moved away and hugged me tight. I squirmed out of her grip and sat up. It was daytime and the comforting sounds of hospital buzzing outside my room calmed me.
"What happened?" I asked, rubbing my head.
"They said you collapsed," my mother said, stroking my hand. "Your heart stopped beating and I-" She broke down in tears. "Oh Lyle I was so worried! When they called me, and it was the middle of the night, you were just lying there I-"
I awkwardly patted her shoulder and shushed her. Then I remembered.
"Mary!" I shouted, louder than I meant to, and made my mother jump.
"Wh-who?" She sniffed.
"She was over there," I pointed to her bed, all the memories of what happened flooding back. "There was a thing, I don't know what, but it was inside her... her mind or something. Then I was... her! I could see my body and we were connected and-"
"Lyle, what are you talking about?" my mother said, confusion all over her face. I stared at her then looked over to Mary's bed. It was empty. My blood went cold.
Had I killed her? What if what I had thought was true and I had stolen her body momentarily?
"Helga," I called to her as she passed the door. She smiled and came up to us.
"Good to see you awake Lyle!" She said. "How are you?"
"What happened to Mary Mendel?" She frowned.
"Why, she was discharged," She reported. "She woke up when you blacked out and said she was completely fine. After a few tests we let her out."
"I woke her up," I said. Helga smiled.
"Yes, maybe the sound of your shout before you fell woke her," she said.
"No. I mean I was in her," I motioned to my head, "And I woke her." Frowns all round.
"Lyle I think you were dreaming," Mum said putting a hand on my shoulder. I knew better than to say I hadn't been. They put you in Looney bins for that.
I was let out a few days later and a couple after that I was back at school. All the swelling had gone down and I was my normal pale self.
"You know I am dude," was the most I got from Josh when I said, "Aren't you going to say sorry?" I didn't mind thought.
I decided not to tell them about what happened with Mary. I know it doesn't make me sound like much of a friend, but I don't think I could stand the teasing if they didn't believe me.
However, I am closer to my sister than to any friend I have ever had, and she gave me such a knowing look that I decided to tell her instead.
When I got home no one was in, which wasn't unusual. Mum must have been shopping, Dad would still be working and Steph didn't get home for another half hour because of her after school club. So I sat at my computer and looked up "Out of body experience."
A lot of results about people who had seen their bodies from above, or just being away from their bodies came up, but none about being someone else. And besides, these were all nutcases. Just trying to get attention. I sat back in my chair and scratched the back of my head.
My story didn't seem much more realistic. Maybe it was just a dream, or a pre-death hallucination.
I had been near death. It was a scary thought. The nurses said that there had been no cause and that it must have just been a blocked air way or something. What a coincidence…
But nothing more. I had too much trouble with school and socialising to deal with mind control.
Just at that moment, the door opened. I went down to see who it was and found my sister dropping a sports bag in the hall. She smiled up at me with that wise and serene smile she has and bent to undo her laces. I paused for a second before speaking.
"Steph, you're into this kind of stuff," I said. "What do you know about 'Body snatching'?" She stood upright and scrutinized me with eyes as dark as mine.
"Why?" she asked slowly. I took a deep breath and related to her the story of Mary Mendel and my trip to her body. When I had finished she said nothing and continued to stare at me.
"So, do you think I was dreaming? Or is it real?" Her face softened.
"You're not crazy, if that's what you mean," She offered instead of an answer and strolled off to the kitchen. Frustrated I followed.
"Steph, I mean it, give me a strait answer."
"But there simply isn't one."
"Steph." She smiled over her shoulder at me.
"Lyle, how do you see?" I gave her a quizzical look and thought. You just don't ask my sister what she means. It just leads to more questions. So I thought about what she meant.
"Through my eyes," I answered carefully.
"But you can see through anyone's eyes if you are behind them. Think again." So I did.
"Clearly?" Her smile broadened.
"There are no dulled or faded colours, no fuzzy lines." I smiled too as I realised what she was getting at.
"It was the same as when I was in Mary. And I felt things! It can't have been a dream!" My happiness was short lived.
"Then, why did it happen?" I said, confused once more. "And what was I seeing? The… monster. What was it?" Steph sat down and closed her eyes. You may find it strange that I'm talking to my sister in this way, but she more or less has the answer to anything I ask, even though she almost never gives them to me, which is annoying and disturbing for someone two years older than her.
"It's called phytermer," She said eventually, receiving nothing but a blank look from me. "It's a virus type thing that infects peoples minds. It takes over the body and changes it to suit its needs. That was the blood you saw. It was excess that was not needed."
"A virus?" I said, feeling cold. "But... Is it solid? Or metaphorical, if it's in people minds?"
"Glad to see you're finally thinking like me," she said, more than a little arrogantly. "It's both. Its point of entrance is more often than not through the nose where it inhabits part of the brain and feeds off of memories. It can't be seen by anything like X-rays or CAT scans so as of yet it hasn't been discovered."
"How do you know about it then?" I asked, finding this farfetched yet believable. Steph smiled again and tapped the side of her nose before carrying on.
"Because it is absorbed by the brain it doesn't effect the human until it starts to take it over. It cannot be harmed physically because of this and so must be destroyed within the victims mind." After a pause I gathered she was finished.
"Ok," I said, thinking what question to ask first. "You said this was a virus. Is it contagious?"
"In a way. It reproduces once it is finished altering the host and then sends it's egg, through either it's blood or saliva," She said, perfectly calmly as I grew more and more agitated.
"Ok," I repeated, still unsure whether this was real or not. "Oh, the... Phyt… the thing attacked me, in Mary's head. Do I have it now?" Steph sighed.
"I don't know," She said, making me very reassured. "You said it was in her head? Then I don't think so. But I think you absorbed it." Before I could ask her what she meant the front door opened.
"This Virus is spreading Lyle," she said quickly before whatever parent it was came in. "And you're the cure."
"Wh-what!" I spluttered just as mum opened the kitchen door. Steph smiled mysteriously at me.
"Hi mum, want me to help with your bags?" She said, taking the bags out of her hands, leaving me just as confused as before I got home.