It seemed too desperate, the way he stroked the stiff surface of the cot beneath him. Itchy, but flat and dead -the grass had felt so real, but…

There was no reason to believe he had been out for so long. There was the ceiling, the walls, and the bars. There was the fever, giving rise to an outbreak of goose bumps over his skin. There was the excess weight inside his head, and the burning in his throat where every inhalation felt like breathing in abrasive grains of sand. And there was that faintly antiseptic smell that made him somewhat nauseated.

"Psst!" That noise tingled his ears. He let his dizzy eyes roll around the room until they managed to settle near the visitor. His hand remained persistent in stroking the rough edge of his cot.

"Aww, you look bad," said the familiar, pale figure on the outskirts of his vision. He wished the figure was a ghost, that he could let the skewed view lie to him, but he could not pretend that his situation was different.

"I had a strange dream last night, Louis." He turned his stare upward. The ceiling would be less judgmental, and it strained his eyes less that way.

"I'm not so sure it was a dream," said his friend.

"The memory feels more surreal every second." He could have been melting. It seemed like it, with so much sweat leaking out of him.

"Look at this," said Louis. "Just look." So he sat up, the abrupt movement making his headache worse. All the while, his hand stayed glued to the edge of the cot. His friend held a bandaged arm through the bars.

"At least some of it happened," said Louis. "…Are you still lucid at this moment?"

He thought about nodding, but his neck was too achy.

"I…don't know," he said instead.

"God, you look wrecked," muttered Louis.

"I'm sure."

Louis winced at him, maybe seeing his hand. His friend looked away from him then.

"I'm going to search for Simon," said Louis.

"And Mick…?"

"Gone." No more words were spoken. His friend left. In the end, they were all gone.

It was a wretched experience, being a side effect. Maybe next time they would get the cure right.

Beneath the cold sweat and hot friction collecting beneath his palm, blood began to smear on the sheets. He was desperate, even knowing that he would never be able to wipe all the blood from his hands.