When she came to, all she could hear was the incessant loud beeping that filled her every senses with dread. Attached to her were myriads of colourful tubes that were connected to myriads of machines, all whirring at their own pace with their own sound, creating a symphony of machinery. Her head throbbed in time to the whirring, and created a hazy collage before her. Her mother and sister stood with worried looks over her, mouths opening and closing, but her ears too deaf to hear anything. Eyes closed briefly and opened. Once more. And then they stayed shut.
The second time she awoke, the previously bright room was illuminated with the bright lights overhead. How long had she slept for? There now stood a middle aged man next to her, his cool touch burnt her skin as he adjusted the tubes that were connected to the back of her hand and injected something into the tubes. The touch ignited something in her, and the man's face floated before her gaze. In the next second, she was beneath him again, breathing in his cologne and being crushed under his weight. He leaned in closer and closer, his hot breath stroking her cheek, setting everything it could touch on fire, the conflagration burning everything to crisps.
Beep beep beep beep.
It was now a hurried symphony that seemed to have turned wrong. What was this feeling in her heart? So chilling, and yet so... Fear. She felt her arm jerk up on its own accord again and again. The man that stood next to her was now yelling something, the mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water, but never any sound. Silence. The only thing that she could hear was the incessant beeping of the machinery, and it was driving her mad. Opening and closing. Now he placed a hand on her head, saying something slowly as though wanting her to relax. Again and again he repeated it. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a middle aged woman, delicate hand across her mouth, tears streaming down her cheeks. She looked like she hadn't slept in days. Was she the cause of it? Next to her, a small hand clutched onto the woman's sleeve, the other held a teddy bear in a tender embrace. Due to the resemblance between the two, she could infer that the child was her daughter. There were tears dripping out of her eyes too, and she was mouthing something slowly.
Rae. Rae. Rae.
She seemed to be saying. Was this all her fault? Who was Rae? And what was-
The world turned black once more, and she felt only too glad that it had happened.
The third. The room was still dark, and dimly lit by the lamp overhead. It now flickered every few seconds, and cast a long shadow on the vast, white landscape that she could see that was otherwise flat apart from the two small mountains at the far end. It was a bed, she later realised. She was lying on a bed. Somehow, the knowledge reassured her and she felt a little less tense about it.
"Rae!" A woman cried.
It sounded awfully familiar, but she could not, for her life, recognise who it belonged to. Much less the name that the stranger was calling out. Rae. Rae. Rae. Who was this Rae? A hand clasped hers; it warm against her cold ones. She waited for the feeling of chilling fear to freeze her bones.
"Do not touch her, Mrs Kingsley." another voice intercepted.
The familiar feeling of bile rose up her throat. A sharp acidic taste slowly flooded her mouth. She wanted to cry. She wanted to yell. She wanted to throw something. She wanted everything, yet could do naught. Only a puppet, she was. A puppet, and never more. Despair pooled in her stomach like hot lava and she felt nauseous.
"But-" the woman reasoned with tear-filled eyes.
"Do you remember the last attack she had? We believe it was instigated by my touch, it is best not to touch her." the man said, gently, but with a hard edge.
The woman threw a final pleading look at him and then the girl. She felt something deep inside her spark. But it was only a tiny flicker and it quickly burnt out with the cold, strong gust of fear. It left her feeling empty and uncomfortably disorientated. One last squeeze around the girl's hand, and the touch was gone, leaving the girl to wonder if she yearned for the touch or hated it. The man walked to her side, picking up a clipboard tied above her bed and sifted through it before looking at her. She hated to think that those blue orbs of the doctor's were just like that man's. Just like it. Did that mean that he wanted to do the same thing to her? Her pulse quickened, as noted easily by the monitor that was slowly going overtime.
"Calm down, Rae," the man pleaded, eyes straying to the screen with a worried glance.
It only made it beep faster, and if possible, louder.
"Doctor, you have to help my baby!" The woman cried again.
"Rae...? Rae, mummy, what's wrong with Rae?" The little girl asked, high pitched and worried, on the verge of tears.
The girl looked at the young girl standing at the foot of her bed. Her hand was once more, attached to her mother's long sleeves, and the other clutched her teddy bear with a vice grip, almost strangling the poor animal. She would give the child nine years, at the most; long golden hair was tied into braids and large grey eyes stared at her with worry and un-shed tears. She looked so young. So young and so sad. Why was she so sad? The girl felt overcome with guilt with a thought her mind concocted. It must be her. It must be her fault that the little girl was so sad. Why was she lying here? Why was she so injured? Why was the girl's sadness so impacting on her?
She was so familiar, so why can't she remember?
The woman was sobbing again. Sounding harsh and sorrowful, though she tried to keep it silent with her hand across her mouth. She looked worn out and tired. Grief. Anguish. Guilt. All played in her expression with utter honesty. Like with the young girl, she felt the same guilt play across her heart. The answer was so close - so close to being uncovered. It was almost like a concrete barrier between understanding and utter confusion. Where she was stuck with only a small stick to attempt to break down the concrete wall, she was determined yet she knew she had no luck in destroying it.
"Rae, calm down, breathe."
Why couldn't she remember anything? What was her name? Was it Rae as they kept calling her? All she remembered what was the man's face, his weight, smell, his bleeding missing left eye, and the pain. Oh, the pain.
Who was she?
Frustration overpowered her mind and sanity. She felt if she had given this a third thought, she would have been insane. But wasn't she insane already?
Darkness. And she welcomed it with a sigh.
Soft mutters, halts in conversations and brief glances her way. These were the sights and sounds that she awoke to. Did they really think that they were silent? Invisible? The man in the white coat spoke to a nurse and the two glanced at her for the umpteenth time - the looks getting more and more worried and frustrated. Was she never to recover? Was that what the fuss was about? Why can't they jsut tell her? Just stop whispering and tell her?
One final glance and they nodded curtly, though reluctantly. The doctor fixed on a grin and walked to her. She could tell, with a simple glance, how strained it was and feared the news that she was about to hear. Where were the other two that were usually there? Had they finally gotten tired of waiting for her to recover? Maybe she was being left alone. To cut off her life support or just kill her like they did in WWII to the handicapped or mentally ill. But she didn't know which category she fell under - she couldn't feel her limbs, as such they were being sedated and they weighed like feathers and felt like air. Who were the two anyway? She did not seem to remember them, but had a distinct feeling that she knew them.
"So, Rae, how are you feeling today?"
He sounded jovial. Fake. What was he trying to say? Trying to imply? She stared into his eyes and attempted to search for the answer. Obviously perturbed by her sudden scrutiny of him, he averted his gaze. All the questions she wanted to ask, everything bubbled inside her.
"Mmph..." she tried.
A deep throaty sound spewed out of her throat, startling her with the pain it created just to create that sound, and how it resembled nothing at all. That was her voice. Hers. How did it turn out this way?
The doctor seemed startled and the nurse was fixing a machine frantically.
"Rae, sweetheart, don't try to do anything that you cannot do." The doctor attempted to reassure.
All the questions that she had inside her - all of it - created an mmph? No. No, she had to try again. Even if the effect was a burning searing pain that went from her heart to her throat.
"Ughhh..." she repeated.
The nurse reported something to the doctor, to which the man panicked more about. There was now buzzing to accompany the ever increasing tempo of the beeping. She felt her arm jerk up again on its own, like a puppet under the maneuver of a puppeteer, she could do naught but lay there and let him do his work. Her arms went up - right, left, right, and then her legs, left, right, left. Something warm and wet fell down her cheeks, and her mind told her distinctly that those were called tears. Tears. But why was she crying?
The doctor was now helping the nurse in their struggle with the machinery. When the girl managed to tilt her head slightly to the left, she saw that the machinery was starting to rain sparks, and the two faces that were closest to it were illuminated occasionally by the red glow.
"Get someone to help right now!" The doctor yelled.
The nurse, discombobulated, stood blankly for a while. Her small eyes fixed on the doctor's form and then blinked slowly. With that blink, she reached for the red button behind the girl's bed but was interrupted before she could push it.
"What's going on in- What the hell?" Another male's voice interrupted as the door flung open and crashed rather loudly into the wall behind it.
There was a flurry of activity, in which the girl only remembered that there was an intense pain in her head that felt like her skull was caving into her brain. If only. That would mean that she was finally relieved of all this pain the mortal world was causing her. The girl welcomed death at this moment, if only it provided an escape. A hand stretched towards her and then paused.
"Don't be afraid, I am only here to help you." The disembodied hand said soothingly.
Help? The girl noticed that her appendages had slowed down with their jerking movements. Somehow, they were reacting to the man's voice. Maybe he was the manipulator that was moving her before. Why weren't you there when I was calling for help before? Frustration, fear and anger all reverberated in her like the sound of the church bells. They resonated in her and stayed there, doubt circling the three feelings.
"Shhh..." He muttered.
Green eyes came into view. A dull green with brown flecks in them, all set in a grim face that was slowly dissolving into one of worry. Green ones, she told herself, not blue, unlike the man's and the doctor before. The girl had to admit that the voice was soothing, deep and resonating, it was. And the middle aged man that it belonged to seemed like a nice person. Seemed. She reminded herself that she had also thought that that man was a nice person too, and look what had happened now. The hot rivers that were constantly flowing from her eyes seemed never ending, and had only increased as she thought of the rapist.
"Rae, do not be afraid," the man tried.
He wore a long white coat, she noticed, and the badge that was pinned onto the collar shone in the lights. Dr Raymond Fletcher, it read. Did that mean that he was a good person? The name seemed so ordinary, like any other Tom, Dick or Harry. That other man that wore a similar coat was rather much like one. She blinked at him, which seemed like something her body had finally learnt how to do again.
"Do not be afraid," he repeated.
She could feel her appendages slowly calming down with his commands, reduced to no more than a mild twitch above the bed every few seconds. Slowly, she could finally feel the gravity acting on her limbs and she could actually feel her limbs again. She felt whole. It almost felt like she had been dismantled and left to waste for the entire times she had been hospitalised and finally she was being remade. The feeling was intense relief. Gratitude was directed towards the man, and he seemed to realise it. Pleased, the man smiled at her, gleaming white pearls that were his teeth winked at her.
"Good girl." With a sigh, his eyes searched her face as disappointment momentarily flickered across his features, "It seems like you have been diagnosed with amnesia."
It sounded more like a question than a statement, she realised. Those green eyes were still trained on her.
"Tell me, what do you know about yourself?"
A twitch of her right leg. She tried to speak; she really did, but no voice came out as she opened her mouth. Internally, she frowned at herself, berating herself for not being able to do the simplest of actions. Annoyance and frustration bubbled in her. Once more, she opened her mouth and closed it, again and again, she felt like a fish gasping for air. Only short breaths of air escaped from her open mouth every time she tried. Noticing her inability to speak, the man frowned, muttered something inaudible, and softly shushed her.
"It's alright. Here's what I have gathered about you," he started. During then, with her hazed mind, she did not realise how suspicious the word was in context. Gathered. It sounded as though the man had investigated her, and had piles and piles of information about her - possibly enough to write a biography on the girl.
"Your name is Rae Kingsley."
Kingsley. The girl's mind connected the surname to be the woman's before. Did that make the two related? Her mother, perhaps? Was that why she felt so familiar? She could not, still, place a finger on who the woman was, nor the little girl that stood next to her. Mother, sister. Through all the different suggestions for their relationship, that seemed the most plausible, and it was one that her mind seemed to accept. Some sort of relief filled her mind. She guessed she felt relieved to know that she had a family. Someone that was there for her. She was glad she finally knew who the two people who were constantly here were. So where are they?
"It would seem..." the man paused, the eyes still fixed on her, "That your father was part of the army, and had died in the Afghanistan war."
Her father. Father. She echoed the word in her mind, but found no information for it. Father, father, father. No images for a possible father. She would not have had believed she had one if not for remembering a vague topic in Science named Birds and Bees. He seemed like a foreign figure.
The doctor searched her face again, and once more, a second expression arose from his worried features, only to be covered up immediately.
"Your mother and sister," he paused, furrowed his brows for a second before sighing, "were sent into the ICU yesterday."
Mother and sister? The girl could not remember anything either about the two women in her life. Still, because they were mentioned earlier as her only visitors, she felt some obligation to listen carefully.
"Internal bleeding, broken appendages, punctured organs... Rae, your entire immediate family is dead."
He finished with a soft voice. Another search of her expressions, and the mysterious expression flitted once more on his features, though this time, it lasted for a while longer. It was elation. He was glad that she did not seem to remember anything about her family, or her life before. The girl didn't know if she felt scared of that. But it wasn't like she had anything to be scared about when she, herself didn't know about her family. He practically had the only information that she could ever have. Why was that?
There was a pause in the conversation, in which it was slowly filled by the whirring and beeping of the machinery around them.
Beep beep beep. Zzzzz.
"Rae. This might be rather sudden, but I want you to trust that I would not do anything to hurt you."
Beep beep beep. Zzzzz.
Trust? What did that word mean, the girl mused. Trust could have meant following the man to the alleyway when he had asked for directions. Trust could have meant suddenly being grabbed from behind and shoved down to the ground and then being mauled. The girl couldn't trust anyone. She didn't understand the meaning of trust. Why would anyone say to trust them when they did the exact opposite? Why did people have to be so hurtful? Why did people even have bothersome things like emotions?
Those green orbs seemed determined. Determined to do what? Hard and determined. To hurt you. A small voice spoke to her. Hurt her? The girl laughed bitterly inside. As if she could be even more hurt than she was already. She believed she had arrived at the proverbial rock bottom. And the single solace one could find in arriving at such a place, was that there was no way to go but up.
"Trust me, Rae. Can you do that?"
Trust. There was that word again. The man with the blue eyes that towered over her appeared above her as a disembodied head. The sting in her eyes alerted her that there was to be more tears that followed soon. No. No, she told herself, there would be no more crying.
Those green orbs hardened before her eyes like water being turned to ice. Another expression seemed to enter them, flowing in as easily as lava would down a path of destruction. What was that expression?
And because it was that smooth, certain voice that the man used, she nodded. Slowly, one jerky movement downward, and no more. A side of his lips went up. A simple lopsided smile.
And that, was the start to everything that was to happen after. Betrayal, friendship, loss, anguish. All that happened because of a rapist and a nod that had gotten her so far.
Many years after, she would find herself wondering why. Why she had agreed to trusting him, when a part of her screamed that he had obvious ulterior motives. That he might be posing as a doctor just to get to her. That it was impossible that a doctor could have heard of the panicking doctor's and nurse's yelling through the sound-proof hospital walls. That the looks that flitted across his expressions as he spoke to her was not one that normal people with kind intentions would have bestowed upon her.
But he was the first person that had spoken to her like she was a real person. Not punctuated with furtive glances that were sent between one and one's friend. Not with fake smiles and worry that clung onto one's being like a second skin. No, he had treated her like an actual individual. And that, she told herself later, was the reason she had begun to trust him.