A.N.: The narrator's point of view is changing in this chapter. It will remain in first person point of view, except it will now be Blaise telling the story rather than Galina. This was done for plot purposes. Thank you.
The machine next to the bed beeped. I stood at the foot of it, staring down at the small body of the girl. Was it really the same girl I had seen just a month ago? I couldn't see her through all of the wires, the tubes, running in and out of her body to machines that were situated next to her bed.
I thought she was the same person. Same hair. Same height. Her eyes were closed, but I assumed they were the same eyes. But, she was so pale. So thin. Where had the vibrant, tough girl that I had known gone?
I gripped the end of the bed tightly, trying to keep my anger towards her at bay. Even though she had chosen this, she shouldn't have had to go through this. Didn't she know how hard it was on everyone else? Did she even think about what it would do to our lives?
We no longer were able to go home and relax after work. We no longer were able to spend the weekend at her parent's house. Now, I got off work and I went to the hospital. Her parents got home from work and they went to the hospital. Her brother got out of school, and he went to the hospital. Her sister came home on break, and she came to the hospital.
And I hated it.
I had never been in agreement with her when she said that this was a good idea. It would help, she had said. Help who? Her? How could it possibly be good if she was lying in a hospital bed connected to a bunch of machines? How could that possibly be benefiting anyone?
It wasn't. There were other options, ones that we hadn't tried yet. She should have just listened to me better when this all started. The only reason the doctors wanted her to do this was to gather more data for the program. Not because they wanted to actually help her. It was all about research.
I knew it was. They couldn't lie to someone who did research on different torture methods and ways of getting information in the security division of the capital's security council. Everything that was done now was done for research.
It was just the world we lived in.
I wanted to go over and rip the tubes and wires from her body. To rip the machines off the walls and throw them out the window to the busy street below. I wanted to make her wake up, to shake her until she realized just how ridiculous this all was.
The door opened and Luc walked in, a clipboard in hand. He looked at me before he went over to the side of the bed, looking at the machines there.
"How much longer?" I whispered. He wrote something down on her chart and turned around to face me.
"She needs to be here, Blaise," Luc told me. "It's in her best interest. It's the only way she's going to get better."
I snorted and straightened up, running both of my hands through my hair. "Best interest. Sure. Keeping her sedated like this, handcuffed to that bed like a prisoner."
"She is a prisoner," Luc replied softly. "She's a danger to us if she's free to roam the halls. You know that."
"And how is she going to roam the halls? She's not going to harm anyone. She's not like that!" I exclaimed. "How is she possibly a threat if you have her so doped up that she probably can't even hear us right now?" He looked away, down at her body. "How do we know that this will kill her? I mean, do we even know if this is going to keep her from going ballistic? To keep her from..." I swallowed hard, closing my eyes before I opened them again. "Just tell me how is this supposed to help?"
Luc put his hands into the pockets of his scrubs and studied a spot on the floor before he looked up and spoke to me. "The projections that we have been using have been very successful in other trials, Blaise. We've been through this before. All of the other treatments are pointless. She's too far gone."
"What if she wakes up and thinks that she's actually living in that kind of a world?" I whispered, closing my eyes. "What if she thinks that's what we're actually like?" I couldn't imagine what it was going to be like if she woke up and found that indeed the world was still going on as it had been before. We were not suffering from the world going to shit.
Luc shook his head. "She won't remember anything, remember?"
"We don't know that. You said that there were people who have remembered the entire experience and they were even worse off. They had to be shipped off to that place."
"Eleven people out of a thousand is hardly anything to get overly concerned about, Blaise. I told you, those eleven already were further gone than the rest. Galina is not going to end up like them. She was just starting to go down that slope whenever we began the process. She's going to be alright," Luc replied as he walked towards me. "We are going to get through this, son, I promise." Right. They had caught her after one meltdown, not a dozen. Early intervention was key. So they kept telling me.
"Don't make promises you can't keep," I whispered, unable to keep the bitterness out of my voice. I took a step away from him. "I'm not five, Dad. You can't promise that things are going to be alright anymore."
I turned and I walked out of the room. I had to get away from that anesthetic smell, away from that hospital, before I snapped.
I shoved open the hospital doors and jogged down the steps to the busy sidewalk, following the crowd to the crosswalk. I pressed the button, begging for it to change to walk so I could put as much distance between the hospital and myself as possible.
The light changed and I charged across the street, pushing people out of my way as I ran down the sidewalk, along the harbor, and to the bridge. I stopped when the sidewalk began to circle up the hill towards the bridge. I didn't want to go up there. Too many eyes. I sunk down onto the wet grass, staring at the water. There were boats moving on it, but I couldn't see them. My eyes were still burning with the image of Galina in that hospital bed.
It always took a while for the image to fade away, for me to calm down. She never should have gone in there. She was never going to walk out and she was never going to be the same. I didn't care if she had fits sometimes. It was a part of her and I loved them, regardless of how tough they were to deal with. I would take the fits over her lying in a hospital bed for the rest of her life.
I took a deep, shaky breath and put my head in my hands. Becca had told me that it was just a matter of time until Galina awoken. That had been days ago. When was soon? How long were they going to keep feeding her brain with all of those projections before they woke her up? It had been too long. A week, they had said at the start. It would take no longer than a week. Then, there had been complications. Her body wasn't responding properly and they had needed another week. A new projection. It was a surefire thing. Now, just a matter of days until she was woken up, but would they just find another reason to keep her sedated? Probably. I didn't look for her to awaken anytime soon.
A dog barked, pulling me out of my thoughts. A German Shepard was standing in front of me, barking at a squirrel. A harsh reminder that life went on regardless of if you wanted it to or not. It didn't matter what you were going through, rather you were a meth addict like my mother or a homeless child like I had been. Life went on. The world kept turning. You had to learn how to deal with the good, the bad, and everything in between. Somehow, you just figured out how to move forward. Towards your next hit, your next garbage can, or your demise.
I pushed myself to my feet and began the slow trek back to the hospital. Back to argue with the doctors, back to trying to make them see that it was time for all of this to end.
I left the hospital after Alex got there to take over. He normally went to the hospital with me, but once a week he took over the night shift to give her family a good night's rest. That's what friends were for, he told me.
I didn't argue with him. He wouldn't have caved. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I couldn't sleep in that apartment alone. It was too empty. It didn't feel like home.
The light on the machine was blinking when I walked in the door. Jordan, my colleague at the security division, came on to tell me that he was able to cover my shift the following day so I could try to convince my father to at least take some of the machines off Galina. He wasn't for pulling her out of the simulation completely, claiming that it was too dangerous or some shit.
That's all it was. Shit. How could he know it was dangerous if he didn't try it?
I sunk down onto the couch, putting my head in my hands. I couldn't make myself to into the bedroom. I had been living out of the suitcase of clothes I'd taken with me on that trip. That stupid trip. I never should have gone. If I had, maybe this wouldn't have happened. Maybe I could have prevented it.
They told me I couldn't have, but I knew I could have. I knew her and I knew what it took to put an end to one of her fits. It would have all been okay.
Alex told me what the room looked like before he and my dad cleaned it up. The glass all over the floor from the broken windows and mirrors. The blood that accompanied the wreckage. The clothes thrown out of the closet and onto the floor. The shoes she tossed out the window. The pictures that she'd torn up and sprinkled about the room like confetti. And, again, the blood. Splattered on the floor. The ceiling. The walls. Everywhere.
I could have stopped it.
I could have kept her safe.
I should have stayed.
Maybe, maybe not, but at least I could have tried to stop it. We'd never know and that was what was the hardest part of it all. It was impossible to know what could have been.
Technology was advancing in this day and age. There had been so many medical advances already, but predicting the future had yet to be invented. Other than your typical psychics, but that was just a hoax, wasn't it? Anyone could find information about you on the internet. It didn't take a genius to figure out the right words to say to someone. Hell, that's what I did when I interrogated people. Searched for their weaknesses and then honed in on them to get them to confess the truth.
If only someone would have invented a device to go back in the past. That was really the tool that I wanted. To go back to the point where everything began to go to shit, to fix it before it got as bad as it did.
People told me that I was lucky I hadn't been home. She probably would have killed me, they said. I didn't believe that.
She wouldn't have hurt me.
I wouldn't have let her.
I lay back on the couch, staring up at the ceiling with my hands behind my head. We were supposed to be getting married the following month. Instead, we'd be spending the next month in that damned hospital room.
The phone ringing pulled me out the half-sleep I had been in. I bolted up on the couch, my heart pounding in my chest. I groaned and lay back, hoping that the person would just give up and call back at a decent hour.
They hung up before the machine picked up. Good. I draped my arm over my eyes and sighed, trying to go back to sleep. Another ring.
"Damn it," I muttered, getting to my feet and ambling over to the phone. "What?"
"She's awake," Alex's voice said on the other line. "She's actually awake."
I grabbed onto the kitchen counter. "But, Dad said she wouldn't be able to unless they woke her up."
"Well, he was wrong," Alex replied. "Get down here."
He hung up and I stood there, listening to the silence on the other line. This all had to be a dream. It had to be.