The last thing I remember was watching a new show called 'Miami Vice' in my living room. Don Johnson is welcome to have my babies any time he wants. Then there was a loud humming sound - and now here I am in the middle of a parking lot surrounded by a ring of white fire. It's not normal fire though - it's not throwing any heat. I can feel myself shivering.
A group of people come running toward me. They look very concerned.
"Hey lady, what's going on here? Are you alright?" a young man shouts.
The white flames quickly die and take the light they were casting with them. A single streetlamp behind me is all that remains to beat back the surrounding darkness.
A woman slaps the man she's with. "Stop staring at her and give her your coat or something!"
She looks to the younger man beside her that can't take his eyes off of me. "Look away!" she commands.
The older man starts removing his coat with a huff. A couple of women behind them react faster, however, and quickly rush forward and drape their outer garments around me. I'm grateful to them, but not entirely certain why they're doing it - until I look down and realize that I'm buck-naked. Now everything makes a little more sense, except for what I'm doing lying here in the first place.
"Lights in the sky and a naked lady in the parking lot!" the younger man shouts, practically jumping up and down. "What a night!"
He's quickly chided by the older woman once again.
"Are you okay?" one of the now-jacketless women asks.
I pause and think for a moment. I have no idea how I got here, what the white flames were all about, or why the heck I'm not wearing anything, but other than that, I guess I'm doing okay. I'm not in any pain, I'm just freezing.
I nod and ask the ladies to help me up.
The older woman slaps the older man once again. "You see what these women are doing? That should have been you! Shame on you for just staring!"
He just grunts and looks away.
"Come on," the other woman with me says. "Let's get you to the police or the hospital or something. Do you remember the name of the guy that did this to you?"
"The guy?" I ask as they start walking me deeper into the parking lot.
"It's okay, honey," the first woman says. "We've all been there. No need to be embarrassed, but we need to get the scumbag's name out in the open so the rest of us can be careful around him."
These women think I've been raped or something. Gosh, I hope that wasn't the case!
"I've never seen white fire before," the other woman says. "Whatever it was that was flaming, leaving you naked in a parking lot inside of a burning ring of some sort, well, he sounds like a real sicko to me. If you're feeling okay right now, I think we should just go straight to the police station."
The first woman nods in agreement. "Yeah, I agree. If this is how some creep is getting off, I want him behind bars ASAP."
"I'm Carol, by the way," the second lady says to me. "You look kind of familiar. What's your name?"
I have to think for a moment. What was my name again? Everything is a little bit fuzzy at the moment. Oh wait, now I remember…
"Hey Brook," the first woman says with a little smile. "I'm Wendy. So, who did this to you anyway?"
I shake my head. "Sorry, I don't remember much."
Carol opens the back door to a green wood-panel station wagon and I shuffle into the back seat.
The ladies have a muffled exchange outside of the car that I can't quite make out. They both continue to look concerned when they slide onto the front bench. The car's throaty engine roars to life.
Wendy looks back from the driver's seat. "Don't worry. Everything is going to be okay."
I pull the lady's jackets around me a little tighter.
Ten minutes later, the large car's headlights illuminate the town's police station. There's a sign on the precinct's door that says 'Ring for Service' when we pull up. Most of the lights appear to be out inside the building.
"Ugh," Wendy groans. "I bet the whole force is out right now because of those UFO sightings."
Carol nods and then looks back at me. "We might have to just leave you with the desk attendant, sweetie."
I kind of shrug my shoulders. "Could you guys just give me a lift home instead?"
The two women exchange a glance.
"Are you very far?" Wendy asks. "Gas is insane right now."
I guess the blank expression on my face doesn't fill her with a lot of confidence.
Carol shakes her head. "No, you've been traumatized. Let's get you inside so you can make a report. The station attendant can call an ambulance after that and get you taken care of."
Carol exits and rings the service bell. The desk attendant comes to the door and soon I'm sitting in a small lobby wearing an orange jumpsuit. I thank the ladies for bringing me in as I give their jackets back. They wish me well, then take their leave without any further fuss.
The attending officer looks me up and down a few times. "You look familiar," he says. "What was your name again, Miss?"
"Brook," I say. "Brook Barns."
All the color suddenly drains from his face and he looks like he's seen a ghost. He stands and moves to the back of the office without another word. I hear him flip through a large book of some sort. He lets out a little gasp, then dials the phone beside him. He speaks in a hushed voice and I can't make out what he's saying.
"I live at 901 SE Shady St. if it helps!" I shout over to him. "I've lived here in McMinnville my whole life!"
He looks back at me, then continues whispering into the phone. He eventually hangs up, but instead of coming back to the front desk, he dials another number.
I sigh and sink back into my seat. I glance up at the clock on the wall and see that it's 11:15 PM. I blow a strand of hair from my face. It looks like I've lost about four hours of my life. I wonder what happened to me? I wonder how Miami Vice ended?
The desk attendant finally returns and looks me up and down again. "I've called an ambulance. Don't worry Miss Barns, we'll get this mystery figured out!"
I nod and try to give him a smile for his trouble. I wonder if they get people being brought in with missing memories a lot?
An ambulance arrives at the police station fifteen minutes later. They don't have their siren going, so obviously, no one thinks I'm about to die or anything. They check me for signs of a concussion and do a few other routine tests, then help me into the back of their vehicle. It's all very casual at this point.
I almost fall asleep on the gurney as we drive to the local hospital. At this point, I'm thinking that I must have gone out to a bar and had some guy slip something nasty into my drink or something. I read of that happening in the newspaper. Some men are truly terrible human beings.
The paramedics walk me to the triage unit. The young nurse at the desk gives me a strange look as I approach.
"Hello again?" she says.
Hello again? That's a strange way to greet someone. I give my head a little shake.
"No, this is my first time here," I say to correct her. "I woke up in a parking lot a half-hour ago. I'm just here to get checked out."
She appears confused. "Uhhh, okay, if you say so."
I give my head another little shake. Why is this chick being so weird right now?
"Brook Barns, right?" she asks. "Okay, have a seat again."
I nod my head. More weirdness. How did she know my name and why is she acting like she knows me?
The paramedics ask me if I'll be alright on my own. I indicate that I'll be fine and they can be on their way.
Three hours go by. It's after 2 AM when the attending physician finally comes and gets me.
"Brook Barns?" he asks while looking at the clipboard in his hand.
I nod at him through my sleepy eyes. I'm absolutely starving at this point, but I don't exactly have any loose change to visit the vending machines with. This jumpsuit from the police station isn't exactly comfortable either. I wish they had at least given me a bra or something.
I'm given a hospital gown to wear instead and shown to a private room despite my insistence that I feel just fine.
The doctor enters just as I'm getting comfortable on the bed. "We're going to keep both you and your sister here for observation tonight. It seems like you've both suffered a great deal."
I give him a confused look. "Hey doc, I don't mean to tell you your business, but I don't have a sister."
He looks at his clipboard again and flips a couple of pages. He looks up and gives me a forced smile. "Well, we're going to keep you here tonight while we get a few things sorted out then. The nurse will be in shortly to give you something to help you sleep."
I would have rather she gave me something to snack on, but hey, if they're handing out drugs, who am I to say no?
True to his word, a nurse enters after he leaves, gives me a couple of pills, and hooks me to a saline drip. Apparently, I'm a little dehydrated.
I start to shiver as the cool liquid enters my bloodstream, but soon the drugs do their thing and my world goes dark.
Several voices out in the hallway wake me back up again. It feels like I've only been out for a couple of minutes, but the sunlight coming in through the tiny window off to the side tells a different story.
I become aware of a woman standing over me. I blink several times to try and focus on her face.
"Who are you?" she asks. Her voice is quiet but determined.
I mumble my response and rub my eyes. "I'm Brook Barns."
The other woman suddenly grabs me by the throat and my eyes bolt open. I get the sudden sensation that I'm looking into a mirror or something.
"No," the other woman says through clenched teeth. "I'm Brook Barns!"
This has got to be the drugs they gave me or something. I must be tripping or dreaming right now. How else would I explain a scene where I'm strangling myself in a hospital bed?
"Who are you really?" the other me shouts.
I grip her wrist with my left hand and attempt to grab her neck with my right. I'm not sure how these drug-induced hallucinations work, but I might as well give as good as I get!
A pair of orderlies burst into the room and scoop up my doppelganger. She screams and claws at them as she's forcibly taken back into the hallway.
I cough and sputter as I rub my sore throat. Maybe that wasn't a drug dream just now after all?
A new doctor enters the room, clipboard in hand. "I'm sorry about that," he says with a pained expression on his face. "We didn't think she would turn violent."
"Who was that woman?" I demand as best I can. "And why does she look exactly like me?"
A man dressed in a sheriff's uniform enters the room next. "That's what we want to know too," he says.
I look at him, then back to the doctor. "Would someone please tell me what the hell is going on?"
The doctor continues to star at his clipboard as the Sheriff looks me up and down. "Mighty strange thing last night - what with the UFOs and all," he says. "You ever been on one of them space ships?"
I give my head a little shake. Is this guy being serious?
"Folks are saying they found you lying in a circle of white fire in a parking lot," he continues. "Is that right?"
I slowly nod my head. "Yeah. One minute I was watching that new Miami Vice show, and then the next thing I know, I'm lying naked in a fire ring."
The Sheriff exchanges a look with the doctor, who starts feverishly writing on his clipboard.
"Thing is," the Sheriff says, "the other you has the same story, except she was found in the woods."
I have to process that for a moment. I suddenly burst out laughing.
The men standing at the foot of my hospital bed don't laugh with me.
I stop and stare at them before responding. "You have to agree this is the most insane thing you've ever heard, right? I mean, I have no memory of what happened from 7 PM to 11 PM - are you suggesting I was abducted by aliens and duplicated or something?"
The men exchange another look.
"What?" I ask. "What are you not telling me?"
"What year is it?" the doctor asks in a gentle voice.
I sputter before I answer. These guys must think I've completely lost it.
"Don't worry," I reply. "I'm not crazy. I know it's still 1984. I'm not thinking we're suddenly in the 90s or anything.
The doctor's cheeks inflate like he's blowing out birthday candles or something. He returns to scribbling on that clipboard of his.
I start to get a sinking feeling as my eyes dart back and forth between the two men.
"Okay, what is it now?" I ask, my voice rising a little. "Are you going to tell me it's not 1984 anymore now or something?"
The Sheriff removes his hat and scratches the top of his head a little. "Well ma'am, I suppose your answer does track to a certain extent. 1984 was the last time that you were seen."
My heart instantly goes into overdrive.
"What! What do you mean by that?" I shout. "Explain yourself, Sheriff!"
The doctor steps to the door and shouts into the hallway. "Nurse! Five CCs of Valium, STAT!"
I ignore him, although in the back of my mind, the thought of getting a little Valium makes me happy inside.
"Well?" I shout again.
The Sheriff holds up his hands to try and signal me to calm down a little. "Now Miss Barns, try to calm down a little…"
"What year is it?" I scream.
He looks at me for a moment, then whispers, "It's 1989, ma'am."