Chapter 04

I open my eyes and try to clear my mind. I have a killer headache and the taste of blood in my mouth. Above me is a bright glowing bar or light.

The light seems too bright to be contained. I swear the light grows as I watch it expanding to fill my vision.

I feel light headed as the light coats my body. All at once the light disappears and the world goes dark. I get the feeling this has happened to me before.

I open my eyes again and try to judge how much time has passed since I was last awake. I feel the cold hard floor under my cheek and turn my head to look up at the ceiling. The room I am in seems to be one massive blur of painful bright lights. There is something large and green covering my lower body but I can not seem to clear my vision to identify what it is.

I shake my head to try to regain my bearings. Shaking my head causes a remarkable amount of pain. As the blur clears and the pounding in my head slows to a dull roar I feel tightness across my chest and back.

I try to stretch but feel a band tightening painfully across my back. I feel restricted and that's when I realize that my arms are crossed in front of me and secured somehow along my back.

"What the Hell?" I mumble aloud. My voice sounds strange. I probe with my tongue and feel a set of stitches on my gums and a very swollen upper lip.

Gritting my teeth blood starts to leak into my mouth again. I struggle to get a clear thought. My mind feels like I have just downed thirteen shooters and slurping a quart of malt liquor through a straw.

I make another try to get my arms free but they remain crossed in front of my body and pulled tightly behind me. I try to sit up with limited success. When I try to get up off the floor I feel the straight jacket straps. I manage to get into a seated position but doing so causes the tugging of the cheap blue hospital bottoms into some remarkably uncomfortable areas.

I cross one leg in front of me but the other is tangled in the large green sheet that is still partially covering the stretcher. On the leg in front of me is a small plastic band around the ankle. "Jarrod" is printed on the band in big block letters. Is that me? I think to myself as I try to roll the band to see what else might be printed on my bracelet. As I struggle to read the bracelet a memory from long ago fills my mind.

"Ok Jarrod it is then" I mumble to myself.

I guess if I am a guest I might as well meet the innkeepers. "Hey nurse! A little friggen help here!" I hoarsely yell which renews the pain in my head. I make a mental note; no loud talking for a while. I wonder how many times I've made that note.

After a few minutes I conclude that no nurse, orderly or anyone else is coming. I guess they are all busy at the crazy zoo.

As I try to get up I notice stuff on a shelf under the stretcher. My Kodiak boots, jeans and plaid shirt are neatly folded on the shelf. There is something dark and smelly on my clothes. The contrast between the shiny chrome of the shelf and the dark black stain on my clothes is surprising.

As I lean in to take a closer look I recognize the dark stain on my clothes. "Ah shit," I say to myself,? my stuff is all covered in blood, again.

I use my chin and teeth to pull my clothes off the shelf. I hope I can get to my wallet. Hopefully I can use the edge of my debit card to cut through the straps trapping my arms. The smell of my clothes is quite strong. I loudly gag a few times as a work towards my wallet. I hope I can get my wallet out and wear through these straps before anyone notices.

I fall forward painfully to get to my pants pocket.

"Damn!" I yell aloud. No wallet. Oh well, lets get creative.

I have to use my whole body to get back upright. I use my shoulders and head in place of arms as I wiggle to the wall. Trying to stand is a new adventure. I push my socks off with my feet so I don't slide. I leave a trickle of blood on the wall as blood leaks out of the corners of my mouth.

I lean against the wall panting. The silence is striking. I can hear my own breathing and my heart pounding. The buzz of the fluorescent lights is loud in the unusual silence. As my breathing returns to normal a clap of thunder in the distance startles me.

Taking a final relaxing breath I take a look around. Other than me and my stretcher the hallway has 7 doors. This hallway looks familiar. In the center of each door is a glass bubble allowing a full view of the room beyond. A memory of being on the inside of one of these rooms blossoms in my mind. I wonder what I did this time. Another memory fills my mind. I am in some sort of protest, fighting to save the animals. More memories flood into my mind.

I remember standing before a judge for assaulting a medical lab security guard; breaking into labs and freeing the animals. I don't have any memory of why I would have been sent back here. Maybe I just went on a bender, and all hell broke loose, sure feels that way.

At one end of the hallway there is an exit sign. You can't miss the painted on bright orange 3 with the word Stairs on the door at the end of the hall. I must be on the third floor and that door will be alarmed if I am in the sort of place I think I am. I turn around and stumble away from the exit along the wall of the hallway. I reach a corner and listen. I hear the rather loud pounding in my head and the regular air circulation sounds but not much else.

I peek around the corner.

Twenty yards further is a small waiting room.

Someone is seated in one of the chairs. He is seated with his back toward me so I can not be sure he is asleep but his head is tipped all the way back. So he is either asleep or staring at the ceiling.

I try to quietly approach the chair. Shit. Shit. Shit he is so dead. This was the orderly who was watching the main entrance to ensure none of us went for a walk. Well someone wanted out in a hurry, or maybe wanted in to get someone.

There is a massive hole in his chest. Someone really did a job on him. His hands and face are also deeply scratched.

I am so screwed.

Blood and entrails lead away from the orderly to the desk. The desk has a partial glass partition. A dark stain covers part of the glass partition. The stain creates a clear reflection in the glass. That stain does not look good, good thing I don't work as a cleaner here.

Part of the partition is shattered. A bloody hoof print is on the desk near were the partition is broken. I stare at the hoof print. It is quite clearly a hoof print. About 4 inches long the cloven print is really out of place in a hospital.

Near the print is a piece of broken glass jammed into in the wall. I push against the piece of glass with my jacket hoping like hell it doesn't come free before I cut the strap. I feel a stab of pain and a new trickle of blood as I push too hard and the glass slices into my side.

I take a sharp breath and start to work more carefully at the strap. I hear a loud guttural wail from one of the rooms down the hallway.

I take a look around. I can see my reflection in a section of the glass partition. I look like quite the tool; I have a nasty cut on my mouth but it doesn't look too bad. I should be fine in a couple of weeks. I am a little shocked to see the bright orange hair. The seven inch spikes are a little limp.

I suddenly remember when I used to wear a lab coat over my suits and my employer liked the buzz cut I wore to the research lab.

Another wail draws my attention back from the past. After what could be a minute or two could be ten who knows one of the straps cuts through. Things get loose in my nether regions. I manage to slide the jacket over my head and stretch my arms.

So I take another look at myself. It doesn't look like I have any other wounds. I am still wearing a faded World Wildlife Federation t-shirt. I carefully search the orderly for keys, money, pass cards, ID badge license registration any thing to help me get out of here. I find a blood coated badge. Cameron Fleming. Sorry Cam, but I need this more than you do. Cam also donates twenty Canadian dollars and a Visa. Canadian dollars! What am I doing in Canada? I grab the guys' shoes they are a little big and they squish uncomfortably, but they seem good enough once tied.

Time to blend in again.

I hop over the partition into the nurses' station. I hope they have some Tylenol. I don't know what hit this place but I hope it's gone. Once in the nurses' station I see some keys. I clip them onto the waistband of my pants. There is a doctor's coat on the back of a chair.

I throw the jacket over my shoulders, a bit big for my frame but it will do. I put my hands in the pockets. There is a whistle in one and a stethoscope in the other.

"Okay Jarrod. Time to get creative and get the hell out of this alive." I say to myself, then realising I shouldn't be talking to myself I smile and add, "next time I am running to a tropical island."

I push the release on the security door but nothing happens. I try it a couple of times with the same results. I pick up the chair and after a couple of attempts the door opens. I discard the remains of the chair and head into the hallway beyond the door.

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