His neck was getting sore from looking up over his left shoulder at the IV bag. A long feed snaked from the bag’s bottom and slithered into the plastic port on his left forearm. He could not shake the dread that he was getting too much, or not enough, fluid into his body. The dread paused its grip for a moment when he realized that he had no idea what chemical was dripping into him and that he did not remember the installation of the port and its attachment to the bag. When he fully understood this, the dread returned and squeezed him in its coils until he could barely breathe.
It was then he noticed that he could not move. Not a muscle. He could blink, but it felt like his eyelids shuttered and opened in slow motion.
The panic scraped his insides raw as it raced from his toes to the crown of his head. It grated from his fingertips to the center of his heart. It was a keening wail that beat his mind to a thin wire alive with wattage in excess of anything he’d ever comprehended.
He hadn’t felt so alive for a couple decades.
Suddenly, there was a hand on his chest that pushed the arch out of his back so that the pressure on his neck eased. The sensation of the sheet against his elbow as his body shifted made the hair at the back of his neck stand up like little nipples in an icy wind. The hand belonged to a young brunette in a nurse’s uniform. She smiled sweetly as she adjusted his head so that it rested comfortably in the pillow. He had to admit that she was quite fetching, in a starched brittle kind of way, and she was vaguely familiar, like a tune from a radio he couldn’t quite hear. He watched her for a moment and suddenly realized that he could move his eyeballs.
The nurse was watching him. He knew his fear showed in his eyes and he hated that. He also hated the obvious fact that her eyes, hazel with odd gold flecks, were brimming with victory. He attempted his voice, to apply the whip that had carved his political career and subjugated all who fell under its spell, but his body betrayed him. His paralysis would not allow him to speak.
Her voice, much to his dismay, worked fine.
“You killed my mother, you know,” she said, holding his gaze. “And my father couldn’t survive it, so you killed him too.”