Article: 288614 of talk.bizarre From: email@example.com (D. Page) Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: Breaking Games -- 1.1 Date: 1 Dec 1996 13:49:36 -0500 Organization: The Tapaboy Newt Institute Lines: 337 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Reply-To: email@example.com X-No-Archive: yes [Another novel of 25 chapters to be posted irregularly. Killfile it if you don't like these things...] I woke up to the sounds of explosions and stared up at the dark sky, at the stars, at the moons. For a moment it occurred to me that there should be something else up there in the sky, but the thought slipped away from me until I couldn't understand just what it was I had been expecting. Something exploded to my left as I thought, sending deep vibrations through the ground and half-deafening me. My head hurt badly. There were more explosions, almost continuously, from somewhere behind me. I felt bad, and moving didn't seem like to be a good idea. I reached up with my left hand to feel my head, which ached dully with a throbbing rhythm that brought tears to my eyes. My shoulder moved, my upper arm moved, but I couldn't touch my head. Moving my arm in front of my face, I was horrified to find a tourniquet tied right below my elbow; my hand and forearm completely missing below it. I let my left arm drop and closed my eyes against the pain and fear. I was still alive, I told myself. I was still alive. This time I reached up with my right hand, heaving a sigh of relief when I saw that it was whole, and rubbed my eyes and forehead. The back of my hand and fingers came away bloody, and I gently probed at my scalp to find where the blood was coming from. About halfway between my forehead and the crown of my head there was a jagged, splintered area of bone and flesh. The area felt strangely numb, and it took me a while to figure out what had happened to me and how extensive the damage was. At the bottom of the wound I touched something warm, wet and soft that I knew had to be my brain. Bile rose in my throat and I choked and gasped for air against the sick-feeling running through me. I felt chilled and could only lay there, staring up at the red moon as it came into my field of vision. The explosions slowed as time passed and then eventually stopped, bringing a strange sense of peace across the area. Time seemed to pass by quickly and blankly for me. I guessed this had to do with my head wound; surely I couldn't be thinking clearly with that much damage to my skull. Sometimes it seemed as if I had passed out, but I couldn't remember awakening or closing my eyes at all. I waited with an odd calm to die. It surely wouldn't take too long. The red moon raced across the sky, followed by a glowing to my right that heralded the dawn. The sky brightened to a brilliant aqua color as the sun moved away from the horizon towards its high-point. The sun moved swiftly to my diminished sense of time. Around noon I heard crunching metal and movement behind me. "Help!" I cried out. "Help me, please!" "There's a survivor!" someone said excitedly. The footsteps crunched through debris again, coming closer. "Where?" said another voice, a little to my left. There was more crashing, and a man dressed in a white radiation suit came into my view. He bent down over me and examined my body head to toe. I couldn't make out his features through the mirrored faceplate he wore, but I could tell by his reaction that his prognosis of my injuries wasn't good. "Get over here, doc!" he called out, and then turned to me with softer words. "You're gonna be okay. We've got a paramedic right here, and when we can move you we'll get you on the subway right to the hospital. Hang in there." "I'm trying," I told him. Someone crashed around to my left still, and whomever was over there cursed loudly. "Hey!" said the man hovering over me. "Stay with me now. Don't fall asleep." I felt surprised. "Was I falling asleep?" I asked. "Your eyes were turning kind of glassy," he explained. "Oh." The other man finally stumbled into sight. He was similarly clad in a protective suit, but was carrying an oversize white briefcase with a red medical spiral on it. "Oh my," he said in a quiet voice as he examined me. I watched with very little fear or emotion as he fumbled in his case for hypodermic needle and a brown bottle. For a moment he looked at my arm in confusion, and then stabbed me in the thigh with the needle. I didn't feel a thing. "Relax," he said. "The painkillers will be taking effect in a few moments." "I don't feel any pain, though." The two men seemed to look at each other through their silver visors in alarm and then back at me. "It's going to be okay," the first man told me. The medic fumbled in his kit some more and pulled out an unfolding neck splint and some bandages. He leaned over and began packing gauze on my head as the other assembled the brace and slipped the flat part under my head gently. I could see that the sky was now a deep and beautiful blue-green in the space I could see between their bowed helmets. The world became even more disjointed for me, and I couldn't seem to focus on any one event. "It's the drugs," said the first man to me. Had I asked a question? They carried me on a litter rigged from some scrap metal. My arm was bound down by my side, so it wouldn't bounce as they carried me underground, where the subways roared through the dark, empty tunnels. There was a white room with men asking questions and flashing lights in my eyes. "What's your name?" said an insistent voice over and over again. I don't know how many times I was asked this question. The answer kept getting swept away with the swift changes of scenery. Was I in an operating room? "What's your name?" "I doubt he'll make it." "...intelligence. We have to know what happened." "What's your name?" I blinked against the bright white light shining in my eyes. I kept thinking it was the noon-day sun even though the sun isn't white like that, and I couldn't see the sky. "I don't know," I mumbled. "Said he doesn't know." "Ask him again." "Did you see his head wound? He probably /doesn't/ know what his name is anymore." I blinked against the light over and over again, sending tears streaming down the sides of my head into my ears. I felt numb. "What's your name?" "What's your name?" "What's your name, soldier?" "...he's a soldier. No uniform." I didn't know if I were a soldier. I probably was a soldier -- why else would I be on a battlefield? Had I been on a battlefield, or had I only thought I was? There weren't any explosions anymore. I didn't think I was on a battlefield. "Enough questions. We need to operate. Get out." A mask was slipped over my face. The air fed to me through it was sweet and cold. I breathed deeply, taking my pleasure and comfort in such good air. The faces of men grew large and statuesque as they bent over me, and then they were swallowed up by darkness. * * * I woke up to the sounds of explosions. I stared up at the night sky and saw no stars, no moons. There should have been stars and moons and, and, and something else up there. Instead, there was a dim light from somewhere behind me. I felt confused. Someone cursed to my left and I knew the medic was trying to find his way through the wreckage to bind my wounds and give me a shot. "Dropped the bedpans. I'm sorry for waking you," said a woman I couldn't see. My neck was frozen in place -- I couldn't move my head one inch. "I'm not sure if I was asleep," I croaked. "Well shush and try to," she said, and I did. * * * I woke up to silence and wondered why there were no explosions. I stared up at the daytime sky and saw nothing but hard and smooth grey stone. There should have been something else up there. Not just the sun, not just the blue-green sky that was strangely absent. Someone moved in my peripheral vision to my left, and I knew the medic was looking in his kit for a neck brace. "Good morning!" the medic said, stepping over to where I could see him. His voice was stronger and deeper, more authoritative than I remembered. Instead of the environment suit I had been expecting him to be wearing he was dressed in a white suit with the red spiral of medical corps on the breast pocket. He was an older man with a kindly and knowledgeable face. I felt lucky that such an able-looking doctor had found me here in time to keep me from dying from my wounds. "Is it morning?" I asked. "Yes, indeed, it is!" he exclaimed with a smile. "Perhaps you'd like a little something to break your fast with?" I thought on this for a few minutes, and the man frowned at me. I considered bread and cheese, deciding whether or not I wanted any, as the doctor rounded to the other side of the bed and felt at my right wrist. "No. Um, thank you." I said at last. The doctor looked relieved. "Thought you had spaced out on me," he laughed, then making a notation in his wrist-mounted computer. "How are you feeling?" he asked then. I rolled this question around in my mind for a while too before answering. "I feel bad," I said. "Maybe you should get me to a hospital." "You are in a hospital," the doctor said. "Oh." I didn't know what else to say. There was a brief silence, and the doctor made another notation in his computer with a small tinkling noise of his stylus on the screen. "I'm Doctor Nyulyalaysa," he introduced himself. I couldn't get up to bow for an important man with so many syllables so instead I raised my right hand and crossed my fingers at him. I hoped the smaller gesture of respect wouldn't offend him. The doctor bowed back to me, showing he had taken no offense. Now I was to introduce myself. My mind was blank. It seemed there was nothing there that I could identify myself with, although I did know such things as how to speak and act. "I'm so sorry, Doctor Nyulyalaysa," I apologized. "I don't remember what my name is. Please do not take offense with me." "There is no offense," he stated. "You are a victim of a head trauma. These things will come back to you in time." I tried to nod to show understanding but remembered I couldn't move my head. "Thank you," I said, lost for words. "Good." The doctor made many more notations in his computer, writing with a loose and easy hand as I watched. His computer chimed and rang and sang like birds as he entered information in it. It was full of wonderful sounds. "Do you remember how you got to the battlefield at Iow Fana?" the doctor asked, looking up from his wrist. A Iow was an air-intake vent on the surface. I hadn't known I was at a Iow at all, and I told the doctor so. "You don't know if you were a soldier there, or an artillerist, or an Iow technician?" he prompted. "No, I don't remember how I got there. I am sorry." The doctor smiled and patted my hand. "Don't be sorry," he said. "Tell me what you remember." In a long, guttering stream of words I told him of waking up in the battlefield and laying there for many hours before he had showed up in the radiation suit with another man and a bedpan-dropping nurse. When I was done, the doctor had a very sad expression on his face. "I wasn't at the battlefield. That was a different man," he explained. "The nurse was here at the hospital and also not at the battlefield." He made more musical notes in his computer as I mulled this over. "I seem to be having difficulty understanding that," I said. "I clearly seem to remember them being there." "Don't worry," the doctor told me. "You were badly injured. Everything will come back to you once you've had a chance to heal." "I hope so," I said. For some reason it didn't seem too important to remember things correctly. The doctor finished up his note-taking and then looked around the room. "I'll have a nurse bring in a book-reader for you," he said. "Is there anything you'd like to read?" "I don't know." I wasn't even sure of what I enjoyed reading, although I could picture the screen and mechanism of a book-reader in my mind. I knew I could operate the controls with just my right hand, so it seemed I had read books before and was familiar with book-readers. I didn't understand why it had seemed important to me that I should have to operate the controls one-handedly, though. "I'll have the nurse bring you a variety of books," the doctor said. He bowed to me and I crossed my fingers at him again, and then he took his leave of me. A few minutes later a nurse wheeled up to my bed with a cart. A book-reader was mounted on the cart, and she pushed it up against the bed and moved the reader's screen on its arm to a position about a foot above my face. Then she lifted my right arm gently and laid my hand on the controls. "There are eight books in it right now," she said. "If you want more or different ones, just tell me." Now she placed my arm back on the bed and put the device I could signal her with in my hand with a gentle touch. She smiled, patted me comfortingly, and left. I put down the calling device and reached out to the controls of the book-reader, calling up an index of the books on the screen. Drama, poetry, history -- the selection was rather dry, but I realized that I couldn't expect much from a hospital. I settled on a rather recent drama about a family torn apart by the war and relaxed as I read the text and watched the live-action parts throughout the story. Several hours later I turned it off and closed my eyes for a nap. I felt weary from trying to keep my attention focused on the book, and after a while it just hadn't made sense anymore. I knew I should have been horrified in an intellectual way, but the horror didn't quite reach me thoroughly. Brain Damage just didn't seem to be something to be too upset about right now. I also knew that this absence of emotion might also be due to brain damage. The only thing I could do was to rest and heal and hope the doctor was right about it all coming back to me in time. I slept. d. -- Text copyright d. Page, 1996. This post is given first distribution rights via Usenet and Usenet ONLY. Please do not redistribute.