By Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer Black, written 1 May, 2013
She closed her eyes for but a moment, but she reopened them 15 minutes later. She lost time with each blink, suspended in a twilight, a fog of befuddlement. Inside her skull, there seemed to be warring factions, insects with pikes and shields trudging through gelatinous fog, their movements slow, heavy with mire, impairing her own ability to put together her thoughts.
Two nicely dressed gentlemen came to call. She tried to smile, but her face felt strangely tight, and the motion hurt at the corners of her eyes. Still, she tried to make sense of the words that they directed to her. Was that a question? What language did they speak? She tried to lift her right arm in a friendly gesture, but she found that it was somehow secured to the side of the bed. That was peculiar.
The fog overtook her, and she entered a dreamland of swirling fog that pinched and bit as she made her way through. It was hard to breath, like a stone pressed against her torso, crushing slowly the air from her lungs.
A lady in a strange Pittsburgh Penguins scrub woke her, talking to someone unseen. She caught phrases like, “Hockey, and we have Stanley Cups, but they don’t,” “No one knows who she is. She’s pretty jacked up, though,” and “Anyway, Crosby was in here not too long ago to be checked for his concussion.” A drink, please, she wanted to request, but the pressure on her chest made the effort of drawing the necessary breath to communicate impossible, so she just closed her eyes, which seemed the most natural motion, the eyelids slamming like a lid on a pirate’s treasure chest, resounding within her.
A pressure on the sides of her skull woke her. She was certain that she would open her eyes to find some brute pushing with all of his might, large hands cuffing the sides of her head, mercilessly pressing to crush her. However, there was no one in the room, but an iv was making a racket on her right side. Her left ear felt as though it were seeping some sort of warm fluid onto her neck and into her hair.
She always kept her hair meticulously coifed before. Her blonde locks were highlighted and conditioned, styled and healthy. Fashionable dress, too, was an intrinsic part of her style. She loved Coach handbags and Chanel perfume. Clinic was her go to make up choice and skin care regime. It seemed important to her that she know this about herself. She tried to turn to her left, but her neck would not make the movement.
Another blink, another hour, this one swimming through the darkest swamp, pursued by alligators and snapping turtles and strangely singing frogs. Her mouth felt like fiberglass lined it, her tongue swollen. She wanted to tell the two men her story. They were at the foot of her bed again. They showed to her shiny silver detective badges. She could hear their words, but they reached only her right ear, and that ear seemed to be plugged with cotton. Perhaps she could write a note, but her right hand would not move, and the left was not responding to her at all.
Jane Unbound, page 2, written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black
“We were hoping that you could tell us what happened to you,” the man with the blue eyes said slowly, gently, the words cocooned in cotton spider webs, but she understood. She opened her mouth, and they both looked at each other as though this were an exciting development. What had happened to her? She could not recall. She could only push her way through the fog and fear and pain to open her eyes, but words would not come. Darkness took over, and then the latest dream.
This time, she went to a carnival covered in snow deeper than her knees. The performers made their way between the grey and white striped tents with ease, fulfilling startling acrobatic acts or magical tricks, but leaving no tracks in the grey, cold snow. The music here was off-key, the lights from the rides and games of chance shrouded by the falling sleet and snow, grey and cold and confusing. It was like being trapped within a mad pen and ink drawing.
“She hasn’t got much time left, I’m afraid,” said a sympathetic voice. The effort to open her eyes seemed unimportant until another voice, a gentle voice, called her name. “Jane,” he said. She opened her eyes. The owner of this voice knew her, called her name. “Jane, you can come with me now.” He was bright and clear, beautiful and powerful. A glow of health, protection, and good-will emanated from him. His brilliance demanded attention, but she felt an attachment to the pain, a desperate need to communicate something. Again, her eyes slid shut.
A different voice called from a disorienting height. He asked her name, his baritone echoing through the pickling brine, since she was swimming in a huge pickle barrel with two other children, boys who smiled at her, though many of their teeth were missing. The taste of the brine was dreadful, and there were fish swimming by, taking bites from her flesh as they passed. He should know her name, she reasoned, unless he was not that beautiful man. Then, he might not know her name. She said it again and again until she was screaming, “Jane Howard.”
“Did she whisper something?” a rich tenor voice inquired. “Yeah, Jane Howard.” She heard hurried scratching of a pencil on a pad very close to her right. “Jane, Jane what happened to you?” asked the baritone voice, insistent, urgent, and pleading. However, she’d said all that she could for the moment, because a carousel was making a din, and she knew that she had to find her way off of the lion on which she rode before she could face the jaws that damaged her.
“No living family that we can find,” said the tenor. A gentle hand touched her right hand, intending to bring comfort, but it burned where the iv entered her skin. To escape the hurt, she walked on the bottom of a lake, looking for something that she’d lost, to prove that something once existed.
“Ms. Howard, I went to your home. I filled your automatic feeder and water dispenser, so your cat has plenty to eat,” the owner of the baritone, dad-like tone, said. “Not much, but I thought that it might bring you comfort. It is something that my daughter would want if she were in your place.” Her cat! Fluffy, sweet, soft Jingles, with his silky, long white hair. Who would care for Jingles, she worried, wishing for her pet’s purring presence. A tear leaked from her right eye, filled with gratitude and worry.
Jane Unbound, page 3, by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black
Clinical voices drifted from a beach, while she stood on a small island with increasingly larger waves encroaching on the sand on which she stood, eroding and reclaiming the sandy surface as a part of the vast, dark ocean. The voices said things like, “not long now,” “she is a fighter,” “internal failure,” and “organs beyond repair.” The waves washed away the last of the sand, and she stood with her ankles sinking into cold, sucking sand while the briny waters swirled about her knees and then her waist.
Papers shuffled close by, sounding like birds wings. When she opened her eyes, she had no periphery vision. Since she could not turn her head, she could only clearly see a spot on the ceiling directly above her. His voice came from her right, that rich, urgent baritone. “Ms. Howard, Jane, it is Trooper Thomas. I am still here. I really want to help,” he sounded sincere. She tried to smile gratitude. How nice that he wanted to help. “If you can give me a name of who did this, I can try to get this monster off of the street, Jane. Can you please try?”
Pain shot through her despite the heavy medications in her system. Her heart lurched and her lungs burned. She cried out, tears leaking from the corner of her right eye. Who was the monster on the street? No, he was not on the street. He was dressed in respectable business attire, asking her to join him for a drink after work, a drink from which, once consumed, she would never recover. Dark hair, deep brown eyes, swarthy skin, sparkling smile, tall and lean and extremely good looking Benjamin Carson. She concentrated as best she could on the name, though there seemed to be a helicopter’s wings beating loudly within her skull, obscuring and making painful any thought, but most especially painful thoughts. However, she felt this was important, that she needed to convey the name.
“Jane,” It was a different voice this time, warm and welcoming as a homecoming. “You can come with me and the pain will stop.” Like electricity shooting through her, Jane felt every nerve scream at her to go, but her addled mind insisted that the name must be given. Intensity increased, until she began to drift, to float. It did not hurt to float. She would not turn around, because to do so would mean to see what had happened to her. Better to leave now.
Piercing beeps, rushing feet, panicked voices caught her attention. She labored to take a breath that was being forced upon her. “Code.” So much that still needed to be done. “stabilized, but…” She opened her eyes. Blue eyes greeted her, kind, older, fatherly. With concentration and clarity, she said the name that would launch the investigation into her death. Then, she sighed, took the comforting hand of the other beautiful being and made her way to welcoming voices, a golden glow, and a relief from pain.