CHAPTER 3

“What happened to you?” Stephen asked. “One minute you were waiting in the hospital, and the next you’d gone. I tried ringing you on your mobile, but you wouldn’t answer.”

Joanna leaned back on the threadbare settee and took a deep breath. What was the best way to tell him she might be going crazy?

“Jo, talk to me. I was worried sick. I went down the corridor where I’d seen you walk, and there was that man who lost his arm, you know Lincoln.”

Joanna shuddered and the blood drained from her face.

“He was waiting to be taken up in the lift. Looked way too, well, happy I guess, for a man who’d just lost his arm.”

“What about him?” Joanna snapped.

Stephen frowned. “Hey. Take it easy. No need to bite my head off. I was only going to say that the orderly pushing the bed said you ran off after talking to Lincoln. What’s going on?” His tongue peeked from the corner of his mouth.

Joanna closed her eyes, but the darkness behind the lids made her recall the blackness that surrounded Lincoln, so she opened them again. “I don’t know what’s going on. It’s… complicated.”

“Just tell me.”

She took another long breath, then an equally long exhalation, delaying the revelation. “That man, Lincoln.”

“Yeah, what a bloke. Talk about upbeat.”

“I thought you wanted to know what was wrong.”

“I do. It’s just, Jesus, man loses his arm and anyone would think he’d won the lottery. He asked about you. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you had an admirer.”

Joanna froze. “Why, what did he say?”

“Not much. Just asked if I knew you and where you lived.”

The blood froze in Joanna’s veins, she felt her heart pound within her chest.

“So what’s going on.”

“What’s going on? I wish I knew.” She stared around the living room of her one bedroom apartment. Photographs decorated the walls, black and white portraits taken when her sight wasn’t as bad. She liked to think she captured the subjects’ essence in the shots, trying to make them as natural as possible. The wrinkles on a pensioner’s face a map of time. A young girl, head thrown back as she laughed – looking at the photograph usually made Joanna smile, as though she could hear the laughter, but not today. Today she felt cold inside and she shivered.

“You’re starting to scare me now. Did the doctor at the hospital tell you something that you’re not telling me?”

“No, he said everything’s fine.”

“Then what is it?”

“I was trying to tell you. It’s that man, the one who lost his arm. Well, I saw something, something strange. When he lost his arm, I saw, I don’t know, another limb sticking out from where his arm should have been.”

Stephen frowned. “A what?”

“I don’t know. A sort of limb.”

“You probably imagined it. Hell, you’d just seen a man lose his arm. That’s enough to freak anyone out.”

“I didn’t imagine it.”

“Well what other explanation could there be?”

Joanna licked her lips. “I think there’s something wrong with the transplant.”

“Did you mention it to the doctor?”

Joanna shook her head.

“Well don’t you think you should have?”

“I don’t know. I was scared he would think I was, you know, crazy.”

“No crazier than anyone else.” He winked. “So why’d you run out of the hospital?”

“Because I saw it again, that ghost limb thing when I saw Lincoln in the corridor. The first time, yes, I might have imagined it, but twice!”

“Have you thought that seeing the man again made you see it? That the sight of him triggered the shock from the accident and that you’re, I don’t know, imprinting an arm where there isn’t one to disguise the horror of what you’d seen.”

“So now you’re Doctor Freud. I know what I saw.”

“You think you know what you saw. That’s the point I’m trying to make. Just because you saw it, it doesn’t make it real.”

Joanna didn’t like Stephen’s train of thought anymore than her own as it implied that she wasn’t in control of her own mind. That there was nothing wrong with her transplant, and that she really was going mad.

She stood up and walked across the room towards the small, claustrophobia-inducing kitchen, stopping at the window to draw the curtains on the encroaching darkness.

Before she pulled the material across, she looked down at the road below. The streetlight opposite shone a dull orange, highlighting the figure leaning nonchalantly against the post; a figure she instantly recognised as Lincoln Parker. The light overhead threw shadows around his feet, but they seemed to dance as though alive.

Lincoln waved his spectral limb in her direction and Joanna screamed and backed away from the window.

“Jo, what’s the matter,” Stephen asked as he rushed to her side.

“He’s out there. The man with one arm. He’s outside.”

“That’s impossible. He lost too much blood to have been released yet.”

“Then why don’t you go tell him that.” She turned and pointed outside, only as she secretly feared, there was no one there.

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