Lincoln jerked awake. In the distance, he heard a scream followed by shouting. When he realised that he was standing upright in a strange corridor, with no recollection of how he got there, confusion reigned supreme. It was like the storeroom all over again.
He blinked and went to rub his eyes, felt the hand move through the air, but didn’t feel any of the relief the movement should have elicited as he rubbed at his face. That’s when he realised that he had tried to use his missing hand. The nerve endings still somehow received signals from his brain and went through the motions of following out the command to the extent that it still felt as though his arm was attached.
With an inward groan, he rubbed at his eyes with his other hand. When he looked down, he saw that he was dressed in a grey jumper, the armless sleeve of which hung limp like a balloon devoid of air. The sight made him scrunch his face up in anger; made him feel impotent. Now a cripple, no way would he ever wear the usual vest tops that he favoured before the accident to show off his physique. Only freaks and sick fucks would want to look at a grotesque lump of scar tissue.
He stared along the corridor, rubbing his cheek as he tried to fathom how he’d arrived where he was. It didn’t make any sense. The last thing he remembered was being in the hospital.
The narrow walls of the corridor seemed to contract, making Lincoln feel sick. He took a deep breath, willed his heart to cease its frenetic war beat. Sweat beaded his forehead. He tried to swallow but it felt as though a lump had lodged in his throat.
Despite positive affirmations, he still felt out of kilter.
“Where’d she go?”
Lincoln turned at the sound of the voice and saw the nurse that he had seen when he had his last bout of memory loss.
Lincoln shook his head. “What’s going on? Where am I?”
The nurse peered at him quizzically. “You’ve lost control then.”
“Lost control of what?”
“I wasn’t talking to you,” the nurse snapped, making Lincoln step back in shock.
“Of course you’re talking to me. There’s no one else here.” He lifted his arm to indicate the empty corridor.
The nurse snorted loudly. “If you can’t keep control of a mere human, how do you expect to control the army?”
Lincoln frowned. “I don’t understand.”
The nurse continued unperturbed. “Perhaps I should take charge. The legions respect me.”
“You’re talking crazy.”
“Perhaps I should just kill your vessel.” The nurse advanced towards him.
Lincoln backed into the wall. He didn’t know why he felt so afraid – it was only a nurse, albeit a butch one, but there was something unwholesome about her.
“Yes, perhaps we should find another way,” the nurse said, her face a vicious mask.
“Another way to what? You’re not making any sense.” Lincoln’s heart felt as though subjected to running a marathon. It thumped within his chest. His fingers tingled. As the nurse drew closer, he felt a wave of heat that made him feel faint.
Whatever the hell was going on, Lincoln didn’t want any part of it. About to turn and walk away, he saw the nurse lunge for him, and instead of walking, he ran.
Despite still feeling weak from the loss of blood after the accident, terror drove him on. Unsure where he was, or where he was going, he headed along the corridor. Closed doors on both sides with numbers attached gave him the impression that he was in an apartment block of some sort.
At the end of the corridor, he fled down a flight of stairs, almost falling in his haste. The smell of piss lingered in the stairway, and graffiti marred the walls, love’s young dream spelled out with permanent black marker.
Up ahead he saw grimy glass doors leading outside, and he ran towards them, grabbed the handle, pushed and tumbled out into the street. He noticed a crowd of people gathered outside a shop, and headed towards them, seeking safety within their presence. Behind him, he heard the doors slam open and he looked back to see the nurse exit the building.
Returning his attention to the crowd, he made his way towards them and shuffled through to see a young girl lying on the pavement. A piece of wood protruded from her stomach and a blanket of blood circled her body.
In the distance, he heard a siren.
“I tell you, she just stabbed her in cold blood,” a middle-aged woman said to the police officer taking notes.
“I saw the whole thing,” a bald old man said, shaking his head. “They were arguing-”
“How do you know?”
“That dead girl said so after I asked the other girl, the one who ran away, if she was okay – she shouted for help, you see. Anyway, then the girl who ran away, she hit that dead girl on the head with that piece of wood. Next thing you know, they were fighting and, well, that’s how it ended up. Damn shame. What’s the world coming to?”
“Could you describe the girl who ran away?” the police officer asked.
“Sure,” the old man said. “She had short black hair, not too tall, about five and a bit – reminded me of someone on the telly.” He chewed his lip as though ruminating. “It’ll come to me eventually. Now where was I, oh yes, five and a bit, dressed like a modern-day hippy.”
“Did you hear what they were arguing about?”
“No, I was sitting waiting for my bus, over there. Missed the blasted thing now. Her indoors will give me what for if I’m not back soon.”
“Did anyone hear what they were arguing about?” the officer asked.
A few people shook their heads.
“I remember now,” the old man said. “She reminded me of that girl from that pirate film. What was it called?” He scrunched his face as he tried to think.
“Long John Silver,” someone said.
“That’s not a pirate film,” a man snapped.
“No, a new film,” the old man replied.
“Pirates of the Caribbean,” a teenage boy shouted.
“That’s the one. Now what was her name, the girl in it. Skinny girl, but pretty.”
“Keira Knightley,” the same boy said.
“Yes, that’s who she reminded me of, Keira Knightley, but with a few extra pounds and more, you know, up top.”
The police officer continued to make notes.
Up ahead, a bus approached and stopped at the bus stop. Lincoln weaved through the crowd and jumped aboard.
“Where to?” the driver asked.
Lincoln had a moment of panic. “Where do you go?”
The driver frowned. “Town circular.”
“Anywhere near Temple Hospital?”
The driver nodded.
The driver told him the price, and Lincoln had another moment of panic when he didn’t know whether he had any money on him. He slipped his hand in his pocket and pulled out some change that he dropped into the receptacle.
The driver issued him with a ticket, and the doors slid shut behind Lincoln. He turned, looked outside and saw the nurse looking up at him, then the bus pulled away from the kerb, causing Lincoln to grab the support pole to stop himself from falling.
He needed to get back to the hospital and talk to a doctor to get to the bottom of what the hell was happening, because after losing an arm, the last thing he wanted was to go fuckin’ crazy as well.