Lincoln stared at the clock. Although he had slept for hours, he felt knackered. It didn’t make sense.

Nothing seemed to make sense.

Like why some people seemed to talk at him, rather than to him.

And why some people called him by another name.

And why he sometimes woke in a different place than where he fell asleep.

It was all too crazy.

But there had to be an explanation.

He just wished he knew what it was.

At least this time he had woken in his room.

He swung his legs out of bed and stood up. Although he expected to be wearing pyjamas or a dressing gown, he found that he was fully dressed, but had no recollection of dressing himself.

It was almost as though he had split into two people. One that took control when he was conscious and another that took control when he was asleep. But that was barmy.

Surely if that was the case he would remember something. Anything. But what other explanation was there.

He considered schizophrenia as a cause. That would certainly explain a lot, and with what he had been through, he wouldn’t be surprised to find that his brain had short-circuited.

The thought made him shiver.

He walked out of the room and approached the nurses’ station. The woman on duty looked up as he approached. Although probably pushing forty, her Middle Eastern appearance gave her a sultry look that Lincoln found attractive. But attracting people of the opposite sex was the last thing on his mind. Besides, women probably wouldn’t look twice at a one-armed man with a less than bright future.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“I need to see a doctor. I’ve asked before, but no one has done anything about it.”

“What’s the problem?”

“I want to talk to a doctor.”

“Well I’m afraid there’s not one available at the moment.”

“That’s bullshit. This is a hospital. Of course there’s a doctor around. The place is fucking full of them.”

“Calm down, Sir. Swearing won’t get anything done quicker.”

“Then get me a fucking doctor. Now.”

“Sir, if you continue to use that language, I will have to call security.”

Lincoln gritted his teeth. He felt like screaming. What little patience he had was worn thin. He wanted to know what the hell was going on, but it wasn’t going to happen unless he spoke to someone who might be able to help.

“Well thanks for nothing.” Lincoln turned and walked away.

He approached the swing door at the end of the corridor and reached out to push it open, realising too late that he had attempted to do it with his missing arm. Committed to the move, and walking too fast, his shoulder struck the door and a hand grenade exploded in the stump. He grimaced, shut his eyes, and grabbed the bandaged wound. Jesus, that fucking hurt.

He couldn’t understand how he sometimes thought the missing limb was still in place. Couldn’t understand how he could clench a nonexistent fist, and it still felt as though it was attached. If anything, it taunted him with its absence.

“What you looking at?” he said to an old man who stopped and stared at him.

The man turned and hobbled away as fast as he could. Lincoln watched him go and a wave of shame washed over him. It wasn’t the old man’s fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but that didn’t make it any easier to accept.

He walked along the corridor, oblivious to everyone around him. Pain throbbed where he had knocked his shoulder, and he welcomed the feeling as it drove all other thoughts from his mind.

Well one thing was certain, he wasn’t going to fall asleep until he got some goddamn answers.


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