The Devil's Quill

Bliss (Preview)

Katherine Kim, Co-president

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The scent of iodoform made her open her eyes blearily to a ceiling lined with cracks. She lay still a moment before slowly sitting up, rolling her shoulders experimentally. Nothing damaged, from what she got from her temporarily limited senses. She’d have to undergo a more thorough scan later.

The thought made her eyebrows furrow. What made her think of later? She tried to think of what she’d been doing before this, but drew a huge blank.

She started when she heard the unmistakable creak of a door opening, both hands flying to clutch the edge of her bed. A sharp pain in her wrist made her look down; an IV needle dug deep into her skin. She kept herself still as the nurse who entered came near her, carrying a tray of hot toast, scrambled eggs, and blackberry jam.

“There you go.” the nurse said with a smile. “All fresh from the hospital kitchen.”

She smiled politely, taking the tray from the nurse. For a moment, she only gazed down at the steam curling off the eggs.

“Don’t you like it?”

She looked up at the nurse and noted his fidgeting fingers. She smiled again, hoping her response wouldn’t come off as artificial. Evidently, it pleased the nurse, as his whole face relaxed before he muttered a quick goodbye and fled the room.

She watched the door swing shut before she turned her attention back to the food. Her toast gave way when she prodded it; crumbs stuck to her finger. Real food, then. Her fingers shook when they picked up the proffered knife; she gritted her teeth. Slathering the jam on the toast took longer. By the time she’d covered her toast in the jam she was no longer hungry. She turned instead to the eggs—a much easier task, now that she thought of it. She carefully picked up her fork, her fingers more nimble this time in stabbing the eggs before raising it to her lips. She opened her mouth and took a tentative swallow.

Searing heat ripped through her throat, and she choked, spitting the eggs out in disgust. She wiped her mouth with her free wrist, trying not to think about the black, slick taste of the eggs on her tongue. She took her arm away from her mouth to find a wristband circling, the word EHAI written on it in bold capital letters.

She looked around the empty room, a dozen questions flashing through her mind. Her fingers toyed with the wristband slowly as she wondered how to make the nurse return. She scrutinized the floor, her gaze sharpening. Linoleum tiles, worn and weathered, but not old enough to make hills. A perfect surface for leaving behind no footprints.

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Bliss (Preview)