Condensed version – From the Collection of Short Stories: Scream At Will
“Where am I?”
The nurse on duty, checking the hoses connected all over his body, got the shock of her life. The limp body, which she habitually considered as a lost soul, suddenly produced the hoarse voice she first believed was her imagination. Instead of pacifying him, she broke into a run out of the room, her composure brought into a frenzy. Shaking uncontrollably, she lost her own voice to call out for help.
He could not move. Understandably that was a given because his extremities were tightly held to the bed.
Rushing in from the hallway was a middle-aged doctor, bearded and gray-haired. His stethoscope was at a ready, his eyes aided by thick-lenses glasses analyzed the digital monitors by the patient’s bedside.
“I am not sure how this happened,” he mumbled to himself. He shook his head several times, unbelieving the situation he was confronted with.
“Where am I?” Armand groaned. He had not opened his eyes for fear he would not like what he would see.
“What do you feel?” Doctor Aran asked, waiting for signs he could explain.
“Nothing! I feel numbed.”
“But you can talk,” the doctor remarked, somewhat foolishly.
“Where am I?” Armand repeated. “What happened to me?”
“You were in coma,” the doctor said. “Nearing seven months to this day.”
“So I am in a hospital,” he concluded.
“No,” the doctor replied. “This is a private house.”
Armand finally opened his eyes. The first image he saw was the ceiling: it was painted with a landscape scene a la Sistine Chapel. He was rich, he surmised. Opulence in a poor country was flaunted, residences built and decorated lavishly.
“My study,” he commented. The room smelled of old paper; shelves filled with books lined the walls.
“Yes,” Doctor Aran confirmed. “Upon your orders, we converted it to a private ward.”
Upon my orders? He could not comprehend the phrase because he could not remember.
“Did I hire you?”
Doctor Aran nodded. “You handpicked even the nurses.”
“I am sorry I don’t remember anything,” Armand admitted. There was painful throbbing in his head.
“In time, you can,” the doctor did not sound hopeful.
Armand felt his strength slowly returning. The numbness was dissipating.
“Can you remove the restraints? I mean, I am not going anywhere.”
“I am afraid that’s not possible.” Doctor Aran took a step back, his voice colder.
“Why not?” Armand asked impatiently. “You said I hired you. You do what I say!”
“You ordered me before you lost your consciousness the first time I should not remove those restraints.”
“I am conscious now,” Armand said testily. “Cut me loose!”
“You ordered me, under any circumstances, that even if you regain consciousness, the restraints should remain.”
Doctor Aran watched Armand’s muscles flexing hard: it was a frightening sight.
“Are you out of your mind?” Armand could not believe the logic. How could have he ordered such craziness.
“Obviously, you forgot how this all came about,” Doctor Aran stressed. “You gave me all the reasons to follow your orders to the letter. You were emphatic back then.”
Armand tried to scour the recesses of his mind for answers. Nothing!
“Tell me what happened!” he screamed maniacally. “Tell me why I became a prisoner in my own house, held according to my own wishes!”
(to be continued)