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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #36

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

By Mark W. Meier

Part 36

Act IV

Windowed The Soul


Chapter Nine


ALOC

Acronym for Acute Loss of Consciousness.


You woke two days later. I’d used that time to assess what I’d observed of you. Like most of your disgusting species you were simple – almost incapable of complex thought or planning.

Nobody expected much from the management at Grambic Tiles over the weekend. Victor Howe took care of the few things which needed attention, but mostly he sat at your bedside, two hours away from Grambic Tower. I’d liken him to a German shepherd, but he was more like a beagle.

Cute, if one likes that kind of devotion.

You blinked and tried to make sense of your surroundings. The room refused to clarify. HVAC whispered. Sharp smell of antiseptic. Indistinct PA announcements. Quiet beeping over your head. Only one possibility – hospital room.

Then the pain in your skull slammed into you like a log hitting your head.

I chuckled at that comparison.

You blinked away the filmy coating on your eyeballs and confirmed your guess. The low lighting told you it must be nighttime. A glance toward a window verified that conjecture and drove fresh lances of fire into your brain.

“Thirsty.” Your voice rasped. There might be nobody there, but you spoke just in case someone could give you a sip of something. A single malt would be most satisfying, but hospital staff would not allow that.

A blurry shape moved in your peripheral vision. Someone spooned a bit of ice into your mouth.

You let it melt, swallowing the moisture, then cleared your throat. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, sir.” The beagle retreated to his chair.

“Victor?”

Unlike the other times he’d given you ice, you remained conscious. The beagle perked up. If he had a tail it would have wagged.

“Yes, sir. What do you remember?” He pressed a call button. The duty nurse would arrive shortly.

“I was sailing.” You smiled at the thought. After more than a decade of isolation, your only joy had been while sailing that day.

Of course, it also brought injury – nearly death. I’d been so close, yet so far.

“What happened?” Your voice sounded gravely, so you cleared your throat again.

“There was an accident.”

The door to your room opened and a young man walked in. “Awake, Mr. Grambic?” The nurse looked at the machines and sensors. “You appear to be doing nicely. Are you hungry?”

You considered. “A bit.”

The nurse nodded. You couldn’t read his name badge. “That’s a good sign. How about a cup of jello?” Nurse Jello vanished into the hall without waiting for a response.

The beagle stood again and moved into your field of view. “Do you remember the log?”

You concentrated for a moment, then your head pulsed with a new level of pain. “No, Victor. What happened?”

Sell Short hit a log and flipped stem-for-stern. You came down on the log in a glancing blow. The doctors say another inch or two the wrong way would have broken your neck or killed you.”

You’d twisted away at the last moment. Fortunate for both of us, because I’d received word my project’s culmination needed to be delayed. Your death would have been a setback – I wasn’t told why.

“What day is it?”

“Sunday.” The beagle gave you another ice chip. “It’s nearly midnight.”

You shook your head and immediately regretted it. Light flashed behind your eyes as agony hammered your skull. Obviously they weren’t giving you narcotics.

“Headache.”

The door opened to admit Nurse Jello, who gave you a plastic cup with the top torn aside.

Your grip was unsteady, but you took the plastic spoon and jello cup. “Thanks.”

After twenty minutes you’d finished most of your treat and fallen asleep. The beagle stayed by your side through the night, only leaving to attend to bodily processes. Sleeping in the hospital chair gave him a sore neck and left him churlish.


If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.



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