gone, but she had left me a fresh glass of ice water. I watched the beads of sweat race down the glass. I had a strap on my left arm, but the right was free. Was this some sort of test? I decided to leave it alone.
What did I recall of that night, the night the rainbow struck me and time froze at 10:31? I wondered again at the time, but I knew, just knew that was a forbidden question to ask. Who was I going to ask anyway? I could see shadows stroll across the frosted panes of the door. I could also see the fine wire mesh in those self same panes. No, no quick exit there. Where would I go with the specter of escape from a psycho ward hanging over me?
Again, the thought of something hanging over me was unpleasant. I thought back through the veil of that night, clouded by time, drugs, and some outside agency. I recalled a thousand needles simultaneously pricking me and my skin wept with that memory. In some, my blood and other vital fluids had been sucked out; I couldn't even cry then, there were no tears left. I cried, just a little, now. To my everlasting relief, the drops skied down my cheeks, some of them depositing their salty burden on my parched lips.
The taste was welcome, because the other needles carried fluids, green, orange, and with the viscosity of oils, back into the flesh. I don't know what I would have done if my tears had not been my own. A man should not be stripped of the power to cry.
That was the only memory strong enough to break through the walls. While I couldn't recall anything else, a feeling did manage to worm its way past the defenses. I felt, I felt I had been judged and found wanting. The tears continued to wind their way down my cheeks.
The nurse was rocking by the window; she glanced up from her knitting and coyly smiled at me. She rose and fetched me some water. Perhaps I was always parched from my sleep. "You'll be getting out in the morning. What are your big plans?"
Ah, speaking of games, it started again. "Perhaps I'll take a walk in the park. I just want to breathe some fresh air and feel the elements on my skin." Really, all I wanted to do was find a clock and watch it for a couple of hours.
My answer must have been a good one; it avoided those unpleasant topics which would keep me in here. I realized, with a start, hers was the only face I had seen the whole time I had been in this room. When had the doctor examined me? When had the orderlies, whose rough hands my body recalled, strapped me down?
A horrible thought came to me, what if I was still wherever that rainbow had lifted me? What if I was still being tested? Tested, yes, I had been tested - the fluid extraction was part of some test, some test I had failed. Anyway, what if I was still caught up in the events?
The question formed on my lips, they started to, all on their own it seemed, and they started to condemn me. No, I clamped them shut as her lips fashioned a sad little smile. Rain or shine, I was getting out in the morning. I just didn't know if I was getting out of the base hospital or someplace else.
She broke the silence, "So, I hear you plan on going back to work on Monday - get back into the swing of things, feel useful." If that were so, then I knew I would be doing it first thing. Tomorrow was either Saturday or Sunday.
"Yes, I'm sure the quals have slipped some in my absence." I knew I had been doing some PR work on that day, but normally I did avionics on the
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