Strangers

Short story by ANALICIA TORRES

A burst of heat seared through my chest. Pain exploded inside me. A siren wailed somewhere off in the distance. I was numb all over. Cold.

“Miss?”

I glanced away from the screen above the infirmary bed and to the doctor approaching. She smiled as she took up my tablet and looked over my vitals. “How are you feeling today?” she asked, pulling her stethoscope to her ears and pressing the cold pad to his chest. “Any dizziness, nausea, fatigue?”

I shook my head. “A little sore here and there, but I feel fine.”

“You were shot,” she said lightly, grinning. “You’re going to be in pain for a while. Do you remember anything about the attack?”

“No, it’s all fuzzy. I don’t even remember what I was doing when it happened.”

She drew the stethoscope back around her neck. “Well, the good news is that it looks like you’re going to make a full recovery. The bullet went clean through your abdomen without hitting any organs or blood vessels, so you should be discharged soon. Bad news is that you’re amnesia is severe, which is what I find so odd, considering you don’t show any signs of head trauma.  We are stilling waiting on the test results for your blood to see if any drugs may be the cause of your memory loss.” She looked perplexed as she scrolled through the tablet again.

The door opened behind her. Two figures stepped into the room. Gold stars flashed on their hips in the dim lighting. An older man stepped toward the bed, small and stout. He barely spared the doctor a glance before his black eyes locked onto me. “My name is Detective Fields,” he said roughly, his voice just as aged as the skin on his face. The other officer didn’t remained hovering in the dark shadows near the door. “We just need to ask you a couple questions, get your statement on the attack so that we can find whoever did this to you.”

The doctor held up her hands.  “Now isn’t the best time, officers,” she protested adamantly. “It’s late and my patient needs to rest.”

He didn’t even look her way as he took a dark pencil and pad. “Do you remember anything that might help us catch this guy? What he looked like, what he was wearing?”

Detective,” she warned before I could even open my mouth. “May I speak to you out in the hall?” He didn’t budge. She strode over to the door and held it open. “Now.” He paused for a moment, then turned to leave. He stopped before his partner to mutter something and left.  I watched them through the small window in the door, but their voices were lost. Her finger pointed at him angrily, then at me. Even as she yelled at him, he remained alarmingly calm. When he finally spoke, his face was set hard, his eyes narrowed into cold slits of obsidian. The longer he talked, the paler she became. Then she walked away.

Detective Fields stepped into the room again, but this time with a scowl. He glanced at me darkly. “Detective Black here is going to stay with you for the night, make sure the person who shot you doesn’t come back to finish the job. Get some rest, I’ll be back in the morning to get your statement.”

The door slammed shut behind him. I stared at his retreating figure until it vanished. Then I turned to the shadow of Detective Black still looming in the dark. His eyes gleamed in the dim light. He didn’t move, but simply nodded. Something about him was oddly comforting and alarming at the same time. “Go to sleep,” he said, his voice firm and smooth. And strikingly familiar. “Nothing’s going to happen to you.”

I settled back down on the bed, hearing him move about the room. The curtains closed, and the exhaustion pounding in my school started to take over. It took some time, but the steady beep of the machine filled my ears, and its mechanical rhythm slowly began to lull me to sleep.  But not before I heard his voice call: “I found her.”