Here's my entry. A story that I never bothered to name. Let's call it... Uh... "The Mind's Prison"
“Do you think he’ll ever wake up, doctor?” I asked, looking at the limp body of my friend. He’s been in a coma for several days now. His vital signs are still strong, but he continues to lie on that bed, his eyes perpetually closed.
“I’m sorry Ms. Walters, but it’s up to him now. We’re doing everything we can to keep him alive. He just has to fight.”
“C’mon Isaac… you can pull through. I know you can,” I whispered as I walked away. My eyes were beginning to water again.
It’s dark. A single, dim light bulb dangling from the ceiling rocks slightly in the cool draft. I lean against the rough concrete wall, facing the only door to my room. There are no windows, there is no bed, there is no toilet. There is nothing. Occasionally some food is pushed through a small slit in the door. I forever sit, waiting for the footsteps. I see a slight glint of outside light every time the slit opens.
I can’t count the days. I can’t remember how I got here. I can’t even remember who I am. I just sit, hoping that maybe it will all make sense eventually. That thinking will get me somewhere. It’s been an eternity. It hasn’t.
I came back the next day, just like I had every day since the accident. Each time, I almost expected to see a different sight; to see Isaac, cheerful as always, sitting in his bed. But I never did. He just kept lying there.
“How is he today, doctor?” I queried. I knew what he was going to say, but I felt the need to ask anyways.
“Same as always… His body is still accepting food through the tubes. Nothing is physically wrong with him. He just needs to wake up. It’s quite curious actually. This is rare. Usually they wake up…” he said, trailing off. I guess he noticed my worried expression. I was beginning to fear that maybe he wouldn’t wake up. That I would never be able to see that little spark in his eyes again. I didn’t accept it though. I simply couldn’t imagine a life without Isaac.
I walked up and sat down in the chair beside his bed, facing him. His chest was moving up and down at a slow tempo. I could hear each breath in the silent room.
“Isaac, I know you can’t hear me, but I want you to know that I believe in you. You need to fight! I don’t know what’s going on inside your head, but you can beat it. I just need you to wake up!” I cried. Getting up, I looked at his face one more time before leaving. A single tear slid down my cheek onto his forehead as I turned around.
A drop of water lands on my head. I look up, thinking the roof is leaking, but see everything is normal. There is no crack, no dark spot. I ask myself if I really felt it, but I am positive. Positive or insane. Looking back at the door, I hear muffled noises outside. Voices? I crawl over to listen. Yes. Definitely voices. More figments of my imagination? I do not know. I can’t make out what they’re saying, so I back up into the corner again, huddling into a timid little ball. I close my eyes, waiting for sleep to come.
As I drove to the hospital again, I reminisced about the day it happened. We were driving along that very road, though it was much darker before. The sun was just setting, creating a simply immaculate sight in front of us. Perhaps it could be blamed for the accident. Or maybe I could. Isaac wasn’t looking too good, and I still let him drive. Just before we crashed, he was telling me, “I’m fine Claire, don’t worry.” I didn’t even get a second to relax before we t-boned a turning car. The screeching of the tires, the look of horror on their faces… What they say isn’t true. It wasn’t in slow motion. I may have only seen the expressions of the family we hit for a fraction of a second, but I’ll never forget them. Their wide eyes, jaws dropped… They knew they were about to die. No one should have to suffer that feeling.
I walked into the familiar hospital room to an unfamiliar sight. The blinds were drawn, letting in a glorious sight of the city below. Buildings, parks, cars… everything was visible. The sky was clear, the sun glinting in the corner of the window. It was almost uplifting. Almost.
But the thing that caught my attention most was the lack of Isaac. His bed was empty, and the doctor was looking at the clipboard at the foot of it.
“Where’s Isaac?” I demanded.
“I’m sorry Ms. Walters, but I’m afraid you won’t be able to visit Mr. Temple today. We’re scanning his brain activity in hopes of gleaming a better understanding of what’s going on inside his head,” he explained.
I sighed. Unfair as it was, it was necessary. I left the hospital disappointed.
I open my eyes, realizing that something is not right. The room has a strange feel about it, as if the walls are vibrating. Looking closely, I find my senses wrong yet again. There is a knock on the door. I slowly crawl to my feet, my eyes never straying from it. The tap comes again. It is louder this time. I walk to the door, peeking through the slot where food comes, trying to catch a glimpse of my visitor. I see nothing but flickering shadows. The rapping begins for a third time, but it does not stop. Progressively getting louder, it begins to sound more and more hostile. The door begins to shake, as if someone were on the other side attempting to force their way in. I crawl back into the corner, sitting feebly with my knees against my chest, arms wrapped around them. I continue to stare at the rattling door, waiting for it to stop. Eventually, the noise ceases and I am once again left in silence. Cruel, dead, silence.
Another day, another visit. I was allowed to see him that time. Nothing had changed though. I once again asked the doctor about Isaac’s condition.
“The brain scan reveals that he is continuously dreaming. Occasionally, he’ll sleep normally, without dreams. We found that these periods were all at specific times, almost as if he were going to sleep in his dream,” he replied.
“Is it possible that he thinks he’s awake, and is sleeping normally?” I thought out loud.
He tilted his head to the side with a twinkle of curiosity in his eye. “It’s a possibility, I suppose… but then again, what isn’t in this case? This is the strangest patient I’ve ever worked on.”
I smiled for a second, thinking of the many memories I treasured of Isaac. He certainly was a strange one alright…
“Ah well, we have to run more tests. You’ll have to leave now, Ms. Walters,” he said.
I nodded, turning and heading for the door. He put his hand on my shoulder for a second. Turning around, we locked eyes. “Don’t worry. He’s showing slight signs of improvement. He’ll pull through Ms. Walters. He just needs time,” consoled the doctor.
The room is quivering again. I turn my head to the door again, waiting for the pounding to begin. It doesn’t. Looking at the walls again, I realize that they really are shaking. Cracks begin to form, and bits of dust powder the floor. I scramble to the wall, feeling the fracture. I feel a slight difference in temperature. The air outside my dank prison is warmer, almost welcoming. I press my eye against it, peeking through the hairline slit. I see only a faint shimmer of light.
More voices. I can hear them slightly better through the crack, but still can’t distinguish what they’re saying. It angers me. Why is this happening? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I punch the wall in my frustration. More dust floats to the ground. A smile graces my complexion. I don’t know why I’m here, but I just might be able to escape.
When I next visited Isaac, the doctor greeted me with a cheerful grin. “I have wonderful news, Ms. Walters!” he exclaimed as I strolled in.
“Is he awake!?” I asked hopefully.
“Well, the news isn’t that great, but he is showing signs of waking up. I think he’s finally beginning to fight back! Yesterday, I saw his eyes crack open a bit. He was, unfortunately, still unconscious.”
I sighed. It certainly was a good sign, but Isaac wasn’t back. Not yet. I gazed at his peaceful body, and then left, beaming the whole time. There was still hope.
My hands are sore. I look at my reddened knuckles, and kick the crack. It is slowly spreading around the wall. I kick it again, and again. Just a little bit more, I can feel it! I back up to the other side of the cell, and run towards the wall and jump, leg extended. I hear a loud crunch as I crash into the wall. Little pieces crumble to the floor. I do it again. More falls apart. I smirk. “One more time,” I pant. I run full force at it, and smash into the now fragile wall. I hear one last snap, as it all gives way. Light fills the room, and I shield my eyes, blinking rapidly.
I can finally make out the voices. “Doctor! Doctor! He’s awake!” says one. I stir. What do they mean awake? I was already awake…
I hear a clamber of footsteps, followed by a different voice. “Welcome back Mr. Temple. We were getting worried there.”
It was late that night when the hospital called me. They requested I come in as quickly as I could, saying it was urgent. I feared the worst as I sped down the road. It was dark, with little traffic to hinder my pace. I ran to his room, my eyes beginning to water. As I burst in, everyone looked towards me. The nurses, the doctor… and a confused Isaac. He looked at me with an expression of wonder, as if he wasn’t sure who I was.
“Ah, there you are Ms. Walters. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, he’s woken up! He finally broke through about an hour ago,” explained the doctor.
I walked towards my friend, slowly, asking myself if I was dreaming, if it was really true. When he was close enough, I wrapped my arms around him and started crying. “Isaac… I was so scared… so afraid of losing you…” I managed to sob.
“That’s… good to hear,” he said, then paused. “I know this probably sounds really weird, and I ask that you don’t take it personally but… Who are you?”
I pulled away, staring blankly into his eyes. They had an apologetic look to them. He really didn’t remember who I was.
“I was about to warn you about that… See, staying in a coma that long is not without its consequences to the head. I’m afraid to say that he’s lost his memory. He doesn’t recall what happened, why he’s here, who his family is… He doesn’t even remember his name,” sighed the doctor.
I opened my mouth in awe, still looking into Isaac’s blank eyes. I was left speechless for a moment. “Will… will he ever remember?”
The doctor shrugged. “I’m sorry Ms. Walters, but it all depends on the person. Some people remember everything, others recall fragments and the rest… the rest don’t regain any of their memories. He seems to be a very… unique case, so I have no means of predicting how things will work out for him. I’m sorry.”
I sighed again. Looking back at Isaac, I locked eyes with him once more. I noticed the familiar glint I had feared I would never see again, and then realized that it didn’t matter that his memory was gone. I smiled, extending my hand towards Isaac. “Well, you might not remember Isaac, but I’m Claire Walters. We used to be best friends. Even if you don’t have the same memories of us as I do, that just means we’ll have to create new ones!”
He grinned back, shaking my hand. “Well Claire, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Again.”