Gerard wakes up in the emergency room. He has to start all over, but a new acquaintance might make it a little more bearable.
The inside of my head sounds like the ocean. A dull roaring fills my ears. Everything hurts. My eyelids seem to be glued shut. I can hear people talking around me, but their voices are distorted. I cannot make out what they’re saying. I don’t even know where I am. I can feel something covering me. A blanket, maybe? It’s too thin. I’m shivering.
The agonizing state I’m in continues for God knows how long. The numbing pain is overwhelming, but I cannot cry out. The fog clouding my mind is too heavy. Something is scratching against my wrist, holding it down to whatever I’m lying on.
What is happening? Why do I feel so numb and sick? And where the hell am I? The question is answered when eventually some of the pain subsides and I am able to open my eyes. I find myself in a dimly lit hospital room. I think I’m in the emergency room. Rows of beds surround me but I am the only person in the room.
Then it comes flooding back to me and I almost scream aloud. It didn’t work. 38 pills somehow wasn’t enough. And now I have to start all over again. I will be closely monitored for another year. There really is no escaping this prison.
I frantically begin to thrash against the tight straps securing me to the hospital bed. Both of my hands are bound, and there is a wide Velcro strap around my waist. My legs are free; however, so I kick desperately into the air.
“There’s no point in aimless kicking.” I hear someone say. A young male doctor frowns disapprovingly at me near the door. I stop struggling and cower slightly. I wish my hands were free so I could use them as a shield. And itch my nose.
He puts something in my IV drip and I catch a glimpse of his name tag. Dr. Mitchell. His beeper goes off and he leaves without another word.
Suddenly, I hear furious screaming. A man with long, dark hair being restrained by straps similar to mine on a gurney is being rolled in. The doctors attempt to migrate him to the bed across from me, but he’s flailing around too much. Déjà vu.
Somehow, they successfully manage to lift him onto the hospital bed and once again, restrain him. He bares his teeth like a wild animal and practically hisses at the doctors.
He calmed down a bit after nearly an hour, exchanging his mask of fury for a cynical expression. He smiles sarcastically and seems to be scoffing at everything. I know I’m staring at him, but I can’t help it. This man is the only non-medical staff personnel that I’ve seen in 5 years, besides fellow residents.
He notices me practically gawking at him and raises an eyebrow. “Can I help you?” he asks.
I shake my head rapidly. “N-no, I’m sorry, it’s j-just that… well you see-“ I blubber.
“Whoa. Slow down, man.” he cuts me off.
I look down, avoiding his hard expression. “Um, well, I’ve been here for years, so I haven’t seen anyone besides, um, doctors…” I tell him, stumbling over my words. I’ve completely forgotten how to carry out a normal conversation.
The man raises both of his dark eyebrows. “Here in the emergency room?”
“No!” I say quickly. “In the institute.”
He frowns. “Berkman’s? Up on the hill behind this place?” he asks.
Berkman’s. So that’s what it’s called. For some reason, the residents were never allowed to know the name of the facility.
“Yeah.” I say quietly, still looking down.
“Hey.” the man says. “Look up.”
I look up nervously. He gives me a devilish grin. “I like you, kid. The name’s Bert. What’s yours?”
I smile shyly back. “Gerard.” Then I add, “What do you mean, you like me?”
Bert shrugs a little. “I dunno.” he says simply. “Why have you been at Berkman’s for so long? And why are you here, anyway?”
“I’m here because I tried to kill myself. I can’t stay inside that place any longer…” I trail off.
Bert nods encouragingly. “And what got you put in Berkman’s…?”
I close my eyes. He’s going to laugh at me. “Well… I sometimes see some…stuff. It doesn’t happen often anymore.”
“What kind of stuff?” Bert prods.
Something inside me says I can trust him. I’ve never trusted anyone before.
“Spirits… ghosts and stuff.” I admit. I open my eyes. Bert smiles widely.
“Dude that is so fucking cool!” he exclaims. His bright smile makes my heart lurch. He’s so…
“Sexy…” I murmer. Wait. Did I just say that out loud??!
Bert laughs. Yep. I did just say that out loud.
“Well, you’re pretty sexy, too.” he says. That devilish smile appears on his handsome face again.
I bite my lip and look away to hide my furiously blushing face. Bert laughs louder.
“I like you, Gerard.” he says approvingly again. Suddenly, the door opens and a pair of doctors stride into the room. Great. For once in five years, I actually felt… happy. And then the moment was ruined effortlessly by the two doctors.
Without saying anything, one injects a fluid into the tube taped onto my restrained arm.
“What’s that?” I question. They ignore me and turn to Bert. Before I can ask again, the drug hits me and I sink back into the pillows.
Bert. The name echoes through my mind one last time before the drug finally pulls me under.