“What Lies Beneath”
“‘Tis the year of our Lord twenty sixteen, good sir.”
Amalthea had instructed me well. I had reached a point in my health eligible to be released… and of course, the neurologist was the one barring my path. A dark sense of humor and an evasive disposition, she said, were indicators of cognitive decline. The concern was my illness had done irreparable damage to my brain, and I had no desire to let on the buffoon might have been exactly correct.
For the first time in over a week, the neurologist dared a step into my chamber. “I hear you’re not finishing your meals.”
“Everything on the plate reeks the same. It takes quite the culinary skill to infuse pasta and vegetables with same flavor as bland meat.” I did enjoy the Jell-O, especially the lime. “My throat is still sore from the intubation, and everything burns when I swallow.”
More nodding and clipboard notations. “Why didn’t you answer me when I asked you earlier what year it was?”
I hoped the way I was gritting my teeth before answering wasn’t too obvious. “I did spend a few unconscious days in your intensive care unit, and the drugs afterward clouded my judgement. To be honest, it was nice not thinking about the calendar for a while and just getting some rest, but I’ll start falling behind on my obligations if I stay much longer. None of this was exactly planned.” Especially meeting him.
Convincing my physical therapist I’d return regularly was simplicity itself, but the neurologist was a tiger of a different stripe. With him, everything was a mind game and I understood the desire to engage… something Amalthea forbid me to do if was to make good on my escape.
Again, the neurologist turned and left without another word. No tip of the hat, no quick goodbye, just a rude disposition and his flagrant abuse of power.
To my surprise, word came just hours later he had signed off on my release, or more to the point washed his hands of me. A taxi would take me home (wherever that was) and someone would call on me periodically. The clothes I’d arrived in had been cut away, so I was gifted a set of blue pajama-like “scrubs.” After being allowed to dress, I was saddled with paperwork, prescriptions, recommendations, and requirements before finally receiving my affects and being loaded into a wheelchair.
Amalthea wheeled me out. I had seen the hallway earlier with my physical therapist, but we hadn’t gone as far as the windowless double doors at the end of the corridor. The button she pressed on the wall between the doors illuminated, and we waited as an unseen mechanism could be heard grinding louder behind the wall. When the sound stopped, the doors opened into a tiny cubical, and Amalthea pushed me into it.
My first elevator ride… or at least the first I could recall.
I chose to ignore the hustle and bustle on the first floor and all the new things I saw, and while I believed myself prepared after watching a week of television, seeing the taxi itself and knowing it would take me away from here was a sudden source of fear. Amalthea sensed my apprehension and gripped my shoulder for assurance. I patted her hand in response.
After helping me into the car and buckling me into it — how fast could the taxi go that I required restraints? — the driver requested my destination. I fumbled through the bag I was told contained my belongings and, finding a wallet, handed a picture identification to the driver. He seemed to know where he was going.
It was then I noticed an intricate pocket knife among my affects, a folded blade made entirely of black metal. The craftsmanship was exquisite, and I was compelled to open it. Besides a manufacturing logo and some relevant numbers, there was an inscription upon the blade written in Latin:
Tenebris Cultro. “A knife in the dark.”
It seemed my predecessor had a sense of humor.
Continue Reading In Chapter 4
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