My heart is pounding. I can’t catch my breath. I lie on a gurney in the back of a British ambulance. I alternate staring at the ceiling, and watching the EMT or nurse, or whatever she is. She has failed to find an artery with the IV again, and she giggles childishly again. She is blonde, wearing a ton of makeup and a too tight uniform with several buttons strategically missing. Is this a heart attack? Am I dying? I came here to attend a musical, Six, on the West End, and see the Old World, not to die alone in an ambulance. Would American health insurance even cover this?
A seemingly disembodied voice comes from the far corner, from behind the pages of a medical journal, it was an alto voice, rich and patrician, “Focus, Kayleth. You will be professional or you will have more to worry about than human resources.”
“Yes Miss Trix.” the gigler replied. She seemed chastened and a bit scared. She straightened and managed to land the IV on the next attempt. My poor arm was grateful. The blonde went to study my vital signs, as I studied her superior. Her uniform was sharp, well fit and would have been professional but for a skirt that was nightclub short. The skirt showed a lovely but tasteful tattoo of a vine wrapping around the leg. Her posture was erect, her face was hidden by the journal pages. She had yet to put it down but she must have been paying some attention.
The blonde spoke, “Sorry sir, it’s Thursday.”
I looked at her as one does with crazy people who speak in non-sequitur.
The mysterious voice answered my look, though she couldn’t have seen it. “Kayleth has ‘play time’ with Doctor Sinister on Thursdays, and it takes her a while to shake off the effects. She is competent, despite appearances.” “Can you take over then? I don’t want to die here.”
“No need. You are having a panic attack, sweet one. My associate can handle that, if you behave. You will behave for me, won’t you?”, again without looking up from her reading.
I was feeling trapped by the surreal nature of this trip. The giggler had taken out a vial of bluish liquid which she was dispensing into a syringe. She then injected it into the saline IV line.
“This will help you relax.”, she said
“What did you give me?”
“Just some Lethedrine”
At that, the magazine came down and was rolled into a stick. The other nurse(?) was instantly there and whacked the giggler soundly with it on the top of the head. “Corner! Now!”, she commanded. She inspected the vial, shaking her head. I saw her from the neck up then. Her features were strong. A ring hung beneath her nose. This accessory, which was more common in the US among the Barista population, did not detract from her air of command or expertise. On her it was more like a token of rank than an affectation of youth. Her hair was long, brown and luxuriously curled. But the most striking feature were pale eyes, blue perhaps with some silver? My color blindness prevents a better description. When she looked at the blonde nurse, I thought that stare would flatten her to the ground. When she turned to me, those eyes were bright and full of concern and kindness.
“I apologize. I am Imogene - Imogene Alexis Trix, pleasure to meet you. My friend made a silly mistake and I will see to her punishment, but you will be fine if you do everything I say. Lethedrine is used to treat PTSD patients suffering from night terrors. It blocks memories in sleeping patients, but in conscious patients it can lead to hallucinations and anxiety. You are in my hands now and nothing bad will be allowed to happen to you.”
My eyes were as wide in panic as those of an owl, who was also panicked. I began to hyperventilate. “My god, give me something to knock me out!” I squeeked.
“If I gave you any kind of sedative now, the drug interaction would cause brain damage. That is why you will follow my orders, starting now.’
I felt her hand pressing firmly and gently on my shoulder. I stared into those stunning eyes looking for hope. All concern vanished from her eyes but the kindness remained and was joined by confidence. “First you will begin breathing normally and deeply.”, with each sentence her speaking pace slowed, “Pretend my eyes are drinking in your fear. Pour the fear into them, now. As the fear leaves you, slowly at first but faster with each breath, you will breathe easier and more freely, each breath restores more of your calm.”
I was breathing properly again, not like a fish flopping in a boat. The word hallucination did not sound good, nor did brain damage. If the woman behind those piercing eyes had a plan I was ready to follow right on her heels. “Why was a nurse wearing heels on duty?”, I wondered. If only I could distract myself by focusing on those eyes and not my condition, I might be ok.
She did have nice legs though.
“That’s it,” she continued, “letting that warm relaxation fill your mind like warm water filling a small bath. All you needed was someone strong like me to take charge so you can give in and relax. My words are like a hitching post, the kind used to hold a horse in place. Tie your mind to my words, that’s right, see the rope as you tie your mind to my words. Now, tie it again with another knot twice as strong. See the knot, you can’t follow the rope’s turns and loops but you know that it will not slip. Your mind is securely held, still and peaceful. No worries or distracting thoughts can tear you away. Your awareness is held close by my words so no worries or thoughts can reach you. A circle of peace, calm, docility surrounds you.”
“This is so much nicer, isn’t it?” Her voice was so clear. Every syllable exact, but musical all the same.
“Yes”, I replied. I don’t remember deciding to answer aloud.
“So good at following instructions, you will be safe here. If the medicine begins to take effect you may notice a blur, a fog around the edge of your vision. That is perfectly alright. If my eyes begin to almost glow through this fog, that will be very pleasant. It is a calming light and you can absorb the light and let it erase all those shadowy concerns that you used to have. It’s alright if you can’t remember what they were anymore. You don’t really want to look away from the light or even close your eyes, even if it is so hard to keep them open. I see that all that spikey, nasty adrenaline is starting to leave your system. That happens after you get a bad scare. As soon as you start feeling calm, the adrenaline shuts down. So NOW, the calm transforms into a drowsy, sleepy feeling. That is PERFECTLY right. It is a healthy, pleasant and irresistable response. As the injection takes effect, your hearing will also change. My voice will sound like a far away sound, and all other sounds grow quiet. Even if you can’t make out my words part of your mind will still understand me clearly, and you will continue to obey commands, even if you don’t seem to hear me”. (????!) [LOUD SNAP] “Sl***” Fingers passed downward in front of my eyes.
“. . . sounds become. . . even the soft whimpers from Kayleth can’t. . . . when you hear me. . . . “, I love her voice, “so I can see how well you're doing. . . deeper than even now. . . drop for me. . . up, up, up.”
My eyes must have closed because they just then popped open. Her eyes shone before me. They were so intense, so big. Are eyes usually this big?
“Are you feeling better?”
“Do you remember what I asked you to do?”
My mind drew a blank, eyebrows raised in confusion, but my voice said, “Obey.”
“That’s a good Obedient Thing.” I smiled, but . . . what did she call me?. There was a snap of fingers like a firecracker, my lips twitched in surprise.
“. . . this will cleanse you of the drug. . . when you feel the applicator activate it by. . . the sweet liquid will . . . all that you can. . . the sooner you will be better. . . . . good, now press the button with, (heavy breaths) your tongue. . . keep activating. . . (breathing) . . slow circular motions. . . good toy! Drink more. . . side effects. . . increased obedience. . . stronger . . . when hearing my voice. . . only my. . . if this lasts more than two hours you have my permission. . . only then will you be capable of. . . “
I had to shake away the cobwebs, as I gathered bearings. I was in an ambulance, my jaw was sore? There was My Nurse. Her hair still curled gorgeously, maybe more out of place. She straightened her skirt slightly and smiled. It was completely disarming, and for some reason I felt, what?, proud of myself?
“If symptoms return, call this number. “ She handed me a business card with only a phone number printed on it.
“Hmm, how do people remember what the number is for?”
“That has never been a problem. When you need to call you’ll remember. Oddly nobody ever throws it away either.”, she graced me with a huge smile. Was I blushing?
I was back in front of the hotel, not the hospital. I groggily made my way to the room. It was late by now. I hadn't asked her about a bill, but that didn’t bother me. I went to my laptop, visited an amazon wishlist or two. Oooo, those knee high socks with the ribbons would be so sexy on her. I press the order button. “Sexy on who?”, I wondered.
Shaking my head I typed “Lethedrine” into google. I wanted to see how close that sex addled blonde had come to poisoning me. Hmmm. “A light, non-opioid sedative, no major side effects.”