Justin Lo (7364)
By the time I realized that I was being followed, it was too late. Plumes of violet-black smoke spread around the hazy, psychedelic background as the hooded figure suddenly pounced onto me and slammed me into the concrete. I could feel the blood trickling out of the back of my head as the stench of ethanol filled my nose. I was fortunate to have not suffered a concussion, and wasting no time, I wriggled my right arm free of the inebriated figure’s grasp.
I could hear my shirt and pants being torn off as I desperately fished the pocket knife out of my purse and started slashing furiously. As he thrust incoherently at my abdomen and thighs, I took the opportunity to cut deeply at his right arm, trying to free my other hand, carving out an asterix of blood. I heard one of my neighbors rush outside; this was enough to scare the rapist away.
I lay there, my naked flesh exposed to the air, bloody pocketknife in my hand, breathing deeply … and then I passed out … .
“Melinda, you sure look down today,” I said, noticing the rings beneath her normally jubilant eyes. “Should I make grab you some coffee or something?”
“No, I’m fine,” she said, a bit coldly. Then, with a more patient tone, she explained, “I dreamt about that again. You’d think that twelve years after, I’d stop having that dream.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know if something like that can really ever go away,” I said. We implicitly agreed to drop the subject.
Melinda sighed, splashing her face with cold water. “Shift’s in fifteen minutes,” she said, getting dressed. “Looks like maybe you could use some coffee, yourself.” I smiled. She was definitely the best surgeon in the whole hospital; I couldn’t be any happier than working with her. She seemed to be able to brush everything personal aside – including her traumatic past – the moment her shifts began each day.
During lunch break, we’d always talk without inhibition; I told her about my romantic trysts; she shared everything from her favorite TV shows to even her dreams – even this dream, when it first came up three years ago.
In the blink of an eye, fifteen minutes had past, and we found ourselves in the operation room, ready to go. The door opened abruptly, and we knew it was a patient in serious condition. I deftly handed Melinda all the instruments as she requested them, and with her raw precision, she worked thoroughly and skillfully as she always had. For a minute, I was idle, and in this time, I finally got a chance to look at our patient – an older-looking man, face sort of sickly looking, perhaps from heavy drinking.
I looked over to where Melinda was working and then over to the side. I instantly froze when I saw his arm, for on it, in plain sight, was a large scar the shape of an asterix. At first I thought that maybe he had come for revenge, but then I remembered that he would be harmless under general anesthesia.
So I waited until the operation was over to signal Melinda over to the side, and then I paused, not able to find the right words with which to frame my concerns.
“Yes?” she asked.
“D-did you … see … the scar?” I asked finally.
But Melinda didn’t reply. She only gave an enigmatic, possibly eerie smirk. I shivered slightly before walking back over to the carts to prepare the instruments for the next operation.