Zhala

“She was lucky. . .” I heard a man say as the lights above me appeared just to disappear again. They were so bright that I squinted my eyes shut every time I gazed up at one.

I just want to sleep. My head buzzed with a numbness I couldn’t explain, and I let out a long sigh while everything flew passed me as if I were in slow motion. Someone had placed something clear and plastic over my face, covering my chin and the skin above my top lip. Suddenly, my breaths sped up, and so did my thoughts.

“She was lucky.” I realized with a rushing panic inside me that I should be dead. I shouldn’t be breathing.

The lighting dimmed, and the world stopped moving so fast. A man in a sky blue shirt loomed over me, and I felt the movement surge up again. There were shouts that echoed through my head, and a voice was whispering into my hair.

¨I need you to stay awake for me. Can you do that?¨ I sighed, not able to use my voice. The room that I had been placed in was filled with the same blue outfits and soft white curtains that I had seen outside. Why was this place so familiar?

I moved my lips up and down as a hand pressed down hard against my shoulder, attempting to speak. Yet, nothing happened. No one looked over to me with concern or asked me any questions. And that voice that I had heard only moments ago was gone.

I could feel my head pounding, and something around me started giving off a blaring pattern of beeps.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

And my head hurt even more.

Beep. Beep. Beep Beep.

My voice finally came back to me, but not how I expected it to. I let out a blood-curling scream as my head pounded harder.

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep.

The people in the blue surrounded me as I felt my body buzz. My breaths were uneven and ragged as someone’s hand pressed down on my shoulder again- and another on my head. The pain filled me completely and all I could think about was ending it.

Just kill me.

I screamed as the machine beeped even more.

Stop!

My entire body was vibrating with pain, and the shouts and beeps grew more distant each second.

My eyes felt heavy, and my body was numb. I felt as if the world had just been turned off for a moment.

I enjoyed the quiet for a while until my eyes opened back up again to see blood all over the white sheets draped over me and a dozen IVś protruding from my olive skin. I blinked slowly with heavy eyelids as a few people in hospital gowns passed. One was an old man with a walker, whose leg looked as if it was completely ripped off. Another was a grotesque looking woman with a pixie cut who walked with a limp and a Cybernetic Implant in her arm.

I heard a faint whimper to my left, and I slowly turned my head, blinking again. At first, all I saw was a blur of color; but, eventually, my eyes focused and I came face to face with the biggest eyes I had ever seen.

A young boy, maybe eight or nine, stared intently into my eyes, smiling. His hair seemed to have been shaved right down to his scalp, and his eyes were so light and pale that I could see oceans in them. He was maybe so scrawny that when he smiled wider, his collarbones popped out of his skin.

I furrowed my eyebrows at him, confused.

¨Hi!” I could smell chocolate on his breath as he leaned in closer to me. ¨Iḿ Stevie!¨

I opened my mouth and realized how dry my lips were. ¨Are y-you real?¨ The voice that escaped my throat wasn’t mine. It sounded as if I was choking on metal.

Stevie´s non-existing eyebrows rose in confusion. ¨Huh?¨

My head rolled back to my right, and I squeezed my eyes shut, praying that I was hallucinating. His hair wasn’t shaved, it fell out.

¨Why are you here, Stevie?¨ I croaked. His eyes widened, and he seemed to be excited.

¨Mummy says that if we didn’t get to the superhero base before the aliens did, the world would end!” There was a twinkle in his eyes as he spoke. He carried himself with such confidence that I almost didn’t realize he had cancer. Then again, neither did he.

I sighed, feeling a heavier dose of meds kick in.

I tapped my knuckles against the wall, creating a faint pattern of knocks that I repeated over and over as each minute passed. I was being let go in only a few hours, yet I still had to wait for a doctor. I hated this damn hospital and everyone in it. After weeks of being here, I noticed something was off. There was less staff and yet more patients than ever before, and most of those patients were somehow involved in an “accident.” I never understood a single thing any nurse or doctor said around here unless they were speaking to me.

“Z,” I heard a faint and raspy whisper to my left. I turned away from the wall that I had been staring at for a solid hour to see my brother Theo crawling out of an air vent in the wall.

I stood up so suddenly that my head spun and I had to take a moment to realize what was happening. “Theo?” I grabbed the back of my head with my right hand, throwing my arm in the air.

“Zhala. . .” He gasped, out of breath. That was when I noticed that his hand was cupping his stomach, which was oozing blood. “We don’t have much time, Zhala.”
They way he was speaking made me shiver. Why was he talking like that?

Slowly raising my head from his gaping wound, I backed away. His eyes changed from a deep hazel to a dark cloud of something completely unreadable. All of a sudden, his hand dropped from his side, and he let out a blood-curling scream.

My whole body seemed to buzz as I opened my eyes, gazing into the bright, fluorescent light shining into my eyes. A doctor loomed over me.

“You shouldn’t be alive.” She whispered.