It's dark around me, even though my eyes are open. It's hard to breathe, like something heavy is against my chest. Vaguely, my brain tries to acknowledge that I'm on my stomach, pinned. It fails. I hear the harsh groan of metal, and then nothing.
It goes dark again.
Light explodes against closed lids; I feel someone's hands around my body, lifting me. I hear people panic at the sound of an agonised scream; I don't realise that it's me.
"Put him down!" someone shouts. "He could have a spinal injury!" Whoever's holding me began to lower me, but slipped and dropped me the rest of the way. Pain overwhelmed my body, back arching off the ground involuntarily as I heard someone saying something. Speaking words I couldn't understand. My eyes opened, revealing a blurred but worried face. He was asking something, but I was already slipping back into the dark.
I woke to steady beep of a machine, a horrible screech to my over sensitive ears. I twisted my body, trying to cover my ears, but I couldn't move. I tried to lift my head to see why, but I couldn't do that either. Panic overcame me as I realised I was being restrained. The beeping doubled its speed as I struggled in vain to get free, to the point where three people came running in, concerned. One woman, two men. They came either side of me, one holding a clear contraption and trying to put it over my mouth and nose. I panicked further, trying to get away, closing my eyes in absolute terror, until my brain registered the words one of the men were saying.
"Son, I need you to be calm! Can you hear me? You're not breathing right. Can you just put this on? It'll help." What will help? I barely opened my eyes, studying the thing in his hand and realising it was an oxygen mask, and realising right then that I could barely breathe. I forced myself to try to relax--letting my head fall back the little bit I had managed to raise it-- allowing the man to put it on me. I took big, gasping breaths, the machine slowing down as I relaxed. The three studied me as I did, and I closed my eyes, trying to ignore them. I was nearly about to fall asleep when the woman spoke.
I jolt awake, wincing in pain as I flick my eyes in her direction. I open my mouth to answer but decide against doing so when she keeps talking. "My name is Dr. Carla Nigel--I've been assigned to you for the time that you'll be here. The man on your other side is Dr. Nicolas Rayden, your neurologist--"
"Why?" I try to say, but my voice fails me and it sounds like a strangled groan instead. The woman doctor asks me if I'm okay, but I shake my head, realising that the head restraint had been taken off. "Why?" I ask, successfully this time, "do I need a neurologist?"
The three give each looks before turning back to me. "Do you know who you are, son?" Dr. Rayden asks. I blink, realising that I couldn't remember. I had no idea what my name is. "No. I don't--Cian." I remembered, suddenly. "My name is Cian Enda."
"How old are you?"
"Fifteen," I rasp, after a moment. "Do you remember what your birth date is?" I had to really think about that. "September twelfth," I said, not remembering the year. They nod and write stuff down on some paper on a clipboard. "Cian, where are you from?" Dr. Nigel asked. "Coleraine, Ireland," I say. For some reason it's the only thing I'm sure of right now.
"Who did you live there with?"
I stopped. Who did I live there with? Had I lived with anyone there? I tried to remember, but I couldn't. I had no idea, so I said so. Dr. Rayden frowned. "That's what I was afraid of."
"Cian, do you remember who you were on that plane with?"
"Plane? What plane?" What were they talking about?
Dr. Nigel clicked her tongue. "Cian," she says. "You've been in a terrible accident, three weeks ago." Three weeks ago? "You were on a plane coming in from Ireland, and it crashed. You were the only survivor. Do you have any idea who was with you, or why you were coming here?"
"Here?" I was so confused.
"Cian, you're in St. Louis's Hospital in Missouri. "You were rushed here as a survivor of that plane crash for neck and head injuries. You've been in a coma since then, three weeks ago. We have a suspicion that you're suffering from amnesia. Can I confirm this by asking what you know about yourself or your life before you woke here?" A heavy feeling came over me as I tried to remember something, anything from before. I couldn't draw one memory, other than that I loved the colour of copper. That was hardly something they would find useful. "No," I said, dread making my gut feel heavy. "I--I don't remember anything."
"Nothing at all?"
I shake my head and watch as the doctors keep writing. "Cian," Dr. Rayden says. "I'm going to tell you something, okay? And I need you to be calm about it." Why wouldn't I be calm? But then I realise that even as I think this, I can feel a rise of sudden hysteria come about me. I try and force it down, trying to stay calm. "Y-Yeah."
"Cian," he says again, pausing as the beeping of the machine goes up. I force it down. "We're going to have to keep you here, in the hospital, for a while." He must see the confusion on my face because his face twists into something of strained pity. "Because you were the only survivor of that flight, and your amnesia is so severe that you can remember nothing of who you are, who you were with, who you were going to, or what happened, we have no way to identify you other than your name, age, and description. If you were travelling with your family, then there's a high possibilty that you have no family left, but there's no true way to tell, because the other passengers were far too disfugured from the fire." He pauses again, watching my expression change from confusion to painful understanding. My heart rate picks up again, and suddenly I feel nauseous. I squirm, but my hands are still restrained. "Gonna puke," I groan, and they frantically try to undo the restraints, but aren't quick enough. I vomit all over myself, mostly cloudy liquid, but random, pasty clumps of something sticking to the hospital gown. I could feel my face reddening, and I turned my head away from the doctors' pitying looks. After a moment, I feel a warm, wet cloth run against my face and chest, and the promise to bring me a new set of clothes.
Dr. Rayden was the only one who came back. He undid the restraints about my waist and ankles, asking if I could get up by myself. It took a minute or two, but I managed to sit up, exhausted. I let him help me stand, but I took off the damp gown and put on the new one by myself. I nearly collapsed when I was done, legs aching from the strain of holding me up. It took me so long to get to the bed again that he picked me up and laid me down, like a child. There was a part of me that was horribly embarrassed to be so weak, but that part of me wasn't big enough, apparently, because I mostly felt nothing. Nothing but a sense of emptiness and confusion. I racked my brain for any sort of idea of who I was until my head hurt, and Nigel scolded me.
The day wore on, and though I hadn't eaten, I wasn't hungry in the least. From what I heard from the various doctors that came in was that I would be here until I was strong enough to walk around and do things by myself. Other than head trauma, I had a cracked collarbone and a dislocated knee. They were still watching my spine. Doctors and police alike were putting out photos and descriptions of me as often as they could, bringing up every missing report that sounded sort of like me they could find. And they weren't having any luck. Police came in to ask questions. Doctors came in to ask questions. People who I had no idea who they were poked their heads in, and pestered me with questions. Every once and a while, I would hear someone say my name and laugh, or call me a freak, and it hurt. Everything hurt.
I woke up leaning against a concrete ledge in front of a window nowhere near my room. People passed me by, giving weird looks to the boy in a hospital gown curled on a window ledge. After a while I got up, surprised I was able to stand well, but not very because how else would I have gotten to an entirely different level of the hospital? I tried my best to find my way back to my room, but it was hard because no one would talk to me. I asked a doctor where my room was, and she gave me a look. "Shouldn't you know by now?" she asked, and I stood, baffled. "How long have I been at this hospital?" I asked, and she stared. "A little over a month and a half."
A little over a month and a half. How? How have I been here so long? That last thing I remember, I was in my room, watching TV, half listening to a physical therapist exercise my legs and arms. How long ago was that? "Two weeks," someone told me when I asked, and I blinked, startled to find myself back in my room.
What was wrong with me?
I had an anxiety attack and took off, Dr. Rayden told me. "How do you feel?" And he began a full body check-up. I think I fell asleep half way.
I woke up starving two days later. On a rolling desk next to the bed was a tray with bland hospital food. Dry chicken, water, some potatoes. I scarfed them down, hating and loving every bite. Dr. Nigel came in when I was half way through. She sat and watched me eat, but I ignored her until I was done. She spoke as soon as I downed the last drop of water in the cup.
"Cian," she said. "Do you know how long you've been here?"
"A little over a month and a half?" I remembered, repeating what that lady doctor had said, but Nigel shook her head. "It's been nearly three months, Cian," she said, and I nearly choked on the water I just washed back. "What?"
"I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. You've only been fully aware of your surroundings for a little over three weeks. Every time else, you've been wandering the halls without even noticing, or staring at the ceiling, unresponsive to voice or light." She paused, then sighed. "In that time, not a soul has responded to our reports of you. This country has no idea who you are, Cian. And because you can function normally, for the most part, we can't keep you here much longer."
I stared at her, shocked. "Where are you sending me?" I asked, confused at the fear I heard in my voice. "We're dispatching you to a family that will take care of you. A couple with no children in their mid-fifties. They have promised to take care of you, and you are also under the insurance of the government. Nearly every hospital in this county knows who you are, so if anything ever happens and you need emergency assistance, you won't have to go through as long a process to be registered." She watches my face, watches it twist into what I know is confusion and worry and something else that I can't quite place. "You'll meet them next week," she tells me.
I don't remember much after that, just the sound of panicked breathing and me, curled on my side. Crying.