She felt as though a thousand needles pierced her feet. Running barefoot on snow, she finally found the cavern she saw every night. Her frail follower translucently hovered above her in the air. Red, crudely spooned out ball sockets stood for what should be eyes on it's skull. And it was fuzzy. The snow was everywhere. Far from the distance near the horizon, she could see a snaking trail of blood on the ground. It was emanating from the eyes of her follower. Those empty eyes were staring at her. She wanted to rush to the cavern for her safety. The ghost was there to kill her unconditionally. She understood that, even in her fit of fright. The ice was cold. The cavern was dark.
The ice was cold. The cavern was dark.
The ice was cold.
The cavern was. . .
Shanti woke up, trembling in her cold bed. Her tears and sweat had drenched the pillow beneath her. She felt short of breath, just like a fish would if she came out of water. Oh, gasping for breath. When did breathing become so hard? Breathe Shanti. Breathe. Was the nightmare over? She looked around at all those windows and those sterile green curtains. What is this place?
And then it hit her. Ravi. The car. The truck. The highway. She was driving. Yes, it was coming back. She was trembling now. Her tremors were escalating just like leaves tremble on a tree when a gale hits it.
She screamed. Nothing came to her mind so she screamed again.
A nurse dressed in a impeccable white uniform barged in. Shanti saw her and wanted to calm down. Help had arrived. But she couldn't stop.
The nurse filled a syringe and stabbed her with it. What was it? Clonazeparn? Epinephrine? Forget it, she could feel the calmness surging through her. A lonely firefly in a dark forest erupted to everything she could see. There was so much light in one instant. She felt better.
"Miss Shanti, are you okay?" The Nurse inquired. Shanti nodded. She held a glass of water and sipped it.
"Where am I?" Shanti asked the nurse.
"You slipped from stairs, Miss Shanti." The nurse replied, "It resulted in a fatal head injury. They had to operate on you. You've been in coma since then."
"What?" Shanti could not make any sense. Stairs? She fell from stairs? But the car accident? The truck came ramming onto her car. She was driving. Ravi was beside her in the copassenger seat. The car had overturned and fell down the cliff. Ravi was crying. The rocks on the cliff were going up. They were falling.
It was all coming to her so clearly now. Why would the nurse lie?
"Stairs. Miss Shanti. You fell from stairs." The nurse replied.
"Who is my attending physician? Would you call him please?" Shanti said.
"Your attending physician is Dr Ravi Kumar." The nurse said curtly, "I'll call him in a moment. Please stay on your bed, Miss Shanti."
She felt as though time has stabbed her in the heart. Her own name was Shanti Kumar. Ravi, poor Ravi was her little boy. Four years old. How can he, be a doctor? No. This is a sick coincidence. Only their name must be same. Ravi is. . .
A thirty year old man entered the room. He had a sthethescope around his neck. Clean white labcoat and a clipboard. He was bespectacled and had his hair cut short. But the face. How can that be? The face was so familiar to her. He was standing close. She could read the name on his ID.
"Hello, mommy." The man said.
Stark coldness of ingratitious fear filled each vein, artillery and capillary in her body. She could see her own life swinging away from her life. It was so cold, she could feel her own breath freeze. The panic was so loud that it was thundering in the alleys of silence that lived in her mind. Oh, she was aging. She was aging so suddenly. She was thirty just now. And now she was forty-five. Now she was sixty. What was happening. Her skin was drying up and losing youth. Her face wrinkled up. Her jet black hair greyed all of a sudden. All those nights cramming books in that medical college. She was trained to save lives. But yet that truck stole all she had from her.
She couldn't save the one life that mattered the most to her.
She remembered now. The floor was wet. Her walking cane had slipped from her hands on the stairs. She was trying to climb down to pick it. But she slipped too. The woodboard flooring was hard. She remembered her fall. She remembered her head smashing on the handle of her cane.
The nurse was right. Ravi was a doctor now. How beautiful. She wiped the tears from her eyes.
After the accident in her youth, she was admitted to a mental facility for her post traumatic stress disorder. And Alzeimer's never allowed her to remember anything. But life had just slipped by. She desperately wanted to hold its hand.
The ghost was hovering behind Ravi. It spanned ten feet from end to end. Ravi wasn't scared of him. He was standing right there. Smiling like he always did. He was such a nice boy. How she loved her darling son.
"Come, mommy." Ravi stretched out his hand. Shanti stretched hers. Her son held her hand and she stood up from the bed. It felt like she was walking after eons. The floor was warm now. The snow had melted. Little flowers were blooming on the hospital floor. Behind them, the mammothous ghost hovered with its bleeding red eyes.
"Shall we go, mommy?" Ravi asked her. Shanti looked behind at her bed. It was replaced by the table of an operation theatre. A team of masked doctors were operating on an old woman that appeaered just like her. She was so frail and weak. She looked so sad. Shanti pitied her.
The doctors were looking at the ECG machine. With each passing second it was losing amplitude.
Shanti looked at her son and nodded.
The ghost led the way. Shanti looked through the wall, out of the operation theatre with her son. A lightheadedness filled her. The feeling was ecstasic. It was like the first time Ravi's father confessed how much he had loved her. It was like the moment she first held Ravi in her hands. And it was when Ravi first called her mommy.
Oh, what a feeling it was. It was just like being born.
Smiling, and crying, yes. Shanti disappeared through the walls of the operating theatre with her son and the ghost.
Behind her, the ECG machine flatlined.
The doctors sighed and conceded defeat.