Blackness, pain, dizziness, pain, couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, pain, panic, , nonexistence. Suddenly alert, blinding light, pain, still couldn’t breathes, still couldn’t move. Something wet pooling beneath me, was that blood? Panic, the blackness again. Blind in one eye. More panic. Confusion behind the panic, looking for anything to hold on to, then, the blessed return to unconsciousness. Many times over, it seemed, an eternity.
Something warm and wet was on my face, stroking it, concentrating on the eye I was now blind in. warm, smelly air was hitting me in waves, assaulting my nose, and a panting noise. I startled awake to find a dog licking my face. I tried to shoo it away, but my hands wouldn’t move. I was confused, disoriented, but I could breathe now, and I could see out of my left eye, though it was blurry with what I assumed to be dog spit. Something was moving to my right. I turned my head, and saw an elderly naked man dancing around with a peacock feather and a ball. Embarrassed, I quickly turned back to consider the dog. It looked at me with an expression I thought was unusual for a dog, but before I could really figure out what was odd about it, a wave of pain took me, and I blacked out again.
Something a little cooler than tepid spilled over my lips and down my neck, making me uncomfortably aware of the gritty sand below me as it pooled. I opened my eyes to find the elderly naked man squatted down over me, his shriveled old junk perilously close to my face. He had pushed something to my mouth - the ball-thing he’d been playing with earlier, evidently a cup - and was trying to get me to drink. I shrieked and he startled and ran away. Pain returned. Blackness followed it.
More licking. The dog was back. He looked at me with comprehension strange in a canine, then barked. I felt like I was flying, though very badly. I heard voices. I could make out vague humanoid shapes above me, black against the bright light. Was I dying? Was I dead? Was this what it was like? Not so bad. I‘d half-wanted to die anyway.
“Dan says he’s awake,“ said one of the voices. Suddenly I was jostled, and another wave of pain ripped through my midsection. “Be careful!” another voice exclaimed, “He’s got an exposed rib there!” It was a little chilly. The dog whimpered in concern, and then snuggled up next to me. There was a yelp, and a thud as it fell off of whatever I was laying on. A moving platform of some kind, I gradually realized. A gurney? The dog hopped back up, chose its position a bit more carefully, and snuggled up against me, making a point of keeping eye contact with me. “His vitals are good enough, he’s stable, morph him!” a voice said. “Done!” said another, and then blackness, and, blissfully, there was no pain this time.
I awoke in a hospital bed, and the dog was still there, still in the same position, still looking at me. When he saw my eyes open he barked. I contemplated him while he contemplated me. A chocolate lab, I decided, his head seemed ever so slightly too large for his body, but apart from that, he seemed a perfectly normal dog. There was something about his eyes, though it was hard to quite nail it down, since their eyes convey a lot of emotion. This one seemed, I don’t know, perhaps a bit too understanding? No, that’s not it. My nose itched. I went to scratch it, and the hand that met my face wasn’t my own. Startled, I shouted. A woman in a nun’s uniform was walking in just a moment before, and she darted towards the bed, pushed the offending hand out of the way, and grabbed my head.
“You are OK,” she said in a stern, commanding voice. Even so, she had that same slightly-fake sounding Southern accent all Gagariners have, “There was an accident, but you are OK now. You are in the infirmary at the Saint Salome nunnery.”
I tried to say something, but all that came out was a confused whimper. The dog commiserated with a similar sound, and I felt its paw on my chest. Trying to comfort me?
“Your hand was very badly burned, we had to give you a skin glove. Do you understand me? Do you need a