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A Taste of Wake Me When the Sun Goes Down

Day ten of NaNoWriMo and I’m going strong! Up to 32,626 words so far, and it’s going well. I thought I’d give you guys a little taste. Here is our heroine Anja who has just woken up in the hospital morgue, to the surprise of the guys about to transfer her to the Medical Examiner’s office.

(I should preface this by saying in the spirit of National Novel Writing Month, this is an extremely rough draft. Punctuation and such is bound to be way off.)

A millisecond before the sheet came off, my eyes popped open and a high, keening cry leaked out of me like the air out of a balloon; my only available version of a scream, I suppose. The effect was electrifying. Both men screamed, and like a switch was flipped, I felt the energy rush back into my limbs. Filling my lungs with air, I screamed right back at them, and we stared at each other, all of us screaming for a good ten seconds before the room got really quiet.

“You’re… you’re…” The guy dropped his clipboard as he backed up a few feet. The other man, the one who came to get me I assumed, continued to stare at me like I had just risen from the dead, which was understandable.

“W-where am I?” My voice sounded shrill to my ears and I couldn’t help but wince, doing my best to swallow back my fear. I felt… wrong somehow, but I couldn’t quite identify why, finding myself in such strange surroundings was too distracting.

“Shoreline Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. You’re um, you’re supposed to be dead.”

“I’m sorry…” slipped out reflexively, though what I had to be sorry about, I couldn’t imagine. Shoreline was the same hospital Bridget worked at, and I wondered if she knew I was there. I was tired of lying down and I might have said something to that effect as I pushed myself up to a seated position, but I was too busy looking at my surroundings to be sure if I’d spoken out loud. It wasn’t my own bedroom, or a hospital room as I’d assumed until they started talking about death, but what looked like a morgue, based on my experience with tv and movies.

I was still half lying on a gurney, but a large stainless steel table stood in the center of the room, with holes drilled through it for drainage of various… ugh, I didn’t want to go there. “I feel…” dizzy, confused, itchy, nauseous, sore, tired…wrong… “…different.” My tongue finally supplied and I again marveled at the sound of my own voice. Was it my ears or the timbre of my voice that had changed? It was impossible to tell.

“That’s understandable, you’ve been dead for over an hour,” the morgue attendant replied distractedly, bending to pick up the clipboard.

“Oh come on, Dave, there’s obviously been some kind of a mistake. She’s no more dead than you or me. I know some folks that are going to be glad to see you’re okay.” The other guy gave me an encouraging smile.

Walking around didn’t sound like too bad of an option, more than anything I wanted out of the morgue with its strange smells and disturbing tables. Despite the dizziness, I launched myself to my feet, throwing myself off balance as my muscles propelled me farther than I had intended. I careened into the icky metal table, sending a tray of tools crashing to the ground. The sound was deafening, and I clamped my hands over my ears as I waited for it to end.

“Whoa, are you sure you should be up and walking around?” Smiley guy reached out to steady me, catching hold of my elbows.

That’s when I noticed the front of my dress had been cut and gaped open, showing more of my natural assets than I cared to outside of a beach. When I say my dress, I don’t mean my dress. I’d never seen the thing before in my life. No wonder they reported I’d been wearing a costume; I would have made the same assumption. The dress, made of a coarse, homespun material, was held up just below the shoulders by two heavy, round broaches, with three running horses, their legs intertwined. It was hard for me to gauge the whole effect just in looking down. Wherever it came from, they’d never get the deposit back. Besides the long cut down the chest, it was also soaked through with blood on the left side of my body.

“I don’t belong here,” I murmured, pulling myself free from his grasp and doing my best to hold the dress closed. Overcorrecting, I nearly fell over the other way. Trying to muster a modicum of dignity, I swallowed again, clearing my throat in search of my normal tone of voice. “Can either of you tell me what’s going on?”

“I’m… not sure. This almost never happens,” Dave replied, losing some of the stunned look from his face, I saw his eyes dip to my chest and I shot him a look.

“But it does sometimes?” That was disturbing to hear on many levels.

Dave’s face flushed when he saw that I noticed him looking and he turned away, coughing into his hand as he approached a desk set in the far corner of the room. “Well no, not down here. Usually they catch that sort of thing up on the main floors. Um, let’s see what I can find out here.” He tapped on the computer and the other man followed him to look over his shoulder. “You were brought in a little over an hour ago… and died enroute to the hospital. They tried to revive you but…”

He’d already said that before, but it was like it had happened to someone else. “I don’t remember any of this,” I shook my head miserably; it was starting to pound something fierce.

Smiley guy took pity on me, fixing me with that same reassuring smile. “You’ve been through quite a trauma, Ma’am. Maybe you should sit down?” Nodding, I moved away from the creepy tables and slid into a plastic molded chair by the swinging door. “I’m Mike Turley, I work for the medical examiner’s office with SFPD, and I’m glad to find you alive and breathing.”

“Anja Evans,” I stuck out my hand by force of habit and after a moment’s hesitation, he shook it. I was struck by how warm his hand was, but I didn’t feel uncomfortably cold. Any difference in temperature was probably from my lying in the chilly morgue for an hour without my socks on.

“Nice to meet you, Anja.” He pronounced my name correctly that time. “Sit tight, I’m sure there are a lot of people who want to talk to you.” Straightening, he turned back to where Dave sat at the computer. “I’m going to need to make some calls and my signal’s for shit, do you have a phone I can use?”

“Oh yeah, there’s never any signal down here. Feel free to use this line here, dial nine to get out. I should really get a doctor down here to examine her, or I wonder if I should take her up to the ED myself…”

A lot of people who wanted to talk to me. Cool beans. And lots of doctors poking and prodding me as well. Even better. My eyes flicked to the swinging door beside me, the urge to flee growing stronger and stronger until I lurched out of the chair and out the door with a soft rush of air.

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