An emergency injection of adrenaline pries gluey eyes open. The floor rises so rapidly there’s no time to do more than turn my head and brace for impact. I hit the ground and squint uncertainly at the ancient, musty carpet under my nose.
What’s going on? Where the fuck am I? And why are my legs twisted above my head?
I kick weakly to free them. Something heavy crashes into my back.
I’m being attacked!
Another hefty squirt of adrenaline turns me into a bucking, kicking machine. Panic leads me around like its bitch until unfocused eyes can focus on the threat.
I’m fighting a couple of clerical chairs.
The one I’d fallen from pins me to the floor. My legs are entangled in its twin brother.
How embarrassing would this situation be if someone were watching?
A quick look around confirms no-one is.
I chuck the chair on my chest away. It crashes into a filing cabinet and bounces back for another go at hurting me. I fend it off, squealing like a frustrated pig. There’s not enough room to reject it properly. I have to be content with stilling its movements and let it loom over me.
The frantic activity draws the attention of a thumping headache. It waddles in to settle into a favoured position. The centre of my skull.
Feet, still caught above me, are being cruelly pinched by a flesh tearing device. I lift a lead-balloon head to work out how to disentangle myself from the clamp of a broken armrest. The procedure is successful but the effort takes its toll.
All parts collapse uniformly to the floor. So many pains clamour to be acknowledged, there’s no room to think of anything else for a minute or two. A dead fluorescent tube sneers down. Stained acoustic ceiling tiles slowly bulge and ripple unnervingly.
Got to get a grip.
This horrible hangover has the added, unmistakable quality, of codeine withdrawal. A sensation familiar to post binge wakefulness. Sleeping in strange places isn't an unknown event either. Usually I’d pick a comfier place to make my bed. Executive chairs that tilt. Mahogany desks to prop feet on. Nothing as grotty as these surroundings. Although there was that urinal incident.
And what’s this all over my hands? Dried blood? It’s all down my front. Under my fingernails! In my hair!
Fuck! Am I bleeding?
‘Very worried’ is added to ‘ill’ on a blinking control board.
Grey morning light seeps through a filthy window. I use this dreary illumination to pat myself down while lying very still. There’s nothing jetting out of me. Nor do I find any ‘hair of the dog’ pills.
Wind gusts blow curtains of thin rain against the glass.
That’s not a good sign. The ability to hear rain means I’m on the outer perimeter of the building. A foolish and dangerous place to nap.
An hour’s worth of porno sound effects could be gleaned during the transformation from Homo Reclinus to Homo Erectus. Two steps take me to the window where I press a hot, aching head against the cold surface and look into the misty distance.
Uh-oh. I see the imposing edifice of the facility. I’m not in there. I’m outside.
I think hard for a second. This must be a handyman’s makeshift office in the maintenance shed. Tools, equipment manuals and other bits of hardware are recognizable to a fleeting interest.
The need to hydrate my brain becomes greater upon spying the almost empty water dispenser in a corner. I use a tiny plastic cup provided to drain its grainy dregs.
Alzheimer’s has struck early. My memory refuses to engage. Last night’s misadventures sidle around recall’s spotlight, like a curfew-breaking teenager dodging sensor-lights.
I have to piss. A pot plant receives a dark-orange stream of poison, delivered with indiscriminate aim. Shouldn’t affect the plant. It’s been dead for months.
Oh wait. Here it comes. The past. Revisited in disjointed segments.
We went into town.
I copped a flogging from a looney.
Saw enough Parasite’s to fill a lifetime of bad dreams.
Had a shower. Hmmm, hold up. If I had a shower, why am I covered in blood? Nope, no further details are on offer.
I’ll ask Kristine.
Ohhh Jesus Christ! Kristine! Surely this blood isn’t...!
I zip up in a hurry, miraculously not catching delicate skin in metal teeth, and stagger out the tiny office’s door.
The scene in the shed is straight out of Hell.
The blood and gore spilling from a gutted carcass. The bloody pruners and ratchet lopper. A chainsaw! Sprays of minced meat and blood paint the walls, including the ceiling.
An unrecognisable body lies on the ground.
I think I’ve killed her.
I murdered Kristine.