As ordered, it was the captain’s voice that woke me, but it was a moment before memory kicked in. I turned my head toward his voice, which was a mistake, and then I groaned, or at least I tried to, which was another, bigger mistake. It snowballed from there.
“Stop the pain. Come on, make the pain go away.”
It took some effort to make sense out of the words I was hearing, but they carried a very desirable concept. ‘Make the pain go away’. The relief was like a cool wave of ocean water washing over my body, but the voice was still there. What was it saying this time?
“Come on, Liam, you have to breathe. Breathe Liam.”
No, I really didn’t have to breathe, but instinct being what it was, reinforced by orders, I sucked in a painful breath and then sought refuge in the ocean wave again. This all hurt too much. I remember opening my eyes and looking at the faces that swam above me before just going away again.
The doctor told me later that he had never had a patient who responded to a voice better than to his medicine. Apparently, I didn’t take another breath for two days. By then, the swelling in my throat had subsided so that the air and feeding tubes could be removed. I don’t remember any of that either. Frankly, I’m glad.
I woke on my own feeling very hungry, but they had been feeding me all along so it wasn’t too bad. The doctor came in and, seeing me awake, he raised the head of my bed.
“Don’t talk. That nail only just missed your larynx and it’s healing well. Would you like something to eat?”
I nodded and mimed a heaping plate.
He just smiled and said, “Well perhaps, let’s start with some ice cream first.”
That sounded good--inadequate, but good. After the ice cream came an assortment of baby food with more ice cream on the side. It was indeed painful to eat and the ice cream helped numb the pain a little. I soon combined my need for food with the idea of ice cream by freezing the little jars of baby food. I like ice cream but it wasn’t satisfying my hunger much.
Haines came in then and saw me eating. “You must be hungry. That’s a good sign. The doctor says you’re doing well. Are you doing well enough to write me up a report about what happened?”
I tested my memory of those frantic events and figured they were clear enough. I nodded. My throat was getting sore and the cold wasn’t helping so much any more, but the worst edge of my hunger was satisfied.
I made the remains of my meal go away and then created paper and pencil.
“You don’t have to do it right now,” said Haines.
I shook my head and wrote my question. Tell me what happened to me. The doctor mentioned nails.
He told me the attacker had used a nail gun to shoot at us; so that’s what that thing was. The doctor had removed five nails from me. I had a collapsed lung and some torn muscles in my shoulder from me ignoring the nail buried there when I was using my sword. He also told me he had never seen someone tied up with pipes; they had been force to cut him free. The man had been wrapped very tightly. Haines liked that part. Then his face grew serious. “Liam, I would like you to come and help question him.”
I wrote again. What do you mean? I can’t talk yet. The doctor said I shouldn’t.
“Not today. Perhaps tomorrow or the next day, whenever you’re ready, and all I want you to do is use some of your magic and convince him to answer my questions. He refuses to speak.”
I nodded. I didn’t see how using my magic would make much difference other than perhaps scaring the living daylights out of him, but I’d give it a try.