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Haven

Haven

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Published by Jennifer Zimmerman

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Published by: Jennifer Zimmerman on Oct 23, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/26/2012

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I remembered blood, and lots of it. That sudden shock, almost of embarrassment, that onefeels when they smash their head on something and must rub at it vigorously to distract from thepain. But this was much worse than a simple head bump. Something was holding me down,pressing tiny cold pebbles of concrete into my cheek. I felt pressure on my neck, a sort of tearing,and I felt myself withdraw from my body, as if my mind was being shaken from it by a rabid dog. And then it was over. The sounds of the city were so much louder: the roar of semis on thehighway, the hiss of steam from heating units, the rustle of trash in the wind. I was so utterly alone,and felt a strange sort of comfort in the warmth of blood as it pooled beneath my face. There wereno flashbacks, no regrets, no complaints of unfairness. My life just seemed to end as though it hadnever been, and the last, melancholy thought I had before my world turned into black velvet was
the knowledge that I probably wouldn’t be missed.
 I hear a lot of the time, when you regain consciousness in the hospital, everything issupposed to be covered in a pleasant, white, drug-induced fuzziness. Everything supposedly floatsback into your perception out of the blackness, concerned loved-ones, thrilled to see your eyesopen, gazing adoringly
down at you. It’s warm, becalming, and there’s a doctor on his way in to
prescribe more of those delicious numbing agents.Unfortunately, all the usual fantasies never count on my brother. A sharp jab of pain in myneck
sent me howling awake, and if it weren’t for the weight around my shoulders I probably wouldhave surged out of bed and slapped the kid’s head off. Instead, however, I had to be content to
glare up at him from my reclined position on the hospital bed as my mother did the disciplining for me.
“Dean! Don’t prod your poor sister. She’ll wake up on her own time.” The usually soft
-spoken Mrs. Haven punctuated her admonishment with a demeaning slap upside my brother 
Dean’s head. I say demeaning because he’s twent
y.I would have found this funnier, but a wave of nausea overcame me and I had to stiffen,eyes wide, as I fought not to spew across myself. Rubbing his
cheek, Dean peered in close…b
ut
not too close. “
Val
, do you know what happened?” He sounded a little to
o excited. Did I winsomething while I was unconscious?I was too queasy to answer, and all I could do to move was point at the kidney-shaped,kidney-colored puke pan. He reached over and handed it to me with the tips of his fingers, afrightened, disgusted look on his face. Somehow just having the security of something to vomit intosettled me somewhat, and I cradled the plastic to my chest. My mother leaned over me, concern
pulling at her slightly sagging features. “Dear, you can’t sit up. You have a neck
 
brace on.”
 I blinked, reaching up to touch my neck, but my fingers were stopped several inches
before skin. After a thorough exploration, I discovered…well… she wasn’t lying. I had on a thickfoam collar… thank god it wasn’t one of those huge plastic thin
gs.
“Gross, and you’re bleeding through it!” The overwhelmingly mature Dean pointed out with
gusto, a grin on his face. Typical. At least he dressed normally for his trip to the hospital. Most gothkids never really care about the fact that what they wear is enough to give dying old people their last breath. Fortunately,
Dean wasn’t that callous. He
was content to make fun of my leaks incasual dress.My lips were cracked and dry. I licked them, then tried to speak. When nothing came out,and my mother scu
rried off to find some water, I turned to Dean and tried again. “So whathappened?” I croaked.
 
 
He gripped the bars on the side of my bed, like I’d reminded him of some great news hehad to tell me. “You were attacked!” When he saw my eyes squint in disbelief, he continued. “Your 
neck got all sorts of mangled. Missed all your serious arteries though, I guess. Docs think it could
have been…” He looked at me from beneath his brows, tugging on the scraggly, lame excuse hehad for a goatee, smirking. “… a mountain lion.”
I let my lips pull slightly in a smile. He was trying to cheer me up with the best weapon heknew; our mutually
off sense of humor. “We are still in Detroit, aren’t we?” I double
-checked, takingthe bait.
“Oh yeah, we’re still here. But they say underground mountain lion fighting’s all the ragenow. A lot cooler than dogs. Guess one just got out of some gangsta’s garage.” My mom came
back with the water, but because I was still feeling a little sick, I shook my head. Dean snagged thecup from her and took a gulp, but before he could earn another slap on the head I heard a knock atthe door, and then it opened. In strode a skinny man with a receding hairline and white jacket,followed by a taller, younger man in a black uniform. A cop. Dean also noticed the official, guiltilysetting my cup down on the table next to me and making a show of fluffing my pillow.
“Well good morning,
Ms. Haven
,” the doc greeted us all in the usual I’m
-pretending-I-carevoice, not even bothering looking up from his clipb
oard. “I’m Doctor Fitz. How are you feelingtoday?” The police officer took a post at the corner of my bed, folding his arms. He almost looked
friendlier than the quack. I could see his eyebrows knitting as he regarded the horrible contraptionthey had me in.
I opened my mouth to answer, but mom got there first. “She’s feeling sick. Also, she feels
hot. Does s
he have a fever? That wound’s probably infected. It’s not even bandaged enough!She’s bleeding right through it.” I rolled my eyes.
 Doctor Fitz looked
up finally, staring a moment at my mother. “Right.” He stepped to theedge of my bed and peered closely at my restraint. “Well there’s a slight bit of 
seepage
but I’m surewe’ve already got the blood stopped.” He made a few notes on his clipboard, then se
emed to
remember that the officer was there. “Oh,
Valerie. This is Officer Da
le. He’s here to talk about your incident from last night.”
 Officer Dale unfolded his arms before stepping foreword. He took the hand not puncturedby an I.V. and shook it careful
ly. “You can call me James. We don’t have to talk now if you don’twant to. We can wait until you remember more of your attacker.” Dr. Fitz glared down at my hand
after the greeting, and I thought he was going to swab it with alcohol.
“Attacker…” I still found it hard to believe. James nodded. “We’ve been having someserious problems around here. I’m sure you’ve seen the news. Lately this wave of cults has gotten
people holed up at night, afraid some Satanist goth kid will stalk them home from work and jump
them. There’ve
been a few close calls, bu
t this is serious.” I could sense
Dean glaring holes intothe man. Fortunately, Officer Dale was still looking at me and not my brother.
Dr. Fitz seemed to finish doodling. “Well
Valerie
, I’m going to leave you no
w. A nurse will
be by later to give you something more for the pain in your I.V. We’ll watch you overnight and seehow you feel about going home tomorrow.”
 
I made a face. Hospital food….yuck. “I can’t… I have to feed my fish. I have work in themorning.”
 
“Already took care of it,” James patted my hand. “We called your employers and had a talkwith them, you can go back when you’re ready.”
 
Dr. Fitz, satisfied he’d achieved sufficient sentiment, disappeared out the door.
 
Dean wanted to make sure we hadn’t forgotten about him. “Attacked and mutilated by a
blood-
thirsty cultist? She’s probably already used that excuse.
 
 Also, she doesn’t have a fish.” Mom
 
could sense he wasn’t helping the situation, and started to suggest that perhaps they go out and
pick up som
e fast food for me, since I’ll be having a slumber party in the tiny, sanitized room. I lost
track of what they were saying, the pain in my neck was getting a little more than noticeable. Irealized the officer was staring at me. He was about my age, not a knockout hunk but definitely not
ugly. His jaw and chin were what you’d imagine a cop’
s to look like; authoritive and strong, butabove them was a reassuring smile. He must be one of those cops with a heart of gold. Way out of my league. Crying shame.
“I’
m sorry, Officer Da
le,” I sighed. “I can’t even remember last night. It’s all a haze…” The
lights were getting very bright. The nurse had come in sometime during my mush moment to infuseme with drugs.
His slight smile didn’t fade. “That’s alright
, Ms. Haven
. I’ll come back when you’re a littlemore rested. Here’s my card in case you remember anything.” He rifled in his shirt pocket for asecond before setting the crisp white square down on the crisp white table nearby. “See you later, I
hope you feel bett
er soon.” He stood to go. That’s what I assume, because in the next few seconds
I was unconscious. How embarrassing.

 
“So, how do you like your Ramen Noodles?”
 I blinked at Dean from the pillowy refuge of my couch, watching him from the living room of my double-wide mobile home as he puttered about my kitchen. Fortunately I was able to get awayfrom home a few years ago, thanks to the adequate paycheck I brought home from the factory
where I spent my mornings screen printing children’s cartoons onto ad
hesive medical strips. Ontop of getting as many Spongebob and Pokemon Band-
 Aids as I wanted, it wasn’t a bad job.
Thatis, until I had my little accident. I was already going bonkers from not being able to keep the place
as clean as I used to… which is wh
y I dreaded my brother being in my rather orderly kitchen. He
hadn’t inherited my cleanliness addiction.
 
“You can make it in more than one way?”
 
 A week had passed since my stay at the hospital. Since then I’d been couch
-bound byorder of the parental unit, ironic if you consider the fact that none of my limbs were in any wayinjured. Mom had insisted, as well, that the foam neck brace the doctors had me in to protect theslightly cracked cervical vertebra beneath my skull was severely impeding my ability to feed myself,
so my little brother found himself charged with the unenviable task of caring for me. Dean’s
obscure way of rebellion was to insist that I was getting nothing but packaged, gas-station-qualitydinners from him.
“Sure,” he replied from the ki
tchen, where he had been rummaging for much longer than
needed to prepare a cup of noodles, no doubt building himself a much more palatable meal. “Youcan boil it, eat it crunchy and dry, have it without the spice packet…”
 The sound of the microwave being programmed was a sure sign that despite my options I
was going to have it prepared one way and one way only. I didn’t really care. Although I’d been
absolutely starved since leaving the hospital, the thought of any kind of food sickened me.Reminded of my rebelling innards, I folded an arm across my stomach and groaned at thetelevision. My remote was missing.Soon, Dean appeared, carrying a steaming bowl of pale noodles in one hand and a juicylooking sub sandwich in the other. Italian, from the smell of it. I felt nauseas.

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