Blue-and-red lights swirling over a windscreen white-out, and the siren sounds exactly like the guitar feedback loop on an Arctic Monkeys track.
Through it all, the haze of people talking, people moving, people's breath in my face, my own hair in my mouth, the rancid taste of vomit and a blur of fast noise -
'...just easy now...'
'...transfer, but Mildura won't...'
- and a constant slow thump in my head, like the heavy beat of night-club bass. I'd like it to shut up now, but it doesn't. It can't, although I've got no fucking idea how I know this.
'...lift him up and onto a trolley...'
'...two, three - that's it, nice and...'
'...stabilised, if you'll take...'
Firm hands hold me steady so I don't tip. Sense of movement, the ka-chunk of wheels over bumps in the floor. Reverb travels up my bum and back, through the rest of me, so I vibrate into the bed I'm lying on. Then - the glare, the whiteness. Those lights, thrown right in your face.
'...get them off and have a look, don't...'
'...wait for Doctor McGaven? He's only just arrived, so...'
'...keep pressure on, gimme the scissors...'
Sudden draught on my skin. It travels up from ankle to shin to thigh - my thigh, fuck - so fast I don't realise I'm cold until the gooseflesh rises. Now everything hurts, hurts bad, the pain in my leg like a crosscut saw on bone. Fighting against it forces my mouth open. I hear a long lowing moan somewhere far away, like bulls roaring for food, lost love, the end of fences, the open road -
'...his arms in, Nick, for god's sake!'
'...holding him, I'm holding him, just cut off the...'
'...theatre's clear, if you want to do a CT we should...'
'Wait!' someone says. 'I know him! I know him. Just let me get in there.'
Sight returns without warning and there's a face above me. Dark eyes, white teeth, brown skin, pulled-back hair a little frizzed from sweat and effort. The girl smiles at me, smooths my forehead.
'Harris! Hey, Harris, it's okay. You're all right, yeah? You're gonna be fine.' Something red smeared on the girl's face, near her cheekbone. She swipes at it with the back of one gloved hand. 'It's okay, mate. We've got you.'
My lips, swollen and gummed-up, move to no effect. Words are so dry they won't come.
'Shh, don't try to talk yet,' the girl says. 'We're gonna go to sleep now, okay? Just watch my face, that's it. We're gonna have a rest. Watch me count - ten, nine, eight, seven...'
Her nose is strong and her bottom lip is full. I got no idea who she is. Her lip is round and powerful and pillowy. I stare at it, sink into it, sink back like I'm falling, clouds soaking me up, all the noise, all the blood, calm and quiet and soft and -
Me and Rachel are on a bright white beach, someplace the air is really soft. Sand trickles between my toes. The moon is still out, in that way it sometimes is in real life, hanging up in the blue sky like half a Jatz cracker. I'm playing with Rachel's hair, and she's letting me...
I wake up to the smell of Tang.
Tang is this fluoro-orange powder you stir with water into something that's supposed to taste like juice. What it actually tastes like is Fanta that's gone flat in the bottle, if you let the bottle sit in a hot car all day. The powder has a bitter chemical graininess. Mix it up with vodka and it's almost bearable.
YOU ARE READING
No LimitsMystery / Thriller
Boozer, brawler, ladies' man - nineteen-year-old Harris Derwent is not a good guy. His one attempt to play the hero - helping out his old flame, Rachel Watts - has landed him in hospital. Now injured, broke, and unemployed, he's stuck back in the co...