It was dark when the crash woke Karen. Her eyelids flew open.
What was that?
After a few seconds, her sight adjusted to the darkness.
Where am I?
Unable to get her bearings, she swung her legs to get up. They didn’t move. Her arms, too, were lead.
Panic rose, filling her mouth with a metallic taste. She tried to move again. This time she realised she could wriggle. Something was strapping her down; a belt or similar over legs, arms and across her torso.
‘Yowwwwww!’ Karen screamed as she thrashed her body violently against the restraints. They didn’t budge.
Turning her head, she surveyed the room. The only window a thin strip up high, not big enough to squeeze a cat through, let alone plot an escape. A sliver of moonlight dimly glowed. The bed she was strapped onto appeared to be in the centre of the room.
What is that? Her gut churned, churned, until the natural release forced its way up and out. A warmth on her chin and neck, then a moist drizzle onto her chest. She coughed.
Next to the wall opposite the strip window stood a wooden chair. Tall back, arm rests—more straps—wooden seat with a hole in the middle, where the bums go, bucket underneath.
There had to be a door.
There has to be a door! I have to find a way out!
A thunk. A whoooosh. A narrow section of the wall opened, through which a man walked. Grey hair, glasses, moustache, a kind face. He wore a white coat, the hem fell to below his knees, the cuffs almost swallowed his hands.
‘Good evening Ms Mawson, I see you’re awake,’ he murmured politely. ‘I’ll give you something in a minute to fix that.’ He sneered at her.
‘No! No, no, no,’ Karen shouted. ‘I don’t want you to do that.’
‘Oh, Ms Mawson, you don’t have a choice.’
Karen’s head spun in confusion.
The man stepped backwards, away from the bed, with a smile. His foot crunched onto something on the ground.
The crash that woke me! What was it?
She moved her eyes to see the ground beyond the foot of the bed. Shards of glass glimmered on the floor.
‘What have we here?’ he asked her. He bent forwards for closer inspection. ‘How did this happen?’ he yelled. Instantly, his face was red, purple almost. Spit flew out of his mouth. He picked up a large piece of glass, held it up so she could see. It looked like part of a petri dish.
‘I don’t know,’ she cried. ‘I was out to it. The crash woke me.’
He nodded. His shoulders raised up and down, measured with each breath.
‘Do you remember anything? Before?’ He was calm again, polite.
Karen’s mind rewound, fast, whirring like a cassette. Nothing. She shook her head.
‘Good. Good.’ He moved to the space behind the head of the bed. She couldn’t see what he was doing. Her heart pounded, her body burned with fear and rage. She tuned her ears in: a drawer opened, a rustling, paper was torn. Then nothing.
He appeared next to her. With a syringe. ‘Good night, Ms Mawson.’
The blackness took her.