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Growing up, I didn’t care for fairytale characters. The one I disliked the most was Sleeping Beauty. Unfortunately, now I’ve turned into one.
This may sound like vanity, so let me be more precise. I don’t know about the Beauty part, because at the moment I have no idea how I look, and even if I did, I doubt I would like it. It’s the Sleeping part that frightens me. I can’t stand the prospect of being trapped here, in this miserable state, in hopes that one day I may be saved, somehow, by a kiss.
My life—the little I know about it—is no fairytale, so what’s the point in waiting for magic? Anyway, I refuse to rely on what others do. Whenever Ma hears me say that, she clutches her breast and sighs, because she needs to baby me. I remember the softness of her hand when she runs it over my forehead. Why isn’t she here already?
I miss her, but part of me hopes that she doesn’t know I’m in trouble. Helpless is not a good look for me. Neither is confused.
With the exception of knowing that I’m in a hospital, there’s a thick fog in my brain. I can’t recall my own name, nor can I bring back the name of the man I love. But the memory of his lips on mine does quicken the heart.
Even so, the idea of waiting for him to come to my rescue sounds dumb. Doesn’t it? I’d rather snap out of this interminable slumber of my own accord. Unfortunately, doubts keep weighing me down. And not only doubts: I’m pinned down by nightmares, too.
They always start with me blacking out. Then, in a flash, shadows emerge from the haze around me and back away into it, just before I can figure out who they are. From time to time, when I take my eyes off of them, they creep in, and their breaths come alarmingly close to me.
After that comes silence. It makes me doubt I’ve heard anything in the first place.
A shriek rings in my ears. It must have been mine.
The air flutters in my throat as one shadow reaches, suddenly, for my neck. “Say you vant me,” demands a hoarse voice, in a heavy Russian accent.
His fingers squeeze my vocal cords till I can’t even cry, can’t call out for help. His eye bores into me with a malicious look as I struggle, as I fight for a breath.
At first, I explain the whole thing away as some odd hallucination, perhaps the result of morphine, or other meds that are trickling—with a slow drip, drip, drip through the plastic tube—into my veins. But meds or not, what’s the point in denying what I see?
In a blink, a ray of light slides across his temple. The white of his eye, marbled with tortuous veins, becomes incredibly vivid. The thug reaches for my scarf—the scarlet one, which I thought could be used only as a fashion accessory, nothing else. To my alarm, he stretches it across my mouth and tightens it, knotting it around the back of my neck, yanking the ends till I pass out.
I tell myself, this can’t be real. Can it? Does this moment of terror come from my imagination—or else, from memory?
Ash finds herself in the ER diagnosed with coma. She has no memory of what has happened to her, but what she can do--despite what everyone around her might think--is listen to the conversations of her visitors. Will she survive the power outage in the hospital and then, being kidnapped out of it?