The bright lights blind my eyes. The acrid odor of isopropanol burns my nostrils. My breathing is punctuated by beeps. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
I don't feel anything. No hunger pangs, no throbbing headache, no burning throat.
I must be dead. Is this heaven?
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Why is heaven beeping? Maybe I'm actually in hell. Doomed to be haunted by the incessant beeping.
I reach up to scratch my nose, and I realize my pointer has a finger pulse oximeter clamped to it. I look down at my arm to see an IV feeding drugs into my bloodstream. The beeping isn't a punishment, it's an EKG.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
This isn't heaven, this is a hospital. St. Sullivan's Mercy. The very one where James was born. The very one where he died. I am ambused by flashbacks of James. The purple lesions, the fever, the funeral. The Virus. I'm in hell.
I have to get out of here.
I open my mouth to call for help and I choke. There's a goddamn feeding tube shoved down my throat. I thoughtlessly yank the tube out, coughing and spluttering out chunks of plastic and whatever fluid the tube was dripping into my gullet. I then pull IV needle out of my arm. A small dot of blood forms in the center of the bruise created by the needle. Once I'm unhooked from all these various machines, I swing my legs over to the side of the bed and stand up.
Shit. My leg. I am welcomed by excrutiating pain. I bite my tongue to suppress my screams and my mouth becomes warm with blood.
I scramble for the IV needle that is dripping precious morphine onto the tile. I jab it into my arm, digging for a vein. My vision blurs from the pain, but I find a vein. The morphine flows into my blood, giving me sweet relief from the agony radiating from my tibia, and I can stand up.
Thanks to modern medicine, broken bones are a thing of the past. It only takes a day or so now to heal a bone, but I'll still be sore for a week or two. Thanks to modern medicine, I'll be able to walk out of this hell hole.
But it couldn't save my son.
I need to get out of here so I can save other mothers from facing the same fate.
I search the room for supplies, finding a flashlight, some pain pills, a shot of adrenaline, and a pistol in the table next to the bed.
I'm not ready to die. Not here.
As I leave the room, I hear voices talking from down the hall. Zombies down't talk, but they could be from the government. I can't resist busting a few government heads. I limp as quietly as one can into the room, following the voices. There are three women and a man hovering over a map. They're dressed in scrubs. The back of the man's shirt is covered in blood, and his curly dark hair is caked with dried bile.
A lump forms in my throat. Tears sting the back of my eyes. These people are the reason my son is dead.
No mother should have to bury her baby.
I press the muzzle of the gun to the back of the man's skull. The curly-headed fuck puts his hands up in the air.
"Make one wrong move, asshole, and I'll blast your brains against the ceiling."
"I know you will," the man says, slowly turning around to reveal his face. "You're a fuckin' surgeon with a gun, Lizzie."
I look into the man's eyes and I see my son.