Maddie struggled to open her eyes. A voice had woken her, asking “Where am I?” Her vision was blurred, but she could faintly make out the edges of an oxygen mask just below her eyes. The room was dim and quiet, and she felt no pain. She gingerly turned her head to the left, and was pleased to find that she could do so. But no one sat beside her bed.
Slowly, she turned her head in the opposite direction. As her eyes began to focus, she could see a large glass tank with a bright light above it. Inside the tank was a small green lump, about the size of Maddie’s fist. Maddie laughed, which hurt her throat far more than she had anticipated it would. “That little thing?” Her eyelids drooped, and she slept again.
When she opened her eyes again, the lights were back on, but the room was still vacant. Maddie had no idea how much time had passed. She still felt groggy, likely a side effect of the anesthetic used for the surgery that had removed the plant matter from her left lung. Remembering the green lump, her eyes fixed on the glass tank. It looked larger than it had before, nearly the size of a grapefruit. Maddie furrowed her brow and shook her head slightly. She must be imagining things.
She grasped at the sheets covering her, searching for a call button for the nurses. No such luck. She lifted her left arm, which had an IV needle inserted just below her elbow, and followed the plastic tubing for about a foot, hoping the call button was clipped to it. Again, her luck failed her.
Again, she heard the voice that had woken her. “Where am I?”
Maddie lifted her head from the pillow and scanned the room slowly. There was no one else in the room, unless they were hiding beneath the bed. She peered more intently toward the door that she suspected led into the bathroom, but no motion came from that direction. “I can’t see you,” she croaked feebly. She was rewarded by a burning sensation in her throat.
Maddie focused on the tank again. The green lump was pulsing slightly. As she continued to watch, she recognized the pattern of the pulsing. It matched the rhythm pounding through her veins. Without thinking about the effect it would have on her raw throat, Maddie screamed.