FICTION: The Long Sleep

The Long Sleep Man Walking - Andrew Amistad

Photo: Andrew Amistad

Trevor awoke with a lurch, first aware of the tubes in his mouth, nostrils, hands, and who knew where else. Then came the retching, his stomach discharging whatever the hell that brown goo was.

He held the bedside table and the mattress as he vomited, not really sure where he was, or if he’d have to clean up this mess later. Light was scarce in the room, signalling either the start or the end of the day.

What was this place? Did he have too much to drink again? That wouldn’t be a surprise. Yes, that’s gotta be it. A celebration. Bits and pieces of information followed his train of thought.

It was his birthday, and of course he’d gotten plastered again. Then there was the fighting, the car skidding, the screaming—Trevor looked down at his body and gave himself a good pat-down.

He still had all of his limbs, and they didn’t hurt, albeit feeling a little foreign, as if he hasn’t used—or seen—them in a while. They looked skinnier than he remembered too.

The memories would have to wait. Laboriously, he propped himself into a seated position, still grasping tightly at the edges of the table and bed, accidentally pressing a light switch of sorts during the action.

Then he jumped with a start as a voice called out his name.

“Trevor Jones, emergency patient number oh-one-three,” said a man’s voice.

He looked around, seeing nobody in the twilight. A woman’s voice followed soon after.

“You’re recording? So do I go now? Right, okay.”

So it was a recording.

“If you’re hearing this,” the voice continued, “then you’ve waken out of your coma. You’re one out of twenty-seven patients who are reliant on life support. Unfortunately, this also means that you’ll be left behind, due to… a government-declared emergency.”

The urge to puke came up again, though Trevor didn’t know if that was due to his circumstance or from the tone of the woman’s voice. He began removing the tubes from his body, waste bag and all. He yanked the IV from his wrist before it could make him queasier than he already was.

“We’re being… attacked. We’re not sure by who, or what. All communications have been cut, so we’re not even sure if it’s a global situation at the moment. Right now, we’re instructed to evacuate and head north.”

“Hello?” Trevor cried weakly. The world still spun around him.

“You should try and do the same. Look for bands of survivors and carry on from there. Hopefully, everything will boil over before you wake up. If not, try and avoid open-air areas, especially at night.

“We don’t know much about these things. All we know is they attack from the skies, so always keep looking up. They seem to need direct line of sight, meaning that you’ll be fine under cover. Move during the day, and hide at night, but they’ve also been known to attack when there’s too much sound.”

Was this a joke of some sort? Some kind of prank people play on their drunk friends? He half-expected Ben or Nicole to walk in any second now, phone-cameras in their hands, laughing at the elaborate plan they’d just pulled off.

“Again, we’re—I’m—sorry that we had to leave you behind. Take care and good luck.”

The room once again descended into silence with those parting words. Trevor looked around once more. He shared the room with three other beds, all dishevelled. Lived in. They were probably his roommates once, and he’d been the last to wake up.

A sudden shiver ran down his spine. What must it have been for the first person to wake up? Did they hang around, or did they make a run for it? Worse, where were they now?

With shivering muscles that could barely support him, Trevor slid his feet down to the floor, his bare feet touching the cold linoleum. There were still lights coming from the devices next to his roommates’ beds. There was no blood or signs of struggle, so these people must’ve woken up on their own, just like him.

Staggering through the dark, Trevor walked to his bedside drawer and rummaged through it. His trusty digital watch and mobile phone were inside, the former still functional, the latter totally dead. But it might still hold some clues so he pocketed his phone.

The time on his watch read six in the morning. The date read August 26. His birthday was November 13. Had he been in a coma for almost a year? Where were his friends? How was mom and dad? Where was he? He needed to find out quick, so he dragged himself to the door.

“Hello?” he called, only as loud as he dared, the warnings on the recording still fresh in his head. Maybe there were others who were still here. He was one out of, what was it, twenty-three?

He passed a humming chunk of machinery as big as a dinner table. Wires jutted out of it, snaking their way into the room he came out of. Besides the whir from this contraption, the entire building was dead silent.

Was this a generator of some sort? Trevor had heard the beeps and gasps coming out of the life-support machines in his room, and there didn’t seem to be running power readily available.

The room next door had a generator too, and Trevor rushed towards it. More survivors, he thought, and he felt his heart leap with excitement as the entered the equally dark room. The hope faded as quick as it sparked. The room was empty, just like his.

“Hello?” he yelled again, louder this time, as implored by his increasing nerves. He hurried to the next room, then the next. No luck. The entire building was abandoned.

Let’s head outside, then. Maybe head home.

Trevor began finding his way out of the building, which was beginning to register itself as a hospital in his mind. ICU, the signs said. Cardiology. Pulmonology. Exit. The last one was what he was looking for.

He put one foot after the next, aware that walking was sapping every bit of energy out of him. Was there even a chance that he could make the trip—Trevor stopped in his tracks. Was that a silhouette of a body he’d just walked past?

Trying to keep his trembling legs under control, Trevor held his breath and back-stepped as quietly as he could. Sure enough, before a window that was lit by the rising sun, stood a figure hunched over a cupboard. The thing was looking directly at him.

There was the slightest of a pause. Then the figure leapt at him, screaming as it did so. Trevor let out a howl as well, and lifted his hands to protect his face. As the thing came closer, Trevor would realise that it only reached up to his chest. Was it a child?

Instead of attacking, the figure ran right past him and into the corridors behind him.

“Wait!” Trevor yelled, suddenly aware of the situation. “Don’t go! You need to help me. I’m not here to hurt you!”

He gave chase, only seeing flashes of the figure before it disappeared behind another corner. Trevor ran as fast as he could, despite his failing legs, trailing far behind the little creature.

Still, through his persistence, Trevor managed to find the exit, a set of double doors framing the bright lights beyond, still slightly ajar from the person who’d just exited before him. He burst out, yelling, wheezing, blinded by the lights, then by the dark spots in his vision, and he found it weird how the ground came up to meet him, but he would soon return to the long sleep where he just came from.

This story was written for the Reddit writing prompt: You fall into a coma after an accident and wake up a few years later; you find a recorder with a voice message telling you to run.

I’d started writing this as a short story, but now I feel like this could be a novel worth exploring. What do you think? Is this introduction interesting enough?

One thought on “FICTION: The Long Sleep

  1. Pingback: FICTION: The Long Sleep (Part 2) | I Write Stuff

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