Machines of Unknown Origin


My eyes are bleary, vision is less than perfect, there is a blur about the world, a sheen of vagueness that wraps itself around everything.  My eyes feel like stones in my head, feel as if they are as hard as rocks.  My head tilts downward, heavy, weary, worn by the long day.  Sitting, leaning forward, head resting on my right arm, looking down.

I pick my head up slowly, it moves as if an inexpert puppet master had tried to make it jump to attention, but could not quite manage it.  The light is fairly dim, the small pair of fluorescent lights stark and cold and shining some feet away, the purr of the lights drowned out by other, less subtle machinery.

I look to straight ahead, try to focus.  Squint.  Rub my eyes.  Shake my head, and the world begins to come somewhat into sharper focus.

Hospital bed.  Bed sheets. White linen.  A few tubes.  I look to my extreme left.  Machines of unknown origin hum quietly to themselves, with the occasional beep to let the humans in the area know that they are working, but need attention.  50ml sits on a small screen for anyone who is interested to know how many CCs of liquid are running through that particular tube.

I turn my attention away from the machines of unknown origin, to the person who they are attached to.  A gaunt figure of a man, skeletal, lies quiet, unruffled for the moment.  Then a slight movement.  Fingers in mittens that are meant to keep the hands from grasping anything, grasp at anything in an attempt to hold anything, and curl into a fist, then relaxes and squeezes again.

Then the hand lifts as if to shade eyes from blinding light, or to defend from some invisible blow coming from above.  The hand tries to come down on tubes sticking from his neck, but I divert them for what seems the thousandth time, shooting my hand underneath his arm, and snake around to grab his wrist, done that way to avoid coming close to the tubes protruding from his neck myself.

His eyes are panicked, but only momentarily. He looks at me, and I him.  “Good Morning Sunshine!” I say to him, at a loss as to what else to say.  I hear a voice tell me to speak to him, and I try, but I can’t.  When he locks eyes with me, there is incomprehension, an unasked “Why?” that I cannot answer.  Or maybe it’s just me seeing a question that I myself am trying to answer, and cannot.  We both continue looking at each other for several more seconds, then he averts his stare, his gaze loses focus, and he collapses slowly back onto the bed.

He is conscious for entire moments at a time, but rarely longer than that.  He can breathe on his own for several minutes at a time, but that is all.

A tear forms in his right eye.  One nearly forms in mine, but being both conscious and disciplined, I manage to keep it at bay, though just barely.

I get up to leave the room, and a single thought forms, and I can feel the anger show on my face, though it is not anger that I feel ” Don’t you die on me, you sonofabitch, don’t you do it.”

“I’ll be back.”

___________________________

That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

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