Scatter-gun impressions in the shadows, the tictac chittering of something I couldn’t see. Nothing makes sense any more, only bad dreams and broken sleep. Have I dreamed this one before? I don’t think so, this one I would have remembered. Is that a grasshopper? Why does it have fish eyes and white hair? Insects don’t have hair. And they sure as heck don’t stand six foot tall. Wait, is that a needle in its hand?

I slept then. Proper deep sleep. For the first time in weeks, I slept solid and warm, without breaks or interruptions of the strange and irritable distractions that somehow woke me every night and meant I started the next day unrested and unable to concentrate. I slept, and it was like curling up inside a warm envelope.

I felt more alert than I had in a long time. There wasn’t much to see, a plain room, a single table in the corner, and the bed I was lying on.

Not quite a bed either. Like a cabinet top. Pristine and polished whiteness, and a single light sheet. A box of polished wood designed by someone who liked Scandinavian furniture. Surprisingly comfortable though. Light streamed in from a large window, from a small garden outside. Gravel and small plants with long leaves and not much flower. Greens in every corner. The walls in the room were featureless, painted a not quite whiteness that echoed the merest tint of the green and brown hues from the sculpted gardens outside.

What were those things in my dreams? Eldritch weirdness, a room filled with over-sized bugs. I sat up then, but most of my right side forgot to move. I looked down, and saw the scar. I touched it, feeling the strange rubbery sensation of touching numbed skin. Some sort of anesthetic. Pretty effective too. And what am I wearing? Some sort of hospital gown?

I was operated on. What had they done to me?

I looked around the room. And where is the door?

‘Hello? I anyone there?’

The door opened. How had I not seen it before? Flush with the wall, almost invisible. I blinked, unsure what to say, as light from beyond the door streamed in. The nurse looked to be in her forties, in regular hospital scrubs, carrying herself with that air of industrious competence they always have.

‘Help me get out of here,’ I said.

‘All in good time, don’t you worry. You’ve had quite the narrow escape, but you were lucky. Just take things easy for a while, and everything will be ship shape. You’ve had a burst appendix, and developed peritonitis. All sorts of toxins spilled into your bloodstream, causing infections, fevers, even hallucinations. The doctors had to operate quickly, but you’re going to be fine. You just need some more rest, and then we can send you home.’

I thought about how good it had felt to wake up after a complete night’s sleep. More rest? Sure, I could do that. I could do that a lot.

Photo by Kevin Chinchilla on Unsplash