“Jesus, Remy.” Daniels’ voice sounded like it was coming from underwater. I blinked my eyes open, and he was sitting over me, his face hazy as it hovered above me.
He touched my stomach, where the incision was swollen, and pain shot through me like a searing white heat. I screamed, because I couldn’t help myself.
“How long has this been like this?” Daniels asked, and I mumbled an answer that didn’t make sense. “Remy, why didn’t you tell me about this?”
“It hurts,” I whispered, and I could feel tears streaming down my cheeks.
“What’s wrong?” Boden asked, and I could barely see him, standing above Daniels.
“She has an infection.” Daniels pursed his lips, looking grave. “She might have sepsis. I don’t know why she waited so long.”
“Is she going to be okay?” Boden asked.
“Let’s just get her to a bed.”
Then I was moving, floating away from the ground, and everything went black again. There was pain, intense and sharp, but I couldn’t hear or see anything. Only the pain permeated my sleep.
“I found half a bottle of vodka,” Boden was saying when I opened my eyes again.
I was in a different room, not the kitchen. There were no cupboards, and the walls were painted a strange blue color that made me seasick. Daniels was beside me, doing something to my abdomen that I couldn’t see but hurt like hell.
“That’s better than nothing,” Daniels said and took the bottle from Boden.
“She’s awake,” Boden said. He stood at the end of the bed, staring down at me, and his face was fraught with worry.
“Remy, I’m trying to clean out and disinfect your incision,” Daniels said, keeping his voice calm and smooth. “It’s going to hurt, but I have to do it.”
“No,” I moaned and tried to shake my head. “No. Stop.”
“Remy, he needs to do this,” Boden said.
I closed my eyes, and then my abdomen was filled with liquid fire. Everything inside me burned. I arched my back and gritted my teeth, trying not to scream because I didn’t want to frighten Max or Stella.
The pain became too intense, and I blacked out again. When I woke again, all I heard was voices. I couldn’t open my eyes, and my body felt like it was floating on a cloud of flames.
“You did this to her!” Boden was shouting angrily. “You’re the one that cut her open! You need to fix this!”
“I’m trying!” Daniels insisted. “I’m doing everything I can, but there’s not much more I can do if she has sepsis. I don’t have a proper clinic – ”
Something clattered loudly, and I wasn’t sure what it was, but I thought Boden hit something or knocked something over.
“What do you even know about clinics?” Boden asked. “I thought you spent your time running a butcher shop back at the quarantine. How could you do that to her? Didn’t you have some kind of oath where you first do no harm?”
“I didn’t do that to her,” Daniels argued. “My job was to draw blood and take care of her. I was in charge of monitoring her and keeping her alive. So that’s what I did. It was the other doctors that cut her up, and… I never wanted this to happen.”
“Just fix her, okay?” Boden sounded uncharacteristically desperate. “Don’t let her die.”
“I promise you, I’m doing everything I can for her,” Daniels assured him.
Then it was gone again. I was back into the blackness. And at first that was nice because I couldn’t feel anything. A numbness had taken over me.
But when I opened my eyes, a bright white lamp was shining above me. Four faces hovered above me, all hidden behind surgical masks, so all I could see was their eyes as they dissected me. I tried to move but my arms were pinned down. When I screamed, nothing came out, because my mouth was blocked with a leather gag. I was freezing cold, strapped naked to a table.
I was back in the quarantine. I was in the operating room. I didn’t know how I got back there. Or maybe I’d never left. Maybe everything had been a dream, and I was still trapped inside, where they would be cutting me up over and over again.
I struggled against the straps but I couldn’t get free. I wanted to scream at the doctors and beg them to stop, but they just ignored me, the way always did when they operated. They wouldn’t even look me in the eyes. They just talked calmly among themselves, like I wasn’t even there.
Then I felt the blade slice into my stomach. Even when I knew it was coming, it never made it easier. But they weren’t just cutting my stomach. I could feel their knives all over, as they sliced up my legs, my arms, my chest, anywhere they reach. They were dicing me up.
“Remy!” Daniels was yelling but I couldn’t see his face. He wasn’t in the operating room with us, but I could hear him. “Remy, stop! Please!”
“Let me go!” I screamed, and I could actually hear my own words. The gag wasn’t in my mouth anymore.
“Boden!” Daniels shouted. “Boden, I need your help!”
“Please,” I was begging with tears streaming down my cheeks. “Please. Don’t hurt me.”
“Nobody’s gonna hurt you.” That was Boden’s voice, calm and soothing, and I felt his hands, strong and warm on my arms. “But you need to settle down, or you’re going to hurt yourself.”
I blinked, unable to understand what was happening, and the vision of the operating room cleared. Boden was sitting beside me, pinning down each of my arms. I was freezing, and my teeth began to chatter.
“What’s going on?” I asked, and my throat felt raw. I wondered how much I’d been screaming.
“You’re clothes are soaking wet, so Daniels is taking them off,” Boden said. “He’ll put you in dry clothes so you don’t get pneumonia.”
Boden had loosened his grip, and I looked around. Daniels must’ve already changed my shirt, because I was wearing a warm, dry sweater instead of the old dirty one I’d had on before. He was in the process of taking off my pants, and they were around my knees, clinging wet to my skin.
“Are you okay?” Boden asked.
“Yeah.” I nodded. “I’m okay.”
I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t. My body didn’t seem to want to work that way, and pain spread through me.
“Don’t sit up,” Daniels said. “I’ve got it. You just rest.”