Deceiving Death
By Dana Quell

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Mika could hear people, conversing only gently enough to be heard over the slight hum of the machines and the periodical beep that accented the air as if to announce, “Here… the… heart… still… beats…”, word for beep, beep for word. She couldn’t distinguish what it was they were saying, however; she would’ve been surprised to know she once had understood these strange syllables of nonsensical twists of the tongue.

Something was preventing her from ascertaining just what it was that they were speaking of; that same something preventing her from figuring out who they were exactly or where she was. It was as if there were a fog entrenched within her mind, surrounding every group of neurons and separating them quietly, making them individuals and leaving them alone within her mind in order to thwart her from thinking properly. Curious by nature and desperate to rid herself of this fog, she opened her eyes (or what she thought of as her eyes).

There were 3 people hovering over her. Two seemed vaguely familiar, and yet she couldn’t place them through the mist. Since she didn’t detect a sense of familiarity with the third, she focused her efforts on the other two. The first was a tall, dark haired woman, older and more worn down by life than the others. Upon closer examination, she could see the worry lines surrounding the green eyes of this woman, so like her own, and suddenly she remembered. This is my mother.

Having identified one third of the group, she focused her attention on the next. This was a girl her own age, short and light, with fair skin and blonde hair. Her brown eyes were filled with concern and Mika smiled reassuringly at her. The girl smiled back at her through plump lips, but still Mika could not place her. Her mother spoke first. “Honey, this is Dr. Spotnitz.” She gestured to the man, the third, unfamiliar figure. “He’s here to see how you’re feeling.”

The doctor spoke. “Do you know where you are, Mika?”

She looked around her forgotten surroundings for the first time. White walls, white sheets, machines surrounding the bed. I’m sure as hell not in Kansas anymore. Licking her dehydrated lips, she replied casually, “The hospital.”

“Very good,” Dr. Spotnitz replied. “Do you know who these people are?”

Mika swallowed dryly. She didn’t want to hurt the girl’s feelings just because she couldn’t remember. After all, the poor girl looked like she had been through enough already. “Yes,” she lied. She shot another look at the girl next to her mother, hoping none of them had seen through her lie or that the next question out of the doctor’s mouth was about who they were.

The girl fidgeted, as if debating with herself about something so important as the struggle between good and evil. “I’m so so so sorry, Mika! The accident was all my fault, I shouldn’t have been driving around so late at night. I should’ve been paying more attention. I’m so so so sorry, can you ever forgive me?”

“Joanne,” Mika’s mother warned.

Mika wasn’t paying any attention at this point. With the girl’s- Joanne’s- words, a splattering of colour ran across her mind, lifting the fog a little more. Smiling faces not noticing the change of the light’s colour as it went from green to red; smiling faces driving straight through the intersection, turning to terrified faces as another car slammed into their side.

“Mika, do you remember what happened that put you in the hospital?”

“I was in a car accident,” she whispered timidly, as if uttering the words would allow it to happen again at that same moment. “How bad was it? I don’t remember much of it after going through the intersection.”

“Well,” Dr. Spotnitz said, placing a pen Mika hadn’t noticed he was holding into the breast pocket of his lab coat. “Your friend Joanne got out of it very lightly- the other car crashed into the passenger side of your car, so she got off with only a few scratches. You, on the other hand, have several broken ribs, a few lacerations on your leg that had to be stitched up, contusions around your head, and a concussion. You’ll have to be kept in the hospital for another couple of days for observation, but after that there’s no reason why you can’t recuperate at home, in familiar surroundings.”

“Oh.” Going home would mean she would have to be in another car. She didn’t think she could do that. Not after the accident, certainly. Every car had now become a death trap, something to be feared as the Grim Reaper, able to take her life or anyone else’s at any time it wished.

“Oh, look at the time,” her mother said, just happening to glance at her watch. “I promised Joanne’s mother I’d have her home before 6, and gosh darn it if it isn’t 7:30. You need your rest anyway. Doesn’t she, Doctor?” He nodded his agreement. “Good. Now get some rest. I’ll be back tomorrow morning before I go to work to see how you’re doing. Good night. Sleep tight.”

Mika’s mother single-handedly ushered herself, Joanne, and Dr. Spotnitz out of the room in under three seconds. Mika knew this was because her mother had always been uncomfortable in hospitals, but she didn’t really want to be left alone. After all, she had just deceived death, and the whole incident had her considerably shaken up.

Through the silence of her room between the heart monitor’s beeps, she could distantly hear two people down the hallway arguing.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Here… the… heart… still… beats…