Kilt jerked awake as he pulled away from a giant mouth dripping with long strands of gooey saliva and filled with long, razor-sharp knives hanging down like fangs that stood above him, poised to snap his head clean off. The movement stirred the slumbering pain in his arm, or what was left of it. And it was only after his darting eyes confirmed that he was out of danger, that he allowed himself to drop his sweaty head slowly back to his pillow.
A slight, soft tap worked its way through the door of his hospital room, not so much a request for an entrance, but rather a polite announcement that the door was opening.
“Yes?” he said.
The door swung wide even before he responded to allow the nurse access. “Good morning, Misteeer…,” she said, searching for the right name and never looking up from her chart. “…Kilt,” she said, almost surprised. “Mr. Kilt. Hello. Good morning. I’m glad you’re awake. How are you feeling?”
The dull throb that seemed to come from the place where his left hand should have been generated new, and probably less than appropriate responses to the question of how he was feeling. Like a man who will be really good at swimming in circles and so on.
“Fine,” was all that worked it’s way to the surface. “O.k. Where am I?”
“You don’t remember?” the nurse asked, looking at him for the first time.
“I’m not sure.”
“Well, I don’t blame you, what with the storm and the amount of blood you lost and all,” she said quickly bringing up her chart and flipping back the first pages. “It says here, you were admitted after falling unconscious to the floor in the emergency room. It says,” she held the s as she flipped a couple more pages, “substantial blood loss due to…,” The nurse slowly leveled the chart to look at him closely. Her glance moved evenly from Kilt’s face to his left shoulder and then to the well bandaged stump of his left arm, cut pretty much at the elbow.
“…dog bite,” she finished bringing her gaze back to his. “Dog bite?”
Kilt lay there breaking a sweat in the heat of her stare. ‘I guess so,” he muttered.
“If you say so Mister Kilt,” she started, breaking the cold surveying look and getting about her tasks. “But if you ask me, that had to be one hell of a dog. Unless, of course, you have always been shy one arm and he just caught the tip,” she paused. “Not to be indelicate to your situation.”
Kilt looked down at his arm and raised it up a bit, despite the staunch objections from the rest of his cells that were working to begin the repair work of his injury. “No, I can assure you that a bit over 24 hours ago, old lefty here was happy as a clam in jam and ready to do whatever needed getting done.”
The nurse, Amanda Pike according to her name tag, checked the bandage, then quickly and efficiently took his temperature and his blood pressure – from his right arm – as unobtrusively as possible.
“Well, Mister Kilt, I can only imagine what kind of animal you were dealing with and what you might have done to him to make him want to bite your forearm and hand clean off.”
“Wait,” he said with a smirk. “What I did? Look, I’m all good with animals. Really. I’m like freaking Doctor Doolittle when it comes to animals. But this, this was…” His voice trailed off before he let himself slip, before he heard him say the words, because then it would make it real. Right now he was happy with dog bite. Hell, even a big dog bite. He had lost a lot of blood. It could have all been a delusion, a big, giant silly manifestation of something that couldn’t be.
“Yeah?” nurse Pike asked. “Are you saying it wasn’t a dog? Because that’s what I suspect. Your arm there, the doctor said it looked it came clean off. What dog can do that? And if it was a dog, you need to tell somebody. Because you can’t have something like that roaming around out there.”
Kilt swallowed hard. He could barely bring himself to muster the thought, much less utter the word. He stared down at the very real injury, throbbing in pain on his left side. Jesus. He slowly shook his head, pressed his lips together to prevent anything from slipping out and drew a deep breath to try and calm the pounding he felt now both in his chest and in what was left of his arm.
Amanda stood next to him, waiting for his response, but as he drew his breath in, she realized this was the end of the conversation…for now. She wasn’t clear on why she had such a yearning to know what really happened out there. Storms always brought in the crazies, and last night’s storm was a doozie.
Instinctively, she reached down to pull up his sheet and blanket and smooth the ends over the edges of the bed. “Don’t worry Mister Kilt. You are safe here. Doctor Blakewood did a great job of fixing you up. Your job now is to get some rest and to start feeling better.” She flipped through the pages of his chart again. “It looks like you are due for another round of pain medication. I’ll be right back.” She turned and let herself out.
Kilt continued to stare down at the stark white bandages. The throbbing pain continued to keep time with his heart, a bit slower now than a moment before, now that the conversation had ended. What kind of dog indeed. He closed his eyes, trying to remember, but not as hard as his expression might allow someone to think. The rain. The lightning. The thunder.
His head twitched with each refreshed vision.
The large, angry eyes. And yes…the teeth.
His eyes shot open and he stared again at the door to his room. No, not a dog. No dogs allowed in this nightmare. But how could he say…