The dust from her boots kicked up we she climbed back into old blue pick-up. The shock of the accident didn’t lessen the comfort she felt behind the wheel of ancient Ford, yet her hands continued to shake. Her worn fingers gripped the familiar wheel tightly, knowing that she’d done that so many times before. So many times in fact that the wheel was worn away at ten and two. But the truck, the stuff inside it… was it hers? She couldn’t remember. Suddenly, nothing was familiar. It struck her then that maybe it wasn’t her truck… it not, then who’s? That’s when the shrieking started.
Unable to locate it source, she slowly and painfully climbed back out of the truck. Her head throbbed and she began to feel the first trickle of blood run down her temple. There was no one else around. Smoke poured out from beneath the crumpled hood, creating a mysterious haze to her already unfamiliar surroundings, but still no sign of the screamer.
Dazed, she began to wonder away from the accident. It struck her then she had no idea what she had hit. When she turned to take another look at the truck, she saw the telephone pole and the subsequent impression it had left in the truck. Taking a few more steps back, she thought she saw someone standing in the cloud of black smoke and exhaust now flowing like a raging river from the defunct truck engine. Trying to focus on the emerging form, her head began to swim and the icy pick of fear seized her. Whoever… or whatever it was approaching her was not something or someone she wanted to deal with. Instinctively, she knew that they or it was evil.
Cursing the pain in her head, and now the vocal screams of pain coming from her back, she knew that running was going to be detrimental to her overall condition, but the fear was enough to chance it. She turned, wanting to run as far and fast as she could. But no more than five steps in the other direction and the explosion of the old Ford’s gas tank propelled her instead. Landing fifty or so feet away on her back, the last thing she thought before once again loosing consciousness was, at least it can’t get me now.
It was two days before she woke up again. Her eyes opened upon an unnervingly yellow room with lace and flower curtains. Her hand immediately went to the place on her head that was throbbing like a young boy’s hard-on. The pulsating ring in her ears swelled in and out, eventually ceasing enough to help alleviate a little of the pain in her head. She laid as still as possible, unsure of what injuries she had and where exactly the overall pain and discomfort her body felt was stemming from. An hour went by before she felt sure enough in her ability to prop herself up in the small bed. Her grey eyes focused on the matching yellow comforter that lay neatly over her torso, then beyond that to the rest of the room.
She searched for the fear that she remembered before the blast. That seemed most important at that moment. Once her instincts told her it was safe, she tried to remember her name. When she came up blank, panic, not fear, began to rise. How could she not know her name? What that because of the accident? Was it because of the truck explosion? And why the hell had she been so scared? Something in the smoke, her mind spoke up, you stay away from the thing in the smoke. Before any further thoughts could register, the door to the unnervingly yellow room cracked open.
Unsure of what she’d encounter, she braced herself only to be met with a round little face and brown pigtails. The little girls face beamed up at her with a sweetness that caused her to crack a smile. That, caused her head to throb again. Wincing to the pain, she saw the little girl shy behind the door, then coyly peek around again.
“Did I hurt you?” the little girl asked meekly.
“No, my head just hurts.”
“My mommy can fix that.” Then she was gone again.
Moments later, an old woman came through the door with a tray in hand and the pigtailed girl at her skirt. The old woman smiled cautiously and held out a glass of water and two small red pills.
“Just aspirin and water. Go on.” The old lady said and turned back to her tray. “I didn’t know what you liked, but you shouldn’t be eatin’ any more than chicken broth and toast.”
“That’s fine thanks.” She said, taking the aspirin and greedily taking down the water.
“Whoa there. Easy with that. Don’t go over doin’ it now. Little at a time, k?”
She nodded, and painfully placed the water on the night stand.
“So, now that you’re up, you want to tell me why I found you all bloodied on the street?”
“Car accident,” she said. “Is the wreck still out there?”
“What wreck? I ain’t seen no wreck. Streets been quiet for days now.”
“What? I…” her head throbbed harder. She tried desperately to remember the accident. But all she kept seeing was the shape in the smoke. “My truck… I think it was my truck crashed into a telephone poll outside. Then exploded. Didn’t you hear it?”
“Nope. No explosions. All I hear is them damn seagulls and the boats comin’ in an out. So, you got a name?”
“I don’t know. I mean I’m sure I do, but I… I don’t seem to recall it.”
“You didn’t have any thing on you when I found, ‘cept that ring there.” The old woman motioned to the thick silver ring on her right hand. Delicate etchings ran round the band leading to a small moonstone cut into a heart. Looking at the ring did nothing to jog a memory or instill any kind of feelings.
“I’ve never seen this before.” The panic was setting back in. No name, strange place, strange jewelry and a strange old woman giving her a quizzical gaze.
“Well then… I guess askin’ ya if there is someone you want me to call is a silly question. Don’t know your own name, how you going to know who to call.”
Her hand went to the throbbing place on her head, and the old woman grabbed it before she could touch it.
“You’ll wanna leave that alone. It’s a pretty nasty gash. I checked out the rest of ya, but you’ll definitely wanna leave that head alone girlie. I did the best I could with what I had.”
“Hospital?” was all she could manage.
“Nope, you won’t be able to hit a hospital round here for a few days. I was lucky to find you when I did. Strom blew in straight after and dumped about three feet on us. I tried to call Daniel, but the storm blew down the wires day before last. I trekked up to his place…”
“Daniel’s the doc that lives up the way. He’s a local but works up in the bigger hospital up north a ways. Must’ve been up that way when the storm hit.”
“And where are we exactly?””