White bleeds through your eyes as you open them to an empty ceiling. The smell of clean sheets and metal is swirling through your nose as you pick yourself up from the bed under you. You glance towards your arm, noticing the IV cords protruding from your wrist and curling down then up towards a bag half filled with a clear liquid. You move to brush your fingers through your hair, but then you notice that it is no longer pink, but a soft blond; as if the color you had put in your hair previously had come out overnight. Confused, you look around the room. There’s a piano in the corner, much like the one you had at home, and a few chairs near your bed. As you observe the blank white walls, a speaker crackles overhead.
“Catherine?” It asks, almost breaking in mid-sentence, and you look up towards the noise.
“Good, you finally woke up” It says, and you frown.
“Woke..?” You mumble, your mouth feeling sticky as the words come out.
“Yes, but we’ll get to that later,” the voice says, and you nod. “Can you stand?”
After a moment of looking around the ceiling for a visible speaker, you scoot to the edge of your bed. Carefully, you move your legs over the edge, letting your bare feet touch the cool linoleum floor before slowly rising to your feet. You then stumble, catching yourself as your white nightgown drapes over your flushed knees, and then you look up as you gain your stance.
Nearby there is a nightstand holding your glasses, and you make a small move to grab them and put them on
“Good, now try walking” The voice calls, cracking once or twice to small bits of static.
You nod, slowly moving your foot forward before you begin to shuffle, the IV pole following. Your legs felt stiff, and you only make it over to the piano with the aid of the chairs near the bed and the small size of the room. Once you’re there, you put your hand on the oak wood of the piano, balancing yourself before you again turn your apple gaze upward.
“Can you play it?” The voice asks, and yet again you nod. In moments, you’re sitting on the bench in front of exposed black and white keys. You graze your pale fingers against them, finding the notes in your head before beginning a small lullaby; one you remember from a place far away and covered in sand. As you play, you remember the smell of rust, fire, and the scent of someone you used to know; remembering the familiar smell of cigarette smoke. You begin to feel the sensation of your gut twisting, and your eyes burning before you finally stop.
“Where’s Sid?” You ask, your gaze shooting towards the ceiling again, and the crackle of the speaker starts up again.
“What was that?” The person asks, and you furrow your brows.
“Where’s Sidney?” You ask again.
“Who’s Sidney?” You hear him ask, and your expression drops. What did he mean by that?
“Catherine, you must be delirious” The voice says, and you can recognize it as a soothing tone. “You don’t know anyone by that name.”
“Yes I do, she lives in the house next to me” You say in retaliation, becoming upset that the person would say such a thing. There is a pause before you hear anything from the speaker.
“Catherine, the house next to yours has been empty since you fell asleep.”
You jolt, looking around for the speaker system.
“What are you talking about??” You ask, feeling your stomach flip and your hands beginning to tremble.
“Catherine, you’ve been in a coma since you were four years old.”
You can feel your stomach sink at the words, your body spinning. You've been in a coma.
“You don’t remember, but you fell down a flight of stairs at your home thirteen years ago, and you never woke up until now.” The voice says “I’m surprised you know how to play the piano,
since you’ve been asleep for so long.”
“But, I swear I was awake..!” You say, panic rising in your voice as you rise from the bench. “I was with Sid... And Noah, and -...And-“
“And that, who are you talking about?” The voice cuts you off “Who are these people?”
“Are you telling me they aren’t real?” You say quickly. “They’re not real, right?”
There’s a pause before the speaker cracks again.
“Unfortunately, these people are not real.”
You shoot your gaze down, covering your ears with the palms of your hands, but not too tightly. You chew on your lip, twisting your hair between your fingers before you look up again.
“So- so what?” you say in panicked, sarcastic tone. “Are you going to tell me my mom didn't die, too?” There’s another pause, and then the familiar static.
“Catherine, your mother has been alive, she never died.”
Your eyes widen, as your gazes shoots forward. The information cakes your thoughts like glue, the whole thing sinking in as you begin to hyperventilate. You should feel good that it wasn't real. Cain never tortured you, your mother never died, you never put your friend’s lives into peril; and that’s where it stings. You never met the boys, you never had that rivalry feeling for Skerpl, you never spent the night at Sid’s home and you never met her little brother. You never met her. You never heard her sing to you from her window. You never went to Suns with her. She was never there at all. Everything was a lie.
You topple down on your knees, shoving the bench over with your body as your breathing quickens.
“Stop!” you shout, grasping your ears tightly as warm droplets swim down your face “Stop stop stop stop!! Stop telling me this! I never wanted to wake up!!” You’re breathing quickens to a frightening pace as the crackling from the hidden speaker grows
“Please, Calm down, Catherine.” You hear the speaker say from under your heavy breaths and clamped ears.
“Let me go back to sleep!!” You start screaming “This isn’t real!!”
“Please, calm down” the voice pleads, but it only makes your screams louder.
“I don’t want to be here!!” You scream, leaning forward, tears beginning to make noise as they fall rapidly down on your glasses. “I wanna go back to them!!! They need me!! ”
For a minute you only hear the sound of your sobs as you claw at your hair, twisting strands of blond tightly within your fingers as you screech like an animal in pain. There is no speaker trying to calm you down, only the noises you are making; and then there is a hiss.
You pause, catching your uneasy breath as you look around for the source of the sound; but you can’t find it, much like the speaker. Suddenly in moments you feel your body relax and your eyes lids feel heavy under a drifting, minty smell that makes your mouth water. When was the last time you ate? This becomes distracting to you; so distracting that you almost miss the sound of the crackling speaker.
“We’re going to put you back to sleep for now, but when you wake up you need to be more calm so we can release you” The voice says, and you nod as you loosen your grips on the tuffs of blond hair in your fingers.
Suddenly you’re dizzy, and you feel your body pull down to the linoleum tile. As your vision hazes, you swear you can hear the sounds of footsteps on the cool floor. Were they there before? How could you not notice that?
Before you slip into the darkness, you swear you can hear someone calling your name. You listen to it, and soon you can see a faint glow of copper overhead; but you hear it. The sound of static.