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Patient Z

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posted on Jul, 1 2010 @ 05:32 PM
Patient Z had finally woken up to the great delight of the medical team who had been tending him for many long months.

As he’d slowly opened his eyes the nurse in charge of him had almost shrieked before running quickly to get the senior doctors.

Tentatively, he moved his fingers then tried to feel his toes. As he was checking that everything was there and in working order a tall doctor, surrounded by underlings, had entered the room.
Patient Z blinked and looked at them. They stared hard at him; frantically they consulted their notes, and each other.

Patient Z tried to speak, he heard some sounds come out of his dry mouth. He realised he was thirsty and tried to ask for water. The medical team looked at him blankly, they didn’t understand.

After checking him over as best they could, they left the room. Watching them go, Patient Z noticed that there was a tall sentry at the door – holding what looked to him like a weapon.
He tried to think. He couldn’t remember how he had got here. His whole life before this moment was a blank. He still had his language, but nothing else. Except for a longing for something. What, he couldn’t remember.

He looked over at the sentry and thought about the doctors and nurses. They had looked a little odd to him – and very excited.

In the doctor’s office the team were having an animated consultation. Now he was awake, they had to work out what to do for their patient. Patient Z, with his strange skin and hair the colour of which they had never seen before.

As promised, they had contacted the military higher-ups and were expecting a visit very shortly. They would have to advise the General in the strongest possible terms that Patient Z could not be moved yet or interrogated. Their first priority was to find a way to nourish him in the proper way. The feeding tubes wouldn’t do the job properly now he was awake.

Patient Z wasn’t prepared for the visit by the top brass and was frightened when a contingent of men in uniform descended on his room, shattering the quiet which he had been using to try and remember his life.

He was looked over like some prize specimen and spoken to in a language that he didn’t understand.

Gratefully, he could see that the doctors and nurses were speaking up for him and were concerned for his comfort and well-being. If only he knew how to ask them for a drink of water. A thought came to him, a clear picture of a vase of flowers popped into his head. If only he could see one, he could point. If necessary, he would have drunk the water straight out of it. Sadly, no such article could be seen in his sparsely furnished room.

At last, the military left. But their uniforms had triggered a memory. He seemed to remember that he’d worn something similar himself once. But a different colour. Colours – he tried to think of colours. Gradually, he created a chain of thought and he came across the colour pink. That meant something to him and he concentrated hard.

The colour pink filled his days as he used it to unlock a memory. A memory of someone small. That colour and his quest for water were all he had during those first few days of being awake although it hadn’t taken the staff all that long to provide him with a drink. But they had all been on stand-by as he sipped. Afraid of having made a mistake in giving it to him.

Patient Z didn’t know how much of a problem his nourishment had caused his carers, but then he hadn’t noticed yet how different he looked from them.

He gazed out of his small window wondering what he should be looking for to get his bearings. There was nothing to see, just a cloudless sky.

His thoughts centred on pink again. What was it about pink? It was her favourite colour. That little girl who had meant so much to him. Finally, finally it came. His daughter. The little one who had so appealed to him. The little one who had been so different from her more serious older sister.
He thought about them. Their faces were a blur, they wouldn’t come into sharp focus, but he knew there were two of them. That’s all he could remember of his family but it helped to get him through long days of not being able to communicate with anyone.

He felt that the staff were friendly, but he sensed that they were fearful of him. Some tried to be reassuring and a lot of them obviously felt sorry for him.

They knew he was in a place that must be strange to him. They hadn’t guessed that he didn’t realise that he was among people who should seem strange to him, too. They didn’t know that he had no memories. Except for those two little girls.

The General was a frequent visitor, but his visits were becoming more and more tense. Patient Z sensed that this was an impatient man. He couldn’t guess that the General and his minions were under instruction from their government to get information out of him.

Information that they wanted very badly, but that he couldn’t give them.

Eventually, he was given an interpreter. It didn’t work too well at first since the interpreter had no idea which language he spoke. It became obvious to Patient Z that he would have to learn their language. And slowly he made progress.

It took long tiring weeks before he could convey even simple things. He didn’t trust them enough to tell them about his daughters. His paternal instincts had been strengthening over time and he wouldn’t tell people he now suspected might be captors about the most precious things in his life.

posted on Jul, 1 2010 @ 05:32 PM

Months went by and one frustrated interpreter after another tried to communicate with him. He didn’t know how they suffered at the hands of the General for their failure.

He started to notice a reluctance to deal with him emanating from nearly everyone he came into contact with. His novelty value had seemed to wear off. He didn’t know that however sympathetic the staff might be, they were in danger of punishment for what was beginning to be seen as their failure.

One evening, as he looked out of the window at a dark and moonless night a picture came into view. He started to form an idea of what his daughter looked like. The little one, his little darling. He tried harder to focus and slowly she started to appear before him. But something was wrong. She looked odd. How could this little one look so different?

He felt tears, hot on his face. He started to realise how much of a mental fog he had been in since he had woken up. All his efforts had been focused on trying to remember his children and learn that peculiar language his ‘captors’ had insisted on trying to teach him.

He began to think that he should try harder to communicate with them. It was slowly dawning on him that they might be able to help him but he’d have to trust them.

He tried harder with his new interpreter and finally managed to communicate that he had no idea who he was, or where he had come from. The interpreter looked dismayed and inwardly wondered bitterly why it was she who had been chosen by this odd person to convey such bad news to the military.

She left the room and took time to get in touch with her loved ones before going to face the wrath of an increasingly impatient General.

Patient Z found himself with a new interpreter the next day and asked why. In his halting way he questioned where the other one had got to. He had tried to trust someone and now here he was with a new person and felt that he was back at square one again. His inner workings were not apparent to the new interpreter who said only that she had gone elsewhere.

This interpreter took a more robust approach and Patient Z started to feel threatened. He retreated into his inner world and looked for his daughters. He saw the little one’s face again but was rudely brought out of his reverie by a raised voice. He looked straight into the face of the interpreter and was startled by the difference between the two faces. It was far more than the difference between a grown man and a little girl.

Hesitantly, he looked down at his hands and arms. He looked across at the interpreter and the sentry at the door. He looked hard, and then looked again. He got up and slowly moved towards the window. For the first time in all his time here, he tried to look at his reflection. What he saw startled him and he broke. Just broke.

The sentry and the interpreter exchanged glances. Now they were in a position that they weren’t equipped to deal with. They needed to get help, fast.

The interpreter knew without a shadow of a doubt that the sentry would report him as the instigator of Patient Z’s revelation. As the medical team bustled in to try and help their patient, he drew one of the nurses aside and asked her to express his regrets and his love to his family.

It took Patient Z several weeks to get over his devastating discovery. No-one could get any more out of him. As he lay staring at the ceiling he knew that his life, as he had known it if only he could remember it, was over. He knew with an awful certainty that he would never see his little girls again.

He felt a great distance between them and him and knew that he would never be able to cover it. That is, if he were ever to be let go.

He had started to realise that if there were daughters, then there must be a mother. His wife. She wouldn’t emerge from the shadows in his mind, but he felt that she was there. There was something, something. Something about her presence that told of her disappointment. She was disappointed in him. She hadn’t idolised him as his girls had done. She hadn’t understood why he had undertaken his mission.

Mission? What was that? What had been his mission? Weeks of trying to work it out had proven fruitless.

He could only just work out that he was in a distant place, looked after by strangers who looked very different from himself.

Most of them had been kind; he had started to understand the curiosity that he had felt radiating from them. But now, there were these others who were impatient and frightened.

He wasn’t to know that besides his lack of memory, his brain wasn’t functioning properly. The doctors had done their best, but they didn’t know how to restore him to full mental health. He was such an unknown quantity to them.

A new General was put in charge of his ‘case’. This one took a softer, more patient approach and encouraged the staff to take Patient Z out into the hospital grounds and see if they could interest him in his surroundings.

Patient Z responded a little better to this sort of stimulation and began to enjoy the outings. What he didn’t know was that this new General had given up on trying to get any information out of him. Here was a man who understood the futility of flogging a dead horse.

This General, instead, was concentrating all his efforts on finding out where Patient Z had come from by examining the craft that he had been found in.

The technology was beyond his understanding, and that of his scientists, but they worked diligently and gradually they started to understand some of its workings. They came to understand that it didn’t just ‘go’. It had something in it that looked like a communications device.

The new General made new efforts to understand Patient Z and his friendly approach started to yield success.

One day, he took the enormous risk of asking Patient Z if he remembered anything about the craft that had transported him here. Patient Z looked blank, he couldn’t recall a thing. He only knew that he had woken up in that bed, but the idea of a transport started to interest him.

The General noticed that he had Patient Z’s attention and told him more about the craft. Communication between the two was still only rudimentary, but the General could tell that he was about to make the breakthrough that had eluded his more brutal predecessor.

After a few days, while Patient Z was still enthusiastic and hadn’t had time to develop suspicions, the General arranged to have him taken to his craft.

Much secrecy surrounded his transport from the hospital and Patient Z arrived disoriented and afraid. He wasn’t used to travelling any more and being in a darkened vehicle that gave him motion sickness detracted greatly from any excitement he may have felt.

The General gave him time to recover and, when he judged that Patient Z was up to it, he took him into a large hangar and, with great aplomb, showed him the craft.

Something clicked in Patient Z’s mind – he recognised this. He knew it. He could fly that thing. Without warning, thoughts of escape hatched in his brain.

The General must have seen it. He smirked. No escape here – the reason they’d captured the craft so easily was that it was found floating aimlessly in their skies. Something was obviously wrong with its engines.

What no-one had realised was that it was their pulling of Patient Z out of his stasis pod, and their subsequent clumsy attempts to revive him, that had caused his brain damage.

Patient Z walked over to his craft, and entered it. Sat at the controls and with no need of his brain since all the memories of its workings were in his fingers, switched on the communicator.

Back at his base, his voice crackled over the loudspeakers. Baffled engineers heard his first words.

They hadn’t been expecting to hear anything from him. He’d been given up as lost a couple of generations ago when his tracking device failed.

The equipment that he was now being heard from had been left in place more as a museum piece to the staff at the base and to pacify his youngest daughter who had insisted vehemently that it never be dismantled. She had never given up hope of hearing from her Daddy.

Bafflement gave way to excitement and the engineers fell over themselves to try and answer him, fascinated to find out where he had ended up.

Patient Z had one thing on his mind. His daughters. He asked, emotionally, what had become of them?

Tactfully they told him that the youngest still lived. She was now a frail, very old lady who occasionally visited the base. She was well known for her floaty pink dresses and the question she unfailingly asked. Had they heard from her father?

Even now, as they spoke, someone was on their way to tell her that her father, Zak Hogan, a pioneer in Earth’s long distance space exploration programme, was on the line.

[edit on 1-7-2010 by berenike]

posted on Jul, 1 2010 @ 05:58 PM
This was a very well-written and entertaining story!

I hope to see more!


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