Egypt pulled off the oxygen feed and took a deep breath of “real” air. She immediately wished she hadn’t as the hospital odors seared her nasal passages and throat. Unwelcome as it was, the pain provided a boost to her awareness, giving her the motivation to haul herself into a sitting position and contemplated her curtained cocoon through hazy eyes.
A chart hung from the side of her bed. Egypt Hayes. That was good, they hadn’t found her real identity. She didn’t bother reading further, already having heard about her condition during the doctor’s last visit. He told the nurse she’d arrived, unconscious, in an ambulance—summoned by one of her assistants—and she’d undergone a CAT scan to check her brain. They thought she’d been deprived of oxygen for an unknown duration—one clue being finger sized bruises around her throat and over her nose—so they’d put her on oxygen as a precaution, even though the scan didn’t show brain trauma. She’d regained consciousness and they’d diagnosed concussion and put her on watch. They came in to check on her every few hours, so she feigned sleep as much as possible. Even with the pain medication they’d given her, each eye-blink reverberated like her head was the landing pad under one of those roll-down, storefront security grates. Yet she couldn’t let herself go under, she needed to stay awake and find the missing bits of memory.
She’d been editing, doing voiceovers. What day had that been? Yesterday? This morning? She didn’t know. She only knew the curtains of her office had been drawn and the room was dark. Or did she just think so because of the bed curtains surrounding her now? Think, Eyana, fill in the gaps. A soft sound behind her, equipment crashing to the floor, her head hitting the tiles, then hands on her neck, her face. Damn it, what followed was still lost in a miasma of dark pain. She gasped as she remembered the hands coming toward her as she fell into the darkness. No, not a fall; she’d been pushed! The attacker must have done it to prevent her from finishing her film. And her revenge. But she’d survived and there were plenty of backup files waiting for her. She briefly wondered if her assistant had been carrying a camera when he found her. Some footage of her attack or even of herself lying there unconscious would go a long way toward making this misadventure worthwhile.
Well, she’d find out soon enough. Right now, she needed to get out of there before the cops arrived and things got out of control. And before they brought in a patient to occupy the other bed in this room. Egypt pulled the IV from her hand, letting it drip into the bedside trashcan. Slowly, cautiously, she inched toward the curtain barrier and peered through the gap. The cold linoleum floor shot pins and needles up her legs, up her spine and into the back of her head. She grabbed the back of a chair positioned next to the room’s second bed until the floor and walls aligned themselves into right angles again. A vase of plastic flowers sat on the window ledge, casting a long shadow on the floor. She’d heard the nurse talk about going off shift, so this must be near the end of a day shift. Maybe the staff change would help disguise her escape.
A small table held a plastic cup filled with tepid water, which reminded her she probably smelled like a derelict and probably looked worse. A sidestep into the bathroom confirmed this, so she wet her fingers and ran them through her hair and did the best she could to wash away traces of blood from where she’d removed the IV. Her natural skin tone went a long way toward masking the bruises on her neck and face. From the hectic sounds coming from the hallway, she didn’t think anyone would have leisure time to inspect her. Egypt shuffled toward the closet and pulled on her jeans, shoes and shirt, leaving her underwear and socks behind. Gathering all her willpower, she snatched her chart from the bed, flipping over the top sheet to make it look like she’d been reading it, and stepped into the hall.
Leaving the hospital proved far easier than expected, but it took a while to find someone who’d let Egypt borrow their phone. Exhausted, she sat on the edge of a planter box and forced back the tears. But by the time her head camera girl pulled in to the parking lot thirty minutes later, all doubts had vanished. She’d finish her film and it would be magnificent. And the more dangerous it got, the better her film would be. There might even be material for a sequel . . .