(Release Date: 3/18/13 from Crimson Romance)
“Oh, crap!” Chelsea’s feet skated on the slippery surface. She reached out to catch herself, but in grabbing the curtain, she also yanked the cord. The hairdryer bounced against her knuckles before hitting the water, and she froze for a stunned second.
Her nose filled with the stench of burnt flesh and crisping hair. Her heart stuttered, pain tore through her chest. She fell from the tub and landed with hard thud, her eyes bulging. She clutched at her phone and attempted to draw one last breath, 911 becoming her focus. “I … I … need … ” she choked out as her phone slipped from her grasp. Then her world spun away, maybe forever.
Chelsea Karmikel had died twice in her life, and now, at twenty-three, she’d died a third time.
• • •
Chelsea hated the hospital and hated the patronizing tone of the doctors even more. “Are you sure it’s safe? I won’t have a relapse … or … or something?” Chelsea asked the doctor. Physically, she felt great, other than the burns, the soreness … alright, she felt like death warmed over, but that’s what happens when you toss your blow dryer in the shower. Mentally, however, she thought she was losing it.
“Just call if you have any problems, Ms. Karmikel. And make an appointment with your family doctor.” The old doctor scratched his chin, avoiding her eyes. “Odd, there’s no brain damage, your autonomic responses are great, but we still can’t explain … Well, you never mind. You’re going to be just fine.” He patted her hand condescendingly, like she was some senile old lady, before backing from her room. “Nurse, please have Ms. Karmikel’s neurologist give me a call.” The door eased closed. What was that about? Was her hardwiring fine or not?
She didn’t have a death wish, just lousy karma. Three times she’d knocked on death’s door and three times she’d escaped. What was the saying? Three strikes and you’re out? Maybe this was her final strike?
This last time though, something different happened. And she remembered it, really remembered it, the whole damn thing, like some nightmare out of an old black and white movie. The doctors and the nurses, the way her body looked, but not felt. The scratch of surgical instruments, the stinging scent of sterile antiseptic, and the sounds of voices echoing far away. The dark figure who’d stood in the corner, watching and waiting.
Turmoil had greeted her waking hours, and she wasn’t sure if she was insane or brain fried. But now her ears buzzed incessantly, almost the same as voices.
• • •