My eyelids felt weighted with lead, heavy. I willed them to open but they would not. I decided to focus on my other senses.
There was an odor. That smell. I knew it from somewhere…
The Crimea! I was back in the Crimea.
Footsteps faded away to the left, echoing off of hard, antiseptic surfaces.
I tried again on the eyelids, this time they opened a bit, revealing a long crack in the stained plaster overhead. It was a rusty red, like blood. My heart shot out of my chest, racing into my throat. This was not the Crimea.
Panic dragged me awake and I bolted upright.
Where was I?
Pain slammed through me, suddenly, and I cried out, falling back onto the bed.
Pain? From where?
I moved a hand down to my abdomen and pelvis. There was a large bandage there.
Oh, God! What did they do?
The walls of the long room were an odd greenish gray. I could not tell if that was because of the fading light filtering through the dirty windows or from some terrifying paint job. I looked around. There were other beds, other women.
A hospital ward.
The woman to my right stared unseeingly at the ceiling, unresponsive. She was almost translucent. Her gray hair was thin and carefully arranged about her head, combed out over the pillow.
Was she dead?
I wanted to touch her waxen skin but that was impossible from where I lay.
“Hello?” I ventured, a bit louder. No movement. Not even a blink. I gave up on her and turned to my other side.
The woman to my right had bright orange hair. She stirred, looking over at me, but her eyes were glassy and vacant.
This was not going well.
A moan escaped from somewhere. It echoed off of the bare walls and floor. I went back to examining the crack in the plaster overhead. Surely someone would be through soon?
Anne! Where was she?!?!!?
I swung one leg and then the other over the side of the bed, doing my best to ignore the pain that seared through my pelvis. Standing, my legs felt unsteady. I took a tentative step forward only to have the knees buckle and I tumbled to the floor.
Try as I might, I could not pull myself back up. I felt warmth gushing from between my legs as redness soaked through my white shift and pooled around me on the cold floor. Short shallow breaths were all that I could manage. Colorful bursts of light flashed into my line of sight then closed off into a lengthening tunnel of dark gray.
Get up, damn it!
Thoughts grew fuzzy then faded away.
Blackness overtook me again.