Praveen Yadav | Jul 25, 2021 | 0
DREAM WALKER – Chapter 8 : Illustrated Illusions
“Its quite a surprise to see you on your last day here, Charlie”, Eric said as he rose from his position and sat upright on his bed. “My very presence is a surprise? That’s great you know, cause I don’t have any gifts to surprise you”, Charlie said as he entered the room with the help of his crutches. “Ahh, its alright. You don’t need to give me any gifts. You remembered a forgetful old man, that is enough for me”, Eric said as a nurse helped him into his wheelchair. He was waiting for Charlie to wish him happy birthday, but, for some reason, Charlie didn’t utter a word about it. “Did he forget?”, Eric thought to himself, but then reminded himself that he mustn’t be too greedy. Having a friend on his side was enough for him. Charlie’s eyes were fixed onto the door, and Eric thought that Charlie wanted to leave already.
Fortunately for Charlie, he didn’t have to engage in any small talk with Eric, as Mileena entered the room with a blue hand towel and wished Eric good morning. That was it. That was the signal. Charlie’s face lit up and he said to Eric, “Hey Eric. This room is too small. Why don’t we go outside like we always do and chat, one last time?” Eric nodded and Mileena quickly went behind him to push his wheelchair for him. “Its okay, Mileena. I can move myself”, Eric said, but Charlie butted in, “Oh hell no. You don’t wanna slow me down Eric, do you?” Charlie said as he quickened his pace, forcing Mileena to walk a little faster. Eric didn’t know that to say. The remark didn’t sit well with him, and he was a little glad that this was Charlie’s last day in the hospital, for reasons other than his best interests at heart. A little later, Eric saw that they weren’t heading for their usual spot, but had almost reached the South exit gate of the hospital. Charlie shot a quick glance towards the windows of the laboratory where Lauren and Sally worked, and was a little disheartened by not seeing them there. He shrugged the feeling off though, thinking that they might be attending some patients and continued heading towards the Southern exit. “Where exactly are we going, Charlie? We’re almost out of the hospital”, Eric asked, an uneasy feeling developing inside him. “Patience, Eric, patience”, Charlie said as the three of them exited the hospital.
The teakwood door opened as Lauren was let inside by Sally. “Anna?” Sally asked without looking at Lauren, “Wilson. She said she won’t be able to come”, Lauren said as she handed Sally a tiffin of Mac and Cheese and a hamburger. “You sure she didn’t want any Sushi or something?” Lauren asked as Sally put both the items in the oven to reheat them. “Nope. She’s as Japanese as she wants to be, and not an ounce more than that”, Sally said and folded her hands as her gaze dropped to the floor. “What happened to her, is she alright?” Lauren asked worriedly. “I don’t know”, Sally mouthed. “What do you mean, you don’t know? You’ve been here for almost an hour now. You’re a bloody doctor!” Lauren hissed. “You’ll see”, Sally said as the oven dinged and Sally took out both the items from the oven and both of them entered Katsumi’s bedroom.
Katsumi was sitting upright in her bed, but her eyes were closed. There was a teapot on her bedside table, which was unmistakably filled with green tea, if you asked Lauren’s nose. She opened her eyes and Lauren was instantly stupefied at how beautiful she looked. Katsumi motioned them to sit on the bamboo stools beside her bed. Sally placed the tempting Mac and Cheese in her lap and helped herself with the burger. “Hey. Didn’t know you had ordered the burger for yourself! I haven’t eaten anything either!” Sally looked at her with a gaze full of contempt rather than guilt and Lauren shushed herself, the gravity of the situation coming back to her head, although she was still both pissed as well as hungry. Katsumi scooped some Mac and Cheese in a spoon and held it out for Lauren to eat, “Oh no, I can’t. You help yourself. You need it more than me”, Lauren said with a flustered smile. “Its alright. We all are hungry. Here”, either Katsumi’s words had some divine coaxing ability, or Lauren was really very hungry, the latter of the two seemed more likely to Sally, as Lauren’s mouth instantly opened and Katsumi gently fed her a spoonful of Mac and Cheese. The taste bombarded into Lauren’s mouth and made her feel more human as well as savage at the same time. The smile on Lauren’s face was reflected by Katsumi. Lauren thought that she had seen her somewhere before, although she couldn’t tell when and where exactly. “Looks like we’ll need more food. Let me order some”, Katsumi said with a smile.
After Katsumi had placed the order, Lauren asked what had happened. “A lot happened. I spent my life’s longest night, and which could’ve easily been my final one”, Katsumi said, as she placed the half-eaten dish on the bedside table. “A man had broken into my house, although I didn’t hear any window or door open. There are literally no signs of a break-in, except the fact that that blonde guy really had broken into my house”, Katsumi said. “He wore a big brown coat and q Fedora, and had green eyes. I was in the drawing room, working on my laptop. I got up to pee, but my eyes were still glued onto the laptop, when I bumped into his chest. Before I could gather my senses, a hand or a knife pierced through my lower abdomen and I fell to the ground”, Katsumi said with a dark expression. Lauren was a little taken aback by this revelation. “How is she so damn fine after being stabbed in the abdomen? How is she even sitting upright and speaking?” Lauren’s thoughts boomed inside her head. “Why are you sitting then? Lie down, please! You’ll undo all the handiwork done by Sally to cover your wound and stop the bleeding! Why aren’t you saying anything and just munching onto that damned burger?” Lauren said impatiently. “Breathe easy, girl. Its alright. I’m completely fine”, Katsumi said, trying to calm Lauren down by placing a hand on her shoulder.
“How can you be fine with a stab wound?” Lauren said agitatedly. “We need to take you to a hospital”. “I don’t need any hospital”, Katsumi said calmly. Lauren thought if Katsumi robbed banks for a living, but those thoughts disappeared as fast as they had appeared when Katsumi unbuttoned her shirt and revealed her perfect body and its supple skin. Her skin was spotless. Even on the abdomen. Lauren was confused. “You see? No wounds at all”, Katsumi didn’t bother to button her shirt back. “Were you really attacked last night?” Lauren asked. “I asked the same thing to myself when I woke up. But my blood-soaked clothes and carpet, and all the glass shards and wood splinters in my living room told me that what I saw was no dream”, Katsumi said as she picked up her Mac and Cheese again. Lauren’s head was in a daze, but it could think straight enough to ask the right questions. “Why aren’t you sure that you were stabbed with a hand or a knife?” Lauren asked, her head running in all directions to make sense of things. “It felt as if a hand had dug inside my body, but, I also saw him clean a knife. The wound would’ve answered this question, but it has disappeared, although I’m glad that its gone”, Katsumi said. “It wasn’t completely gone through”, Sally said. “There was an icy substance on her abdomen when she regained consciousness, but she isn’t sure if she correctly saw what it was, and the object disappeared just a few seconds later as she fell unconscious again”, Sally had her Dr. Sharper face on her. “Did the blonde man say anything to you?” Lauren asked in a final attempt to learn something readily decipherable. “He said that he was after something, and he needed to keep me as a hostage. He had also promised to heal me up if he succeeded in his goal”, Katsumi said, her hand caressing the skin of her abdomen. “So, you think that the vampire healed you after stabbing you”, Lauren asked, utterly confused. “I can’t say”, Katsumi muttered. “What, that he healed you?” Lauren asked. “That, and whether or not he was the vampire”, Katsumi said. “Why do you say that? Because you suspect that he stabbed you with a knife instead of his nails?” Lauren asked. “That qualifies as well, but the main reason I think he’s not the vampire, is because I saw the actual one right after I heard the glass shatter. He looked exactly the way that victim had described him”, Katsumi said. All three of them sat silently for a while. “Then…” Lauren began, “Why don’t you rule out the blonde man as the vampire?” Lauren finished, her head still racing and trying to recreate the entire scene as described by Katsumi. “That’s because when the victim had described the vampire, he asked me if her description was correct. And that was the most spine-chilling question anybody had asked me”, Katsumi said, finally buttoning her shirt back.