I say that I “woke up” again, although what passes for sleep in a rehabilitation hospital isn’t very restful. Again, I tried to speak, even though I knew that the tracheostomy tube was still cuffed and that audible speech was still not an option. Occasional flickers of pain below my neck signaled possible reawakening of damaged nerves, but I was still “a talking head” unable to communicate with anyone who didn’t have the patience to work with me using the “Tapping Code” that Vietnam POWs used. In other words, nobody working here would bother listening to me.
I was on my left side, facing the darkened window. My inner chronometers said that it was close to midnight. No point in trying to go to sleep now. I was fully awake, and they turned me every two hours to prevent pneumonia and bedsores. I entertained myself by practicing controlling my heart rate, breathing, blood oxygen saturation, and sensation. Once, I managed to really spook someone who was watching the monitors. Unfortunately, they medicated me so much that it was three days before I was coherent again.
I now practiced precise control over numbers within a minute range. Nobody else would know what I’m up to, just me. I preferred it that way. I always said that the only privacy anyone really has is behind the eyes and between the ears.
I heard that odious aide, Neale Hooley, chattering incessantly to his trainee. (He couldn’t be bothered even listening to someone who COULD use their vocal cords, and he liked hurting people weaker than him. He’s the one that cracked my knee bone.) “… No, we don’t need to talk to the nursing staff, they are useless and I am no more than all of them put together… Old people and sick people have accidents and sometimes die. It isn’t our fault… Besides, everybody likes me. Everybody would trade places with me in a minute. They can’t help it!”
I felt my rage as it left the top of my head and entered the hallway. It sniffed the air for changes. Yes, now it tasted fear in the third room to the right across the hall, the one inhabited by the fragile 90-year-old woman that reminds me of my mother.
She has a new bruise on her face and doesn’t understand why.
“ENOUGH!” Nobody else could hear my rage or me. “Enough, it is payback time.”
I showed my rage how to manipulate her vital signs on the equipment without harming her. Nothing resembling a heart attack, or anything… It just looked like the accident in her blood suddenly dropped to 80% immediately after Mr. Hooley left her presence.
A nice little puzzle for the nursing staff and doctors.
My rage and I followed that odious aide for the next 20 minutes. For some mysterious reason, every time he entered a patient’s room, a minor crisis followed. The head nurse began composing an email to the owner and HR of the company.
I smiled when I considered the narrowing career options for Mr. Neale Hooley.
Finally, Mr. Hooley and his trainee entered my room, followed by a nurse.
I showed my rage how to paralyze his vocal cords, then I forced him to trade husks. I, wearing his husk, whispered to him in my place, “Watch this! Payback is hell…”
His husk functions rather well. I used it to punch the trainee and nurse, then grab the scissors out of his pocket.
Don’t worry, I didn’t kill him or anyone else. I forced Neale Hooley to switch husks again just as security came and subdued him.
I had an unexpected side effect. He left just enough of his life essence within my husk to speed the healing of my central nervous system. I walked out of the hospital, against all predictions, a week later.
Unfortunately, I have a new hunger…