Three years ago there was a terrible fire at the Independence National Hospital. I died in that fire.
Friday 8:30 p.m.; 3 years ago
The nurse on duty wobbled into my room with my medication. Dr Robert Kong, not a relative of King Kong nor was he from Hong Kong, had told me a moment ago that I was doing okay and if I continued like that he could discharge me anytime soon. I was happy.
“Hello, Maggie. I’m feeling like I’m high on something,” I told the nurse as she set the paraphernalia she had brought me on the side table. “Do you think you can help?”
“Now, what have you taken today…?”
“Nothing. I’m just feeling up there, like I’m levitating. Do you think it’s a bad sign, like I’m bound to stay here forever?”
“If you want to leave this place, ever, you should stop having those thoughts and focus on your healing. You have been doing fine, but if you…”
“Has Bob told you, I mean, I am doing fine. I could go home anytime soon. Do you think I will be fine?”
“I think a whole lot about you, Sally, but if you don’t stop your sneaky behaviour and focus on getting better, you might not be leaving here soon…”
“Oooh, you break my heart, Maggie. Do you think if you were me you’d be better? I mean, would you just forget the source of your happiness and limp on like that?”
Maggie was now done preparing the concoction of drugs that I was supposed to take. Bob had said that they will help me cope with the cravings, the drugs I mean. What did they know, Bob and fraternity that is? I had a secret supply of the opioids they were trying to supress my craving for.
“No, wait a minute. Do you smell something, like a gas leak or something?”
“I know you when you don’t want to take your medication. With me there is no two ways.”
Maggie was more like a friend, outside the bounds of camaraderie of other drug victims I was close to of course, like an ally in the enemy territory. She always thought she was helping me.
I took the tablets that Maggie gave me and put them in my mouth as she watched, took a long sip of the water she gave me and gulped them down. Well, that’s what I made her think. My friends used to say I was a born actor.
Maggie then wished me good night and left. No sooner had I made sure she was gone than I retrieved the tablets from my mouth. I was going to keep on playacting and taking paltry doses of my junk until I convinced Dr Bob to let me go.
Hardly had I pried open the crack in my mattress to hide the drugs when there was a loud explosion. Then fireballs everywhere. What the hell is happening? O my God, it’s a fire.
All I wanted is to save my skin. I was too young to die, at least not this way. But the fire was spreading faster than wild fire, as though the whole ward had been doused with gasoline. The flames were everywhere, consuming everything like Hollywood movie effects.
The whole ward became a cacophony of wails from other patients. I heard Sindi shout, “The doors are locked!” as glass shattered somewhere near me and somebody say, “I’m not going to die in here.” It was Mickey.
I rushed to the only exit I knew was going to take us to safety. I never made it.
The whole building collapsed on us. We were buried there alive, then the flames consumed us slowly. What a tragic way to die?
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