When I wake up the room only reinforces my fear that I am still alive, Tatyana didn’t kill me. The room is as devoid of beauty as I am of life. It has an undertone of bleach and the floor is simply grey. At the far end is a chair I think Tatyana has been sitting on waiting for me to wake up. There is an intravenous drip stand and a monitor next to my bed. At the door is a doctor’s white coat hanging.
The pain throbs in my guts, it’s deep and warm, but not in a nice way. It feels like someone has their hand in there and are squeezing my organs either gently or as hard as they can. When it wanes I can move, when it returns I can only hold still and breathe, breathe slow and deep until it has passed. There is no blood anywhere but my abdomen is purple and lumpy where it should be smooth. Every movement I try to make feels like a nail bomb exploding in my innards.
I try to rise against my complaining muscles, but I need to know I am not dreaming. I see a face glaring back at me. Before I know it’s a mirror showing my beleaguered features staring back through swollen eyes I grope for my gun. It’s not there. My skin is simply grey. My face is shrunken, lips bloated, eyeballs sinking in. I try to recall what led to the deformation, I see only Tatyana.
My last memory is of me asking my partner in murder to kill me. Nothing is making any sense. Where is Tatyana, why hasn’t she killed me, or did she do it and I am waking up in hell?
To answer my questions, the door cracks open and the devil herself enters. Her stilettoes echo in the room. I fix my eyes on her. She is hideous, her smile ghastly. Her hair is a Brazilian human hair weave. She fixes her lupine eyes, savage and cunning, on me. She walks to where I am and pins me with her wintry eyes. She looks me up and down from crown to ankle. She circles the bed, her manner menacing. I am transfixed, can’t move my legs and arms.
When she stops near my head, she leans her face towards mine and I can smell the mint in her breath. She opens her mouth exposing a set of pearl white teeth rather than blackened stubs, and says, “You did this to yourself.”
I say nothing, but something starts at the pit of my stomach. She wants me to feel it, the life draining out of me, vitality slowly ebbing away. She wants me to beg for my life.
I begin to say something but nothing comes out. I take a deep breath, then say, “What did you do…?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, Angel,” the devil says. What Command doesn’t have is the Dantesque horns and claws.
I don’t need her to explain. My CD4 count has already being lowered. In less than a day I will die of HIV/Aids-related complications.
“You don’t choose when to die,” she continues. “Not until I say so.”
Damn you, Tatyana, I say to myself. The bitch blabbed that I asked her to kill me. And I thought she loved me.
“Is that what you want?” Command asks. “To die?”
“Yes…” I say.
She paces more, arms across her mastectomized chest.
“You know,” she says. “Pride’s a poor substitute for intelligence”
“I don’t care,” I scream.
A blanket of silence envelopes the room for some time before she says, “Fine. If you want it that way, you are going to beg God to kill you, but He won’t until I say so.”
She reaches into her coat pocket, retrieves a hypodermic with a bluish liquid and reaches for my arm. That’s when I know I am strapped to the bed.
When she punctures a vein and squeezes the fluid in, pain shoots through me from head to toe.
I shake, convulse, and…
Tell me if you still want to die in one hour…