Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 3: Distance

“She has what?!”

“Retrograde amnesia.”

“What the heck does that mean?!” Carol shrieked.

Doctor Quack signaled for her to lower her voice. Carol looked to the door that they stood outside of. It was closed tight, the blind pulled down over the window. Although her eyes could not see through, Carol knew that her voice could pierce that barrier, and the volume would only raise panic in her bedridden best friend. So rather than screaming further, she let her hyperventilation do the talking for her.

“It means that she’s lost her memories,” the doctor explained, moderate and gentle in his tone. “I’m afraid her injury was more severe than we had expected…”

“Lost her… Lost her…” Carol couldn’t bring herself to repeat the entire thought. She swallowed the lump in her throat and shook her head, refusing eye contact. “So, she just… can’t remember anything?”

The doctor hesitated before glancing back over his notes. “Well, she hasn’t forgotten everything, per say… She wouldn’t be alive if she had. That is, you see, she’s retained basic functions, breathing, eating, etcetera… We’re still testing, but she seems to at least mostly recall how to speak, and—”

“But her?” Carol cut him off, and he stared down at her uneasily. “Her, her past? Her friends? Who she is? It’s, it’s all just… gone?”

The doctor lowered his head solemnly. “I’m sorry.”

Carol pressed her palm against her forehead.

“I’ll give you some time.”

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Last Beginnings

Blood spilled over the streets of Shuigang. In a dark, empty corner where there lurked only those who were looking for trouble, unconscious bodies scattered the road. They were hurt, but breathing. Beyond them lay another, just a child, whose blood pooled beneath him and painted the concrete crimson. Small footsteps rushed over at the sound of his pained groans, and a short figure stood over him.

“Hey, mister! Are you okay?”

He clenched his teeth and painfully opened a single eye in the hope of getting a look at the person who had addressed him, but his vision was blurred, and his head ached. “Do I look okay to you?” he growled.

“No… No, that looks bad.” The person reached out to him, and spoke in a high voice, “Here, let me help you…”

He swatted their hand away. “No. I don’t need your help.” He tried to sit up, clutching his gut and bloodying his hand. Ultimately he just ended up flopping onto his back again. “I don’t… I… don’t…”

A moment later, he was supported into a sitting position. “Yes, you do.”

He paused for a moment to steady his breathing. Something was being tied around his wound, slowing the blood loss. His vision corrected itself, and he was able to see the group of bodies on the street. “What… What happened to…?”

“I saw them hurting you, so I came to help.”

His brow furrowed in confusion. “What…? So you’re the one who… who took all of them out?”

“Yeah, that was me.”

“But how? You’re just… you’re just a…” He looked to the person supporting him, and he cut himself off. She was a girl, smaller than him, with two little horns sticking out of her head and a pair of long tendrils dangling behind her. She looked concerned. “…a dragon. You’re a dragon.” He rested his palm against his forehead. “Sure, why not? Ugh…”

“I’m going to take you to the hospital,” the girl said insistently, attempting to lift him into her arms.

“No!” He pushed her away, and she stared at him in confusion. “No hospitals!”

“Well I’m not just going to leave you here!” she exclaimed.

He sighed. He looked down at his torso to see what she had used to tie around his wound, which was inevitably her own jacket. “No… No, I guess you’re not. Come here.” She knelt down beside him again. “Listen. I need you to take me somewhere else. I can point the way.”

“I’ll do it,” she said determinedly, and she began to lift him into her arms until he grunted and scolded her.

“No, put me down.” She did as she was told. “I can walk just… fine. I only need you to support me.”

“Oh. Okay.” She lifted him to his feet and helped to hold him up. Carefully, they took a couple of steps forward. He was unsteady, but she had him. “By the way… My name is Sash. What’s yours?”

“My name is—” His answer was cut short by a fit of coughing, during which she stopped and gripped his shoulders. He wiped his mouth and huffed, then looked up. His eyes met hers. He paused for a moment before trying again.

“My name is…”

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