This novelette tells the story of Tom Cullen, a very ordinary man who awakes from a 16 year coma to find the world changed. He faces weeks of rehabilitation, and treatment, but then has to cope with the devasting news that his life will soon end, as the earth can no longer sustain Human life; but now, like many others, only has months to live.
The patient was suddenly aware of the inside of his eyeballs. He looked left and then right, the light only offering a ghostly red glow that he had almost forgotten. He struggled to open his eyes, strips of vertical sunlight breaching the blinds and glancing off the walls of the dingy ward. He blinked hard, with lids so tight, they felt like they were glued together; and he could not reach for his eyes, discovering that his arms were entrapped within a maze of tubes and wires. Fear enveloped him, he had no memory; he could not even remember falling asleep. A rush of adrenaline coursed like fire through his veins and muscles, until he could hear his own heartbeat hammering in his head. He tried to scream, but instead just gurgled into the tube constricted within his throat.
The movement however, triggered the alarm that suddenly responded with a deafening chime; he squinted hard and could just make out the accompanying flashing red light above his head.
A person entered the room and hurriedly started to tap into a computer keyboard. The alarm stopped and the gentle hum from the machine next to the bed also fell silent. She then shouted.
“Doctor, quickly, patient 4918's regained consciousness.”
Patient 4918 then heard further footsteps enter the room, and more tapping of keys.
“I don’t believe this,” the man appeared to mutter.
“Nurse, call Mr Klutz, he needs to see this, I will get the tape off his eyes and make him more comfortable, poor chap must think he’s been buried alive.”
Staff nurse Natalie Jones sped off down the corridor, her vibrant red hair falling from the hair band and splashing across her face. Doctor Nimani slipped the tape off Tom’s eyes, and then he felt the slight tugs of pain, as tubes were removed and intravenous-feeding lines removed. The Consultant calmly strode into the room, a coffee in one hand, and an almond slice in the other. His T-shirt and jeans looked un-washed and his face showed at least three days of grey growth.
“So Doctor what have we got?” he enquired, offering a piece of cake to the nurse. She declined the offer, trying to hide her look of distaste of the unwashed consultant.
“The patient is Tom Cullen, aged 39. He was involved in an RTA nearly sixteen years ago. They admitted him with multiple fractures, and severe blood loss due to a severed Femoral artery. The patient has received over six hundred stitches to the face and neck, and has undergone several operations to his legs, and in all that time, he has never regained consciousness.
The consultant put the coffee cup on the bedside table and ran his skeletal fingers through his thinning hair..