The room was dark and I tried desperately to hold on to the dream as it faded from my mind. It had been so long since I lost my family that I no longer knew if my dreams were recalled memories or desperate wishes for something, anything, that resembled my old life. I missed the feeling I got when my daughter hugged me. I longed to have the opportunity to see my son smile one last time. I would give my life to look into my wife’s green eyes and feel her heart beat in her lips as we kissed. But all I had was a fading dream and a hospital bed.
The room was still dark when the nurse came in. Blue florescent light flooded the room from the hall when she entered. I watched one dark shadow march along the tile followed by another. The nurse pulled back the curtain.
“I am glad to see you’re awake, Mr. Mullhaney.” The night nurse was a middle-aged black woman with short cropped hair. She walked to the monitor beside the bed and began looking at the jagged line printout that stretched from a small box printer below the monitor onto the floor.
“What’s going on?” I asked, my eyes still readjusting to the blue light.
“A bus accident,” her voice was emotionless. “They needed all the room in the ER they could get. They moved you to this ward for overnight observation.”
“I don’t really understand, why would they keep me for overnight observation for cuts and bruises?”
“You had head injury Mr. Mullhaney, they wanted to rule out a concussion.”
“If they thought I had a concussion why did they let me sleep?”
“That’s actually a misconception, patients who may exhibit signs of a mild head trauma often fall asleep. It is common to let them sleep but wake them and assess their symptoms at regular intervals. But you have nothing to worry about, your CAT scan came back negative.” She said looking over a manila chart.
“I had a Cat scan?” I propped myself up on my elbows.
“Was I awake? I don’t remember that.”
“Yes, don’t worry, short term memory loss is common with head trauma. Like I said, your scan was negative, you’re probably experiencing some temporary memory lapses but that should soon subside”
“When will that be?”
“A few more hours, try to get some rest.”
“Nurse? One more question.”
“Who came in the room with you?”
“Excuse me?” the nurse looked back up from the chart.
“I saw two shadows cross the floor, but only you came around the curtain. Who followed you in here?”
“Mr. Mullhaney, I am not sure what you…” the nurse began but was interrupted. A man in a dark suit stepped from around the curtain
“It’s ok,” the man spoke to the nurse, “I will handle it from here. Will you excuse us for a moment?” the nurse nodded to the man’s request and turned to exit the room. Blue light flooded in once more and the door swung closed. I was alone with the man.
I looked at the man’s shape in the darkened room. A green light on the heart monitor beside the bed began to flash and beep. My heart rate was elevating rapidly.
“Do you know anything about Lie Detectors, Mr. Mullhaney?” The man in the suit stepped closer. “They measure physiological changes in a person’s body, specifically, physiological changes that occur when a person lies. Someone who has been extensively trained to read lie detectors could easily read such information from something otherwise unrelated to lie detecting. Something like the subtle changes in a person’s breathing patterns, the way a person’s eyes dilate in different light, or even something like a heart rate monitor could easily convey information to a trained professional.” The man spoke slowly and began to look at the print out beneath the monitor.
“Who are you?” I asked
“Try to relax, introductions aren’t necessary at this point. We know who you are and the time has come to ask you to help us.” The man took a seat in the plush arm chair beside the bed. He moved the monitor next to the chair. “But first I need to ask you a few questions. It’s important that you relax and answer me with complete honesty.” The man in the dark suit stood up and reached into his sport coat. He pulled out a syringe and began prepping it.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!” I began to panic. The beeping of the monitor jumped to an erratic pace. I tried to reach for the man but found I was strapped to the bed. Thick bindings were strapped snuggly around my waist and ankles. Despite my efforts, I was unable to move.
“Are you familiar with Sodium Pentothal?” the man asked.
“Yeah, it’s one of the drugs used for lethal injections.”
“That is correct, but believe me Mr. Mullhaney, you are far more valuable to us alive. More specifically, Sodium Pentothal is an anesthetic. During the 1950’s it was found to be a fairly effective truth serum. But Sodium Pentothal was not infallible. During the cold war the formula for a reliable truth serum was perfected, based on Sodium Pentothal. The final formula is highly classified and is known only as ‘Item 419’. I am giving you a small dose of 419. This will help you relax and ensure your absolute honesty.” His voice was calm and monotone. “419 is extremely potent. Please, sit back and relax.”