Updated: Sep 20, 2018
Astrid can’t remember the best day of her life: yesterday. She’ll risk her sanity navigating a maze of eccentric Boston nightlife in search of a mystery man who can help her recover lost memories.
Astrid can’t remember the best day of her life: yesterday. She’ll risk her sanity navigating a maze of eccentric Boston nightlife in search of a mystery man who can help her recover lost memories. Read the first chapter of Asleep from Day below.
What’s the last thing you remember?
A rumble, a static rush, the world on a dimmer switch.
Outside, everything was gray.
But inside, a galaxy of color and light. Fireflies behind my eyes, neon in my bones. A nerve net of bioluminescence.
Radiant with hope. Glorious.
Do you know where you are?
In the heart of a storm. Give me lightning. Give me the flood. I’ve bled the sky of pigment, devoured its clouds. They remain like honey on my tongue, crystalized with promise. Nothing was ever sweeter.
No more color. Fade to grey.
I’ve been robbed of this elation.
Stay with me.
I have the weirdest taste in my mouth. Metallic, like I’ve been sucking on pennies, and spicy—no, not spicy. Stinging. Blood. What the—? I move my tongue and feel tiny pebbles. They’re sharp, cutting my gums and the insides of my cheeks. Not pebbles. Teeth? No. Glass.
I turn to spit out pieces of broken glass, but there’s something around my neck and I can’t move it. Okay, don’t panic. I push the glass out of my mouth with the tip of my tongue and pieces roll down my chin on a trail of saliva and blood. Now let’s turn on a light in here.
I open my eyes. Huh.
What is this place? There are shelves of equipment, strange monitors, dials, wires. Some kind of . . . storage room? The image blurs and wobbles. If my head is a handheld camera, whoever’s operating it has a serious case of the shakes. I can’t get a steady picture and I have no idea what this place is.
Have I been kidnapped?
That thought should trigger some modicum of fear. But it’s like I’m trapped in a block of ice and fear is on the other side of it. I can barely muster any curiosity to figure out where I am. The rest of it—how I got here, if I’m safe, hurt, etc.—will have to wait.
So let’s see. The room is tiny, and moving, and noisy. There are beeps, the hiss and tinny chatter of a walkie-talkie, the looped bellow of a siren.
Seriously, where am I?
Nowhere good, a black whisper warns, and a fog in my mind parts, clearing a path for fear, the belated guest.
The image finally snaps into focus and it registers: an ambulance.
Why the fuck am I in an ambulance?
I sit up with a—nope, I can only lift my head maybe an inch.
Why aren’t you panicking more?
Because it’s getting foggy inside my head again and blurry outside of it. I could really use a nap. It’s so chilly in here. And bright. Might as well close my eyes and deal with this in the morning. Ah, the dark is much better.
Hang on. Let’s get some questions answered first, maybe make sure I’m not missing any limbs. I try to sit up again and a hand on my shoulder prevents me from rising any further. No, it’s not just the hand. I’m strapped in.
“Nice to see you coming around, but don’t try to sit up. My name is Leo and I’m a paramedic. Do you know today’s date?”
I squint but can’t make out the face above me.
“September ninth, 1999,” I mumble.
“It’s actually September tenth,” he corrects me. Close enough.
“What happened? Am I hurt?” Of course you’re hurt, genius. I doubt you’re tied to a gurney, with a mouthful of glass, just joyriding in an ambulance.
“It’s going to be okay, Astrid, we’re almost at the hospital.”
How does this guy know my name? Why am I going to the hospital? Because that’s usually the drop-off destination of ambulances. Try to keep up here. What happened to me?
My head is so damn heavy. Back down it goes, more blood, more spit trickling out of the corners of my mouth. I form words but can’t speak them. I manage a garbled whisper, but it’s drowned out by sirens, rattling noises, and the tapping of heavy rain on the ambulance roof.
I need to take stock. I’m mostly immobile, but am I paralyzed? I try to wiggle the toes. Okay, those work fine. Fingers? The ones on the left hand move then seize up in pain. Blinded? Obviously not, but my vision is still fuzzy at the edges. Obviously, I can’t move my head much, but I shouldn’t anyway, in case I have a concussion. Or worse. Go away, black whisper, I don’t need you scaring the shit out of me right now.
Back to my self-assessment. Do I feel pain anywhere else in my body? Now that I mention it, hell yes. Where? Everywhere, especially my left side.
Why can’t I remember how this happened? I keep asking the paramedic, but he won’t tell me. Why won’t he answer me?
Oh yeah, because he can’t actually hear me. Because my lips are barely moving and no sound is coming out.
It’s an effort to form any more words or keep my eyes open. Is there a cold, heavy blanket over me? Uh-oh, those blurry edges are going dark. It’s like someone pushed me into a deep well and I’m falling in slow motion.
“Try to stay awake, Astrid.”
Fingers snap in front of my face.
Cut it out, ambulance man. You’re messing up my nap. It’s so much nicer with my eyes closed. All you do is boss me around with “Don’t sit up” this and “Stay awake” that. The darkness is quiet and doesn’t make annoying demands.
His voice is like a megaphone in my ear. Where is your mute button, ambulance man?
I think I found it. It’s here, further down in the dark.
I hear two voices, growing fainter as they speak.
“She’s out again, but vitals are stable.”
I’m not out, yet, ambulance man. Give a girl a break, would ya? It’s not my fault I have anvils on my eyelids. Besides, the light in here is too bright. And you are too loud. But I can still hear you fine . . . Mostly . . . Kind of . . .
“You’d think people would know not to drive like assholes in this kind of rain.”
“What is this, third one today?”
“Fourth. You hear about the wreck by the BQE? Five cars and a motorcycle. Two fatalities.”
“This one got lucky.”
“So to speak.”
“So to speak.”
“Want to get breakfast after this?”
“So? I want breakfast. Couldn’t you go for some French toast or pancakes?”
“Maybe eggs. Some strong coffee, bacon . . .”
How about taking my order, ambulance man? I’ll have—