It’s no question; Nathan Hendricks’ world is rallying between consciousness and unconsciousness. His conscious world is filled with uncertainty, and the unconscious world holds the unknown. But his familiar world of bull-riding tumbles to an abrupt halt when Nathan lands with snapping in his ears. Little does he know, his fall from Gangucha is just the beginning to the world spiraling out of control. Will Nathan adapt to the uncertainty or succumb to the unknown?
He shifted his eyes to the side and saw three pair of cowboy boots running towards him.
Nathan’s eyes pop open; yellow-tinted darkness surrounds him. His eyes dart from one side of the room to the other; he sees nothing but shadowed objects and dim fluorescent lights filtering through the curtained doorway. The room smells of lemon toilet bowl cleaner and spearmint mouthwash; his stomach churns. He doesn’t know if the pit of nausea is from the sickening smell or the dull ache in his head. A rhythmic beep interrupts every few seconds. He closes his eyes, struggling against the whirlwind in his stomach.
“Hendricks looks solid riding the well of Gangucha. Gangucha is on fire today, ladies and gentlemen. Oh, Hendricks is struggling a bit…and he’s over the well!” The words echo through Nathan’s head, and Gangucha’s fiery eyes flash across his mind. He opens his eyes again to find the same dusk-lit room, the incessant beeping, and the sterile smell. He moans; he isn’t in pain, but a wave of fear suddenly embraces him.
“Can anyone hear me?” Nathan calls. His throat is raspy, and he finds that it takes all his strength to utter a whisper. A few minutes pass; Nathan neither hears nor sees anyone. The storm in his stomach rumbles. “Is anyone around?” The curtain rustles and puddles of bright light land on the bed.
“Nathan, did you call?” Squeaky footsteps follow before a short, petite nurse flips on the light above the bed. Nathan squints; the light burns his eyes. “Do you need something?”
“Yeah, I think I’m going to be sick,” Nathan says. “I can’t seem to get up or turn to my side. Can you please help me?” He now feels the full fury released within him; he silently prays for a few extra minutes, not so much for himself, but more for the nurse.
“I’m sorry, Nathan; I can’t help you do either,” the nurse replies.
“How am I supposed to…?” Nathan feels the tide quickly rising, and the tidal wave crashes to shore within a second. The nurse grabs a few towels and a tube that screeches with suction. She sticks the tube in his mouth and holds it there while the storm unleashes its power. After a few minutes, the waves subside; the nurse removes the tube and wipes up the overflow.
“Do you feel better now?”
“A little. What day is it? What time is it?”
“It’s about 2 o’clock in the afternoon on Tuesday,” the nurse says as she shoves the dirty towels into a plastic bag. “I believe your parents stepped out a few minutes to get something to eat at the cafeteria. They should be back shortly.”
“How long have they been here?”
“They haven’t left your bedside since you came in on Saturday.” The nurse washes her hands and picks up the plastic bag. “Is there anything else I can get you? Would you like the TV on for some noise? Do you want me to turn off your light?”
“No, I’m fine, I think.”
“All right, give a holler if you need anything.” She quickly slips through the curtain and disappears into the world beyond the bed rails and doorway. Nathan stares up at the ceiling tiles; his thoughts clash together, making reality a jumbled mess. He silently prays for some small symbol, anything to bring his world into a focus. He moves his eyes to the left, and there he sees it draped over the bed rail, the red handkerchief. A tear slips out of the corner of his eye; he remembers part of the story now.