Three months without a vision dragging her consciousness away—nearly a record. A boring one filled with rubbish day time TV and a million needle pricks, but still progress.
Dr. Benson stood at the end of Tarrah's bed, examining her chart, clicking her long, French-manicured nails along the back of the clipboard. She hooked it on the end of the bed and adjusted her fitted lab coat.
“Ms. West, you've got some color back.” Her voice was severe but in a you-can-rely-on-me way, which Tarrah usually appreciated, but right now she'd appreciate a few crackers to settle her stomach more. Besides, she doubted her color was anything more than the same ashy gray of a doused campfire—not that she'd ever been camping. She'd seen her matted bird’s nest hair and lifeless complexion in the bathroom not long ago.
Her stomach stopped gurgling and settled as the room warmed up.
“We decided you're ready for the next trial.”
Tarrah hesitated and picked at a hang nail. She'd grown used to the cocktail of antibiotics and antidepressants, but these “trials” made her feel like the grass a cow kept bringing back up to chew apart over and over again. “I've been thinking about that.”
Dr. Benson tucked a loose red curl behind her ear. The door to Tarrah's room opened, but Dr. Benson held up her hand and the nurse backed out. When the silence stretched, she said, “About what?”
Tarrah rather wished the nurse had come in. Benson was intimidating on the best days; the woman never seemed to blink. Tarrah shrank back into her pillows. “I'd like to stop the trials.”
Dr. Benson's mouth flattened. She rolled over a chair and sat so they were almost eye level. Tarrah hadn't noticed the age spots peeking through thick foundation before. Over a year with this woman and she still felt like she was talking to a shell.
“You know these trials are the only way to keep you under our care. Your insurance can only cover a couple of months, then you’d be in debt. You're only nineteen, don't make a decision that will cripple you for the rest of your life. That's why we're doing this, right? So you can have a life?”
Tarrah blinked several times while Dr. Benson pinned her with the weight of her stare. “Y-yes.”
“Then we'll double check your blood work and make sure the last medication is out of your system and get you going on the next.” She stood.
Nerves made Tarrah mumble her acquiescence while she picked at the hang nail again. She ripped it off and bit her lip as it tore, except as a small drop of blood welled there was no pain. Heat traveled down to her toes and up across her chest, like sinking into a hot bath and—oh shit. So much for that record.
“Doctor, it's happening.” She fought the weight of the vision trying to rip her mind away. Warmth clutched at her, but if she gave in, she'd disappear and see things she couldn't control. Her breath shortened and she couldn't focus.
“Stay calm. I've got the adrenaline ready. Don't fight it.” Dr. Benson hit a button near the door.
The heat-filled endorphins crept up Tarrah's throat and into her cheeks. It felt so good and terrified the hell out of her. Two nurses joined them.
“Do whatever you have to, to keep her stable. We need her,” Dr. Benson ordered.
The last time a vision took her, Tarrah lost two days and watched a week of a kid's life in China. She hadn't understood a word of it, but this time Dr. Benson had the adrenaline. She'd use it if she had to.
Tarrah sank into the dark, wrapped in the arms of a natural high that had her consciousness leaving the hospital altogether.