by Erika Gimbel

A dull hum from the A.C.  The birds warbling, bubbling, talking outside.  You slowly rise to consciousness.  With your eyes still closed, you notice your bedclothes are twisted, and as you move to fix them you hear the dog.  Its bark forces your eyes wide open, and you wince as the light from the window berates your face.  You sit up and stretch, working the kinks from the lumpy mattress out of your back.

The dog barks louder, desperate for you.  You pad over to the door, its rusty hinges protesting for better treatment.  Your feet pound the floor in the empty hallway.  So many noises this morning.  The thought flitters through your mind as to why no one else is in the hall, but with the dog barking so loud you can’t concentrate.

You near the end of the hallway when a man stops you.  You smile at him and try to walk around.  The barking continues as you try to struggle past.  “Can’t you hear it?” You almost yell, trying to stay calm.

“Go back to your room,” the man says, gentle with a firm undertone.  But no, you have to stop the barking.  The man pulls a hand radio from his belt, “I need two more orderlies to ward A, patient 647 has escaped again.”

You struggle as another man and a woman in white scrubs seemingly appear from the shadows to grasp your arms.  One injects you with a syringe.  It doesn’t matter anymore-the dog will still bark, destroying the silence in your head.  It won’t stop until you slip back into the fog of sleep.

As you begin to drift off, while they drag you back to your room, you assure yourself, tomorrow, tomorrow you will kill the dog.