by C.B. Roberts
the first chapter in a novel that is getting revamped
Survival of the (Un)fittest
The sound of metal meshing with flesh and bone pierced his ear drums. A quick snap of something followed as the feeling of shattered glass perforated through skin and bone. Next came the whiplash as Lukas Harper was ripped from the comfort of his seat and passed through the windshield of his mother’s green Chevy Cruze. The boy’s body bounced off the vehicle’s hood. The glasses that once neatly placed themselves against his face were reduced to nothing as the boy’s body grinded against the coarse asphalt. Rocks spit around his body as he rolled. Gravity quickly kicked in as flailing arms and floundering legs came to a halt.
There he lay, mangled and unable to move. His face was glimmering from the fragments of glass sunken into his skin. Lukas fixed his eyes on what he could make out from the wreckage. Something was on fire, for he could at least make out the bellowing cloud of smoke rising. Lukas’s other senses kicked in almost immediately. He attempted to call out for help but found that his mouth could produce no sound. Without warning, the pain of thousands of glass fragments cemented into Lukas’s flesh overwhelmed him. He could feel his blood began to pool around him and an overwhelming cold come over his body. Lukas motioned his head to face the sky. He could make out the faint image of clouds beginning to cover the sun and took it as a sign of irony relating to his present situation. Lukas could feel his heart beginning to slow but its beats were rough and his chest hurt as if his heart was trying to escape the cavity that encased it. He opened his mouth and attempted to scream from the pain but no sound would come. To compensate for the lack of voice, tears welled into his eyes and flowed out onto the sides of his face. Lukas found himself beginning to gasp for air. Blood spat its way out from his mouth. He could feel his muscles begin to tighten. Suddenly, a coldness unlike anything Lukas had experienced before flooded through his body. With one final gasp for air, the boy closed his eyes and let out a long breath, finally succumbing to his injuries.
A continuous beep sounded in the background. A combined sensation of warmth and pain filled his body as Lukas slowly opened his eyes to his surroundings. The room he inhabited was darkened by the absence of light and a window halfway shaded. There was a muted television showing highlights of a recent baseball game and in one corner of the room sat a body curled in a fetal position. Lukas could hear the sporadic sounds of bodies outside his room walking and talking amongst other things. His eyesight fell to his right arm where he could see the image of a needle making itself at home in one of his veins. His mind wandered for a second but it was quickly interrupted by the sound of an intruder entering the room.
“Alright, let’s check those vit—oh, you’re awake,” a Caucasian red headed woman said as she approached Lukas’s bedside. “I’ll let the doctor know.” The sound of the woman’s voice awoke the figure in the chair who Lukas could now see was his brother, Jaydin. Upon finishing her routine checkup, the nurse left the room with, “I’ll be right back with the doctor, okay Lukas?” Before he could nod his head, the nurse had her back turned and quickly exited the room.
“Ay Luke,” Jaydin spoke. He fixed himself in his chair to face Lukas. Luke looked at his brother and tried to speak.
“Wh—what hap—,” Lukas froze. His mouth was dry.
“You’re probably thirsty,” Jaydin said as he got up from his chair. He grabbed a glass of water that was on a nearby table and guided the straw into Lukas’s mouth. Luke lifted his head toward the glass and inhaled the drink as fast as his body would take it in.
“Slow down man,” Jaydin advised Lukas. “You don’t wanna drink so fast you choke bro.” Upon finishing the drink, Lukas let out a long sigh of satisfied nourishment as Jaydin placed the empty cup back onto the table.
“What happened, J?” Luke asked his brother.
“You guys were in an accident,” Jaydin answered.
“An accident? What do you mean?” Lukas questioned. Before Jay could answer his brother’s inquiry, a male of Oriental descent dressed in a white coat and light blue scrubs walked into the room. He removed a clipboard at the end of Lukas’s bed and flipped back and forth between its pages.
“Okay. Lukas Harper. African American male…age seventeen…hundred ten pounds, no history of any medical issues. Mkay. Everything checks out here on your chart,” he said. “I’m Dr. Jones. How are you feeling Lukas?”
Lukas set his gaze upon the doctor and shifted himself up in his bed to a more comfortable position. “I don’t know. Fine, I guess.”
“You’ve made a remarkable recovery,” Dr. Jones said motioning a side of Lukas’s hospital bed. “How’s your pain level?”
“I don’t really have a lot of pain,” Lukas replied. Doctor Jones looked at Jaydin whose eyes were temporarily glued to his phone screen. Doctor Jones looked up at Lukas’s blood and liquid morphine bags. Both bags looked as though they had been freshly connected to Lukas’s IV system but upon closer examination the doctor noticed something odd.
“Yo Luke. Imma go get something to eat man,” Jaydin noted. “I’ll be right back.” Jaydin exited the room, his eyes still focused on his phone. The doctor pulled a chair closer to Lukas and sat down next to his bedside.
“Are you sure you aren’t feeling a lot of pain?” Jones asked.
“Yeah,” Lukas replied. He paused for a second. “Why?”
Doctor Jones pointed to the two bags filled with liquid. “You see those bags there? One is called liquid morphine which, helps dilute the feeling of pain. The other one is blood.” Lukas examined both bags as the doctor got up from his chair and moved closer to the bags.
“Is there something wrong with the bags?” Luke asked the doctor.
“Well, the bag of morphine is on a timed release you see,” Doctor Jones answered. “When it’s time to administer the dose, an alarm will sound at the nurse’s desk in which a nurse will come and press the button to administer the morphine to you. What I can’t seem to comprehend is the blood.” Lukas was confused.
“Is there something wrong with the blood bag? Did I get the wrong blood?” Luke questioned. He began to tense up but he eased himself slightly with Jones’s reply.
“The blood is automatically administered into your system. There’s no timer or alarms that trigger it,” the doctor stated. His eyes were fixed upon the full bag of blood hanging on the fixture. “It just trickles into your body repeatedly until the bag is empty.” Jones examined Lukas’s IV line. It was clear. There was no evidence that any liquid had flowed through either tube into Lukas’s body. “I’ll have to double check with the nurse to make sure she didn’t change these lines out or anything.”
“Is there something wrong with me Doctor Jones? Am I dying or something?” Lukas began to worry. He shifted his legs up and down, trying aimlessly to calm himself.
“Mr. Harper, look at your body,” the doctor requested. Luke focused on his arms and hands. They were covered in different colored slit marks. Lukas pulled his gown out from his neck. From what he could see, his body was covered in different marks ranging in size and color.
“What are these things?” Lukas questioned.
“Each one of those marks is from a shard of glass that found its way into your body during your accident. When you were in the OR, we had to pull a lot of them out. You lost a lot of blood from the accident which is why the full bag of blood doesn’t make sense to me.”
“You…don’t remember? You were in a car accident Lukas. The paramedics found your body about ten feet from the vehicle covered in glass.”
“So, you don’t remember anything that happened?”
“Mr. Harper. I..I don’t know how to tell you this. By the time the medical team got to you, you were no longer there. You were pronounced dead on site.”
“You were stationary. They couldn’t get a reading off any vitals from you.”
“I died?” Dr. Jones nodded his head in response.
Suddenly, everything flooded through Luke’s mind. The crash. Plunging through the windshield. Bleeding out on the ground.
Lukas was in shock. He struggled to come up with something another question but failed to find the courage to speak.
“Mr. Harper,” Jones began as he pulled himself closer to his patient, “it’s a miracle you are here right now.”
“What are you saying to me?” Lukas inquired, pulling his upper body closer to Jones’s position.
“What I’m saying is,” the doctor paused momentarily to gather his thoughts. “given the extent of the injuries you sustained from everything that happened—.”
Jones looked Lukas in the eye as if he was telling a friend a secret he wanted only Lukas to know.
“You should not have survived that accident.”