Comatose

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Duncan Campbell

Dr. Duncan Campbell had just finished working a grueling surgical rotation and he was very glad to be moving to neurology where he felt sure to have at least a little less hectic schedule. He'd heard a lot about the director of neurology and had ever read a few of her papers in medical journals before deciding to do his residency here at Crestview General. Since he was fascinated by all things having to do with the mind, this was of particular interest to him. He stood with the five other residents on this rotation and waited for the director.

Doctor Sophia Richmond wore a white lab coat over a black pencil skirt and white shirt and heels of a height that most women wouldn't think to wear if they were going to walk the long halls of a hospital all day. Her black hair was pulled back in a messy bun and wispy curls fall from it framing her face in an absurdly attractive manner for the amount of time she spent. She saw the new rotation and eyed them up as she neared them. She enjoyed this part of her job. Teaching another generation of doctors to love her field was both rewarding and necessary. Neurology was a highly experimental field, and that attracted and repelled good minds. They were actually in need of another member of the permanent team but so far had no candidates willing to relocate to their small town. Maybe someone in this new rotation will be willing to stay on permanently, at east that was her hope.

"Good morning," she said with a wide smile, "Welcome to Neurology. I am Doctor Richmond. If you will all follow me..." She turned and led them to a conference room and directed them to take a seat. "This rotation is going to be a little different than those you have worked to this point. We are going to begin here each day, so that we can review cases and discuss findings. I do not allow discussions in front of patients for I would hope obvious reasons. Also, you will be assigned to a member of the physical therapy team and I expect you to be actively involved in that capacity. If you don't understand physical therapy, it's advantages and limitations, you will find this rotation difficult if not impossible. If you will open the folders in front of you we will begin."

For the next hour she presented patients with a variety of neurological problems, from stroke to severe concussion and more. None of the patients had remotely similar symptoms and as they met them it was evident that this was indeed going to be a difficult rotation. As they entered the last patient's room, Doctor Richmond moved to the bed and touched the hand of the patient. "This is our longest case to date. She has been in a coma but is stable and responsive to light and sometimes to touch."

Duncan listened intently. He absorbed it all like a dry sponge and was jotting notes on any scrap of paper he could as they moved from patient to patient. But, for some reason when they entered that last patient's room, he felt an odd tingle in the short hairs on the back of his neck. He brushed it off and listened but he looked at the woman and wondered what had happened to cause this. The thought passed quickly though as they were ushered out of the room and delivered to therapy for a long day of physical work with a wide variety of patients. He fell into a cot on the third floor resident break room and realized he had found muscles he didn't even know he had. His arms and thighs were screaming from lifting patients and bracing them as they struggled to move. He was fast asleep within minutes of lying down, the patients forgotten as only the sound of a soft snore could be heard.
 
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Anisha Travell

Grass planes waved as the wind breezed, bringing the flowers to dance and challenging the trees. Somewhere along a stream of water was found, clear and clean as it went down the rocks, dragonflies danced around the reed, unaware of the long gone hours of the setting sun.

How long had she been stuck here? Time flows differently here, within the folds of the mind and away from reality. One moment Anisha had been a little girl, floating and jumping from cloud to cloud. Other times she was older, enjoying the last moments of life before it all went out. However, the theme was always the same, her mood lulled into a false sense of security despite the frank awareness of the state she was in outside.

A door appeared, not too far away from where she laid. A deep hardwood brown and homely with a bronze knob. It cast the only shadow found in the place, artificial light suggesting what was at the other side.

In an instant Anisha was at the other side, this time she was surrounded by white and back in her uniform again. In front of her a lonely figure that laid asleep, a man and there was only one guess the brunette could make.

Reaching out for his shoulder Anisha wasn’t surprised to find him warm and solid. Wasting no time she shook him, speaking at the same time.

“Don’t trust the doctor.”

She prayed that she had enough time to speak to him and that he would believe her.
 

PoetLore

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Duncan Campbell

Duncan was having is normal dreamless sleep. His mind was so very weary by the time he fell asleep it had no vibrant images to create or flights of fancy to enjoy. He merely fell into a dark oblivion until he awake once more. Tonight however, he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder and his eyes opened to see a woman standing there, urgently trying to communicate to him.

Behind her, he saw an open door that held the promise of peace and serenity that called to his overworked mind and body. before he could reply however the light in the room flicked on and a nurse poked in her head, "Sorry Doctor Campbell...ER is calling for all available...six car pile-up on the gate bridge. Multiple criticals..." And then she was gone. Grabbing his stethoscope and watch he raced from the room, wondering what that weird dream was and who that woman was. She'd seemed familiar but he could not recall why.

He ran for the ER and began ten hours of hell. He lost a four year old after two hours of fighting to keep her alive. Everyone in the room was hesitant to call it, but a senior staff member grabbed his arms and stopped him from doing anymore CPR and gave a time of death. He'd had to give the order to amputate a leg to save another life and that too was emotionally disturbing to him. That young teenaged girl was now going to have a very different life than she'd planned. he'd had to give the news to both sets of parents. He'd cried with the first and agonized with the second over the choices he'd presented. The parents had told him of their daughter's heavy involvement in sports and ballet and when they'd heard his recommendation, both had initially fought him until they saw her. They had signed the consent form and the procedure had been done. he'd given them the news that their daughter was stable and doing well, but the two stricken parents cried as they'd clung to one another.

He returned to that on call room and sat on the same bed and buried his hands in his hair as his elbows rested on his knees. Tears fell down his cheeks as he let all the raw emotions he'd held in check flow free now that he was alone. He loved being a doctor, but days like this took a heavy toll on his heart. he didn't think he'd ever forget that little four year old's angelic face for as long as he lived. he leaned back, still sitting and rested his shoulders against the wall and stared at the door, wishing that beautiful grass and flowers really were on the other side.
 
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Anisha Travell
Time within the dream world flowed differently, making it tricky to judge when someone would appear again. However, as long as her body was alive and breathing Anisha knew that she would be able to enter the dreams of others. As long as her condition stayed stable there was another chance.

The male had disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. Suddenly the brunette found herself in a white room, bright and wide without any indication of where it started and where it ended. A room she was all too familiar with now that she had been here for a while. Setting her imagination to work she tried to stabilise an image, soon finding herself in yet another familiar place.

It wasn’t long when the same man returned, this time bringing in grief and darkness with.

Anisha had settled herself in a movie theater when he appeared once more, his memories of today replaying on the screen. Grimacing the female understood the hurt he was in, but also knew this to be the tragic reality of their career.

“Hey.” Pushing against the male’s temple Anisha tried to garner his attention, suddenly sitting in front of him. “Can you hear me?” the female questioned, hoping that this time there would be enough time to relay a message.
 

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Duncan dozed off sitting up with his shoulders against the wall. He was exhausted, disheartened and on edge when he began to dream again. This time the tranquil scene was replaced by another familiar setting. He looked up at the blank screen on the wall and wondered what he was about to see on there. A replay of the worst day in recent memory? or something pleasant?

He felt something touch him and turned to look but nothing was there. he frowned and looked back to the screen and there was that face again. He lifted a finger tentatively and touched her face. "I can see you...I don't know you though...so I'm wondering why I am seeing you. I thought dreams were reflections of the last flickers of memories or things seen, but not acknowledged." He'd done a long paper on dreams in medical school and had found it interesting if not a bit weird. Most of the 'science' behind it was based on pure speculation and assumption, but it was still fascinating.

Her voice was soft and sweet, and he had an odd notion suddenly, "Were you one of my patients? Is that how I know you? Did I let you down too? Are you dead because of me?"
 

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Anisha Travell
Anisha quickly figured that the man was a newcomer, inexperienced, fazed, shaken. Unimpressed the female waved his questions away, shrugging her shoulders. “Down as in disappointed, yes. Down as dead? No, I’m alive, thank you,” she responded to the other, glad at least that they could finally communicate. For how long this would be she had no idea, but she would have to introduce him slowly.

“I’m a patient, yes, and once upon a time an intern much like you. Don’t think we met before though,” the female continued casually, propping herself onto the seat that had magicked itself into the dream sphere. A soft big reading chair, comfortable and light at the same time. Settling herself down comfortably the female gave the other a look.

“Call me Anisha, though you might forget once you wake up,” she continued looking around the room as she snapped her fingers. A hearth appeared, its warm light filling the dark room. “That’s better. Met Dr. Mukline yet?” without missing a beat the female continued.

“Short, round, balding with funny glasses.” As the brunette described him her fingers traced through the air, a trail of light glowing after to form the caricature she had drawn. Another pro of this realm, though how much the other would understand was still a question.
 
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Duncan watched in slight awe and wonder as the woman poke and seemed to make things appear with no real thought or effort at all. Where was this place and exactly how had he arrived? Also, and possibly more importantly, was why had he arrived here. "I think I would have remembered meeting someone as beautiful as you, at least I hope I'm not that absorbed with my residency that I've lost even the ability to appreciate a pretty girl." A weary hand dragged through already tussled hair as a groan of self-awareness rifled through him. "Anisha...suits you. I am Duncan Campbell."

He may not remember when he wakes up. Interesting, "So I am sleeping?" he asked and shook his head, "Best dream I've had in a while then...actually thought I was losing the ability to dream..." His voice trailed off as he saw her create the fireplace. It was as if she'd understood his need to feel warmth and belonging and created it to fill that need. But how could she possibly have known? He scolded his own thoughts, stop being ridiculous Duncan...you are dreaming and your subconscious mind knows everything you need. You obviously need to get out of the hospital more and get a social life.

"Dr. Mukline?" he asked raising a brow, "I just started his rotation...fascinating work he's doing. How do you..wait..you USED to be a doctor here? Or rather an intern? And why are you disappointed?" He was starting to realize he was dropping the threads of the conversation and needed to backtrack. He didn't know how long this dream would last, and maybe his mind was trying to tell him something vitally important that he had overlooked consciously in the real world. "Were you one of his fellows? How did you end up a patient?"
 

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Anisha Travell
Anisha scoffed at the sweet words that came from Duncan, cheesy and flattering, none that the female felt the need to occupy herself with. This wasn’t the sort of dream for romance. Not that his flirting remained long, soon enough the man delved into questions and confusion. Good, that would make her job easier. Bad, as he was going to have a hard time inside of this place.

“Yes, and no,” the brunette answered Duncan’s question if this was a dream. “It is complicated, but you can do whatever you want inside as if you are dreaming,” Anisha explained, her hand waving around as she made little fireworks in the dark pop. “It is your subconscious, but also mine yet not,” she continued, abstract as ever.

Snapping her fingers Anisha turned upside down, her chair set against the ceiling as she hung down. However, gravity didn’t seem to affect her, hair still down to her shoulders, instead of dangling down, and most importantly, no blood rushing to her face.

“Dr. Mukline is researching exactly that sphere. Though that is a secret, actually,” Anisha shrugged casually, seemingly unaffected by the laws of nature she was breaking and whatever sensitive information she was leaking.

“Don’t mention me to him, though. He will know what I’m up to even if you don’t remember my name,” the female continued with a stern warning. Pushing herself from her seat she turned around, landing straight up again in front of Duncan.

“Whatever I was, or am, it doesn’t matter,” the female told him flatly. The surroundings started to morph again, colours bleeding into the darkness. Anisha clicked her tongue at that, understanding that she was running out of time.

“I need you to find out how far Dr. Mukline is with his research, but don’t make him aware that you are looking into it, be inconspicuous,” the female urged, feeling her control slipping away.

She had no idea how much would hang, but Anisha hoped that she had at least done enough to plant the idea within Duncan’s mind to observe Dr. Mukline more carefully. He needed to. He was her only chance in this situation.
 
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Duncan listened, and watched. He was a lot of things but closed minded was not one of them. "This is your dream as well," he concluded as he watched her. "So here, time, and general laws do not apply. How singularly interesting. Any Dr. Mukline is researching this? To what end?" What was the good doctor hoping to accomplish with such a study? Before he could wander any further down that rabbit trail she was back in front of him.

Her face was fierce and stern as she warned him and he was shocked by her adamant request. "Are you in danger?" he asked as she began to flicker and fade as did the fireplace and the rest of the illusion she had created for this..meeting. He didn't hear the last words she spoke, only that he should be sure the Doctor was not aware of his reasons for being curious.

Suddenly he was back in the on call room and the light flicked on. "Hey Doc..need you again..sorry.."

He sat up and stretched a bit as he shook his head. He was losing his mind. Or was he? Anisha. That was a unique name. He had no doubt he could find records about her if he looked and he intended to do so once his shift was over. He pulled on his white coat and wrapped the stethoscope around his neck and headed for the ER.

Finally his shift was over and he drove from the hospital to his small apartment not far away. he'd chosen it because of the underground parking lot that came with the price of the monthly rent. Location was a plus, but being able to park his bay protected was even more of a benefit to him. He'd bought his Stingray when he was in high school, and fixed it up with his dad. Many long hours of loving labor had gone into making it what it was now and he didn't think he'd ever sell it or get tired of driving it. Especially now that his dad was gone and this was a daily reminder of the man who'd invested so much time, love and support in him over many and sometimes trying years. His hands rubbed over the leather steering wheel cover and he smiled, "Still purring like a kitten Dad," he said as he often did, "We did a good job."

He locked the door of his prized possession and made his way to the elevator and slid the key into the lift. The elevator would only go to the floor that the key dictated and while he wasn't exactly sure how it worked, he was glad of that extra security as well. The elevator slid open and he went straight to the desk in the corner. Normally he'd be going over patient files and other reading dictated by his resident head, but tonight he had only one thing on his mind. Anisha.

The laptop opened to the hospital data bank as always and he typed in the only name he had and hit search. He was hoping there weren't too many with that name or a variant of it in the system. He'd never heard the name before, so maybe he was about to get lucky. His fingers tapped the desk impatiently as he waited for the search to finish, "Come on come one already." He urged it as if that would speed the thing up.
 

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Anisha Travell
Looking up on first name alone often proved itself to be difficult. Though rare the name did have its variations, popping here and there in patient files unrelated and a single intern that had once worked in the hospital eight months before Duncan had arrived. Anisha Travell wouldn’t be so easy to find. Her status as a former intern, researcher, and now comatose patient were too confidential to be shared so easily with a trainee who had grown too curious. Without a surname it would be difficult to connect the woman to anyone, let alone the intern with only a basic overview of her information, such as her specialisation and age known.

Searching on dr. Mukline would prove itself to be more fruitful. His basic information was readily available for most. He was a specialist in the hospital active in the field of sleep medicine. Most of the researches that he was connected to were related to the sleep cycle, specifically the dream cyclus. However, the more prominent his role was in the research the more abstract the theories seem, delving into dream theories and dreamscape theories. It also became more difficult to find anything, resulting into an open end that suggested that the research was still ongoing, but how was unknown.

In the meantime found herself staring at herself. Not in the way one looks in the mirror, but actually hovering over herself. She knew that it was another part of the dream, seeing as her body lacked the obvious life support she would be connected to by now, but all the same the sight was familiar to her, or how she imagined it to be familiar. How much time had passed? How much longer did she have? The female wondered all that, wondering just how long she could stretch this before it was all too late.

Forcing her thoughts to go elsewhere she thought back of the stranger she had encountered today. The newcomer that tried to be smooth. There had been others before who had been able to see her, but they never seemed to be able to hold a full conversation before their dreams threw them elsewhere. His… His were strangely empty, empty enough for the female to slip in and somewhere she hoped that it stayed that way, as pitiful as it sounded.
 

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Duncan had not been able to find anything or anyone names Anisha in the hospital files that he had access to at this stage of his affiliation with the hospital, but he had a friend that owed him a favor. He intended to call it in as soon as he had a minute to steal her away from her duties. They were overdue for a catch up dinner anyway, so she'd likely not be shocked at his offer. There were few things Gloria liked better than a free meal, and he was hoping that hadn't changed.

He redirected his searches to Dr. Mukline and read everything the man had ever penned or spoken in a conference. There was a lot out there, which didn't surprise him since the man was head of his department, but what DID surprise him was the speculative nature of some of his findings and research. There also didn't seem to be any new developments in the last few years, just regurgitation of the original findings with hints at continuing research that was ongoing. Was Anisha part of that? Was she being held in a state of semi- consciousness while testing was performed on her? What WAS going on? Why had he been able to hear her and be part of that dream? Would he see her again?

he pushed back from the desk and leaned in the chair as his fingers rubbed the bridge of his nose. All of this was crazy. He'd probably dreamed it all due to overwork, but why did it FEEL so real? He shook his head as he rose and went to the kitchen. He needed food and a long rest before he had to be back at the hospital in two days. opening the refrigerator he pulled out some leftover spaghetti and garlic bread and opened the lid. shaking his head he tossed the container and the food into the trash bin and frowned. He really needed to get a better lifestyle going, but residency didn't really allow for it. He'd have to hit the gym tomorrow and get some edible food in the house too. "Looks like it's PB&J tonight, Duncan ma boy...you're livin' the dream!"

He took a longer shower than usual, letting the hot water soothe away his stresses and aches from sleeping on a hard cot. It had been a seriously weird day and he needed to unwind and let it all wash down the drain with the water. Sleep came quickly as it usually did for him, and as normal it was totally dreamless. Or maybe he never remembered them? either way he rose early the next morning and had a full day of errands, exercise and chores around the house. Though he was very busy he couldn't get Anisha off his mind...and he'd tried.

His two days off flew by and he was back at the hospital for his four day shift. He'd never felt apprehensive about entering the hospital before, but for some reason today he did. He greeted the other residents with a nod and a smile and then they were off to start morning rounds. Doctor Richmond, in her usual pencil skirt and severe bun greeted then all cordially. "We have a new patient today team," she announced as she looked around the conference table. "George Kline fell thirty feet off his roof and landed on a landscaping rock. He has sever head trauma, and loss of vision in his right eye as well as left side loss of strength and dexterity. This is his MRI scan. Does anyone see anything significant?"

Duncan watched the image flicker onto the screen before them and tipped his head leaning in a bit. He'd seen something similar during his surgical rotation, "Is that a blood pool? Or a lesion?"

Sophia grinned, "Someone has been studying their text. It is indeed a lesion...though it's apparent he's never had reason to be diagnosed before this incident."

"Diagnosed?" another member of the team queried.

"MS<" Duncan replied off handedly as he looked at the scan closely. "But his current condition isn't due to that, but the head trauma from the fall I would guess."

Sophia nodded, "Astute diagnosis Doctor Campbell, and usually I'd agree but it seems that this fall has triggered the rapid growth of this legion and it is the cause of his weakness and loss of dexterity. The loss of vision however is due to this," she pointed to another darker area of the scan behind the eye, "I have an ophthalmologist coming to consult to see if the fluid there can be safely removed."

The group seemed to be scribbling notes as fast as Doctor Richardson could speak, but Duncan was just looking at the scan. There was something odd there, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. He'd have to do some studying later to get rid of that niggling that was taunting him there on the fringe of his memory. he'd been so lost in thought that he hadn't realized everyone was preparing to walk the ward until Sean tapped his shoulder, "You coming dude?"

Standing and gathering up his fiels he nodded, "yeah...right behind you."

The rest of the day he was working with the physical therapy department to help the neurology patients relearn how to do the things that their brain trauma had cost them. It was difficult to watch strong, otherwise healthy people struggle to do the simplest of tasks, like hold a pen or put on a sock. It gave him a deeper appreciation for the need to study the brain and advance the field. He could see why Doctor Richardson was so passionate about it and why she'd assigned them to work in the rehab area as well. This was where the rubber met the road of this branch of medicine, and he found himself being pulled in by the patients and the vast amount of unknown territory neurology presented. This was a place where he could make a difference and be useful.

The rehab area was finally shut down for the day and he headed to the ER for his night shift there. It was a zoo as always and he got the normal blur of a rundown from the on duty nurse and did his best to absorb it all. six hours later he was back in the on call room for a much needed rest. He never flicked on the light as he entered, just sat on the cot and fell over. A slight groan left his lips before he was unconscious.
 
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Romance

Anisha Travell
How much time had passed? Anisha wasn’t sure. It never made any sense. Sometimes it went by quickly, images moving in a blur. Other times it was endless darkness. She wasn’t even sure how long she had been in this state. Days, months, years?

Though she knew she couldn’t wake up, yet. She just knew.

Somewhere in the distance she could feel a tap to her arm, it was constant, deliberate. Tap, tap, tap.

Anisha could take a gander at who that could be. The only physical visitor she ever had: Dr. Mukline.

Teeth gritted at the very thought of the man responsible for the state she was in now. What he was hoping to achieve by tapping her hand was beyond the female, but she wasn’t about to let him win.

And that was when she felt it. A jolt, the feeling of her subconscious being pulled, as if forced to come out and drift beyond the veil between this place and reality.

Fighting against it Anisha tried to focus her mind on one thing, anything.

The intern.

Gasping for air the female found herself in the familiar space again. A familiar figure in the middle again.

“You. Intern,” Anisha started, fighting to recall his name.

“Duncan, or whatever, wake up.” Snapping her fingers she tried to get his attention, rolling her eyes at the empty space. It was an ironic thing to tell someone to wake up whilst they were dreaming, but the female really hadn’t found anything better to say seeing as he was the first dream-visitor she had in this limbo.

“Hey, have you met the doctor, yet,” she asked without waiting, crossing her arms as the room bled into the same field from her memories.
 

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Duncan heard the word intern and his mind went instantly alert and then he heard his name and his attention was drawn to the meadow from before and so there she was. "So am I dreaming? Or are you real?" he asked and then shook his head at her question, "Not yet but I've certainly read everything he's ever written, or anything that was written about him. his work is...highly questionable and seems to me to be without a lot of merit. However...your being able to contact me in this way would seem to indicate otherwise, unless this is a singular incident unique only to you." The trained physician mind was at work as he spoke and thought through the possibilities at the same time. "I couldn't find anyone by your name though in the hospital files...is there a reason for that?"

He watched her as he sat in that chair she'd created from nothing. He was more attentive to details this time, watchful. he was somewhat in awe of her ability to do all of this with her mind. "Do you have idea how long you've been here? How long you've been asleep?" He had so many questions and she was the only source of information he had until he met with Jasmine. She might be able to unearth something he couldn't, but until then...he had Anisha herself.
 
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Anisha Travell
“Define real,” the brunette waved around with her hands as she signalled to the realm they were in. “This dream is real, but also not real real,” she put an emphasis on the second word, fingers going up into the air to form quotation marks, “but I do exist outside of this place, if that’s what you want to know,” she explained, arms crossing and brows raised.

She morphed another chair, this time taking a seat for herself as she shrugged at the rest of Duncan's questions. The intern had many of them, which was to be expected, but they made the woman grow weary and time was always scarce within this space.

“The doc keeps me in a secret wing. Super closed off. Only authorised personnel can get in,” she responded, though Anisha had no idea how long she had been stuck here. Time flowed strangely and Duncan had been the first person she had seen in a long while.

“You’re the first person I see here,” she admitted quietly, head slumping into the back of her neck as she let go of a deep sigh. “For all I know a decade has passed, or only a few days, it was a Thursday when I ended up like this, I think,” she continued with a shrug. She honestly hadn’t paid any attention to when she had ended up in this vegetative state, only able to communicate through dreams.

“Talk to doctor Mukline, chat him up, or whatever you guys do to like each other better,” the female spoke as she felt herself waning. She knew that she wasn’t waking up, but the time spent dreaming were always erratic, especially when you did so seemingly all the time.

“Remember, intern. Dr. Mukline,” were her last words before she faded from his consciousness.
 
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Duncan tapped his head with his fingertip, "I see your point. And yes, I wanted to know if you were lying somewhere sleeping." Could be a decade? Had he gone back that far? he didn't think so and he was fairly certain his access to the past files was extremely limited given his current status in the hospital.

When she sat, he couldn't help but notice how weary she seemed. This was taxing to her mentally for sure but did it sap her physical energies as well? "Does it harm you to find me in your dreams like this? I mean...physically are you being harmed?" He frowned, "Not that I would like you to stop...oh Lord, that sounded horribly selfish..." He dragged a hand though already mussed hair, "Listen...I am trying to find you and help you. I am. I will try to get to speak to Dr. Mukline, but that's not an easy thing either for a resident like me." why did everything he said sound like an excuse or a small child's whine of complaint?

She was fading again and he wanted to reach across the space and hold her there a bit longer. He had so many questions, but it was obvious that she only had so many answers and that most of them were hidden even from herself. He let out a frustrated rush of air and immediately his eyes opened in the staff room. He sat up on the cot and shook his head and arms. "You are losing your mind Duncan..." he said aloud but knew he'd still keep looking for Anisha.

Two nights later he was sitting at a very exclusive restaurant with Jasmine. She had chosen well, but he knew his card was going to take a major hit tonight. If she could help him find Anisha...it would be well worth it though. He knew better than to bring up why they were actually having dinner until the food and niceties were over and done. They sat opposite one another drinking coffee and eating a superb cheesecake dessert when Jasmine leaned back in her seat and looked at him seriously. "SO, Duncan. Now that I have been quite nicely wined and dined...what do you need?"

Duncan lifted a brow and swallowed his bite of cheesecake, "Why do you ask that? Can I not have dinner with an old friend for no reason?"

"You COULD...but...you never do."

"I suppose I deserve that."

"Yes, you do, but I forgive you because you always let me choose a fancy place and give me an excuse to dress up and...you clean up rather nicely."

"Then...you're welcome?"

Her laughter flowed over to him and he smiled. "What do you need...you've been distracted all evening. It must be something about work. We both know nothing else distracts you like this."

"Usually." He agreed and then wiped his lips with the cloth napkin on his lap and replaced it. "Before I tell you what is worrying me, you need to know this is really strange stuff...like nothing I've ever experienced before..."

"OH MY GOD! Duncan?? Are you in love??"

"What?" he looked at her like she'd lost her mind, "NO!" His fingers were flicking at her dismissively, "No Jasmine...this is...STRANGE." He leaned back in his chair and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "A few days ago...well actually closer to a week now...I was on call..."

"Like always..."

"Whatever...I had a long day and crashed in the doctor's staff room..."

"Again...like always.."

He looked at her and his eyes spoke volumes about his patience level with her taunting. "I fell out and started dreaming." he held up a hand to stop her from saying anything, "And in this dream was a woman named Anisha...and she was talking to me and telling me things." I didn't think anything of it until it happened again and she was asking me if I had spoken to Dr. Mukline."

"Dr. Mukline?"

"Yes, apparently she is part of some kind of study he is doing and is communicating with me through my dreams. She is tired and says she cannot wake up. I'm not sure if she is sedated or in a coma." He leaned forward again, "I can't find anyone by that name ... but your access goes back further than mine..."

"Ahhh...you want me to find a patient of Dr. MUCKFORBRAINS named Anisha and then what?"

"Tell me where she is? How long she's been there? what the flipping hell is going on!" He said as he dragged that hand through his hair as he did when he was at his wit's end. "Listen...something isn't right about this. I don't know what...but it's off...I've read Mukline's papers and listened to his lectures, everything I could find. He seems like a total hack to me. But maybe he has someone prisoner somewhere..."

Jasmine frowned, "he's the kind of weirdo that WOULD have someone hidden away somewhere ... I'll see what I can do."

Duncan almost collapsed in relief in his chair, "Thanks so much Jasmine...I swear I'll make it up to you...D'Imperios full tux and gown...private table for two."

Jasmine's eyes lit up and she smiled, "You my friend have yourself a deal. It's sad how well you know me and easily I can be bought."

"Not easily. And I do value our friendship...and you do look amazing in a gown."

"I know." She began to move her chair but he was up in a flash to help her and offer his arm. He walked her to her car and she kissed his cheek, "You really are a love, Duncan. I wish you were my type."

Duncan chuckled and hugged her, "Maybe one day I'll buy a motorcycle and a leather jacket..."

"Please don't...I couldn't handle having your death on my conscience." She unlocked her car and smiled, "I'll call you when i find something...or don't..either way you'll have your answer."

"Thanks Jasmine...you're the best." He waved when she drove away and he made his way to his car and sat there for a few minutes thinking. "where exactly would someone like Dr. Mukline keep a patient? Was she at the hospital? Surely she had to be...how would she have been able to reach his mind otherwise? Maybe he could find the architectural plans for the hospital and see how they compared with the areas that were being used. Maybe there was a space that wasn't open to normal use? He needed something to do while Jasmine did her thing.

He tried to find ways to have a minute with Dr. Mukline over the next few days, whether catching him briefly in the lunchroom or in the hall, but nothing ever presented itself. He sat down in the doctor's lounge and almost dropped his phone when he saw it was Jasmine calling. "Hey you," he replied, "Did you find anything?"

Jasmine huffed, "Hi Duncan...how are you? Are you having a nice day?"

"Hi Jasmine," he sighed, "How are you? Are you having a nice day?"

"Why how very sweet of you to ask Duncan...I am indeed having a nice day and I've found your girl."

He sat up straighter, "You DID?"

"You aren't going to like it..."

"Why?"

"She's listed as deceased. Two years ago in fact."

"There's no way Jasmine...that has to be wrong."

"It could be. MUCKFORBRAINS is involved after all, but that's the listing for her. Last known location in the hospital was the morgue for autopsy, but I couldn't find any report on that, which is why this thing DOES seem fishy. Those reports are never missing because they go to the police department as well. But there are no reports there either, Sheila and I go way back and she looked."

"So, what happened then?"

"Your guess is as good as mine, I'd say. But that's why you couldn't find her, and you won't find her anywhere, I looked. it's like she never existed. Her social is listed as dead, but even her school records are blocked. I really think you should talk to the police Duncan...this could be something far bigger than you can handle."

"Thanks for the concern...I'll be fine...and thanks for all the extra you did Jasmine...you name the time and place for D'Imperios."

"I'll let your bank account recover for a bit before I hold you to that..."

"I appreciate it."

"I figured you might. And hey...you may not be my type but I do worry about you. Be careful...I don't think Mukline is on the up and up."

"I will be...and neither do I." He clicked the phone closed and stared at it. Deceased? What the hell was going on? He laid on the cot and tried to sleep but his mind was screaming a million miles an hour down a one way road into a brick wall. Realizing it was futile to try and force sleep he got up and went back to work, returning several hours alter and almost falling over onto the cot in complete exhaustion.
 

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Anisha Travell
Somewhere in a secured hall of the hospital with restricted access for limited personnel a room was filled with machines and wires attached to a woman seemingly asleep. Her face was gaunt, suggesting that she hadn’t been outside in a long while. Her cheeks were slightly fallen in, as the only source of nutrients came from a tube in liquid form.

Everyday a nurse would come by, checking her vitals, and giving her the basic care along with the needed physiotherapy. All to make sure that the woman attached to all these machines would stay alive, should she ever wake up.

There were more like the woman on the wing. All seemingly asleep. Some seemed to have been admitted only recently, their skin colour still fresh and their overall state just more alive. Those were easier to get near to for the nurse, as they had in overall fewer complications. It was only a matter of time, however. A matter of time before reality would catch up on them as they roamed the limbo.

Despite their unmoving state changes were detected on a deeper level, however. Dr. Mukline had poured himself out over one particular spike of brain activity. The readings of the former intern were curious to say the least. They suggested that Anisha had managed to break through a barrier. Whether this was for certain Dr. Mukline didn’t dare to say, but he did feel confident that if anyone would be able to find a way it would be Anisha. He had trained her himself, after all.

“Doctor?” the nurse called for his attention, a pile of files in her arms. “The new batch has started their residency. Perhaps you can find a new addition for your research team?”

Closing the file in hands Dr. Mukline pushed up his glasses as he rubbed his face. It was that time again. Sighing to himself, he motioned for the nurse to leave the files on the table as he shut his eyes for a moment. This time he would have to be more careful.

When the nurse left him the doctor straightened up, flicked through the files casually as he read their descriptions, leveling and judging them as he glanced past. He just needed one unassuming face.

By the time the nurse came for the second round of check-up Dr. Mukline had made his choice. Flicking over the file of the chosen resident the man wordlessly turned around once more, continuing examining the new readings.

“Tell Duncan that I expect him tomorrow morning at six.”
 
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Duncan was pulling on his white coat and readying himself for morning rounds as usual when h was informed that he'd been accepted into Dr. Mukline's residency list. He couldn't believe it. Had their digging been unearthed? Was this some sort of way tot rap him into becoming like Anisha? He had no idea what he was walking into but he couldn't stop himself from following the path that might possibly leading him to the girl that had been reaching out for help.

He found his way to Mukine's offices and was waiting with the others after introducing himself as the new resident. He found their reactions odd and telling. They all seemed absorbed and focused on the files in front of them. Was Mukline that much of a hard ass? Were they all intimidated? Were they trying to impress the man? It was hard to tell, but he didn't really have time to analyze it for too long, as the door to the office opened and the man himself stepped out.

He stood and offered his hand, "Good morning Dr. Mukline, I am Duncan Campbell your new resident. Thank you for accepting me into your esteemed program."
 

Nemopedia

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Anisha Travell
It took the doctor a while to remember that he had picked a fresh resident the day before. The fresh face of Duncan suddenly appeared, hand outstretched and all a bundle of nerves and anticipation. Dr. Mukline barely acknowledged the man before he closed the file with a thump, clearly not wanting the newcomer to read it yet.

"Spare me the pleasantries. We have work to do," the man started in a gruff voice. In a surprisingly brisk walk the short round man made his way towards the wing, a wave motioning for Duncan to follow.

"So, Duncan. Fill me in on what you have done before this. Experiences, expertise, tell me," the man started, though he held little actual interest in what the new resident had to say. After all, he had read his file.

"Anyway, this wing. This here all is pretty secure as you have noticed," he continued as he waved his hand around. "But don't let it scare you, we will start slowly. First you will just do the miscellaneous stuff, the odd jobs, and once we trust you have settled enough to stomach more you will get to the meat of it all. But first I will show you around," Dr. Mukline talked fast, allowing little room for himself to breath as visible strain started to appear on his face. However, he marched on, not letting himself be deterred by the sweat forming.

"Talk boy, talk, speak, I can't be doing all of the explaining. What do you already know about my wing and research and why did you apply?" the man commanded.
 

PoetLore

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Duncan was shocked by the man's manner, but he recovered quickly and followed after him, soon matching him stride for stride. His legs were longer so he didn't have to walk as fast, but he matched his pace to the other man's. They were entering the forbidden areas and he was forcing himself NOT to look in the rooms. He wanted to but he didn't want to rouse the man's suspicions. "I've done most of my required residency, surgical, ER, maternity, peds, and my most recent was in neurology. I intend to make that my specialty, and have been preparing myself for this residency program for over a year."

He would have thought the man had read his file and seen his application for the program, so this seemed a bit odd but he spewed out the information anyway. Heads of programs were sometimes odd. It wasn't anything new to him. Miscellaneous stuff? "What sort of Miscellaneous and odd jobs did you have in mind for me then Dr. Mukline?" He asked wondering why he'd need a 'stomach' for anything at this point. He'd seen a lot, had both hands inside a man's intestines looking for a bullet, popped a man's eyeball back into the socked after he'd been in a fight that caused it to pop out and hang down his face. What exactly were they doing here? And why exactly was there so much security in this wing? he had an odd shiver run up his spine as his mind asked questions he wasn't at all sure he was prepared to know the answers to much less see first hand. Still, he wanted to help Anisha so he stayed calm and tried not to be too overly interested in any one thing. He didn't want to get kicked out of here before he learned anything important.