He nearly fell at the sound of the voice, but caught himself before sliding backwards off the table. He didn’t yet trust his legs to hold him upright.
He looked towards the voice and a found feminine shadow standing in the doorway. “Who…,” he started.
“My name is Ana,” the shadow replied, “and you should be in bed.” She crossed the space between them quickly, faster than he expected. He shrank from her, but had little chance to move away.
Out of the shadows and into the shining starlight, he got a better look at her. She was of average height, maybe 5’8″ or 5’9″, with a trim frame. She wore jeans and a knit sweater, though, which made her build difficult to be sure of, especially given the general lack of available light.
Her face suggested that she didn’t carry even an extra pound of weight, with a slender neck and prominent cheekbones. Her smooth, white skin gleamed in the pale light, her dark eyes standing out. He couldn’t tell their color, but he found it hard not to focus on them. The were stunning and piercing and sparkled, somehow all at once. The last person he’d seen with eyes like that he had married, a lifetime or two ago now.
“Do you remember your name?” she asked.
“Um, Thom,” he replied, shakily.
“I’m trying to help you, Thom. You need to get well. Let’s get you back in bed.” He felt the strength in her hands as she took him by the shoulders. She helped him away from the table and ducked beneath his left arm. He hesitated and then leaned onto her, afraid she couldn’t hold him. She did, though, easily, and directed them both back towards the empty hospital bed.
“Ana?” he asked, as they shuffled back across the room.
“Do I know you?”
“No,” she replied. “But I’m taking care of you now. You’ve been asleep for a very long time. We weren’t sure if you would ever wake up. Now that you have, I mean to make sure you have time to recover fully.”
“How did I,” he started, nearly whispering.
“It’s a very long story, and part of an even longer one. I think you were in a coma for more than 10 years. What year do you last remember?”
He thought for a moment. “1997”, he said slowly, “that’s the last date I remember.”
They reached the bed and she helped him lay down. “Yes, more than 10 years. Do you need anything else? More water?”
The man who barely remembered being Thom shook his head as he settled back into the bed, letting it sink in. “Not now, I’m very tired right now. 10 years? Is it 2007?”
She hooked a full bag of clear fluid to his IV post and took a syringe from her pocket. She removed the cap and pushed the needle into an input ports on the plastic tubing. Squeezing the plunger steadily, the contents of the syringe flowed down the line. “It’s 2010 now, Thom, although the year has very little meaning now.”
He had been tired a moment ago, but now felt a weight on his eyelids, closing them. He fought to keep them open, vainly.
“The world you know is gone, Thom,” he heard her say, and then he was asleep.