Larsson woke, and his room was in twilight. He was alone… but his throat was dry and scratchy.
“Wonder if I’m allowed to move yet?” he muttered to himself, and looked around. A glass stood on the side table, half-full of clear liquid. He shrugged, sat up slowly, and reached for it.
With a wince for stitches obviously not out yet, he brought the glass to his face and sniffed. Smelt like water. Close enough. He sipped and smiled as the luke-warm liquid moistened his mouth and throat. Better. He edged himself back to lean on the pillows, but stopped as something caught under the covers. He lifted the sheet and groaned.
“Shit. I hate catheters.”
“Good afternoon, you’re awake!” a cheery voice broke into his mutterings. A nurse had walked in and was checking his chart.
“Just moaning about the catheter.” he said apologetically.
“Beats waking up in a pool of urine, though, doesn’t it?” she grinned.
“So, you’re awake, you’re using sentences, and you’re sitting up – this is nice to see!” she said, popping a thermometer in his mouth.
The thermometer beeped, and she took it out.
“38! Oh, that’s wonderful! Looks like you’re getting better! Need more water?”
“There was a little girl – Kelly? She was bitten at the same time I was. Do you know if she’s alright?”
The nurse’s face sobered.
“I’m sorry, she was a very sick little girl – she caught the same virus you did. Her body couldn’t handle the extra strain, she… died two nights ago.”
Larsson closed his eyes.
“God, the poor thing… her poor parents… it’s all my fault, I picked her to pat the damned koala…” He covered his face with his hands. “Her poor parents, I’m so sorry…” he said, muffled.
“Hey -” the nurse said gently, sitting on the bed, “It’s not your fault. You tried to do a nice thing, that’s all. The koala wasn’t dangerous, was it?”
The next time the nurse came in, Larsson handed her a piece of paper with a name and phone number.
“Would you ring this man, please, and ask him to come in to see me? It’s very important.”
“Should I come back later?”
“No, I’m… awake, uh…”
“I’m Trent Williams. A Ms Klein said you wanted me to visit? Said it was very important?”
Larsson struggled awake and sat up.
“Trent! Sorry, I was half-asleep, it didn’t occur to me who you were.”
“No worries. So – got a mystery for me?”
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