The young man returned with a nurse. She fussed over the monitors at my side and dished out platitudes about my condition. I caught only four words. 'Near fatal' and 'car crash'. My head pounded as though my skull played host to a troupe of elephants on rollerskates. The nurse checked my chart, patted my free hand, and left the room. The questions erupted at once.
Can you remember anything?
I shook my head, setting off minor explosions in my temples. Expressions clouded. Worry vied with elation on their unfamiliar faces.
Could you hear us talking to you?
I lifted my shoulders in a half-shrug. They wanted me to say yes but I couldn't lie to strangers. They talk among themselves, convinced I had heard them on some level.
Did you have a near death experience?
A strange question from the young man. A pale, earnest face. Again, I shook my head. I spread my hands in apology, and that earnest face fell.
They geared up for the next round of questions. I stared at them, claiming amnesia as my only defence. For I had indeed found myself standing at the mouth of a tunnel, surrounded by other shadows, only vaguely aware of the sirens and carnage I left behind.
But how could I tell these people that the tunnel sloped downwards...towards a roaring inferno?