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It's too cold in here. I hate to be cold. I hate hospitals. My mother, my father, and my older brother all died in hospitals—pneumonia, MRSA, and an anesthetic mistake. Will was supposed to be getting a hip replacement. Anesthetic mistake.

I hear my heart rate spike and cringe as Nurse Ratchet Jr. pokes her head around the corner. "We're going to need you to calm down, Miss Jones. This is a fairly simple procedure, nothing to worry about."

"Look, lady, my brother died during a hip replacement because the anesthesiologist messed up. I'm about to have my SKULL opened up so Dr. Fineman can screw around with a supposedly benign tumor. I'M ALLOWED TO FREAK OUT, HERE!"

Ratchet Jr.'s face pales, but her beady ferret eyes stay cold and hard. "We don't make mistakes here, Miss Jones. I'm going to give you something to calm you down."

"No, I'll be fine, just give me a few minutes." Panic bells are starting to clang and reverberate inside my skull.

The nurse ignores me and loads a syringe with a frightening, childlike smile. She looks like a little girl, pleased at how her dollies are in perfect order. My brain screams at me. I need to get the hell out of here. The only way out is through the nurse.

I lie still and let her inject the sedative into the IV bag, but I rip the needle out of my arm as soon as the frosty sting of the medicine hits my bloodstream. I catapult myself off the gurney and ignore a violent urge to vomit.

I have to get out of here. I can't let them get inside my head. 

I feel the nurse's talons clamp down on my arm. "No!" I scream it so loud I feel like my throat has been shredded by a cheese grater. I throw my full body weight against her and we both crash into a glass-fronted steel cabinet. The noise is painfully satisfying, as is her scream of frustration.

"I have to get the hell out of here. I can't let them inside my head!"

I hear a piercing alarm and my whole body jerks like I've been struck by lightning. It sounds again and my eyes snap open. My bedroom. I can see glowing confetti in my peripheral vision and sunlight drives burning spikes into my eyes. I squint at my sheets. Bloody again.

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