The first thing he noticed, when the black mist in his mind cleared, was a unbearable headache. He wanted to press a hand against his temple, but he couldn't move. What happened? Slowly he opened his eyes, but immediately he closed them thight, as a bright light blinded him. It took a few moments for the brightness to stop stinging in his eyes and he could look around the room, where he was laying. The walls were white and except for a door, that was light gray, there was nothing else to see. He tried to sit up, but didn't succeeded. Now he looked down his body and saw that he was tied to the bedstead, with padded cuffs. What was going on here?
A sudden panic overcame him and he pulled at the shackles, first carefully, then more and more firmly. Something was very wrong here! He had to get away...out of the room and find a safe place, to organize his thoughts. But all pulling and tugging didn't help. The cuffs didn't break. He also had no time to keep trying, because the next moment the door opened and three people came in. A man dressed like a doctor and two women looking like nurses.
"You are awake", said the doctor, smiling. "That's great, it didn't look good for you for a while."
"Where am I?", he wanted to know.
"My name is Adrian Bryar, I am the chief doctor of this institution", said the man, ignoring his question.
The nurses stepped to his sides and rolled up the sleeves of the white shirt he wore. Two bandages appeared around his forearms. Confused, he stared at them.
"What happened?", he asked. "And where am I?"
But again, his question wasn't answered. Instead, Bryar took a small flashlight out and shone in his eyes.
"The Pupil reflexes are good", he mumbled, nodding. "Do you know what your name is?"
"Of course," he said slightly annoyed. "I..."
But then he stopped. His name was...What was his name? The panic in him grew, when he couldn't remember it. What was his name? What was his name? Could one forget his own name?
"Tomas", he mumbled without realizing it.
"Good, good", Bryar replied. "Which year do we have?"
Again, Tomas stopped.
"I...I don't know..."
Bryar smiled at him and put a hand on his shoulder.
"It will get better, believe me."
Meanwhile the sisters had taken the bandages off. Beneath it were two long patches on the inside of his forearms. What had happened and why couldn't he remember anything?
"Please, tell me where I am", repeated Tomas again, this time almost in a pleading voice.
"Oh excuse me, of course! You're in the St. Jacob's Sanatorium for mental Illnesses", Doctor Bryar said, smiling.
The shock was written on his face. The panic grew even more and tightened his chest. He had the feeling, that he could no longer breathe properly. Why couldn't he remember what happened? Why was he here?
"It's going to be okay", Bryar tried to calm him. "We can do this."
But Tomas couldn't calm down. He simply couldn't breathe. It wasn't until the room began to spin, that he realized he was hyperventilating. That was a full blown panic attack. As far as he knew, something like this had never happened to him. He heard Doctor Bryar giving instructions to the nurses and once more someone was shining him in the eyes, then everything went black again.
The next time he woke up, he was still in the same room and the cuffs were still wrapped around his wrists. Again, the feeling of pure panic crept up his spine. But this time he managed to fight the feeling down and stayed relatively calm. He took a few deep breaths and closed his eyes for a moment. He couldn't got upset and fainted again. He had to stay calm and talk to the doctor. On the other hand, it would be hard to find out why he was in this psychiatry. But now he had to wait until the doctor came back. It took half an eternity and with every passing minute he became more nervous.
The bandages on his arms actually spoke for themselves. Tomas could remember that he had seen such bandages before. The girl who got them, wanted to kill herself. She had cut open her wrists. But why should he do that? This loss of his memorys made him crazy! He had so many questions! Hopefully, the doctor could bring some light into the darkness.
Tomas had lost his sense of time. Maybe he was awake for a few minutes, maybe hours... maybe a day. He couldn't say it and it didn't improve his condition. He racked his brain over what had happened and just couldn't get through the clouds in his mind. He couldn't remember anything, that would explain why he was here now. The last thing Tomas could remember, was having a mass in his small parish in Chicago. After that, everything was black.
"Father Tomas", a voice suddenly sounded in the room.
He flinched and stared immediately at the door. There was one of the nurses and smiled at him. It was only when she asked how he felt, that he noticed that his breathing had accelerated. It took a moment for him to calm down and answer her.
"I have questions", he said in a placid voice.
"I think so, but you have to wait until Professor Malik has time for you."
Confused, he looked at her. Who was Professor Malik? The doctor, he had seen before, was called Bryar.
"I thought Doctor Bryar..."
"Doctor Bryar is the chef doctor of this instituion", the woman explained smiling. "But he is not our psychologist, Professor Malik takes care of patients in your situation. Trust me, everything will be fine."
Tomas nodded and stared at his hands. He flinched as the nurse touched his arm. He looked at her questioningly.
"I'd have to see your wounds, please keep still so I don't inflict any more pain on you."
"But...I'm not in any pain", Tomas said, confused.
That was strange. Actually, he should have felt pain, right? He knew that there were probably cuts under the bandages and patches. So why didn't he feel them. He had cut himself many times, when he was cooking and it had always hurt. But now the pain was missing. That was really strange...
"You're not in pain, because we gave you some painkillers, you are hanging on a infusionn bag
She pointed to a infusion rack that stood next to the bed and Tomas hadn't noticed until then. That also might be an explaination, why he couldn't think clearly. Painkillers influenced thinking and, if it was a powerfull remedy, Tomas was surprised that he was still conscious. Maybe they had interrupted his panic attack by simply injecting a strong tranquilizer.
"The seam looks good", the nurse interrupted his thoughts.
His gaze lowered and was glued to his arms in shock. She hadn't only loosened the bandages, but also removed the band-aids. Now he could see the sewn cuts. There were two, one on each forearm, and they reached from the end of the cuff, almost to the elbow. As it looked like the wound had gaped a lot. It was strange to see the cuts, but to feel no pain. Besides, he still did wonder, why he should have done that.
"I have to put band-aids on them."
Tomas was too shocked to react to that. The wounds disappeared again, under band-aids and these disappered under the bandages. Then the nurse turned away from him and headed for the door.
"Why am I tied up here?", Tomas asked, as she almost left the room.
"This is our normal procedure, with people with your behavior", she explained, smiling again. "But Professor Malik will explain everything exactly to you, don't worry."
She left the room, but before she could close the door, Tomas stopped her again.
"Can I get something to eat?", he shouted after her.
"Of course, when it's time."
With that, the door closed and Tomas was alone again. When it was time...But when was that? He didn't even know how long he hadn't eaten. He became more and more aware of his hunger. Furthermore, the cuffs uncomfortably squeezed his wrists. But he couldn't do anything against neither of them. Actually, he couldn't even go to the bathroom. But strangely, he felt no urge to do so. But he wouldn't worry about that at the moment.
Again he was compulsively trying to remember something, but it didn't work. He continued to rack his brains and didn't noticed that drifted into sleep again.
Where did this voice come from? Why did that man call him?
"You asked for help and now you are offended because I didn't brought any flowers?"
"Father Tomas, how nice to see you."
This time it was a woman's voice. He tried to see something, but there was total darkness around him.
"What are you doing with her?!"
Again a woman's voice, but this time she sounded younger and angry. What was going on here?
"Father...Please...It hurts so much...I can't stand this anymore..."
This time, the new voice seemed to belong to an older girl and she was crying. How could he help these people?
The voice mentioned a name, Tomas was sure. But he couldn't understand it. He only knew that it wasn't his name. A sting shot through his head and made him scream. It was like someone was ramming a knife into his skull.
"I can not anymore..."
Another voice that increased the pain.
"...mas...Tomas, wake up", this time it was a male voice again, that called him.
And it felt like someone was shaking him. Tomas opened his eyes and stared into a strangers face. The man in front of him had short, brown hair and a three-day beard. He looked at him with attentive, dark eyes. His hand was on Tomas' shoulder. He must have been the one who had shaken him.
"Calm down", he said in a calm voice, looking him straight in the eye. "Imitate me: Inhale...hold your breath a moment...exhale."
Tomas tried, but his breathing was much too fast. His gaze wandered around the room, searching for the people whose voices he had just heard.
"Look at me."
The man's voice was almost imperative. Tomas' gaze shot to him and he tried his best to look him in the eye.
"Inhale...hold your breath for a moment...exhale", he repeated slowly, and finally Tomas managed to follow his instructions. "Good and again."
Tomas didn't know how long he had looked into the man's eyes and was breathing in sync with him, but it calmed him and his thoughts. Only when his breath stayed steady by itself and he no longer had to concentrate on the breathing technique, the stranger smiled at him.
"You did a great job, Tomas."
"Who are you?", he asked softly.
"I am Professor Malik, your psychologist."
Psychologist? Oh yes, the nurse had told him Malik would come to him, when he had time.
"How do you feel?", the professor asked, looking at Tomas firmly.
"I...I don't know", he replied openly, staring at his arms. "I can't remember anything...Not what had happened...Not why I should have done this...I'm sure I didn't tryed to kill myself..."
"However, the evidence speaks in favor", said Malik and sat down in a chair, that Tomas noticed only then.
"But I don't think so..."
"What do you remember?"
Didn't he just say he couldn't remember anything? Did the man even listen to him at all?
"You have to remember something. Elsewise you wouldn't know your name anymore and that's not the case, according to Doctor Bryar. So what's your last memory?"
Tomas was silent for a moment, thinking. His last memory...really the very last, before everything went black...
"I'm holding a mass in my church and my nephew is there too", he said with a smile. "He makes nonsense when I tell a story from the Bible. That was just before the Pope came to Chicago."
Professor Malik nodded, but looked at him worriedly.
"I want you to stay calm, Tomas", he said.
Irritated, Tomas looked at him. Why should he get nervous? After all, the breathing technique had helped him and he had calmed down completely.
"The Pope's visit to your parish was almost exactly two years ago."
The information slowly seeped into Tomas' brain and when he realized what that meant, he knew why the professor had asked for him to remain calm. Two years...Two whole years! That was impossible!
"That cant be true!"
That would mean he would have lost the memory of two years! That couldn't be true...that couldn't be true! Everything he had done in those two years, every person he had met, he should have forgotten?! What if he had forgotten some good friends...What if something important had happened and he couldn't remember it?
"Tomas, stay calm..."
"How am I supposed to stay calm?!", he yelled and pulled at his shackles.
He wanted to get out of here! Why did they arrest him?! He had to talk to his sister and ask if she knew what had happened to him. Maybe she also knew the people whose voice he had heard in his dream.
"You need to..."
"According to you, I can't remember two years of my life! Who is really going to stay calm, when one gets such a message?!"
He heard a crack and saw that the buckle of the right cuff slightly bent. Maybe he could get his hand free like that. He knew he had the strength to do that.
"If you don't calm down, I have to sedate you and I don't really want to do that a second time in such a short time."
When did they sedate him? Perhaps during the panic attack, when he had fallen asleep so suddenly? That's why he hadn't been able to push the tiredness to the side, not even after the nurse had left the room.
"You can't stun your patients, like you want!", he shouted and pulled on the shackles again, it was missing only a small piece, then the buckle would be so bent, that the cuff would open.
"If you stop, I won't have to do it."
Tomas looked challengingly at him. If he managed to distract Malik a little longer, then he was free. He could easily overwhelm the man. But he didn't came that far...The next moment, this leaden fatigue overwhelmed him again. The last thing he saw was how Malik put a hand on his shoulder and the last thing he heard was a silent apology from the psychologist. Then the deep darkness got him back. As he sank into it, he thought he heard a familiar voice that sounded startled and so sad at the same time.