For Erica Allbee, my fiery redheaded friend…
The fire burned hot. So hot I felt it singeing the depths of my lungs with every breath I tried to draw in.
I hugged the blanket closer, pulling it over my entire head as I pushed myself farther into the room finally hitting the wall. My hope drizzled from me, saturating the tears that leaked from my closed stinging eyes.
The fire licked the doorway of the small room as I huddled in the corner. I felt it then. The headiness, my weakened heart. My breath was so shallow now I knew if my eyes were open they wouldn’t see clearly. It was no different than drowning really. Suffocation feels the same anywhere I guessed. It was the heat that made this worse.
I hadn’t really thought about how I would die this time, but I certainly hadn’t wagered on fire. Sure, I’ll probably pass out before I actually burn, but the idea of it wasn’t a comfort. I was pretty sure this was the worst way to go.
My body slumped unmoving. Damn it.
Russo was going to get it for this. I will absolutely kill him with fire next time. As I floated above my latest vessel, I couldn’t help but feel a loss. I had really liked that one.
I woke and I was so comfortable I was tempted to roll over and bury my head in the luscious pillow beneath my head. But I was also rather excited to find out what my new body was like. We never get a choice. It’s really a crap shoot. Usually the bodies we get inserted in are from coma victims whose owners are long gone, leaving their bodies far behind. You have to get them when they’re fresher. Bodies in comas for too long don’t work so well.
I took a moment to feel. Putting attention on extremities and nerves to see what I was up against. There was a dull ache near my right temple and a throb on my left shin. Felt like road burn. Otherwise, the body felt pretty good. Really good if I had to be honest. I’d gotten another female which was nice. I felt more comfortable as a female, though I could run a male body around just as easily.
I took in a deep breath and let my eyelids flutter before opening them to check out my surroundings. I would have to meet my new family, friends, and loved ones soon. Had to go through the spiel; What happened? How did I get here. I don’t remember anything. As always, they’ll be happy I’m alive.
“She’s waking up!” a woman screeched nearby. Yeesh. There was some activity and then someone took my hand.
“Lana, baby. I am so happy you’re coming back to me!” The woman sounded like she smoked a ton of cigarettes, but I didn’t detect the foul stench of them. I focused on her then. She had a curly white permed halo around her head and bright blue eyes surrounded by wrinkles.
“It would have been the end of me to outlive you, girl,” she chided though a tear leaked from her eye. It was always weird. I don’t remember ever having anyone care about me like that and yet so many times I had woken with someone there who was so pleased, so loving. Of course, I’d had the opposite too. Where someone had wished I was dead, was hoping for the will to kick in, or just a general jerk of a family member.
For some reason, I liked this lady right away. She continued, her voice strict, “You had better not ever ride one of those killer machines again.”
I blinked. “I love motorcycles.” My voice was a rough whisper. I thought it sounded kind of cool. Her eyes widened in fear. Before she could say anything, a Greek God appeared over her shoulder with a boyish grin on his face. He pushed passed and leaned in, his scent filled me with masculine musk and before I could even think about swooning, he leaned in and kissed me full on the mouth.
I know; What! Today my luck was in the one thousandth of epicness. He pulled back and a large hand wiped a tear from his eye and then ran a finger down my cheek. He smiled and opened his mouth to speak but just closed it again and kept smiling and touching my face.
This man loved me. Or at least he loved whoever used to live here.
And I liked that. Very much. I had been floating for so long.
“I don’t remember what happened,” I said softly my voice recovering slightly. “I don’t remember me. But I remember I love you.”
He coughed and tried to cover up his emotions. “I’m so glad you’re back,” his gruff voice was music to my ears. “I love you, Lana Croft.”
My mother was weeping softly near the foot of the bed. I looked over to her. “And you too.” She snorted and continued to cry though she smiled.
It was days before they let me check out. Once everything had been checked and re-checked, I was finally able to see my new body and get dressed. I stepped in front of the mirror and gasped.
I looked just like the Tomb Raider lady. I was hot, I mean smoking. What planet was I even on? I cleaned up and stepped out only to have a doctor pop in for a final check.
“And are you all set, Ms. Croft?” the doctor asked with a calm smile. I stared at him. Each set of eyes was different and it took me a moment to realize who I was seeing. I glanced around before answering.
“What do you want, Russo?”
“Hey,” he waved a consolatory hand, “I’m Dr. Solarly for now.”
“I call truce,” I said quickly. I wasn’t attached to any machines so he couldn’t kill me that way.
“It’s cool,” he said and I think he really meant it. “I’m having fun. Never been a Doctor before. I think the Establishment wanted us to take a break. They even inserted the medical information into my memory so I fit in. Check yours, you probably know all about motorcycles, right?”
I stopped to think and realized he was right. I knew how to take apart most motorcycles and put them back together like a normal person would brush their teeth. I could apparently ride the shit out of them too, seeing as how I lived through a bad accident.
Russo, Dr. Solarly, held out his hand. I reached out and shook it. “Well, little bother, break time it is.”
As our hands separated, my incredibly beautiful boyfriend came to collect me. I was so ready to go home and get me some of that. I took his arm and waved to Dr. Solarly knowing if break time ended, Russo was gonna burn.