Flames leapt upon her from the charred remains of the bum; flailing her arms she tried to put the flames out to no avail. Her face melts before her eyes, as now she is drowning and now awake once again. She hears the doctors conferring, but their voices are muffled by the dog snouts that grow from their faces. She hears that no expense was being spared, that her mother would be returning from overseas as quickly as plans could be made, that she had been sequestered away from prying eyes. As the doctors and nurses scurried around her, fading in and out of shadows, she attempted to relay to them that prying eyes had already sequestered, but simply croaking and blinking her eyes was not achieving her goal. Could I get a fucking pencil? She was no longer critical, but an endless series of skin grafts, plastic surgeries and grief counseling were going to be needed, along with plenty of rest, before she could show her face in public again. The paparazzi had laid off for the time being, mostly because of the crack team that had escorted her out of Sinai and her mother, from the jet, was in constant contact with several surgeons, who were all vying to do pro bono work on the girl for their own portfolios.

The maelstrom of activity, the shadows that turned sinister then faded away, the constant jabbering floating over her head was making her dizzy, so she pushed the button a few times more but the morphine wasn’t working anymore; another thing she could not communicate. But what she really wanted to do was just go to sleep, sleep for a week, a month, until they all just went away.

In her supine position, she began to concentrate on the beeping of the machines, beep babeep, pong beep. She made a game out of it, turning it into a trance beat and imagining she was back in the club; the only place she felt comfortable, away from her mother, away from the mansion. She envisioned herself with the man in the face of the bum, his piercing stare, his look of compassion, his strength and his need for her.

Beep, bebeep, pong beep.

She wondered who he was and where he came from. He reached out to her, pleaded for her help, and then thrust her away when he realized the bum was on fire—that he was on fire. It was like living a romance novel, the tall dark man of her dreams risking his life for her own. Why can’t I ever find someone like that! If she could ever find him, she would never leave his side.

Beep, bebeep, pong beep.

The group was now filtering away from her bed, the dog people had become human again, the nurses and interns had all been dismissed. She lost herself once more in her game with the machines bleeps. She was out of the woods, but the fucking trees were still hovering around her. Suddenly, she felt a fiery pang in her chest near her throat, but the morphine drip still was not responding.

Beep, bebeep, pong…