When I came to, the first thing I noticed was that wherever I was I had never been there before. Flat on my back, an oxygen mask on my face, I looked up and saw a silver wall, some flashing lights, and a man in a dark blue jumpsuit, his back to me. The mask made it hard to call out. I tried to raise my arm but couldn't. My arms and my legs were strapped down. My head, too. My gaze was directed straight down at my bare chest and the several wires taped to it. My stomach, I could see, was caked with blood. My khakis, too, were a dull dry red. On the left side of my face I felt the warm pleasant drip-drip-drip of even more blood. Apparently, I'd been in some sort of accident: what sort? I had no idea. But I knew what I was meant to do, from TV shows. I wiggled my fingers, then my toes.
The man in the blue suit turned around and removed my oxygen mask. I now realized, again from TV shows, that I was in the back of an Emergency Rescue Unit.
"I can feel my toes and fingers," I reported, knowingly.
"What's your name?" he asked.
I told him. But my voice sounded strange and manufactured, not my natural own.
"That's good, Michael," he said, and smiled, with a terrifying condescension. This man knew something I didn't: what?
"Do you know what day it is?" he asked.
"I never know what day it is," I said.
"He says he never knows what day it is," he said. Out of the corner of my eye I now spotted a second man in a dark blue emergency rescue uniform. And I remembered something: Tallulah on an ice rink. I remembered skating over to her awkwardly, like a man pumping a Razor Scooter up a steep hill, and then skating back to my own beginner's ice-skating lesson. I also remembered that they had lumped the beginners together with the intermediates. I remembered a short, squat Irishman showing me how to spin. I recalled thinking: If I try to spin I'll kill myself. But what I couldn't remember is why I was ice skating in the first place.
"Do you know your address?"