Billy Walters had a bad feeling when he walked into the hospital, but when the sheet was drawn he felt only confusion. Laying there on a cold, sterile metallic tray wasn’t anyone he knew, but the arm he lost ten years ago. He stared at it blankly, contemplating how it could be here, now, looking…fresh.
He looked at the remainder of his right arm he had grown used to the past decade. Four inches from the socket, the flesh met carbon fiber and extended to a hand made of silicon flesh. The phantom pain was still there. Constant like background noise. “Yeah, it’s mine…but…”
“I thought so,” the doctor said, “Fingerprints rarely lie. I took the liberty of pulling your medical records. You lost the arm in a rather nasty automobile accident when you were eighteen. Correct?”
Billy nodded and finally took his eyes off the arm to see the doctor hovering over a desk in the corner looking over papers. “How is this possible?”
“That, I don’t know. The arm was found near Clark and Teton. It was rushed here and put on ice. There were no incidents in the area at the time. The appendage, if you don’t mind me calling it that, has no signs of being frozen. There are no signs of external damage. The blood has not been disrupted for long. This arm has only been detached for maybe an hour. A most peculiar happenstance that I would like to examine further, but we are running out of time.”
Billy looked at him quizzically.
“I’m assuming that you would like to take advantage of this anomalous opportunity and have the arm reattached.”
Billy removed the prosthetic. He almost felt a tinge of grief knowing that he would never need it again, as if he were abandoning a friend. He laid on the bed and the anesthetist went to work plugging an IV into his left arm. While he was wheeled toward the operating room he began to feel the effects. He felt like he was fading away like a drop of blood melting in water. He drifted further and further until he was no longer part of the physical world.
He was eighteen again and driving his old Mustang. Cindy was in the passenger seat. They were driving home from a basketball game two towns over.
“You know,” she said and slid her hand between his legs, “we could have a little fun before we get back to town.”
“What are you thinking? The ridge?” She started kissing his neck and he returned the favor. They continued in the dark for a mile. They hit the rumble strips after Cindy unbuckled to get closer. He looked up in time to see the semi-truck parked on the shoulder. On impulse, he shoved her back in her seat. Then everything went black.
Billy came to. His head was a stone too heavy to lift from the pillow.
“How do you feel?”
“Groggy,” he said drunkenly.
“The anesthetic should wear off in a few minutes. You have a long journey ahead, but we will be with you the entire time. Get some rest.” The doctor left. A nurse checked a monitor and made notes before doing the same. He was left alone.
The drugs wore off after some time. The phantom pain was gone. In its place was something different. A noise, like speakers emitting silence. He thought he was imagining it, but when he focused, he heard the distinct sound of a woman screaming.