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In the jaws of delirium, Melissa fought the restraints. Her neck muscles thrashed, pulling against the pins bored into her skull. The bed vibrated. Her mouth twisted into a sneer.
"Look at her!"
Melissa's mother was perched at the bed rail. Hands like talons gripped the metal. "Look at what she's doing to herself!"
"Mrs. Carr, perhaps you should wait outside," the nurse said as she tightened the blood pressure cuff.
"Melissa!" Mrs. Carr shouted, bending close, "Melissa!" But the girl didn't respond.
On the opposite side of the bed, Anne, a hospital volunteer, clutched one of the girl's burning hands. She marveled at the dry skin. Not a bead of sweat. Melissa's furnaces blazed. Without interruption.
"We're going to give her sedative," one of the resident internists said.
Behind him, the attending physician was already preparing the dose.
"A relaxant. And something stronger for the fever. It should calm her."
Anne's eyes were fixed on the syringe as Mrs. Carr draped a cold cloth on Melissa's forehead. The attending shot the drugs into the IV, and almost instantly, a wave of stillness washed over Melissa. The anxious, hitched breaths slowed and evened. The tension drained.
Anne slumped in relief. Mom wiped at her stubborn tears.
And inside, very alone, Melissa saw the mist become sand, the sand become stillness, and all the universe sprinkle out of existence.
On to Part 5
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