The eggs in the salad have a kind of an emerald hue, but you figure it's pickles & wolf it down, licking your fingers. Twenty minutes later, you interrupt a family discussion of Pére Goriot to display a crimson-soaked handkerchief. "J'ai croché du sang," you croak, and your head clouds, & you fall back into comfortable darkness.

The next thing you know, you're soaked in the antiseptic brilliance of a hospital room. Everything is astoundingly white and neat; the only relief from the sharp edges and right angles of the decor are a few red tulips nodding in a vase by the bed, their petals yawning open like the mouths of tigers. "How I love Sylvia Plath," a voice purrs, and you look up to discover that the flowers weren't the only curved things in the room after all, and they certainly didn't have the nicest stems. "The name's Marli Mandible, RN," says the luscious—and possibly telepathic?—creature before you, "and... I love you. Come away with me... please?"

"Uh, I have a girlfriend and I'm probably in the hospital for a reason."

"What the hell, you'd probably inject me with air if I didn't."

Start Again