The Fields that Men Know

Crossing the street, Deb had just a second where she saw the red convertible bearing down on her and then all the air rushed out of her and the world spun and came to rest with a sickening crack. Fade to black.

Fade in on a white ceiling. Deb was lying on a bed amid antiseptic hospital smells. A crack ran over the ceiling in the vague shape of a rabbit with its ears erect. Deb turned her head — everything else seemed so far away — and saw a vase full of odorless flowers on the table next to her. There was no card.

Enter a nurse. The nurse said, “You’re awake.”

“Yes,” said Deb. “Who sent the flowers?”

“Oh, we put those there. We put flowers in every new patient’s room, to sort of humanize things. Plus people feel better if they’ve gotten flowers.”

“Even if it’s just from the hospital?”

“Even then. It doesn’t seem to matter who they’re from. If you get more from someone else –“

“I won’t –“

“– we’ll take ours out and put theirs in. But these are safe, they’re hypoallergenic, odorless, but alive. So they’re very therapeutic.” She’d been checking Deb’s pulse, temperature, and blood pressure while she said all this. She crossed to the window and opened the blinds on endless sunny green fields.

“Holy hell,” said Deb. “Where am I?”

“Welcome to Elfland, dear.” And it was only then that Deb noticed the nurse’s too-long fingers, her teeth sharp as a kitten’s.