The vodka didn’t help; I don’t know why I thought it would. Now I’m stuck with a hangover so bad that light hurts and I can’t get my head up from the toilet seat. That awful man is still in here with me. I wonder if that is why my head feels so heavy right now and the thought makes me giggle. His world is swimming through my head, threatening to overwhelm me with sensations I shouldn’t even know about, but all I can feel from him though is disgust and fear. For some reason that only makes it funnier. I laugh harder until eventually I choke on sobs that I can’t keep down any longer. Sliding down to the floor, away from the toilet, I suddenly realise that I am not alone.
Lola is sitting on the side of the bath, nursing a coffee and watching me. She tries to smile as I struggle to collect myself. How long has she been there? It doesn’t look comfortable enough on the side of the bath for her to have been there all night. She holds out the coffee and I suddenly realise that it is for me and that it is hot. I guess it must have been her that woke me up.
“How are you feeling?” The question is unnecessary, it must be. There is no way I can feel this bad without it being obvious to everyone else. When I don’t take the coffee she pushes it into my hand, examining my face as she does so. “Who’s Lee?” The question is so blunt and sudden that I freeze, hangover forgotten. In the back of my mind, I feel him sit up and begin to take notice, but I don’t think that he heard the question. He just noticed my reaction to it.
“Who?” I would love to be able to do nonchalance but I can’t, not even at the best of times. I aim instead for dense stupidity. To my shock Lola doesn’t look to have bought it. Funny that; I feel pretty stupid from here. He is sneering at me. I try to ignore him but he is watching me like the telly and it’s really distracting. What has he got to be so high and mighty about then? I turn my attention to him, trying to watch him like he is watching me. The second film starts to swim into focus but Lola won’t allow it. She grabs my chin and stares into my face.
“Don’t play dumb Kerry. Who is Lee? You’ve been crying all night, begging him to leave you alone like he was in the room.” Her grip turns to a caress, and I realise that she is worried about me. She hates the idea of what they might have done to me in that lab, and now all she can see is the mess it’s turned me into. I have no idea what to say until suddenly it hits me.
“What do you mean, Lee?” I ask sharply. I had no idea that he had a name. I had even less idea that I knew what it was. “How do you know his name?”
“What are you talking about? You’ve been shouting about him for hours.” She pauses, examining my face again. “Look, I don’t know who he is, or what you two have going on, but he isn’t good for you – I do know that. I’ve never seen you so mixed up over a man; I would never normally say this to your face, but you need to get out of it. Now. He sounds like really bad news…” She keeps talking, rambling on and on about how whatever I have with the mysterious Lee is bad for me, trying to get me to react, to talk to her about it. I can’t, obviously. She’d have me committed. I try to reassure her, but what can I say? I can’t leave him. He has to leave me.
He has to leave me. I have no idea how he got into my head, but he has to get out and I have to get him out. I look at him again, trying to work out if he is as real as he feels or if he is just a symptom of my madness. Somehow, he seems too detailed – I don’t think I have that much imagination, even on my best days. Is it possible that he is real? How would I know? Does it matter if it is real to me? I guess it would make it easier to convince him to leave, but at the same time it is all too terrifying to contemplate.