Story Excerpt Sunday: From Hidden Steel by Doranna Durgin

Hidden SteelHidden Steel

by Doranna Durgin

Sound first invaded her cocoon of awareness. Beeping. Really annoying beeping. Something tightened snugly around her upper arm… and when it went away, so did she.

When the beeping returned, it came with odors. Astringently offensive odors of new plastic and antiseptic, and the earthier odors of unwashed hair and barely washed body. It came with the trickle of a thought: hospital. And the more worrisome question: What am I doing here?

Nothing hurt particularly, aside from the ache of being too long in one position. No pain in her limbs, her torso, her head… although every thought came surrounded and obscured by thick mist. So then…


Voices came from beside her bed. Murmurs, just barely loud enough to make it through the mist. A demanding question. Something beside her head gave a plaintive beep, and with a hiss, the snug feeling returned around her arm. Blood pressure cuff, she realized. And again — What am I doing here? She tried to say the words out loud; her dried lips didn’t so much as twitch.

The voices rose again — a man and a woman. Something something something MICKEY something.


Must be her.


Mickey opened her eyes. She hadn’t thought about it, hadn’t planned on it… just suddenly found herself awake. Chaotic images struck her with the force of a physical blow; she flinched and closed her eyes. As she tried to sort out what she’d seen, she realized she wasn’t alone. At least, not quite. Two voices hovered in another unhappy discussion, far enough away so they might not notice her new awareness, close enough so she couldn’t discount them.

Hmm. What a suspicious way to think.

She cracked her eyelids open again, keeping it slow. Abstract shapes resolved to objects, most of them white in tone. Over there, the slats of closed blinds. The walls. The ceiling, sound-absorbent tiles pocked with little holes. Her skin, lightly tanned and freckled arms emerging from a gown of definite hospital vintage. Hospital. Made sense, with the woozy pounding in her head and the mist that loomed not far away, threatening to close back in on her. The black blood pressure cuff wrapped her upper arm, stark against her skin. A boxy blue monitor on a pole sat beside the bed. It gave a familiar plaintive beep and the cuff automatically inflated.



She couldn’t see the man and woman who conversed; they seemed to be just outside the door. She considered opening her still-dry lips to ask, suddenly overwhelmed by the taste of morning mouth. Ick. And as she hunted the room for any sign of ice water or maybe even randomly placed toothpaste — because hey, one could hope — other details impressed themselves upon her.

She lay on a fancy cot of some sort, not a hospital bed. There was no television in the corner, no privacy drapes around the bed. A stethoscope and a brand-new box of latex gloves sat on a rickety fake-wood table not far from the bed — no sign of a hospital bed tray in sight. None of the ubiquitous identical supplies one seemed to find in a hospital room — no dull pinkish-rose plastic emesis basin, no matching pitcher, no box of scratchy generic tissues. A flattened, empty IV bag sat on the floor beside the table, along with a battered box of vials and syringes.

And then there were the handcuffs.


Doranna’s quirky spirit has led to an eclectic and extensive publishing journey across genres.  Beyond that, she hangs around outside her Southwest mountain home with horse and dogs. She doesn’t believe in mastering the beast within, but in channeling its power. For good or bad has yet to be decided…



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