Darren Childress had been in the Cibola Long Term Care facility in Santa Fe for twenty-eight months. The injuries he sustained from the collision on Interstate 25 had long since healed but, aside from a five minute period of wakefulness in the ER right after the EMTs brought him in, he was completely comatose.
The night orderly was finishing up her rounds when she heard a sharp intake of breath from the coma ward. Thinking one of the elderly residents had gotten confused and entered accidently, she hurried into the room. There was no elderly resident. Darren Childress was sitting upright in his bed, legs straight out, eyes fixed at some point between the wall and infinity.
By morning, Darren hadn’t moved. A neurologist from the nearby hospital came to make an examination. Darren’s eyes did not react to light, his reflexes to pain and ticklish stimuli were nonexistent. Aside from the muscles keeping him upright, all other effectors were limp and unresponsive. By all accounts, Darren was still in a coma and he remained sitting in his bed for almost two weeks.
On the morning Thomas Walden was admitted to Cibola to recuperate from hip surgery, Darren stood. He walked surprisingly fast for a man who had no practice with the skill for over two years. His eyes did not move from their stare into nothingness, nor did he react to the IVs ripping out of his veins or colliding with a nurse. Darren gripped Thomas Walden’s throat and squeezed, orderlies powerless to release the grasp as bones snapped and blood sprayed. Suddenly, both bodies fell limp to the ground. Both men were dead.