by Elcarpo

I wander the halls of the hospital searching in and out of each room, searching. This is the fifth hospital I've checked in the last week. In and out of every room, checking each person one after the other. I know that it must be somewhere, it has to be somewhere. No one pays any attention to me. Occasionally a drifter spots me and looks at me quizzically. Yet they keep moving on, never looking back and never asking questions. So I continue searching. The last room in the hallway. I walk in unannounced and peer at the person lying on the bed. It is an elderly orc woman. Her green skin is wrinkled and cracked showing her age and casting a sense of wisdom across her face. I move to leave and yet I'm trapped by a sense of curiosity and wonderment. I never thought of how these people came to be where they were. I'd been in five hospitals and yet this was the first room that I was truly interested in the patron. I lean over to view the woman closer. Her arm is bandaged up ! tightly, probably broken. Incredible really, the physical body starts out so strong and durable. Right out of the womb a child's body is built with all kinds of wonderful immunities to ensure its survival. Then as age sets in the body adapts to all kinds of changes and conditions. Ever growing, ever moving, the body is a machine like none other. Very rarely do we look at ourselves in the mirror and wonder at our bodies amazing abilities. We most often just look for blemishes and blights upon ourselves. What we don't remember is that these blights and blemishes are what make us who we are. They are how we identify and see ourselves. Our bodies are more important than just survival they are a part of who we are. I smile down at the elderly orc, so comfortable in her bed and a twinge of envy fires through my being. Your searching too aren't you. For a cure, maybe a chance to see your grand children or maybe simply hope. The hope that your doctors will be able to cure you. We! are both searching you and I. I shrug and continue out of the hospital.

Two more hospitals to check on this side of town and then maybe I'll check the jails. I'm bound to find it sooner or later. The next hospital over is only about three miles to the north. I'd be there in no time at all. I move briskly down the street, watching people as life passes them by. My mind flashes back to the old orc in the hospital. She was like these people at one point; she could walk, talk and see the world just like them. She was independent and strong just like the rest of them but now she has to wait and put her life into the hands of the doctors. Strange, how we put faith in people. Now I'm starting to babble. I bow my head and a surge of pain runs through me and knocks me to the ground. The surprise is overwhelming. I struggle back to my feet. I breathe in and out carefully.

Faith, it's a strange concept if you think about it. To put one's life into the hands of another is a scary and yet sometimes wonderful idea. To be at the mercy of someone you don't know can create a feeling of intolerable fear and loneliness, but then there are those times that putting your entire life into the hands of another person can give you more joy than anything.

I remember Laura; she was so beautiful and so gentle. I would lay my head in her lap for hours and just stare at her little face and wry smile. Love, odd to think that it is so easy to put one's guard down when your in love and let yourself become so absorbed in that person and you would do anything for them and put your entire life in their hands in a second. I am never to have those feelings again. Loss, a feeling sometimes more powerful than love or hatred. People all deal with loss at sometime in their life and everyone deals with it differently. Oh, Laura to be in your lap again, to feel your soft skin and plush lips. To run my hands through your hair and across your little pointed ears. Listen to me, a fool, a delusional fool. She can't help me now, no one can, only I can change the way things are.

I pause in my tracks and scan the street, people walk past a homeless dwarf on the street. He waves a little cred stick to anyone who passes by. Most people just ignore him and continue onward, but a choice few stop and give the man some creds. He always has the same look when they do give him money, the kind of look a child gets on Christmas morning.

I remember a beggar that used to live outside in the alley near my apartment. I would often times give him some food or a cred or two. One morning I remember I saw him frantically searching for something. He was digging in the alley garbage. When I asked him what he was looking for he simply answered; My purpose. I stepped back and watched him search and in a couple of minutes he came out of some rubbish holding a locket. I leaned over as he opened it. Inside was a picture of a little girl. Her distinctive and beautiful eyes were exact copies of her father's. He smiled at me and then I left. It almost seems like some deity is teaching me a lesson. He continues to bombard me with images of my past. I guess we never seem to appreciate what we have until it is gone. Maybe that is the fault of humanity and why we live each day by the dollar. I guess society has not changed at all. The dwarf smiles at a woman as she drops a loaf of bread in his lap. Just like me, this litt! le dwarf is searching. Searching for meaning but mostly for sustenance. I continue my travels, realizing there is nothing I can do. Frustration creeps up my spine again. I don't know, I just don't know anymore. It all seems pointless to keep searching. Maybe I should just give up and wander here for the rest of my life. What am I thinking, I need to keep searching, I must keep searching.

The hospital looms before me, just like all the others; large and tomb like at the same time a saving grace and place of birth. I walk in as usual and start at the bottom floor and walk in and out of each room looking for anyone. No luck on the first floor, time to head upstairs and check out the second. Methodical to say the least, but necessary all the same. I search the rooms as I did the previous ones, and yet no luck. Frustration begins to surge through me. I scream in agony but no one cares and they don't even turn to look. I burst out onto the roof of the hospital and scan the horizon of uptown Seattle. The weather is beginning to take a turn for the worse. Thicker clouds are beginning to creep in and a distant rolling sound draws nearer. I fall to my knees and scream out into the night sky. I reach up and cup my hands over my face. I slick my hair back and over my slightly pointed ears. I almost laugh to think of what I've become. A soul without a body and ! an elf without his identity. My beautiful body ripped from beneath me. Never did I think it could happen. Separated from the very body I came into this world with. Who would do such a thing? I could track my body down, but the connection has grown too weak. I stand up and walk over to the edge of the building and stare out into the vast world. I'm completely at the mercy of my captors. In a split second I could disappear and no one would be the wiser. Like the old orc woman and the dwarven beggar, I'm at the mercy of those I do not know. Like them I too search, search for my body, search for my sanity, and search for hope. In a large and often times cruel world the only fragment that keeps us going is that hope; that will to live. Just like the orc woman searching for hope in her life and the dwarf searching for his next meal, we struggle against the odds sometimes alone but sometimes, just sometimes with someone you love. Another pain shoots through me and I stumble ! back from the edge of the building. A memory of Laura flashes before me and for a brief second I feel her soft skin again. I blink my eyes and look at the clock tower across the way. The numbers are nowhere to be seen. How long have I been in the astral plane? More pain bursts through me, sharp and deep. They are torturing my body. No, it's something else; I'm dying, without my spirit my body begins to corrode and slowly die. I can't last in this state for much longer. I peer over the edge of the building and launch off of it into the unknown... ever searching.

(c) 2000 Elcarpo. Used with permission.