The headache hits him like a steel truck smashing his skull into shards. His brain is about to explode. What happened last night? Where’s Natasha?
Tobias opens his eyes. Slim neon burns through his vision, a glistening tube coming off his face leads to somewhere. Low beeps, hum; swoosh-hiss, swoosh-hiss, like he’s inside a machine. Someone leans over. Two people. Long visors shielding their masked face, full headgear, white jumpsuits. Seriously, is he in a spaceship?
‘He’s waking up. Tobias?’ A muffled female voice.
They know his name. Probably know he was pissed too. Don’t drive drunk, Tobias! But it was Natasha’s birthday, the first one away from home. She looked so lovely in her yellow and blue dress, foreign and fragile.
‘Tobias? Can you hear me?’ The other alien shakes his head. ‘Poor guy, such a rotten luck. Six months in coma and he gets omicron.’
Do they mean him? Coma? And omi… omircon? What’s that, a brain tumour?
‘Did you hear the news? Twenty-three thousand cases.’
‘Omicron and Putin. Just imagine those poor Ukrainians. If the one doesn’t kill you, the other will.’
Tobias coughs. They stare at him.
‘Where…,’ his voice is hoarse. ‘Where’s Natasha?’