The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson
Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.
Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.
Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.
But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.
But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.
A partly graphic novel.
An excerpt from The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley
I don't dream much anymore; I draw instead.
I spill my graphite nightmares onto rough pages that I scavenge from recycling bins in the billing department. And I listen. I listen to the scraps of words and whispers that float about on the cool, antiseptic air. I watch the flickering images that appear and disappear at the corners of my eyes. Sometimes I hear nothing for days, and then it'll all rush in like a tsunami that washes over me and never recedes. Reality becomes twisted until my world and the world of memories, where my family is still alive, blend together and I don't know what's real.
And then there's the world I create.
My superhero has a name: Patient F. Before I arrived at the hospital, I barely drew at all. Just doodles on the edges of textbook pages. But now I draw constantly, filling the gaps between minutes with stark lines and harrowed eyes. Even when I don't want to.
I've been working on Patient F's story for about a month. It begins before Patient F is captured by the RAND Corporation for experimentation. It begins when he's still a man in a suit, doing the kinds of boring things men in suits do. The things that no one writes about because they know that boys don't really have nightmares about clowns or three-eyed tentacle beasts that rise from the deep within volcanoes. When boys wake screaming in the night, it's because they know that one day, they'll have to grow into men who wears suits and spend their days doing boring things that cause them to rot from within, so their skin withers and blackens and cracks, leaking out their juices until they finally lie decaying and putrid, forgotten by a world that deemed them unworthy of remembering.