For complete disclaimers see part 1.
If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com. If you have suggestions or corrections, please don’t bother. That’s what my publisher’s editor is for.
The doors of the ER burst open, doctors, nurses and paramedics barking out questions and answers to one another, followed by orders for surgery. The form on the gurney was jostled from the rush to get her inside, an oxygen mask taped around her face, skin extremely pale.
Her blood-covered shirt was cut open, then removed, her front examined before she was turned over on three, the entry wound small and deadly. No exit wound. It was pronounced that emergency surgery was, in fact necessary, she was rushed off again.
Joan Watson sat in one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs in the waiting room, along with Roman. She was chewing on one of her fingernails, not sure what to feel- guilt at being so hard on Remmy; amazed at what she’d managed to do; or more afraid than she’d ever been in her life for the life of the young woman she’d grown to care about.
Roman, for his part, was even more pale than the fair skin of a true redhead. A uniformed police officer sat across from him, pad balanced on his thigh as he took down the young man’s statement of what had happened. Roman was badly shaken, his hands trembling in his lap. He was grateful when Joan reached over and took one of his hands in her own. She returned his smile, glad to be of some help to someone.
The doors of the ER waiting room whooshed open, a stunning breath of cold air mixed with snow, following the entry of a man on a mission. Matt Wilson almost ran to the front desk, eyes wild as he reached the counter.
“My sister!” he exclaimed to the startled nurse on duty. “Julie Wilson. Where is she?”
The nurse didn’t even have to look in her computer to know. Everyone knew about the remarkable events of an hour ago, everyone glued to every detail. “Sir, she’s in with the doctors right now. If you’ll take a seat, I promise I’ll let you know as soon as she can be seen, okay?” she kept her voice kind but firm, as she could see the panicked hope in his eyes. He smiled weakly with a nod.
“As soon as I can see her…”
“I’ll get you.” She smiled wider, then turned back to her computer, letting him know their conversation was over.
Matt ran a hand through his tousled hair, unsure what to think or do. He felt like a caged animal, filled with adrenaline and energy. He plopped down in one of the chairs, resting his head back against the wall behind the bank of chairs, resting his hands on his spread knees. Her ran a hand through his hair again, his nerves getting the best of him as he foot tapped an endless beat on the tile floor.
His grin was huge, though cautious, as he remembered back to ten minutes ago:
“Hello?” he said, answering his cell phone, surprised it had rang and not his house phone. Skylar called for him in the background, the boy anxious to finish their video game marathon.
“Matt, it’s Detective Cowan.”
“Yeah, Grace. How are you?”
“I’m ecstatic. Are you sitting down?”
It was a damn good thing the kitchen chair had been nearby, or Matt would’ve fallen, for sure. He couldn’t believe his ears when Grace told him that Julie had been found, alive and well. He had immediately started to tremble, afraid to believe those precious words. Stupidly, he’d said:
“But, we had a memorial service for her.”
He could still hear the woman’s laugh in his ear. His eyes were red, crying the entire drive over to the hospital, starting as soon as he’d gotten Skylar taken care of with Mrs. Huxby next door. She had been more than happy to stay with the boy. Matt wasn’t sure what this would entail, and what he’d find. He didn’t want Skylar exposed to that.
Unable to sit still, he rose from his chair, only then noticing Joan sitting next to the redhead kid from the coffeehouse where he and Remmy had gone a few times. He noticed Joan had noticed him, as well. Both wearing huge grins, she hurried over to him, meeting in a tight embrace.
“Oh, Matt,” Joan said, squeezing tighter. “I’m so happy for you!”
He buried his face in the neck of a woman who was a veritable strange to him. “Thank you,” he murmured. It felt so good for someone else to know, too, and for them to be just as excited as he was. Hell, it felt good to be hugged! They parted, and Matt grinned down at the convenience store manager. “How is she?” he asked, referring to Remmy. He hadn’t gotten any details from Grace, just that Remmy had been hurt. He was surprised to see tears well up in Joan’s eyes.
“I don’t know,” she said, a hand coming up to her mouth. “She was shot. They rushed her in.” With a shrug she sighed. “We’re not sure.”
“She’s a hero, Joan. She really is.”
Joan nodded vigorously. “Oh, yes. She is.”
Matt turned at the sound of his name, the nurse he’d talked to when first entering standing behind the desk. She ushered him over.
“Let me know how she is,” he said to Joan, squeezing her hand, then heading over to the information desk, his face expectant.
“She’s been moved from Emergency to the fourth floor, where she’s in with a psychologist. They said she’d be finished in about fifteen minutes, so why don’t you head on up. Go to the Nurses Station there, and they can direct you from there.”
“Thank you so much,” he gushed, leaning over and giving the blushing nurse a kiss on the cheek. Matt was a blur as he hurried to the bank of elevators. The motor could go fast enough for him as he kept his gaze on the floor numbers that lit up at every stop. The car stopped on the third floor, and he nearly growled at the woman who stepped aboard. Finally they lurched upward again, and the doors slid open with a cheerful ding.
Matt looked around, desperately trying to find the Nurses Station. When finally he found it, he waited somewhat patiently for the nurse behind the desk to get off the phone. She cradled the receiver and looked at him expectantly.
“I’m Matt Wilson. I’m here to see my sister, Julie Wilson.”
“Ah, yes,” the plump nurse said, with the same knowing smile as the nurse downstairs. “Dr. Barnes is still in with her, but if you head down that hall and the left, she’s in room 431.”
“Thanks.” Yet again, Matt was off like a shot, looking back and forth at the numbered doors until he came to the right room. He nearly fell to his knees when he heard his sister’s voice just on the other side of the closed door. He brought up a hand, clearing his throat before knocking. The talking subsided, and footsteps could be heard on the other side, nearing the door. It was pulled open, and a tall brunette stood on the other side, looking very professional and officious in her green skirt suit. She smiled politely, then turned back toward the room within.
“I’ll call you and we’ll make an appointment for this week, Julie, okay?”
“Thanks, Dr. Corregan,” the voice from within the room said, her voice very quiet.
Matt felt his excitement grow, knowing that their reunion was within seconds. Dr. Haley Corregan smiled again at him, then excused herself as she squeezed past him. Matt pushed the door the rest of the way open, not even noticing as it slowly swung shut behind him. The hospital room was dim, the lights turned off, other than the bar reading light on the wall above the head of the narrow bed. The small, and extremely thin, figure sat on the bed, back resting against the stacked pillows. She wore a hospital gown and booties.
Julie’s eyes rose, hearing someone enter as Dr. Corregan was leaving. She gasped, unable to get off the bed fast enough. Matt caught her in his arms, holding her almost painfully tight to his body. She let out a sob with an answering one from him.
Matt buried his face in his sister’s hair, her fingers claw-like as they wrapped around to the opposite shoulder. She was so tiny. “Oh god, Julie,” he whispered, voice broken. He heard her sniffle and hold on tighter. “I thought I lost you.”
Julie’s eyes were closed, unable to speak as she absorbed the feel of her brother, his warmth and the familiar scent that was him. Finally he pulled back, eyes red-rimmed, face wet with his own tears. He looked at her, still holding onto her shoulders. She smiled weakly up at him, pushing his ever-shagging bangs out of his eyes. He smiled at the familiar gesture- she was always telling him he needed a haircut.
“You’re so thin,” he said, looking her over. The thin gown dwarfed her already petit frame. “Are you okay?” he asked, hugging her one last time before he placed a kiss on top of her head, then helped her climb back onto the bed, and tucked her in.
“I’ll live,” she said, voice still raw from disuse, and from crying.
“Yeah, you will.” Matt smiled, holding her hand securely in his. “You’re so strong.” He studied her, not sure if he should ask or not. He should probably speak to Dr. Corregan.
“He’s at home, with Mrs. Huxby. I wasn’t sure what I’d find,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “He doesn’t know yet.” He grinned big. “Figured you could surprise him when we bring you home.”
Grace and the backup officers entered the house, the body on the porch bagged and loaded into the ME’s van. No need to protect the crime scene, Grace just wanted to see what hell Julie had been living in, and if Remmy was right in her other visions.
She was careful not to step in the trail of blood left by the man, whom they still didn’t have an identity on, as she entered. It was curious, all the collections of things, fingering a few, simply glancing at others. She turned down the hall, noting that only one bedroom was being used as a bedroom, the sheet bloody in spots, seeming to culminate up toward the pillows, still stacked against the headboard.
Grace had to smirk to herself- every male present had groaned when they discovered the extent to the man’s injuries. She wondered how long it would’ve taken him to die if she hadn’t shot him. The bleeding was profuse. She grimaced when she saw a puddle blood, already congealing, and some flesh at the center.
“Jesus,” she muttered, moving out of the bedroom, and back toward the living room, bypassing it, and heading into the kitchen. Dirty dishes were stacked neatly in the sink, though it looked as though they’d been rinsed, ready to be loaded into the dishwasher.
“What’s up with all the magnets?” one of the officers asked. Grace shook her head- she had no idea.
Continuing on, she found a set of wooden stairs that led down to a basement. She held her breath, gun still in her hands should she need it. Remmy always told her that Julie and the others were being kept in a basement-type place. They sure weren’t upstairs, so if they were there at all, this would likely be the place.
The basement was very dark, the one light bulb at the center of the room doing little to chase away the shadows. Grace felt a little creeped out, like she was down there going after Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. The room they were in didn’t seem out of the ordinary- boxes neatly stacked, normal storage. She looked at the two doors off to the left. An officer ducked his head into one.
“Laundry room,” he said, leaving the door open. They all focused on the other door. Grace waited patiently for one of the officers to open, then they all stepped inside the second room. Much like the first, just smaller.
“Fee, fi, fo, fum,” an officer muttered, indicating the smaller door at the other end of the room. They chuckled, which helped to break a bit of the tension.
Grace felt her stomach tighten, her instincts screaming out at her, though not trying to warn her of danger. She walked over to the door, hand reaching out for the knob. It squeaked slightly as she turned it, the door sticking ever so much as it was pushed open. As soon as it was, the most horrendous stench wafted out to greet the officers.
Grace ignored the smell, bringing up her flashlight to try and break through the deep darkness.
“There’s a light bulb chain right above the door,” a woman said from within, startling everyone.
Grace’s heart picked up, stepping inside the room and reaching up, feeling around for the chain. She felt the stickiness of a spider web, which she had to shake off, as she was terrified of the eight-legged bastards, then finally felt the cool chain. Tugging lightly, the room was suddenly awash in dim light.
“Jesus,” the officer said again as he stepped inside behind the detective. His eyes were huge as he studied the two women who were chained to the wall. Both women were naked, one extremely thin, the other… “That’s Cameron Sanchez!”
“And that’s Pam Beecham,” Grace whispered, wishing so badly that she could reach out and squeeze Remmy until it hurt. “I cannot fucking believe she did it.”
The monitors beeped constantly, allowing the surgeon to know how his patient’s vitals were handling. The incision was held open by two surgical nurses so he could dig inside Remmy’s back, looking for the bullet. X-rays had shown it was lodged inside the spleen. It took more than two hours of painstaking searching to find it, and then another just to remove it. The spleen would have to be removed, as well.
“Adjust that light over here, Carl,” he said, words slightly muffled behind his surgical mask. Everyone watched with held breath. With a clink, the slug was dropped into a stainless steel pan.
Joan had nodded off in the waiting room while watching a re-run of a nighttime TV drama on the television mounted in the corner. There had been nothing on Remmy’s condition. It had been a long afternoon, which was swiftly turning to evening.
She was roused when the saw two very familiar-looking people race into the ER- a couple, both looked to be in their late 30s, early 40s, the woman near hysterics. They hurried to the nurse at the information desk, Joan unable to hear their conversation. She gasped, realizing she’d seen them on TV. They were the parents of the missing girl, Cameron Sanchez.
“What the hell?” she murmured, sitting up a little straighter. Her gaze was drawn once more to the sliding doors when a large group entered, cameras on shoulders, microphones ready to be thrust into faces. Joan rolled her eyes. “Son of a bitch. Vultures.”
The doors to ER were pushed open, an man in scrubs walked out, as though looking for someone. He spotted Joan and headed her way. “You’re waiting for word on Remmy Foster, right?” he asked.
Joan immediately stood, nodding. “How is she?”
The press got wind of their conversation, and soon they were surrounded. “Please!” the doctor said, obviously irritated. “Hospital personnel will give a full report.” The surgeon grabbed Joan’s arm and led her back through the ER doors with him, where the media weren’t allowed. “Vultures,” he muttered, not seeing Joan’s grin. She was led to an empty part of the hallway where the doctor stopped. “Well, the bullet lodged itself into her spleen, which I had to remove to stop the bleeding. She lost a great deal of blood, but she’s doing great. She’s in ICU right now, and you can go see her.”
Joan sighed, long and loud, nodding. “Thank you, Doctor.”
With a kind smile, he directed her how to get to ICU from within ER, then walked down the hall, disappearing through a door.
Joan blew out a breath and headed in the direction he’d advised. Roman had headed home with his family some time ago, promising to return later. She had his cell number to give him a call and let him know how Remmy was doing. Doug was out on a run, and she wished to god he was home- she needed him.
With every step she took down the long, highly-polished hallway, Joan felt guilt creep up further and further upon her. She had believed Remmy possessed some sort of ability, but to what degree, she honestly didn’t know. There was that hardened, cynical part of her that had wondered- for a moment- if it was all just a show. After all, Remmy was a drifter. Maybe this was the game she played everywhere, leaving when things got too hot. Now, heading toward the Nurse’s Station on the ICU floor, she felt like an asshole. She supposed she was just glad she had never gotten a chance to have that conversation with Remmy about the job, after all.
Joan was given directions to Remmy’s room, and headed toward it. The ICU rooms were glassed-in cubicle set up in an octagonal shape around the Nurse’s Station, so patients could be observed at all times. Remmy’s room was dark, the shade drawn on the window, the overhead light turned off. Remmy’s pale face had an eerie green hue from the screens of the machine’s around her. Her long body was covered in a thin, white blanket, laid out on her stomach, her right arm curled up by her face, the left dangling near the edge of the mattress. An I.V. was attached to the top of her right hand, taped into place. Her eyes were closed, the skin around them very bruised.
“Oh, Remmy,” Joan whispered, taking the girl’s left hand in her own. She caressed the soft back of her hand with her thumb, eyes never leaving Remmy’s face. She wished she’d open those beautiful blue eyes, but they remained closed. Joan’s gaze swept over the rest of her body: a thick bandage and wrapping had been applied to her back, the hospital gown Remmy wore tied loosely for easy access.
A nurse entered, clipboard in her hand. She began to write down Remmy’s vitals.
“How long will she be in here?” Joan asked, her voice church-quiet.
“Probably just tonight,” the nurse said. “The doctor wanted to make sure all her vitals stayed low. She’ll probably be moved to a regular room tomorrow.” She shrugged. “Be there for a couple, few days.”
Joan nodded, smiling her thanks. With one last glance at Remmy, she leaned down, placing a soft kiss to the younger woman’s forehead, then left, digging her cell phone out of her purse as she left the ICU.
“In a remarkable turn of events, psychic, Remmy Foster, led police to the house behind me, where Sergio Venti had apparently been collecting women. Pamela Beecham, missing for two years was found handcuffed downstairs in a dungeon-like room, as well as Cameron Sanchez, who had recently been abducted from her bedroom in the early hours of October 27. Julie Wilson, a teacher here in Woodland, and missing for nearly three months, started it all when she-“
Matt turned off the television and grabbed his keys. “Skylar!” he called out, heading toward the garage door, Bonnie and Clyde running and barking after him. He squatted to pet the dogs, smiling as he knew they were oblivious to the fact that their Mommy was about to come home. “Come on!” he called again, rolling his eyes. He swore his son was worse than any woman, trying to get him motivated to leave.
Soon enough, the pounding of feet could be heard overhead, the trail easy to follow as they ran down the hall, turning left at the landing, then finally pounding down the staircase.
“I’m ready, Dad!’ the boy hollered, continuing his marathon until he reached the garage door and father. He had his Gameboy in hand.
Matt shook his head- the boy never ceased to amaze him. They said their goodbyes to the whining dogs, Matt grabbing the duffle bag he’d packed the night before, then slipped into the car and headed out. Matt navigated the snowy streets with ease, glancing over at the boy every so often, having to hide the smile that quirked his lips. He hadn’t wanted to leave Julie there, at the hospital, but had no choice. When he’d left, he had caught the elevator with Dr. Haley Corregan.
“Be patient with her, Matt,” she had advised. “Know that no matter what she says or does, it’s not personal. This isn’t about you, it’s about her, and her fear. She will struggle with trust issues. Let her at her own pace. Just be there for her.”
Matt had found the psychologist extremely beautiful, but had quickly noticed the simple gold band around her wedding ring finger. Well, there goes that thought.
The hospital parking lot was busy, as usual, as Matt found them a space. He glanced over at his son, who was looking around, totally confused.
“This isn’t McDonald’s,” he grumbled, looking over at his dad for answers.
“Nope,” Matt grinned. “This is better. Come on, Skylar, and leave your Gameboy in the car.”
Father and son walked through the halls of Saint Mercy’s until they reached the fourth floor, heading down to room 431.
“Who are we here to see?” Skylar asked, big eyes scanning the rooms on either side of the hall. He’d only been in a hospital once before, and that was when his friend, Dillon had broken his leg when he fell out of a tree.
“Someone very special,” Matt murmured, stopping in front of Julie’s room. He pushed the door open, Skylar following him inside. The room was well-lit, the blinds over the window open, showing the rooftop of a lower wing of the hospital, and the blue sky beyond. Julie sat on the bed, dressed in some scrubs the nurse had brought her that morning. She was freshly showered- third since last night- and waiting. She’d been told Matt would arrive by ten a.m., and it was seven till.
Matt moved to the side, allowing his son to walk in front of him. The boy stopped, eyes huge as he took in the apparition before him. Julie’s smile grew wider than Matt had seen it since her return. She slid off the bed, bracing herself to absorb the impact of the boy’s body as he threw himself at her.
“Skylar,” she breathed, holding the boy close to her. She could feel his tears on her neck.
Matt stood back, watching, never so proud in all his life. The two people he loved most were finally back in his life, safe and sound. He’d do everything he could to heed Dr. Corregan’s advice, and help Julie through this.
A woman stood in her kitchen in Omaha, Nebraska, watching the news, almost unable to breathe. Her breakfast were long-forgotten, her eyes riveted to the screen, hand covering her mouth.
She watched to footage of a woman, dirty, disheveled and dressed in a man’s bathrobe, led from the house. She was horribly pale and thin. She looked up into the sky, a look of confused relief on her face. An officer gently led her to an awaiting ambulance. Following close behind the first was a young woman, who just looked plain terrified as she was led from the house.
The woman had long stopped listening to the commentary from the reporter, only one name echoing I her head, over and over again. “Remmy,” she whispered.
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