Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 17 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

“James, listen to me. Just open your eyes once. Tell me what you see. It’s alright. Your safe.”

Dr. Grey shone the narrow beam of torch light at his clenched eyes. He placed one hand upon his shoulder. James recoiled, trembling upon the firm mattress of the hospital bed. His knees jerked up fast into his chest cavity in fright. ”James, you’re under my protection now. I just need you to try to open your eyes for me. Just once. I’m here to help you. Can you do that for me?”

He reached a quivering hand out and latched on to the Doctor’s white overcoat. ”I’m… I’m losing it, Doc. My mind… It’s slipping away from me. Please help me. I beg you.”

”Which is why you have to trust me and heed my words. There’s nothing to be afraid of here.” His assertive, yet soothing tone struck a chord. Could the hideous apparition torturing his mind have decided to offer him a period of fleeting reprieve? He opened his eyes, pupils dilated to jet black spheres as they locked on to Dr. Grey. ”Tell me, what do you see?” He asked James.

I see you, Dr. Grey… I… Where’s Dolores?”

Recalling his encounter at the supermarket, panic took him again. Could it still be in the room, gloating at him from afar? He lurched up and scanned the room, eyes wild with terror.

”No!” He screamed, pulling the Doctor down with him as he balled up into a foetal position. Spit oozed from the corner of his lip, staining the dull white bed sheets below. His breath became uneven, giving way to deep sobs.

”Tell me, James. Quickly now. What did you see?” Dr. Grey whispered in his ear. James, reverting back into a dazed hysteria, muttered under his breath. ”In the corner… By the door… She’s… She’s sitting on the floor… Watching me. She looks... repulsive. Goddamn it, just get rid of it. Please.” As if by instinct, the Doctor glanced over at the door toward the end of the room. Next to it, an empty corner space consisting of nothing more than a cream coloured carpet and matte white walls. Yet his mind formed a momentary image hazarding a guess as to what James saw. He shuddered at the thought.

”OK, James. I’m going to leave you now for a few moments. I’ll return in…”

”Please, damn you!” James implored, tugging further on the lapels of his overcoat. ”Don’t leave me alone with that thing! She’ll kill me when your gone. I know it!”

The Doctor placed a gentle hand onto his. ”I’ll only be a few minutes and you’ll be under the protective supervision of my head nurse here at the clinic. She’ll make sure nothing will happen to you whilst I’m away. Only a few brief minutes is all I’m asking, James. Will that be OK with you?”

The shivering wreck that lay before him called out, the upper portion of his head buried into the pillow. ”Who else is there in the room?”

A deep, female voice sounded out a few feet away to James’s left. ”Yes, Mr. Donnell. I’ll be here to see you come to no harm. The Doctor is a man of his word and will return shortly.”

Upon hearing the conformation, he relaxed his grip on the jacket and sunk his head deeper into the pillow. The Doctor rose from the bed, observing him one more time before making his way to the door to leave the room. Dolores was waiting out in the corridor, wringing a cotton handkerchief in both hands. He shut the door behind him with due diligence, careful not to make a sound.

”What’s happening in there!” She exclaimed to which Dr. Grey raised both hands in the air.

”Please, let’s keep our voices down. Shall we?” He then proceeded to motion at her to walk with him down the long corridor. Dolores bowed to his request, moving in closer as she did.

”OK, let’s start again.” She remarked when they were a considerable safe distance away. ”What’s happening to my husband.” Dr. Grey wore the sternest expression yet seen as she braced herself for the news to be imparted having no hope of any positivity to it.

”I’ll be as frank as I can with you, Mrs. Donnell. It’s my personal opinion that James will not last the night. The visions he’s been experiencing have gone far beyond even that of my previous patient, Mr. Herbert Wilcot. His mind has turned into a treacherous battleground and it’s only a matter of time until he succumbs to it. James’s subconscious has almost found a way through and when that happens, he will die. I promise you that.”

Dolores was taken aback by the direct approach Dr. Grey undertook. However, straight talk was a language she could relate better than any other. She remained dumbfounded for a moment before regaining her train of thought. ”So… Your saying… That’s it… My husband is going to die tonight.”

Dr. Grey felt her struggling to find her composure. Given the gravity of the situation, he was amazed she was lasting this long. ”I’m saying you have two options. The first is we leave him as he is and pray for a miracle. As I said before, I can only go by what my experience in the past has shown me. But my preferred option is one that I feel we should have elected for a few days ago. That being to perform a hardfork upon his internal blockchain.”

”Of course. Let’s do it.” She blurted out, without a moment’s hesitation.

”It’s not as simple as that now, Mrs. Donnell. You see, he was previously of sound mind to decide whether or not he wished to have the procedure performed or not. Understanding full well the risks associated with it. And to the best of my knowledge, he declined that course of action. Now, I’m afraid that decision has been passed on to you. I feel he is not capable of making a competent judgement call from this point forward. So, Mrs. Donnell, it falls upon your shoulders as to how we proceed from here. I’m sorry things have come to this but this is where we are right now.”

She scanned her brain, digesting the proposed solution of Dr. Grey. To her, there seemed no other feasible alternative but felt she needed more to go on. ”If I consent to the operation and you proceed, there is a good chance he’ll make it, right?”

”I assume so, Mrs. Donnell.” He replied in a bland, monotone fashion. “However, there is also the possibility he may never regain consciousness again. You must be prepared for any such eventually. But at this juncture, I feel time has run out and I would recommend we take over from here. But that is your decision. I’ll give you some time to think it over, OK?”

Though the thought of losing James forever was too unbearable to contemplate, the Doctor had reaffirmed what she knew to be the right thing to do. A torrent of guilt and fear surged through her veins. The tough exterior she had built up over the years as an integral part of her personality shattered before the Doctor’s eyes. She brought the patterned handkerchief over her mouth, her voice reduced to a feeble whine. ”Can I… See him again… Just for a few moments, Dr. Grey.”

”I’m afraid I would advise against it, Mrs. Donnell. He’s not in good shape and we don’t have a second more to lose. You say the word; I have my team ready and waiting on standby. I’ll personally oversee the entire thing. But I understand if you need more time to…”

”No, Doctor.” She whimpered from behind the piece of ragged cotton fabric, already stained with tiny beads of salty droplets. ”I consent on his behalf. But please, Dr. Grey. I’m pleading with you. Save my husband. Just bring my James back to me again. Please.”

(To Be Continued)


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Hope you enjoyed this story, please look out for more on the way... (author: @ezzy)

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It's impressive @ezzy the way he handles the drama of the story, it's easy to visualize everything he's describing, even the character's suffering from what he's seeing.

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