Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 18 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

Her third coffee in two hours and all it did was fray her nerves even further. She chose not to watch as James was wheeled down the hallway toward the large, foreboding doors. Behind which was either his place of restoration or demise. Once on the other side, it was all left within the capable hands of the elusive Dr. Grey. There was nothing else for her to do now but hope and pray. The only rational semblance of control she had left.

“Mrs. Donnell.” Kim called out from behind her desk. ”If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask." The steady train of coffees being delivered to her was a start, Dolores thought. ”Yes… Yes, you can do something for me.” She replied.

The ominous city sprawl filled her vision as she watched the tiny figurines going about their daily business below. Oblivious to the hell she was facing far above. How she wished she could trade places with any of them. Just for a few moments ignorant respite from the sheer fatigue of constant stress she endured.

”The procedure's been several hours already.” Dolores continued, still gazing out of the wide, rectangular window. ”How much longer will it be? Any ideas?”

”I’m sorry, Mrs. Donnell. From my understanding, something like this is a first for Dr. Grey. So I can’t even hazard an estimate based on previous examples of similar cases. I know this must be very hard on you, but I…”

”What the hell do you know?” She muttered. Loud enough to be heard by Kim. Seconds passed by in total silence until broken by Dolores. She turned around and shifted towards Kim, eyes red and puffy. ”Do you know the whole story? Did the Doctor tell you? Come on, level with me here. You know who Herbert Wilcot is, right? The man who suffered the same fate as my James. Tell me who know who he is. Some straight answers is all I want.”

Kim stared at her, bearing an expression of utter confusion. Or could be it be real innocence. Dolores was always so quick to pick up on other’s emotional cloaking, but not this time. Either she was a brilliant actress of Oscar-worthy potential or to be taken at strict face value. ”I honestly don’t know who that is, Mrs. Donnell. Please, I can see how worked up you are. But I’ve known the Doctor for a long time now. He’s a good man and will do his best for James. That I can guarantee.”

Dolores glanced upon the surface of her desk to make sure she was not reading from a script. ”You know something? I don’t trust any of you. You’re all in this together. Colluding on how to get out of this scot-free in case the worst should happen. Don’t take me for some kind of fool, OK?”

The daggers in her eyes caused Kim to recoil in her chair, though not with enough volition for Dolores to notice. ”Mrs. Donnell, I can understand why you are saying this. Intense periods of stress can skew even the sanest person’s judgement. However, this is not some big conspiracy. Quite the contrary, in fact. We’re just all regular people trying to provide services for other people and making a quick buck out of it. It's the way the world works.”

Dolores bristled at being spoken to in that manner. She moved in closer and bent down, placing two closed fists on either side of the desk. ”So let me get this crystal clear. You think I’ve lost my mind? And consider yourself big enough to give me a life’s lesson on how the world works?”

”No, Mrs. Donnell.” She retorted, rising to feet. ”We just don’t take too kindly to idle threats around being banded around here.”

The door at the end of the lounge area opened and Dr. Grey stepped through. Dolores jerked her head at the foreign sound invading her space. At the same instant, her stomach fell. The fight left her. Kim sat back down looking smug as Dolores rushed over to him. ”My god! What’s happened? Is it over? Is James alright? Did everything go well? Where is he?” Her pent-up emotion swallowed her as the words came spilling out over each other. His face remained grave and sullen. Dolores stopped and froze. The news was never going to be good after that kind of introduction, she thought. She brought two hands up over her head, clasping at her scalp.

”No! Please, Dr. Grey. He’s OK, right?”

”I think you’d better come with me, Mrs. Donnell.” He muttered, before moving forward and ushering her into the long corridor. She followed with obedience, shuffling through the entrance in a jarred shock. Kim looked on emotionless, then sat back down to attend to her daily duties.

The impact of his gloomy demeanour hit her hard. She felt a heaviness within her arms and legs that only seemed to continue denuding her of energy and willpower. They paced down the corridor, Dr. Grey at her side with an arm placed upon her lower back. ”This way, Mrs. Donnell. Please step into my office.” He motioned at a wooden panelled door with a glass-framed centre. The same one she was in a day ago… Or was it two? She was losing it.

”Where is James?” She mumbled, ravaged by anxiety.

”I’ll take you to him later, but must speak with you in private first. It's urgent.” He replied.

Dolores rolled her eyes to his and clenched her teeth. A modicum of leftover residual anger manifested. ”I demand to see my husband immediately or so help me…”

Dr. Grey lifted his hand in the air and sighed. ”Mrs. Donnell, you don’t have to finish that sentence. Fine, you win. He’s just through that door over there.” She glanced over at the recovery room he had been placed in when they arrived courtesy of the ambulance. She strode forward but was held back by Dr. Grey. ”Listen. He’s not conscious. Do not make a sound in there. Are we clear? Only then will I allow you to enter.”

”Get the hell outta my way.” She snarled back in disdain before marching up to the door and turning the handle.

The scene presented before her left Dolores speechless, mouth agape. James was lying face up on the same hospital-type bed. Eyes closed, yet facing the ceiling. She stuttered forward with the doctor close at her heels. Thread-like transparent wiring ran from a small black box placed next to him and disappeared behind the back of his neck. His face was a shade paler, but had a look of calm to it that she had not seen in all the years living with him. The bed sheets were tucked all around, encasing him in his own bodily warm, save for his gowned shoulders.

She stared at him, taken aback with horror. His eyeballs seemed to be darting this way and that under their thin coverings.

”What happened to him?” She whispered. A hand fell upon her arm.

”Please, Mrs. Donnell. You've got your wish and seen him now. Just come with me. We have to talk in private.” A minor disturbance from the entrance distracted her. Two burly men, dressed in the obligatory white company uniform, stood either side of the doorway. Neither looked like they took any nonsense. She turned back to the Doctor. Terror took her. He was perspiring. A nervous sort of moisture. A sweat akin to when you know the game is up and are ready to do anything in your power to prevent it. She had it all figured out in the blink of an eye.

”No!” She yelled, lunging at James. ”Wake up! We need to get out of here now!” Dolores shook him like a ragdoll, his head snapping back and forth with the force. His lifeless, yet still breathing body completely oblivious to the violent attack. She felt for the cord running from the peculiar machine and discovered it had been penetrated through the back of his skull. She had not a second to lose. But before an adequate grip could be found to wrench it free, she was lofted into the air, kicking and screaming. ”What have you done to him! What’s going on?”

Dr. Grey straightened his jacket and strode up to her. “Always the hot-head, Mrs. Donnell. This won’t do. I trusted you against my own logic and common sense yet you continually let me down time and time again. You want to know what’s going on? I’ll damn well show you then. Gentlemen, escort her out of here and prepare the monitors in my office.”

”What the hell are you talking about? What damn monitors?” She shrieked, as her voice trailed away before becoming nothing more than a muffled echo once the door was closed.

Dr. Grey turned to face James before approaching him. One hand lifted his head gently whilst the other felt for the connecting end. It remained attached and undamaged, much to his relief.

”I don’t know if you’re going to make it out of this one, James. But you can't say I didn't warn you.” The Doctor muttered whilst lowering his head back down onto the soft support cushion. ”But we’re going to keep you alive for as long as humanly possible. That I can swear upon. You’re a medical marvel now and could pave the way for numerous breakthroughs in the field of medical technology. So just keep on doing what you’re doing… We'll always be watching you.”

”And we’ll be with you every step of the way.”

(To Be Continued)


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


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