Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 16 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

With the winding down of the rush hour, a sporadic stream of vehicles dotting the streets proved only a slight inconvenience. The flashing blue light atop the ambulance was all that was required to alert traffic to disperse upon approach. And even that was more for effect than anything else. The medical unit hurtled down narrow side streets, navigating through tight corners and weaving in-between parked cars.

The objective was simple. Get to Digital Realities as fast as possible.

Dolores switched from watching the paramedic draw out the colourless liquid from a small vial to James laying horizontal upon the stretcher pressed up on the far side. Both arms were wrapped around his face, eyes and mouth concealed from view. The paramedic flicked an index finger at the transparent syringe before descending on James.

”Hey!” She called out. ”What's that stuff you got there?”

”It’s alright. Just something to calm him down, Mrs. Donnell.” There was a momentary pause as she was almost certain they had not exchanged names up until that point. James’s breathing quickened as he remained frozen in place.

”How do you know my name? And why aren’t we headed towards the hospital?” Dolores demanded, glancing back out of the long, vertical windowed doors. She could see cars whizz past before disappearing into the distance behind them.

”Everything is in control. We were given explicit instructions to transport Mr. Donnell and yourself to the Digital Realities premises. He will remain under Dr. Grey’s due care until further notice.” The interior of the vehicle rattled from side to side whilst the paramedic held the needle in the air, looking at her. ”I assume you know who I’m talking about.”

”Of course I damn well do.” She hissed back. ”It’s because of him we’re in this godforsaken mess. And why the hell is it I can’t even stand next to my husband? What is this crap?”

The paramedic, choosing to ignore her last statement, proceeded to lean over James. ”Mr. Donnell, can you hear me?”

He responded with an anxious, rapid nod of the head. Arms still folded tight across his face. ”Good.” He continued. ”Now, I’m about to administer a mild sedative into your arm to relax you. Don’t worry, all it will do is help calm your nerves and relieve stress. But I’m letting you know in advance so you don’t make any sudden movements. Are we clear, Mr. Donnell?”

”What’s clear is this whole operation is one, massive sham!” She yelled over his shoulder. He looked back and gave her a stern stare of his own.

”Listen.” James whispered, alerting the paramedic who moved in closer. ”Even though my eyes are shut, I’m seeing… What look like… pulsating orbs or something. Blurred white dots. What is it? Please help me.”

”It’s alright. Probably an aftereffect of the tension and nothing more. Now let me give you this shot. I will help, I promise. But first things first, this shot. You ready? No sudden movements, remember?”

James steadied himself in the same pose, trying to concentrate on anything but the disruptive shapes swirling under his thin eyelids. ”Sure, go ahead.” He felt a sting in his arm causing him to wince with pain. Though a part of him actually welcomed it. Something else to help the mind wander away from the torture of the present.

As soon as the task was complete, the medic began shifting towards Dolores in an attempt to pacify her growing frustrations, however her back was turned to him with a cell phone resting on her ear.

”Dr. Grey? Where the hell are you?” She muttered. Only this time softer, muffling her voice with a hand over her mouth. The Doctor replied in his usual calm, immutable manner.

”Mrs. Donnell, I was expecting your call. My sincerest apologies for not calling you earlier as I had to make emergency preparations here at the clinic.”

”Yes, I just heard.” She affirmed. ”I’m in the ambulance. The paramedic told me you had ordered a redirection for us to come to you. Don’t you think the hospital would be a better place for him to be? And who in the hell gave you the authority to do that anyway?”

Dr. Grey cleared his throat before proceeding. ”James is not just any old patient, Mrs. Donnell. I hope you can appreciate that fact. His condition requires an expertise in the field that a traditional hospital cannot provide. I got in touch with them and explained the situation. Everything has been taken care of. Now, what exactly happened to James at the store?”

”What do you think happened?” She snapped back. ”Exactly the same thing that has been happening all this time. He had another hallucination. Only this time it’s not going away. I arrived at the store just as the paramedics were carrying him into the ambulance.”

”I see.” He murmured under his breath. “Did you manage to speak to James?”

”For a few minutes. Until one of the paramedics pulled me aside and asked if I refrain from communicating with him any longer. Assholes.”

”What did he say to you exactly?” The Doctor asked for a second time.

”He told me that the visions we was experiencing. They’re not going away this time.” She mumbled, just out of earshot of James. ”He said he’s seeing his mother, but… And these are his words… She appears to him as some kind of demon. I’m not sure what the hell that means as he will not open his eyes and refused to elaborate on that.”

”It makes perfect sense, Mrs. Donnell.” Said Dr. Grey. ”As we discussed earlier on. It's his subconscious, fighting him for control of his mind. In reality, they’re harmless images being conjured up to frighten him but he won’t be able to see it that way.”

Now almost whispering, she spoke over the mouthpiece, covering it with the palm of her hand. ”Listen, Doctor. He’s in a bad way. I mean, he looks so different. Gaunt and pale. I know now this is killing him. And I’m warning you. You better help him get back to normal. This is all your…”

The line went dead. She pulled the phone away from her and glared at it. ”You son-of-a-bitch. You won’t be able to hang up on me when I’m standing right in front you.”

A hand fell upon her shoulder, startling her as she spun around. It was the paramedic, who backed off in an instant. ”Sorry to make you jump. I was only trying to get your attention.”

She let out a loud exhalation. ”Don’t worry. I’m just really stressed out. I also want to apologise about my outburst earlier. I’m finding this very hard to deal with. You must understand.” She tilted her head to look at James who remained much the same as before. Arms blocking out his primary senses, save for his ears. However, he appeared to be quivering uncontrollably.

”What’s happening to him?” She asked, further alarmed by his apparent escalating state of hysteria.

”It’s OK. I was instructed by Dr. Grey not to induce unconsciousness so he's still alert and aware. I gave him nothing more than a muscle relaxant. He’s a fighter, Mrs. Donnell. Results are showing he’s under a tremendous amount of stress right now. But we’re nearly there now so professional assistance is merely a minute or two away.”

Dolores ran fingers through her curled, wavy red hair, staring at him. It was plain to see how much weight he’d lost. The mental anguish he was suffering. The possibility of him not making it through this. A flash of guilt infiltrated her mind but was willed away not a moment sooner. She believed there was a time and a place for everything and taking part in a personal blame game was something to be pondered much later down the line. James was in big trouble and every valuable second counted.

The mobile unit slowed to a gradual halt and she heard a faint knock at the metal divide coming from the driver side.

”We’re here, Mrs. Donnell. Please grab your belongings and follow us into the building.”

(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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