Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Parallel Lives chapter 91

John knew what was happening, not exactly, but enough to realise that it was nearly over. His battered body, a virtual quadriplegic save for a technical point regarding very limited amounts of movement in his left arm, was increasingly in need of medical attention. That and the extreme chemical cocktails that the scientists were pushing through him were resulting in a gross deterioration in his internal organs.
But it was more than that, John knew that the others, those who's heads he inhabited to see other places, were dying off. Their passing always hit him like a body blow, filling his head with their pain and their memories. And he knew it must be almost his turn; whenever he was sent to find other heads to sit in he kept finding blackness, nothingness, occasionally finding a head, but usually not finding anything new. Today he had received several of the most severe blows he had experienced; pushing his generally inert body back into the wheelchair with sufficient force to rock the front wheels off the ground. The last one had left John struggling for breath and feeling strangely empty.
The approaching event filled John with a mixture of fear and hope, so he suppressed as much of the information as he dared, never revealing about the deaths of what the scientists insisted on calling "his analogues".
He looked around, it was the now very familiar private hospital he had been visiting for the last two years, initially once a week, now almost daily. He enjoyed the visits, the care and the warmth of the nurses, the banter they tried to maintain despite the firm directives not to converse with him. Today it was Alice; he liked Alice, she always treated him right, stopped the doctors when they were hurting him.
The doctor was a new one to John, the first change this year and only the third change since he had started coming here. As usual the men in suits that transported him gave the new doctor the third degree, checked his documents, looked at him like a threat. It was a surprise that he didn't get new doctors more often, because they didn't let up on the hostile approach even with the regulars.
Alice took the opportunity to take some measurements, blood pressure, temperature, upper body mobility. She massaged his neck and spoke gently in the hope that this enigmatic young man would open up, reveal something about himself. John understood the rules, enjoyed the company of nurses such as Alice too much to risk losing it through breaking them.
He watched as the doctor headed for him, waited for the usual doctor routine that was so artificial; never approaching a patient directly, always circumspectly, examining notes and watching sideways before speaking. But this doctor was different, walking straight up, ignoring the notes held out by Alice. Smiling, he spoke quietly.
'And how are you today, John?' he asked, looking directly into John's eyes. John looked up, saw the grey flecked beard, remembered the face screaming at him to ‘hold on’ over two years earlier.
Jack had expected the attentions of the minders, had looked for alternative ways of getting to John, but it had fallen to him, today. The group had found out about the newly recruited doctor who’d been security checked to the Nth degree. It was Jack's lot in life that with the addition of a beard he bore a passing resemblance to the new recruit, hence it was he that had to carry this out.
The doctor was being held at gunpoint three miles south of the hospital, in the digs he had managed to rent at extremely reasonable rates. His identity documents, hospital pass and security card had been removed and passed to Jack by courier; the best ID was the real thing they reckoned.
Jack had smiled at the questions, failed to be phased by the probes. He had done his homework well, had shown the new doctor around the flat himself, pumping him for background information while attracting him with such a ludicrous rental rate that the man willingly revealed anything he was asked about.
'The living room,' Jack had indicated with a sweep of his hand, 'with functional but comfortable furniture, I think you'll agree,' he had suggested. 'New job at the hospital, really?' he had pretended to be surprised, 'do you know Doctor Calder? Friend of mine. Dining room.' The soft interrogation had gone on for half an hour, Jack plying the man with promises of low, low rent, 'because I want a professional man in to keep an eye on my investment,' and suggestions that his interference would be minimal. And the man had happily talked about his new job, pleased that the landlord showed such interest in him and it was so inexpensive.
Jack saw the recognition in John's eyes, the mixture of pain, fear and joy. He felt the sadness inside, briefly felt the guilt of his childhood religion slip back in and haunt him.
John started to breathe faster, his pulse raced, the veins at the side of his head bulged. Jack sensed the nurse, still clutching the clipboard, moving closer, edging nearer, concern on her face. Jack turned suddenly.
'Why haven't you been keeping an eye on this patient, he's crashing,' he said, loud enough for the two suits to hear. He hoped desperately that his medical knowledge, culled from daytime medical dramas, was accurate enough for the next two minutes.
'Get the crash crew,' he barked, watching the two agents carefully while ripping John's top apart. Alice dithered, amazed at the speed of events, then rushed for the door.
'You, stick with her, I'm not convinced she's thinking straight,' he shouted at one of the suits. Alice half turned to protest, but continued out of the door, followed closely by one of the spooks. Before the second could cover the distance between the door and the patient Jack whipped the tube attached to the IV and slipped the syringe filled with Adrenaline, courtesy of Karen, and pushed, pushed as hard as the liquid and the vein would allow.
John's eyes rolled, his jaw dropped, dribble running down one side. A low moan emanated as the body started to shake involuntarily, limbs classified as being immobile jerking. Jack turned to the agent now on his shoulder.
'Where's that crash crew?' he asked, concern in his eyes, 'hold this, I'll track 'em down,' he said, forcing the agent's hand onto the IV. As he reached the door it swung open, pushed by a stainless steel trolley bearing monitors, de-fibrillators, drugs and needles. Jack stood back as the nurse, spook and two doctors followed. No-one noticed Jack slip out quietly while they attempted to revive the still twitching patient.
The Adrenaline had burned John as it entered his vein, sending his brain into a whirl. He felt his consciousness cry out an "all points bulletin", radiating across multiple universes, seeking analogues to warn. He felt his life and the memories of all the other lives he now was host to follow with the next wave, as the dimness fell and voices faded.
The pain of the electricity coursing through his body made no difference to John as his nerves involuntarily lifted him off the bed that they had roughly thrown him on. The darkness turned blacker than the blackest night, the silence was blessed. It went darker, darker.


The End
Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

Parallel Lives is published in paperback and as an eBook


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