The Pandion Prophecy ... Part 2
Welcome, and thank you for visiting the continuing story of “The Pandion Prophecy.” There are eight chapters in all.
A link to the first chapter appears below.
The Pandion Prophecy - Part 1
The music videos at the end of each chapter are an integral part of the story.
Saturdays were often hectic for the emergency department at St. Johns Hospital. Physicians were under constant pressure to discharge or refer patients for admission, quickly, before they spilled out into the hallways and parking lot.
The seats in the waiting area were occupied by the ambulatory; the triaged patients awaiting care, worried family members and friends. A television screen hooked to wall and stacks of wilted magazines were largely ignored. People fidgeted in their chairs with discomfort, held children in their arms, chatted and texted on their cells, or nervously paced the perimeter. Some who had grown anxious from waiting, walked outside to smoke a cigarette. Others sought the outdoors as a brief respite from the pervading tension and smell of antiseptic that pricked the air.
Kate Baron glanced at her watch. Two hours had passed since the EMT’s brought Ray to the ED. The anticipated wait time that tested a worrier's patience was one hour. Two were purgatorial.
Opening her shoulder bag, she pulled out her cell phone and listened again to Ray’s voice mail. Alarmed by his message and photos, Kate drove to the beach house, where she found him huddled on the bathroom floor. Terrified, he tried to tell her what had happened but his speech was rambling and incoherent. She immediately called 911 and the Detective Division of the Farhaven Police Department.
Kate studied the photos, searching for anything that might help her friend. His face was strangely ashen, with parched lips and reddened eyes that stared into the void of the lens with a silent plea. The skin on the palm and fingers of his hands were shredded from broken blisters. Yet when she arrived at the beach house, they were normal. It’s not possible, she thought. She skimmed through her handwritten notes that read like remnants from a nightmare.
Looking up, Kate saw her husband, Jack, hurrying toward her.
“Any news yet?” he asked.
She shook her head, her eyes clinging to Jack’s as she fought back tears of frustration. “They have me listed as Ray’s healthcare proxy but I still haven’t heard anything. I wish the Boston hospitals were closer.”
“Come with me.” Jack guided her to the reception area -- a glassed-in fortress situated at a right angle to the main waiting room. He printed Ray’s full name on a piece of notepad paper, opened his ID badge and pressed it against the glass. “I’m Detective Baron with the FPD. You have a patient here; his name is Raymond Stiegel.” He slid the paper under the window partition. “I called earlier when the EMT’s were bringing him in. I need to speak with the resident ED physician responsible for his care.”
The receptionist nodded and asked them to wait near a door adjacent to the entrance to the treatment facilities. Kate was relieved with the sudden progress and looked at her husband with admiration.
“What’s happening at Ray’s?” she asked.
“Forensics is still processing the scene. The Kelsey brothers are working this one…they’re the best CSI field team we’ve got. The lid to that empty chest in the sand is burned to a crisp; the inside of the casket is also charred. And the handle to the shovel is missing. It looks as though it was snapped off just above the blade.
Jack nodded. “Like a matchstick. The Kelsey’s discovered some kind of chemical residue left over from the burn. It’s in the chest and surrounding sand. This all happened recently.”
“But his hands, Jack. You saw the photos. How could those abrasions have healed so quickly? He stopped by our house this morning on his way to the cottage and he was fine. Then he supposedly digs up his beach for several hours during one of the hottest mid-June days on record for no apparent reason. And why isn’t he sunburned?” Kate took a deep breath to calm her nerves. “None of this makes any sense. All we know is that whatever happened out there threw him into a near-catatonic state.”
The door opened suddenly and a nurse’s assistant motioned for them to follow her. She led the couple down a wide corridor past a network of hallways and treatment rooms where adrenalized teams of nurses, physicians and technicians worked to assess and stabilize their patients. Slowing her steps, the assistant stopped near the office of Dr. Mark Faraday. “The doctor will join you shortly,” she mumbled, gesturing to the door. With her eyes fixed on her clipboard, she hurried back down the passageway to the waiting area.
The Barons entered the office to find Faraday already seated at his desk. After the appropriate introductions were made, he apologized for the delay and turned his attention to Ray’s medical records accessed on his computer. Peering over the rim of his glasses, he studied the case file.
“Mrs. Baron -- Kathryn Martin-Baron -- you are Mr. Siegel’s healthcare proxy. We have a copy of the signed authorization uploaded on file. Regarding your relationship to the patient; you’re an investigative journalist with The Farhaven Chronicle where he also works as a reporter?”
“He has no family in the area?”
“No. Ray’s parents were killed in an auto accident last year in Arizona. We’re close friends. He’s like a brother to me. Jack and I are really the only family Ray has.”
”I see. So the purpose of this discussion is two-fold: To counsel his healthcare power of attorney and the investigator in charge of his case. I’ll be frank with you,” Faraday said, glancing at Jack. “This is a little unorthodox.”
“Unusual, perhaps, but necessary given the circumstances. “
The physician thought for a moment. Nodding in agreement, he shifted his gaze back to the monitor. “We’re admitting Mr. Stiegel for overnight observation and further diagnostics. When the paramedics brought him in, he was disoriented and agitated; blood pressure was severely elevated. No apparent physical injuries but he’s dehydrated. We started him on IV fluids with saline and administered minimal sedation to relieve his distress. The standard drug test results were negative.”
“You ran the clinical screen?” inquired Jack.
“Yes. Amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, methadone, and opioids…they’re screened initially.”
“As I notified the ED earlier, we suspect that Ray was seized, detained and manipulated against his will with the use of a powerful chemical substance or drug. What about hallucinogen toxicity? That’s not easily diagnosed.”
Faraday was impressed. “That’s true, Detective. Even with recent ingestion, a diagnosis may prove to be difficult. There are a number of compounds to consider, including what are commonly referred to as designer drugs. I’ve already ordered the additional tests. What his unit physician, primary care doctor and consulting specialists later decide is beyond my purview.”
Kate's eyes rolled upward to the sunlight flowing through a window high in the wall. She appreciated the young resident's thoroughness but was growing impatient. “Can he have visitors?”
“Yes, but only for a few minutes. The sedation has been stabilizing but he needs rest.”
The conference ended and the Barons thanked the physician for his help. Faraday reminded them of the need to keep their visit brief, then directed them to the new inpatient facility that served as an adjunct to the hospital’s emergency department for new admissions.
In his late twenties, Ray's medium height and muscular build seemed incongruous with the pale figure swathed in blankets on the solitary hospital bed. Though the sedation had made him drowsy, his body would jolt awake the instant he felt himself going under. Eager for familiar human contact, his mood brightened when his friends walked into the room.
“Hey. Am I glad you’re here.”
Kate pulled a visitor’s chair close to his bed. “Hi, kiddo. How are you feeling?”
“Better, thanks. I want to thank you both for your help. I don't know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t shown up at the beach house.”
“I’m thankful you called Kate when you did,” replied Jack. “We’re going to find out who did this to you, and why.”
“This case will keep you on your toes, buddy. Either someone slipped me some bad peyote, or you’re looking for an entity straight out of a wormhole. Or…or maybe…maybe I’m losing it,” he muttered, rubbing his eyes.
Kate leaned toward him and spoke in a comforting tone. “Everything out there on that beach right now is real. You didn’t imagine it. We’ll figure this out in time.”
“I’m not sure I wanna know." He turned his head and stared into her face, fighting the urge to tell her something. When the words started to form, his throat tightened with fear that she wouldn’t believe him, or that he could somehow pull her into the shadows that haunted him.
“You‘re exhausted, Ray. You need to sleep.”
“I’m so damn tired,” he mumbled to her, his words barely audible. “But I’m afraid to sleep. The whispers…they keep running through my head. Sometimes I can feel them as well as hear them.”
“Yes. They’re…they’re broken pieces of time.” His eyes misted over. “I wasn’t supposed to see. That thing on the beach…it told me not to see.”
Kate felt a sudden chill and was silenced. She reached for his right hand, held it firmly in her own and found her voice. “You’re safe. I’m here and I won’t leave you.”
“Always the stubborn redhead, Katydid. Thank God.”
“Count on it,” she said.
Ray closed his eyes with a faint smile. His grip of her hand relaxed as he fell into the realm of dreamless sleep. The whispers followed him to that drifting place before ebbing, slowly, from his mind.
The figure of a man stilled beneath the bristly skirt of a large Balsam fir -- one of several in a huddle of trees that bordered Ray’s beachfront property. Hidden from view, he watched with hooded eyes as the last uniformed policeman left for the station. The Kelsey brothers stayed behind to complete their site forensics of the chest cradled in the sand. The traveler knew what was in store for the two men and smiled. Crooking his head oddly to the side, he recalled his world of chaos. Although he needed to watch what was about to unfold, other tasks required his attention. Gravity tugged at his limbs with an unfamiliar heaviness. He stood up, unsteady at first like a newborn calf, struggling to find his balance. He brushed the evergreen needles from his trousers with awkward hands, then faded into the trees.
Music composed by Thomas Newman. Video created by cerino68 of YouTube.
A link to the next installment appears below...
Written and copyrighted by Genna Eastman (Genna East) 2014; all rights reserved.
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