Mystery and Crime Fiction posted April 28, 2014 Chapters:  ...57 58 -59- 60... 


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Ties that bind

A chapter in the book Along the Jericho Road

Wayaka Moon

by Writingfundimension

PREVIOUSLY:

Father Brian illuminated the area above the kitchen sink to keep Alyx company until Mrs. Findley arrived in the morning. Steps heavy, he moved to the rectory entrance and pulled his wool topcoat and hat from the closet. He heard the siren which signaled the time had come. Looking around the place he'd called home for more than a decade, his heart constricted. Then his eyes fell on a picture of Jesus standing at the prow of a boat, hands stretched to calm the storm.  

He closed his eyes and whispered, "The Lord is the defense of my life. Whom shall I dread?"

His mother's beautiful face filled his mind, bringing with it a soft, golden light, bathing his spirit in peace. The priest opened his eyes and stepped with confidence to greet the young detective who so desperately needed his help.


**********

Maggie Hubbard commandeered a quiet corner of the nurses' station. She was behind schedule with the required medication check, and needed to complete the task before the 7:00 A.M. shift arrived.

Someone tapped her shoulder, scattering her thoughts. Maggie pressed her lips together to keep from chewing out the interloper.

She swiveled her chair in order to face an auburn-haired nurse wearing lime green scrubs with purple giraffes scattered front and back. They'd been short-handed, and with all the beds occupied, Maggie thought it best to procure a nurse from one of the other departments. The young woman from Pediatrics twisted the top button of her smock, waiting for permission to speak.

"What is it, Cassie?"

"I'm sorry to bother you right now, Mrs. Hubbard.  I..um... don't know what to do about the patient in Room 3011."

 Maggie blinked her eyes rapidly, her internal guage registering wasted time.

"Well, um, she looks odd and something's caused her to get upset," Cassie said in a soft voice that was nearly drowned by the background din of staff preparing to turn over duties to the next shift.

Maggie rubbed the crease between her eyes and sighed. This is a surgical floor with a whole different set of protocols. Be patient. She looked into Cassie's eyes and recognized the doubt reflected there.

"Get Mrs. Longacre's chart," Maggie ordered. "Then you can tell me, with some intelligence, what is wrong with the woman."

She watched Cassie shuffle through the pile of charts until she found the right one. Maggie rose and joined her on the other side of the desk.

"Agnes's vitals were all normal until thirty minutes ago when I did a final check." She thrust the chart into her superior's hands and said, "See for yourself."

"BP is up and respiration is irregular," Maggie noted. "How's her color?"

"Her skin is florid and she's sweating profusely. The antibiotics have all been administered, as was the morphine. Like I say, she was resting comfortably until just a bit ago when she started yelling for someone named Tony. Her eyes are open, but she seems to be in some sort of trance. Keeps mumbling in a language I can't understand."

"Let's see if we can get her calmed down," Maggie said as she walked towards the room. Reaching the doorway, she caught Agnes in the act of ripping out her I.V. and sprang into action. Grabbing the old lady's hands, Maggie ordered Cassie to guide her back onto the bed. Agnes tried to wriggle from their grasp for some minutes before collapsing against her pillow.

"Get hold of her surgeon, Cassie. Hallucinations and violent behavior can be signs of an adverse reaction to morphine. We need to get her switched to something else."

"Wouldn't that have happened sooner?" Cassie asked.

"That's a good question," Maggie responded in a mustered, even tone. "But it's not up to us to make that call.  We report our observations -- the doctors choose whether to act on them."

Agnes's hand shot out from her body and clipped Maggie's jaw. "Ouch," she yelped. She whipped her head in Cassie's direction. "Get an orderly in here to help apply restraints."

"She's just a little thing," Cassie protested. "Don't you think the two of us can get her calmed down?"

"Cassie, don't argue with me. Patients in the middle of a psychotic episode can be abnormally powerful. We can't take any chances that she'll hurt herself or one of us. Just do as I say."

Cassie rushed from the room, returning a short while later with a middle-aged, white-garbed orderly.

"What you got, Maggie?" the man asked.

"I think this lady's having a reaction to her pain medication, Cliff. We'll use the restraints as a precaution until we can get her on something else."

He grabbed his elbow and blew out a breath. "Hate having to do that, but we gotta follow the rules," he replied. 

"I've left a message for the surgeon," Cassie interjected. "I also noted the patient's grand-daughter asked to be called if anything changed." Her gaze flicked upward from where she straightened and smoothed the bedding around the patient. "Do you want to take care of that, Mrs. Hubbard?"

Maggie opened her mouth to respond and stopped short. She had the advantage of years of nursing experience -- most of it in the area of post-operative care. Something else is going on here. The instinct was bothersome and pronounced. This is more than a hallucination. She's determined, not violent. Tony, whoever he is, might actually be in danger. Though, I'd never say that out loud.

"I want the surgeon's opinion first. A change of medication can have quick and positive results.  Family members think we're abusing their loved ones when they see the restraints."

While she talked, she double-checked the I.V site. It looked to be in place and working though there was a ten centimeter area of extensive bruising from trying to find a good vein. Agnes's eyes were fixed on a corner of the room, and Maggie wondered what she was seeing.

"Can you stay overtime a bit, Cassie? I'd like to have someone stay with Mrs. Longacre until the next shift gets on board. She's likely used to your voice and would find that comforting."

Cassie glanced at the clock and back at her superior. "I have to check with my husband to see if he can delay going to work. I have three-year-old twins at home."

"I understand. Go make your call and I'll remain here."

Maggie pulled a chair close to the bed and laid a hand on her patient's arm. Agnes began rocking from side to side and keening, "Wokhokiphe."

That sounds Sioux to me. Wonder what's got you so riled up, Agnes?

Maggie felt a swirling, cold draft at her feet. She looked over the top of her knees towards the floor and gasped. Her feet were in the middle of a thick red pool.

What in the name of God...

Her instinct was to flee, but the clinician in her won out. Just as her finger reached the liquid, it disappeared. But the cold spread upward accompanied by a pervasive sense of despair.

"I can stay as long as you need me, Mrs. Hubbard," Cassie reported on her return.

Maggie felt the effort to respond was beyond her, but with determined effort she managed, "Call the grand-daughter."

"I thought you wanted to wait," Cassie protested.

Maggie placed an arm on the back of the chair to aid her in rising. Shaken and pale, she only wanted to get out the room. But her duty was to the patient. "I changed my mind. Her grand-daughter, Jana Burke is a homicide detective. I can't explain it right now, but it's important for her to know what's going on."

"What if I can't get hold of Detective Burke?"

Maggie looked at the bed and then at the floor where just moments before her shoes were mired in pooling blood.

"Call the Sheriff's department and ask for Detective Ron Jolly. Tell him Maggie needs him to come to the post-op unit right away."
 
                                                                                           ***
 
Tony tested his arms and legs and found them shackled. The surface beneath him was soft, leading him to believe he was on a bed or cot. A thick blindfold made it impossible for him to determine his location or the time of day. The only sound in the room came from a panting animal that reeked of rotting flesh.

A sweet taste lingered in his mouth, and Tony surmised his attacker had used Chloroform. The last thing he recalled was a dog wearing warrior paint blocking his path to the cabin. He did not see who yanked him by the hair and smashed a rag into his face, or remember anything about how he'd ended up in this prison.

Tony struggled to keep his breathing calm. He needed time to engage his other senses in order to figure out the situation. His clothes felt to be intact, especially his shoes, which might give him an advantage. It also indicated the captor was an amateur. A brief hope was dashed by a weird, metallic voice booming in his brain.

"Don't bet on that. I'm in charge, but let's keep that between you and me, shall we?"

It reads my thoughts.

"I do more than read thoughts, Tony. In fact, my area of expertise lies in seducing souls. Not just any soul, mind you. Most of them aren't worth the effort. But someone like you, Shaman?  I'm salivating like a gourmand in the act of cutting into perfectly prepared foie gras."

The ancestors will never allow this to happen. I have devoted my life to living in harmony with Great Spirit.

Tony heard the snapping of toenails against the floor and felt a hot breath in his face. He turned his head away in a deliberate gesture of disrespect.

"I will enjoy your agony," growled the animal. "Those you love are falling into my trap. They will die slow, painful deaths while you helplessly watch. It's going to be quite a show. One worthy of a wizard like you."

Tony raised his head, straining the muscles of his neck. His mouth was dry and his lips felt like putty. Yet, his words rang with authority. "You seek to insult me, but I know what I am: Keeper of sacred traditions and tribal healer."

"Aw, cut the crap, Tohneee. You're a man who imagines he has power. Just like the crude cow in the next room."

Not Jana...

Saliva burned a trail along Tony's cheek. He gagged at the smell of his own burning flesh and fought to keep from screaming.

"Don’t' worry, your precious Jana is safe... for the moment. The one I refer to is a member of the corpo di stampa," the beast continued. "I need her to witness the scope of my powers. You see, I own her soul, and she'll do everything I ask. Especially if I threaten to mangle that beautiful face of hers."

Never. You'll never win.

"Oh, but it is inevitable, Shaman. I will take special delight in your final understanding you have devoted your life to man-made delusions. Such pleasure you can't imagine."

Rage boiled in Tony's veins. He bucked upwards, hoping the restraints would give way.

The creature's howls reverberated against Tony's skull, and pain, like a thousand biting bees, pushed him deep into the ebony abyss.


Recognized


Cast:

Alyx: Father Brian's Sheltie.
Tony Buday: Medicine Man/Healer of the Sioux Nation.
Jana Burke: Homicide Detective. Tony Buday's niece and Agnes Longacre's grand-daughter.
Father Brian DeShano: Pastor of St. Matilde's and an exorcist for the Catholic Church.
Maggie Hubbard: Registered Nurse
Ron Jolly: Homicide detective with the Granite Mountain Sheriff's Department. Currently part of the task force hunting a serial killer named Edward Pearce.
Agnes Longacre: Tony Buday's sister and Jana Burke's grandmother. A member of the Sioux Nation.
Cassie Reed: Registered Nurse

Terms:

Chloroform: A heavy, sweet-smelling fluid which in large doses can cause unconsciousness.
Corpo Di Stampo: Latin for press corps.
Foie Gras: Goose liver - a rare delicacy.
I.V.: Intravenous
Pediatrics: Treatment of children.
Vitals: Metabolic measurements such as blood pressure and pulse.

Sioux Terms:

Wayaka: Prisoner
Wohhokiphe: Danger

Thanks so much, donkeyoatey, for the use of your fabulous artwork once again.


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