04: A Long Day in Memphis (Part II)

04:  A Long Day in Memphis (Part II)

 

They traveled to the Regional Medical Center, hardly a typical tourist destination, but it was the most central location amongst five nearby hospitals, Owen College, Southwest Tennessee Community College and a couple of shopping centers and residential neighborhoods. While not a likely place to spend the day, it was certainly near a large number of people, especially since it bordered Route 240, which bisected the city.

Before he entered the hospital itself, Alex divided the girls, telling them to spread out between the other neighboring hospitals. They were to keep a watch out for anyone glancing anxiously in Alex’s direction, since they’d likely be potential followers feeling his energy from afar. If they didn’t find anyone, they could come back and meet him in the hospital dining room, where he’d patiently wait. Gail, of course, would accompany him just because it was her chosen task, and she took it just as seriously as everyone around Alex took their assigned tasks. The girls quickly dispersed, Alex entered the building, while Gail trailed behind him, watching how everyone reacted to him while keeping unobtrusively in the shadows.

It didn’t take long before Alex’s new cell phone began to trill. He’d gotten it as a birthday present just three weeks ago in anticipation of his traveling needs. Unfortunately, Cate had gotten a hold of it and programmed the ring tone to play “Angel” by Madonna. Not only that, but she’d programmed a different angel song for each phone number in his contact list. She had ones by Shaggy, Jimi Hendrix and Sarah McLachlan, including a bunch of hymns, Gregorian chants and even the original sound track to “Ben Hur” and the movie “Moses”. He’d have changed them, but he could barely figure out most of the functions on the device as it was. However the song which was playing was the default tune, telling him it was probably one of the girls.

“Hello?”

“Hello, handsome,” Amy answered. “I found two here at the Children’s hospital, plus one little girl in a wheelchair she insisted her mother wheel her down in. How do you want to handle it?”

Geez, nothing was ever simple, was it, Alex thought to himself. “Are the others free for the next 20 minutes, or are they working there?”

“One’s a visitor and one works in, what was it, oh, yeah, accounts receivables.”

“OK, tell the visitor to excuse herself and send her over. Tell the accounts receivables girl to come over once her shift is over. Tell her we’ll be here for quite a while. I’ll have to decide what to do about the girl in the wheelchair. I guess I’ll have to come over there and see her. Get her phone number so I can call when I’m coming over. I’ll also bring Gail with me, so maybe we can do something for her when we visit.”

“Yeah, like you could keep Gail from following you anywhere you go,” Amy laughed before speaking off-line for a moment. “OK, boss man, one on the way, one coming over after 6:00, and the other will wait for you in her room, although her mother is very curious who you are and what you want with her daughter.”

“Again, get her phone number and tell her I’ll explain everything when I come over. Tell her it’s easier to explain it in person. Over the phone she won’t believe a word of it. At least in person she can look in my eyes to see if I’m lying.”

“I think I’ll leave all those details off,” Amy said, laughing again. “I’ll just tell her you’ll stop by in a while. So, should I stick around or head back?”

“Stick around for a little longer. Very often people are working and can’t get away, or someone might be a patient and may not be mobile. If you stay there you may still encounter them. If no one shows up in the next hour come on back.”

“Will do, boss man. Sub-Angel out,” she said, laughing, as she hung up.

The phone rang again with a tune Alex recognized as Cate’s number, so he answered it quickly. The ringtone was Celine Dion’s “I’m Your Angel”, which Cate thought was a clever reversal of their roles. “Yeah, Cate?” he answered.

“Hey, Alex. I’m in a park across the street called ‘Forrest Park’, between the hospital and the campus of the local community college. It’s also between the hospital and Owen College, so I figured it was a good place to waylay anyone showing an interest in you. So far I have one. There will probably be more, but Watchers move slowly since they are never sure what it is they are following, and I figure some have a distance to travel.”

“Sounds good, Cate, send her over. Good job. You may need to hang around there for a while, so enjoy the sun. I’m stuck soaking up the fluorescent glare. I figure you’ll need to hang around for the next hour or two, so get comfortable.”

“I will, Alex, and don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. If you need to, send anyone needing any information to meet me in the park.”

“Will do, Cate, talk to you later.” He hung up after that. He figured he’d hear from Tina soon as well, but she went over to the Veterans Center, which was farther away, so he figured it would take a short while before he heard from her.

Gail brought him a large soda, an apple and a sandwich. “You’ll likely be here for a while. Eat up. You know how you burn through energy. Cate would kill me if you died on my watch,” she told him.

It wasn’t long before the first person showed up. She popped in the door and looked around, looking like she’d run the entire way, so Alex assumed she must have been the one from the Children’s Hospital since the park wasn’t that far away. He waved her over and Gail moved a few tables away so she could observe without getting in the way.

Alex started to speak to her; she was a Watcher, a mother who was taking her son for a checkup when she felt Alex’s presence. She said she left her son behind with his father, saying she’d be back when she left the room, only to meet Amy in the lobby. Alex just shook his head at the strange circumstances everyone always found themselves in whenever he showed up, just as his phone rang again.

“Excuse me,” he told his guest, “I’ll keep this short.”

“Hello?” he answered the phone.

“Hey, Alex,” Tina replied. “I’ve been wandering around trying to figure out where everything is, but I’ve found the wife of a Vietnam Vet and a Pharmacist’s assistant who look like prime candidates.”

“Good, if they can get away, tell them to come to the dining room over here. If not, tell them I’ll be here for a while. If they can’t get over here then just take their phone numbers for later. Anything more I’ll have to deal with later. I’m interviewing someone at the moment.”

“Yeah, I like the way you interview,” Tina giggled. “I’ll talk to you later.”

Alex got back to speaking with his guest. It seems they really needed to send people out to herd the Watchers in since they felt so self-conscious approaching on their own. That told him a lot about how to approach this in the future. But for now they’d stumbled into a workable system. It also explained why waiting in a coffee shop hadn’t produced as many followers; it seems many likely Watchers observed anxiously from outside the building, too nervous to approach. Hopefully they’d make up for that here.

Alex had a steady stream of Watchers approaching him in the dining room. So many, in fact, that they stationed one by the door while they moved away from the center of the dining room to avoid obstructing traffic or drawing undue attention. Since Cate was unable to get away, trying to catch wayward students, Alex directed Amy to take her place when she returned so Cate could help with the explanations. Things finally started slowing down, the girls had returned, Emma and Sarah called to say they’d arrive soon, and everyone was starting to relax when a doctor suddenly appeared in the door of the hospital cafeteria, still wearing her scrubs with scattered bloodstains, showing she must have come directly from a procedure without changing. Alex instantly knew what was going to happen so he turned away.

“Cate, grab that doctor and bring her over here. I don’t want to make eye contact until we’re out from under everyone’s eyes. I’m heading over to the table in the corner. I’ve told Gail to position herself to cut off any hospital personnel who come looking for her.” People started moving as Alex stood up and walked away from the very person looking for him.

Sitting down at a table in the corner, Alex stared at the wall waiting for everyone to arrive. Amy stood behind him, trying to shield him from the view of passersby. It took a few minutes, but he soon heard Cate clear her throat.

“Alex, this is Dr. Liv Bisla, she’s here to—”

“I know what she’s here for. Did you tell her what to expect?”

“Yes, I told her to steady herself, but I didn’t give her any particulars.”

“Fair enough,” Alex replied and turned towards them, making eye contact with the doctor. She was tall and thin, with long dark hair and a dark complexion similar to Shanna’s. As soon as their eyes connected she stiffened and her knees partially collapsed under her, but she managed to stabilize herself against a nearby table. A couple of people said something to her, apparently asking if she needed help, but she ignored them as she continued to watch Alex even as she took in her new surroundings. Cate gently steered her to sit down across from Alex and sat down beside her.

Alex knew it always took people time to adapt to the changes he triggered in them, but he didn’t think it would impact their other brain functions.

“What you’re undergoing are spontaneous adaptations to your brain which I triggered. I’ve got no conscious control over it, so don’t ask for specifics, but we have a fair understanding of what’s involved. What you’ll be seeing in a minute is the glow from an energy which surrounds all living things. For reasons we won’t get into yet, I’m inundated with a tremendous amount of it. Luckily I’ve been able to utilize it for other uses as well, but we’ll discuss that later.”

She nodded as her eyes slowly cleared, then she glanced around.

“Wow!” she marveled, blinking at what she was seeing. “Talk about rapid adaptive behaviors. It’s amazing so much additional neural functionality can be added so rapidly. You’ll have to tell me what you’ve learned about it.”

“You have no problems believing what he’s telling you?” Cate asked, a little surprised.

“I certainly don’t understand it,” Dr. Bisla told her, “but I’m assuming what he’s saying it true because I’m seeing things that aren’t otherwise possible, and I’m pretty sure I’m not hallucinating.”

Alex noted she spoke with that little higher pitched lilt to her voice common among Indians, and assumed she was one of the many foreign doctors who did their residencies in US hospitals, who then go on to live in the US.

“There are a lot of unbelievable things about what you’ve just undergone,” Alex told her.

For instance, I’m now communicating to you telepathically. The telepathy is part of a portal I created in your brain which links our brains together. It’s unaffected by distance, obstructions or interference. It’s quite amazing actually. Your vision is tied to another portal created where your optic nerve enters your brain. It provides you with the same energy I give off, which promotes both health and growth. That energy allowed you to rapidly grow new brain tissue which allows your brain to process the visions, but that growth occurred outside of the brain. Normally I don’t go into so much detail with someone just undergoing all of this, but I figure you’d appreciate it.

You’re right, this is fascinating. What you are describing represents a giant leap in our understanding of the brain, physics, and the interaction between the two. Am I doing this telepathy thing correctly? Can you understand me?

“Yes, you’re doing fine, although we should speak out loud so my sister doesn’t feel ignored,” Alex told her, speaking aloud again. “She serves as my science advisor and she’s helped me to understand most of this. So if you want to discuss the details, she’s the one to discuss it with.”

“You can count on me asking. Can I ask who you are?” the doctor asked. “I’m assuming your aren’t a religious figure, since you’re discussing underlying scientific principles with me. How did you—” she started to ask.

“It’s not unknown for religious people to accept modern science. After all, most do. It’s just the exceptions to the rule you’re thinking of. Also, I didn’t select you, if that’s your question. If anything, you chose me. You experience this because you’ve got a specific genetic anomaly which allows you to feel emotions in others. For some reason, I’ve got an ability to make changes to your brain due to a strange interdependent relationship between our specific abilities. When I activated you, I allowed your natural abilities you may not have even been aware of, to reach a new level. Those who don’t have the necessary genes, I don’t have the same effect on. It’s all automatic and I have no real control over it. But because you can feel this energy, and since I have so much of it, you sought me out. Once we interacted the rest resulted without any conscious effort on my part.”

“Wow, again. Let’s slow down a bit. This is a lot to take in all at once. I think I’ll need time to process this for a few minutes,” she replied.

“That’s fine,” Alex replied. “Let’s focus on the mundane. I’m Alex. This is my sister Cate, the science expert in the family. I’ll introduce you to everyone else in a minute, but I get the impression you’re supposed to be somewhere else at the moment.”

“Oh, shit, I almost forgot. I felt you enter the hospital. I could literally feel where you were in the hospital despite all the intervening walls. I could feel you walking from one place to another. I was doing surgery at the time, lung surgery on someone who’d had a blood clot rupture, so I wasn’t able to quit until I finished. But once I completed the surgery I told the other doctors to finish it up for me and I ran down here.

“You’re right. I need to be getting back because they’ll be wondering where I am. How long does the normal indoctrination take? I take it you’ve done this several times before.”

“Yeah, he’s done a few of these,” Cate laughed. “You know, it’s a lot more fun discussing this with someone who can understand all the intricate details.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Alex interrupted his sister. “As she said, she’s in a hurry. Your visions reveal many things. Each of the colors represents something. The central colors show a person’s core personality traits like greed, honesty, trustworthiness. The colors around the edges of a person show the changeable natures of a person, namely their emotions. Things like anger, lust, desire and confusion. The part you’ll find interesting is the intensity of the light. That reflects the health of the tissue. Light equals health. If there’s damage to any internal organs or tissue, it’ll show as a dull spot. You’ll find this very helpful in your profession.

“I’m going to go ahead and give you a specific mission because you are uniquely qualified to accomplish it, and I think you’ll be enthusiastic to do it. I’ve been working with Doctor Ryan Moore at the Carbondale Memorial Hospital in Illinois. I want you to take a leave of absence. I assume you can think of a decent reason to justify getting away for a while. I want you to meet with someone by the name of Allison Livermore who works there. She’s beginning an education in medicine and psychiatry, so she’s the one who’s done the most to identify the various things you see in these auras, as we call them for obvious reasons. You’ll work with her for two weeks at the hospital. Ryan will give you free access. I’m also sure he’ll offer you a job.”

“You want me to take a job at the hospital?” she asked him.

“Oh, no, definitely not. I already have quite a few people living there at the moment. I don’t believe in keeping all my eggs in one basket. If what we can do ever becomes public knowledge, we’ll be in trouble. If we can spread our knowledge and resources across the country, then everyone benefits. I want you to return here and put the knowledge to use. Chances are you’ll become an excellent diagnostician, since you’ll be able to diagnose problems simply by looking at someone before any tests come back. You won’t be able to heal anyone like I can, but your surgery will be much more precise because you’ll be able to see precisely what you need to cut. I have no doubt you’ll quickly become well known nationally in medical circles.”

“You want me to use your knowledge and the benefits you gave me to benefit myself?” she asked, confused by his motivations.

“I want to foster a new people. Not that I think they’re not human, but I feel they are going to require protection, resources and numbers in order to survive. In order to do that they need a community, education and they need to be successful. In return, you’ll further our knowledge about how to apply our knowledge medically. I may or may not get a chance to return. If I do, I’ll visit and do some amazing healing. Unfortunately I don’t share your abilities. I can apply the energy in me to help heal people, but I can’t see it like you can, so I have no idea of what I’m doing. But I can do some amazing things. However we’ve been doing it in a very haphazard method. Some things I try work well, other things have no effect at all. We need to understand more about what this energy can do, and how to apply it.

“Now it’s time you got back. When you get to your office, call me telepathically and I’ll give you my room number at the hotel we’re staying at. I’d like you to come by tonight and talk so we can explain a little more about your new life and your abilities. But I think you better go before they start searching the hospital for you.”

She sat there blinking, trying once again to process everything he’d told her, but she accepted it. She stood up, reached out and shook his hand.

“Thanks for this, Alex. I’ll see if I can do as you ask. It’s the very least I can do for what you’ve done for me, and I look forward to meeting you tonight. How long are you going to be here in the hospital?”

“We’ve been here for a while. There’s a young girl in the Children’s hospital next door who I need to see. I’ll see if I can help her with whatever problem she has. Again, there’s only a 50/50 chance I can do anything, but I’ll try. After that we’ll probably head back to the hotel for dinner. After spending the last several hours here I’m not anxious to eat dinner here.”

“Ah, then I assume I’ll meet you later at your hotel. I get off at 7. I’ll see you then. It was also nice meeting you, Cate. Say hello to everyone else I didn’t meet for me, will you,” and she headed off, just as Alex observed someone in a hospital uniform hurrying toward them. Liv met them partway and they turned and headed back into the hospital.

“Wow, that was both fast and fascinating,” Cate said. “She picked everything you said right off the bat.”

“She’s a surgeon. You’ve got to be a quick study to succeed at that. I think she’ll be a wonderful addition to my mission.”

“You know, Alex, if you can’t decide what your mission is, you’ve got to stop calling it that,” Cate told him, smiling and snuggling up to his side. They both turned and regarded the other girls who congregated around them. Emma and Sarah had apparently arrived while Alex was speaking to Liv, but no one had wanted to disturb him.

“I think we’re done here for now,” Alex told them. “We’ve got a little girl to visit, and then we can head for some dinner. It’s been a busy day so far.”


 

They were heading across the parking lot on their way to the Children’s hospital. Cate had gone for the car, while Tina and Sarah had gone for their cars as well. Gail was accompanying Alex, as usual, while he was busy with his new phone.

“Amy, room number, please?” Alex called out.

“314,” she answered simply, and Alex began dialing the number.

“What’s the girl and her mother’s names?”

“Mary and Rachel Waters,” she replied.

“Wait up!” they heard someone calling from behind them, followed by the sound of running feet. Turning, they saw a young woman in hospital smocks running toward them, her long hair billowing out behind her. Alex stopped to wait for her, so the others did too. While they were waiting for the newcomer to catch up, Alex’s call was answered.

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this Mary Waters?”

“It is. Is this the man who was supposed to call from earlier?”

“It is. Sorry Amy didn’t tell you my name, but I guess she thought it might be safer if she didn’t announce it. My name is Alex.”

“Oh, good. She didn’t mention your name, but she did mention hers. So now I know it’s really you. I really have no idea what this is about, but Rachel insisted she just had to see you. In fact, she refused to undergo treatment unless I promised I’d let you in as soon as you called.”

“Then I’m glad she’s so stubborn and persistent. I’m on my way to see if I can be of any assistance.”

“I’m not sure what you can do. We’re pretty used to this. We do it every two weeks like clockwork, so there really aren’t any surprises. But she’ll be glad to see you. She gets pretty bored just sitting around while they do this, so hopefully you can cheer her up.”

“Fine, tell her I’ll be there in about ten minutes.” Alex hung up about the time the girl from the hospital came running up to them.

“Whew, I’m glad I caught you before you got away. I’m Erin. I’m a second year intern, and as an intern we follow orders, no matter how strange they are. Dr. Bisla told me I was to accompany you to the Children’s Hospital and observe everything you do. Seems she wants to be kept apprised.”

“That’s fine, Erin. My name is Alex. This is Amy, this is Emma, and the silent one over there is Gail. Cate, Tina and Sarah will join us over there. We thought we’d get some exercise by walking.”

“That’s fine. A little exercise never hurt anyone,” she replied. “So, just Alex? Doctors don’t usually introduce themselves by their first names.”

“Oh, I’m not a doctor,” Alex informed her.

“Then what … Dr. Bisla told me I was to observe your treatment of a young patient,” Erin tried to ask, but Alex had already begun walking, leaving a confused intern behind. As soon as Alex started walking the others did as well, moving as one. So after a moment Erin had to rush after them again.

“But if you’re not a doctor, how can you treat anyone?” she asked.

“Oh, I’m not treating. I’m simply visiting a dear friend whom I’ve never met before. However Liv is correct. She’ll want to know what happens, so you should watch and tell her exactly what happens.”

Erin looked up at Alex, trying to figure what he wasn’t saying, but he appeared inscrutable, so she gave up and simply followed along.

“You’re all pretty young. Well, except for Gail I guess. Do you have any medical training?” Erin asked, trying to kick start the conversation.

“Nope, not a lick. So we’ll be relying on you to tell us what’s going on,” Alex replied, confusing her all the more. However, by then she figured out he wasn’t going to give her any more information so she knew enough not to ask any more questions. You learn to do that as an intern, since doctors rarely want to answer any but the most direct questions. They preferred to simply tell you what you were supposed to learn.

They walked from the one hospital complex to the other, a short hike. When they neared the entrance of the Children’s hospital they were joined by three other women, who Erin assumed were the aforementioned Cate, Tina and Sarah. Each silently fell into formation and they all walked into the hospital like they owned the place. Alex stopped, looking for an elevator, and everyone stopped and waited for him.

“Where are we going?” Erin asked, no longer able to contain her curiosity.

“Room 314,” he answered without specifying anything else like what ward or which wing it was in.

“Oh, the elevators are over here. We’ll start from there and work our way back,” she said, leading the way. Alex and the others simply followed her.

Shanna, this is Alex? Can you talk?

Oh, sure, Alex. What’s up? Man, it’s weird having someone suddenly speaking in your head when you’re all alone in a locked apartment.

I can imagine it is, if not a little creepy. I just thought I’d mention we’re heading back to the hotel for dinner. I don’t know if you have the time, but we’d love to have you join us for dinner. I’d also like to invite you to spend at least part of the night with me. I know it’s a bit abrupt, but one of the things I didn’t mention is—

It doesn’t matter. The answer is yes to both.

Really? Just like that? What happened to packing?’ he asked.

It’s nearly done, but it doesn’t matter. When one’s King asks for you, you come running with bells on. Even when you have no bells. If you want me there, I’ll be there.

Really?’ he asked again. ‘Isn’t that a little presumptuous? I was just asking—

Alex, you are hardly just an average Joe from off the street. If you want something, all you have to do is ask. It should take me about an hour and a half to get there. Is that OK?

That’s fine. We still have some things to take care of, and we’ll probably want to freshen up as well. We’ll meet you there.’

By now they’d reached the third floor. They started marching down the hallway, checking room numbers along the way, but it wasn’t clear which way they should go. Luckily Erin stopped someone and asked directions. She led them off again, and soon they passed a sign announcing they were entering the hematology clinic. There were a few kids in wheelchairs scattered around and they had to step around a couple, but they kept going. Finally Erin turned right and they entered a small room which held a couple machines and several people sitting or lying beside them. Alex observed a young girl connected to one machine from which they could hear a pumping sound, with a young woman who Alex assumed was her mother. He recognized the machine as a kidney dialysis unit. He hadn’t asked what Rachel suffered from, figuring it was better to find out on the fly, afraid he may have doubts if he knew beforehand.

“Rachel?” Alex asked. The girl turned around, but didn’t respond. Instead another girl, not attached to a machine called out.

“You came!” she called as she got up and ran over to him.

Alex looked at the girl attached to the machine and back to who he assumed was actually Rachel. However he quickly adjusted.

“Of course I did,” he replied, treating her as if she was a long lost friend, giving her a quick hug. “How could I leave someone as lovely as you sitting here all by herself?” She’d seen him looking at the girl currently undergoing dialysis.

“It’s not my turn yet. I had the option to go sooner, but figured I’d be too weak if I did. The machines make you really tired. If you came in while I was being treated, I’d be too weak to even stand, so I chose to wait until I saw you first.

Rachel was cute with long curly hair which framed her face, but her skin and her eyes had a yellow tinge to them, looking a bit jaundiced, even though Alex had never seen anyone with Jaundice before. Alex also noted she looked a bit bloated as well, but he figured that was part of the reason she was here.

The place seemed quite dreary, despite the bright paint and pictures on the wall. The people seemed fairly morose, and there wasn’t much besides the medical equipment and supplies in the room. Even Rachel seemed tired, despite her evident enthusiasm at seeing Alex.

“I take it you’re Alex?” another woman asked, approaching him with her hand out. Alex assumed she must be Mary, Rachel’s mother.

“Yep, that’s me,” Alex replied, standing and shaking her hand. “You have a beautiful daughter, but I can see where she gets it from.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” she responded with a laugh. “I really have no idea why she was so anxious to meet you, but—”

“We’ll get to that in a minute. Right now there’s something I need to do.” He turned to Erin. “Did Liv ask you to do something?” he asked. Erin jumped a little, then blushed and hurried out of the room.

“Where’s she off to?” Cate asked.

“She’s asking the nurse if she can see Rachel’s records. I think you’ll need to go along to authorize her access, Mrs. Waters. Don’t worry, though. She’s an intern we brought from the Regional Medical Center to give us an idea of what Rachel is suffering from.”

“Oh, oh of course,” Mary replied, getting up and following Erin without even asking why she should give Alex such sensitive information.

“Do you need to know—” Gail started to ask.

“Let’s wait until Erin gets back. Part of this is for the effect,” Alex explained to her. Gail simply nodded and said no more. The two women returned a minute later, trailing a nurse with a clipboard.

“I’m just here to check on my little patient,” the nurse informed everyone. Mary sat down by her daughter again, and Erin returned to Alex’s side.

“Now,” Alex told Gail.

“The kidneys don’t look very good, but they’re still working. I’m guessing at about 30% for the left one and maybe 20% for the right one. She’s got a dull look throughout her body, which I assume is the result of the impure blood. The blood being processed by the machine over there doesn’t look much better. I’d say it’s only cleaning a certain amount of the impurities.”

“The dialysis filters damage the blood cells as they go through the osmosis tubes,” Mary explained, having been through this process for quite a while.

Erin looked up at Gail in surprise, and seemed about ready to say something but caught herself and simply watched them both instead.

“Any idea what the source of the problem with her kidneys is?”

“Nope,” Gail answered simply.

“I think we’ll need a little help here, Erin. I can help, but I need to know what caused the problems with her kidneys if I’m not going to make things worse.”

“But I thought,” Erin started to ask before once again catching herself. “Oh, of course,” she corrected herself. “It was a kidney infection.”

“That’s not good. I can definitely help her, but if she has an infection, then I’ll probably just strengthen the infection as well, which could cause a lot of complications. We haven’t actually—”

“No, no,” Erin hurried to correct them, “the damage was caused by an undiagnosed kidney infection, but that’s been treated. However the kidneys were already damaged, and now they are just trying to maintain her kidneys until she gets bad enough to warrant a kidney transplant.” Mary was watching them through this whole conversation.

“Oh, I think I can work with that, then.” Alex stood there for a moment, just watching Rachel, who was also watching him intently. The nurse had also quit fiddling and was watching them quietly as well. Finally Alex stepped forward.

“I could strengthen the remaining kidney tissue, but I think I want to try something new,” he told Gail as he walked up to Rachel, while everyone in the room watched them carefully. “What I’m going to try is something we haven’t tried before, so I want to be very precise in this. I want to apply about the same amount of energy each of you girls have coming into your brains, for a certain amount of time, though I don’t know quite how long, so you’ll have to guide me to the precise location, depth, and intensity. OK?”

Alex was acting out of character, going out of his way to reveal what he was capable of. He was aware of what he was doing, but he was effectively showing off for Mary and, indirectly, through Erin, Liv as well. He was also mindful that if he impressed the medical personnel here, they may cut him some slack. Seeing him perform a miracle in front of them, they’d be more likely to give credence to what was likely to happen afterwards. They’d be likely to resist, but doctors tended to respond to results. Especially in frustrating cases they had little success with.

“Could you stand up for a minute, Rachel?” he asked.

“Sure,” she answered, climbing rapidly to her feet.

“She’s going to need to receive treatment in a little while,” the nurse informed him. “I don’t think—”

“That’s OK,” he answered her. “She won’t be any worse, and hopefully she’ll be much healthier when she undergoes her treatment.”

“I’m not sure you should be doing whatever you’re planning on doing,” the nurse warned, though she could hardly protest too vehemently since she had no idea what he was planning.

Ignoring her, Alex walked around behind Rachel and knelt down behind her, Gail following along as he did so.

“I just want to do one at a time. I want this carefully controlled, so I think doing both at once would be too problematic,” he informed her. Gail positioned his hands as Cate, Erin and the nurse each stepped behind him to watch what he was doing.

They didn’t say anything, and Alex just held his hand against Rachel’s back for several long moments.

“It’s working, it’s getting stronger,” Gail announced.

“Let it keep working,” Alex told her. “I’m going for more than just strengthening this time.” Gail continued to watch him carefully, neither one saying a word.

“You’d better see if you can find a vending machine,” Cate told Sarah. “Fruit, cookies or a coke would be best, but a candy bar will do if you can’t find anything else. He’ll need it when he’s done.” Sarah took off like a shot, and after a second Emma followed her out, figuring she might need help.

Alex and Gail remained like they were for several more long moments, until Gail shifted again. “You’re doing it. There’s new growth. Damn, if that don’t beat all,” she announced in fascinated awe.

“Shh, this takes concentration and I want to ensure I maintain a constant flow. We’ll talk later,” he replied.

Rachel looked back over her shoulder. “Whatever you’re doing, it feels amazing. I’m feeling a lot better already.”

“I’m not sure you should be—” the nurse started to caution them.

“If you need to contact the doctor then do it,” Erin informed the nurse. “But if you do, then also send an emergency notice to Dr. Bisla at Regional, as she’s been asked to be kept informed, especially if there’s any attempt to interfere.” The nurse hesitated, seemingly undecided about which course of action to take, so she ended up remaining passive, watching whatever was happening unfold.

“I think that’s about all you want to do now, Alex,” Gail informed him. “Any more may be more than she can handle.” With that Alex dropped both his hand and also his head, taking a deep breath.

“Hold on, Alex,” Cate cautioned him. “Don’t try anything else until we get something into you.”

“Do you have anything handy?” he asked.

“Well, no, but…,” Cate hesitantly replied.

“Then I’ll continue until it arrives. Just make sure there’s enough,” he cautioned. Cate hesitated a second, then headed out the door as well. After she left, Alex tiredly lifted his hand to Rachel’s left side and started whatever he did once again, although it didn’t appear as if he was doing anything to anyone watching him.

“Uh, excuse me, but just what is he doing?” the mother of the young girl currently receiving dialysis asked, obviously more than just mildly curious. However everyone ignored her, since Alex didn’t want to be disturbed. The others in the small semi-private room were looking on, also quite curious about what was happening.

For Alex, this whole episode was an experiment on his part. He hadn’t known exactly what he could achieve. He’d intended to merely strengthen Rachel’s kidneys, but he’d gotten the idea to go further once he’d started. He hadn’t really considered what effect it would have on the other patients. However, now it was taking all his strength to focus on finishing, and he couldn’t take his attention away to consider the others in the room.

“Alex, you’re working up a sweat and your sister seems pretty worried about you,” Tina warned him. “Are you sure this is smart?”

“It’s necessary,” he replied, sounding a little worn out, his voice a bit unsteady.

Alex was aware he was taking a huge chance here. What he was doing was fairly major, and he was doing it in front of a roomful of witnesses. However, he’d initially only meant to help Rachel out by giving her kidneys a boost, something which would only last a couple of weeks at the most. It was only after he started he got the grand idea of trying something new, of actually trying to imitate the energy flow which allowed his girls to grow new brain tissue. He had no idea what it would accomplish, and his curiosity won out over his sense of self-preservation.

But he was also mindful that for as much trouble as he was inviting on himself, he’d likely be protected by the attitude of the hospital’s doctors. Doctors are infamous for thinking they are in charge of everything around them. If someone tells them about something they didn’t personally engineer, they’d typically dismiss it of being of no importance. So he assumed they’d react to news of what he was doing with the same response. They’d say, “Oh, that’s fascinating,” while actually thinking it was anything but. Their egos would shelter him from any undesired scrutiny. True, the nurse and the other patients would be upset, but he thought they’d be unlikely to cause too much trouble. Chances are he’d be finished before anyone really realized what was occurring. What’s more, if the doctors didn’t pay attention to their claims, no one else was likely to, and people had spontaneous recoveries all the time. All he had to do was make it out and he’d be in the clear.

No one said anything for a couple of minutes. Cate and the other girls came back with their hands full, but stopped a ways back and didn’t come any closer, Cate looking worriedly at her brother. Finally Gail announced, “That should be it, Alex. That’s close to what you did to the other one. This one isn’t responding as well.”

Alex dropped his hand and seemed to sink into himself a little. Cate hurried to her brother’s side and lifted a can of coke to his lips, then shoved an opened Snickers bar in his hand. He drank a little then began hungrily chewing the candy.

“Is that it?” Rachel asked, again looking over her shoulder. “I feel terrific. I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

The nurse approached Rachel and started checking her vitals. The mother of the other girl started moving about, looking a bit excited.

“She’s fine,” Alex tiredly told her. “In fact, she’s better than fine. You’ll have to watch her, I can’t be sure, but I’m willing to bet you can cancel her treatment. In fact, you can probably stop the dialysis indefinitely, though she should get checked frequently just to be sure it lasts.”

“Wait a minute,” the dialysis patient’s mother asked, “you mean you just cured her by waving your hands of what I’ve been treating my daughter for years, spending a fortune for?” She seemed to be getting aggravated.

That was about all the nurse could take. “Young man, I’m not about to trust my patients care to some random stranger who walked in from off the street, no matter what some second-year resident girlfriend says. Now I think it’s about time you left. Better yet, maybe I should call security so they can ask you a few questions.”

“No time,” Alex responded, vaguely waving a hand at her. “Need food. We’ll be in the cafeteria,” he replied chewing as he spoke. He tried to stand but staggered, and everyone started when he did. Gail got in before anyone else and, wrapped an arm around him, literally lifting him to his feet.

“I think we may need a wheelchair,” she told the nurse. The nurse wasn’t sure what to do, as her mouth started working wordlessly.

“No time. Need to go, now,” Alex responded with heavy gasps.

“Here, take mine,” Rachel insisted, turning and stepping away from her own chair. “It’s a bit small, but it’s the least I can do, and while it may not fit it will be easier than having him walk when he’s like that.”

“We’ll get it back to you right away,” Tina insisted, stepping up and grabbing the chair, pulling it from behind Rachel.

“This is highly—” the nurse started to bluster.

Erin stepped up and quickly felt Alex pulse. “Geez, the guy’s ready to pass out. Either get him in the chair now or I’m going to order a gurney for him. Are you sure you can make it downstairs?” she asked Alex. He weakly nodded as he collapsed sideways into the chair, since he couldn’t fit into it normally. Gail immediately started pushing it as she hurried from the room, Cate running beside him, handing her brother broken cookie pieces. The other mother, leaving her own daughter behind on the machine, trailed after them.

“Wait, could you do something for my daughter. If I can get her off of dialysis I’d be willing to pay you good money for it.”

The statement, spoken in the middle of a dialysis ward, caused quite a stir, and other people started trailing them as well.

“Damn it, Alex, I knew that was a bad idea,” Cate insisted as they receded off down the hall, several people following them. “Why do you have to be so damn stubborn all the time? You know you need to take it easy.”

Rachel, Mary and the nurse just looked at each other in the sudden quiet which settled on the room, in contrast to the various noises following Alex down the hall. However, a minute later Emma ran back into the room and handed Mary a slip of paper with a phone number on it.

“Call him in about two hours,” she told her, before turning and rushing off as well.

 

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