Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, Gods or Demons, living, dead or imaginary is purely coincidental.
The young woman stumbled into the hospital emergency department. Her clothes were in tatters, her exposed skin looked angry, scarlet, covered with countless cuts and scrapes, flesh hanging in shreds, oozing blood and in places blistered and burnt beyond recognition. There was a nasty wound on the side of her head and her short blonde hair was matted with blood and gore. Her green eyes seemed pale, distant, lost in some horrid memory which only she could witness. She struggled forward leaving bloody footprints in her wake. It was a testament to her extraordinary strength, she shouldn't have been able to walk at all. She looked like something from a disturbing dream, something which against all probability had returned from beyond. Something that television and movies would have us believe was real. She really was the stuff of nightmares.
Even though it was late in the evening there were other patients in the waiting room. They screamed and recoiled in horror.
The orderly behind the counter just stared.
The young woman wobbled unsteadily then crumpled to the floor where her blood pooled around her.
Things began to move more quickly. The orderly shook himself from his daze and punched the emergency button. Doctors and nurses appeared from everywhere and rushed to the young woman's aid. She was carefully loaded onto a gurney then raced through a maze of corridors to a triage bay.
A janitor followed, mopping up the trail of blood.
The young woman's tattered clothing was cut from her body then unceremoniously discarded on the floor. The material was soaked, caked with blood and grime, no amount of washing could ever return it to its pristine best.
"Pupils are reactive," an attendant advised.
"Pulse thready and breathing laboured," another added.
"Type and cross match," the senior resident ordered to no one in particular. They were a team and everyone knew their role. "Do a full blood work up as well," he suggested, "and get some O negative blood in here immediately."
The young woman's body was quickly washed with saline solution and the larger wounds temporarily packed with gauze. Fluids were drawn and swabs of the burns rushed for testing. Oxygen was given and cooling gels applied to her ravaged skin then a cannula inserted and a drip with pain medication attached.
The young woman's eyes flickered open. She struggled briefly.
A nurse glanced down at her. "It's okay," she said reassuringly, "you're safe. My name is Amanda, what's your's?"
The young woman almost imperceptibly shook her head. She looked absolutely terrified. "I... I don't know," she struggled to whisper.
"Do you know where you are? How you got here?"
The nurse smiled. "Don't worry," she said with the practised skill of someone who with the best of intentions had to frequently lie in their profession, "it'll come back."
The senior resident leaned in close. His name was David. "Can you recall if you have any allergies?" he asked.
The young woman stared at him blankly. She clearly had no idea.
David smiled, trying to ease the tension. "Do you mind if we call you Jane?" he inquired. "It would make it easier until you can remember your own name."
The young woman simply nodded.
David's smile faded, his expression becoming more serious. "I'd like to run a rape kit," he suggested, trying to be as sensitive as possible. "Just in case. We need to make sure your injuries weren't inflicted to cover up something else."
The young woman didn't reply. She started to cry. She didn't understand what was happening. She felt alone, afraid, scared of almost everyone and everything. She couldn't remember anything, not even if she'd ever felt this way before.
David looked at Amanda. He nodded seriously. "You do it," he instructed.
Hours came and went.
The young woman drifted in and out of consciousness. In the end she was sedated so that her wounds could be better examined then, if possible, cleaned, closed, stitched or the ragged skin excised. More doctors, surgeons and even the police arrived to inspect the nature of her injuries and wonder with abject horror how anyone could have wantonly performed such a terrible act.
"There was no rape," Amanda advised sounding somewhat relieved. "In fact the hymen is intact. She's still a virgin."
A lab technician arrived with the result of the blood tests.
"What blood group is she?" David asked briefly looking up from where he was working.
They'd been transfusing her with O negative blood for the last few hours. Over time her pulse had gradually stabilised and her complexion seemed less pale.
The technician shuffled uncertainly. "Well, all of them and more," he revealed.
Everyone turned and stared.
David frowned. "What do you mean?" he asked. He had never heard of anything quite so ridiculous.
"We ran the test at least a dozen times," the tech hurriedly explained while trying to make it perfectly clear that the strange result really wasn't his fault. "Every time we got a different blood group and sometimes we couldn't even identify it." He reluctantly held out the paper report.
David snatched it and instantly smudged the pristine report with his blood smeared gloves. He stared at it and frowned even deeper than he had before.
"There's more," the tech revealed a little hesitantly.
"What?" David asked again looking up. He sounded annoyed, frustrated. Nothing about the young woman seemed to make any sort of sense. He was surprised that she was even still alive. He'd seen enough in his career to believe that she should have died where she'd been attacked. It seemed improbable to him that she could have walked into the emergency department unaided.
"In the blood work up you requested," the tech started, sounding even more uncertain than he had previously, "we found antibodies and markers for diseases which have long since been eradicated or mutated into later variants. Ancient strains of bubonic plague, polio and smallpox to name just a few. No one would ever be exposed to those strains naturally," he said, frowning and looking rather uncomfortable with the more than obvious implication.
"What?" said Amanda, putting into words what others must also be thinking. "Are you saying she's been experimented on?"
"Well, its either that or she's more than a thousand years old," the technician attempted to joke. He sounded nervous, confused. He didn't know what to believe.
Everyone slowly turned at stared at the young woman.
"Who could, why would anyone do such a thing?" Amanda asked. She sounded repulsed, more than horrified.
David shook his head. "I don't know," he replied, "but I hope for her sake she never remembers."
"Why?" Amanda inquired. She looked confused.
"If it was me remembering," David explained bitterly, "I'd want to kill the bastards myself, but with these injuries, I doubt she would ever be strong enough."
"You don't think she'll fully recover?"
"She should be dead already!"
Once stable, Jane was transferred to ICU.
Amanda accompanied the bed to provide the handover.
"Jane Doe," she explained deliberately while trying her best to sound both professional and detached, "approximately twenty years old. She has lacerations on her right side, back and thighs, head injuries, second degree burns to approximately twenty percent of her body primarily on her left, amnesia as well as an unusual blood chemistry. She is at times responsive and reactive but drifts in and out of consciousness. She's been placed on morphine, antibiotics and has been given five units of O negative blood in the past few hours."
"Car accident?" one of the ICU staff members asked.
"Assault!" Amanda advised sounding far less detached. She again sounded quite disgusted. "The wounds are too regular, not random enough to have occurred in an accident. They almost look like scalpel cuts, as though someone was trying to remove her skin. There's also evidence of long term abuse. It appears she might have been experimented on. There are markers in her blood from diseases she could never have naturally been exposed to."
"Is she a danger to anyone? Should she be in isolation?"
Amanda shook her head. "No! I don't think she'll be going anywhere soon," she explained then she turned and left.
She was thankful that Jane was now someone else's problem.
When her shift finally ended Amanda collapsed on a bench in the staff change room. She could have easily fallen asleep. She'd done it many times in the past. The night shift had been long and arduous with too many cases to count, thankfully none of the others came close to mirroring the injuries which Jane had received.
She slowly sat up and looked at herself in the mirror. She shook her head then brushed her dirty blonde hair from her eyes. After a moment she stood then splashed some cool water on her face. She wasn't overly tall, was slim and had a pale complexion which betrayed her complete dislike of the day. She didn't so much burn as crisp. Her brown eyes were sharp, though the dark rings beneath clearly revealed how tired she was. She'd always been amused by how badly doctors and nurses looked after themselves. Apparently, everyone else was more important. At least that's what she'd previously thought.
She showered and changed then walked from the building toward the staff carpark. She always wore a hat and sunglasses and habitually kept to the shade, using basements and tunnels where she could, then almost jumping, running from one shaded area to another as though they were nothing more than puddles to be splashed about in after a storm.
Her small car had heavily tinted windows and she almost sighed with relief as she finally collapsed within the darkness inside.
She threw her bag on the floor then immediately reached for a small insulated cooler hidden behind the passenger seat. She quickly opened it and withdrew a metal thermos which had been packed in dry ice inside. She unscrewed the lid and drank deeply from the thick liquid it contained. It had a metallic taste and both cooled her throat and warmed her belly in a way which always surprised her. She shivered with delight and instantly felt recharged.
"I needed that," she whispered to herself, both smiling and sighing contentedly as she snuggled back in her seat.
She returned the thermos to the cooler then placed the key in the ignition and brought the small engine to life. She suddenly revved the engine to the limit then abruptly shut it down and repeatedly punched the steering wheel.
"FUCK, FUCK, CRAP, SHIT!" she yelled, as she pounded on the artificial leather surface.
No matter how much she tried she hadn't been able to stop thinking about Jane and the injuries the young woman had received. It bothered her no end. She'd always prided herself on how detached she could be. It actually worried her to now learn that she also cared.
She glared at herself in the rear view mirror.
"Do you know what you're doing?" she asked herself rather seriously. "You've never cared before. What's so different now?" She half expected her reflection to answer her back. She actually wouldn't have been that surprised if it had.
She sighed deeply, shook her head in frustration then climbed out of the car and strode back inside, through the ER and into the ICU across the hall.
"How's Jane Doe?" she asked of one of the critical care nurses. She could see the young woman on the far side of the ward. She looked small and pale, stretched out on the bed, bandaged and surrounded with drips and machines.
"Getting a little clingy are you?" the nurse suggested with a bit of a smile.
Amanda quickly shook her head. "No, not at all," she replied unconvincingly. "She just seems so weak and innocent. There's something different about her. I just wanted to make sure she was okay."
"No change," the nurse explained glancing at the bed then turning back to Amanda. She frowned as she looked at her. "You're bleeding!" she said, sounding concerned. "You have blood on the corner of your mouth."
"I do? Oh yeah," Amanda replied faking some embarrassment and silently chastising herself for being so careless. She hadn't even noticed when she'd looked at herself in the rear view mirror. "I bit my lip," she said, lying, as she quickly wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "It's not a problem," she added, trying to pass it off lightly. "Happens all the time."
"Maybe you should see someone about that," the nurse suggested.
"Yeah maybe," Amanda replied then she again turned and hurried out.
In the evening Amanda returned to the hospital.
She enjoyed this time of the day. The sun had just set and the roads were usually free of the mind-numbingly painful traffic which filled the daylight hours. She had fed then slept for most of the day and was now feeling almost completely refreshed.
Unfortunately, this evening's shift was even more chaotic than the previous. There was a football game being played and the ER was choked with hooligans who thought it fun to both fight with and head-butt one another. Fuelled with drugs and alcohol they could be almost impossible to control. On nights like this the hospital provided extra security, but sometimes even that wasn't enough.
It was Amanda's turn to perform triage, so she stepped into the waiting room expecting the worst.
A crazed skinhead immediately screamed out loud and ran at her. He was enormous, almost seven feet tall and built like a professional weightlifter. Amanda looked tiny by comparison. A security guard started to run from the other side of the room but he was too far away to do anything useful. The remaining patients cheered and hollered with delight.
After what seemed later than the last moment possible, Amanda simply stepped aside. She spun sideways then swept the man's legs from beneath him, then as he fell she planted him on his arse. She placed a hand on his shoulder and held him firmly. He struggled to move at all.
She glanced around the room. "Anyone else want to try anything?" she asked quite brightly with a rather pleasant smile. It sounded even more menacing because of it.
Everyone just stared. After a moment they all quietly sat down.
Amanda stepped round in front of the man and looked him in the face. She barely had to bend down at all.
"Gees dude," she said unsympathetically and loudly enough for everyone to hear. "Are you crying? Harden the fuck up!"
"But, but you're just a girl," he blubbered.
"Yeah, but not like any girl you've ever met before," Amanda whispered in reply.
The man had a tiny gash on his cheek. Amanda placed the triage bag she was carrying on the floor and pulled out a roll of gauze. She hadn't even dropped the bag during the fight. She tore off a thick strip of cloth which she placed in the man's hand then she slapped both it and the man's hand solidly against his cheek. She obviously meant it to hurt. The man whimpered in response, his tears mixing with his blood and dyeing his white t-shirt a rather fetching pink.
"Now you hold that there and be real quiet," she ordered, "or I might be tempted to give you a real arse kicking."
Afterwards she pulled a single chair into an open space in the centre of the room then she simply pointed at another patient then the chair. When finished with each, she'd either send them back to another chair to wait, or through the security door where David and the others were waiting to take care of them.
The security guard sidled up beside her. "Are you looking for a job?" he asked. He sounded extremely impressed and maybe a little embarrassed as he hadn't really helped in the slightest.
"Sure," Amanda quipped in reply, "but I only work at night."
In the ICU Jane's eyes slowly opened.
A nurse was sitting nearby monitoring her. "Hey," she said. "How are you feeling?"
Jane didn't immediately reply.
"Is there someone we can call for you?" the nurse asked.
The young woman frowned, then after a long moment she slowly nodded.
When Amanda walked into the staff break room everyone cheered.
David stood and clapped. "Where did you learn to do that?" he asked sounding incredibly impressed.
Amanda shook her head. She looked confused.
"Putting that guy on the ground," David explained.
"Oh that," Amanda replied, grinning uncomfortably, "a previous life," she said. She really didn't want to talk about it. She hadn't been aware that any of them had seen what had happened.
"Well, he deserved it," David suggested.
Amanda just nodded.
They were all just finishing their mid-shift break. Amanda never joined them to eat or listen to their stories about families, friends or patients they'd treated with embarrassing problems. She preferred to keep very much to herself. There was nothing from her past she felt she could share with anyone.
There was a knock on the door as a man in a dark suit appeared in the doorway. He nodded seriously to David then they went and spoke privately in the hall. When they were finished the man turned and left then David stepped back into the room. He was smiling and seemed to be a little too happy for Amanda's liking.
"Who was that?" she asked.
"ICU administrator," David replied brightly.
"What did he want?" Apart from the occasional patient transfer the ER and ICU were completely separate. It seemed a little strange that the ICU administrator would need to speak with any of them.
"Jane woke up," David revealed.
"So?" Amanda said shaking her head. The young woman was no longer their problem. She saw no reason that the administrator would need to tell them that. Thankfully, she'd even managed to stop thinking about the young woman, now that she'd satisfied her uncharacteristic concern by visiting her in the ICU.
"Apparently," David added while strangely grinning, "she told them the name of someone she would allow to make decisions on her behalf."
David smiled like a snake.
"Me?" Amanda blurted out.
"You," David agreed smiling as broadly as ever. He seemed to be enjoying himself far too much. He recognised that Amanda was extremely good at her job but she never involved herself in anything outside of her role. Doing something uncomfortable for once could be a good learning experience.
"But I don't know anything about her?"
"Neither does she," David replied still smiling. He thought it was funny.
Amanda glared. She didn't think it was amusing at all. She knew she could refuse, if she wanted, but what sort of person would that make her? "Can she even do that?" she asked.
"Until a family member is found, sure," David explained. "You're a medical professional, you're certainly qualified to make decisions for her." He laughed. "She must like you," he said shrugging, as if this would make sense of everything, "who knows? In time she might be able to tell us something about you."
"What do you mean?" Amanda asked. She felt uneasy. In her mind the conversation had just taken a sinister turn.
"Well, think about it," David returned, "you never eat with us or join us after work. I don't even know if you have any family or where you live."
"Maybe there's nothing to tell," Amanda responded darkly. She felt extremely uncomfortable talking about herself. She didn't know what to say. How could she tell anyone how complicated her life had recently become?
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