A READING EXPERIENCE
By Ben Kesp
Written 2012 - 2014
Copyright © 2014 Ben Kesp
All rights reserved. No part of this serial may be reproduced in any form without the permission in writing from the author.
Friday was the first story to feature as regular serial and has become book 1 in the Short Story series of the Dr. Elizabeth Bannon Series. Read the full serial below.
For more on the Dr. Elizabeth Bannon Series click on its link below:
Placing his hands on the hot green railings, the temperatures soar to thirty-five degrees Celsius. The warm breeze brushes his face. From his high view point, he casts his eyes across the bay to the distant white cliff face. Large cargo ships sail by. A young couple brings his attention to the beach on his right. Summer tourists. The girl is standing on the sand and her partner is in the water. He is trying to encourage her to get in. She refuses. After several attempts, she gives up and returns to her sun lounge much to the disappointment of her partner. A sea gull’s screech draws his eyes away from the couple on the beach, upwards to the bird soaring high searching for a morsel of food. Returning to his task, he pulls himself upwards on to the hot railing steadying himself. He peers downwards, and his eyes rest on the bed of rock below.
One final check to ensure that the climbing harness is securely fastened, he releases his feet from the railing and abseils down the rock face. The high temperatures force beads of sweat to form on his forehead. The climbing equipment is not helping.
He sways slightly as he lowers himself almost half way down the rock face. His eyes catch sight of the cat perched between the crevices of the rock. It sits wedged and frozen in fear. Moving in closer, he opens the cage he has strapped to his harness. Studying the cat for a few seconds, he reaches in, grabbing it and placing it inside the cage. Allowing himself to suspend for a few moments off the cliff face, he surveys the view of the beach to his left. It is filling up for the day.
The sound of a wave crashing into the base of the rocks below disturbs his thoughts. He focuses his eyes downwards as the swell of water disappears from beneath him. A loud vibrating sound rises upwards from the ocean as he tries to swing his harness around to have a better view. Unable to move in his harness, the rising waters speed upwards towards him. Yells escape his mouth and the force of the water overwhelms him, pushing him against the rock face. While forcing himself to breathe through the power of the water, he gasps for air against the rising foam and water. Darkness descends on him. Everything becomes quiet.
A voice gradually becomes audible in the distant darkness. It clears and a woman calls his name. Lifting his eyelids, piercing hazel green eyes stare into his. Her raven black hair surrounds her pleasant face. He recognises her. Dr. Elizabeth Bannon.
Swallowing hard, he wipes the saliva from the corners of his lips. Pulling his body upwards on the long couch, he surveys his surroundings. He returns his attention to Dr. Elizabeth Bannon while she continues to hold his focus, sitting in her chair and throwing her pad on the nearby desk. She stands and moves to the window running her hands through her hair. He keeps his eyes on her as she continues to stare out of the window for some time before returning to her chair and sitting down facing him. Her lips part in a gentle smile.
“I know this is difficult for you Jacob, but I need you to try harder. We have been trying this technique for the past two days, and still you are unable to get beyond the cliff face,” Elizabeth says lifting up her writing pad again.
“It is Friday. I go to work as normal.”
“Yes, I know it is Friday. You keep reliving the morning of Friday the 8th of June. You have a run on the beach. You go to work as normal. Your first stop is the National Park. You get a call to rescue a cat from the cliff face of George’s bay.”
“Then it happens.”
“The sound is horrendous.”
“It’s like the ocean is vibrating. I try to turn around but the harness restricts me. I see the water disappearing at first from below me and then I notice it rising upwards towards me.”
“It overwhelms you and pushes you against the rock face,” Elizabeth continues as she softens her voice. “Relax. What images or thoughts come to your mind next?”
“I don’t know. I think something emerges from the ocean.”
“What is it?”
“I’m not sure. It’s big and very loud.”
“Let’s return to earlier that morning, prior to receiving the call to rescue the cat. You mentioned seeing birds plummet from the sky and drop into Creek Lake. Tell me about that.”
“On arriving at Quesser Creek National Park, my radio stopped working. Then I noticed a flock of birds from the park flying overhead and circling the lake. They dropped dead into the water before my eyes. Each bird was micro-chipped for monitoring, but I had no idea what had happened. I reported it and continued with my duties.”
“Okay Jacob, I think we have enough for now. You get some rest. I’ll check in on you in the morning,” Elizabeth responds.
Jacob nods watching her take the file from the desk and smile at him. The sound of the door clicks shut. Slowly standing to his feet, he moves towards the window, his eyes hurting from a throbbing headache.
Dr. Elizabeth Bannon opens her laptop to update her patient’s records after the day. Top of the pile is the file on her newest patient Jacob Fontain, a twenty-eight-year-old man from Quesser Creek, a small seaside resort. Jacob was transferred to her less than a week ago from Dr. Joseph Winters who had diagnosed his patient with a delusional disorder. Dr. Elizabeth Bannon, an esteemed psychiatrist and renowned expert in the field of delusional disorders of all types, found the patient’s file interesting. After her initial analysis and a brief period of psychotherapy, she is not convinced that Jacob Fontain is really suffering from any mental disorder. She believes that some traumatic experience on Friday the 8th of June triggered a response causing him to relive the day over and over. From the patient’s history, she learns that Jacob moved to Quesser Creek two years ago to take the post of the town’s new park ranger. The park at Quesser Creek is an extensive national park covering many acres of wood, scrub land, and contained within, is a large lake called Creek Lake.
Placing down the file, Elizabeth picks up the coffee cup she got three hours earlier. Her lips touch the cold liquid and she throws it in the bin. She rubs her head in an attempt to wipe away the slight headache after the day and closes the file before her. She will resume her analysis of Jacob in the morning. She grabs her jacket and bag and leaves the office.
On arriving at work the following morning, Dr. Elizabeth Bannon receives a page to report directly to see her patient Jacob Fontain. She meets with a nurse stationed on the fourth floor who informs her that the patient had a revelation during the night but would only talk to her. Since Jacob was assigned to her care, she has learned in the past few days that he is a kind and gentle person, but seems wary of his surroundings. She concludes that it is as though he is distrustful of people in general. She has somehow earned his trust putting her at an advantage with him.
As she opens the door, she sees Jacob sitting on the bed. Smiling at him, she removes her writing pad from her bag and takes a seat by the desk.
“Good morning Jacob. How do you feel today?” she begins.
“I remembered something last night when I was asleep.”
“Did you have a dream?”
“It felt real, but it must have been a dream as I have no way of leaving this hospital.”
“Tell me about your dream.”
“I was on the cliff face again. I managed to put the cat into the cage. I thought it would scrape and bite, but it behaved. I heard the wave crash into the water below me and saw it rising towards me. The sound vibrated up from the ocean,” Jacob reiterates rising from the bed and stepping towards the window.
“Go on, what happens next?” Elizabeth asks gently.
“Nothing came out of the ocean. It’s something beneath the ocean.”
“Beneath...can you explain?”
“I can’t. All I know is there was something beneath the ocean; beneath the bay at Quesser Creek.”
Elizabeth observes him closely, watching him return to his bed and sit at the edge. Placing her pad and pen down, she leans slightly forward on her chair.
“Your girlfriend Nadia is visiting you today. I am going to speak with her when she arrives,” she adds standing and moving towards the chair placed at the side of the bed.
“She won’t know anything. She wasn’t at George’s Bay, but you can try.”
She nods smiling. Returning to the desk, she takes her pen and pad and exits the room. As she steps into the corridor, she observes Dr. Marvin Speel in conversation with the senior nurse at the nurses’ station. Lifting his head, his eyes lock with hers. Nodding slightly, she watches him walk towards her. She has little time for Dr. Speel, and many others at the hospital share her views. Dr. Speel is chief of staff at the hospital and is also on the review board. His belief is running patients through like an assembly line, and if they are not responding to treatment, or present difficulty in analysing their conditions, they are moved on again. Nursing homes and institutions benefit from his decisions. It is about money. Get the patients in and pass them on. He reaches her and his thin lips part in a smile that does not reach his eyes.
“Doctor, how is Mr. Fontain responding?”
“Slowly, Dr. Speel. I still have more therapies I would like to try.”
“He is delusional Doctor. He was passed to us by Dr. Winters who wanted a confirmation of his analysis so we could commit him to the right place where he would get correct treatment.”
“I am still assessing him. Currently, I do not agree with Dr. Winters’ assessment. I am meeting with the patient’s girlfriend Nadia Marshall later today. She may give more information on the missing gaps.”
“I have been reading your patient’s notes on this one. He still believes he had a work colleague named Daniel Maywell, when in fact, he was assigned to Quesser Creek National Park to replace Maywell who had been killed in a freak accident.”
Holding his stare, she remains silent.
“Time is ticking Doctor. The room will be needed for other patients,” Dr. Speel replies, turning his back on her and continuing his daily morning rounds.
Elizabeth arranged to meet with Nadia Marshall at 3pm. Her hopes are high expecting Nadia to add some new light on Jacob’s condition. Carrying a fresh warm cup of coffee, she spies Nadia seated in the corridor outside her office waiting for her. She is a small girl with shoulder length brown hair and a nervous look. Elizabeth welcomes Nadia into her office and they both sit. She updates Nadia on Jacob’s condition and allows her some time to relax.
“Is there anything you can tell me about what might cause Jacob to keep reliving that moment on Friday the 8th of June?”
“I’m not sure what it is I can say Doctor. I don’t know what happened to Jacob that morning. I left for work as normal. I work as a nurse in the town. Jacob left for the park at his usual hour. It was the first place to visit each day.”
“I see. What about Daniel Maywell?”
“What about him?”
“Did Jacob often talk about him?”
Nadia falls silent.
“Please Nadia, I am trying to help Jacob.”
“There is something you should know Doctor, but I’m not sure if I should tell you as it goes against your profession and might only condemn Jacob more,” Nadia answers nervously. Elizabeth watches her stand and move towards the window overlooking the small hospital garden.
“Nadia, I only have a little more time before I have to make a judgement on Jacob’s condition. Based on that decision, he could be placed on medication that could radically alter his lifestyle. Anything you can tell me, I am sure can only help.”
Nadia responds by casting a trustful look in her direction and returns to her seat.
“Jacob spoke of Daniel regularly,” Nadia begins, shifting slightly in her seat. “I first met Jacob at the local town fair that is held each May. We did not start dating straight away. He had already been living in Quesser Creek eight months by then. He is funny, loyal, loving, but a little wary of people. Six months ago we decided to rent a log cabin by the beach. Life was good until this incident happened. Jacob has his job for the National Parks Association and I am a nurse to the doctor in the town. Quesser Creek is a small town Doctor.”
“Tell me about Daniel.”
“He would often ask me about Daniel. Everyone in the town knew of Daniel Maywell. He was a great character, funny, and would help anyone if he could. No one understood how he died. He was found dead one morning in the park near Creek Lake.”
“Was Jacob inquisitive about how he died?”
“It was more than that. Jacob has the ability to see things that other people cannot.”
“Was he able to communicate with Daniel?”
“I believed what he told me. He is able to get information from Daniel about the park. He found Daniel’s notes and used to read them daily.”
“What were these notes about?”
“I don’t know. He refused to show me, but used to say Daniel knew something.”
Sitting into her chair, Elizabeth gathers her thoughts. Nadia is right. This is information she could not exactly share or record on her patient’s report. Jacob’s claim of being a medium and being in contact with the spirit of Daniel Maywell would have him locked up within the day by Dr. Speel.
“Is it possible for you to get me these notes so I may look at them?” Elizabeth continues, leaning forward once more in her chair.
“Sure, I will try.”
“Here are my contact details. If you could forward them on, I would appreciate it. Time is against us I’m afraid. Thank you for visiting today. It helps Jacob.”
“Do you think Jacob will be alright?”
“At this moment, I’m at a loss to say. I’m sorry.”
Elizabeth extends her hand to Nadia who silently leaves the office. Tasting the hot coffee in her mouth, Elizabeth ponders the information and the new route she now has to question Jacob.
Placing her hands on the green railings, she points her face in the direction of the sun closing her eyes. The warm breeze caresses her cheeks relaxing her mind. She listens to the shouts and screams of the bathers on the beach to her right mixed with the screeching sea gulls feeding their young; their calls interrupted by a distant sea horn of a cargo ship exiting the faraway port. Quesser Creek is alive with activity and momentarily transports her away from her thoughts. Elizabeth Bannon has travelled to see for herself the locations that her patient Jacob Fontain has been describing in therapy. Her patient is consuming her interest and curiosity. Opening her eyes, she bends forward leaning against the railing eying the bed rock below her. The sea is deep at this point of the creek which turns inwards forming a gentle cove creating a beach of sand. Over the last century, the cove has become a popular bathing ground giving rise to the development of the local town, in contrast to the winter time when it becomes a bleak and desolate place.
Wiping the beads of sweat from her forehead, she returns to her car. She reaches across to the passenger seat and picks up her folder pulling out a small black note book held together by an elastic band. As she opens it, the name Daniel Maywell stands out in block letters written in a blue pen. Nadia posted the notes to her the next day after the meeting. Daniel Maywell’s notes were scribbles of conspiracies and government cover ups. Making sense of the ramblings would take time. The national park holds her curiosity and is referenced many times in Daniel’s notes. The incident with the birds dropping into the lake described by Jacob in therapy may actually have happened. If so, it would have been documented by the wildlife association making it easy to verify. Starting her car, she drives from the cove towards the small town of Quesser Creek. The town has one main street radiating from a church, with many restaurants, cafes, a local hardware shop, post office and knick knack shops. Many houses have sprung up over the years at the rear of the main street creating a small urban centre. Elizabeth drives to the end of the main street past the small church decorated with hanging baskets of many colours and enters a tree lined road until she reaches the entrance gate with a large brown sign reading Quesser Creek National Park. The car park is almost full showing its popularity with tourists offering a peaceful and cooler restbite from the hot sands. Exiting her car, she begins her walk into the park.
The park is extensive and only certain areas have been open to the public to safeguard wildlife breeding grounds and plant life. She studies the map at the entrance and her focus is on Creek Lake which is situated in the centre of the park cut off from public access. The park consists of many smaller lakes and ponds abundant with wildlife that could be viewed by the public. The lake holds a mystery for Elizabeth. Daniel Maywell had many sketches of the lake in his tattered note book and his own theories of the lake’s purposes. It was also the spot where he was found dead. After walking three kilometres through pathways and woodlands, the steel fencing and gates come into view. Wildlife authorities have gone to great lengths to protect the breeding grounds by the erection of the barriers she sees before her. Placing her fingers through the wire meshing, she looks intently at the road leading away from her beyond the large steel fenced gate and disappearing behind a thick tree line. As she removes her mobile phone from her pocket, she notices she has no signal. Pulling her attention back to the roadway leading away from her, she realises she has one way to get inside.
The hot evening air filters in through her open bedroom window. Blocking out the street cats fighting in the lane outside her apartment, Elizabeth studies the screen of the laptop before her. She zooms in on Google earth satellite to Quesser Creek National Park. Creek Lake is set in the centre of the large park encircled by a small road. Woodland encloses the lake making the surrounding ground difficult to see. From the image, nothing appears unusual to her. Reaching for the tattered note book placed next to the laptop, she begins to write her own notes, believing there is some connection in the notes to what happened to Jacob Fontain. Elizabeth has not yet approached the subject with him of his special gift. She needs more knowledge. The vibration of her mobile on her bedside locker disturbs her thoughts. A brief moment of hesitation overtakes her when the name Dr. Marvin Speel flashes on the screen before her. She answers.
“Hello Dr. Speel.”
“Dr. Bannon, I hope I’m not catching you at an awkward time and on your day off?”
“No worries Dr. Speel. How can I help you?”
“Your patient Doctor, Jacob Fontain. I’m calling in my assessment of the case earlier than planned. I want to have your final assessment report on my desk by the end of the week.”
“End of the week! Doctor! That’s in two days time!”
“Yes I’m aware of that. If by now you had made any break through, you would have.”
Pausing slightly in her reply, she is hesitant to make her request to Dr. Speel.
“If this is what you want, I’ll have my assessment report ready. However, there is one more thing I would like to try with Jacob and it requires taking him out for a day to visit Quesser Creek.”
The slight pause on the line before Dr. Speel replies does not go unnoticed.
“I’m not sure if this would be of any good for the patient. However, I know if I block it, you will fight me on it. I will only allow it under the condition that I escort you and Mr. Fontain. There are no negotiations.”
Biting her lip, she knows it is the best she could hope for.
“Agreed Dr. Speel. However, you are to observe only and not interfere with my therapy.”
“Very well. I will have it organised as time is ticking on this one. Good night Doctor.”
“Good night,” she replies listening to the line click on the other end. Throwing her mobile onto the bed next to her, she picks up her note book and continues to work. Time is against her.
The digital clock on the dashboard of the car changes to 9.17am. The morning sun already has its place high in the blue sky casting a shimmering of heat over the bay. The sounds of the morning blend into each other. Elizabeth sits in the driver’s seat next to Dr. Speel. A slight breeze flows between the opened doors offering refreshment from the hot morning. In silence, they watch Jacob Fontain stand by the green railings peering down onto the bed of rock that extends to the sea below. Dr. Speel breaks the silence between them.
“Doctor, why do you fight this one? Jacob’s story is in his head. There were many spectators here last Friday who saw him suspended over the cliff edge clutching onto the cat cage screaming. There were no giant waves or loud vibrating sounds that he has described to you in therapy.”
“How can you explain that his memory of the experience is so different?”
“Delusional Doctor. It is in his head. Perhaps a traumatic event triggered the response for him to break down. A hallucination. Surely you cannot dismiss the fact that he claims Daniel Maywell was with him when we know the man is dead.”
Without replying, Elizabeth studies the man leaning over the railings before her. She refuses to pass on the knowledge to Dr. Speel of Jacob’s gift of being a medium. She questions herself how she is so readily able to believe. Her medical profession debates the concept of mediumship, with some psychiatrists referring to the spiritual communication as hallucinations. Whether spirit possession is a delusion of control or a culture-bound syndrome, her belief in her patient outweighs her medical training.
Jacob’s movements focus her gaze to him once more. He moves towards the car and enters sitting in the back seat. Without speaking, she starts the car and drives to Quesser Creek Park. Morning visitors to the park already begin to arrive when she parks her car. Elizabeth greets a tall, strongly built man who is standing next to a large black land rover speckled in dirt. He introduces himself in a strong German English accent as Hans Zneider of the National Parks Association. They are driven by the representative of the National Parks Association to the centre of the park. The gates of the large steel fence surrounding the lake are opened by two men wearing the same uniform as Hans. She studies the formality of the operation and the trained look on the men’s faces.
Following several minutes of driving, the land rover enters through the thick trees. The canopy of heavy leaves darkens inside of the vehicle momentarily. Exiting the trees, the large Creek Lake spreads out before them in all directions. It is a vast lake with a road encircling it. As she glances momentarily at Jacob, Elizabeth watches for a response. Once the land rover is parked, she escorts her patient some distance on the road encompassing the lake. Under her instruction, Dr. Speel does not follow and remains with the driver. When out of ear’s reach, she stops.
Elizabeth waits for some moments allowing Jacob to speak, and surveys the lake mentally referring to the notes she has read in Daniel Maywell’s note book. Daniel wrote of a subterranean tunnel partly filled with water connecting the lake and the bay off Quesser Creek. He witnessed divers emerging from the lake and recorded military presence on many occasions. His notes became rants of conspiracy theories and military operations that she could make no sense of. She returns to the very silent Jacob standing next to her, and observes him staring out across the lake before him.
“Is this where you saw the birds drop into the lake?” Elizabeth asks taking a step closer to him.
“I saw it from the other side of the lake. I was driving and noticed them flying over and just plummeting before my eyes into the water. I called it in, and after that, it was the wildlife protection agency and the National Parks Association who dealt with the issue.”
“Jacob, what did Daniel Maywell believe was going on here?”
The question surprises him and his eyes rest on hers questioningly.
“It’s okay Jacob. Only I know of this information and I want to help you. I’ve read Daniel Maywell’s notes looking for answers, but most are scribbles and don’t make sense.”
“You shouldn’t have it. Daniel believed it was dangerous to the person who held it, and he was right. Burn it!”
“He may have been considered delusional and mad, but I believe he knew of things happening here.”
“What did he tell you?”
“Can I trust you?”
“Of course. I gave my word to Nadia I would try and help you. I don’t agree with the initial assessment by Dr. Winters that you are suffering from any delusional disorder.”
“Dr. Speel over there I’m sure does not agree with you.”
“What do you know of Dr. Speel and his opinions?”
“It was he who treated Daniel and tried to have him committed for being a raving lunatic,” Jacob replies moving away from her towards the awaiting land rover.
Caught unaware by Jacob’s remark, she follows Jacob to the vehicle. She may not have got the answers she was hoping for by her trip to Quesser Creek, but the new revelation complicates her case file.
A robin hops from twig to twig on the thick red rose bushes. The sweet aroma of the flowers filters around the small hospital garden. She holds her coffee cup tight, seated in the shade of the sun’s heat from the high hospital building behind her. The robin moves closer to her darting its head quickly through the delicate short blades of grass, randomly observing her. For the first time in her twelve-year career, questioning thoughts form about her life and profession. The case with Jacob Fontain has removed her blindness of the institution she works in every day. She questions herself if her treatment of the patients who come before her each day has been for the right reasons, or if she is only carrying out Dr. Speel’s wishes. What has her career become?
The events of the past evening play on her mind. She has returned from Quesser Creek to discover her apartment had been ransacked. Nothing was taken; yet the intruders were looking for something. There is more to this patient’s file than she is aware of. Placing her coffee on the bench next to her, she picks up the brown patient file lying next to her. The name Daniel Maywell is clearly printed in black typed ink on the top left hand corner. If Dr. Speel had treated Daniel Maywell, then how come he has never mentioned it to her? Opening the file, she scans through the patient’s notes. She notices that the case notes on Daniel are very minimal and signed by Dr. Speel recommending that Daniel should be held for psychiatric assessment. As she retraces the notes, she sees that very little is written on his assessment, only stating that the patient had ravings about a government operation at Quesser Creek connecting Creek Lake to the bay off Quesser Creek. An incomplete case file by Dr. Speel who normally doesn’t treat patients directly gives rise to her suspicions. She closes the file and casts a glance at the robin perched on the arm of the garden bench. Decisions on her own life will have to wait for now until she helped Jacob.
Returning to her office, her assistant informs her that the Wildlife Protection Agency had on record the killing of seventeen birds under mysterious circumstances at Creek Lake, and in addition, recorded the discovery of forty-four dead fish three days after the bird incident. Seven days have passed since Jacob was found suspended over the cliff edge of Quesser Creek, and tomorrow Dr. Speel will be closing his file and making his decision. She has discovered nothing new to put on Jacob’s case file and tomorrow Dr. Speel will make his decisions based on Dr. Winters’ initial assessment.
Grabbing her patient’s file from her desk, she moves towards the elevator taking it to the fourth floor. On exiting, she waves to a nurse at the nurses’ station and enters Jacob’s room. As she strides to the window, she faces Jacob and pauses briefly before allowing her thoughts to speak from her lips.
“Tomorrow Dr. Speel will make his assessment of your case and base his decision on that. The truth of the matter is, Jacob, I have nothing new to add to your file as I don’t believe from all my assessments of you that you are suffering from hallucinations, a post traumatic event or any sort of delusional disorder,” Elizabeth states.
“Is there a reason why I cannot get past the day of Friday the 8th of June?”
“You’re not reliving it Jacob,” Elizabeth continues and focuses her attention out of the hospital window. “You are trying to come to terms with something you were allowed to witness or experience by Daniel Maywell who is probably the only one who really knows what’s going on.”
“You’re finding it difficult to believe that the spirit of the dead can exist outside of the human body and communicate with the living; yet, you can find nothing medically wrong with me. You are unique Doctor to your profession; your readiness to understand more than your eyes can see.”
“I am trained to work with the human mind and yet I understand very little about it.”
“You are capable of great things and you’re allowing your past to hold you back.”
She faces Jacob, watching him stand and step closer to her. His eyes compassionate and his voice gentle.
“You are reaching a crisis in your own life and you called on him today for answers.”
“How do you know?”
“Your husband left your side too early and he wishes you to move on.”
The emotion rises to her eyes and the warm tear rolls down her left cheek. Wiping it, she focuses her attention out the window once more.
“We married when I was twenty-five following my studies. Bradley was his name. He was in the medical profession too. After two years of marriage, he was killed in a skiing accident. My life thereafter has been devoted to my career, and now I question what my career has been based on. A hospital that puts money before patients. Has my treatment of patients been for a hospital board? Is this what my life is to be?”
“The time has arrived in your life to answer these questions and take action. You are ready to face the challenges. We each have burdens in life. The gift that I have can have different consequences for me. It is difficult forming relationships and really allowing people into my life. When I met Nadia, I wanted to try and make it work.”
Casting her eyes on Jacob’s, she smiles.
“I don’t disbelieve you or ask for proof, and I thank you for your insights. My own personal issues in life need to be put aside for now. It is you I must help as tomorrow a decision by Dr. Speel could alter your life radically.”
“What can be done?”
“My apartment was ransacked while I was in Quesser Creek with you yesterday and nothing was taken.”
“The note book!”
“Daniel’s note book! Do you think someone was after it? Why?”
“It confirms the messages from Daniel. What he speaks of is the truth. I haven’t understood the full message he is passing on to me.”
“Can you speak to him again?”
“I cannot randomly speak to him. He must come to me and sometimes the messages given aren’t straight forward.”
She pauses holding his gaze.
“In the morning, when the shift is changing, I will take you from the hospital and bring you to Quesser Creek. I need to buy some time. There I can do a hypnosis therapy.”
“What will happen if we are caught?”
“Jacob we have to try. What alternative do you have?”
Jacob falls silent. Placing her hand gently on his right shoulder, she squeezes it.
“I’ll be here early in the morning. Be ready.”
He nods in agreement.
The sound of the pager penetrates her sleep swinging her body upwards on the bed. Disorientated, she reaches out and grabs it. It is the hospital from fourth floor. The digital numbers of the bedside alarm clock glow 3.58am. Without ringing in, she decides to go to the hospital. Traffic will be quiet, minimising travel time. Her plans for that morning are to begin earlier than normal in order to be there before the change of shift. Now she will be there even earlier.
She arrives at the hospital with sleepy eyes and enters the elevator straight to the fourth floor. She surprises the night duty nurse and explains it is best to see her patient straight away. She enters Jacob’s room to find him seated on a chair next to the bed. She hasn’t been the only one whom sleep was avoiding.
“Thank you for coming Doctor, but I thought it important that you knew considering our conversation last evening,” Jacob begins as she sits opposite him on the bed.
“Tell me, what happened?”
“I got a message.”
“Did you understand what he said?”
“Yes. I can see it now, it makes sense. That day I had the incident on the cliff face while rescuing the cat, it was like a thought or vision Daniel was trying to give me and I didn’t comprehend, but instead it overtook me.”
“Something is lying below the waters off Quesser Creek that is going to cause a terrible tragedy on the town. They need to be warned.”
Folding her arms, she fixes her eyes on his, unsure if she has pushed her belief too far in her patient.
“Jacob, how can we do this?”
“Do you not believe me?”
“Believing you or not is irrelevant. Listen to what you’re saying! A psychiatrist and her patient running around Quesser Creek warning people of a possible impending tragedy passed on to her patient by the dead park ranger of the town.”
“Do we just let it happen?”
“Jacob, you do not know what the tragedy will be. We agree as planned and leave for Quesser Creek during the shift change. The nurses will be reviewing the patient files after the night and this will give me a ten minute gap to get you out and down the fire escape. I have my car parked at the rear of the hospital.”
Leaving Jacob, she waits in her office for the morning shift change. The thoughts of her own life and future resurface. The past week many questions have formed, doubting if she is where she should be. The past has bound her, but now her eyes are open to the future. Was Bradley with her yesterday when she called to him? Is he with her now? The thought of his presence nearby offers her comfort. Casting her eyes on the small white and black clock on the wall, the hour hand strikes six thirty. She takes her hand bag from her desk and quickly leaves her office moving to the fourth floor. The shift change in the hospital has ushered in a new day and signs of activity have already started echoing out around the hospital corridors after the quietness of the night. Food trolleys will be arriving shortly as well as doctors on their rounds. Viewing the nurses inside the nurses’ station, she moves forward and into Jacob’s room. As she enters, she sees Dr. Speel’s figure standing by the window before her and her body stiffens. She quickly casts her gaze onto the now empty bed; there is no sign of Jacob.
“Dr. Bannon. Good morning. Why don’t you come with me please?” Dr. Speel starts before allowing her to speak.
He walks past her into the corridor outside. Following him, she enters the elevator. Watching him press zero for the ground floor, the slight movement of the lift radiates through her body. Keeping her eyes ahead on the shiny door reflecting the blurry outline of their bodies, not a word is spoken. Thoughts run wild in her head of what is happening. What does Dr. Speel know? The elevator doors slide open before her and Dr. Speel exits walking to the hospital security room. Entering the room following Dr. Speel keeping her eyes squarely fixed on the back of his white coat, she avoids eye contact with the security officers inside. Opening a door at the rear of the room, Dr. Speel beckons her to enter before closing it. She takes in her surroundings of the small and empty room. To her left are three screens mounted on the wall with a single black swivel chair placed before them. As she steps closer to the screens, the familiarity of Jacob’s room is visible on them before her.
“Why did you fight this one Elizabeth? All you had to do was confirm Dr. Winters’ assessment of Jacob and you wouldn’t have started a chain of events affecting his life and yours with it,” Dr. Speel begins, pulling the chair away from the screens and sitting down. Unsure what to say, she faces him questioningly as he continues speaking.
“My error was allowing you to take him to Quesser Creek. You were out of range, out of ear shot.”
“Dr. Speel, what is going on here? Where is Jacob? And what is all this?” Elizabeth replies finding her voice and pointing at the screens on the wall.
“So many questions. Let me start by saying you’ve helped me to discover how much Jacob really knows. Remarkable gifts some people claim to have. For now Jacob is being reassessed and will be released shortly. He will be free to continue living his life with Nadia at Quesser Creek but will not hold the position of park ranger.”
“You cannot slap a delusional disorder on him that will cause him to lose his job. Do you expect Jacob to remain quiet when you release him?”
“We released Daniel Maywell and everyone thought he was a raving mad man with his conspiracy theories until he reached his unfortunate demise.”
She holds his gaze with her confidence returning.
“Now I question, was his death an accident after all?”
“Be careful Doctor. As you said to Jacob, we don’t fully understand the human brain, and my decision has been made based on Dr. Winters’ assessment. You’ve openly admitted that you have nothing further to add to his case file.”
“What is under the water at Quesser Creek Doctor?”
“We will never know what Jacob Fontain believes is down there. Ravings of another mad man perhaps. He claims that he can speak to the dead. Hallucinations...and you should know better than to accept so readily.”
Turning her back on Dr. Speel, she takes in the screens before her. All this time she has been monitored. Her therapy sessions. All that has passed between them; even her views on the hospital and her own future. Dr. Speel knows it all. What could she do? Her confirmation on Dr. Speel has been right. His involvement in this case runs deeper, but she has no proof. His next question raises her barriers even further against him.
“You have in your possession a note book belonging to your patient. Can you hand it over so I can pass it on?”
“I don’t know what you are referring to Doctor. Jacob Fontain never had any note book when he was admitted here as a patient,” she replies facing her superior once more. She watches him rise from his chair to his full height of 185cm, his cold eyes embedded in deep set aged wrinkles narrow as he moves towards her.
“Doctor, this is not the time to get cocky or your future in this hospital will be in question.”
“Doctor, after being treated like a pawn in whatever game it is you are playing, you should know by now from perversely watching me on camera that my time in this hospital and working for you has already been brought into question. I also question the fact that I suppose you know nothing of my apartment’s break in?”
Keeping her stare on his cold eyes, a new strength grows inside her confirming that her time to move forward with her own life has been forced on her and her renewed belief in Jacob’s gift. With the silent response from Dr. Speel, she steps closer to the door.
“I am giving you my resignation effective immediately.”
“Accepted,” Dr. Speel replies without hesitating. “I will have security escort you to your car, and any personal belongings, once checked, will be forwarded to your address.”
Elizabeth waits for the instructions to be given by Dr. Speel to escort her to her car. Walking between two security guards, she reaches her car and enters. With unsure thoughts of her future, she starts the engine and drives out of the hospital grounds.
The digital display changes to 6.29am on her car dashboard. The sun is still lower than the tree line surrounding the beach side log cabins allowing the coolness of the dawn to linger for a while longer. Focusing her eyes on the log cabin to her right, she waits. Elizabeth made contact with her former assistant at the hospital the day after resigning and was informed that Jacob Fontain was released the next day. The cabin door opens and draws her attention to Jacob Fontain wearing shorts and t-shirt stepping out to begin his day. Routine continues as usual as she knows it would. Holding her gaze on him walking on the narrow footpath leading to the roadway, she steps out of her car. His eyes lock with hers stopping him still.
“Jacob, can we talk?” she asks pointing for him to join her in the car. He acknowledges with a nod and moves towards the car.
“The hospital had been monitoring your room along with my sessions with you. They used me to find out what you knew. Dr. Speel is involved in whatever is happening here at Quesser Creek. Do you believe that I am telling you the truth?” Elizabeth begins.
“The fact that you are here tells me of your innocence as the hospital want nothing more from me. They made sure of that. I won’t be able to hold down a secure job again for life.”
“Let me help you get your life back and use this opportunity to further our understanding of the human brain and its capabilities if you agree.”
“Justice needs to be served, not just to me, but to Daniel Maywell.”
“You also believe that his death is not the result of a freak accident.”
“Perhaps Doctor you have found a new focus in your life?”
“Call me Elizabeth please,” she replies casting her eyes forwards onto the quiet street in front of her pausing momentarily.
“My life is taking a turn in an unknown direction. The path we are taking will be a dangerous one as we will be watched; however, we have something,” she states unzipping her bag and taking out Daniel Maywell’s tattered note book. “Jacob, this is the key to the mystery that will expose Dr. Speel and the secrets he hides while explaining to you why you experienced what you did on that Friday morning when you were suspended over the cliff face.”
“We may never find the answers we seek.”
“No, however we owe it to Daniel Maywell to try.”
Jacob acknowledges with a nod. “We have much to discuss. Will you join Nadia and me for breakfast?”
“Yes. I would like that,” she replies parting her lips in a smile.
The rising morning sun peers over the canopy of the trees flooding the small town of Quesser Creek with a warm light awakening it for a new day.
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