Well, here it is… enjoy!
The morning was a crisp one as Susan nodded to Frei and left her at the main road to walk up the driveway to Serenity. There was one police car parked in the parking lot along with the usual staff cars and she tried to steal herself as she headed through security and to the wing.
She had promised Frei that she was going to get Floss to safety, talk to Uma to get her account and leave. Simple, in theory at least.
She snuck along the corridor to the wing and slipped through the door. It was changeover time so all the guards would be in the break room debriefing the nightshift and she had a ten minute window before they poured out and to work.
She ducked into Val’s office and picked the key for solitary off the hook, then she crept along the corridor to the break room and paused. Cackling. Val was telling some crude story about a woman at the bar.
Susan hurried through the canteen and up the stairs. Llys’ receptionist would be in soon. She took a breath and strolled down to the ward. The nurse looked up.
“Oh, doctor, you’re early.” She smiled a cheery smile. “Floss has made a big improvement.”
“Wonderful.” She beamed, plastering on her most confident smile. “Why don’t you clock off. I’ll be here now and Tracy will be in soon.”
The nurse grabbed her coat. “Well… if you insist.” She scurried out before Susan could nod. Leaving an hour early would please most.
“Floss?” Susan ducked around the curtains.
Floss was up. Her short brown hair fell into her face and she smiled. “She knew you would figure it out.”
“My mother?” She glanced at the door.
“Yes.” Floss smiled at her. “Listen. I worked in the hospital with you in LA. I used to be your nurse.” She sighed. “I used to be a lot more.” She shrugged. “Then you changed, I didn’t know what happened but then you left and I got… I was fine then I wasn’t and I woke up in a prison.”
“You sure you want me to stay behind?” Floss said with a cheeky smile. “You might need to concentrate on something other than me.”
“Floss, I don’t want to concentrate on anyone else…” She held her hand. “I really want… I want more than we have here.”
Susan swallowed. Oh great. Another barrel-load of guilt. “We lived together.”
Floss smiled. “Yes.”
“An affair…” Susan frowned. “That’s what it meant…”
Floss sighed. “You were getting tired, then you decided to see someone about it and…” she glanced at the door again. “Your whole behavior changed.”
“The hematologist.” Susan put her handbag on the floor and pulled out the rolled up clothes. “You need to put these on.”
“I don’t know if I can walk that far.” Floss smiled but it was wobbly. “I need help.”
“I’m going to get you some.” She met Floss’s eyes. “I’m so sorry you went through this because of me.” She held her gaze. She couldn’t remember enough, but her stomach churned so much that it was clear she’d been happy with Floss. Really happy. “I got fed medication… it did this… It changed me.”
Floss pulled on the clothes. Guard uniform. One way to slip out before change over. “I just want to feel well again.”
“Yes, take this, cash it in. Stockpile it. Keep going until you don’t have any symptoms then ease off until it’s bearable.” She couldn’t explain. She didn’t know who could help. “I have somewhere you can go… if you want to be around me.”
Floss shook her head. “You’re not who I remember anymore.” She smiled a sad smile. “I can’t… I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” She hugged her and stepped back. “Follow what I said, use this key in the door and just stroll out. Anyone asks, Val let you go early because she thinks you have potential.” The way Val tried to seduce new guards.
Floss took the key. “I don’t know why your mother helped me, I don’t know who you are anymore… but…” She leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “Please be careful.”
Susan nodded and led her to the door. Llys was the other side.
“Could you take her out to the parking lot? The bus will be by shortly to take her home. She said she doesn’t want me to call anyone.” Susan smiled as if she always helped guards.
Llys looked from her to the guard and back.
“She gashed her face. Rough nightshift.” Susan smiled and squeezed Floss’s shoulder.
“Of course.” Llys beamed and lead Floss down the corridor. “You were lucky you didn’t give yourself concussion.”
Susan breathed out a sigh. One task done. She picked up her handbag and hurried down the back stairs. She came out in the wide area by the showers and toilets then turned left to the narrow corridor leading to Solitary. She hunched as she headed through and pulled back Uma’s slot. “I have something that is going to help. If you put your hand through… I can help.”
Uma slammed her hand through the gap. Good. She trusted her.
Susan injected her with the dose.
“Breathe.” Uma gasped out. “Can breathe.”
“Yes.” She unlocked the door and hurried in. “Please don’t beat me.”
Uma shook her head and slumped onto the bed. “Doctor.”
“Yes.” She glanced at the door. “Look, the dose won’t last long but I’m giving doctor Llys what she needs to help. It might not fix everything… but it will help.”
Uma smiled. “Please.”
“Good.” She knelt beside the bed. “What happened to you?”
Uma sighed. “I wanted to go home. You nearly got me there.” Her eyes filled with big tears. “A doctor… they said you were sick. They made me sleep. My head hurt…” She rubbed at it. “Then… I forgot… and everything… I was angry.”
“Like you’d been made to do it?” She focused on Uma and pulled out her Dictaphone. “Can you say that into here?”
Uma nodded. “I was going home. New doctor came in… Made me sleep… hurt my head. I forget then… and was angry… so angry.”
Susan stopped the Dictaphone. “I can’t leave any doses with you. You might hurt yourself… Llys will help… okay?”
Uma nodded. “Thank you.”
Susan smiled. “Just get better.” She hurried out of the cell to the bathroom. She just needed to place the Dictaphone somewhere and—
“Doctor?” Tracy said, her tone tight.
Susan turned over her shoulder and zipped up her bag. “Yeah, you okay?”
Tracy blew out a breath. “Okay? I had the police ripping the house apart looking for you.” She threw her hands in the air. “They wouldn’t listen. Said they had evidence on you.”
“That detective needs to drink less.” She hoped her voice held. Her knees were wobbling. Her whole spine seemed to.
Tracy leaned against the doorjamb. “But you’re hiding something. He showed me a picture.” She furrowed her brow. “You were near the place.”
“Might have been.” She shrugged. “I forget sometimes.”
“Did you hurt him?” Tracy put her hand through her hair. “Did you?”
“No.” Susan held up her hands. “He’s just got things wrong. I’ll go and talk to him okay?”
Tracy shook her head. “You shouldn’t. I don’t trust him. He’s got it in for you… you should run.”
The tape of the patient talking of how Susan seduced her played out. Sordid, detailed, in a way that left no doubt how she’d taken advantage of a vulnerable client.
“What would your girlfriend think?” She asked, her voice too calm, hypnotic almost. “You should run.”
Susan swallowed. Cultured accent. “I should, you’re right.”
Tracy tutted. “I know that look.” She stepped inside and the door swung shut as she pulled out a pistol with a long barrel. “Susan, I have seen that look so many times.”
“Stevens… you’re Stevens.”
Tracy laughed. “Yes.” Her voice was different, more cultured. “You wandered into my office with a gold mine.” She smiled. “Imagine how delighted I was. There was this famous doctor, well respected… hooked on some experimental treatment.”
“You’re Ted Stevens?” She still couldn’t process it but glitches flickered through her brain. Ted?
“Tracy Edwina Stevens.” Tracy chuckled. “I always went by Ted. Got further with a male name.” She cocked her head. “Didn’t think you’d be so easy to play with though. Disappointing really.”
“Why? Why would you blow your cover?” She glanced around. Nothing to hide behind. The stalls were wooden. She fumbled in her bag and flicked the Dictaphone on again.
Tracy held up the gun. “Come on, we know you didn’t bring a gun in.” She sighed. “I went to the people about your meds… they showed a cold shoulder…” She frowned. “Had to shoot them.” She tapped the gun to her thigh. “Then the Pacemaker contacts me and offers me a little info to get rid of you.” She looked down at the gun. “Wasn’t happy with me dragging it out but a girl has to have fun.”
“So you think the Pacemaker is going to honor her promise?” Susan laughed. How did she get out of a bathroom past a gunwoman? Where was Frei when she needed her?
“No, but if she thinks about messing me around, I’ll send my copy of that file you have stashed to a few places.” She flicked off the safety. “Even if it’s a load of rubbish.”
“Why does the Pacemaker have an issue with me?” Didn’t she know that Susan was Corporal’s daughter? She must know.
“You’re Gossett’s. She wants to get her own back.” Tracy raised the gun. “And now I’ve got you running from the police, stealing files… easy to cover you being in here.” She grinned. “I’m going to be late for work myself today.”
Tracy’s gun clattered into the wall. A muffled clunk. Flash. Bullet pinged off the tiles. Susan ducked.
Uma picked up Tracy and threw her into the wall. “Go.” She smiled up at Susan. “Go.”
Susan sprinted by her and out of the toilets. She hurried through solitary. The sound of a squeal cut through the air. She sprinted on, through the canteen, glanced up. Llys stood at the top. Susan hurried up to her, gave her the letter. “Uma will need it every day when she’s stabilized.”
Llys studied her. “Of course.”
Susan kissed her on the cheek and sprinted back down, hurried on. She burst by the break room, Val’s office, headed for the doors.
The alarm blared into life.
She hurried through the doors which clunked locked behind her. If it was Llys, she knew Susan could get out first. She sprinted to the reception as guards looked up.
“We have a problem. I can’t get in.” She thumbed over her shoulder. “I need to grab my bag. I need to get supplies.”
The guards glanced at each other then hurried past her to the door. She ducked through the security office around the scanners and out into the warm summer sunshine. More guards getting out of their cars hurried toward the blaring alarm. Mainz stepped out from his car.
“I need to get the gatehouse to help. Riot.” She hoped it sounded convincing.
He pursed his lips. “I have a full theatre schedule.” He stuck out his jaw. “Fine. I expect you to assist.”
“If I have to.” She said it like she was thinking of doing any such thing.
Mainz looked her up and down and strode in through the doors.
Susan scurried down the drive, through the gates, down the road way around to the back. She glanced up at the window. Llys watched her from it. Nodded and turned away. She hoped Llys didn’t get hurt, that she wasn’t seen as responsible.
Susan turned and ran into the woodland, through the river, over the hedgerow and Frei’s car sat purring in the clearing. She yanked open the door and collapsed into the passenger seat.
“You get the information?” Frei asked, roaring the car into life.
“Yeah. I also got Tracy pointing a pistol at me and Uma saving me.” She shook her head and pulled a laptop from the backseat. “She was working for the Pacemaker.”
Frei sighed. “Then we get you out of the way.” She screeched them around a bend. “Please.”
Susan smiled. “I’ve had enough dodging guns, thank you.” She tapped out the message, uploaded the files from her Dictaphone and hit send. “Every media outlet, every authority…” She met Frei’s eyes. “That offer to run the clinic still going?”
Frei smiled and sped them onto a long field where a slick helicopter was waiting. “Yes. That way I can keep an eye on you.”
Susan shut the laptop. “What about the police…?”
“I’ll cover you.” Frei screeched them to a stop. “I said I would.”
Susan grabbed her and kissed her, furious, adrenaline-filled. “Good. I expect you to visit. You hear?”
Frei pulled down her aviators. “Yes, doctor.”
Susan kissed her again and hurried out of the car. The chopper blades swooped and the pilot nodded to her as she climbed on. Susan shut the door and blew a kiss to Frei through the door, then slumped into the seat and buckled in. She hugged her handbag. Everything else she was leaving behind. She smiled and closed her eyes, her own email rolling before her eyes.
These are files I have recorded of the patients wronged by my father and by experimental medication. I have detailed every account to show how Serenity Hills lay at the heart of it. These are the stories of those patients, and my adopted father.
I hope you will compensate, heal and help those affected. For in helping them, I find I have healed much of my own past scars.