Hope you enjoyed the previous chapters. Here’s two more!
Susan leaned onto the polished wood desk in her father’s office and tried to focus on her own notes. Floss still hadn’t stabilized but she had needed to get the medication to Frei so she could run a sample, and she wanted to write down what she could remember of her memory from L.A.
Not a lot, was the short version. She couldn’t remember the face of the doctor, the voice was cultured and British, the voice was female however. Distinctly female so there was no way it was Dr. Stevens. She couldn’t remember how they’d raised her B12 level either. The only thing she could remember was an odd voice in her head soothing her, and telling her that having an affair would help relax her. Must have been two memories mixed into one.
She pushed her own notes to the side and focused on the Pacemaker’s file. She was hoping that Gossett Senior, or Bucher as he was really known—still couldn’t fix the name to him—may have information on what was in the medication.
The Pacemaker has done the impossible. She has escaped from heavily armed guards and walked out of Serenity without so much as being spotted. Every staff member has been questioned but none can remember. Pacemaker has used the trial medication on the staff. I am unsure if I’m impressed or horrified how our staff lack the awareness to know when they are being medicated.
Nevertheless, with Pacemaker at large, I will have to relocate with Susan until Pacemaker can be recaptured.
Susan smiled. She shouldn’t have, Pacemaker had been a violent criminal but, it was a victory over the guy who’d made her that way. Gossett Senior had then listed the trial notes. Not the actual chemicals involved but the side-effects. Cyancortical, Cobalaminide, and neuron-suppressors. She frowned. The neuron-suppressor could diminish memory perhaps but neurons were needed for a lot more than memory. Cortical loss occurred when the kidney suffered injury or disease etc. and Cyan was for Cyanide, the small portion of the medication that helped it metabolize. She’d never had the kidney problems the patients in Serenity did now. She’d only lost one through an accident. So did it protect the kidney? And Cobalamin was B12. The “nide” could mean it was a toxin of some sort. So why would they want to damage a patient’s B12 or did the original neuro-suppressor cause an increase?
She scribbled out her notes. If she could remember more, she could list side-effects, compare them with Floss’s and come up with some ideas of how to help.
“Runt, you want to do something useful.” The guy followed her from the hospital where she was doing her residency. Everytime she thought she’d gotten rid of him, he just found her again.
“Go away.” She hurried down the windswept street. It was bad enough that her father was on at her to strike out on her own and not take the limelight of his surname. He wanted her to change it. She wasn’t going to. It wasn’t like he was a physician. The only doctors who’d know about him would be into psychiatry and she was not going to hang out with them.
“Runt. You’re needed. I’ve got a girl in trouble.” He hurried alongside her. Nasty eyes. Slimy. “You gonna help?”
“I’m not interested.” She fixed on the light of the block of flats. It was a secure place. She’d found one with its own security. Next, she would learn to drive and then he wouldn’t be able to get to her on the street.
“I don’t care. You’ll do as you’re told.” He grabbed her by the elbow. “When Pacemaker wants something, you give it to her.”
She slammed his arm back and shoved him into the wall. She turned and ran. The security guard stepped out onto the street. Just focus on him. Ignore the guy. Just get to safety.
“Susan, you in?” Tracy called out from the door.
Susan shoved the files and her notes in the bottom drawer and locked it then picked a random book off the shelf and eased into the reading chair beside the window. “In here.”
Tracy poked her head in. “You look comfy. You planning on sleeping through again?”
“I must have needed it.” She yawned. “And Floss will keep me on my toes so I’m sure I’ll make up for it.”
“Yeah.” Tracy rubbed at her face. “You know, I got all dolled up for that idiot and the whole date he goes on about you.” She pursed her lips, shuffled to the desk and slumped onto the edge. “Can you believe it?”
“Who?” Susan asked. Tracy went on more dates than any woman she had ever met. At least five nights a week.
“That hunky officer who was here.” She sighed and let out a shuddering yawn. “He said the detectives are all focused on that stupid shooting.” She picked at her very short skirt. “I’m there showing leg and the guy is asking if I’d seen you before they showed up.”
“Yes, I had a similar conversation with a detective, in the ward.” Susan tapped her fingers to the armrest. “He decided to let me know, he had a witness saying that I was near this place, wherever it was, and that he didn’t believe Llys.”
Tracy laughed, eyes wide. “No!”
“Yes.” She chuckled. It sounded comical retelling it. Maybe she was overtired? Couldn’t imagine why that was… “I can only assume what Llys will tell him when he asks her.”
Tracy nodded. “You were on the phone to her, couldn’t he track the log or something?”
She hoped not. “Probably.”
“Where were you, anyway?” Tracy let out another yawn. “Other than shooting innocent blokes for fun.”
Think, where was she. “I went to pick up a surprise for Llys… and then my car wouldn’t start.”
“Oh, so just tell them that,” Tracy said like that fixed everything. “The shop or whatever could confirm it and I can be the focus of my date’s attention.”
Susan laughed. Tracy was always one to prioritize. “I can’t.”
“Why?” Tracy leaned in.
Yes why… think… “I’d rather no one know what the surprise was…” That sounded terrible. Sounded like she was proposing but she was sure Llys was wearing a ring already.
Tracy sniggered like a teenage girl and tapped her nose. “Oh… I’m with you.” She winked and got up. “You fancy a coffee. I need coffee.”
Susan shook her head. “No, I’m going to sleep… again.”
Tracy tapped the book. “Good, because you’re holding it upside down.” She sniggered again and strolled out.
Susan covered her head with the book. How was she going to explain that excuse to Llys?
Susan checked the lab report again. She had to do something. She’d injected Floss with ten milligrams of B12, and the nurses had done the same overnight, and Floss’s B12 level was seventy five. It should be in the thousands. The active B12 test was even worse. That was only thirty. The folate had dropped so she’d ploughed that into her and that had risen. The higher range of normal for that would help the B12 metabolize into something useful. The iron level was moderate.
“Doctor, why do you look like you’re going to cry?” Tracy muttered, peering over her shoulder. “Whoa, she doesn’t much like the B12, huh?”
Susan shook her head. “Her kidney function is only thirty. It’s not getting worse or better which is something I suppose.” She threw the lab report on the bed. “We’ll try the infusion.”
Frei hadn’t come back with anything on the medication. Where was she?
“You got it,” Tracy said, heading over to the medical supply storeroom. “You got the power?”
“How do you know what it is?” Susan frowned and then smiled at Floss but she was glazed over.
“You made me do it with a few others when they had that virus or whatever it was.” Tracy pulled out the drip, the bag and smiled. “You made me watch a video too.” She wagged the drip at her. “You better not make me do it again.”
Susan smiled. She hoped that it didn’t look vague. “Right. Well, if you know what you’re doing, take another blood sample then run that to the lab.”
Tracy scowled. “Which means you’re off somewhere.” She stomped over to the bed. “If you’re making coffee, I want a coffee.”
Susan smiled. “Of course.” She hurried out of the ward and down to Llys’ office. The receptionist looked up. “Is she in?”
“Yes.” The receptionist glanced at the door. “She’s not in the best of moods though.”
And that was probably her fault. She winced. “I’ll try and fix that.”
“Please do,” the receptionist whispered. “It’ll save me hiding under my desk.”
Susan knocked on the door.
“What?” Llys snapped.
Oh she really was in a bad mood. Susan took a deep breath and walked in, shutting the door behind her. “Before you start, I don’t know, I woke up in my car, I may have consumed a lot of chips.”
Llys sighed. “You’re lucky that I believe you.” She went back to whatever she was stabbing out onto paper.
“Your back?” Susan walked over and knelt in front of her. “Did you try lifting something?”
“No. It’s this chair. I’ve been in this chair more hours than I’ve been out of it and I may throw it through the window.” Llys wrinkled up her mouth. “And my painkillers ran out.”
“Then I’ll prescribe more.” She helped Llys up off the chair and eased her over to the couch, making her lie flat. “Take the pressure off it.”
“I can’t just lie around, I’ve got patients to see.” Llys groaned and relief filled her eyes.
“Then try telling them that you’re working from their perspective. Make them sit in your chair and take notes.” She smiled down at Llys. Guilt nibbled at her, this kind woman loved her, cared about her and was in pain. Where had she been? With Frei, the lovely Frei in a motel room.
Llys raised her eyebrows. “Does me wincing really have that effect?”
Oh dear. She may have been drooling. “Always. It’s a physician thing.” She leaned on the edge of the bed. “Can I use your beauty to help me think?”
“As long as I don’t have to move.” Llys studied her. Her eyes twinkled like she was genuinely tickled.
“Thank you. You see B12, Folates and Iron work together. They are the heavy load carriers, if you lose any of them, you are anemic in different ways.” She walked over and pulled a spare sheet of diagnostic paper and a pen. “Usually this shows up in your MCV reading… however, megoblastic anemia, B12, enlarges Mean Cell Volume…” She tapped the pen to her lip. “Iron can shrink it.” She frowned. “Maybe they equal each other out?” She scribbled the results down. “But the Ferritin level, the Iron store, was normal.”
“Riveting. If I understood a word of that, I’d be delighted for you.” Llys let out a heavy sigh.
“However Homocysteine rises when certain B vitamins are depleted. Folate is one, that’s B9 and Cobalamin, which is B12 are two. The B6 was fine. But that was normal, you see. Even before I treated with folate.” She scribbled that down. “And that makes no sense with a reading as low as Floss has.”
“Then maybe the other vitamins were okay?” Llys muttered it like she was mad at the B vitamins for being anything other than correct, or maybe it was her back pain. “Would the other two make the result normal.”
“Yes!” Susan put her hands on her hips. “But the kidney function is low and there’s no rise in the urea reading.” She wagged Llys’ pen. “Malabsorption would show up. There’d be other low readings. The only ones are where the cyanocobalamin injection is dropping the level.”
“I’m completely lost.” Llys eased her back around and groaned. “But keep going.”
“Yes. Cyanocobalamin isn’t right. No. She needs Methylcobalamin or better Adrenocabalmin.” Susan tapped her lip again. Yes, of course. “The experimental dose contained cyanide. The replacement I’m giving her could just be flushing the toxin… keep going!”
“There are too many cobalamins for my poor brain right now.” Llys held up her finger. “But flushing toxins is always good.”
“Yes, and that’s why we have an issue with this medication.” She nodded and strode around in a circle like she’d done in theatre when she was excited. “To reset the damage, you first flush the toxin, only then can you inject the active form needed.”
“So she’s having side-effects from a medication?” Llys turned her head with a whimper and studied her.
“Yes. The same… or a similar one to mine.” She wagged the pen in the air again. “And by depleting B12 and raising the Homocysteine level, you cause brain shrinkage.”
“Why would that be the aim?” Llys raised an eyebrow.
“Because that’s a sure fire way to make them forget and no one would go looking for why that damage has been done.” She met Llys’ eyes. “I’m going to cross-analyses both samples, mine and Floss’s. There has to be a difference.”
“Still confused… but you sound like you know what you’re on about.” Llys whimpered as she shifted about again.
“Brain shrinkage causes all sorts of neurological issues… but one is almost irreversible and would make it impossible for the patient to be listened to…” She circled her findings. It wasn’t what her old medication did, but the trial victims in the institution now showed the same issues. The early indicators of the damage were all there. “Dementia. Psychosis… a whole host of neuropsychiatric symptoms and conditions.”
Llys frowned. “But…”
Susan nodded. “Yes, think how many women are in here with those diagnosis. If we get this right, we could help a lot of them.”
Llys smiled. “Then, as confused as I am… go do whatever you were mumbling to yourself about.”
Susan grinned and left the room. She smiled at the receptionist and headed back to the ward.
Tracy was there with the results, glancing from them to Floss and back. “They all say normal.” She smiled. “Guess you must be onto something.”
Susan looked down at the lab reports. They couldn’t be accurate. She’d have to take a sample herself and get it to someone, a certain gorgeous agent, who might just help her fix the whole lot of trial victims.