Well, you’re in the insane hands of Susan Gossett for this week’s scene which, as always, involves conversing with inanimate objects…
My thoughts: Susan Gossett has a special place in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed writing her Whistleblower series, which were as eccentric as her. If you follow the extra stories I provide, you’ll notice I give you an awful lot of critical information in them. Although, in the actual series, I tell you what you need to know, for those who read those extra snippets, you get special inside knowledge in scenes like this one. It’s my way of letting readers who love the series and who enjoy the extra stories that special VIP insider feeling. So, I’ll let Susan explain the rest…
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Copyright © 2018 Jody Klaire.
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Chapter 13 Scene 1
Susan Gossett was a genius. She could diagnose patients when no one else could. She’d specialized in ENT surgery, or at least that’s what she could remember doing, only to branch out when she found herself in Serenity Hills. Then, when she’d fled from there after exposing her father’s crimes, she’d loved treating the full range of patients in Frei’s mom, Stosur’s, clinic.
The problem with being a genius was that she was also completely insane. Put her on a ward or in a theatre and she was sublime, take her out of it and she talked to objects.
This morning the object was the prototype defibrillation machine which ran on water. Yes, water and umpteen joules of electricity took insanity to mix together or genius… which depended on whether more pens were electrocuted.
“I need you to be a good machine,” she told the defibrillator. “I need you to work in a manner that will help Aeron not remove layers of her epidermis, dermis and possible muscular tissue.”
“What Susan said,” Jessie added with a chuckle. She was a wonderful girl. Kind, not judgmental in the slightest, supportive, and calm. Bit like her mother. “Are you ready?”
“No.” Susan let out a long breath and checked she was on the rubber mat, her rubber gloves were intact and Jessie was across the room. “But Aeron needs me to be.”
She flicked the switch. The machine buzzed, the pads shot electricity through them and the pen jumped, caught fire and the machine smoked.
Insanity it was.
“It’s less fried than the others?” Jessie said with a soft smile as she tucked her bushy hair behind her ears. She’d been fascinated why they were practicing defibrillation on a pen but Susan explained that pens rarely needed medical treatment whereas human guinea pigs developed side effects. Besides, the pads were in proportion for the pen so if they couldn’t control that small surface area, she didn’t like to dwell on what human sized ones would deliver.
“Fried Aeron would make Ursula very unhappy.” Susan switched off the machine and stepped out of the rubber boots. “It would make me very unhappy too.”
Jessie pulled the circuit breaker from the plug socket and nodded. “Me three.”
“I know water is the key.” Susan sighed and threw the pen in the metal bin with a tweezers. “I used water with her blood sample.”
“Yeah, Mom said you knew Aeron before.” Jessie took her hand and led her over to the makeshift lab on the dining room table. “In Serenity?”
“Yes.” Susan smiled and took a seat, searching her blueprint for something that would make sense. Miroslav, Jessie’s friend, had come up with the idea of putting the water into motion in order for it to wash away ailments like Aeron. They’d tried a propeller but it didn’t have enough power.
“That means I want to know the story,” Jessie said and circled the formula she’d written out and started rewriting it.
“You do? Why?” Susan looked up.
“I read your files online. I know that your dad did a lot of mean things… like mine… but you don’t really go into detail about how the experiments worked or how you helped the inmates.” Jessie scribbled away on her large chalk board. “And how you know Mom.”
“Oh.” Susan stared at the results of Aeron’s breadcrumb when she was on Black Ridge Mountain. “Well, I did something naughty so no one else would give me a job and I should have been struck off… Instead I went to Serenity. Your mom decided she wanted me to help… I was a POI as she calls them.” Just a job? She had never been just a job to Frei. “Someone was trying to frame me and they harmed a patient I was close to having released called Uma.”
Jessie carried on scribbling. “Close to getting released?”
Susan sighed. “Yes, she became a fury fiend as Aeron calls them.” She missed Aeron’s names for things. Odd as she’d not seen Aeron in a long time. It was still difficult to imagine her as an agent with Frei. Nice kid, good kid.
“That sounds scary.” Jessie stopped drawing. “Sounds like a boy I fancied in school. He was okay one day then went crazy and mean.”
“Imagine that to the point where there is no one really inside, just a machine filled with rage.” Susan sat back and picked up her coffee. “Uma killed a nurse on my ward and I was cornered. Aeron broke free of her guards and came to my rescue. She liked Uma. Before that Aeron was supposed to be some terrifying high-risk patient who could rip me to shreds.”
“Aeron?” Jessie chuckled.
“Ah, you know her now. She was… angry… in Serenity.” And her perception had been colored by a corrupt physiatrist but never mind. “A good person, kind but very, very lonely.”
Jessie chewed on her lip. “Poor Aeron.”
“Indeed. But your mom persuaded me into helping her when she was given more experimental medication and by helping Aeron, I helped a lot of patients.” She sipped on her coffee. Reminded her of Frei but then it was Frei’s coffee. “With the Fury Fiends, they’d also been operated on so although I gave them the antidote, the physical damage was permanent… and they remained psychotic.”
“But Aeron’s sick now.” Jessie pulled her long legs underneath her and picked at her bowl of chips. Pickle flavored chips of all things.
“Yes.” She’d stick to coffee. Pickles made her brain flicker like an old monitor.
“What’s wrong with her exactly?” Jessie’s voice was small like she didn’t really want to know.
“The antidote didn’t fix her completely. It would have been fine if she didn’t go around healing people. She’s a tall woman.”
Jessie cocked her head.
“You see, her Nan and her mom both had an extra bit of tissue in their hearts combined with a common arrhythmia that unfortunately is a bad mix.” Susan smiled. She’d been expecting Jessie to have a blank expression but she had only concern in her eyes. Her eyes were warmer than Frei’s, more twinkly. “I am certain Aeron has these tricky extra rhythms but I don’t know if she has the extra tissue.”
“And the extra tissue makes it a problem?” Jessie stopped scribbling.
Susan nodded. She drew a heart. “Four chambers. Two at the top, two at the bottom.”
Jessie smiled and leaned onto her hands. She liked to learn new things. Susan did too. It was lovely to have a kindred spirit.
“Sinus node, your pacemaker starts the top ones which close and push blood into the bottom ones which close and push blood out to the body or lungs.” Susan halted her pen over the word pacemaker. Why did that sound familiar? She shook her thought away. “Anyway, there’s a middle part called an AV Node. It’s the gatekeeper if you will.”
“Between the atria and the ventricles?” Jessie smiled. “It works by decremental conduction.”
Susan grinned. “Yes!”
Jessie blushed then shrugged. “I know the words but… um… that’s it.”
Susan waved it off. Imagine the medical conversations they could have? “So the sinus node starts the pace and the AV Node makes sure it’s a good pace so the bottom chambers don’t pump too fast. When people have tricky rhythms there is extra electrical activity which would be a problem at the speed they go, however, the AV Node will only conduct up to two hundred or so beats a minute.”
Pacemaker… files… cobwebs… odd feeling. Susan rubbed at her forehead.
“So the extra tissue bypasses the AV Node?” Jessie reached over and squeezed her hand.
Susan nodded and managed a smile. “If all the impulses fire down the AV Node, the bottom chambers go too fast and…” She pointed at the machine. “Quiver so no blood goes anywhere.”
“Which is a heart attack, right?” Jessie took a big breath until her ever elongating shoulders hunched. She had a swimmer’s physique, a very lanky swimmer. “Like Aeron’s mom had?”
Susan nodded. “And her Nan. Aeron’s mom had it because she was shot and the medication she had been on blocked the AV Node, so when it tripped…” She frowned. Concealed pathways were tricky for ordinary doctors. There were telltale traces on an EKG most of the time but Aeron’s family seemed to be different. “Aeron’s experimental medication, the one that made her sick, had traces of this blocking substance.”
“Oh no.” Jessie’s eyes widened.
“Yes, and it is a medication like a cold sore. When you get run down or do something too heroic… the effects of the medication activate and Aeron is running her heart with no AV Node for protection.” And everytime she healed someone, she had activated the medication, Susan was sure of it. “Your mom… and Renee?” She wasn’t sure who Renee was really but she heard a lot about her. “They give her the antidote then… but she needs more and more of it.”
“So the medication is becoming resistant…?” Jessie tapped her lip. “Sounds like bugs.”
Susan nodded. “I’m certain some form of bacteria was in the new strain but I’d need huge resources for that kind of testing and a research project.”
Jessie sighed. “Will Miroslav and I do?”
“I have a better idea.” Frei’s grandmother stood in the doorway. She was stunning like Frei and did not look grandmotherly in the slightest. “Hartmann has her fingers in pharmaceuticals.”
Jessie shrugged. “Depends if mom can help her.”
“Tell Renee to remind Hartmann what happens when someone refuses to help.” Frei’s grandmother sighed and then smiled at Susan. “Aeron saved two generations of this family with her bare hands and we are going to return that kindness.”
Jessie exchanged a glance with Susan. “Do you know what you’ll need?”
Susan looked down at her piece of paper. She’d written out her notes without so much as releasing. Genius on automatic.
Jessie took it and pushed her chair back. “I’ll go rustle up Miroslav.” She got to the door. “Pacemaker?”
“You’ve written it and circled it?”
Susan shrugged again.
Jessie smiled and disappeared. Frei’s grandmother nodded a curt nod and left the room. Susan rubbed her face and focused on her idea for a hydro-defibrillator and surgery kit. Yes, she was a genius but she wasn’t an engineer.