All rights reserved and copyright © 2009
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. All rights are reserved by the author, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
Product names, brands, and other trademarks referred to within this book are the property of their respective trademark holders. Unless otherwise specified there is no association between the author and any trademark holder is expressed or implied. Nor does it express any endorsement by them, or of them. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark, service mark, or registered trademark.
The image used is cgbc fademan 811 from the Lulu cover art page and used with their permission. The trimming, manipulation, and adding of text is by Ernest Bywater. All rights to the cover image are reserved by the copyright owners.
13 May 2021 version
Published by Ernest Bywater
E-book ISBN: 978-1-312-13365-5
Notes: UK English is used in this story. Due to incorrect claims about the .22 short subsonic rounds not being able to work a pistol I've changed the weapon to a .25 ACP which is readily available as a commercial pistol in many countries today and the past. It's also a subsonic round that's slower and quieter than the .22 short.
The title styles in use are a chapter, a sub-chapter, and a section.
The sound of several girls' screams of horror pierce the noisy chatter of students moving between classes. Their screams are just reaching full pitch when a screech of great agony echoes down the halls as it easily overriding the girls' screams. All of the people in both school buildings freeze while they all wonder what's going on to cause such sounds. Only those close to the front stairs of the main building can hear the sound of feet pounding while a young man races down the hallway.
Peter Mills has a look of horror on his face while he races for the main power distribution board for this building. After wrenching the door open he reaches in and throws the main power switch to the off position to shut down all of the electrical power to the whole building as he doesn't have the time to find the right circuit. Closing the door he locks it and pulls the key out then puts the key in his pocket while he runs back down the hall. Fifteen metres later he grabs the end of the handrail while he bends down to grab his large work first aid kit with the other hand. Stopping by the older man lying on the mid-stairs platform labouring for breath he opens the kit and pulls out the small cylinder of oxygen while he asks, “Got your tablets on you?” The man shakes his head no just as Peter slips the strap of the face mask over it. While slowly shaking his own head Peter grabs a small bottle of tablets from the kit and pops one into his hand. He slips the little heart medication tablet under the man's tongue before sliding the mask down over the man's mouth and nose so he can breathe pure oxygen. Opening the valve on the oxygen bottle with one hand as he slip the vial of tablets in the man's top pocket with the other while he swears at the situation they're in at the moment.
Moving toward the young boy lying on the stairway landing Peter gets his mobile phone out of his pocket and hits the speed dial for the emergency services. They answer as Peter kneels beside the injured boy. He clips the wireless microphone and earpiece to his ear with one hand while he reaches out and drags the electrical leads away from the boy whose upper body is still jerking about. Peter gives emergency services the address and he's asking for an ICU ambulance at the same moment as he touches the boy's neck to check his pulse.
Peter grunts with pain when he hits the side wall of the stairwell very hard. While swearing he grabs one of the rubber safety mats and throws the mat down beside the safety the boy is lying on. Now isolated from the ground Peter kneels on the mat to check the boy's pulse which is very weak and erratic. He's concerned about the boy and his injuries but he can't do much for the boy until he can get rid of some of the electricity in the boy's body. Peter grabs some wire and tools to make an earth wire with a circuit breaker in the line. He soon has the wire ready and plugged into the earth socket of a power point as even with the power off the earth line is still connected and fully grounded. On carefully touching the wire to the boy's arm Peter sees a bright spark just as the twenty-five amp circuit breaker trips. Four times he resets the circuit breaker after he touches the boy with the open wire before it stops sparking. On the fifth touch it doesn't trip the circuit breaker. The boy has stopped jerking around so Peter checks his pulse again. It's still weak and erratic, but is much better as it's stronger and not as erratic. He leaves the boy as he is since he's very concerned about the way the boy is lying over the tool box in the middle of the mat. Looking up at the watching students upstairs he sees one of the teachers has arrived and is moving the students away.
A female voice yells, “Why did you turn the power off? I told you it has to stay on while you work, we can't be interrupting everyone's work.” He looks down the flight of stairs to see the high-school principal, Mrs Whitty, walk into view. She stops to stare at the scene. A moment later, when the sound of sirens are heard approaching them, she turns and goes back to her office. In another minute Peter smiles when two emergency medical technicians come dashing into view and up the stairs. He quickly briefs them on the situation and they take over.
Peter sighs while watching the EMTs at work because some of the boy's injuries are outside of his basic first aid training. Pulling out his phone again he calls the local Work Safety Officer to inform him of the incident. Fearful of the worst possible outcomes he also calls the local police to come to check the scene. Sighing again he makes the call he should have made before them but he was putting off until now, but he can't delay it any further so he calls the company's office.
The phone is answered and he says, “We've had a work accident. I'm waiting for the safety inspector to arrive and investigate. You best shut the office and get down to the hospital, Mum. A student will be headed there with some serious injuries and so will Dad. He had a minor heart attack. He should be OK because I got his tablet and oxygen to him in good time. I've got to wait for the investigators, so I'll catch you later.”
Jennifer Mills, Peter's mother, agrees and promises to call him later when she's at the hospital and knows what's happening. He hangs up.
The EMTs are happy with the condition of Patrick Mills, Peter's father, but are very concerned about the boy. Peter watches while they work to fully evaluate the boy's injuries. They place a large bandage over the torn scalp and damaged skull on the side of the boy's head. After a few minutes one of the EMTs leaves, and is soon back with a gurney and the special equipment for a spinal injury. One EMT is setting out all of the equipment to immobilise the boy while the other is assisting Patrick down the stairs and onto the gurney. A few minutes later another pair of EMTs arrive and they take over the care of Patrick by moving him to their gurney and taking him to the local hospital. When he's asked for it the team leader hands Peter a receipt for the oxygen cylinder from his kit so the hospital will give Peter a replacement cylinder when he goes to get it.
Peter gets out his phone to use the camera option to take photos of the scene and the boy's position. He also takes photographs of the EMT checking the area and picking up some bits of bone he puts in a plastic bag. A little later the boy is immobilised and being carried to the gurney in the same position as he ended up in after his fall down the first flight of stairs to the landing. While Peter takes more photos of the scene the EMTs take the boy to the main city hospital because his injuries are too severe for the local hospital.
About half an hour later the Work Safety Officer arrives, and so do the police scene of crime people from the nearby city. Both are soon busy taking their own photos and asking questions of Peter and the other witnesses. They take about an hour, then Peter is allowed to finish the job Patrick was working on and to tidy up the scene, including the blood on the wall where the boy hit it before falling onto the tool box and the live power cable Peter was working on. His final act, nearly two hours after the incident, is to return to the main board to turn the power back on. After locking the door he goes to the office and hands the key to the high school's senior clerk for her to return it to their key locker.
After packing the tool kits and first aid kit back into the work truck Peter pulls out his mobile phone to check the unanswered calls. Two calls are work related ones which Peter quickly deals with, and there are twelve calls from his mother. He leaves for the local hospital while deciding to speak with her there after he gets to the hospital where his father is. He sighs while he gets into the work truck, and drives away from the school.
The ambulance stops in front of the entrance to the ER (Emergency Room). The ambulance's back doors open while the driver gets out to hurry around to the back of the vehicle. She reaches the back just as her partner needs a hand getting the gurney out. With practised ease they soon have the gurney on the ground and are wheeling it through the automatically opening doors. A nurse approaches them, and the other EMT says, “Suspected spinal injury in the lumbar region, major electric shock, fractured skull, concussion, and suspected displaced shoulder.”
The experienced triage nurse nods to show she heard him while she reads the EMT's notes on the patient and treatment they've given him so far. She signs the form while saying, “OK, Treatment Three.” She waves to another nurse while she follows the EMTs and the patient to Treatment Room Three. Stopping in the doorway she says to the other nurse, “Call upstairs, we've got a spinal case.” The EMTs take a lot of care when they move the patient to the hospital's gurney in the treatment room. They leave, taking their gurney and paperwork copies while the Triage Nurse gives orders to one of the Emergency Room nurses to set up the needed monitors to check the patient's vital signs.
Nurse Brown is bent over checking all of the monitor leads of both the EEG (electroencephalograph) and the ECG (electrocardiograph) for the fifth time. However, neither is reading properly, but she's positive she wired them up right. She even changed the machines in case they were at fault. But she's getting the same weird readings, and neither is like what they should be. Two doctors walk in while she's closely checking the leads connected to the patient. One of them coughs, she jumps and stands upright. With a weak smile she says, “The readings of the EEG and ECG are weird, so I'm checking they're connected right.”
The doctors look at the readings, and their eyebrows go up. One reads the patient's records then slowly nods his head while saying, “They're the weirdest I've seen, but I've seen something almost this bad once before. A patient with a large electric shock, like this patient, had some residual electricity in his body that was interfering with the sensors. Turn the sensitivity right down low to see if we can get something that looks like it might be readable.”
A moment later the sensitivity of the machines are turned to the minimum with the display scale minimised. Thus only the larger spikes are showing, and they have some graphs that kind of resemble what they expect from a live human patient. Not exactly what they should be, but enough to indicate if there are any major problems. Now they're happy with what the monitors are telling them they set about giving the patient a thorough check as the list all of the injuries they find on the record.
While the doctors are checking the patient Nurse Brown is checking his pockets and noting down the contents. When she opens the wallet she sees his government issued Medicare card and writes all the details in the correct spots on the forms. From the identity documents in his wallet she completes the forms. She makes a note to call the boy's mother and the other contact person listed in the emergency contact details in his wallet, noting both names on the forms in the contacts and 'authorised persons' section. He's unconscious and none of the procedures are intrusive yet, so they don't need guardian approvals. The patient is sent to radiography for an x-ray and other scans. Nurse Brown calls the two contact numbers to tell Mrs Helen Wells and Ms Amanda Casey the boy, Kim Majors, is in hospital and his current condition. Mrs Wells promises to come in, and Ms Casey asks to be kept up to date on his condition then she gives a fax number for authorisation forms to be sent to her.
Nurse Brown is a bit concerned when she notices Kim spends over three hours in radiography. On his return the nurse who took him up explains how the x-rays of his head, shoulder, and back went OK but the MRI didn't. They set him up and started the machine. When he slid in there were electrical sparks between the machine and Kim as he jerked about. The operator was quick to turn the MRI off and pull the patient table out. They ended up giving Kim a full body Computed Tomography (CT) scan because that was the best all over scan they felt safe doing.
Kim is back in the treatment room when his mother, Mrs Wells, and his sister, Lee Hanes, arrive to see him. Nurse Brown takes her time to explain his injuries and the doctors are waiting to closely examine the x-rays and scans before commencing any treatment. Just over half an hour passes before doctors arrive to speak to Mrs Wells and start treatment.
Kim Majors is lying in the hospital bed he was transferred to in the children's ward after the surgery to his head and arm a few days ago. The bruises and cuts are responding well to their simple treatments of clean, cover, and leave alone. The shoulder has been put back into place and a follow up x-ray shows it's settled without any complications. Prognosis for all of his injuries are good, except for the spine. The back injury is a full fracture of two vertebrae and a total severing of the spinal cord, he'll be confined to a wheelchair or a bed for the rest of his life. The doctors aren't sure which because they won't know the extent of his control or lack of control until after he wakes up and they can do more tests on what he can and can't do.
Nurse Brown has finished her duty rotation in ER and this is her first day at work in the Children's Wing after a two day break. She's beside the bed looking down at Kim when the assigned physician, Dick Fisher, is hooking up the EEG and ECG. When they moved Kim up from ER the doctors didn't reconnect him to the monitors since they saw no benefit in doing so, mainly due to the non-standard readings setting the alarms off all of the time. However, Dr Dick, as the staff call him, now wants Kim hooked up to the monitors again.
The last sensor is in place and the machines are turned on. Nurse Brown notices Kim's arms twitching and she points it out to the doctor. He shrugs and keeps on adjusting the display settings.
Kim is resting peacefully as the pain has stopped and he can sleep. Then the sharp stabbings in his chest and head start again, but much worse is the constant buzzing in his mind. It all hurts and it's very annoying. He thinks for it to go away as it stopped after a while when he did that before. This time it's not going away and it's getting worse. It grows louder and hurts more, much more than before. He can't stand it any more! He jerks upward and screams. His eyes pop open very wide. He's in a hospital and he wonders how come. He notices the leads to his chest, right to where the pains are. No slow thinker he knows the leads are causing the pain he's in. His left hand reaches down and jerks the leads away while his right reaches up to his head to find more leads.
Both Doctor Fisher and Nurse Brown jump when Kim screams. His upper body comes partway off the bed as his eyes open. He looks at his chest, and his hands are like striking Cobras when they flash from the bed to rip-off the sensors on his chest and head. The monitors shrill their alerts when they register a patient in terminal shock. Doctor Fisher turns to start emergency treatment, only to be shocked on seeing his patient ripping the last of the leads off his body and throwing them to the side.
Doctor Fisher grabs new leads and goes to put them on Kim. A hand flashes out to grab the doctor's coat at the upper chest. After pulling the doctor down to his face Kim snarls, “Keep those bloody wires and pain machines away from me. I don't need them or want them.”
Fisher is shocked, “They're monitors to tell me how you're doing.” In a stronger tone, “I'm your doctor and I'll decide what you need.”
“I don't care who you are or what they are. They hurt me, keep them away or I'll smash them.” Kim turns to the nurse. “Please get me the registrar, my mother, and a telephone.” He lets go of Fisher.
It's at this point Nurse Brown has a closer look at the patient, and sees his upper arms and chest are well muscled. Although they're still under the covers his legs look like they're well-muscled too. She nods yes at the two antagonists and leaves the ward. Leaving them to stare at each other. While she walks to the nurse's station she wonders who'll win the fight. Doctor Dick is known to be very pushy and demanding, in many ways, while the boy doesn't look like the type to give in easily.
At the nurse's station Nurse Brown phones the Hospital Registrar, he's the senior permanent doctor who assigns doctors to patients and he does most of the medical related administration. She also places a call to Kim's mother, but gets no answer. She hangs up and returns to the ward. Almost laughing when she sees the two antagonists.
Dr Fisher is standing beside the bed, but back a pace with the leads in his hand and staring at the boy while he gives a long talk on who's in charge; his voice is very hard and harsh. The boy stares at him with no expression at all as he obviously watches him while ignoring his words.
Nurse Brown waits a moment for Fisher to take a breath and says, “The Registrar is on his way down. Your mother isn't answering either her cell phone nor the house phone and there's no connection for a phone in here. Your own cell phone was taken away along with all your other personal effects by your sister, Lee, when you were brought in.”
Kim smiles at her, “Thank you. But somehow I'll have to ring my guardian to talk to her, and very soon too.” Nurse Brown slowly nods because that's what she thought he wanted the phone for.
“I can get my personal cell phone from my locker during my break, if you promise to reimburse me for the call.” Kim nods his thanks.
Fisher is starting to talk again when a tall, solid man in a white coat enters the room, he says, “OK, Nurse Brown, what's the problem?”
She gestures to Kim with her hand, “This patient, Kim Majors, asked to see you. I think he has a problem with Doctor Fisher as his attending physician as he doesn't trust or like him and he wants another doctor.”
Before answering the man glances around the small ward, Kim is one of ten patients in this ward. After taking a deep breath he sighs, turns to Kim, and holds out his hand, “Good morning, Kim. I'm Doctor James, the hospital registrar. This is the number one children's ward. We have six wards like this in the children's wing and no more beds in the wing. Doctor Fisher is our senior paediatrician and the doctor in charge of this ward, so all of these patients are under his care. Technically, I could exchange your bed with one in another ward, but that would disrupt the doctor patient relationship of another patient when they change wards and I'm not prepared to do that to another patient. So, unless you want to be moved to another hospital you're stuck with Doctor Fisher.” Dr Dick now has a very nasty smile. “I strongly recommend you stay in this hospital because we've the best specialists and equipment in the region.”
Kim gives him a close look while he listens as they shake hands. Specialists and equipment! He wonders exactly what's wrong with him. He nods at the statement and asks, “Do you have any private rooms?”
“Not as such, we have semi-private rooms, two beds to a room in a wing of six rooms with one nurse to the wing. Most are empty at present since nearly all of our patients are on Medicare and in the public wards, like this one. Our policy is to place only one patient per room in the private rooms until we have a seventh private patient. I can shift you to the private wing where you'll have to arrange your own attending physician or I can have one of our older interns take on the duty. That would be OK because the specialists will be the ones deciding the main treatment. That'll all cost a lot, can your family afford to pay for it?”
Nurse Brown interrupts, “Dr James, Kim wants to call his guardian, but I need a cell phone to do that from here. Perhaps you can use yours. I think his guardian can and will pay for private care.” He turns to look at her, so she gives him a small smile, “The guardian is in Adelaide. I'm from Adelaide and I've heard of the firm she works at. I suspect she's a trustee of an estate because she has a different family name.”
He gives a nod to show he understands, reaches into his coat pocket, pulls out a cell phone plus a small external speaker with microphone, which he plugs into the phone. When he opens the phone Nurse Brown picks up the clipboard with Kim's file then she reads out the phone number. Dr James punches in the number, and it rings.
A moment later the phone is answered by a woman saying, “Casey, Owens, Patrick, and Evans, attorneys-at-law, Sheila speaking. How may I help you?” The eyebrows of Doctor James go up quite a bit.
Nurse Brown says, “Miss Amanda Casey, please.”
“I'm sorry, Miss Casey is in an important meeting at the moment. I can't disturb her for another half hour or so. May I take a message?”
Dr James says, “Yes, please. This is Doctor James at ...,” he stops as Kim is waving rather frantically. He looks at Kim and inclines his head.
Kim speaks up, “Sheila, Kim, I need to speak to Mandy, please.”
“Kim, why didn't they say it was you at the start? She's in the weekly partners' meeting, but she does want to speak to you soonest. Oh, grab a pen and paper to write this number down.” She gives him a phone number which Nurse Brown writes down for him. “That's my personal number. If you need to talk to someone on a personal level give me a call, any time, any day. I can help, as I've been there.”
“Ah, right, Sheila, thanks. But I'm not sure what for.”
Another woman's voice comes on the line, “Kim, how long have you been conscious?”
“Morning, Mandy, about five or ten minutes, why?”
“And I bet you're calling because you have a problem with staff.”
“You do know me well, don't you? Yes, the doctor and I don't get on. He insists on using some sort of torture device he claims is a harmless monitor, but he won't listen to me when I tell him it hurts me a lot.”
“OK. You urgently need to be given a full run down of your medical condition. I guess you want a private room, own doctor, and designated nursing staff all of your own. If one of the hospital admin staff can talk to me and send me the forms I'll organise for all the approvals and money. But, on a more personal note, Kim, please promise me you won't take any drastic action until after we've spoken and agreed on it.” He hems a bit. “Kim, please, promise me right now, you'll 'stand to and hold the line' no matter what, until after I agree to anything. Please?”
Kim is worried because she's begging him not to do anything until after she approves it. She's even using a special family code to make him give an iron clad promise. He's now extremely anxious about what's wrong with him. He gives a heavy sigh then says, “I promise, 'until the twelfth,' I promise. OK!” Her huge sigh of relief on his promise is of more concern to Kim than anything else. Then it hits him, Sheila's been there and can help, but where could she have been that he's now heading to? She's a paraplegic and has been since she was twelve years old. Then the rest of his mind kicks in despite the mental shock from the physical trauma to his body, and he does the additions. “Mandy, how bad is it?”
“They don't know yet. They've been waiting for you to come out of the coma to conduct detailed tests. You may be bed ridden for life.”
He closes his eyes while he thinks on the information. All of his life he's been very active, a very physical person, and now may be bed ridden for the rest of his life. After taking a deep breath he opens his eyes to see Nurse Brown and Dr James are watching him. Both of them are very worried about him while Dr Fisher looks angry at being side-lined so easily, and by a teenage boy.
Nurse Brown is concerned because they didn't have a chance to break the news to him gently. She watches Kim close his eyes when he comprehends what he's been told, she's not sure how what she's heard has conveyed the news, but it's clear it has. He opens his eyes, and she can see the tears in them waiting to be released. He glances over his audience as the whole ward is silent while they watch and listen to this little play in their midst. Then his face changes! It loses a lot of the childish softness so it's now hard, more strong. Yes, strength is how she decides to describe the look of his face. His voice has a new strength, a new maturity, when he speaks again. She doesn't understand the words, but the message is clear, very clear.
In a strong and vibrant voice Kim says, “Message received! I'll hold the line until relieved or the twelfth of never. However, I can see my legs are still attached, so it's a communications breakdown. I'll find a way to fix that and I will walk again! Of that, you can be certain!”
Dr Fisher is shocked by Kim's statement while Dr James and Nurse Brown are very relieved. They don't think he will walk again, but that determination will ensure he tries, he will survive this tragedy. Sheila and Mandy are both relieved at his statement, but they both know him well and they wonder just how he'll go about walking again.
“Kim, now that you're awake I'll have our local solicitor visit you to sort things out, plus a detective who's investigating the incident for me. Whoever is there on behalf of the hospital, I want a private room for Kim with his own nurses twenty-four hours a day seven days a week, and a different doctor to the current one. Kim can veto anyone off his care roster without any need to say why. I'll organise for the full payment.”
Kim interrupts, with, “I want Nurse Brown as my nurse coordinator and liaison between me and the hospital. That should reduce issues as she's already proven herself to be proactive and competent in that role.”
They can all hear the smile in Amanda's voice when she says, “OK, can someone please organise all of that starting as soon as possible. Shift Kim to the new room and fax me the forms and information for me to approve and start payments, please.”
Dr James says, “This is Doctor James, the Registrar, I'll get the paperwork started and Nurse Brown can start organising the nursing roster. I notice we've got a fax number for you on Kim's file, so I'll send the papers there. Do you have a local doctor to recommend as the attending physician or is it OK to assign an intern? I just finished telling Kim we don't have any spare senior doctors to dedicate to him, but his main treatment regimen will be set by the specialists, so an intern will be quite sufficient in that role and I can spare a senior intern from my rosters just for him.”
“As long as Kim approves the doctor I don't care if it's an intern or a more senior person. Kim, regarding the specialists, you won't have a great deal to do with them on a daily basis, so please try cooperate with the specialists because it'll be very hard to get qualified replacements for them.”
“Message received, loud and clear. I'll call again when I'm settled into the new cave.”
“OK, Kim. Thanks, Nurse Brown, Doctor James. Have a good day.”
The phone call ends and Dr James puts his phone away while he says, “Nurse Brown, I see why you thought we should call them. My sister-in-law is a solicitor in Adelaide and she's spoken to me of that firm. There's only one Casey there now. The firm was started by her grandfather and his brother, later it was run by her father and his sisters. Four cousins now run the firm and Amanda Casey is the senior partner. Jenny tells me she'd rather go crocodile wrestling than have to fight Amanda Casey in court, because she's very good and very tough.” He turns to look at Kim. “I wonder what the relationship is, since it's clear she sees Kim's welfare and care as being very important to her.”
Kim blushes, “Mandy is my cousin, through Dad. Dad gave her a power of attorney over me when he first went overseas, and that was supported by the Family Court when Mum and Dad divorced. It was part of his will when he died, again supported by the courts. She's the executor of his estate, my trustee, and my legal guardian. All financial decisions must be approved by her. All other major decisions require her approval too.”
Dr James and Nurse Brown nod their understanding while they smile. This information helps them to understand some of the odd family dynamics they've noticed amongst his visitors since Kim was admitted. Dr Dick stomps off on being dismissed by Dr James when he leaves to sort out the administrative issues involved. Nurse Brown leaves to see the Hospital Nursing Coordinator about staff and rosters. They both wish to get the staffing sorted before shifting Kim.
While waiting to be shifted Kim looks around the ward he's in. The children are all staring at him, partly because of how he tangled with the doctor and partly because of what they heard on the phone. He smiles as he waves at them. He's the oldest there, most are girls, and all of them are around nine to twelve years old. The next eldest is twelve years old, a girl with scraggly looking hair. He wonders if she has cancer and is on chemo therapy because she looks a lot like how they show them on TV.
The girl in question is a nice looking brunette sitting on the bed opposite his. He half smiles at her and she gives him a weak smile in return. She takes great care getting off the bed and crossing the space between them while keeping a hand on something as she moves. It takes a few minutes for her to make her slow way across the narrow room.
She sits on the bed beside him about level with his waist and he takes her hand in his to shake hands while he thinks, I wonder what's wrong with her? He looks up, and he almost gasps when he can see a double image of the girl on the bed in her nightdress and dressing gown, as well as without clothes on with parts of her body marked in black. He thinks, What needs to be changed to fix her illness? He's surprised to see some strange images as an overlay of the vision. It takes a few minutes for him to understand what he's seeing while he listens to her talk. He's looking at genetic code, he thinks. He hasn't studied genetics yet, but it looks a lot like what he's seen in educational shows about genetics on TV.
One section of the code is marked in black and it has pointers to all the black spots in her body. He wonders if he can do anything to fix her. Concentrating on one small black spot he watches while the area seems to magnify and the code expands to be easily read. He thinks, Change this code to the correct code. Nothing happens. Then he remembers the number of choices for each code item is small, so he thinks, What are the options of choices for correct replacements. A list of codes appears, he has no idea of what they mean, but he intends to do some research when he can. For now he settles for a slow replacement routine.
Starting at the first of the black code items he 'thinks' to change it to the first item on the list. The change occurs but it stays black. He tries the next item, and so on down the list until the colour of that item in the code changes to green. He does the same with the next code item, and so on for each of the twenty-two black code items. It takes several minutes for him to change all of the black code items to coloured codes. When he's finished the code seems to smile at him. He thinks, Map the area that's black and replace the target area code with this code. The black area starts to change colour.
The girl, she introduced herself as Gabriella Leyland, puts her hand on her side and rubs it while looking puzzled. Kim inclines his head. She smiles at his odd way of asking a question and says, “Suddenly my side started to feel warm.” He smiles because she's rubbing the very spot where he directed the genetic change to occur. After a moment she stops the rubbing and continues to tell him about her lengthy period of cancer treatment.
Kim continues to listen while he focuses on another black area and he maps the correction from the last area over the genetic code for this one. Most of it changes colour, but a few code choices stay black, so he goes through the routine of correcting it. He notices as soon as each area is fixed Gabby rubs the warm spot, but she's more energetic afterwards. By the time Dr James returns with a young female doctor and a few orderlies, about twenty-five minutes after he left, Kim has adjusted the genetic code for all of the black areas in Gabby's arms, head, neck, and upper chest. She still has some other spots that need doing, but his ability to see inside her goes when she finally lets go of his hand to move back to her own bed while the doctors enter and walk toward his bed.
Doctor James introduces Doctor Alison Perry to Kim while the two orderlies prepare the bed to be shifted. One of them opens the drawers of the bedside cupboard and takes out the two books Kim doesn't recognise that are the total contents which he then puts onto the bed beside Kim.
James explains Perry is an intern with only a little experience but is a fully trained and qualified doctor who's nearly finished her time as an intern. She has just a few months left to go to finish it. Kim and Alison talk to get to know each other. They soon agree Kim can call her Ali, and he nods his approval of her to Dr James.
With that approval James motions for the orderlies to move Kim's bed. Kim waves goodbye to the other children and tells Gabby to come to visit him if he can't get down to visit her. She grins as she waves back.
The hospital is like a big 'T' with the entrance at the junction, one wing goes straight back from the entrance with a wing off to each side, and all of the wings have ten floors. The ground level wings are Administration, the Emergency Room, and the Intensive Care Unit. The next floor has the kitchens and cafeteria in one wing with all of the operating theatres and theatre recovery rooms in the other two wings. There are only twenty-eight usable wings because the two wings on the tenth floor of the main building are for all of the plant equipment.
A few minutes later Kim's bed is pushed into a room three floors up in the wing on other side. He's gone from the front wing on the sixth floor to the front opposite wing on the ninth floor, right at the end of the wing. His room has two windows: one looks out over the front car park while the other looks out over the side car park and street. Doctor James sees Kim settled in then he leaves, taking the orderlies with him while Ali opens Kim's file to tell him about his injuries. He has several bruises and grazes which are all healing nicely; light fractures in one leg and one arm, also healing nicely - the arm is so mild it doesn't need a splint; displaced right shoulder that's been reset and healing well; his skull fracture on the side with a few pieces taped back in place until the bones knit; half his scalp sewn back on; a full recovery is expected from these. The kicker is two vertebrae in his lower back are broken and his spinal column has been cut at the point between them. The full extent of how much feeling and control is unknown until it can be mapped by the specialists with Kim's cooperation. The first order of business is one specialist thinks recovery will be quicker if they fuse both the broken vertebrae to the ones above and below it. This will mean part of Kim's body will not be able to turn at all in the future. The other specialist wishes to leave it to knit naturally as that will allow some later body movement. Waiting for the knitting will mean a delay in the therapy. Kim needs to make a decision on which way to go. He promises to think about it and to give an answer tomorrow when both of the specialists will be by to check on him again. And last is the residual electricity which they have no idea on how to deal with because he should already be dead from the electric shock.
With Kim up to date on his injuries Ali smiles at him then leaves to organise the doctor's office on this floor as her personal office. Interns share an office beside the doctors' lounge, but she's now assigned to Kim full-time and Dr James said she's to use the office in this wing as her own to be close to Kim. She grins, because she realises why he's doing it as there will now be a doctor on the floor most of the time during the day.
Kim lies back and wonders what Nurse Brown is doing. He mentally jumps when he gets a double image of her over his view of the room. He closes his eyes and the image of Nurse Brown sitting at an office desk opposite an older woman is now very clear. He can't hear what they're saying but he can see their lips moving. He thinks, If this is a real event and I'm seeing them then I should be able to hear them too, because sight and sound are just different frequencies of things in the air. The buzzing returns, then he can soon hear them talking as well.
“.... sorry for keeping you waiting so long, Leslie, but that bitch just wouldn't stop talking and go. Now, what can I do for you?”
“I've come to mess up your nursing rosters for a few months. We've a patient just moved to a private ward and he wants dedicated nurses on personal assignment to him. The deal is for twenty-four hour, seven day, coverage while in hospital. They should be there for two or three months, maybe more. Since they're paying for this you'd be justified in hiring some short term people to do the work or to replace them. I'd rather work with people I know and you get the short term replacements.”
The older woman smiles, “Do you mind if they're on a permanent shift set up for the whole time?” Nurse Brown shakes her head no. The woman picks up some papers to shake them, “Good. Our administrator has decreed I'm no longer to play favourites and all nurses are now on a rotating roster basis starting with the new rosters week after next. So the few nurses on permanent shifts due to other matters are being thrown off them and will probably resign since they can't work rotating rosters, and that'll give them money troubles too. I'd love to put that bitch on a rotating roster. If I can shift the five most affected cases to cover you I can hire short terms to cover their regular shifts in the new roster.”
Nurse Brown gives a weak smile, “OK, Carol, who are you talking about, because the patient has a veto on all staff assignments. I'm the liaison and coordination person between the hospital and the patient, so I want to make sure I'm working with people I know well and trust.”
Carol grins, “You know them all. To simplify the rosters I put them all on the one ward early last year. The only ward in use on the tenth floor has a changing number of old people in it, from six to ten. They get upset if the staff changes too often so I've five nurses on permanent shift there. Three during the week: Judy Adams, Jackie Hill, Sonja Suk; and two doing twelve hour weekend shifts: Betty and Anna Anders.”
Brown smiles, “Yeah, I know all of them. They'd be perfect for Kim. A lot of the time they'll be more companions than nurses, and all of them are friendly and talkative. Be warned! When he leaves the hospital he'll probably try to get some of the staff to go with him because he'll need nurses on a full-time basis for some years to come.”
“That wouldn't be an issue for me. It'd probably be good for some of them. Our great administrator is switching everyone over to multi-year contracts when the current workplace agreement expires shortly, and the bloody union is letting her do it. Nurses will have to commit to a set number of years with limited leave during it and full rotation rosters. Judy, Betty, Anna, and Jackie can't work the new rosters at all and will have to quit, which is what I think the bitch is after. But I don't know why, because we already have a nursing shortage and she won't let me hire short term staff to fill the gaps. Hell, this new roster calls for me to hire two new nurses and I know we don't have anyone interested in long term full-time jobs in the area, just short contracts.” She drops the papers on the desk while she shakes her head. “Well, if I drop you and them off the rosters I can start filling in names for the positions. These rosters have number slots, but no names; so I've got to fill them in. At least I can slot in some short term nurses to cover your six for now, because of the special circumstances. But it'll be hell afterwards.”
The two women talk some more about organising the rosters before Nurse Brown leaves to go visit the tenth floor to talk with Judy Adams.
Kim opens his eyes and brings his attention back to his room. He lies there while thinking about the two odd incidents today: first the genetics thing with Gabby and now this with Nurse Brown. Both are new skills for him and he can't understand why they occurred. Then it hits him, Ali said he should've been killed by the electrical shock to his brain since the live wires came into direct contact with his brain and it's left a lot of electricity in his body. He wonders if the electrical charge has opened new pathways within his mind, and if so, what ones, and how many, and what can they do?
Maybe it's all imagination. But, no, the images of each were far too realistic and detailed. Also, he's never met Carol. While the real kicker is Gabby! If it was his imagination then the genetics stuff would've been limited to what he knows - yet it had things he didn't understand. He has a perfect memory and the list of options included things he's never seen before. He decides to do some discreet testing and to also cure Gabby. If he can cure her then it proves he has a new ability or skill.
Time for some testing. It seems he can see things away from him, but how to control and direct the process. It's clear he can see someone he has a connection with, but what if he has no connection. He sets out to test things. First, he thinks to see how his sister, Lee, is, but he can't see her. This confuses him for a moment, then he thinks it may be because he hasn't made a connection with her since he woke up. He thinks about Dr James and immediately sees him sitting at a desk working through a medical report on a patient. Kim thinks of Dr Fisher and sees him in a children's ward, different to the one he was in, talking to another doctor. A check with Nurse Brown shows her talking to a nurse in her mid-thirties in a ward with several old people. Carol is still at her desk writing names in the roster. Ali is cleaning out an office.
Kim thinks his view back to his room. Then he sends his 'roaming eyes,' as he decides to call them, on a walk out the door. Down the hall, down the stairs to the ground floor, and into the admin wing. He finds an office door marked 'Senior Administrator' and goes through the door, which is a bit of a surprise because he can see everything in it when he goes through the door.
Behind the desk is a very stern faced woman. She's flipping through a lot of computer printouts while highlighting items on them. Kim moves over the desk to look at the accounting records she's going through. With the experience of being able to see inside the unlighted door he moves his view into the top desk drawer, and is only mildly surprised to be able to read the papers there. He moves down through them, one page at a time. Most of it is uninteresting medical accounting stuff. He goes through all of the papers in the office. He finds a file in the lower drawer of the locked steel three drawer cabinet of interest as it has her contract which states she gets a bonus equal to ten per cent of any of the expenditure savings she generates, calculated on a quarterly basis. Behind this is a page setting out how much she'll get if she can close the last ward on the tenth floor and shut the tenth floor down. It means an official loss of thirty beds currently assigned to the floor. She's not worried about it because they rarely use the extra beds, then it's only when some bug goes through the older people in the area or during the summer school holidays if a lot of tourists are hurt. She figures she can just ship the patients to another hospital if they get too many to handle. Her plan is to get nurses to resign then to use the nursing shortage as the reason to justify her closing the ward then the wing. Damn, she's a bitch to deny the beds and staff to the people in the area just for her personal greed.
Kim pulls his attention back to the room so he can think on how to deal with the administrator. He can't think of anything to do except to talk to Nurse Brown and Carol about it, so he puts it aside for now to think about his new abilities and how to test them out some more.
After several minutes of thought he decides to try to send his vision somewhere by using a map when he can get a map to do it with, to see if he can read people's minds, and to see if he can move things by thought alone. They'd all be nice to do, but he's worried about all of the genetics stuff with Gabby, where did that come from?
In the end he decides it can only be some sort of genetic or racial memory thing because he can't see any other source for it. Another thing to try to do research on when he can.
Kim is thinking about taking a nap when Nurse Brown returns with a lunch tray. She soon has it open in front of him while she talks to him about nursing staff as he eats. Between bites they have a good talk.
Nurse Brown says, “Kim, when you get out of the hospital I think you'll need four or five full-time nursing staff if you wish to keep up the round-the-clock coverage. I think four of the five staff I've organised for you will be suitable, but it's up to you to decide. I've not told any of them you may want to employ them outside of the hospital. I'd like you to make a decision as soon as possible because there are other issues that will affect such matters, and I'd like to tell them as soon as I can. OK?” He nods yes, so she goes on to explain the staff rosters and who'll do which shift. The only one she thinks may not be a suitable long term choice is Sonja because she's leaving the area in six months.
The roster will be Judy on the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. day shift as she has three kids in primary school, her neighbour takes them to school and Judy picks up her kids after school. Jackie on the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. evening shift as she has troubles getting going in the morning. Sonja on the 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. night shift. They'll all work Monday to Friday. Betty will work 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with Anna doing 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. In response to his questions Kim learns Betty and Anna get normal pay for the first eight hours of a shift with double time for the rest of it to give them the same as thirty-two hours normal pay for two days' work. But, because they're all on a permanent shift they don't get a shift allowance as that's for those who change shifts. Sonja does get a night shift loading of five per cent.
Kim smiles as he nods at Nurse Brown while saying, “That's all OK. Now, what's your first name? I'm not going to call you Nurse Brown all the time.”
“Leslie, you can call me Les or Leslie.”
“Thank you, Leslie. Please tell all of the staff if they ever have a need to leave early, arrive late, or duck off to do something, to just tell me and they can go without any deductions in pay. Since I'm paying for their time I can approve any time away. So, if Judy wishes to duck out to watch her kids at anything special she can easily organise to do so. I'll manage with just you, Doctor Perry, and the floor nurse for an hour or two, if need be. I checked, and what I'm paying for the room covers part of the wages of the floor nurse on this wing. And Doctor Perry is setting up her office on this floor too. So that gives us lots of coverage during the main business day. On a similar vein, if any of Judy's kids aren't feeling well or have to stay home for any reason she can bring them in to set them up in here with us because that bed is free. And what I said applies to all of the staff assigned to me.” Leslie smiles at his thinking of the staff. “If they have any problems let me know as you'd be surprised what I can do to help. You'd be very surprised at what my spies tell me, too. Can you please organise for me to have a phone in here, let my sister and mother know I'm awake and where I am, and ask Carol to pop in because I wish to talk to her about her roster problem.” Leslie's eyes go wide at this last item. Kim grins, “It did take me a little while to sort out some local spies, you know. Oh, we need a couple of comfortable chairs, an office chair, and a desk in here for my duty nurse to sit at too.”
Leslie leaves the room while slowly shaking her head. She's soon back with a phone to plug into the wall jack and a list with several extension numbers on it, including a hand written entry for Ali's new office. It takes a few minutes to get the phone set on the bedside table in a spot Kim is comfortable with it being at so he can reach it with ease.
Carol walks in and pulls up a chair while saying, “And what do you know about my roster problems?”
He grins, “You don't like the administrator from Hades messing up your rosters and years of hard work. Apart from that, did you know she gets a personal quarterly bonus of ten per cent of what she comes in under budget?” Both ladies are shocked to be told this. “Check it out, it's in her contract. I suspect the people who organised it did it as an incentive to have her find ways to save money without affecting the services or their quality, but those aspects aren't in the contract. She also plans to have the tenth floor permanently closed with the beds assigned there given away. That should get her a large on-going bonus for the term of her five year contract because it reduces staff and operating costs quite a bit as well.”
Carol swears, a lot. He continues, “Her copy of the contract and her plans for the tenth floor with savings and her bonuses are in the front of the bottom drawer of the steel three drawer filing cabinet in her office. But she keeps it locked when she's not getting something out or putting something back. My checking of the hospital's rules shows that you, the Nursing Coordinator, have the right to contract temporary replacements for staff on special assignment. So you can immediately hire people on three month contracts to replace those being assigned to me. Also, the rates I'm charged includes an allowance for you to pay a rate of up to ten per cent over the award because of the short term contract. I suggest you do pay extra to stop 'our friend' from getting a profit off the extra I'm paying the hospital.” This gets big grins from both ladies. “I'll also give you proper notice, right now, I'll be hiring at least four, maybe five, of your nurses off you before I'm discharged. So you can start recruitment to replace them, if you wish. You may want to think about talking to some of the student nurses who'll be graduating later this year. That will enable you to line them up to do work placement at this hospital this year, and to then just roll on to full-time work here. If new staff are lined up before 'Hell Lady' can get a whiff of it she'll have a hard time closing the tenth floor ward due to lack of trained staff.”
Carol has a huge grin when she says, “Kim, I don't know how you found this out, but what you say makes sense of a lot of crap decisions and orders coming out of that office. And this is the only thing that makes sense of all of the orders, so I believe it's true. I also like your way of getting back at her because paying the short term staff extra will make it easier to get them to sign up. I also like your way of getting the replacement staff lined up. If they've already made friends here it'll be a lot easier to hire them when they graduate. I've got to go make a few phone calls. Thank you, thank you very much.” She leaves a much happier person than when she arrived. Knowing what her enemy is doing, and why, makes her life a lot easier because she can now plan how to fight her on this issue.
Leslie is extremely surprised at Kim's knowledge, but very happy to see some good come of it. A noise at the door causes both Kim and Leslie to turn and look at the doorway.
Standing in the doorway is an elegant looking woman in her early thirties wearing a form fitting executive business suit over a nice form and a very expensive looking briefcase in her hand. Beside her is a late forties man in casual clothes with a light canvas bag over his shoulder. Kim smiles at them as he nods at the two steel frame chairs beside the bed. They both enter and sit down. Kim knows them both very well.
Kim looks at the woman. She opens her briefcase and takes out some papers to put them on the bed beside Kim. He examines them and asks a few questions, which she answers. He countersigns the limited power of attorney Amanda has authorised for Madison Evans, Attorney at Law, their new local representative. This allows Madison to approve minor matters, to initiate things, and to handle legal matters for Kim. She puts the papers away while taking out a notebook and pen.
When Madison opens her mouth to speak Kim says, “Just a moment, please, Maddi, I need to hear this other report before I know where we're going.” She nods yes, and both turn to the man.
Jim Waters smiles as he says, “Not much to report, Kim. We're being stonewalled at all levels. I did manage to get copies of the initial Police and Work Safety reports before the shutters came down. Even got some statements from witnesses and the other man hurt. Everything is in this file.” He takes a folder out of his shoulder bag and lays it on the bed beside Kim. “Even some photos of the scene, no forensics at all.”
Kim leans back and thinks real hard. After a few minutes he looks up at Leslie, “Leslie, please ask Doctor Perry to step in here for a moment.” She smiles and ducks out to get the doctor, returning with her in a minute since she only had to go a few paces up the hall. Kim says, “Ali, am I right in thinking that no one can make an intelligent guess about how much damage I've sustained until after I woke up then they put me through the battery of checks and tests scheduled for tomorrow?” She nods yes, and he smiles. He takes a deep breath, “Right, I think I know what's up, and I don't like it, not one little bit.”
Kim turns to Waters, “Jim, I want two armed guards on Lee twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, very competent females who'll not hesitate to shoot anyone. Can do?” His eyes go wide while he nods yes. “I'll need two armed guards on a twenty-four by seven watch. One male out in the hall as a goat and a female guard dressed as a nurse in the room with me. Same competency. If I'm right about this they'll try to put pressure on me by grabbing Lee or taking me out.” They've all got wide eyes while they wonder why they'd be so desperate, whoever 'they' are. “Also, I urgently need the names, recent photos, and addresses of all the power players in the state government, the Cabinet, the Department of Education, the people you're trying to see, and those who're blocking you. I'll put my other spy ring onto seeing what they can find out.” Jim grins at the mention of another spy ring as he's worked for Amanda and Kim's family for years and he always thought they had other sources; but this is the first indication he's had they really do have another set of spies. Kim smiles, “I usually reserve your services for this type of thing, but they may shake something out if you're blocked. The sad part is I can use what you find in court of law, but not what they give me.” This gets a few raised eyebrows.
Kim turns to Madison, “Maddi, you urgently need to get hold of my mother today to have her sign, in front of court witnesses, a power of attorney and statement you'll prepare. She's to give you full power of attorney over me and Lee for the next six months and to abrogate all her power for the same period. The statement is to explain she wants this as she's too emotionally disturbed by my injuries so she doesn't trust herself to act with due care while she's so upset. Get the documents prepared, and she'll sign them.” She nods yes while she wonders what he's doing.
Kim opens the file Jim gave him and he reads the summary inside the front cover. Closing it, he'll read the fine details later, he looks at Jim and gets a very slow nod in return. Damn, it's as bad as the report says, and much worse than he thought.
Kim turns back to Madison, “Maddi, you also need to prepare and serve some papers by noon tomorrow. We're going for a shotgun effect with big figures in compensation for injuries received, also stating gross negligence bordering on criminal negligence with failure to exercise due care and diligence over those within their care and power. The school principal, ten million dollars; the school, twenty million dollars; the head of the Education Department and the Department, twenty million dollars each; the Minister of Education and the Premier, fifty million each; the Cabinet and Parliament as a whole, seventy million each. Go after them all since each is at fault in the incident because they all added to the situation. Make sure you get good recordings on the serving of them and try to get them all served within a few minutes of each other. You need to first serve court orders for immediate delivery of copies of the school and the Department files on Lee and me.”
Kim's audience is wide awake while they try to follow his thinking, and failing. “If they're playing by the nice rules by tomorrow afternoon you'll have a call from high up in the Attorney General's office wanting to settle out of court, and they'll quickly agree to whatever we say. This problem has the potential to bring down the government. Out of court terms are an immediate cash payment of fifty million dollars to me, one million to each of my legal representatives - that's you and Mandy, they pay all medical costs to date and for the next four months. They have two days to agree and make the cash payments. After that the amounts go up on a scale based on the length of delay and what they do during it. At any time I may get upset with them and go for broke, in which case we'll commence court action for criminal negligence against all of the named respondents.” He looks at the shocked faces. “I expect they'll go for some delays while they try to complete a rip-off deal. In which case we can then add criminal fraud charges to the list while we include Harry Wells as a respondent and hit him for ten million dollars. He can't pay, but hey, let's do it anyway.” They all stare at him in shock.
Maddi says, “What do you think is happening?”
“The way they're trying to stop Jim from getting any real data on the incident so he can give it to Amanda shows they don't want Amanda starting any court action. It matters not when she gets the data as she'll take action which will see them lose in court. Unless they can wave a document that seems like an acceptable compensation payment signed by a suitable guardian and they then say they've already paid up. So, if they pay out a token compensation to me while paying Harry a lot to get Mum to sign legal papers for compensation they should get away with a court approved rip-off payment in their stacked state courts. However, any papers signed before a proper analysis of my condition is done will be thrown out of any court, no matter how well stacked. So they can't do the con until after the report on my tests tomorrow. If Mum has given away her powers today anything she signs on Harry's orders will be invalid. She has no legal right to sign financial matters, anyway, but anything signed by her can muddy the waters enough for them to get away with all sorts of crap. I'd even bet Harry approached them on this. Which is why Jim was able to get some information before they closed the doors.” He turns to Jim, “You need to get in to wire our house up for sight and sound, everything except the bedrooms, bathrooms, and toilets. That way we should get Harry telling Mum what to do, and maybe some of their meetings with him. It's my house. I inherited it from Grandfather so you can legally install whatever security measures you think fit. Do the same in here and give Lee some recorders.” Jim's response is a big grin while Maddi slowly shakes her head. Kim turns to her, “Maddi, if they're fair they'd be offering us forty or fifty million to shut up. But they want to get out of this with only a few million because they messed up the budget real bad. They can't afford any more adverse publicity, not if they want to be re-elected in eighteen months’ time, nor can they afford any more budget blow outs. As well as paying me off they'll need to fund all of the school repairs and maintenance they've been putting off for ages. The power brokers won't be thinking fair or right, just cover arse and get re-elected. So we have to out think them and cut them off, then fight them on their turf, which will be hard. But, with full preparation, we can do it - and win!”