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This story was originally inspired by "A Song for a Winter's Night" by Sarah Mchlachlan. The song moved me so much that I had to write about it. Thank you, Sarah.
A Winter's Night
by Jonathan Yip
Snow was falling lightly outside. A small fire was burning, warming the inside of the cabin. He shivered, then mounted the steps to the porch.
A knock at the door awoke the cabin’s occupant. She walked over to the heavy wood door and swung it open. A man covered in snow stood on her porch.
"Jarod !" she exclaimed.
"Buenos Noches, Nia," replied the Pretender.
Parker snapped awake at the sound of the phone ringing. She groped around for the offending instrument, then glanced at the clock.
Broots nervous voice came across the line. He obviously hadn't slept all night.
"Uh... Miss Parker? We have a location for Jarod."
She rubbed her eyes wearily. She had a feeling that she, too, would be going without rest. "Where, Broots?"
"I’d rather not say over the phone. Can you come in?"
She swore under her breath. "Ever hear of sleep, Broots? Never mind. I’ll be there in half an hour."
A sharp pain in her abdomen doubled her over. "Damn." She reached for the Mylanta and half drained the bottle.
"What is it, Broots?"
"Oh, hi, Sydney. The stakeout on that woman’s house has finally paid off."
Sydney looked puzzled. "Which woman?"
"That ranger, Nia."
Sydney glanced around quickly. "You mustn’t tell Miss Parker."
"Tell me what?"
The two men quickly stood up as she entered . Sydney moved his body to block the computer screen.
"What are you two morons hiding?"
"I don’t think you should see this, Miss Parker," Broots commented.
"Why, Broots?" Her bloodshot eyes glared at him.
"Um... Why Sydney?"
"You know the doctor’s orders, Parker. Any more stress could have dire consequences for you."
"Stop trying to be my mother, Syd. I’m a big girl. I can handle it, whatever ‘it’ is." She shivered, then pushed her way past the Belgian. "Now what’s so important to get me out of bed?"
Broots looked at her, then to Sydney. The psychiatrist shrugged his shoulders. "Go ahead, Broots."
The technician double clicked his mouse to bring up a report on his screen. "For the last year, sweepers have maintained a watch on this cabin, hoping that Jarod would return. Two days ago, he did."
She felt a wave of nausea flow over her body. "That son of a bitch. He actually went back to her." She turned to Sydney, who had a concerned look on his face.
"Parker, are you all right?"
Her face had become very pale and she began to sway in place. Her pulse rushed torrentially through her head. The room slowly began to rotate. She blinked, trying to focus her vision… the blood began to drain from her face.
"Help...Syd" She crumpled to the floor.
"Oh my God, Syd!" Broots stood up quickly, knocking his hot coffee onto the floor. He stooped down to mop up his mess.
"Get the med. team up here now, Broots!" Sydney rushed over to the prone Parker. Her pulse seemed to belong more to a rabbit than to a thirty year old woman. He cradled her head in his lap so that she could breathe. He watched helplessly as she slowly faded into unconsciousness.
A hoarse whisper escaped from her throat. "Jarod...help me… help me."
Jarod’s head snapped up. His brown eyes narrowed in excruciating pain.
"What is it, young Jedi?" Nia smiled up at him. Her smile turned quickly to a frown.
He managed a weak, "Parker" before he too, lost consciousness.
The Centre’s med. technicians started work on her immediately.
"Get me those iced saline lavages ASAP!" The doctor barked to a nearby nurse. The nastrogastic tube filled with bright red blood. "Type and cross match for possible blood transfusions, and I want it done yesterday!" The doctor was losing his voice as he yelled over the din.
"It looks like we’ve got the bleeding partially stemmed. Nurse, get an IV in her, and draw some blood for the lab boys upstairs. Where the hell is the RT?"
"There he is, sir." The RT ran in with a tank of oxygen.
"Get her hooked up on O2 right away. How's the bleeding, nurse? "
She glanced up. "There's less blood than earlier. Should we sedate her?"
The gray haired man looked down at his patient. " Yes, keep her under." He laid his now ungloved hand on her brow. "Stay with me, Angel."
Mr. Parker finished stripping off his surgical garb. "Set surgery for 1100."
"Jarod? Jarod, wake up."
He opened his eyes slowly. "Where am I?"
Concern showed on the Argentinean’s face. "You’re here with me, Jarod."
"What happened?" the Pretender sat up gingerly.
"You just passed out. Are you all right?"
"I believe so." He nodded slowly, then shut his eyes. His body shivered slightly, then remained still for several minutes. She watched, fascinated, as he pretended.
Suddenly, he doubled over in pain, clutching his midsection. Nia cried out. "Jarod! What’s going on?"
The pretender rolled over onto his back, eyes glazed slightly. The pain continued to rack his slender body. Finally, he found his voice.
"Miss Parker is in trouble."
"That woman who came searching for you? The thin one?"
He nodded, waiting for the pain to fully subside.
"Good. I did not like her one bit." Nia's face reflected her true emotions.
"She’s my friend," he protested.
"How can the hunted be friends with the huntress? Let her be."
His dark eyes flashed intensely. " She will die if I don’t help her."
She met his gaze sadly, then smiled slightly. "I never really had you, did I, Jarod?"
He stood up and began to get dressed. That done, he turned to leave. He swung the heavy door open and grabbed his bag.
He glanced over his shoulder. "What is it?"
"May the force be with you." She turned away and walked deeper into the cabin.
Jarod stood caught between two worlds. He slowly turned and walked out the door.
"What is it?" Raines turned around.
Gar walked up to the emphysema-riddled man. "Jarod has been located."
"Excellent. Take a sweeper team and get him." Raines drew a deep breath, then rasped "There is something else."
He handed the cleaner a vial. "Inject this into Miss Parker’s IV line."
"What is it?"
"I don't pay you to be inquisitive." Raines glared at Gar. His voice rasped over his words. "Very well. It is Potassium Chloride. Miss Parker will suffer from a mysterious heart attack. Now go!"
Broots slowly entered the medical ward. He held Debbie’s hand as she approached Miss Parker’s bed. "We can’t stay long, Debbie."
"That’s okay, daddy. I just want to say hi."
"Hey kiddo," Miss Parker said weakly.
"Hi, Miss P. How are you feeling?"
"I’ll be fine, Debbie." She took a painful breath. "Listen to me, kiddo. Take care of your dad and make sure that you listen to him, ok?"
Broots gently pulled Debbie away from Parker’s bedside.
"Are you sure it’s a good idea to operate on your own daughter?"
Mr. Parker turned to the Belgian psychiatrist. "She’s my daughter, damn it!"
"Precisely why you shouldn’t perform the surgery. How long has it been since you actually operated?"
Mr. Parker let out a hmph. " Too long." He paused. "You always were a good source of advice, Sydney. Very well. I will leave the operation to the Centre doctor."
Gar strode through the corridors until he arrived at the infirmary. He slid the door open and slipped through the crack. The cleaner filled a syringe from Raines’ vial and stepped over to the bed.
He looked down at the slim woman. "I’m sorry about this, Miss Parker."
"Like hell you are." Jarod stepped out from the shadows and brought his gun barrel down onto the cleaner’s head.
"Nighty-nite." He stepped over to the bed. "Parker, can you hear me?"
She nodded weakly. "Jarod…what? How? "
"I’m getting you out of here." He inserted a hep lock into the IV line, then wrapped a blanket around her. He picked her up into his arms and carried her out.
"Where the hell is she ?" Parker was furious.
Gar knew he was doomed. "Jarod was here- he knocked me out and must have taken your daughter."
"And what were you doing in my daughter’s room?" roared Parker.
"Mr. Raines wanted me to stand guard."
"A damn good job you did of it."
"Yes sir. I’m sorry sir."
She came awake with a start, waking Jarod in the process. In a second he was by her side, calming her with reassuring words.
"You’re all right. Just rest, Miss Parker."
"Jarod, where the hell am I?"
"Somewhere safe. Just stay calm and lay back."
She followed his orders. "What happened to me? None of the doctors would tell me."
He pushed the hair off her forehead. "Your ulcer opened up - you’re lucky the doctors managed to stop the bleeding, otherwise you wouldn’t be here tonight."
She appeared ready to ask another question, but he wouldn’t allow it.
"Just get some rest. We’ll talk in the morning."
"If she doesn’t receive proper medical treatment, she will die." The doctor shook his head. "I hope to God that Jarod gets her to a hospital. That woman needs surgery, and needs it immediately."
"Thank you." Sydney turned to go.
"What’s your relation to Miss Parker?"
"Why are you involved in this?"
A smile crept across Sydney’s face. "She’s a friend of mine." /And apparently of yours, Jarod. Take care of her. /
Jarod turned around to face the young nurse.
"Yes…" he searched for a namebadge, "Helen?"
"The ulcer patient you brought in is awake and demanding to talk to you."
He sighed. "Thank you."
"I never had the privilege of working with you, but the nurse you saved was my best friend. I don't know how to thank you…"
"Don't worry about it. It's a pleasure to work here at St. John's. Now, I have a temperamental patient to deal with." The two exchanged knowing looks.
Jarod Hopkins entered Room 27. A smile danced across his lips as he surveyed the scene before him. Miss Parker was engaged in a curseout with several of the hospital's nurses. It was not clear who was winning.
The nurses immediately sprung away from Miss Parker's bed. "Doctor Hopkins! Maybe you can talk some sense into your patient. She absolutely refuses to accept sedatives, or remove her jewelry."
"I've been under too damn long, and I'm not about to give them my ring. Tell these two to go the hell away and leave me in peace."
Jarod tried very hard not to laugh. "Nurses, I think I can handle this now. "
They exited very quickly, obviously relieved. Jarod watched them go, then turned to his patient.
"How are you?"
"I feel like someone threw my midsection in a blender. What the hell is going on?"
"Your ulcer is worse than was previously thought. You need surgery right away."
She grabbed his coat and yanked him down on top of herself. "You are not going to cut me open like some lab rat."
He tried to extract himself from her grip. "Miss Parker, if we don't operate, you will die."
She threw him off of her. "Fine. Cut me open. Just put everything back."
He raised his hand. "I promise"
She pulled the ring off her index finger. "Don't lose this."
Raines limped into the darkened room. Several spotlights focused down on his bald head. He squinted, trying to make out the three individuals hidden in the shadows.
"You wanted to see me?"
A petite secretary walked out of the shadows. "They want to know where Miss Parker is."
"I don't know." Raines was obviously uncomfortable.
The woman looked over into the shadows. She nodded, then turned back to Raines.
"Find her, or your life is forfeit."
Willie approached the timid technician. Broots backed up against the wall, looking for a method of escape.
"Is there something wrong, Mr. Broots?"
He shook his head. "Uh... no, there's nothing wrong."
"Good. I have a job for you to do." The sweeper held up a disc. "This disc holds all the names of the hospitals within one thousand miles of the Centre. I want you to search the databases of each for a sign of Jarod or Miss Parker. Do you understand?"
Broots nodded, then turned to his computer and began work.
Dr. Jarod Hopkins scrubbed for surgery, then double-checked his equipment. The procedure was actually fairly straight forward, although there was a great chance for complications.
St. John's had been the least logical place for stowing Miss Parker. It was a small hospital as far away as possible from Blue Cove. He had bought a Lear jet to transport her from Delaware to Southern California quickly. He smiled at the thought of the sky diving he could do here.
But St. John's also possessed an excellent staff, a fact that had attracted him to it last year. With a little digging, he had been able to find some really dirty stuff going on. After a little cleaning, most of the staff was thankful and more importantly, willing to help him.
He walked into the operating room just as an intern helped wheel in Miss Parker. The nurses quickly had everything ready for him. Helen was there, a fact that made Dr. Hopkins smile. He nodded to Dr. Littig, who was to assist him in the OR.
"Shall we do this?" They made no objection, so he began.
Broots yawned. He had gone the last 48 hours without any sleep and was paying for it now. Debbie had gone over to a friend's house for the weekend and didn't even know that Miss Parker was gone.
Broots sighed. Miss Parker wasn't his ideal choice as a role model for his daughter. He knew he shouldn’t have let her stay with Miss Parker that day.
The computer beeped, interrupting his train of thought. He scanned the results. No Jarod or Miss Parker anywhere East of the Appalachians. He emailed Sydney and Raines with his findings, then promptly fell asleep.
"Oh my God." Jarod moved away from the operating table. "It's worse than we thought."
"How bad is it, doctor?" Helen shared his look of concern.
Dr. Littig glanced down at the patient. "Very bad. The ulcer has eroded through most of her internal organs."
Jarod stood away from the table, panic and shock showing on his face. "She's gone. There's no surgery that will help her now. "
The assistants looked concernedly at the two doctors. "What should we do?"
Jarod shook his head numbly. "We've got to try something!" He reached for his instruments.
Littig blocked his hand. "There's nothing you can do, Dr. Hopkins."
Jarod tried to push around him. "I've got to do something. She'll die if I don't."
Helen took him by the arm. "She'll die if you do anything else. Let her live her last few days. You owe her that much."
He stood very still. Helen gently pushed him towards the door. "I think that you should leave, sir. Dr. Littig can finish up"
He stepped out of the OR, and broke down into tears.
END PART I