BY ANDRE ALAN
I – LOST AND FOUND
Beep… beep… beep… the high pitched tone of medical equipment attached to Winnie was an annoying sound that she had come to loathe after countless trips to the hospital. Heavy, chocolate colored lids fluttered open as groggy grey iris’ peered at the mysterious liquids dripping into her IV, most likely pain killers. Her nose itched uncontrollably.
“Glad to see that you are awake,” said the blonde haired doctor in his ivory tunic and horned rimmed glasses. The man had been gazing out the window. He reached for the pen clipped to his sky blue shirt pocket. Wearing the two top most buttons undone on his cotton dress shirt with a black leather belt, matching shoes and tan khakis completed the universal doctor uniform. “How are you feeling Ms. Nikoli?” he asked while making a note in the clipboard.
“Where am I?” asked Winnie trying to sit up and failing. She felt light headed and weak.
“Don’t remember anything that happened do you?”
“Who are you?”
“I have someone here that would like to see you,” said the doctor motioning to an unseen person outside the room.
The fear mounting in Winnie’s heart quickly turned to sadness and then a burning hot rage. Her fifteen-year-old son, Marvel Nikoli, sprinted to her bedside and leapt into her arms. Embracing each other in a fierce hug, Winnie found herself fighting back tears. She stroked her son’s curly dark hair. Marvel was in desperate need of a bath but that was to be expected after being on the run for more than a week. She was still very confused by the fact that so many kids in this day and age wanted a Mohawk.
Winnie tried to listen in as the doctor spoke in hushed tones at the entrance of her room. Two agents in black suits entered and stood side by side in front of her bed. She could not help but feel vulnerable while lying in the hospital bed with tubes protruding from her nose and wires hooked up to her chest. She fought down the urge to pull the covers up to her neck.
“Please, Ms. Nikoli,” said one of the agents, Ali Simpson. He was lean and fit with dark shades and a buzz cut of black hair. “Do not try to run from us again. You cannot survive without our care. We will always find you.”
“I have not the slightest clue of what you are referring to,” said Winnie. Grey eyes defiantly meeting the shaded gaze of the agent.
“Do not try to play us for the fool, Ms. Nikoli,” replied agent Simpson. “You were picked up well over two hundred and fifty miles from your designated Area of Interest. What were you doing?”
“I don’t have to explain my actions to you,” replied Winnie with a snarl.
“Maybe not but you will have to explain them to the Top Tier,” said the other agent, Lional Huy. He tossed her a bulging backpack. “We will give you fifteen minutes to get dressed. Fifteen exactly mind you. No funny business. We will be right outside. When you are finished dressing you are to come with us. The Three-Six-Zero would like to have a word with you.”
After the agents left the room and closed the door, Winnie turned to her son and communicated silently. They used a special system of sign language created and perfected over the years.
Marvel rushed over to the door and locked it.
To her surprise the guards did not respond at the sound of the door locking. Winnie unzipped the backpack, dumping the contents onto the bed. She sat upright, legs folded. Spread out in front of her, everything she could have asked for: rope, firearms, and knifes but most importantly a clean change of clothes. She silently said a quick prayer to bless Lional’s heart for the risk he took. However, a moment was all she could spare and pulled off the assortment of wires and tubes with a practiced ease and familiarity. After changing in the bathroom, Winnie exited several minutes later in loose fitting yet comfortable attire, black steel toed boots, denim slacks and a brown leather jacket over a wrinkled t-shirt. She secured the standard issue nine millimeter handgun in the small of her back and the knife into her boot. She tossed a small caliber snub-nosed revolver to her son along with a butterfly pocket knife. The pack also contained a day’s worth of rations and extra rounds of ammunition. Still weak from the medicine that had been pumped into her system; she crept over to the window. As expected, she was on the top floor. She figured that they would not make it too easy for her to escape.
Winnie would have to improvise. She took the rope from the backpack and tied a knot around the closed door handle that led into her room. Dragging the other end of the rope across the room, she opened the window to let the rope dangle outside. It did not reach the ground but it would be good enough for right now. Once certain the rope was secure, she had Marvel start climbing first. Once he began the treacherous climb down, there was a loud knock at the door.
“Okay Ms. Nikoli,” said one of the agents.
She guessed Lional by the nasally sound of his voice.
“Time is up, unlock the door and step on out,” said Lional.
“Be right out in a second,” called Winnie. She hurriedly packed the items of her escape into the back pack along with extra towels and surgical latex gloves. She practically leapt from the ninth floor window yet was careful to maintain a tight grip on the rope. She slid down several floors in a matter of seconds, gloved hands burning from the friction before stopping her momentum only a few feet above where her son hung suspended and helpless at the end of the rope. There were three remaining stories of air between them and the ground.
The rope started to give way just a bit and the pair barely managed to remain holding onto the rope as they descended another few inches. Just as Winnie had intended when she tied the rope to the door handle. With the opening of the door, it would alert her to the fact that agents had entered the room. She could hear muffled orders being shouted.
One of the agents ran to the window and stuck out his head. “Don’t do it Win!” shouted Lional.
She blew him a kiss and then reached for her pistol. The agent ducked back inside of the hospital room, reaching for his side arm. Winnie hastily shot out the glass of the third floor window in front of her. Marvel jumped through and nimbly landed on his feet. Winnie followed right behind him with an acrobatic, twisting flip that got her inside the room but landed her unceremoniously to her rump.
“Damn narcotics,” she said smiling up at her son. She took his hand for assistance, rising to her feet, wiping tiny bits of shattered glass from her clothes.
“Hurry ma, we gotta go,” said Marvel. “Can ya run? I don’t wanna go back with those people.”
“I know honey, neither do I.”
They safely made it off the third floor and into the elevator disguised as a nurse with a patient being transferred to a different room via wheelchair. On the ground floor, the emergency entrance doors swooshed open allowing the warm weather to ease the nauseas feeling in Winnie’s stomach. She inhaled deeply, lungs savoring the fresh air. The streets were calm and quiet like always, almost deserted. Every major city across the country, for all intents and purposes were just like this one. Anyone new to the town of Stamford would think it abandoned, yet the people here simply no longer held the desire to go outside or even socialize except for when mandatory while at work. Even children were conditioned to remain in the home with incentives like free video games and home schooling. Why should anyone leave their comfortable abode when unknown contagious diseases could arrive on an international flight at any moment? Why bother to run the risk of being harassed by officers when a persons every need and desire was seen to by the delivery men. If someone needed groceries they would fill out an email and within an hour the items would be brought to the front door step. From prescription drugs to gorgeous women, anything could be delivered without questions asked.
Winnie knew they would not last long traveling on foot and needed to get out of town quickly. She had to hope all of this action would not provoke her condition to flare up and cause another outbreak that would alert the authorities.
II – ESCAPE OR DIE
Winnie marched around to the back of the hospital building and instantly regretted her decision. The complex buzzed with undercover detectives and police officers in uniform. She tried to quickly turn the wheelchair and retreat but was halted abruptly by an approaching officer.
“Hey you,” shouted a cop wearing a midnight blue hat tilted sideways in an attempt to look hip; it only succeeded in exposing his premature balding.
Winnie stopped and slowly turned around as the burly man approached.
“Where are you going with this patient,” he asked. “Didn’t you get the notification that all staff members are to remain inside the building? It’s not safe out here, mam. We have a biological and chemical threat on the premises.”
“Oh goodness no, not again,” said Winnie in a broken English accent. “Hope everyone’s okay. I so sorry. I go back inside.”
“Hey, let me see your badge,” said the officer trudging closer. The out of shape cop’s belly jiggled with each step.
Winnie inhaled sharply, back straightening and mind working franticly to come up with a plan before turning around to face the officer.
“You wouldn’t happen to have a lighter would you?” he asked, cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. “That says…, Ms. Sargozil….” The man leaned in close and squinted trying to read the name tag. “We would not want the mister Sargozil to get upset if you became infected, now would we.”
Playing along, Winnie blushed and shook her head. She could smell the whiskey on his breath and see the far away gaze in his wandering eyes. Before she could distance herself from the officer he changed the subject.
“Hey you look familiar. Did you go to Johnston Middle?”
Winnie smiled pleasantly and shook her head. Trying to keep up this coy persona infuriated Winnie to no end. She tried to banish thoughts of reaching for her pocket knife and ramming it through the pervert’s skull.
“Well what is your number? Maybe we can go out for a drink sometime since there is no Mr. Sargozil.”
“Sorry, I get back to work, now,” said Winnie trying to hurriedly get away and around the corner.
Across the street in the station, a high-speed rail train pulled to a smooth and silent stop. She thought about hopping the train which might mean instant recapture for her. Every human child born within the last fifty years was immediately taken from the mother after delivery and an Ident-Chip was inserted under their skin. Not to mention the retinal scans implemented worldwide in the last century would lock onto and scan her grey eyes. They would know who she was and immediately stop the train, sealing it shut to prevent escape. Luckily, Winnie had delivered Marvel at home using a mid-wife, one of the less than dozen still in existence. Also, by keeping the birth of her son secret, the government did not have a record of his retinal scan on the database.
“Hey, where are you going?” shouted another officer.
She could hear excited voices behind her.
“The hospital is the other way!”
Hairs on the back of Winnie’s neck stood on end. She increased her pace, unwilling to turn around, legs gobbling up pavement in long strides. The only option left was to make a run for the rail stations across the abandoned two lane road way. Grabbing Marvel’s hand, they bolted for the train.
“Stop! Police!” shouted the officers chasing them.
Winnie and Marvel ran at a neck breaking pace, shedding the stolen hospital garments as they went. Leaping up the concrete steps of the platform two at a time, they jumped down onto the railway tracks before the train could pull away. The rail train was suspended between two magnetic rails. Winnie picked up Marvel and threw him onto the back of the train while running along behind it. Once certain the train was traveling at a pace she could not catch and too fast for Marvel to leap from, she blew him a kiss and waved goodbye. Turning to face the officers, she pulled the knife from her boot. The guards converged on her, surrounding her with weapons draw, shouting for her to put down the knife and put her hands up. She did as commanded, in one smooth motion she also left a deep gash along her wrist.
III – HELP ME, HELP YOU
Beep… beep… beep… it was the sound that Winnie dreaded. Her eyes fluttered open to the all too familiar scene of large rectangular lights overhead that fit snugly in place next to white, pock marked ceiling tiles. She tried to move but straps on her chest, waist, hands and ankles kept her bound securely. She raised her head to look down at the all too familiar bluish-green hospital gown that no doubt would have her back open and exposed which she hated.
“Glad to see you are still with us, Ms. Nikoli,” said a high pitched female voice in the room.
“Where am I?” asked Winnie with a dry and parched throat.
The doctor must have heard the struggle behind her words and offered a plastic cup of water with a bent straw.
Winnie sipped down the fluids ravenously.
“You gave us quite the scare, Ms. Nikoli,” continued the doctor after placing the empty cup on a nearby tray and jotting down some quick notes on her clipboard. “You made an entire platoon sick with your antics, Ms. Nikoli. But do not worry. They are not dead. The last time we got ahold of your son we were able to secure a sample of his blood and reverse engineer an antidote to your most unique of blood diseases.”
“Where is Marv?” asked Winnie.
“I have someone here that would like to see you.”
At the utterance of those words, Winnie’s heart dropped to her feet, filled with despair. She wanted desperately for the person coming through the door to not be her son. She had sacrificed so much to keep him safe.
“You have no idea how good it is to see you again, Ms. Nikoli,” said agent Ali Simpson dressed in his black suit and tie. His dark eyes were fierce as he entered the room, wood bottom shoes clacking like the sound of hooves on a sidewalk.
This time agent Simpson had a new partner. Cheryl Connor, a five-feet-two inch brunette with fiery forest green eyes. She wore the typical black agent suit and tie, opting for a black skirt that stopped just below her knees. Winnie wondered if the agency doled out the government costumes at orientation.
“It’s good to finally meet you,” said agent Connor. “You’re buddy, agent Huy, who claims he forgot there was a gun and rope in the bag has been reassigned.”
Winnie’s heart hurt for Lional but in the forefront of her mind was Marvel and whether or not he had got away. She could not give in to her urges and ask the two agents. She had to wait them out.
“You know that we can have you arrested for attempted murder,” said agent Simpson.
Winnie tried to fold her arms but had to settle for staring at the agent Simpson with a glower.
“Let’s cut to the chase,” said agent Connor. “We need you to get in contact with your son. You hurt a lot of people with that little stunt at the train station and we have used up most of the anti-virus.”
“What makes you think I would help you?” said Winnie defiantly, simmering grey eyes locked with the agents intense green orbs.
“Oh you will help us,” said agent Connor. Her hands gripped the thick, white plastic foot board at the base of the bed and leaned forward. “I can guarantee that, whether you want to or not.”
To Be Continued...
Tune in next week for Part 2