The tension in the atmosphere was almost palpable, so stiff one could reach out and grab it. It was as though both the doctors, the nurses and all the hospital staff had a deadly unknown secret they refused to reveal as they scurried around in various directions, speaking in hushed  albeit anxious tones whenever they passed close by Marie’s ward.

Unfortunately for her there was no mother, father, brother or sister to hold her hand, no friend nor lover to tell her that everything will be alright. Friend or lover indeed! She had no history, no known family, no identity.

If she knew she would end up like this, she would have lived her life with no ambitions or aspirations. Unfortunately, after a series of bad decisions she was stuck here, and those responsible for this had abandoned her to her fate…

She was too weak to move, the anaesthetics had weakened her body, but not her mind. She tried speaking with any medical personnel that came to her room, but her words were too mumbled for her to be heard.

They may have succeeded in shutting down her body, but their science could not shut down her mind. There was too much at stake for her, too much to live for, she would fight until her last breath and beyond…

*********

 (Somewhere else in the ward)

‘Doctor, how is she? ‘

‘It is more complicated than we thought. She has lost so much blood and her body is very weak. ‘

‘And the baby? ‘

‘Based on the tests we ran on both of you, even though you are the same blood type, there are too many complications for you to be able to donate blood.   The bullet pierced through her womb and damaged it totally, it is difficult to determine if it is her blood or the baby that is being lost through miscarriage. They both may not make it.’

‘She is pregnant with my child goddammit!  Listen doctor, you better get in there and save them both or I swear I will sue you and this hospital to hell and back!!’

‘Please calm down sir. We are doing the best we can. But based on the wounds she received and the trauma to her abdomen, it would be impossible for a baby to have survived. We are currently contemplating the removal of her womb to save her life. If you give us consent, we can prepare the theatre immediately at…’

‘You are not listening to me! That child is the key to everything. Doctor, you must save them both please, I will pay anything, just save my child…’

‘Please calm down sir…’

‘Please!!!! That child is everything to me… save my child…’ (the voice of Mr. Bradbury becomes muffled as the security tries to pin him down as the nurse presses a syringe with a sedative into his arm.)

He slums into a chair, desperate pleas for his unborn child falling on deaf ears. The nurses consider giving him an extra dose to knock him out completely, as his voice filled with tears rings through the hospital ward.

*********

Somewhere else in the city, the phone rings

‘Is it done?’

‘Yes.’

‘And the baby? ‘

‘If there was a baby, it should have been sent back to his maker since the shooting.’

‘Good. All we need now is to tie up loose ends. I do not want any of this to be linked back to me.’

‘Yes sir. And what about Bradbury?’

‘He was always too weak to fight for what he claimed to love. Give him an electric shock or something to make him forget.’

‘And Marie? She is as good as dead already…’

‘Keep her alive, but in a deep sleep state. I want her to remember what we did to her and be able to do nothing about it.’

‘Consider it done.’

(three months later, the same phone rings)

‘I told you not to call me if it was not important.’

‘I… I…am so… sorry to bother you, sir. I have important news. I cannot explain how sir… We took all the necessary precautions, but this is beyond us, sir. She is still pregnant…’

‘Who?’

‘Marie sir.’

‘What? I thought you took out her womb.’

‘I thought… I mean… we did sir.’

‘Were you in the theatre?’

‘No sir, but I paid the surgeons and instructed them to carry out your wishes. ‘

‘What do we do sir?’

‘We? You know that I do not tolerate mistakes. Loose ends must be eliminated.’

‘Y…y…yes… sir.’

‘Have a good night.’

The sound of gunshots fired rise into the air as the phone on the other end goes dead.

(The man drops the phone and smiles to himself.)

‘Ms. Forster gets me the new doctor on the phone.’

********

A few years later

‘Hello Daddy,’ (Lizzie smiles, giving him a big kiss on the cheek.)

‘How was school today?’

‘Okay.’

‘Did anything new and exciting happen?’

‘No.’

‘You did not make any new friends?’

‘I met a strange lady who was very nice to me.’

‘A teacher?’

‘No, I think she is one of the parents.’

‘Really?’

‘Yea! I ran out of class and was crying because the girls were being mean to me and tried to take my lunch box. She came to hug me, wiped my tears, and told me that I must walk tall, keep my head up high and not allow the girls to bully me. She walked away without telling me her name.’

‘Hmmm. Maybe it is a guardian angel sent to watch over you.’

‘Maybe. I’m hungry…’

‘Here comes the monster who eats hungry little girls!’

‘Ah!!!!’ (She screams in excitement) ‘You can’t get me!’

‘Come here my princess’. (he grabs her and forces her to sit on his lap.)  ‘You know Daddy loves you?’

‘More than anything in the world!’ Lizzie says.

‘But Daddy, where is my mummy?’

‘In a very special place.’

‘Will she ever come and live with us?’

‘No dear. She is in a place where she is never coming back.’

*******

Later that day…

‘Excuse me, sir, you have a visitor.’

‘Who is it?’

‘Mr. Bradbury.’

‘Let him in.’

‘Brad my brother! How have you been? It has been forever since I last saw you. You are too busy for family these days.’

‘You know how it is, work, work, and more work.’

‘What you need is a woman to help you relax and slow down’

‘Been there, done that, and I am not interested. I think I am doomed to never find the one.’

‘The one?’

‘Yes. I am literally searching for the woman of my dreams.’

‘But dreams are not real.’

‘Apparently, they are. I keep seeing the same woman every night, calling out to me in my dreams. I do not recall ever seeing her before in real life, but I swear, in my dreams, it feels like I have known her forever. I keep searching for her in every woman I meet.’

‘What’s her name?’

‘I do not know, but I would love to find out. Speaking of lifetime loves, when am I going to meet Lizzie?’

‘She is out of town on a school trip.’

‘I find it strange that I have not met her yet. Even though she is adopted, she is legally my niece you know.’

‘Yea, yea, yea. We need to find you, someone, to love so you can stop hassling me about my daughter.’

‘I am inviting the two of you to dinner for thanksgiving, and I will not take no for an answer.’

‘Bro, you really need to get a life. How about inviting a lady friend to dinner instead? I have plans of my own’.

‘Let us hope I get to meet Lizzie before the next 10 years…’

‘I hope so too.  I have a meeting to get to in an hour, I need to prepare. It is time for you to go…’

‘Let it be on record I stopped by to visit and you are throwing me out.’

‘Let it be on record I told you to get a life!’

‘Despite how you treat me, I still love you.’

‘Whatever!’(He says tapping him on the back as he walks him to the door.) ‘Ms. Forster, please walk my brother to his car.’

‘Yes sir.’

‘Bye!’

‘He walks back to his study and shuts the door behind him.’

‘Daddy who was that?’(Lizzie says as she walks in through another door.)

‘A business partner dear’. (He says, picking her up to sit on his lap.)

‘Are you ashamed of me?’

‘Never my darling. How could you say such a thing?’

‘I have never met your uncles, brothers, sisters, you never take me out to meet anyone. I wish I were back at the orphanage.’

‘Please do not ever say such a thing again. I have not introduced you to anyone because I love you too much and I want you all to myself. You are the thing I love the most in the whole world!’

********

6months later…

‘Doctor, what is the problem?’

‘I asked for you to come in person because I wanted you to see this. Something we have never seen before in the history of neurological science is taking place.’

‘This is a screen with a bunch of lines and charts, what does that have to do with anything?’

‘This is a copy of her brain scan and ECG readings 6 months ago. It has improved consistently over the past months.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘Her bodily function is dead, because she is in a coma, but her brain function is like that of a normal person.’

‘What do you mean by normal?’

‘As though she were up and about; eating, going to work like people do every day. These are not the readings of someone who is asleep, or even dreaming. Her body is literally kept alive by this machine as per your wishes, but her mind functions as though it were not in a comatose body, but in an active body.’

‘Has anyone come to see her in the past months?’

‘No one has come to see her in years. We constantly hire new staff to attend to her and ensure that no personal or friendly contact is made with her. Her brain function is unexplainable and unstimulated by any medical or scientific means.’

‘Increase the comatose drug if necessary. It is important that she stays as she is.’

(Alarms go off as a red light appears outside Marie’s door.)

‘What is going on doctor?’

‘Something is wrong with the patient. Please excuse me.’

(He watches through the glass window above her ward as the doctor rushes in with some nurses to see what is wrong.)

(The doctor comes back to him in shock.)

‘I have been a doctor for many years, but I have never seen this. It is as though she was upset about something almost to the point of heart attack. This sudden jolt of emotion does not happen in comatose patients, only people who are active and can witness things. It is as though she heard our conversation and was reacting to it. But we were both here watching her through a soundproof glass window.’

‘I do not care what reactions she has. Pull the plug now or knock her out!’

‘We cannot do that sir. That alarm was heard by too many people in the hospital. If they sense foul play, I could lose my license. ‘

‘I pay far more than your license is worth, do as I say!’

‘I am sorry sir. Something beyond our control is going on. I cannot increase her dosage without killing her.’

‘I want her alive dammit! But I also want her in a very deep sleep.’

‘She is asleep sir. As for her brain functions, there is nothing we can do right now to diminish it. We must wait a few days and observe her further. Please leave now sir, before someone sees you. I will inform you of any changes.’

(The man stomps out in anger and goes home.)

‘Where is Lizzie?’

‘Hello daddy!’

‘How was your day my angel?’

‘Very nice. I have a question for you.’

‘You know you can ask me anything.’

‘Who is Marie?’

***