Macallan doesn’t mind hospitals the way other people do. He gets some peace, some quiet, finds some meditation in the beeps and blinks of monitors and equipment. Hospitals are interesting mixtures of folks either waiting to die or desperate not to, sometimes sharing the same hospital suite.
Susannah Fontaine-Williams, still unconscious, lay in the bed next to the window. Mac sat beside her, the unstarted Monday Times puzzle in his lap. He listens to the sounds coming from outside the room, cart wheels on the hard, polished floors, the hushed voices, the buzz at the nurse’s station. He doesn’t care about the time; nevertheless, it is early evening.
He had answered his phone a short while ago, Susannah Fontaine-Williams’s name on the display, yet a strange man’s voice speaking with an accent he couldn’t quite place. “She is in the New York Downtown Hospital…there was a power surge.”
“What kind of a power surge?”
The man was impatient. “She was caught in a burst of electrostatic energy. Difficult to explain. She will be all right.”
“Who are you?”
“Not important. A friend. She will tell you. Maybe. Come. She should not wake up alone.”
Walt did want to explain. But how does one explain the paradox that would be created by bringing the exterior of an extra-dimensional object – the bag – into its own interior, which had nearly happened. This is all speculation, but that might very well turn the universe inside out on itself. He couldn’t know for certain; it was a theory he was too afraid to test. What did happen is that she stopped at the bag’s side entrance, a flash of energy knocked her backward and she crumbled unconscious on the spot.
Walt hoisted her over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry, took the stairs up to street level two at a time, and sprinted her to the nearest hospital, the Downtown Hospital, nearly a mile away. He raced her straight to the desk in the emergency room, screaming, “she’s been electrocuted!” This got a lot of attention and two attendants lifted her from his shoulders, dropped her onto a gurney and rolled her away through a pair of swinging doors. He shouted, “Susannah Fontaine-Williams…she famous…has a TV show,” as he ran back out of the emergency room, away as quickly as possible.
Racing back to his shop in a zig-zag pattern, he looked at SFW’s recent call list on her phone, and pressed Macallan’s name. He didn’t think anyone had followed.
Macallan sits patiently at her side, watching her breathing, zoning out to the rhythmic beeps. It makes him sleepy. He should call Alethia soon. He pulls out the Monday puzzle, the easiest of the week and just stares at it, seeing the clues, but not registering them. He falls asleep.
He awakens to the sound of voices next to him, a cop talking to a nurse. “Do you have to cuff him to the bed like that? Between the morphine and that leg wound, he’s not going anywhere.”
“Sorry,” the cop says, “it’s procedure. ”
“What did he do anyway?” she says.
“This clown goes into a drug store to get allergy medication. But he doesn’t have ID. He roughs up the girl at the counter, takes the stuff – he actually pays for it! Then he runs away, gets clipped by a car and goes off into the woods.”
“So he didn’t actually steal anything?”
“No, and he nearly bleeds out. Sumbitch could have died, and for what?”
Macallan chuckles to himself. The nurse looks his way and says, “Visiting hours are over soon. You have about 15 minutes.”
He nods, “Thanks.” He scans SFW. She has what looks like a bad sunburn on the right half of her face and on her right arm. He thinks that if he pulled back her covers, he would see that her right leg is burned as well. Her hair is a tangle. “Think she’ll be OK?”
The nurse glances at her monitor and takes her pulse. “Everything seems normal.”
“Then why hasn’t she woken up?”