Authors: Rain Oxford
The colors and scents of the bookstore faded away and
left me with the chilling image of the hospital. The overhead light was harsh
in the sterile medical room and the heart monitor was like a warning that death
was near. What was really frightful though was seeing my dad standing rigid and
blocking the woman on the bed from the man before him. It wasn’t the woman the
big man was pointing the gun at; it was my dad.
Calm was the only expression on Dad’s face, but it
was, to my knowledge, the first time my dad had a gun aimed on him. Hail took
my hand with desperation. We had long since learned that we couldn’t do
anything during the visions; we could only prevent the situation from happening
after we woke from it. The downside was that we usually didn’t know how much
time we had or what events led to the situation. Just as I was gathering
details to come up with a solution, the man pulled the trigger…
And I knew… this was a current vision. Just as we
were seeing it, my dad had been shot.
I woke with a shout, begging for Mordon to tell me
Dad was all right. When Mordon gasped with shock and pain, I knew it wasn’t so.
In my distraction, I didn’t sense the stranger behind me until I felt the sharp
stab of pain in my head. Before I could turn to see my attacker, my vision grew
dark and I felt myself falling.
I was enjoying my morning until I got the phone call.
A sense of foreboding gripped me hard, as did Mordon.
“Don’t answer it,” he said, clinching my wrist.
Whether it was because he felt my reluctance or
because of his own I didn’t know, but I ignored the sense of dread and his
demand. “Hello,” I said, holding the phone to my ear.
“Dr. Yatunus? Sorry to call you on your day off, but
we have a very strange case and we need you.” Ms. Manning’s tone was
As much as I wanted to turn her down, I liked working
in this town. Besides, if someone really needed my help, I couldn’t refuse just
so I could have a day off. I sighed and Mordon groaned. “I’ll be there in
Seeing the hurt expression on Ron’s face was
heartbreaking. Since the time he was a baby, he acted like I was abandoning him
every time I so much as left the room. Fifteen minutes later, I was walking
through the hospital doors, but with each step the urge to leave grew.
Something evil was lurking in the hospital, waiting with baited breath to
Ms. Manning seemed relieved and embarrassed as she
handed me a chart without a word. When I read the chart, I was sure there was a
mistake. I looked at her, but she wouldn’t meet my eye.
I sighed. “I’ll get changed and get in there.”
“Actually, I think it would be better if you don’t
Worried, I started down the hallway to the exam room.
I opened the door and saw my patient. “Holy sugar!” I said, slamming the door
shut. A nurse passed me by with a concerned frown.
“Is everything okay?”
“Um…” I swallowed and I checked the chart to see if
anyone had administered any medication to the patient, but it seemed everyone
was too frightened to. “How long has Mr. McDaniel been in there?”
She cleared her throat nervously. “He came in about
twenty minutes ago.”
“And he’s been sitting in there without treatment for
“He hasn’t pushed the call button.”
I opened the door and forced myself to enter before
closing the door behind me, sealing myself in with the patient. “Mister…” I
cleared my throat. “Mr. McDaniel, I’m Dr. Yatunus. I would like to ask you a
series of questions to make sure you’re comfortable before I try to make any
diagnosis. First of all, can you speak?”
“Yes,” was the barely understandable reply.
“Are you in pain?”
“Just from pressure. I feel like I have a sinus
headache.” Again, if I hadn’t had experience getting the story from people with
broken noses, I wouldn’t have had a clue what he said.
“I see. Can you breathe properly?”
“I can’t swallow well, but I can breathe through my
“Are there any symptoms other than… physical?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Have you taken any form of medication since the
first sign of swelling?”
“Okay. You don’t seem to be in any immediate danger.”
I clipped the chart to the end of his bed and ran through my entire medical
knowledge on anaphylactic shock. “Was this gradual or sudden?”
“It began yesterday and just kept growing.”
“What were you doing when it started? Were you eating
or drinking anything unusual?”
He shook his head. “I was at work. I coach P.E.”
“Okay, I need to listen to your heart.” I pulled out
the stethoscope from one of the drawers and pressed the metal disk to his
chest. Ignoring the frantic sound of his heart, I searched him out with my
energy. What came back shocked me worse than his condition. “You don’t happen
to coach P.E. at the local middle school, do you?”
“Yes, I do. Why?”
“Do you yell a lot during the day?” I asked, putting
the stethoscope away.
“I have to. I have to keep boys in line all day, work
their energy out.”
“I’m sorry to say, that is the root of your
condition. See, when you yell, your blood pressure rises and it makes you more
vulnerable to afflictions. In this case, harmless allergies were elevated to
dangerous inflammation because your immune system was already weakened by your
His devastated expression told me he was buying my
bullshit. I was trying not to grind my teeth because Ron was supposed to be
keeping his powers a secret. When I felt his curse in this man, it was simple
to piece together exactly what happened. Ron didn’t like being yelled at, and
such a curse as this was exactly the kind of thing he would do to punish
someone who yelled at him. The patient, who turned out to be Ron’s unfortunate
P.E. teacher, had an inflamed nose. It wasn’t just large; it was at least
twenty times too large, to the point where his eyes were barely open and his
mouth was contorted.
“So this will go away if I stop yelling?”
I easily removed my son’s curse, but his nose would
shrink as slowly as it grew. “I will provide you with a prescription for some
antihistamines, but yes, as long as you keep your calm, it will go away on its
“Thank you!” He thanked me repeatedly on his way out,
barely giving me a chance to write him his prescription.
I went to the nurse station and handed Ms. Manning
the file. “Allergic reaction to shellfish. He’ll be fine. I’ll see you
tomorrow.” Just as I said it, the doors behind me burst open. The chill that
raced up my spine was like a knife blade running down my back.
Whatever behind me was evil.
Don’t turn around.
get me if I didn’t look.
Don’t turn around. Just wait until it’s gone and go
I turned around, saw the person the paramedics were
wheeling in on a gurney, and gasped. Black spots formed in my eyes, my head
pounded, and bile rose. Only one person could make me feel so much pity,
anxiety, and regret, though she was barely recognizable under the bruises and
gashes all over her body.
It was my mother.
* * *
Years of agonizing, conflicting memories warred with
my training as I tried to save the life of the woman I loved and hated equally.
Because my Iadnah energy was in tune with my emotions and desires, I couldn’t
risk using it, not even for a second. I used every ounce of skill I had as a
doctor to stitch up her wounds and stop the internal bleeding, while a small
impulse inside me wanted to slip up, or even take the pillow under her head and
smother her with it. But I couldn’t be that hateful. I couldn’t live with
myself if I were that kind of man.
After hours of hard work, I was alone with the woman
who terrorized my childhood when she wasn’t neglecting me. I sat beside Regina in
the chair reserved for loved ones with her blood all over my scrubs. I couldn’t
stand to wash it off. It was as if I had been to war with the woman and won,
when the horrible truth was that I could never win against her. No matter where
I went, or how much I grew up, or how powerful I became, she was still the
reason I was me.
I was reminiscing about the time she pawned all my
stuff, emptied out my bank account, and kicked me out with just the clothes on
my back because I wanted to go to college instead of getting a job to support
her. She aged poorly in the thirteen years I had been gone and looked to be in
her late seventies instead of her early fifties. Her hair, once gold and white
blond, was now a synthetic yellow with light gray roots.
I noticed some time after her surgery that she was
wearing a wedding ring.
My mother woke with a small moan before her eyes
fluttered open to stare straight ahead. I held still, hoping she wouldn’t
notice me. As if she heard my thoughts, she turned and looked right at me with
no recognition for several minutes. When it finally dawned on her who I was,
she inhaled sharply.
I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything
until she winced in pain. “What happened? Who hurt you?” I asked, although I
had a very good idea. Regina Carter had a history of infuriating any man
foolish enough to date her until he snapped.
“Where’ve you been all these years? I mean, I assumed
you’d been in jail, but you look too spiffy for a convict. Yur a doctor now,
all rich, and you ‘adn’t even bothered to call yur mother. After all I gave you
I sighed, for she was exactly as I remembered her.
After neglecting me my entire childhood, ridiculing me constantly, and kicking
me out when the government stopped paying her money for me, she still felt that
I should work hard to support her expensive lifestyle.
“Who hurt you?”
“What do you care? You’ve been gone for years.”
“Did your husband beat you?”
“It doesn’t matter. He makes me happy.”
“No, he doesn’t. Money makes you happy, and this is
not a resort town. After giving it all of two minutes of thought, based on your
gullibility and history with men, the most likely scenario is that you met a
man online who said he was rich. You previously ran out of all your money, so
you uprooted your life to marry and move in with him. You then realized he had
lied to you and was actually poor, but instead of letting you go when you
confronted him about it, he beat you. Has he cheated on you yet? No, because
you would have taken what little money he has and left.”
“He never cheated on me.”
“You haven’t tried to run?”
“Of course I have. I’ve been trying to get out of
this broke-ass town for months. I can’t afford to go nowhere.”
“If you go back to him, he’ll beat you again.”
“He did the last three times. Looks like you didn’t
have to ruin my marriages as a kid; I could ruin them just fine on my own.”
“How much do you need to get out of town?”
“A few thousand.”
“I will give you the money you need, but you cannot
put it in your bank account. If you do, he gets half of it when you divorce
“She’s not going anywhere and she sure as hell ain’t
divorcing me,” came a deep voice behind me.
I had been so distracted that I hadn’t heard the door
open. “We have to do something about the damn security around here.”
The man was certainly my mother’s type; all brawn and
no brain. I wasn’t worried about the fact that he was about six-seven or the
biker tattoos all over his leather clad body. No, I was much more upset about
the gun he leveled on me.
“Don’t get involved, Dylan,” my mother warned, as if
I had asked the man to pull a gun on me. Then again, I guess having anything to
do with her made me guilty by association.
“You can’t expect to walk out of here now that you’ve
pulled a gun on a doctor,” I said to the man instead.
“I can and will. This has nothing to do with you, but
“Dylan, we’re at the bookstore. Are you about
Mordon asked in my head.
I tried to draw on the peace in him. Mordon was fun
to be with and loved to goof around, but Rojan was a constant presence of calm
power. If I ever felt out of control or like I couldn’t unwind, Rojan could
share his calmness with me or Mordon.
“A little bit of a detour.”
“Do you need me to come to the hospital?”
“No, just watch out for the boys. Hell hasn’t had
any sudden visions, has he?”
“No, why? Are you in danger?”
“Don’t worry. Just doctor business.”
couldn’t block myself from him because it would have been an instant red flag,
but he knew how stressful my job usually was. Stress was normal, I just
couldn’t afford to feel any form of panic.
My power was infinite, but I was still learning to
use it. I could make a force field that would stop the bullet, which seemed
like the most promising method. The only reason I hadn’t yet done it was
because the woman in the next room was on a respirator. If I could talk the man
down from shooting me, it would be better than using magic. However, I wouldn’t
just let him take my mother.
To my surprise, it wasn’t Rojan’s calmness I got from
my bond with Mordon but something I was less familiar with. When my mother
tried to struggle out of bed, I growled. “Lay the hell down, woman. If you tear
those stitches I’ll tape up your wounds with duct tape!” I barked. She stopped
and stared at me in shock for a moment before lying back down.
I turned back to the man with a gun in my face.
Whatever it was Mordon shared with me made me calm, but not at peace. It was
more like I felt indignant that this man didn’t instantly submit to me. I
didn’t need magic because I was in complete control of the situation.
“Get that gun out of my face before I shove it down
your throat. I’m from Texas, moron, you think I don’t know how to get that gun
out of your hand before you can blink?” He hesitated, but lowered the gun slightly,
probably in shock from my change in attitude. “That’s better. Now, you’re going
to get out of here and never contact this woman again. If you try to stop her
or come near either of us again, I have full access to drugs that will really
fuck you up and a morgue slab with your name on it. I’m an ER doctor; I can
induce a coma and send you to the morgue as dead. They would take my word for
it and perform an autopsy. As they cut you open, you’ll feel everything and
won’t even be able to scream.”
“You can’t do that!”
Of course I couldn’t, but he didn’t know that. “I’m
the head ER doctor. Nobody would question me, nobody would investigate, and
nobody would rat me out. But you’re right; that would be suspicious. After
rendering you defenseless, I would have to make it look like you were in a
major accident. A few cuts, bruises, and some broken bones will do. Any more
than that and you would die before they could perform the autopsy.”
“You can’t do shit if I shoot you dead!” he said,
desperately trying to believe his own words. He came here expecting not to be
confronted. My change in behavior and lack of fear confused and worried him.