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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Shadows of the Past - Part 10

The voice was not so much familiar as the feelings it evoked. Jan had a sense of true warmth and caring from the touch and the intonations in his voice. The hand resting on her head only added to the pleasure, yet she wasn’t sure she could place any of it, or why she felt that way. At best she could only remember snippets of her life right now, and somehow this person didn’t seem to be a part of those snippets. It seemed that she had only lived in the shadows, and somehow either gotten into or out of trouble most of the time. Jan could remember vague silhouettes of people that she worked with or helped, but mostly their faces and names remained somewhere out of reach. This person was different. He seemed to fit into both categories, but there was something else. There was something about him that touched her memory. And if he was a person she worked with, then why be so sly about coming into her hospital room, he had barely made any noise. It seemed to her as if she could feel his feelings of worry, and that took her off guard, how did she know what his feelings might be, did she know him that well, or was it all just guessing from the tone of his voice? One thing still bothered her, why did he feel the need to sneak in. Her head began to ache again with all the thoughts going through it.

“Don’t honestly know yet. Who are you?” was all the reply she gave and then opened her eyes slowly. Best at this time to keep everyone guessing, even herself. He didn’t remove his hand, he only moved closer. To most people this might have made them uncomfortable, to Jan, she only felt reassurance. She could see him clearly now. In fact, he had made a point to move into her line of sight so that she could. Jan could only guess that his height was around six foot, and weight, well it didn’t look as if he had a problem with that, as she got a clear view of well toned muscle down the front of a very baggy hospital shirt. His face, although hard and chiseled with experience, was not threatening, and in fact she could see worry lines at the corners of his dark green eyes. Not a bad face to look at, and one Jan knew had featured in her dreams recently. She only wished she was unable to make a direct connection to any specific dream, name, or lifetime.

“Shh. I really didn’t expect you to respond. You’ve been through a lot of nasty stuff. The doctor will be here for rounds in about ten minutes so I’ll have to be fast,” he gently took his hand from Jan’s head. “Name’s Ward and we have,” there was a slight pause, “worked together at times. Right now, all you need to know is that whatever you remember, which I’m guessing is very little at this point, it is important to keep it to yourself until you can get your wits about you, and remember who is who.” This time he stood up, “This may be the hard part, trust no one, not even me Babs until you remember them,” at this he smiled and touched her hand. The name Babs rang a bell way off in the distance and the touch brought back emotions of love and warmth. Jan tried to smile, and Ward caught a glimpse of it. With his mind’s eye, he also saw something else. “Do you trust me?” Jan just stared at him, unsure, “Close your eyes, and look with your heart,” never once moving his hand, Jan felt safe and closed her eyes. All at once the pain in her head cleared and a thought drifted through her mind. It was his face, and his hand in hers, and they were together. The thought was hazy, and the why even hazier, but she was sure it was the two of them. Jan wondered how this man fit into the picture she was getting, and just why he was able to help her clear the storm long enough to get a clear thought of the past through it. Many things began to tumble through her mind and all she heard was a quiet, “Shh... all in good time.” Jan opened her eyes to his smile, “one thing always to remember, you have to know who your friends and enemies are, and I think you still might be trying to remember who you really are. Rob’s a good guy, but he is still just following orders,” letting go of her hand, he moved toward the door. After looking through a little crack as he opened the door, he continued, “I’ll be back soon, but by that time they’ll have your room bugged and humming. It’ll be harder to talk then, but I’ll find a way to answer any questions you have.” The door opened wider, “Take care Babs, I’ll see you again soon, I promise,” and he was gone. There was something unspoken, something she could not put a finger on, only a feeling, and that scared her in a very different way than the events prior to today have.

One thing was true; she was still trying to put all the pieces together. But this person, Ward, had asked her for nothing, and said he’d be willing to answer her questions when he could. He also seemed to be the only one concerned about how she was doing, besides the doctors, not wanting to know what she could remember. Only one thing bothered her about Ward, his desire not to be seen by Rob, or by anyone else by the look of things. This brought up some very interesting thoughts. His voice and mannerisms seemed to evoke only good feelings in her, whereas Rob’s presence had done neither. Nor did his presence bring a sense of fear or of mistrust, she seemed to trust Rob but she didn’t know why. The cloud was beginning to grow again, swirling relentlessly in her head. The fact that it seemed to have quieted while he was in the room and allowed her to see a bit of what he was feeling made this Ward character more interesting. Had she just imagined that? How many times had he been in here? Maybe she had just imagined it all, and was dreaming again, hoping so much for a normal life beyond this room that Ward had appeared as a part of her subconscious. She still had no real sense of self, or of any reality. She made a mental note to ask for as much reading material as possible to catch up on current events, learn about her surroundings, and to figure out her life.

If it was true and she was in a hospital, she still didn’t know where the hospital was, or even where she lived. At the present time, even if she felt the need to, she could not escape. Except for the nurse, everyone she had seen, at the grand total of two now, she had somehow known, and neither person had elicited a fear response from her. That was a good sign. Kevin, the mystery man in all of this, was dead. Jan also knew she looked and felt like the inside of a sausage, and that the throbbing in her head had started again and was about to claim her sanity. She looked to the door expecting someone to open it just as the doctor walked in and started what was soon to become a regular routine to check on her progress.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Shadows of the Past - Part 9

Rob flipped through an old magazine, glancing back and forth at the door. For right now he felt pretty sure that Jan was safe. The newspapers had reported two deaths at the factory. This was important for the time being. In fact, it may have been the truth for all Rob had known; it was touch and go for a couple of days. She had been registered under the name of Casandra Hughs. A name she had used from time to time when needed, but was truly unknown to most people. Only one other person knew this name, and he wasn’t too worried about him just yet. This gave the department time. Since she had regained consciousness it was now becoming apparent that something would need to be done.

Rob dropped the magazine on the table and walked toward the door. The nurse was just leaving the room, and as he approached her she held up a warning finger. “Just checking to see if I could go in yet?”

“I’m afraid Miss Hughs has tired herself out, and will be asleep for a while yet,” and the nurse, putting her hands on her hips, gave Rob one last look as if to say just try and get past me. He decided he’d rather take on the entire Marine Corp than this nurse.

“Guess I should get a fresh cup of coffee then,” as he turned he felt that Jan would be safe with ‘Sergeant Major Nurse’ on duty for the moment. The next morning, once he was relieved of door watching duty for a while, he would have to pick up the surveillance equipment and wire her room. He had won the argument on video equipment at least, and it would only be sound. The thought of the conversation with the director he had just had angered him. Rob was unsure that this was the best way to protect her. He didn’t want any unexpected visitors in Jan’s room, but the department seemed to think this plan may smoke out those involved if they let out the information that she was alive, or worse yet, prove that she was implicated. And it was that part that scared him, that and the thought of drinking more hospital coffee.

An orderly was standing off to the side of the nurses’ station and looking through the charts at hand. He stood about six-foot although it was hard to tell the way he slumped over the charts. The hospital cap hid all but the ends of his hair, and the tan on his well-defined arms drew no attention to him as Rob walked past. Once Rob had turned the corner, the orderly counted the seconds it would take for him to reach the elevator. Once the time was up, he looked around for the nurses. It was at that moment that the orderly, Ward, slipped the charts into the bin and moved quickly to the door of Jan’s room entering silently. Taking in all aspects of the room with a single glance, he knew that there was nothing here yet to let them know that he had shown up. Good. He then dared a look at Jan. ‘Shit.’ She had been in rough spots before, but never this bad. He stared for just a moment, noticing that the breathing had tensed up. He smiled knowing she must be aware of someone in the room. That was a good sign. She was at least conscious. He walked over to her slowly, not wanting to scare her. He bent over and moved his hand gently across her head, “Ahh Babs, what did you get yourself into this time?” He rested his hand gently on her forehead.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Shadows of the Past - Part 8

Moments later, Jan was aware of someone on the other side of the door. It was only the gentle sound of the door opening that disturbed her thoughts. The person that entered, Jan assumed was the doctor, but when there was barely any sound as he moved through the room she knew it wasn’t. Jan left her eyes closed as terror gripped her heart. She took one calming breath pushing away the fear that filled her and waited. It seemed to be a conditioned response. Help was only seconds away, yet it really didn’t feel to her as if she needed the help. The waiting seemed like forever. The feelings she had didn’t seem to be hers. Instead they were feelings of compassion, hurt, caring, love, and fear. The last one was unclear as to where that feeling was coming from. It wasn’t until the voice spoke, so soft and low, gentle and warm by her ear that she released the air from her lungs. She felt a reassuring hand on her head, smoothing her hair gently away from her face as the voice whispered in her ear.

“Ahh Babs, what did you get yourself into this time?” -----

“Didn’t get much,” Rob paused, “She had just gained consciousness for the first time when I went in there and she didn’t seem to remember much of anything,” Rob leaned his five foot ten inch frame against the wall as he talked into the phone with his back to Jan’s room. He was well proportioned, and very fit for his age. “Doctors say the trauma was pretty severe. They can’t be sure if she will even remember what happened,” in his mind he wondered why she would want to remember any of it. It might only get her killed the next time. There was a silence while he listened to the person on the other end of the phone, and he pushed the fingers of his other hand back through his short black hair. The warmth of the cell phone on his ear matched the heated words he was hearing, and he didn’t like the tone of it at all. He had known what they had thought, but to hear the implications spoken out loud unnerved him. Rob was sure that all the allegations were unfounded, or at least the ones that left her on the wrong side of the law. He had also been sure of it with another coworker a while back, and who had left this line of work, in what some would say was on unfavorable terms. “The nurse assured me that I would be able to see her again after the doctor’s been in, and Okayed it. I’ll report back after that or tomorrow, whichever comes first,” he rang off quickly without any formalities.

He went back to watching the door to the room. His windbreaker was old with the logo of the sports team unreadable, and his shirt standard white-collar, button up. As he sat in the waiting room on the dirty orange chairs with the attached Formica table, his cold coffee sitting next to him on the chair, he mused over the past ten years. He had known Jan for all those years. They had worked together and had been friends most of the time, good friends. He was ten years older than her, and had taken her as a partner about two years after the department was officially formed. Over those years he had become protective of her, as a father would be to a daughter, even in her life outside of the job. That was part of his job anyway, to make sure that there was no life outside her job, nothing to pull her away from the team, and in that he knew he had failed. Once he had become her friend, he had allowed her more freedom. It was that freedom that now threatened to incarcerate her forever, guilty or not.

When he found her after the attack, he had half-expected Jan to be dead, although he knew if there were any way to have escaped it, she would have. He heard the call go out on the scanner in his old Camry. It was reported as a factory fire out on First Avenue and Highway A- 1. It was a deserted, disintegrating area at best. The years had left the area abandoned and neglected after the factory had closed. It was now the type of area for drug dealers, drops and a place where the netherworld inhabited. It hadn’t been the first time he had been to that warehouse on this assignment, and when he heard the call go out he immediately turned in that direction fearing the worst.

Rob and Jan had known that this attack might happen, that was why they had chosen to relocate Kevin, but didn’t think it would be right after the trial. Jan was good at her job, and the only thing left in his mind, at the time he had heard the call, was that Jan had been removed from the picture permanently. How had they missed the warning signs? He wondered how she had, knowing just what she could do. He had not known nor could he understand it, and that still remained the mystery, and looked to stay that way for a while. When he got there the firefighters had just removed the two bodies and had been surprised to find anyone in the building. They were also surprised to find that one of them was still alive. So had Rob.

Kevin hadn’t had a chance, his head was no longer round, and only a gross approximation of a head was left. They had just kidded themselves that they might be able to offer him some protection from that group, but now that the worst had happened there were even more pieces to be put together. Kevin had been threatened that if he testified he would be killed, but this was truly more than that. Kevin wasn’t even recognizable, but when he had seen who the other body was, he had his fears confirmed. It had been Jan, but somehow she was still breathing and alive. It surprised him that she had made it through such an ordeal. Then again, Jan didn’t give up easily. It must have been some fight, and Rob wondered if Jan had even gotten a good look at them. Most likely she had, and that would be the problem. Even if Jan never remembered, Rob wasn’t sure if that would matter to her attackers. It would be easier to hide her and keep her safe if she had no knowledge of her past. On the other hand, Jan would also have no memory of how to deal with things as they came up, and could he protect her forever? The bosses might frown on that one. No one devoted his life to protecting another agent, not in this race. At best she was damaged goods, at worst a liability.

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