Chapter 1I lay dying
And I’m pouring crimson regret and betrayal…
Jessie jumped slightly and snapped out of her trance upon hearing the pet name her father used for her. A look of confusion crossed her face for a few moments until she twisted around in her seat enough to see Race standing in the doorway. She forced a weak smile.
“Hey Dad. What’s up?”
Race studied his daughter carefully. He had noticed during the past couple of weeks Jessie had been acting a little “off”, but was wary to actually acknowledge that anything was wrong. Besides, she was usually rather self-reliant, choosing to deal with her problems alone. By now he would have had to have been blind not to notice. Her skin was sallow and her hair dull. Dark circles underneath Jessie’s eyes belied her exhaustion. Perhaps most disturbing of all, however, was her weight. She had always been slender, but in the past week Jessie’s weight had dropped significantly…She was dangerously close to being skeletal.
Jessie arched an eyebrow at her father, a worried expression crossing her face.
Race gestured for her to make some room on the bench, and she quickly scooted over. He sat down and Jessie lay her head on his shoulder. He pulled her close, draping an arm over her. He began to speak.
“Jessica, I’ve noticed you’ve been acting strange lately. Is something wrong?”
A pause, then again that smile.
“No Dad. Everything’s fine.”
He didn’t believe her but knew better than to question her honesty. The best course of action, he decided, was to let the matter drop. For now, anyway.
He ruffled her hair.
“OK Ponchita. You know where to go if you ever need to talk.”
Jessie’s face flushed slightly. She looked down at her lap and spoke quietly.
Race stood up and shook his head.
“You don’t look like you’ve gotten a lick of sleep last night!”
“No…I got wrapped up in my book.”
“Table of Integrals, Series, and Products?”
“You know how I am.”
Race shook his head again.
“And you know how I am!”
He scooped Jessie up in his arms and set her back down on the sofa, tucking her blanket around her and propping a pillow behind her head.
“I want you to stay here and get some sleep. Got it? I have to go to town and pick up a few things, and everyone else is still in their rooms. Well, besides the good doctor, of course…He’s in the lab if you need anything.”
Usually she would have rolled her eyes at him and made a comment about being babied, but on this morning there was no resistance. This caused Race to become a little more concerned.
“Is there anything you need while I’m out?”
“No…Wait. What day is it?”
“It’s the fifteenth, wh--Oh. Your mom’s coming by tomorrow, isn’t she?”
“Uh-huh! Would you mind getting me some flowers for her?”
“No problem, Sweetheart.”
“Thanks Dad. I’ll see you later--Love you!”
“I love you too, Jessie.”
Race had barely exited the room before Jessie was asleep.
Jessie’s eyes fluttered open. She groaned and pulled herself into a seated position so she could see the grandfather clock in the corner.
She groaned again. Not even a half hour. Maybe if she went to the lighthouse to help Doctor Quest she’d be able to slow her mind down enough and get finally rest.
Hadji blinked. Something was wrong. Very
He had been in the middle of deep meditation when a sense of dread filled him and a vision of the lighthouse flashed through his mind.
No good could come of this.
Quickly, he was up and running through the house, not bothering to close the front door when he burst through it. He sprinted across the large lawn, slipping a little on the leaves that were scattered about the ground. At one point Hadji actually began to fall, but managed to regain his balance before impact; however, he didn’t slow down.
Finally at the lighthouse, he flung the door open and dashed up the stairs.
He was nearing the top of the stairwell, his breath raw in his throat. Almost there…
Hadji turned the last corner and stopped. Jessie was pulling herself up the stairs ahead of him, relying heavily on the banister. She was nearly to the landing when she stopped shakily.
“Jessie, is something the mat--”
Hadji yelled as Jessie collapsed, her limp body beginning to fall backwards. He ran forward and caught her before she hit the stairs and carried her the remaining distance to the landing. He pounded frantically at the door.
“Doctor Quest! Doctor Quest!
There was the sound of breaking glass, then hurried footsteps. The door swung open and Doctor Benton Quest appeared, concern etched in his features.
He was cut short as his son shoved past him into the lab and towards the chairs that had been specially designed for Questworld. Hadji lay Jessie down in one of the recliners, then turned to face his father, who was pulling the first aid kit off the wall nearby.
“Hadji, what happened?”
The young man shook his head.
“I do not know. I simply had a premonition that I was needed here and arrived just in time to see Jessie collapse.”
Doctor Quest placed his hand on the girl’s forehead. It was cold and damp with sweat. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and handed it to Hadji.
“Son, I want you to call 911.”
Hadji nodded grimly and dialed as Doctor Quest continued to examine Jessie. Her vitals were low; something was drastically wrong. But what could it be? The scientist replayed the last few days in his mind in an attempt to deduce what had caused the current situation. Like Race, he had noticed Jessie had not been acting like herself lately; she had been quiet and fairly inactive. She hadn’t been eating much, either.Of course!
Benton praised the cosmos that one of his current projects involved researching how to create a better bioplastic. He dashed to the table and snatched up a small bottle which contained glucose, one of the key components to the biodegradable plastic’s production.
“Doctor Quest, the paramedics will take up to half an hour to arrive.”
The man nodded in acknowledgement as he rummaged through the first aid kit for a syringe. He pulled a needle out and filled it with the translucent liquid, then injected it into Jessie’s thigh.
“This should buy us some time…”
***Please let her be OK…
Race was driving through town as fast as he dared. He had left his phone in the car and missed Doctor Quest’s frantic call to inform him that Jessie was getting admitted to the hospital. When he finally had the opportunity to call back, it had gone straight to voicemail.
Probably has his phone off because of hospital regs…
Race pulled into the hospital parking lot and had just barely switched off the ignition before he was out of his car and dashing towards the emergency room. He had just entered the building when he spotted Jonny at the vending machines, still in his pajamas.
“Jonny! How’s she doing?”
“Jess woke up a few minutes before the ambulance got to the compound--She was really confused at first and she’s still pretty freaked out right now. Dad’s with her in Room Three.”
He started down the hallway and was intercepted by one of the nurses.
“Can I help you, Sir?”
“I’m Jessica Bannon’s father.”
The nurse appeared confused.
“I thought her father was in the room with her…”
“No, Doctor Quest is her emergency contact.”
“Oh, well right this way then.”
Race followed the young man into a room around the corner of the hall. Doctor Quest was speaking with a rather attractive brunette woman who appeared to be in her early forties. Race ignored them and went directly to the bed his daughter was laying on. He sat down next to her and lay a hand on her stomach.
“How you doing Ponchita?”
Jessie didn’t even bother to attempt to smile this time. She pulled herself up into a seated position.
“I want to go home.”
“Not until we make sure you’re going to be OK.”
“But Dad, I feel better now…I don’t want to stay here!”
Race frowned. Jessie didn’t whine all that often; that was usually reserved for when he was fighting with her mother. He felt Doctor Quest place a hand on his shoulder.
“Race, this is Doctor Ingram. I filled her in a little bit on what’s been going on lately, but I’m going to go on and head home. Hadji’s probably worried sick by now, and I’m sure that Jonny is getting restless. Oh, and don‘t worry about notifying Estella--I already called her. She is going to attempt to make it into town tonight.”
“Hadji isn’t here? I’m surprised…”
Benton shook his head.
“I had him wait at home in case you didn’t get the voicemail I left.”
“Thanks, Doc. You’re a lifesaver. I’ll keep you posted.”
Doctor Quest shut the door behind him as he left the room. Race turned towards Doctor Ingram.
“Why don’t you tell me what you have so far, and I’ll see if there’s anything I can fill in.”
The woman nodded and shook Race’s hand.
“Sounds like a plan. Let’s see…Jessica was admitted just a little after 9:30 this morning. She had collapsed at home due to what we assume was low blood sugar levels. At time of admission, her levels were still low and she was placed on an IV solution of glucose. Her last reading shows they have returned to normal and the medication was terminated. Doctor Quest reports that Jessica had lost consciousness for several minutes and that he administered a shot of glucose while his son called the ambulance. She woke up disoriented and appears to be having mood swings.”
Jessie glowered at the doctor.
“You’d be in a bad mood too, if you had the morning I did.”
“That’s understandable. Now, Doctor Quest mentioned that there is a history of diabetes on Jessica’s maternal side?”
“Her grandfather had it, as do a few of her aunts and uncles. Her mother had gestational diabetes, as well.”
“All right. Well, I would usually lean towards the possibility that your daughter may have hypoglycemia; however, I hear there are some other factors that may have led to the incident today…I have been told that she has not been eating well lately and has been acting lethargic and withdrawn.”
Race sighed and ran a hand through his closely-cropped white hair.
“Well, you’ve pretty much covered everything I know. But no, Jessie hasn’t been acting right lately. Even her walk has been different; more of a shuffle.”
The two adults turned towards Jessie, who had remained strangely quiet throughout the majority of the exchange.
“OK Jessie, I let it drop this morning, but now we’re going to talk about it. What’s going on?”
Jessie looked down at her lap and shrugged.
“Just not feeling well, I guess.”
Race cupped Jessie’s chin in his hand and forced her to look up at him.
“Can you talk to me about it?”
Her lower lip quivered and her eyes began to well up with tears. She pulled away.
“Come on Sweetheart.”
“Jessica, you are not leaving this room until you talk to me.”
“Why don’t you want to talk to me?”
Jessie shook her head.
“I don’t want you to worry about me. I’m fine.”
Doctor Ingram leaned towards Jessie and clasped the girl’s hands firmly.
“If you won’t talk to your father, can you promise me that you will talk to your mother when she gets into town?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“And Mr. Bannon, would you please schedule an appointment with your daughter’s general practitioner? I would like someone run some tests to make sure everything is working all right physically. The lethargy and moodiness could be caused by thyroid troubles or it is possible that Jessica does
has hypoglycemia, which would also cause her symptoms.”
She turned towards Jessie and smiled.
“I am hoping for an easy solution…But I would also like to give you the contact information for one of my colleagues.”
Jessie took the card that was proffered.
“Just in case you decide to talk to someone. I think you’ll like her.”
“And Jessica--I think you should give her a call. It never hurts to have another supporter. Now, let’s get you something to eat and then get you discharged.”http://www.jqstyle.com/categories/fanfi ... quet01.php