Daekkin knew all about waiting. Years in the business had taught him that there were few secrets or magic tricks. When Daekkin knew that a long waiting period was coming up, he always arrived mentally prepared to wait twice as long as what he thought he would be. Thus, when his original time estimate came and went, there was no accompanying mental letdown.
An hour into his wait, he happened to look up into the sky. To his surprise, three eagles were circling high above where the disappearing trail came to an end. As he watched them, they began dropping lower and lower until they disappeared beneath the tops of the trees. Odd, he thought. They had acted almost like they had a prearranged appointment to be at that spot and at that time. Another mystery to add alongside the disappearing trail puzzle. Looking at his watch, Daekkin decided that his waiting time would be closer to his original estimate than to the doubled estimate. It was a game he played. His decision was pure speculation, based on years of playing the waiting game.
The three male angels of the Guardian team arrived at the Hicksville Beater as Justin and Samantha were leaving the clearing. Seeing no one around, they walked towards the path, then faded from view, reappearing seconds later in the clearing.
“Hummm….” said Brother Lynn, speculatively. “I think we overshot. They must be on the trail.”
“If so,” said Leland, “we probably ought to concentrate on finding Daekkin.” Sending his Vision up, Leland found him. “This way,” he said, motioning with his head. Again the trio faded, reappearing moments later several yards behind Daekkin.
“Well,” commented Lynn, “he certainly has a good view from here. If his reputation is all they say, Justin and Samantha don’t have a chance this time. Although, they have certainly managed to stay alive longer than I thought they would. And now if you will excuse me, I’m going back. Watching a hopeless cause doesn’t exactly excite me. I think I’ll go wait in our meeting room.”
“I was wondering when he was going to bail on us,” commented Aaron after Lynn had left. “He’s never had much stomach for watching the bad guys win. But then, who has?”
“I guess I’ve grown kind of immune to it,” confessed Leland. “But then, I know what awaits the good guy if he does lose. Kind of a cold attitude in the opinion of some, I know, but that’s the way it is.”
From the moment they left the clearing, a small tinge of uneasiness came over Justin. After a few seconds of thought, he decided it was probably a carryover of the wariness he had felt when the man had approached him and Samantha at the county fair. He decided that he would not let the actions of a stranger cheapen the events of this day. His resoluteness did not last long. The nearer they got to the Hicksville Beater, the heavier his feeling of unease became. When he and Samantha reached the point at which the trail became less closed in by the trees, he knew that something was disturbingly wrong.
After almost 2 hours into his wait, Daekkin saw movement on the trail. From where he first noticed the movement, the trees almost totally blocked any chance of seeing what was causing it. He was able to pick up enough flashes of the movement, however, to know that whatever it was, it was moving at a steady pace. His two victims, he decided. It had to be. Taking a few deep breaths to steady his nerves, he mentally dialed his awareness up several notches in preparation for what he was about to do. Even for someone who had been in the business as long as he had, nerves were still something one had to take into account and adjust for. Intently, he watched the trail, moving his eyes at about the same speed his victims were moving. Figuring speed and distance, he estimated that 5 minutes at most was all a separated him from another successful mission. For the final time, he quickly went over in his mind the order of events that would take place. The boy would go first, with the girl to follow. Experience had taught him that at the beginning of an emergency, the male of the human species reacted more quickly to what was happening that did the female species, and was therefore more likely to survive the event. By killing the boy first, he assured himself that the girl, instead of doing the prudent and lifesaving thing by seeking cover, would devote attention to the boy, thus affording him the few seconds he needed to kill her also. It wasn’t the first time he had used this order of events on a job.
Finally, the two reached a point on the trial where there was almost nothing to obscure his view of them. From his distance, and the rate at which they were walking, he would need to lead them only slightly. From this point, until they were both dead, his actions would be pretty much automatic-years of repetition having made that action possible. Just before putting pressure on the trigger, he saw the boy become suddenly alert. Within seconds, and with little wasted time looking around, the boy gazed directly at him-or at least directly at the spot where he was located. Though he admired the boy’s sudden intuition of danger, it would do him no good now. “You’re too late son,” he thought to the boy, just before easing the trigger past the point of no return.
Justin’s senses were literally screaming danger. On purely reflexive action, he threw his Vision above where he was standing, high enough to see anything within a 100 yard radius. Looking for physical forms as well as the glow of auras, he locked onto the largest, bringing his Vision down and to a stop just a few feet in front of it. In horror, he found himself looking at the business end of a rifle held by the man who had talked to him and Samantha at the county fair.
Later, as he was analyzing the situation, he realize that the world really hadn’t slowed down during the next few seconds of time. Acting faster than he thought he ever could act, he pulled up the man’s aura and impathed him with all the power and force he could. More than just verbal thoughts, he sent every emotion-both good and bad-all mixed together in a thundering stream of meaningless hodgepodge meant to do maximum damage to the man’s mind. For the next segment of eternity, he kept the mental destruction flowing hard and heavy. Finally, but sooner than he wanted, his impath power shutdown, his mind too weakened to sustain such a heavy drain on it. “Whoa,” he said out loud as waves of dizziness pounded his brain. He managed to make it down to his hands and knees before losing consciousness.
How long he was out, he didn’t know. He wakened to something hitting him in the back. Raising his head groggily, he pushed himself up slightly with his hands.
“Justin?” The sound that came out of Samantha’s mouth was weak, and heavy with fear.
From his knees, Justin twisted in her direction. She was sitting with her back against a tree, her shirt saturated with blood and clinging wetly to her. “What…” she tried to say before coughing forced her to stop. Breathing more shallow, she managed the two word question. “What happened?”
“Samantha!” yelled Justin. A rush of adrenaline brought him out of his weakened state. Rising to his feet, he hurried to where Samantha sat, back against the tree. She was sweating and pale, and it was obvious to Justin that she was going into shock. Forcing himself not to panic, he ran to the pipe truck and opened the door. Rummaging through the glove compartment, he found a couple of clean rags. Running back to Samantha, he folded, then placed them on her wound. “hold these in place for a second,” he ordered as he removed his belt from around his waist. Putting it around her to keep the rags is in place, he carefully picked her up and carried her to the truck. Her skin felt clammy. “Don’t pass out on me,” he ordered, placing her carefully on the seat. He wished he had a blanket or something similar to cover her with. Running to the other side of the truck, he climbed in and started it. Reaching over to Samantha, he carefully pulled her over so that she was laying on her back on the seat. “I don’t feel so good,” she said, weakly.
Concerned for the shock that was setting in, Justin did some quick calculations as he backed the truck around and began his drive out of the forest. The pipe truck was good transportation, but as its nick-name implied, it was a genuine beater with an embarrassingly low top speed. He needed something a lot faster. There was no hospital in Prospect. If you needed those services, you drove 30 miles to Radcliffe General. The Hicksville Beater would make it there in 45 minutes-maybe. Glancing at Samantha again, he feared that he didn’t have that much time. He could be wrong about the time thing, but he wasn’t going to bet her life on it.
Reaching a decision, he pulled up the auras of both Connie and Lloyd Barber. This is Justin, he said. Though the impath was a gentle one, he was unable to keep his panic from showing. You are not imagining this. I am speaking to both of you. I will explain how later. I need help. Samantha has been shot and she’s going into shock. She needs a hospital, and I don’t think this truck will get her there in time. Bring your car and meet me on the highway. Please hurry.
Of necessity, Justin had to take it slow along what passed for a road out of the mountains and almost as slow through the pasture. Once he turned onto the highway however, he stomped the gas pedal all the way to the floor. Slowly, the speedometer eased up one mile an hour at a time until he was at the truck’s maximum speed of almost fifty. “Talk to me Samantha,” he said loudly. “Talk to me.”
Looking down at her momentarily, he saw her mouth move. The truck engine was whining so loudly, however, that he didn’t know if any words were coming out of her mouth. As long as she was trying though, she might stay conscious. He hoped the Barbers were on their way. If he had not been driving right now, he could have sent his Vision to them to see where they were at.
He was probably two thirds of the way to the Barbers place, when he saw their car coming down the highway. When they saw him, they flashed the car lights rapidly. When they were close enough to the pipe truck, Justin steered the truck to the side of the road and stopped. He had Samantha out of the truck and in his arms, carrying her like a baby, by the time Lloyd pulled alongside in the car. Scrambling out, he opened a rear door so that Justin could lay Samantha on the back seat. “Obviously, I got your message. Get in,” he ordered. Within seconds, the car was rocketing down the highway.
“Where’s Connie?” Justin asked.
“She’s staying behind right now to make some phone calls,” Lloyd told him. “The county is sending a rescue squad to meet us part way. When I left, Connie was on the phone with Samantha’s father. He and his wife will pick up Connie and bring her to the hospital. What happened?”
“Someone was waiting for us when we returned to the truck,” Justin said, simply. “He was hidden, so we didn’t see him.” Right then, he didn’t feel in the mood for going into detail. Later, after Samantha’s condition had been determined and hopefully stabilized, he would sit down alone with Lloyd and Connie and tell them everything.
In an effort to keep Samantha from losing conscience, Justin began impathing with her. He reasoned that if he could get her to carry on a conversation with him, even though it wasn’t vocal, that would be better than nothing.
I’m sorry Lady Fair, he impathed. I should have seen this coming.
Her reply was weak, but at least in impathing, he could understand her. What happened? she asked.
You’ve been shot, Justin replied. It was the man from the county fair. I think he meant to get us both. How are you feeling?
So tired, replied Samantha.
You’ve got to stay with me Lady Fair, he ordered. We’re on the way to Radcliffe General. A county ambulance is going to meet us part way. Do you remember me proposing to you?
Yes. Greatest ever. I liked the eagles.
Justin managed to keep her conversing with him until they met up with the paramedics. Knowing there was nothing he could do for her, in a medical sense, he did not insist on riding in the ambulance. However, he continued to keep their impath conversation going, and sent his Vision into the ambulance every few minutes to see how she was doing. Unfortunately, thought Justin, Vision did not have listening capabilities. He would have liked to hear what the paramedics were saying. Though he probably would not have understood whatever medical terminology they used, he could have detected any sense of urgency they may have had.
At the hospital, he and Lloyd found a secluded area in the waiting room where they could talk. Justin maintained his impath connection with Samantha. Since receiving his impath abilities from his Guardian team, he had learned that he did not have to consciously focus on the connection in order to maintain it. He likened it to a radio that one turned on, then let it play with no further attention required. Breaking an impath connection was like turning off a radio-it required a brief, but conscious act. Thus, he could impath Samantha whenever he wanted without having to reestablish a connection. He kept the impaths to a minimum however, not knowing what effect it would have on her current condition.
He was pulled out of his musings by a nudge from Lloyd. “How are you doing son?” he asked, handing him a cell phone.
“I’ve been better, that’s for sure,” Justin replied. Taking the cell phone, he asked “What’s this for?”
“The police are going to be rolling in here sometime soon,” Lloyd told him, “and they are going to want know how I knew to meet you on the highway. I don’t think that claiming you sent me a psychic message is going to do anything for your credibility. If they ask, just tell them that you contacted me, then hold up the cell phone. They won’t need to know that the two aren’t connected.” Leaning a little closer to Justin, Lloyd said quietly, “I don’t know how you did that, by the way. It was pretty…” Lloyd paused, searching for the right word. “…unnerving,” he finished. “but we can wait until this thing with Samantha has settled down before we talk about it-if you want to talk about it.”
“Thank you,” said Justin simply, “and yes, I would like to talk about it. I-”
Their conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the police, and Connie and Samantha’s parents, in the waiting room. On their request, Justin went outside with police so they could talk in relative privacy. When asked why he did not call 911 himself, he told them that he did not trust a cell phone for that type of call, so he had called the Barbers first. He told them about the mountain pathway, and where he thought the shot had come from. No, he didn’t know who had fired the shot, and no, he didn’t know why. With feeling, he indicated that he wished he did. Satisfied that they had gotten all the information they could, the police left-promising to contact him should anything further develop.
When he returned the waiting room, he found a doctor talking with Samantha’s parents and the Barbers.
“Good, you’re back,” said Connie to him. Then to the doctor, “this is Justin, Samantha’s fiancé.”
“As I was telling Samantha’s parents, and yours,” said the doctor, backtracking a little for Justin’s benefit, “Samantha has gone into hypovolemic shock. It’s the most common of the four types of shock, and usually responds well to treatment. Our concern, besides the wound, is the time that elapsed between her injury and the beginning of treatment-that, of course, and the loss of blood. I understand that this was unavoidable. However, it is going to have a detrimental effect on her recovery. She’s on IVs and oxygen, but it’s too early yet to tell how well she’s responding. We’ll be operating on the wound as soon as we get her ready. We would have preferred that her blood pressure and other vital signs be more stable before operating, but we can’t wait any longer. To be honest with you, it’s going to be dicey. After the operation, what she’ll need the most of, is rest and quiet.” Looking at her parents and Justin, he continued. “I can’t tell you not to see her, but we really would prefer that she have no visitors for the next several days. You’re welcome to remain until we know how the operation turned out. Then if I were you, I would go back home. We’ll contact you if there is any change at all. ”
After the doctor left, Lloyd suggested to Justin that they find an empty room in the hospital somewhere so Justin could tell them what had happened. Justin agreed, seeing it as a chance not to have to tell the story multiple times. Upon request, the hospital provided them with a small conference room.
Ian McCallen was the first speak. “I would like to say something to Justin before he begins,” he requested.
The others nodded their approval.
Looking at Justin kindly, he said, “I want you to know that neither my wife or I blame you for what has occurred. If you had any thoughts that we would, you can put them out of your mind. Now, why don’t you tell us what happened.”
Choosing his words carefully, Justin began. “It’s really not very complicated,” he told them. “As you all know, Samantha and I have a favorite spot in the mountains that we go to every Saturday morning. We were there again this morning, and were walking back to the truck when I heard a shot. I looked around to see where it had come from, when I heard Samantha say my name. When I turned around, she was sitting with her back against a tree. When I saw the blood on her shirt, I knew she had been shot. I got some clean rags from the pipe truck, and had her hold them on her wound. Then I… contacted Lloyd and Connie and told them to meet me on the highway. And that’s about it. As I told the police, I don’t know why anyone would want to shoot her. It’s possible that whoever did it was after both of us, but that’s just a guess.”
Sometime later, the doctor returned to the waiting room. By the concerned expression on his face, Justin knew that he was not happy with what he had to tell them.
“She’s being taken to the ICU unit,” he said. “I wish I had more hopeful news to give you, but the truth is, we just don’t know what’s going to happen next. She’s on the center of a teeter totter right now, and it’s anyone’s guess as to which way it will tilt. So, the only thing we have left to do is play the waiting game.”
Later that evening at home, Justin sat down at the dining room table with Lloyd and Connie. “For most of the way back from the hospital,” he began, “I was debating how much to tell you. I finally settled on the easiest choice: all of it. Some of this is going to sound a little far out, but I promise you that it’s all true. After all the things you’ve done for me, I feel I owe it to you.”
For the next hour or so, Justin told them everything: being shot at the rest stop; how he got his gifts and rescued Samantha; Clark showing up on Samantha’s block and how Justin had gotten rid of him; and finally, the man at the county fair and how Justin knew it was him who had shot Samantha. He also told them what he had done to the man and the fact that he didn’t know what effect it had. “Now you know how I was able to contact you like I did,” he said, sitting back in his chair.
After several minutes of silence, Connie was the first speak. “Justin,” she said, pinning his eyes with hers, “I believe everything you just told us. I have to admit though, it’s going to take a while for my brain to process it all.”
Lloyd was a little more practical. “Well,” he said, “That explains why the cows are coming to the milking parlor without any one going to get them or yelling at them.”
“And Samantha has these powers also?” Connie asked.
“Yes,” said Justin. “When they gave me the impath power, they told me I could give it to one other person. They knew who that person would be, of course. Shortly after that, Samantha was given the other two gifts.”
Lloyd gave Justin a long and searching look. “So what’s next for you?” he asked.
“For the immediate future, nothing has changed,” said Justin. “I still plan on working here for you until I graduate. Then I’ve got to rethink what I’m going to do with my life. Hopefully, Samantha…” Justin stopped suddenly, struggling for control his emotions. “Well, you know…” he finished.
“I think we all need to go to bed,” suggested Lloyd, wisely. “It’s been a rough day.”
Occasionally throughout the night, Justin would awaken and send his Vision to Samantha. He could see no change, but didn’t know if that was bad or good.
The next morning, and over Lloyd’s protests, Justin insisted on doing his share of the morning work. And for the first time in awhile, he walked to the pasture to get the cows instead of impathing them as he normally did.
Part way through the milking, and unable to hold his emotions back any longer, he laid his hands and face against one of the cows, sobbing from despair and fear that the woman he loved more than anything else in the world might, through no choice of her own, be leaving him.
When he was finished milking, Lloyd offered him a ride to Smith’s Variety. Though he knew what Lloyd was trying to do-and appreciated it-he didn’t want any crowds around him right then.
“Let’s go grab some lunch then,” Lloyd suggested.
They were walking towards the house when a police car pulled onto the property.
“Justin Billings?” asked the one of the officers as they both got out of the car.
“Did you find him?” asked Justin, without any preamble.
“We think so. We went there early this morning, and found the spot you described to us. The rifle was still there. We didn’t see anyone around, but as we were getting ready to leave, we saw a man coming down the trail, talking to himself. When we ask him what he was doing there, he told us that he was solving a mystery. He seemed harmless enough until we asked him what kind of mystery he was solving. That’s when he went Looney-tunes on us. Said that he had traveled the path to nowhere, but that now he was getting somewhere. He said that it was your fault he was a failure, whatever he meant by that.”
“Looney-tunes is right,” confirmed the other officer, grinning. “Every now and then he would turn around and say, ‘don’t crowd me, I’m speaking with law enforcement authorities here’ even though there was no one behind him.” Pulling a photograph from an envelope, the officer showed it to Justin. “Do you-”
“The guy at the county fair,” confirmed Justin. “Where is he now?”
“He’s in custody. They’ll probably do a psych evaluation on him.”
“Any chance that he’ll be let loose?” Justin asked.
“I don’t know,” said the officer. Then, understanding Justin’s concern, he added, “but if they do let him loose, I don’t think he’ll ever be a danger to anyone again. When we showed him the rifle, he started screaming about how dangerous they are. As I said, Looney-tunes.”
Of course, news of the shooting flooded through Prospect like a tidal wave. All the in-state television stations carried it on their newscasts. Justin was thankful that it had not gone national. He had known of similar stories that, on slow news days, had. Connie told him during lunch that the McCallen’s phone had been ringing almost nonstop all morning. That evening as he and Lloyd came in the house after doing the evening chores, Connie told them that the hospital called and reported that there was no change in Samantha’s condition.
“Is that good or bad?” asked Justin.
“Well,” said Connie. “It’s good that she hasn’t gotten any worse, but they are concerned that she hasn’t responded better to the treatment. The good news is they got the bullet out and repaired the wound. Apparently, there was not much internal damage.”
“That’s something at least,” said Justin.
For the next two days, Samantha’s condition remained level.
At school, Justin was besieged with expressions of sorrow and support. His two best friends, Bart and Chris, seemed almost as distressed as he was.
“I can’t imagine what you must be going through,” Bart said, laying a hand on Justin’s shoulder.
“Hell,” replied Justin, simply.
“And I can’t imagine anything rougher,” said Chris. “I heard that you and Samantha decided to get married, and now this.”
On the third day of Samantha’s hospitalization, her parents called him with news that she had been given a blood transfusion, and appeared to be doing a little better than the day before. Relieved, he promptly informed Connie and Lloyd.
“I’m very happy for you,” Connie told him.
Though he still maintained his impath connection with Samantha, and told her every night and morning that he loved her, he didn’t know if she was aware enough to know what he was doing. After the first day, she had not responded back to him.
At school the next day, he decided that he wasn’t quite the basket case he had been the past two days. Not that he had been totally useless, but he had found it very difficult to keep his mind on his studies. Perhaps if her condition continued to improve, he thought, the hospital might allow him to see her-maybe not as early as tomorrow, but possibly the next day.
After school, he went immediately home, anxious for the latest news about Samantha. Lloyd and Connie were sitting at the dining room table. As soon as they saw him, Connie got up from her chair and walked over to him. Something cold and hard hit him in the stomach when he looked at her face.
“I am so sorry, Justin,” she said slowly. “Samantha’s parents called about thirty minutes ago. Her condition is deteriorating rapidly.”
“How serious is it?” Justin manage to ask.
“She has gone into severe hypovolemic shock.” At Justin’s questioning look, she explained. “if she doesn’t respond to the treatment soon, her organs will begin shutting down.”
“How long?” he asked.
“Nobody knows. She could still come out of this. Right now, according to her doctor, it’s about seventy-thirty against that happening. Her parents are on the way there. If you would like to pack some things, we’ll leave as soon as you’re ready.”
Justin stood silently for some time with his head down. “No,” he said finally. “I’m not going to the hospital. I would like you to take me to the mountain road.”
At their look of surprise over his request, he told them kindly, “I know what I’m doing. I think I can help her, but I have to do it from the mountain clearing. And if this doesn’t work, I would rather say my goodbyes from there-not from a medicinal-smelling hospital.”
Lloyd and Connie looked at each other and nodded. “We understand,” they said solemnly.
Lloyd drove him to the end of the pasture. Silently, he watched Justin exit from the car and begin his walk along the mountain road. “Good luck, son,” he said quietly before backing the car around. “May God smile on your efforts.”
As he drove back down the pasture road, he reflected that his wife would have been surprised to see him wiping a few tears from his eyes.
Justin walked slowly but purposefully along the path that led to the clearing. His statement about being able to help Samantha seemed pretty bold to him now, but he had to try. If, he reasoned, a person’s aura indeed comprised everything they were, it would also comprise their life force, or energy force, or whatever one wanted to call it. If that was the case, then as with Impathing and Vision, there must be some way of projecting this energy force to someone else-and not merely to them, but into them. What he lacked, was knowledge on how to access his own life force, and once accessed, how to project it into Samantha’s aura. Thus the reason for his coming to the clearing instead of going to the hospital. The peacefulness of the clearing would ensure that he could concentrate fully on what he was trying to do.
When he arrived at the clearing, he stood for a moment, pondering. He had never been to this place by himself, and he felt as if most of the reason for coming here in the future was being taken from him. Breathing deeply, he entered, going immediately to the center. As he looked at the familiar surroundings, he felt a special peacefulness around him, above that which was normally present.
Justin had never prayed before in his life, and didn’t know if there was any particular way of going about it. What he knew was that he needed help if he was to accomplish what he had in mind to do. Kneeling on the ground in the middle of the clearing, he held his arms away from his body slightly and looked up into the cloudless sky.
“I guess you already know what I want to do,” he said out loud, “but I would like to plead my case anyway, here, alone, just you and me. The doctors say that Samantha’s condition is deteriorating rapidly and I-” Justin paused, using every bit of self control he had to keep his emotions in check. Finally, he was able to continue. “I have something that I would like to do for her,” he said. “She’s a good girl, and I know I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that she has lived a better life than I have. Now, I’m not asking you to let her live just so I can have her with me for awhile longer. I think if you had wanted that to happen, she would be here with me now. So what I’m asking is, let me take her place. I think I’ve figured out how I can make that happen, but I don’t know how to do it. If you can show me how to give my life force to Samantha, I think it would save her life. Even at the cost of my own life, I want to do this for her.”
Justin arose from his knees then, but continued standing in the middle of the clearing. Calling up his aura and Samantha’s, he studied them both, closing his eyes for better concentration. Though he mentally probed his own aura in every way conceivable, he found no way of accessing his life force. A similar probe on Samantha’s aura produced no better results. Discouraged, he decided that what he had planned was not meant to be. With tears running freely down his face, he sent Samantha what could be his last impath message-his goodbye. “I’m sorry Lady Fair,” he told her. “I think I figured out how to make you better, and it means giving you my life force, but I guess that it wasn’t meant to be. At least you will be with your angel sisters now, and the rest of the Guardian team. And don’t worry about me, I don’t plan on doing anything stupid. Somehow, I’ll find a way of getting through this. I wish it was me who was going instead of you. I guess that’s all I’ve got to say. I will always love you.”
Looking around the clearing, Justin decided that he would not be coming here anymore-not for a long time anyway.
“Goodbye,” he said to the clearing, as if it could understand his feelings. “I-”
Justin stopped, listening. A sound like that of rushing winds filled the clearing-not loud or destructive, but calm and very peaceful.
“Justin.” A gentle voice that seemed to fill his entire body spoke his name. Justin sensed an unimaginable power behind the gentleness. Not sure how to reply, he said simply, “I’m here.”
The voice continued. “Because you have offered your life for that of another, your desire is granted.”
Justin sank back down to his knees. “Thank you,” he said, looking up. Though the voice had left his body, the power still filled the clearing. It would remain, he knew, until he had accomplished the transfer. He pulled up his and Samantha’s auras again. Concentrating on his aura first, he willed it to reveal his life source. Slowly, the outer layer of the aura drew back, revealing the life force within. Almost simultaneously, Samantha’s did the same. Justin hesitated only slightly before sending his life force into Samantha’s aura. “Forgive me Lady Fair,” he said, speaking to himself, “but you deserve to live more than I do.” No compulsion on his part was required to keep his life force flowing into its destination. Realizing that he was becoming weaker by the moment, he eased himself to the ground, turning over onto his back and watching as the last of his life force left him. As it did so, a soothing blackness covered his mind. This isn’t so bad, he thought to himself, not so bad at all.
Betty Sutton had been an RN for almost thirty years. Over that time, she had seen recoveries that bordered on the miraculous-as well as deaths that had left her baffled. Nothing much surprised her anymore. On this day however, she would be privileged to witness a recovery that-she would decide later-had somehow managed to turbo-charge itself.
As they were passing the nursing station, Samantha’s parents told her they were going to the cafeteria, so she took the opportunity to go into the room and do a position change on Samantha. When she entered the room, she stood looking at Samantha for a moment. Thirty years of experience told her that if the girl did not respond to treatment soon, well…she shook her head, not wanting to think about it. Such a lovely girl. Her parents had told her that she planned on getting married. Sighing, she took care of position change and left the room. Attending to a few other small tasks, she decided to return to the nursing station and get caught up on her paperwork. Not that it would help Samantha any, but Betty had vowed to herself that she would keep a close eye on Samantha’s condition. Fortunately, that did not require her to enter into Samantha’s room every few minutes. As with most modern hospitals like hers, all nursing stations had the capability-via digital readouts-of displaying the condition of each patient in the hospital. Thus, she could keep an eye on Samantha’s condition, and still get her paperwork done.
Five minutes into the task, she glanced at Samantha’s monitor, then leaned closer to make sure she was seeing it correctly. “That can’t be right,” she said out loud. The tone of her voice caused several of the other nurses to look at her.
“What’s wrong?” one of them asked.
“The McCallen girl,” replied Betty. “I think something’s wrong with the readout here. I’ll be right back.” Walking quickly to Samantha’s room, she entered, then stopped, the color draining from her face. As soon as she got hold of herself, she turned quickly around and walked as fast as she could back to the nursing station. “Call Samantha’s doctor!” she yelled at whoever was listening. “Tell him to get up here stat!” As soon as she saw someone pick up the phone and begin dialing, she turned and headed back for Samantha’s room. Curious as to what was going on, several of the nurses followed her. They had looked at the readouts when she had gone to the room first time. They too had shaken their heads in puzzlement. When they entered the room behind Betty, they stopped as she had first time, the color draining from their faces also. And, they also saw what Betty had seen the first time, what they were all seeing now: a very healthy looking Samantha, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed, examining all the tubes and other paraphernalia that was attached to her.
Betty turned to them. “I guess the readouts were not wrong after all,” she said in what some of the other nurses would later refer to as the understatement of the century.
For a few moments, no one could think of anything to say.
“Excellent!” proclaimed the doctor as he entered the room. “She’s finally responding to the treatment.” His confidant attitude caused some of the nurses to laugh.
“What’s funny?” he asked, puzzled.
“Doctor,” said Betty with a knowing smile, “you may want to examine the readout history of the last ten minutes.”