Maddys floor, p.16

Maddy's Floor, page 16

 

Maddy's Floor
 


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  But then so had she.

  They both had difficult jobs where they were in service to others. Another thing she liked about him.

  He stretched out his legs, his shoulders relaxing. "You know, I have to say you're easy to be around."

  Surprised, she answered lightly, "So are you."

  Sipping her latte, she watched the surprised gleam in his eyes and chuckled. "I gather most people don't feel that way, do they?"

  He shook his head and grinned. "The exact opposite, actually. Most women say I don't talk enough and that I'm too devoted to my job."

  "Now, I've heard that one a time or two." Her candid answer drew a startled laugh from him, bringing out an endearing dimple in his cheek.

  He leaned forward to study her face closer. "Do you think two workaholics might find time to go out for dinner together?"

  "We do have to eat sometime." She pushed her coffee cup ahead of her on the table. "And if it means eating Chinese, absolutely, although I might consider something else as well. I've got an awful hankering for Almond Gai Ding."

  "Tomorrow night? Would that work for you?"

  Maddy grinned. "Tomorrow sounds great.

  WEDNESDAY

  A deep sense of unease woke Stefan from his restless sleep. Now what? He groaned and rolled over. What a horrible night. He hadn't slept more than a couple hours.

  Lying flat on his back, he stared up at the ceiling, wondering about the dread pulsating through his veins. Something was stirring in the world. Something at The Haven. Again, he recognized it as something evil. He hated that term.

  So many people gave it a religious connotation. He didn't. He defined the term as those who had no remorse, no conscious, no caring for the numerous people they hurt, tortured and killed. Evil wasn't a force from some horrible underworld. It was the force inside people that allowed them to act in horrible ways. He turned to his latest painting hanging on the wall opposite and talked to it.

  "The Haven is the center of it all – why?" The painting and the empty room offered no answer, but it didn't stop him from thinking out loud.

  "How can such negativity exist in such a warm, positive environment? The answer: It can't. Maddy's Floor should be a deterrent for this type of energy." Sitting, he pursed his lips. This energy can't exist inside the healing space. It isn't possible. By the very laws of nature, that negativity would have to change and become more positive. Therefore, the negative energy isn't in the bubble – yet – but it's attracted to it, like a moth to a flame. The lovely healing energy Maddy is working hard to maintain for her patients is also a lure for this other energy.

  Only how would anyone know unless they practiced energy work? Then they'd know, as the very energy would call to them. However, The Haven had stringent admission requirements for Maddy's floor. It had to. Anything less would destroy the delicate balance.

  Then again, he surmised this energy wasn't on the floor itself – or at least not inside the bubble.

  He froze. The colors in the painting shifted ever so slightly.

  Something here held a glimmer of truth. What if someone made it onto Maddy's floor, someone who shouldn't have? What difference would that make? Would it shift the delicate balance between health and disease? Good and bad? Would it be enough to open a tear in the energy field? Or would it widen the rent that already existed?

  He needed to talk to Maddy.

  Throwing back the blankets, he swung his legs over the side and sat up.

  And froze.

  A vision snaked through his mind. Black curtains dropped before his eyes, taking him out of his reality into the world in-between. Then the curtain ripped back, showing him his new surroundings.

  He blinked several times at the cheerfully bright, yet soothing walls staring back at him. The Haven. Blinking again, he found himself on Maddy's floor. The vision showed him nothing unusual. Here, the energy had lightness, and a warmth he recognized as Maddy's signature.

  He circled the floor, wondering what the vision was attempting to show him. The new wing sat outside the main bubble. There the energy was slightly less warm, less healing and definitely less energized. He frowned. There were several beds out there, only the people in them weren't included in the same healing bubble as the rest of the floor. The bubble wall between the two areas held strong and pulsated with a joyous blue radiance.

  One bed touched the inside of the healing bubble. That would need to be fixed. It was a child. Stefan went there first. Maddy's heart would break if she weren't able to help the little one. The child's meridian pathways throbbed with power, and although thinner than he'd like to see, there was a determination that reassured him. She might be one of the lucky ones – brought to Maddy just in time.

  Studying the energy layers, Stefan found two black spots sitting low on the first chakra. Both blended in together, easy to miss and big enough to cause problems. Maddy needed to start working on them right away.

  He turned his attention to the two males in the new wing. Distracted by a sudden movement out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a small black thread under one of the beds. The strand, so black, so shiny, so full of life, its very presence throbbed. What the hell?

  Stefan tried to move closer and couldn't. The vision froze him in place. The thread snaked out from under the bed, sliding maybe six inches before retreating until it completely disappeared. Stefan knew it sat underneath, waiting.

  This is why he had been drawn here.

  Just like his paintings, the black wispiness hid under the bed.

  The thread slipped out again to wind around the metal leg of the bed.

  It stopped. Then in a snake-like motion, it raised its head and appeared to stare in his direction.

  Stefan shook his head. No. Not possible. No way could it see him. There's no way anyone had the strength, the skill to actually do that. God, he hoped not.

  The snake's head never wavered.

  Then it lunged.

  Shocked, Stefan reared back and snapped through multiple dimensions, before finally slamming back into his body and his bedroom. The world wavered, distorted, and then finally sucked back into place with a loud pop. The last image he'd seen was the black snake-like thing heading toward the child's bed.

  Stunned, Stefan barely moved. He focused on trying to catch a breath. His chest was so constricted he could barely gulp air. Everything in his room appeared the same, except for the goose bumps taking over his skin, and the chills racing down his spine.

  Shaking, he reached for his cell phone.

  ***

  Maddy's panicked arrival at The Haven was less than stellar. Still shaken from the convoluted information Stefan had delivered over the phone – way too early for her brain to grasp – she took the elevator to the top floor. The place was deserted. It wasn't even six in the morning. Stefan had woken her from a deep sleep with his confusing message, sending her racing back to work.

  Something about a black thread that had been as aware of Stefan's out of body journey as Stefan had been aware of it. Somehow, it connected to one of the two new arrivals in the renovated space. She hadn't had a chance to rebuild the energy on the floor to the levels that existed before Jansen's death. Felicia's arrival would have aggravated the balance as well. Extending the bubble to the new area wasn't something she'd complete overnight. At least not alone.

  Maybe Stefan would help her widen the boundaries of the protected space, or create a secondary space. She didn't know the right way to move forward. The current one had taken months to establish. The new area needed to vibrate at the same frequency as the older area before joining both into one all-encompassing system. The process needed either more energy workers or more time.

  Better yet, both.

  The elevator crawled to a stop. She stepped onto her floor and stopped, assessing the energetic atmosphere and balance of the floor. Jansen's death had caused a ripple effect, though most others wouldn't recognize it. And it was to be expected. It wasn't like this was their first death
on the floor.

  Yet underneath all this energy, was a faint suggestion of something else. She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. Something was wrong. How else could she describe the odd sensation? Stefan would help her, but only if he knew what they were dealing with. He'd told her to find out as much as possible this morning.

  He'd ordered her to move Felicia's bed further into the protected area, and away from the bubble edge, no matter what.

  "Dr. Maddy, are you all right?"

  She opened her eyes. "I guess. At least I hope so." Walking toward the nurses' station, she delivered a reassuring smile to the two women watching her.

  Gerona walked closer. "Bad night?"

  Maddy shrugged off her jacket, hooking it over her shoulder. "Bad morning, actually."

  "Well, for once, we had a good night. All the patients appear to have recovered their equilibrium and most everyone slept well."

  Unlocking her office door, Maddy threw her a big cheery smile. "Now that's a better start to my day. No bad turns in the night? No calls for medics, nothing?

  "Nope. Calm and clear."

  "Great." Maddy strode over to the blinds, moved them aside and opened the windows, letting the fresh air filter through the small room. Then she made a quick dash to Felicia's room. Stopping at the entranceway, she saw Felicia, sound asleep on her left. Maddy shifted her vision. Carefully, going from side to side, she searched for any anomaly in the area.

  Spinning around, she considered the position of Felicia's bed. It was in the protected healing bubble, only damn close to the edge. Too close. Maddy would take care of that as soon as possible, as Stefan suggested.

  Everything seemed clear. Then she stepped into the new wing.

  The air had an odd flatness to it. As if something weird had played out on the ethers. There was no discernible odor, not that she'd been expecting one. Still…something was off. She quietly checked on both sleeping patients. Their energy was clear, calm.

  Striding back toward the nurses' center, she ordered the shifting of Felicia's bed and said, "I need to head down to security and check out that the new camera feeds are working. Hold my calls for a bit, will you?"

  Once at the main office, she stepped into the security room, with its wall of monitors and counter of computers. She wanted to speak with Jean Paul, the man who headed the security department. He preferred the morning shift, but he rarely left on time. Most long-term care facilities had minimal security, but with the hospital attached and the Maddy's project, it had been beefed up several years ago.

  "Good morning, Dr. Maddy. Figures that you'd be in so early. I suppose you'd like to see how the new cameras are working upstairs, huh?" Jean Paul was small in stature with the charm of ten men. She liked him and his wife for the genuine people they were. That Jean Paul worked hard to keep The Haven secure and running smoothly was an added bonus.

  "Yes, please. I presume they're functioning properly?"

  "Of course. I always run a check on new equipment." He shrugged. "And as they were, I haven't checked since."

  "I'd like to run through last night, if you don't mind."

  "Sure enough." He motioned to a monitor on the wall. "I'll set up the digital feed here." He fiddled with a series of knobs and dials, punched in the date she wanted, then stopped and looked at her. "Is there one camera you'd like to see over another?"

  "The one in the newly renovated section."

  "Good." He made several adjustments before asking, "Any time frame in particular?"

  Maddy pondered for a quick second. "If I don't have to watch in real time, then I'd like to go through the entire night." She turned to look at him. "But if it's like eight hours of sitting and watching, then no. I really would like to see around four to five am this morning."

  "You can go as fast as you like." He reached forward and pointed out the controls for her. "Here is fast forward. You can slowly move forward or speed up until you reach a specific hour by watching this clock here. Then you can slow it back down or stop it altogether."

  "That's perfect, thank you." Maddy pulled up an empty chair, waited until the digital feed started, then she sped it up slightly, watching as nurses went through their normal shifts. Maddy watched herself as she crossed in front of the camera lens on the way to speak with Felicia's mother, then Adam Lenning and John McNeil.

  So far, all appeared normal.

  She continued to watch, recognizing the hour when she'd gone home and left The Haven in the capable hands of the night shift. Hours passed by in a continuous, rarely disturbed mode. Adam got up and used the bathroom around three. She noticed how stiffly he moved. He made it back to bed without incident.

  John shifted restlessly in his bed, for no apparent reason that she could see. He might not have taken a sleeping pill and that might account for his tossing and turning. She'd check when she went back upstairs. The video didn't allow much energy reading. In fact, she wasn't sure she'd be able to see much at all. The wee hours of the morning disappeared in a flash. Maddy thought she might have been wasting her time but then something odd flashed on screen.

  She hit the stop button, backed up the feed and then went forward at a snail's pace. The area up by the ceiling showed a snowy fleck that hadn't been there before. She wondered if it represented Stefan's astral body. It wasn't obvious what it was. Most people wouldn't even recognize it was there unless it was pointed out. She'd been looking for it. Freezing the frame, she turned to ask Jean Paul about it, only to find he'd left the room.

  She started the feed again. The snowy projection moved slightly, shifting, almost rippling as though floating on a breeze wafting through the room. Then it appeared to stop, freeze in place.

  The camera didn't give a close-up of the snowy image or of the end of the bed in its view. There. She rewound the feed and bent close to the monitor. The picture was clear, except she couldn't make another item out.

  What was at the foot of the bed? Something black popped up then slid back under. To Jean Paul, it would likely appear as a fault in the film or a dirt smudge, but to Maddy, it was something else entirely. That's what Stefan had seen in his vision.

  She sat back. This black thread was under John McNeil's bed.

  The snow flecks disappeared from one frame to the next, however, the black smudge stayed, inching out in the direction of Felicia's bed. Maddy stared in horror until it shrank back in itself, as if unable to go out further.

  She rewound it once again and stared at the foot of the bed as the feed replayed the same few minutes. Checking the time, she realized this had taken place at 5:14 am this morning. Stefan had called her around half past five. She scanned the rest of the film but there wasn't much more to see. The camera couldn't capture the space under John's bed or the other side of the bed.

  John was dying, from unknown causes. And his health was depreciating faster than expected. Now she just might know why.

  Yet, he'd just arrived. So this black energy couldn't have come with him. She'd seen it or something similar hanging over Jansen's bed days ago. Jansen's bed had been partially out of the bubble due to the renovations. That's the only time he'd been out of the bubble. And that's when he'd been attacked. Therefore the energy had been here first, had a connection to Jensen and theoretically, as it went after John, the person doing this knew him as well.

  What were the odds of that?

  Too much conjecture. It was giving her a headache.

  All she knew for sure right now was that the black energy had anchored itself to John. This binding thread had to be related to someone who knew John really well. He may have harbored this thread-connection a long time. In fact, it would feel like his energy after all this time. Not that John would have noticed. Few people did. That this energy didn't have a happy, healthy feel to it didn't mean it was evil or bad. Everyone wanted something and this energy was no different.

  Now if only she knew what it was and what it wanted.

  ***

  Sissy sat up slowly, testing her
bones and her muscles. She felt like Sissy today, not an invalid. The pain had diminished slightly, but not enough to notice and not enough to count on. She frowned. Surely, her new health program should have had a stronger or at least a longer-acting effect. As much as she was delighted with her obvious progress, it also pissed her off that she wasn't getting to the end of this road faster.

  Every time she seemed to make a step forward, she slipped back several steps. She had to change that, and fast. Her patience was running out. Everyone else here was dying. It might be contagious.

  She giggled. Her deathbed humor brightened her spirits.

 
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