Maddy's Floor, page 23
The blob wiggled.
Maddy frowned, pulling her hand back slightly. The blob followed. She stopped her retreat and waited to see what it would do. It came closer and closer. Her brows pulled together as realization struck. It was attracted to her energy, her healing energy. Only it wasn't strong enough to attach itself to her.
It wanted to be, though.
Stefan was right. It wasn't necessarily trying to kill anyone. It wanted the energy for itself.
It wanted energy it could use to heal. Healing, loving energy, like hers, would be at the top of the list. Old, sick energy had to be all this person had access to, meaning they were likely to be in the same physical health as those it victimized…feeding on those weaker than itself. A healthy person could repulse a weak attack without even being aware it was happening – unless the attacker had learned the art of killing instantly.
Who was doing this?
She blinked. Nancy was staring at her, or rather, at her body. Maddy gave the blob one last glance, settled two anchors in place for future use then realigned her energy to her physical body.
She closed her eyes for a long moment and when she reopened them, she was viewing the world with her physical eyes. Turning her head toward Nancy, her voice still slow and slurred, she said, "I'm here."
"Good." With a relieved voice, Nancy continued briskly, "John seems to be coming around. His color has improved and his vitals are picking up."
Moving slowly, Maddy sat up and studied John's face. His skin had taken on a more natural appearance, losing the dry, paper-thin look. Hearing footsteps approach, she stood slowly, using the bed for support. Nancy handed her the tablet.
She stepped out of the way as two brawny orderlies arrived and lifted John gently onto his bed. Nancy wrapped a warm blanket around his cool body and settled him in before checking his vitals. Maddy checked his file on her computer and perused his medications. She wrote a couple of quick notes and made a mental one to contact Dr. Cunningham.
John needed to have someone keep a close eye on him. The Kirlian cameras were a moot point. Maddy absolutely knew what was wrong on this floor now. She just didn't know how to stop it.
Most sick people wouldn't be able to save themselves. The attacks, as in John's case, would appear to be a natural decline in health. If energy were drained slowly but regularly, the process would also become familiar. Anything that becomes familiar then becomes harder to recognize or identify as wrong and therefore it would be almost impossible for someone to fight against its damaging effects. It would be viewed as chronic decline.
How would she combat something she couldn't see or recognize?
Walking back to her office, she massaged the back of her neck. Tension had collected there in a tightening pool of aches. She rotated her neck to loosen it.
"Is John okay?" Amelia raced to her side and walked beside her down the hall.
Maddy nodded. "Who attended him last?"
"I'll check. I haven't personally seen him since ten this morning. Candy should have seen him after lunch for his medications, and of course the staff served him lunch and picked up the dishes."
Maddy glanced at Nancy. "Find out names and when they were here, please."
Nancy nodded, but instead of leaving, she touched Maddy's arm. "Is something wrong? Some weird stuff's been going on lately."
"Yes. I don't have all the details. But I will." She refused to let anyone do this type of damage, to her patients or her project.
Maddy's floor was for healing. It was hers to guard and to protect.
Occupant of Bed 232 stretched out on her bed and pouted. She felt like a bedridden failure and therefore the nurses could damn well call her by her bed name today. Damn it, she hated to fail. She'd almost had it all. She'd wanted more, she'd needed more. She shouldn't have tried a second time today. Only this morning's session had been so brilliant, so wonderfully stimulating that like a crack addict, she had to try it again.
Damn that interfering upstart from the second session – whoever the hell they were. And she'd find out. Nudging up against her anger, fear threatened to settle in. She needed that energy. Without her daily healing injection, she wouldn't be able to function.
Her options were limited. John was the only one she had access to up there now, and his energy had sweetened. Had to be the influence of Dr. Maddy's floor. What the hell was that damn shield anyway? She'd sensed the power of it, she'd seen the loving energies inside of it, and she hadn't been able to enter – she'd tried, though.
She sighed. If she managed to figure out how to get to those people in that bubble, she wouldn't have to go after so many other people. And that child's energy, wow. Was she improving or what? Jealously twisted inside her. Just one smidgen of the child's energy and she would be free from pain for days, not to mention that would kick-start her healing and raise it to new levels.
It wasn't because she hadn't tried, because she had – many times. Somehow, Dr. Maddy had managed to create that bubble to block energy drainers like her. Wasn't that a sneaky thing to do? She stared at the ceiling tiles for a moment. She'd never been able to access Dr. Maddy's energy.
She'd have to consider that though. She needed to know more and do more. Damn doctors. Her skills would have blown this hospital apart if she'd been able to develop them as she should have.
Sinking deeper under the covers, she tugged fretfully at the bedding. She'd have to do without for now. But she had to find another source soon or the drought would send her physical condition spiraling downward. Best if her next donor were to carry Dr. Maddy's sweet, pure energy.
She'd have healed ten times over with that wonderful, positive energy. It was worth fifty of these dying old farts. Their life force was already dried out and decaying. Their energy helped sustain her, kept the worst of the pain away, but theirs would never heal her. She needed to access those patients under Dr. Maddy's care. Better yet, she needed to be under Dr. Maddy's care herself. Then she'd grab all the energy she needed.
Jansen. Now that had been a mistake. She'd gotten greedy. She'd been siphoning little bits off him for a long time, when all of a sudden she hadn't been able to access his energy. That damn bubble had kept her out and away from him, until his bed had been shifted. When she had access again, after so long, she'd lost control and gorged – had taken everything he had. She never experienced a healing quite like that before. It had felt so good she hadn't been able to stop. She might even have killed him. He'd certainly been dead the next day.
That had saddened her. They'd had good times years ago. Then he'd gotten back with his wife and had broken off the relationship. She hadn't meant to kill him.
But, oh Lord, it had felt good.
What a day. Gerard dropped his head into his hands. The Board had called with more bad news, and he was on the firing line himself. He'd managed to duck – today. There was no doubt that his ass was being watched and his fingers had been slapped.
Gerard didn't like who he'd become. How had it happened? How had he become a person who sold beds to the highest bidder? Someone who held Maddy's floor up as an enticement to desperate, dying people? Sure, Maddy was good, but as Jansen's death had proven, she wasn't perfect.
Although that blame might need to be placed at his feet, too. He'd forced her to take Adam on, snuck John in, and already had several fat checks in his hands for the next beds. Dr. Maddy had warned him that breaking away from protocols would change the project, and it had.
His pride had placed him in this position. When the budgets had gotten so bad, he'd wanted to show the others he could handle it. Prove that he could successfully run The Haven, despite the problems and the economy. God, what a fool he'd been then. His ego had won over his sense of right and wrong.
Dispirited, he crossed his arms on his desk and laid his head down.
Maddy closed her phone and placed it on her desk, confused and slightly disor
Her cell phone rang. This time it was Drew.
"How long has Nancy Colfax worked for you?"
Maddy started, her mind struggling to switch subjects so fast. "What? Nancy? Uhmmm, I don't know. Four, five years maybe? Why?"
"Did you know her mother had an affair with Uncle John? About six or seven years ago?"
Maddy glanced toward her closed office door. "No, although I can't say I'm surprised. I've heard John was quite a womanizer, and at his age, there might be any number of women connected in one way or other to my circle."
"So you didn't know?"
"No. I did not know." Maddy sighed, slumping back in her chair. "Then again, Nancy probably didn't, either."
"She hasn't been close to her mother in a couple decades. They exchange the odd phone call. That's the extent of it. Why, are you checking up on her?"
"Not only her. I've extended the parameters to include everyone on the floor with a connection to John, no matter how tenuous. Another avenue to explore would be his caregivers."
Maddy rubbed the bridge of her nose. That would be a long list. "Talk to John. Let him know what's going on and see if he can narrow the list down. By the way, I went over the information Nancy compiled for me, but nothing pops."
"Right. I'll run a few more names, then come over."
She would get to see him again. She smiled "I think I know what caused the bruising," she said abruptly. "At least I might know. I had to think about whether this was possible or not." With a grimace, Maddy forged ahead. "I believe the bruises represent energy entering or exiting the body with extreme force. Normal energy movement wouldn't cause any damage."
A long silence filled the phone line. His voice, harsh and curt stepped in. "What kind of training does someone need to do this?"
"There's no formal training. However, several spiritual groups work with this energy. Some people can stumble on their own power without realizing it. There are people who hop out of their body on a daily basis and never realize it's an unusual skill."
"Can you access this energy?"
"Yes, but I wouldn't without the person's permission."
"Okay, I'll keep that in mind. I've got to go."
Her voice dropped to an intimate whisper. "See you later then."
After closing her phone, Maddy got to her feet. She grabbed her tablet and the large stack of paperwork on the side of her desk, strode down to the nurses' station and gratefully dumped the paperwork on the counter.
She greeted the two nurses who were busy working and continued down the hall to check on her patients. Belle slept, something she did most of the day now. Maddy gave her energy a cursory glance, checking for anything out of the ordinary. Everything appeared fine.
Feeling reassured, Maddy moved on from one to another, stopping to talk with those awake and to smile at those sleeping peacefully. With every patient, she searched their energy for any abnormalities, noting changes in blockages of their meridians and updating their files on her tablet.
As she moved toward Felicia, she was aware the energy of the space had changed – was becoming edgy, irritated.
Maddy frowned and picked up the pace.
A shriek split the air.
Maddy ran to Felicia's side.
Alexis sat on the other side of her daughter's bed. "Felicia, take it easy. It was just a nightmare. It's over now."
Felicia opened her eyes and gasped several times. A heavy sweat drenched her skin and sheets as she shuddered. "That wasn't much fun."
Maddy patted her hand as she noted the rapid vibration of the child's energy. Something had scared her badly. "Bad dreams can be like that."
Alexis thanked her. "I'm sure it was bad, baby. But it's all over. You're awake and the dream can't hurt you."
Felicia groaned. "I know, but I'm still scared."
Maddy checked her pulse, noting her heightened color and rapid breathing. Normal signs after a bad shock. "Do you want to tell me about it? The dream?"
Like a frightened rabbit, Felicia retreated deeper into the bedding, shaking her head rapidly. "No, I really don't."
Alexis patted her hand. "It's okay, sweetheart. You don't have to share if you don't want to."
"I don't want to," she whispered, wiping her eyes and face with the sheet.
Maddy settled on the edge of the bedside. Felicia might not want to tell her, yet it would help her a lot if she did. It would also give Maddy a good idea whether she had been affected by the aberrant energy, or something else.
From the box of tissues on the small side table, Alexis handed one to her daughter. "Use this, honey. Dry your tears then get some rest."
"I don't want to go back to sleep." Felicia struggled to shift herself upwards.
Maddy leaned over and gently helped the child sit up against the headboard. She gave a comical groan. "I'm not going to be able to do this much longer, you've gotten so big." She sat back down again. "You know, I think you've gained weight in the short time you've been here." And that was big news.
The two adults glanced at each other in pleased surprise. The fight, as always, was to stop the rapid weight decline. Weight gain was a dream rarely achieved with terminal patients.
Felicia grinned, hope a bright beacon shining on her face.
"Wow. What a smile, young lady." Maddy beamed back at her.
The blankets rippled as Felicia wiggled. "Thanks, I'm feeling lots better."
"That's what I want to hear. Now if we could only do something about those nightmares, huh?"
The smile slipped away from Felicia's face. She twisted the sheets around her fingers.
Reaching over, Maddy held Felicia's hand gently. "I know it's tough, but it would help me to stop them if I knew what they were about. Have you had these often?" Maddy watched the emotions cross her young charge's face. She loved working with children for that reason. They were so open so innocent so trusting. That's why they healed so beautifully.
Felicia shook her head. "No, I'm sleeping really well. It's just today when I had a nap. That's when it happened."
"I don't know. I went to sleep while Mom read Harry Potter to me. The dream started fine, then it turned nasty."
That's the part Maddy needed to hear. Keeping her voice soft and gentle, she asked, "Nasty, how?"
When Felicia didn't answer and wouldn't raise her head, Maddy squeezed her hand gently, comforting her. "It's going to be okay, Felicia. Sometimes the medication we give people can make the mind do funny things."
In a faltering voice, Felicia tried to explain about the meadow and the black cloud that had started like rain and ended up chasing her. She'd fallen down and that's when the blackness tried to smother her. She'd sat up screaming, only to realize she was inside a bubble with the blackness clawing at the outside trying to get in.
Nice. Maddy gave her a bright smile. "Then it was a good dream, Felicia. You were protected inside this bubble. The darkness wasn't able to get you."
Felicia frowned, thinking hard, then her face cleared and she a huge grin split her face. "That's right. I was screaming because I was afraid it would get me, only I was safe inside. It didn't get me."
"And now you don't have to be scared anymore." Maddy's heart warmed. Felicia's spirit understood she was safe here. Not only safe, she was thriving. Since moving to The Haven, Felicia had shown steady improvement, and it was early. She slept better, mostly, and her arms and legs had strengthened a lot, givin
Grinning, Felicia reached her arms up. Maddy gave the child a big hug while her mother watched, tears in her eyes. Walking away, Maddy increased her pace as she moved toward John. Acid bubbled in her stomach. Worry chewed on her consciousness. Maddy needed to find the person doing this and fast. She skidded to a stop at the sound of voices.
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