The Last Straw
by Tim Rumph
Chapter 5: A New Year


As they rode towards Lindseyís sisterís house, Teri stayed curled up against hir dad, and he held hir while Eleanor cuddled hir from the other side. Will took his com out with his other hand and called Andre. "Hello Andre, have you heard the news tonight? Ö No, we didnít finish. There was a Humans First attack at the concert. Ö Teri and I are OK, but Jo is missing. Weíre headed to Leanneís house. You remember Eleanorís mom? Ö Yes, thatís right. Iím sending you her address, could you come over there? Iím going back out to find Jo and I donít want to leave Teri alone. Ö Thanks, Iíll see you then."

He turned toward Teri who looked up at him and said, "I want to help you find Mom."

Will stroked hir head and kissed hir forehead. "No Teri, I need to know that you are somewhere safe so I can concentrate on finding your mom. I canít do that with you out there with me."

"But I can track her by scent! I also know what one of her attackers smells like! I love you, Dad, but your nose is useless!"

Will lifted hir up onto his lap so shi faced him. "No, I canít take the chance of having you out there when I donít know who might still be there. Keeping you safe is my top priority now. Youíll stay at Eleanorís Mama Leeís house with your grandma and Eleanor."

"NO Ö" Will hugged her to his chest and let hir cry. Shi mumbled through hir tears, "I tried to protect her, but there were too many. Mom doesnít know how to fight but I couldnít help her! Iím too small and I donít know enough yet!"

They pulled up to Leanneís house then and Lindsey and John got out of the PTV. Lindsey opened the back door and said, "Teri, look at me." Shi turned to him and blinked, her vision blurred with tears. "I called a friend of mine who is a city police officer. Heís going to want to ask you a few questions. He also told the police that your mom is missing. The police have equipment that can find her a lot faster than your nose can track her. When he finishes, your dad and I will go out with him and help him look, so we are doing everything we can to find your mom."

Shi nodded, then looked up at hir dad. "Will she be OK?"

Will looked into hir eyes. "I donít know Teri. I want to tell you yes, but I canít do that yet. I just know that Iím going to do everything I can to find her and help her. Will you help me by staying here at Leanneís house so that I donít have to worry about you?"

Eleanor rubbed hir shoulder and said, "Iíll be here with you Teri. I wonít leave you until your dad and mom get back."

Teri reached out with one arm and pulled her into the hug with hir dad. Shi said, "OK, Iíll stay here."

Will got out of the PTV carrying hir, but turned around when he heard another PTV come up. Lindsey said, "Itís OK. This is my friend with the police department. Go on in the house."

Will carried Teri into the house and Leanne let them in the door, pointing into the living room. Will sat down on the couch with Teri on his lap, and Eleanor sat down beside them. In a few moments, Lindsey and John came in with another human whose hair was starting to go grey, but had a kind look on his face when he turned toward Will and Teri. Lindsey knelt down next to Teri and hir dad and said, "Teri, this is Detective Bill Smith. We were in the marines together. He needs to talk to you for a bit before we go to find your mom."

Detective Smith said, "Teri, Iím here to help you, but you have to help me first." Shi nodded and turned around on hir dadís lap. He held hir wrists and said, "This blood on your hands, where did it come from?"

Teri looked down at hir hands with a dazed look on hir face. Shi said, "Blood Ö I donít Ö I scratched, um, I scratched the man who was hitting Mom."

Smith nodded and, while pulling a case from his jacket pocket, said, "Thatís what I thought. I need to take a sample of this. It will help me find that man who hurt your mom." Teri nodded as he put on some gloves and then cut off some of the hairs from hir hands and scraped some of the dried blood from hir claws. He said, "You can go with Eleanor and wash your hands now. Then I want you to go to the bathroom and wash your face. Ms. Leanne is going to get you a glass of water. I want you to drink some of it while I talk to your dad here."

Teri slid off hir dadís lap as shi nodded and said, "OK." Eleanor wrapped her arm around her friendís shoulders and they headed toward the bathroom with Leanne following them. Teri kept staring at hir hands as if they were some strange thing shi had never seen before. Smith watched them go out, and then turned to Will. "Mr. Cochran, I need your daughter to tell me what happened and what shi saw at the concert tonight. This will be very difficult for hir."

Will looked up at him. "I know you need to do this, but I wish she didnít have to go through that again. Is there anything we can do to make it easier for hir?"

"If we were anywhere else in the Federation but here, I could call in an empath or telepath to help, but we donít have anyone like that in the local police department."

"We have a friend of ours who is a counselor at the hospital. Shiís an empath; maybe shi can help?"

Smith said, "Shiís a chakat?" Will nodded. "Good, please call hir. If sheís any good at all it will make this much easier on Teri."

Will called Springbreeze and put the com on speaker so everyone could hear. Breeze answered and said, "Will, Iíve wanted to call you, but things are a mess down here right now. Where is Jo?"

"I know, Breeze. Teri and I are OK, but Jo is missing."

"What happened? The AI here told us that Joís com wasnít working! There wasnít any answer at your house."

"We were down at the concert when H1 attacked it. I found Joís broken com, but I donít know where she is. Teri was with her when she disappeared. I have a police detective here who needs to talk to Teri and I was wondering if you could come down here and help."

"I canít just Ö wait a minute." Shi was apparently talking to someone else, and they could hear hir raising hir voice but couldnít quite make out what shi was saying. Finally shi came back on and said, "Iíll be there in a few minutes. Are you at home?"

"No, weíre at Teriís friendís motherís house. Iím sending you the address."

"Ok, Iíve got it. Iíll be there in a few minutes."

Just then the door announcer went off. Lindsey got up and went to the monitor, then opened the door letting Andre in. Shi turned and saw Will sitting on the couch looking stunned, with John and Smith. "Will, whereís Teri?"

Lindsey said, "Eleanor and Leanne took hir to the bathroom to get cleaned up. Come this way."

Andre glanced at Will, who nodded to hir, then followed Lindsey. Finally they all came back into the living room. Teri had a glass half full of water, and Eleanor still had her arm around Teriís shoulder. As they sat down on the couch and Will put his arm around Teriís shoulder with Eleanorís, the door announcer went off again. Leanne went up to the door and then turned to them saying, "Thereís a chakat out here."

Will said, "I asked hir to come. Please let hir in."

Breeze hardly gave a glance to Leanne, but went straight into the living room. Shi pulled the coffee table out of the way before giving Teri a hug then settled down in front of hir, glancing at Smith. Will said, "Breeze, this is Detective Smith. Detective Smith, Chakat Springbreeze is a staff counselor at the hospital where Jo works."

Smith nodded to Breeze. "Iím glad you could make it down here, it will make this a lot easier." He pulled a PADD out of his pocket and said, "Teri, Springbreeze is going to help me ask some questions so that we can find your mom. Do you understand?"

Teri said, "Yes sir."

"Ok, first we need to get some legalities out of the way. Mr. Cochran, please state your full name and your legal relationship to Teri, using hir full name.

Will nodded. "I am William David Cochran. I have been assigned as the legal guardian of Teri Fleetfoot by hir mother, Josephine Cochran."

"Do you give me, Detective Captain William Smith, permission to question Teri Fleetfoot in the presence of and with the assistance of Shir Springbreeze, an empath, regarding events occurring on the night of One January 2331?"

"I do."

Smith turned to Breeze. "Shir Springbreeze, please state you full name and relevant licenses to perform this service."

Breeze nodded. "I am Chakat Springbreeze, child of Firestripe and Fastwalker. I am an E5 rated empath licensed by the Stellar Federation to practice Empathic Counseling, Diagnoses and Treatment."

Smith nodded, "Even better than I had hoped. This is what we are going to do. Teri, you, Springbreeze, and I will go into another room. It would be better if everyone else stays here." He looked over at Will. "Springbreeze will help Teri detach hir emotions from hir memories of what happened tonight so that shi can tell me about it. This will let hir tell me about the events without having to relive them. It will also let hir tell a more accurate account of what happened. I will give you a copy of the recording of our session."

Eleanor said, "Iím going with you. I promised Teri I wouldnít leave hir."

Smith looked up at Will and Lindsey, who looked at each other, then nodded. He said, "Very well, you can come with us, but you must not say anything."

She nodded and said, "Yes sir."

Breeze looked up at Leanne and said, "Take us to where Teri will be sleeping tonight."

Leanne nodded and said, "I assume that Eleanor and Andre will be spending the night with hir. Come on in to my bedroom."

They got up and followed Leanne.

Leanne showed them into her bedroom, and then left them alone. Breeze jumped up onto the bed and laid down, indicating that Teri and Eleanor should get up with hir. They got up on the bed and leaned up against Breeze, Teri between hir forelegs, leaning against hir upper torso, while Eleanor leaned against Breezeís side. Breeze started gently suppressing the emotion centers in Teriís brain while also calming Eleanor. After a few minutes, Teri looked like shi was in a trance while Eleanor looked to be almost asleep. Breeze turned to Smith and nodded.

Smith laid the PADD on the bed and started. "Teri, can you understand me?"


"Please state your full name."

"Teri Fleetfoot"

"Who are your parents?"

"Jo Cochran and Will Cochran"

"Thank you. Now I want you to tell me what happed tonight. Begin when you came back to your parents after the band stopped playing and keep going until you got here. Start now."

The band was really good and Eleanor and I wanted the new recording that they had tonight. If we got it now, they would sign it, but I had to go to the bathroom. I had two big drinks before and I really had to pee. I gave Eleanor my PADD and asked her to get a copy for me. I told my mom that I had to go, and she asked if anybody wanted something to eat or drink, because the food booths were outside the gate like the potties, but not right next to them. Mom wouldnít let Eleanor and me have another funnel cake. Mom and I walked up to the gate. I asked her how she liked the music. Mom said that she thought it was good. I asked her about Dad, and she said that he liked it too. I was happy that Dad liked it because he plays the fiddle and they have a good fiddler. I told Mom that I was glad that he didnít bring his fiddle because then he would ask to play with her at the end of the show and that would be embarrassing, even though he is a good fiddler. Mom said that he wouldnít do that, but I didnít believe her. Mom asked me what I wanted and I told her some lemonade. She asked if I wanted anything to eat and I said no. I know that Eleanor wanted another funnel cake, but I was full. Eleanor likes to eat more than I do. We had to wait at the gate ícause there were a lot of people there. I asked Mom if they had decided on a name for my brother yet. Mom said no. She said that they wanted to see him before they decided, even though they knew he was going to be a boy. We went out of the gate, but had to wait for a potty because lots of people had to go. I asked Mom if she had to go. She said no, but she would wait for me. When I was next, I went in and latched the door and then I peed. I washed my hands like Iím supposed to, and I wanted to see it flash when it burned up my pee, like Dad told me it does, but it wonít do that with me inside, so I couldnít see it. I heard people start to scream then and opened the door. There were people running around everywhere and people in black clothes with hoods over their faces were hitting other people. They were mostly hitting fur people, but they would hit human people too if they were in the way. I didnít see Mom anywhere and I was getting scared. I heard Momís voice and she said a bad word, then I could smell her too. She smelled like she does when she gets really mad. There were two of the people in black clothes holding her arms and pulling her around behind the potties. There was another person in black clothes who hit her and asked Mom something. Mom used another bad word. The man in black clothes hit her in the mouth. That was dumb because he cut his hand on Momís teeth even though she wasnít trying to bite him. Mom pulled her arm loose and hit the man who hit her and ripped his hood off and made scratches on his face. Mom should have hit his throat, but she doesnít know how to fight. He smelled really mad. The man in the black clothes had a metal pipe and he hit Mom in the leg. Mom screamed and fell down, and then she smelled afraid instead of mad. I jumped on the manís back and scratched his throat like Uncle Lind taught me. He grabbed his throat and then fell down, but he didnít say anything. Now he smelled scared too. I wanted to make them all smell scared. I jumped off so that the man in black clothes didnít fall on me and looked at Mom. Mom was crying and her leg looked funny, like it wouldnít work any more. I wanted to go to Mom, but the men in black clothes were coming to me. Then I saw other men in black clothes coming too, and they had pipes like the first one did. One of them said to grab it, and I think that they meant me, but Iím a hir, not an it. I knew that if I stayed there they would catch me and that would be bad, so I ran away. I wanted to go back inside where Dad was, but there were too many people there and lots of men with black clothes and pipes, so I ran the other way. I heard them chasing me, but I ran faster and then I hid. I heard them looking for me, so I stayed where they couldnít see me and kept moving away when they werenít looking at me. Iím glad that they were all humans because humans canít smell and I was easy to smell ícause I was scared. One of the men in black clothes said to stop looking and it was time to go. They all ran away and then I heard police sirens coming. I found a place to hide, behind a trash dumpster. It smelled bad, but it was dark there so they couldnít see me. The smelly dumpster hid my smell too. I waited until the police were there and the ambulances. I called Dadís com, but Uncle Lind answered instead of Dad. Uncle Lind said that Dad was OK and that Uncle John and Eleanor were OK, but didnít say anything about Mom. I told him that I was hiding behind a trash dumpster and asked him where Mom was. I told him that I was lost and didnít know where I was. Uncle Lind didnít tell me where Mom was, but he said they knew where I was and were coming to get me. Dad talked to me and told me that he loved me. Dad said that he would come and get me and he did. I hugged Dad and didnít ever want to let go of him. Uncle Lind told us to go back behind the trash dumpster. He told me to put my tail in my pants leg. I figured out that Uncle Lind wanted me to look more like a human, but I still smelled like me. Dad kept his arms around me and that made me feel better. It was hard to put my tail into my pants leg because I have a big, bushy tail like Mom. I finished and Dad wrapped his jacket around me to hide my head. Dad made it look like he was carrying a human so people wouldnít notice us. Dad carried me until we got to Uncle Johnís PTV and we got in. I told Dad that I wanted to help him find Mom, but he said no. Then we got to Leanneís house.

When Teri finished Smith turned off the recorder on his PADD. Breeze gently laid the children down and got off the bed. Hir head fur was soaked, like shi had been working outside on a hot day. Shi said, "I made them fall asleep. They were exhausted anyway. They will sleep the rest of the night."

He smiled and said, "Thanks for your help. You look like you should join them. Will they remember telling me this?"

Shi gave him a weary smile. "I have to get back to the hospital. They will remember telling you, but it will be kind of fuzzy, like a dream. This will also help Teri deal with this situation, but shi should have some more counseling sessions. It also helps that Eleanor knows what happened, and Teri knows that she knows. Eleanor will be able to comfort Teri, but they wonít have to go through it again."

Smith nodded. "They should have empaths and telepaths on the police force for this sort of thing, but they wonít do it. That would mean having furs in responsible positions in the police department."

Breeze rubbed Teriís head and Teri smiled and rolled over to hug Eleanor tighter. Breeze turned to Smith and asked, "So why are you here?"

Smith shook his head. "I grew up here. I came back when I retired from the marines because my dadís health is deteriorating and Mom needs some help. They donít want to leave." He turned to go. "Iíll tell Teriís Dad and Grandmother to come in."

Breeze nodded and sat down next to the bed. Shi decided that shi would ask Andre if shi wanted some help getting to sleep and then would go back to the hospital.

Detective Smith took Will and Lindsey with him when he left Leanneís house and started heading back downtown. His police ID got them through the police blockade, and then he answered his com badge. "This is Smith. Ö Yes, I have hir statement and hir dad is with me. Ö I understand, thank you." He turned the PTV around and went back out through the blockade.

Will looked startled and asked, "Where are you going? Isnít she in there?"

Smith shook his head. "That call I just got told me that they took your wife to the hospital about twenty minutes ago."

Will rubbed his hand across his forehead. "Thank God. How is she?"

"All I know is that sheís alive. They are really busy down there right now." He turned on the lights and siren and switched the PTV to AI control, headed for the hospital. The city traffic control system started moving the other PTVís out of the way and they were at the hospital inside of ten minutes. The PTV stopped next to the emergency entrance and they all got out, then it turned off the lights and siren and went to park itself. There were two police uniformed officers at the door, but they recognized Smith and let him through. They were headed up to the admissions desk when Will heard someone call his name. He turned and saw Dr. Morgenstern, the hospital Chief of Staff coming toward him. He was a human who was almost entirely bald. He looked like he was in his sixties, but was still in decent shape. Will didnít know him well, but knew that he was a stickler for rules and procedures. Jo had told him that, despite that, he was fair and even-handed. Dr. Morgenstern said, "We sent your wife straight into O.R. when she got here. If you come with me, Iíll talk with you for a minute before I have to get back to my duties here."

Smith stepped up and showed the doctor his ID. "Iíll need to talk to her when sheís ready." The doctor just nodded and scanned Smithís ID with his com, then said, "Iíll call you when she can see you." Smith nodded and, patting Will on the shoulder, turned and left. Will and Lindsey followed the doctor.

They got into an elevator and went up a few floors, then went down the hallway and stopped to wait for an orderly to move a bed out of a room. When he was out of the way, they went into the room. Dr. Morgenstern indicated for Will to sit down in the chair in the room and Lindsey leaned up against the window sill. The doctor glanced at Lindsey, but Will said, "He is a friend of ours; he can hear whatever you have to say to me."

The doctor nodded and said, "Iíll ask them to bring in another chair." He turned back to Will. "Jo has been badly beaten and, from what we could see, dragged somewhere after she was beaten. When she got here, she had a fractured skull and her left arm was broken as well as her right femur. She was also bleeding internally. As far as we can tell, her fetus is still OK, but we have to be very careful so that she doesnít miscarry. The fetus is also complicating some of her treatment."

Will shook his head, "I donít want you to put her at risk to save the baby."

"I understand that, and sheís not at increased risk. Itís just that the treatment will take a little longer than normal. Her broken arm and the skull fracture have already been repaired. They have installed a shunt to help drain excess fluid caused by the accompanying concussion. The internal bleeding is mostly in her abdomen and we have to use some more delicate techniques than we would otherwise."

Will looked concerned and said, "You mean youíre back to knives and stitches?"

The doctor shook his head, "No, but the procedure has more manual involvement than normal, and will just take a little longer than normal. Thatís what they are doing now. The slow part will be the broken femur. It is broken eight cm. below the hip joint, and that is too close to the fetus to use a bone knitter. They have put her in traction for the time being to prevent any further damage to the surrounding tissues. She will need surgery to repair the femur, and then there will be several weeks of rehabilitation to restore the damaged soft tissue and rebuild her strength."

Will nodded, "So sheís going to be OK."

"Yes. Now I have to go. She should be back in about an hour and a half. If you pull the lever on the side of the chair, it converts into a cot, and there are some blankets and a pillow in the closet. I suggest that you get some sleep between now and then." With that, he turned and left.

An orderly brought another chair in, and Lindsey sat down near Will. Will dozed off and Lindsey let him sleep while he waited for Jo to come back from the O.R. After a little more than two hours, an orderly started rolling a bed in, and Lindsey shook Willís shoulder to wake him. Will got up and watched them roll the bed in, followed by a doctor, who was still in scrubs, and a nurse. Will looked up at the doctor and asked, "How is she?"

The doctor was a human male, a little shorter than Will with brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard. The nurse was a cat morph. While the nurse arranged the equipment, the doctor said to Will, "Hello Mr. Cochran, I am Dr. Purvis. Your wife is out of danger now and the fetus is still OK. I understand that Dr. Morgenstern told you about some of the complications caused by your wifeís pregnancy."

Will shook his hand and nodded. Dr. Purvis continued, "We are going to keep your wife sedated until the morning, and we have monitors hooked up to keep an eye on her. If anything changes in her condition, someone will be here, and they will call me. Iím spending the rest of the night here at the hospital. You would be better off at home, but I know that you would rather be here. Try to get some sleep and Iíll make sure that you are woken before we bring your wife around."

He indicated the chair Will had been sleeping in. While they were talking, Lindsey had unfolded it and made it up into a bed with the linens in the closet. He came up and hugged Will and said, "Iíll let everyone know how sheís doing."

After they stepped apart, Will asked the doctor, "When can we bring Teri in to see hir mom?"

The doctor smiled and said, "About 11:30 should be good. She will be a little groggy when she first wakes up, but she should be fairly clear-headed by then."

Will turned to Lindsey, who nodded, "Iíll bring Teri and Andre over in the morning. Youíd better lie down and get a nap while you can."

Will hugged Lindsey again and said, "Thank you Lindsey, I donít know what Iíd have done without you tonight."

Everyone left but Will, who stripped down to his under shorts and got into the chair-bed. He lay there and watched Jo for some time, with the equipment quietly running and the lights blinking, but did eventually fall asleep.

The same nurse came in later that morning and woke Will. "Mr. Cochran, Dr. Purvis will be back in about half an hour to wake up your wife. I brought you a toothbrush and toothpaste and some other toiletries, I thought you might like to freshen up before he got here."

Will swung his legs off the side of his bed and said, "Thank you. What is your name?"

She smiled and said, "Iím Julie. Iíll be going off duty soon, but Tom will be here to take care of Dr. Cochran."

"Thanks again Julie, have a good night." They both smiled at that, and the nurse left while Will went into the bathroom.

He was surprised at how much better he felt just from going in and brushing his teeth and washing his face. He came back out and pushed the chair Lindsey had used the night before next to the bed and sat down. During the night, they had changed the synthetic blood to a saline solution, and he could see the anesthetic field generator under the monitor on the wall.

Dr. Purvis came back in, and when Will started to get up, he waved him back into the chair. "You donít need to move, just sit tight. And you can hold her hand; she wonít break." He smiled at Will and then ran a scanner over Jo. He said, "Sheís much better this morning, and the baby seems to be doing fine as well. Iíll have her obstetrician come in this week, just to make sure, but they both seem to be doing well. Weíve scheduled the surgery on her leg for tomorrow afternoon, and she should be ready to go home the next day."

He turned off the anesthetic machine and said, "Sheíll start waking up in about twenty minutes. Iíll leave you two alone, but Iíll be watching the monitor at the nurses station, so if you need anything, just press the button."

With that, the doctor left. Will took Joís hand, but held it like glass despite what the doctor had told him. He watched Joís face and wondered why it was taking so long for her to wake up. He started nodding off again after about ten minutes.

Suddenly he was knocked out of the chair and hit his head on the nightstand as he fell. He staggered back up, worried that someone had decided to come and finish the job they had started the night before, when he heard Jo wail. "Oh my god! Will! Iím so sorry!" He reeled a bit, still unsteady on his feet as he went back over to the bed and hugged Jo. She said, "Iím so sorry, Will. My head is all musty and when I woke up I just smelled human and didnít recognize your scent. All I could thing about was those men hitting me!"

The door opened and Dr. Purvis and a male wolftaur in a nurseís jacket came rushing in. Will held Jo and said, "Donít worry about it, Iím OK. Iím just glad that youíre alright."

Dr. Purvis said, "Let me take a look at my patient please, Mr. Cochran. All of her vital signs just spiked, and I need to check her."

Will turned around and looked at the doctor. He had three gashes across his left cheek and a cut on his forehead, all of them bleeding. The doctor said, "On the other hand, it looks like Iíve got two patients now. Tom, please get a towel out of the bathroom and take Mr. Cochran down to the nurseís station and get him patched up while I check on Dr. Cochran."

Will started, "But Ö"

"Everything will be fine, but youíre bleeding all over my patient. Please go with Tom."

Will nodded and went out with the wolftaur, who put the towel against his face and asked him to hold it. When they got to the nursesí station, the nurse asked Will to sit down, and he got some equipment out and started working on Willís face. Will asked, "Your name isnít really Tom, is it?"

The wolftaur smiled and said, "No, itís KoQuatomanta, but thatís a bit of a mouthful for most people who arenít used to wolftaur names, so I just go by Tom." Will started to nod, but KoQuatomanta said, "Hold still, you donít want me to heal your eyelids shut."

Will stopped moving, but asked, "Do you have an aunt named Lowanadesa?"

KoQuatomanta stopped what he was doing and looked at Will. "Where did you meet Lowanadesa? And by the way, you pronounced that very well."

"We met her while my family and I were hiking up near your home. She came by to tell us that the hunting area your clan was using had shifted, and to ask us to go around by a different trail. We talked some while she was showing us where to go. I figured that there probably werenít two wolftaurs in nursing school down here. Congratulations on finishing your classes and getting a job here."

KoQuatomanta started working on Willís face again. "Thank you. Iíve been here about two weeks. Iíve seen Dr. Cochran from time to time, but she mostly stays down in the emergency department and I donít get down there much."

Dr. Purvis came up as KoQuatomanta finished and said, "You look as good as new Mr. Cochran. Your wife is fine, just a bit embarrassed."

KoQuatomanta said, "Letís go back and Iíll get the sheets changed while you two hug and make up."

KoQuatomanta quickly got the sheets change out and then left them alone together. Will kissed Jo and then sat down next to her, taking her hand. Jo said, "Will, Iím so sorry. I donít know Ö"

Will put his finger against her lips and said, "Hush now." He turned his head back and forth. "See, everything is as good as new." He grinned at her, "The doctor said you wouldnít break, but he didnít say anything about me!"

This brought a smile to Joís face and she chuckled. "Will, youíre a nut. What did I ever do to deserve you?"

"Just lucky I guess. I know I was." Knowing now that he wouldnít break her, Will leaned over the bed and kissed her.

When he sat down again, Joís frown came back. "Will, where is Teri? How is shi doing?"

Will smiled and squeezed her hand. "Teri is fine. Shi spent the night at Leanneís house with Eleanor and Andre."

"Will, they were asking me about hir. They werenít just random thugs, but were looking for us. I about had a heart attack when shi came out of the toilet while they were beating me. I wanted hir to run away, and was trying not to look at hir, afraid that they would turn around and notice hir. Then they hit my leg and I fell down. I think that I saw hir jump on his back. Everything was starting to go a little fuzzy, but I swear it looked like shi tore his throat out! There was blood everywhere. Then I kind of passed out for a while, and when I woke up again they were dragging me somewhere. They were arguing with each other and sounded confused, like they didnít know what was going on. One of them said it was time to go, and toÖ and I remember thisÖ he said to ĎTake care of herí and then I guess somebody hit me in the head. I donít remember anything else until I woke up here, and then I had your blood all over the place."

Will got up and hugged her, trying to be careful of all the tubes and wires and things. He really wanted to get into bed with her so they could be closer together, but didnít see how he could manage it with the traction rig and all the equipment. It was probably against hospital rules anyway.

He said, "Lindsey and I found Teri. Shi was hiding behind a dumpster, so shi had sense to run away. Her hands were covered in blood and a police detective that Lindsey knows came to Leanneís house and took samples of the blood, then sent hir off with Eleanor to wash up." He stopped and smiled, remembering Eleanor going off with Teri to the bathroom. "Eleanor told hir that she would stay with hir until you came back. Your doctor said that they could come about 11:30, and I imagine that Eleanor will still be with hir."

Jo smiled and nodded. "Shiís got a good friend in Eleanor." The smile faded as she added, "What about the police? Did they make hir go through that again?"

Will shook his head, "I called Breeze, and they let hir leave the hospital and come over to Leanneís house. Shi and Teri and Eleanor went back to Leanneís room with the detective. Breeze said after that shi had sort of Ďshut offí Teriís emotional centers so shi could tell the detective what had happened without having to relive it. Eleanor wouldnít leave hir, so Breeze did about the same thing to her. Breeze said that going though it like that so soon after it happened was actually good for Teri, and it would also help hir to know that Eleanor knew what happened to hir. When we left, they were both asleep and Andre was going to spend the night with them." He smiled and shook his head. "Chakats donít usually sweat much, but Breezeís head looked like shi had just taken a shower."

Jo smiled and gripped his hand. "We covered some of that in med school. If shi did that with both of them, itís no wonder shi was soaked. Itís not easy to do. After I got out of that class, it made me kind of glad that Iím an E-0. Before I had kind of envied that in the chakats, but it comes at a cost.

"Do you remember the first time Breeze came over to the houseÖ?"

They spent the rest of the morning reminiscing, until they heard Teri call out "Mommy!" Shi ran into the room and then stopped with hir mouth hanging open, not sure what to do with all of the tubes and wires and things attached to hir mom.

KoQuatomanta trotted in after hir, smiling, and said, "As soon as the elevator opened shi took off straight to this room."

Jo smiled and said, "Shiís got a good nose like hir mom."

KoQuatomanta nodded and then picked up Teri and set hir on the bed next to hir momís good leg. He looked at hir and said, "Now you can stay there, but donít wiggle around. You can hug your mom pretty soon, OK?"

Shi looked up at him and nodded hir head, "Yes sir."

Eleanor and Andre came in then, while KoQuatomanta motioned for Will to move out of the way. He picked up the pitcher of water on the nightstand and a glass, filling it about three fourths full. He handed it to Jo and said, "Dr. Cochran, start with small sips. If you can drink this whole glass and it doesnít upset your stomach, Iíll unhook the tubes and monitors and get you some lunch."

Having done this before, but from the other side, Jo did as she was told. As she did, she swore that she would be a Ďgood patientí, not like most doctors who ended up in the hospital. She finished the glass and held it up. "See, all gone!"

KoQuatomanta took the glass and smiled at her. "Very good, now letís see if we can get rid of some of this."

He took the IV out and removed the blood pressure monitor. When he started to reach under her gown to remove the wires for the heart monitor, she almost snapped at him, but kept her tongue in check, saying instead, "KoQuatomanta, all of these people see me naked all the time. Just pull the gown down so you can do that easier. Please."

He glanced at Eleanor, but she just smiled and said, "We never wear any clothes when we go over to Aunty Joís pool."

He nodded and did as he was told. When all of the wires were loose, he pulled the gown back up and then turned to Teri. "Now you can hug your mom all you want, but be careful of her leg." He reached over and pulled the side of the sheet up so Teri could see hir momís leg in the traction frame with a bandage around it. He pointed to a ring around her leg jus above the bandage and asked Teri, "Do you see this? This is a pain blocker, and if you disturb it, your mom will hurt a whole lot. Also, she canít feel anything in her leg, so it you bump her leg, she wonít feel it, but it could hurt her anyway. Do you understand?"

Teri nodded and said, "Yes sir. I shouldnít even think about my momís leg and should stay away from it."

KoQuatomanta nodded and said, "Thatís right. Now no one else is allowed to get up on the bed, only you. Iím going to go get your mom some lunch, and the rest of you can stay until sheís finished, but then only two at a time, because sheíll be tired and will need to rest."

He took all of the equipment he had disconnected and left. Teri climbed up and hugged hir mom, being very careful of her leg.


To be continued in Chapter 6.

Copyright © 2008 Tim Rumph – tarumph AT

Chakats and the Chakat Universe are the creation of Bernard Doove and are used with his permission.

The Holy Christian Kingdom of North America is the creation of John Plunkett.

Skunktaurs were created by Bob Reijns.

Boronike was created by Allen Fesler.


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