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The Accident Part 4
|Rating:; Genre=Fiction; Pages=5; Characters=10,572;|
Chapter 4 - Adjustment
Frank motored the boat up the murky river. The storm had passed leaving only wet clothes and some sour attitudes. Their destination was almost in sight, merely hidden by it's natural cammoflage. The directions given to Frank had been exact, and as the boat neared the bend in the wide river a rickety old wodden dock appeared. As he skillfully pulled the boat into place as his cohort tied the lines to the dock he could see a small shack nestled into the undergrowth. He shut off the deisel motors and stepped onto the moldy planks of the dock. The shack was made of moldy aluminum and was the size of a small trailor, the windows were so covered with mold and grime that they were impossible to see through. As he was coming back around to the front door to knock he felt the barrel of a pistol pressed against the back of his head and large hands pat him down for weapons. Finding none he was roughly turned around and pushed back against the shed.
"What's your name." said the man with the large eyebrows.
"Names are not important, I have what you seek." said Frank, always cool under pressure.
The thug looked to the boat, then rapped on the shed thrice with his knuckles. The door opened and a man in a combat fatigues stepped out. He had a deep scar that ran from his jaw all the way back to his ear.
"Make the switch." was all he said.
With that Frank was released and more men came out of the shed carrying shapeless bags. They took them aboard the boat and came out carrying the crates, which were deposited in the shed. They quickly finished and all the men dissapeared except for the leader.
"Leave now, the deal is done." said the man, then he too dissapeared into the underbrush.
Frank quickly jumped onto his boat, his friend right behind him, and slipped the lines. They quickly motored the boat up the river, heading to their final destination.
* * *
Ember woke up staring up at a white perf-board ceiling. A faint light sifted in through the venetian blinds leaving long trails of light across the ceiling. She was confused, her thoughts clouded. She heard someone setting down a newspaper nearby and tried to move her head to look. Her muscles wouldn't respond. I'm paralyzed. she thought, her head dizzy with fear at the prospect of being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life..
"Hush now, Ember." said a nurse, entering Ember's field of view. "You've been in an accident, you're going to be okay though. Just lie still and be calm."
"What's wrong with my neck?" said Ember, her voice shrill with unregulated fear.
"Calm down, calm down." said the nurse, trying to calm her. "You were in a car accident and fractured a vertebrae. You're not paralyzed, but you have to wear this brace for a while."
"What is it?" asked Ember, a little calmer but still confused. She had no memory of any accident, she didn't even know the day of the week.
"It's called a halo brace. It's got a plastic jacket that has four posts attached to it that go up to a ring around your head, like an angel's halo. The ring has four pins in it that have been surgically attached to your skull. It's all designed to keep your head from moving and to give the bones around your spinal cord time to mend." said the nurse. "What's the last thing you remember?"
Ember though for a moment before answering, "Well, I remeber getting ready for graduation with Beth..." She paused and rolled her eyes to look at the nurse. "What happened to Beth?" she asked hysterically, again near tears. "I want to see her!"
"She's okay, she's okay. She's still in recovery." explained the nurse as she pressed the call button for Ember's doctor.
"Okay, what about my leg? I can feel the cast going all the way up my thigh, what happened?" asked Ember, refering to how her short leg cast had grown to a long leg cast.
The doctor came in and explained to Ember about her condition and about what had happened to Beth. Ember wanted to see Beth right away, but the Doctor said she would have to wait at least a few days. He also explained that her leg, the tibia, had been broken in the accident, hence the long leg cast, replacing the short one she had had before. The doctor left after examining Ember mentally and physically and told her she needed to come down for some x-rays in about an hour.
As the door closed, the nurse said to Ember "I bet you need to go to the bathroom."
Ember's cheecks reddened in embarassement, "Well, er.. yes I do. Can I get out of bed to use the restroom?"
"I can help you, and you'll need to use the wheelchair, but yes. If you feel lightheaded than let me know immediately, that's a warning sign that something is wrong."
"Okay, let's go." said Ember. The nurse brought a hospital wheelchair next to the bed and lifted Ember out of the bed and into the chair. Ember marveled at the upper body strength she had, the cast and halo added at least 30 pounds to her weight. The left foot rest had already been extended so her casted leg rested on it, easing the pressure on her thigh. It was a little akward just sitting there, she kept wanting to slouch down in the chair, but the halo prevented it.
The nurse wheeled Ember into the room's bathroom and helped her slide onto the toilet. The pose was akward, with the back straight and the leg stuck out at an odd angle, but Ember managed to do do her business and clean herself without too much trouble. The nurse wheeled her back to her bed, but instead of lifting Ember back onto the bed, she told her it was time to go to the x-rays.
The nurse wheeled Ember through the halls of the hospital. Ember felt really self-conscious about her cast and halo, justified by some of the looks she got not from the hospital staff but from other patients. She was staring at other people and their injuries as well, and chastized herself for treating others as she didn't want to be treated. She couldn't watch for long though since she couldn't move her head to follow their movements. She saw people who were casted, bandaged, braced, and in wheelchairs, but no one else had a halo.
After a short elevator ride to the ground floor, they arrived at the x-ray room. Ember's doctor, Doctor ClearWater, was just finishing up with another patient. The other patient was sitting on the examination table as the Doctor adjusted some straps on a brace she was wearing. The brace was made out of leather and metal, and went from the hips up to the neck. Ember asked her nurse what it was called, and she said it was called a Milwaukee Brace and it was used for the treatment of scolosis, or curvature of the spine. The other girl smiled at Ember, who smiled back, on her way out the door.
The Doctor walked over to Ember and said "You're looking much better now than when I saw you on the table last night. Becky, would you help Ember up onto the exam table?" Dr. ClearWater asked Ember's nurse. Ember hadn't known her nurse's name, but would be sure to remember it now.
Becky lifted Ember up onto the table and helped her lay down comfortably. There was no pillow on the table so Ember's head was only supported by the halo supports. The Doctor came over and started to test Ember's physical reflexes, pupil responses, and circulation. "How's the memory now? Do you remember anything from yesterday?" he asked.
"Oh yes. I think I remember it all now, I've been trying hard all morning. It's all clear now though." She explained all that she remembered. Some of the information was even more accurate than the police report had been. Dr. ClearWater was impressed.
"Well," said the doctor as he signaled his assistant to bring the x-ray machine over. "You're looking great mentally, and your skin and circulation is doing fine. I'll take a few x-rays to make sure that the fractures are stable.
The x-ray machine was attached to the wall, but a telescoping arm allowed it to reach the entire room. The "camera" part was positioned to take a radiograph of Ember's cervical spine, and a lead jacket was placed over the part of her body not to be x-rayed. Everyone left the room and the x-ray machine buzzed for a second and then everyone came back in. After a few more pictures were taken of the neck and leg, the doctor brought in the developed x-rays and put them up on the lightboard.
"Well, these are spectacular. It looks like everything has started to heal just fine. Can you see this white line here?" he asked, pointing to a very faint white line on her tibia.
"Yeah, I see it. Is that the fracture?" asked Ember.
"No, no. This is an old fracture. I'd guess you broke your leg about five years ago, probably from a fall." said the Doctor.
"Yes, I fell off a swingset a few years back. That's amazing that you can tell so much from a tiny line." she said. "If that line is an old fracture, where's the current one?"
"Well, you can't see it very well from this angle, but it's in nearly the same place as the old one. For some of these breaks it takes years of practice to see them. Anyway, you'll have to spend about a week here so we can keep an eye on you. Spinal fractures are nothing to be flippant with." said the Doctor
Becky helped Ember back into the wheelchair and they went back to her room on the third floor.
* * *
Frank approached the cabin door on the boat, his silenced SigSauer hidden in the small of his back. The time had come to get rid of a little dead weight and get the project moving again. He grasped the door knob of the fake oak door and slowly opened pushed it open. The harsh light of single incandecent bulb from the center of the room made his eyes blink. His partner was in the center of the room packing the plastic explosives into the lining of several travel suitcases. The C-4 would not be picked up on Airport x-ray machines and would not be suspicius because it would not stand out as a large, solid package. Frank did not need another partner though, he could take out the plane on his own. Frank pulled his automatic out from behind his shirt and brought it up to fire. He pulled the trigger without hesitation and saw his partner shudder as the bullet entered a lung through his back. Frank had made a good shot, but it wasn't an instant kill. Frank saw his friend die, saw his last action. The last thing Frank saw was his victim pressing down the trigger for the detonator.
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