Rugby England, Wednesday August 13th 2262
Terry waited patiently in his lounge, slumped in his chair in a bathrobe sipping whisky.
He should have guessed Norman would flee given the opportunity; it took him seconds to guess where his brother had gone when he got out of the shower. The teleporter’s log confirmed his suspicions.
Norman was taking a lot longer than he expected however; it had been twenty-one minutes since he had port out. Terry checked the time on his strap again. She was probably livid that he went home to check on her, now they’re more than likely having a huge row. He expected a message of some sort before long from Norman apologising and saying he wouldn’t be returning. That damn woman walked all over his little brother and there wasn’t a thing he could do about it- Norman was besotted with her. He hoped someone would shoot him if he ever got so pathetic over a woman. He took a long slug of whisky and decided to give it another ten minutes before he tried to call him.
He sat in silence enjoying his drink for a moment and the slight breeze that wafted in from the open veranda doors. The silence was decimated when he heard his port room door slam closed and then a thud like a sack of potatoes dropping to the floor.
“What the…” he muttered aloud as he shot up from his chair, slamming his drink down on the hover table. He raced into the hall to find his brother curled up on the floor in the foetal position. He was in a horrendous state. His clothes were smeared with blood and his shirt torn open. His floppy blonde hair was matted with blood.
“Normie!” Terry cried, dropping to his knees. His eyes filled with tears at the sight of his brother in such an awful state. He fought them back. What in the world had happened? Surely Hillary Jane couldn’t be responsible for this bloody mess his little brother was in? She was an evil controlling bitch but was she capable of this?
Norman took one look at his big brother and broke down completely. He sobbed uncontrollably, long deep wracking sobs that echoed around the entire apartment. Terry sat next to him on the floor and took him in his arms; it was the only thing he could do to offer any comfort and support, he couldn’t get any sense out of him; Norman wasn’t capable of talking just yet.
After what seemed an age Norman’s grief abated a little. The sobs into Terry’s chest decreased in intensity.
“Normie, you need medical attention,” Terry said softly, worried that there might be something seriously wrong with him. He kissed the top of his head, he couldn’t remember the last time he had kissed his little brother; certainly not as an adult.
“It… hurts,” Norman sputtered.
Terry wasn’t sure if he meant physically or mentally. What had she done to him? “Where Normie?”
“My head… is the worst,” he attempted to lift his head from the comfort of Terry’s chest, but dropped it back.
“Norman, I’m worried about you, please let me help you… we need to work out the extent of your injuries.” Terry was determined to discover what had happened in the twenty odd minutes that Norman had been away, but right now his health was the main priority; there was plenty of time for talking later.
Norman just laid there, a dead weight, not willing to move. His sobbing had ceased and now he just lay with his eyes closed, breathing noisily and heavily.
“Normie, don’t sleep mate,” Terry whispered, suddenly terrified that if he did he might not wake up again. “I’m going to carry you to the bedroom and lay you down so I can get a proper look at you.”
“I’m okay… here,” Norman murmured.
Terry ignored him and manoeuvred him in such a way that Norman was now sat up and leant against the port room door. He had winced several times in pain during the move; but had kept his eyes closed the whole time. Terry put one arm under the back of his brother’s knees and one behind his back and picked him up as carefully as he could. He made his way down the hall to his own bedroom. The main lights came on as they entered, revealing another sparsely furnished and ornamentally vapid room, the double bed with its matt black climate duvet, folded over at the foot of it, being its main feature.
Terry laid Norman on his back in the middle of the bed where again he winced in pain. “Simon… did her….” Norman muttered, making no sense to Terry.
Who the hell is Simon? Terry wondered. Now wasn’t the time to be asking questions though. Norman seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness and was making no sense at all. “The door… the door was unlocked… the door… I didn’t know…”
“Don’t worry Normie; you’re safe here,” Terry said, his voice quavering a little as he tried to keep his emotions in check. Norman appeared to be deteriorating, rapidly…was he delirious now too?
“She knew him… she knew who he…was… I thought…”
“Shhh, Normie,” Terry said touching a finger to Norman’s lips. “We’ll talk later.”
Terry undid the remaining buttons on Norman’s shirt and peeled it back carefully. Norman’s torso was covered in red marks that would no doubt be black and blue before too long. Someone had given him a right pasting. This wasn’t the work of Hillary Jane; it had to be whoever this Simon was. Terry crept round to the other side of the bed so that he could get a closer look at the wound on Norman’s head. He gently held his chin and turned his head slightly, prompting Norman to speak again. “Not an intruder… she knew… his name, he …” he drifted off again.
The head wound looked superficial, the blood made it look worse. The swelling around the area felt awful as Terry gently ran his fingers over it. This wasn’t good.
He bent down to his brother’s limp wrist and lifted it. “Emergency body scan,” he ordered. This was something he hadn’t had to do before, in an emergency though certain dat-com strap functions could be accessed and operated by another person. Normally only the registered owner’s voice would be recognised. Terry waited impatiently for the strap to respond. He felt it pulse as it started the scan. Terry breathed a sigh of relief as he waited for the results.
A long couple of minutes later the strap pulsed and the display read:
Minor cut to the back of the head
Swelling and grade 2.5 concussion from a blunt trauma to the rear of the head
Swelling and severe contusions to the torso on both sides
Mild contusions to the back and shoulders
Mild abrasions to the chest and arms
Blood loss 1.06%
Conclusion: Seek immediate medical treatment with regard to the grade 2.5 concussion.
Send diagnosis to Doctor Daniels?
“Send diagnosis,” Terry confirmed without a seconds thought.
“She’s done it again… she hates me… why…” Norman blurted out; trying to sit up, eyes wide open and staring vacantly.
Terry gently pushed him back down onto the bed. “Normie, you have concussion, you need to rest.” Was Norman referring to Hillary Jane? What had she done? Terry pondered silently. He read through the strap diagnosis again. Norman was very lucky not to have any broken ribs judging by the darkening bruises over his rib cage. “I’ve sent your strap diagnosis to Doctor Daniels; I am just waiting to hear back from her.”
Norman closed his eyes again and faded away. Terry sat himself down on the bed; waiting for the doctor to call. He held his brothers fingers in his; rubbing his thumb up and down the back of his lifeless hand.
The incoming call on Norman’s strap startled Terry but, quick as a flash he said “Answer call, audio.”
“Hello, this is Doctor Peters calling from the ENH. Your own doctor has diverted her calls to us.”
“I’m Terry, the brother of the patient; he is in no fit state to do anything for himself. I ordered the emergency body scan and sent the strap diagnosis.”
“What happened to… Mr Bradleigh?” Doctor Peters asked, checking her notes for his name.
“I don’t know exactly. We spent the evening together, but then about forty minutes ago he port home to check on his fiancé. When he came back he was in this state… I haven’t been able to get anything from him that makes much sense.”
“That is understandable looking at the degree of concussion he has,” Doctor Peters reported. “I would like to run a few tests on him before I do anything else.”
“Okay, does he need to authorise it?” Terry asked. “I don’t think that he’d even manage that.”
“No he doesn’t,” she replied. “Because it was an emergency body scan I am authorised to access all his medical notes and review his medical history without his consent. I can carry out whatever tests I need to also. I will access his strap from here and get things started… unless you have any objections? If you can prove you are related you may stop me if you think it is in your brother’s best interests.”
“Oh God, no! Please do whatever you need to do,” Terry insisted.
“Right, okay I will get started then in that case. I will pause our communication while the tests go ahead.”
Norman’s strap started to pulse rapidly as Doctor Peters carried out her tests. He lay motionless on the bed oblivious to everything. Terry paced up and down the bedroom impatiently.
After five minutes Doctor Peters said. “Hello, Terry?”
“Yes, I’m here,” Terry replied ardently, rushing back to the bedside.
“The good news is that your brother isn’t in any imminent danger; despite what he has been through. My main concern was of an intracranial haemorrhage. Luckily for him there is no sign of one right now. You will need to keep an eye on him for the next twelve to eighteen hours at least. If there is any sign of his condition worsening during that time then you must teleport him to the ENH immediately.”
“I will doctor, thank you,” Terry said, trying to hide a flurry of emotions that were fighting to escape with the relief he was feeling.
“Now, I am going to send you a course of pain capsules that will focus mainly on the pain he is in from the contusions to his ribs, they will also alleviate the degree of pain to his head and hopefully lessen the chance of him developing a haemorrhage. With a head injury like he has, it is not advisable to obliterate all the pain and symptoms; you need to know if he is feeling worse at any point which could be the first sign of an intracranial haemorrhage. If he is dosed up on strong pain capsules then he would never know that his condition is deteriorating.”
“I see,” Terry said, trying to take it all in.
“I am also going to send you a drug that will temporarily make him coherent again. He must have this before you give him the first pain capsule. I want you to ask him about his symptoms. If he feels anything other than a headache, dizziness or nausea then you need to call me back. It’s quite normal that he may also feel confused or suffer with a lack of coordination, experience blurred vision, erratic emotions, or even be sensitive to light, either now or over the next few days.”
“Okay,” Terry interjected. “How long will he be coherent for?”
“Five to ten minutes at most.”
“I am keen to find out what happened to him, I need to know if I should call the GPA or not. There is some thug out there who has given my brother a good beating.”
“Well, you may have time after you have discussed his symptoms with him, I can’t promise that though.”
“Thank you doctor; you have been a great help.”
“That’s what I am here for,” she replied matter of factly. “I have Mr Bradleigh’s last port destination details here; can you confirm that is where I am to send his medication to?”
“Yes, that is my home teleporter, send it here.”
“I will send a full report to Mr Bradleigh’s own doctor now and advise that they check up on him in eighteen hours.”
“Thank you doctor,” Terry repeated fervently.
With that the call ended.
Terry took a look at his brother who had been out of it for the whole time he had been talking to Doctor Peters. He developed a lump in his throat as he took in the sight of his brother’s battered body once again. He left the bedroom and went to the port room to wait for the medication to arrive.
Within minutes he was back at Norman’s bedside with a small white paper bag, which contained the two prescriptions, and a glass of water from the kitchen.
One of the small glass bottles was labelled luciate. It contained one small red capsule. Terry read the back of the bottle just to double check that it was the drug that would make Norman temporarily lucid again.
“Normie,” Terry half whispered, rubbing his brother’s face gently. “Norman, he repeated.”
“Humpff,” Norman muttered, not opening his eyes or even moving a muscle.
“Normie, you need to take some pills to make you feel better mate.”
“Norman!” Terry said a lot louder this time. He shook Norman’s shoulder gently.
Norman’s eyes flickered open.
“Norm, let me help you sit up, you need to take this,” he said showing him the red capsule.
He gently eased him up and sat him against the black leatherette headboard. Norman winced again at the pain from his ribs.
Terry pushed the capsule in his brother’s mouth and then put the glass of water to his lips. Norman swallowed the red pill with a slurp of water.
“This pill will make things seem a bit clearer for you; I need to ask you some questions about how you are feeling.”
Norman just sat there staring at his brother. Terry picked up his hand and squeezed it. “Let’s give it a few minutes to start working.”
Norman nodded slightly, his eyes rolling in his head.
“Tell me when things start to feel a little less fuzzy,” Terry said sympathetically.
After a few minutes Norman sat himself up straight on the bed. “Terry, how did I get here?” he said, sounding unsure.
“What was the last thing you remember?” Terry asked.
“I was going down the stairs at home, trying to get away from Hillary Jane…” Norman’s nightmare at home suddenly flooded back. “Did I tell you what she’s done to me?” Norman blurted out. His eyes glistened in the harsh light of the bedroom as they filled with tears.
“No, not yet,” Terry replied. “We can get to that in a minute; we don’t have long and the doctor at ENH wants me to ask you some questions.”
Norman looked puzzled so Terry briefly filled him in on the events since his arrival, and the state of his health.
“…so you see we don’t have much time before the luciate wears off and you start to feel drowsy and confused again.”
“Okay, how long do I have?” Norman asked.
“Five or ten minutes at most.”
“Tell me exactly how your head feels right now; I need to know all your symptoms no matter how minor.” Terry said solemnly.
“The main thing is the thumping pain; it’s almost unbearable. I feel very dizzy when I try to move.”
“Do you feel sick at all, do you have blurred vision?” Terry asked.
“You don’t have blurred vision at all?”
“A little bit I guess; when I move too quickly.”
“Anything else Norm? It’s important.”
“Nothing related to my head. My sides ache, and I’ve hurt my back and shoulders from when he pulled me over.”
“Well, I don’t think I need to call the doctor back, you only have a few of the symptoms that go with concussion and nothing else.”
Terry opened the other bottle up and shook out a white capsule. “This will help with the pain.” He said handing it and the glass of water to Norman.
Norman slipped the tablet in his mouth and took a large mouthful of water.
“The capsule won’t relieve you of all your pain, but will reduce it a bit.”
“You had better tell me what happened when you port home before the luciate wears off,” Terry said, taking his brothers hand again.
“I’m sorry for just leaving without saying I was going; I thought I would be back before you got out of the shower… I knew you didn’t approve of me going home,” Norman paused, “I just had to check she was okay though; I was worried something had happened to her.”
“There’s nothing to be sorry about bro,” Terry reassured him, squeezing his hand.
Norman spent the next four to five minutes relaying the events of what had happened in Somerset.
Terry listened intently. His grief and empathy for his little brother slowly transformed into anger and hatred for Hillary Jane. He sat quietly though, not wanting to interrupt and waste precious time or upset Norman further with an outburst.
“It was only when she said ‘Simon don’t, it’s Norman’ that I realised that this guy wasn’t an intruder, how could he be if she knew his name.” Norman paused, trying to compose himself. He squeezed his eyes shut briefly. “Then he said… something like ‘What, your dead husband?’ That was when I knew she had lied to him and told him that I was dead.”
Terry struggled to keep his mouth shut; he gritted his teeth and felt himself redden with rage. Right now he wanted to port straight over to Somerset and throttle the cheating bitch. He couldn’t leave Norman though; he would never forgive himself if something happened to him while he was gone.
“Who is this Simon?” Terry spat out.
“I don’t know,” Norman sniffed.
“Did she meet him in New York tonight do you think?”
“I don’t even know if she went to New York,” Norman said quietly. “The present she had for Tamarah was at the foot of the stairs.”
“Who’s Tamarah?” Terry asked, not recognising the name.
“She’s er… she’s the woman Hillary Jane was… allegedly meeting tonight in New York.” Norman put a hand up to his head and rubbed his eyes. “I’m starting to feel groggy again.”
“The luciate is starting to wear off, that’s all.” Terry reassured him. “Let me help you lay down, you need to rest.”
Norman didn’t resist. “I will see to your head wound in the morning, it looks a lot worse than it is.. I’ll help you clean yourself up a bit too,” he added, noting all the dried smeared blood.
Norman nodded, suddenly too tired to even talk. Terry undressed him tenderly down to his under wear. He pulled the climate duvet up and over him from the foot of the bed, and gently eased a pillow under his head. Within a minute Norman was asleep.
Terry went back to the lounge and plonked himself down in his chair. He knew exactly what he was going to do now. He picked up his abandoned whisky and downed it in one. He wiped his wet lips across the back of his hand and made the audio call.
“Hello?” a woman’s voice said sleepily.
“Can I speak to your husband?” Terry said abruptly.
“Do you know what time it is?” the woman exclaimed, waking quickly and a little put out at Terry’s rudeness.
Terry sighed heavily and noisily; he didn’t have time for this and he certainly wasn’t in the best of moods. “Hilda, Just wake him up and hand him his strap; this is important.”
Terry waited a few moments listening to Hilda trying to rouse her husband.
“Terry, this had better be life and death mate,” boomed Hilda’s husband.
“Hector?” Terry asked.
“You know full well it is; you just called me.”
“Hector get ready to transfer treble the normal amount of V’s to my account, I’ve got the scoop of your career on that bitch Hillary Jane Bartlett.”
“Oh, like that last time at New Downing Street. Every reporter and his bloody dog were there that day the Russians arrived.”
“Look Hector do you want a sex scandal on the bitch or not.”
“You what?” Hector exclaimed, sitting bolt upright in bed. A shiver of excitement ran down his spine. Had he heard right? Surely the squeaky clean Hillary Jane hadn’t been caught with her knickers round her ankles?”
“You heard me; transfer the V’s and I will tell you all. You will have to port here though; I can’t come to you this time.”
“I will be with you in five,” Hector confirmed.
The call ended. Terry sat back in his chair and smiled. He would pay that bitch back big time for destroying his little brother.