Chapter Twenty: Tobey Tells All
Dr. Lawson had overseen the delivery of four babies before noon. By the end of his shift that figure had almost doubled. For Richard it was just another painstakingly, unchallenging, day. He was glad when it was over.
He drove home as fast as the limits would allow and headed straight for the shower.
He was just beginning to relax when his mobile started ringing. He saw right away it wasn’t a work call.
The German accent that greeted him got straight down to business.
Seconds passed as Richard listened intently to what the caller had to say. He also nodded a few times, although there was no one around to witness it.
Ten minutes later the call was over.
The time was now 8.20pm. His M&S dinner for one was quietly humming away in the microwave. Richard briefly surveyed his surroundings. Everything was going to plan.
Just one more thing.
He headed towards the back of the kitchen. He rustled around in one of the cupboards until he found what he was looking for. It was a small bottle of CNS depressants. He gulped down two pills with his orange juice and walked over to the kitchen window.
The blinds were partially drawn but he could still see outside very clearly. Then, just as he was expecting, a silver Mercedes SLK crunched its way onto the drive. It was Dr. Henrietta Metcalfe.
He continued to study her through the blinds. He smiled. He was glad to see she had made an effort for him. Her shiny raven-hair was pulled up in a high chignon - just the way he liked it. And her face appeared flushed with make-up.
He grinned again. He liked the way this young medic took hints and was desperate to please, much like a pup with a new owner. Sometimes, he noted, he actually did look forward to their little encounters. It gave him the opportunity to air some of his observations on his favourite topics, naturally, stem cell research and the complexities of bioengineering.
He didn’t have many friends but even if he had, he wouldn’t have said anything to them. He found it easier to talk to the women who shared his bed. Although, with Henrietta, he had to admit he was surprisingly taken back by her knowledge, not only pertaining to her work but also matters outside of medicine. Etta was much more than a pretty face, Richard saw, all the more reason why he had to be more guarded when he was around her. She was indeed a very intelligent girl, but still no match for him.
Just before she was about to ring the doorbell, Richard opened the door. He looked on blankly at her surprised expression. “What have you done to your hair?” He coolly remarked.
Etta didn’t reply with words; if it were possible the smile she responded with almost outshone the lights at the front door.
“Well, are you just going to stand there or are you going to come in?”
“I’m coming,” she answered with a nervous giggle. “Mmmm something smells nice,” she said on entering the hallway. “Did you make us dinner? Really Richard you shouldn’t have...”
It was Friday afternoon and Christine had just received the text she had been waiting all week for. Baby Tobey’s parents had invited her come back to speak with their son again. She didn’t have to be asked twice.
She thought about texting Lydia about this news but changed her mind.
An hour and twenty minutes later Christine was stood outside the hospital. She rushed in just as Dr. Lawson was leaving the premises. He too had a very important engagement to attend. He was meeting his contact from Diligence who had flown in from Switzerland to see him.
Both Richard and Christine passed each other in the hallway. They were not, quite, two ships passing in the night, more like athletes sprinting towards their specific destinations. Their ominous encounter over with, as quickly as it had begun.
Christine warily approached baby Tobey’s bed. He was rock still. It was hard to believe that this little body held life but it did, as Christine was well aware of.
Today, baby Tobey was dressed in a blazing red onesie, covered in neon yellow teddy-bears.
Cheerful clothes for a thoroughly depressing situation
She couldn’t blame them. If she was his parent she’d do the same. She quietly drew up a chair and leaned in. She began to gently stroke his fragile back, gradually moving upwards to caress the top of his head and then slowly working her way back down again.
She could faintly hear a rasping sound he made when he was inhaling and exhaling. She noticed his breathing was much more laboured than the last time she saw him.
“Hello Christine. You came,” he whispered. “Thanks for coming to see me.”
“That’s okay sweetie. How are you feeling today?”
“Oh,” he croaked, “I feel wonderful - just wonderful! Besides the ever-present taste of poison in my mouth, and the skin on my feet feeling like they’ve been doused in fire. And having painfully hard tubes being inserted and re-inserted into my body. But, besides all that - I feel great!”
They both softly chuckled. Christine knew he was only making light of his most obvious discomfort.
“Tobey. I’m here to listen to whatever you want to tell me,” she said gently. “You said something about danger...”
To the best of his ability, baby Tobey began to tell Christine all about his life in the outer world.
“Yes see, no one leaves and comes back again,” he said of his special status in the paradise, “It seems I’m the only one of my age taking these amazing trips between these two realms.”
“And in this other world?” Christine queried. “Are you all floating around like spirits, or do you possess the bodies you have now?”
“No. We’re not spirits. Or at least I don’t think we are. However, we are able to move around easily and venture into different spheres. Like the Corridor of Revelations. It was there I saw a man. He’s a doctor here at the hospital.” Baby Tobey paused. “He’s doing something, but I can’t understand what it is that he’s doing. All I can tell you is that he sits at the entrance of those coming into the world and that entrance leads to their death. Some of these little ones end up dead at his hands - and it’s no accident! He’s killing them. He’s already killed…” He stopped talking. His voice was too shaky to go on.
They were both interrupted by Tobey’s father who came in to ask Christine if she wanted a hot drink. She politely declined.
“I’m heading back to work now,” Robert whispered. “Kelly should be along shortly. Are y -”
“Don’t worry I’ll be fine with him.” Christine answered reading his thoughts. “And Robert...” she added, “he’s doing okay today. He says he loves you both.” Robert nodded then gave her a tearful smile before leaving the room.
“Christine. Does the Creator of Love roam around here, on earth?” Tobey asked. Christine noted the merriment in his voice. To say she was a little thrown by the question was putting it mildly. When it came to the matter of religion she didn’t know where to place herself.
“I-I think...it’s a little different over here...” she hesitated. But then she decided to answer truthfully. “Tobey. I don’t think this Creator you talk of could live here on earth. I don’t think it could...Not the way we live…”
“That’s odd,” Tobey replied. “The Creator of Love said we could find it everywhere - and in all things,” he continued. “Even on earth. There isn’t any place the Creator cannot venture to - it can go anywhere! And believe me Christine…” The joy was back in his voice again, “…you’re happier than the happiest when it’s nearest to you.”
A warmth settled into his voice as he continued his discussion with Christine. “I’ve heard, that while they are asleep, some of the wee ones go and visit the Creator of Love. Did you know that?”
“No. I didn’t.” Christine replied. Of course she didn’t. She smiled to herself. On speaking with Tobey she realized there were many things that she didn’t know. However, she suddenly felt herself grow still. She began to breathe ever so slightly. It was the kind of calmness that comes over a person when they know they’re about to hear something of great importance to them.
Tobey continued. “Sometimes the wee ones are permitted to visit The Island of Lights. I hear all the babies that visit want to stay there, and occasionally, some of the babies are allowed to…Can you believe that?” He gasped, he couldn’t conceal his amazement, “Unlike the rest of us, these little ones didn’t have to undergo the earth journey but they still ended up in the best place of them all! How lucky are they?”
There was silence.
“Christine…Christine…Are you still there?” Tobey briefly paused. “Are you...smiling?” he said a little puzzled.
“Yes I am.” Christine replied her teardrops ran so quickly they had already soaked through the collars of her blouse. She gulped down more lumps of tears before continuing. “I am smiling for my son. That’s all Tobey. I’m smiling for Jerry…”
She didn’t attempt to wipe away her tears, she let them slide freely down her face.
“But why?” Tobey asked.
Christine took a deep breath. “Because my darling…My son has gone to the only place, I guess, everyone else is dying to be…”
Baby Tobey was silent for a moment. “I hope I get to meet your son one day,” he smiled, basking in Christine’s peace - and not on his pain - for the while. “I suppose that all depends on how my journey pans out. But right now,” he perked up. “I have a life. I have a purpose. And I’m excited about fulfilling it.”
“Excited?” Christine looked around the sterile room, “I can’t see why Tobey? This is it. This is life!” This is YOUR life! She yelled although she didn’t dare say it out loud. “Aren’t you scared?” She asked.
“Scared? No. We babies are fearless! We already know the truth about this world.”
“And that is?”
“Everything is a lie...”
Christine stared at him in disbelief. “Well, that’s a fine way to begin your journey on earth,” she snorted.
Baby Tobey quickly responded. “No - no. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic but my Ancestors said, when you understand this you’re better placed to find love,” he explained in a rush, “in paradise it’s all around us - you see. But here, we have to look for it, and we have to find it, because we need it. We need it like we need air. It’s strange, but it seems we forget what love is, and what it looks like.”
“Love?” Christine said wryly. “And what exactly is that anyway?”
“It’s mercy Christine. Love is mercy. It’s doing the unexpected or more than the expected because you have the ability, and it’s within your power to do so. The question is, can you do so?”
“Can I do so?” she blinked. Her eyes narrowed like bits of flint. “Can I show mercy? Tobey…” She couldn’t keep the bitterness out of her voice. “I am not some god-like being, why should I extend mercy?”
“God-like? No Christine. You mean love-like, and in this world and in your life and in your everyday thinking, you will always be in the position to extend mercy because that is what love is, and that is what love does,” he continued, “When we are merciful, we are not only depicting the highest form of empathy but we’re going one step further by acting on it. This very act is a power, a tremendous contribution to this world, and a wonderful fulfilment of our purpose in life.”
“Mercy?” Her youthful face crumpled into a sneer. “Do you mean like forgiving someone who has deliberately set out to destroy you? How’s that mercy?” She cried. “That’s not mercy Tobey - that’s unfair! If love is all about mercy, then I’m better off without it!”
What had gotten into her today? Inside she was a swirling vortex of anger, bitterness, and pain. If the baby couldn’t see the hopelessness of his situation, then by God at least she’ll feel it for him! She couldn’t help the way she was reacting, his situation was beyond tragic and here he was banging on about mercy.
“Oh Christine,” Tobey sighed, “Love has not forgotten you, but you have certainly forgotten who you are. Is this what happens to us then?” He said in a tiny voice. He sounded all but defeated. “Now that I’m on this journey, I’ve got to be where love is - I’ve just got to be! No matter what happens or what I face, I hope I never forget that.” He paused, “If you remembered Christine you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Christine let her eyes rest on the baby’s bleached cotton sheets. “How can I be where love is?” she asked quietly.
“By being it,” he replied. Suddenly he began to choke. Christine immediately panicked. The sound of someone fighting for breath is never pleasant, especially, coming from one so young.
“It’s happening again,” Tobey said in between gasps for air. “Call for help!”
Christine made a mad dash for the emergency button. A few seconds later a nurse and two male attendants flew into the room.
“Is everything okay?”
“Quick! Quick! Do something!” she cried at the nurse. “He needs help!”
The three attendants turned to the motionless body lying on the bed, then they looked back at her in puzzlement. Christine couldn’t understand the delay.
“Well....that’s obvious,” the nurse drawled.
“No. I mean. He’s struggling to breathe!” Christine almost screamed at her.
The nurse continued to stare at Christine but the expression on her face had turned to one of impatience. She was about to say something else when one of the helpers suddenly spoke up.
“Oh look!” he said pointing to the clock, “It’s coming up to the hour, almost time for the baby to be suctioned.” He quickly circled around the ventilator to get to the head of the bed, “I guess it’s lucky we’re here now.”
“Yes! Yes! That must be it!” Christine replied, her relief was audible. “Go quickly! He really is struggling to breathe.”
The nurse shot her another wry look but said no more. She began to make preparations for the task ahead.
Christine paced up and down the room. The helpers’ pedestrian movements grated on her nerves to no end. But who could blame them? After all, they couldn’t see what was going on in baby Tobey’s world. Neither could they hear his stifled cries as he fought for air.
It would be half an hour later before Christine would sit down to talk with baby Tobey again.
“Ahhhh, that’s so much better now,” he said wheezing like two pack a-day chain smoker. Tobey didn’t sound much better to Christine. Actually he sounded a lot worse, but he was still determined to talk to her. “Now, where was I? That’s it. I was telling you about the doctor. From what I can remember his name is....Dr...More-son. No! That’s not quite right. Though it sounds very much like More-son - wait! Let me think...” He was silent for a minute. “Actually, I believe it’s...Lawson. Yes! That’s what I heard. His name is Dr. Lawson.
This doctor has killed many,” Tobey cried passionately, “Blembub, blembub.....” He paused. “…Blembub…blembub....blemblub. Oh no!” Tobey was mortified.
“What is it?”
“Christine...I-I can’t pronounce their names. The names of the babies he’s killed. I-I can’t pronounce them.”
“That’s okay,” she said, she had to think quickly. “How many were there? Were they boys? Or girls?”
“Blembub was a boy,” Tobey replied, “and blembub was a girl...” He continued explaining in this way until he had listed all the deceased.
“So in total,” Christine said, “eleven boys and seven girls have been murdered in a space of almost two years?” Her wide hazel eyes reflected the horror she felt inside.
“Yes. I believe so.” Tobey sadly answered, adding. “Blembub’s passing was particularly hard on me. Blembub was one of my soul mates’ you see...”
Christine fell silent. She was trying to make sense of what she’d just been told.
What was she going to do?
She didn’t know what to say but she had to do something. “Tobey. I don’t want you to worry about this, okay.” She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. “I’m going to have a look around, find out what’s going on. But Tobey my sweet, I have to go now,” she said taking a quick look at the time. “I’m coming back tomorrow okay. We’ll get to the bottom of this I promise. Just stay strong, I know it’s not easy but please try.”
“I know you can help us,” he said with determination, “Thanks Christine, I’ll try and stay strong. See you tomorrow.” He couldn’t conceal his sadness.
“I will come back Tobey,” she made to get up from her chair.
“One more thing,” he called out to her, “don’t forget to tell my parents I love them.”
“I will,” Christine said kissing his little hands. She slowly got up from her chair. She hated leaving him all alone with his pain. “See you tomorrow.”
Christine softly closed the door behind her. Her mind was spinning with a hundred questions. She knew for certain she had to find out who this Dr. Lawson was, and what exactly he was up to?
Should she be discreet with her investigation? Or confront the said doctor in question?
As one of her Ancestors, I am in the prime position to tell you exactly where each of these choices will lead. The former, will get her nowhere – fast. But will only serve to allow the continuous slaying of these helpless little beings. While, the latter...will result in the conscientious planning of her murder…On this note, I guess you could say it’s a small mercy people have no idea just how grim their choices are…