Chapter Twenty-Five: Richard, Lydia and everything in between…
Christine: Hi. Taking this afternoon off. Going 2 c BT
Lydia: What time?
Lydia: Great! My meeting ends then. I’ll C U there! :-D
Christine: Thx Lyds. Ur a star!
After tapping off her text message Christine went about preparing herself for work.
At that same hour Dr. Lawson was having what appeared to be a rather difficult conversation with his contact from Diligence.
“Richard. Do we look like an organisation that deals in hoaxes?” Bernard asked in his clipped accent, “I assure you hoaxes are the least things Diligence pays mind to.”
It was fortunate for Richard that he couldn’t see his contact on the other end. For Bernard had just struck out his name with his golden pen.
Bernard was ruefully regretting his choice of agent. In all his time working for Diligence and before then, at the European Commission, he had never made a bad decision or backed the wrong horse. But there was a first time for everything, and this was clearly it.
He could see Richard was going to be a problem, which was a massive shame, as the doctor performed superbly in other areas. But it was obvious this medic lacked one vital characteristic, the one Bernard deemed the most important of all - self-control.
‘Richard was a drug addict! If the doctor couldn’t control his habits how was he going to navigate obstacles when they arose?’
Bernard was highly sceptical. Nevertheless he continued the conversation in a calm manner. He asked. “I know we’ve been through this before, but are you absolutely certain your notes are in a safe place and your passwords have not been compromised?”
“To the best of my knowledge, everything is secure.”
“Then naturally, I’m going to have to report back to central office. They’re going to be very much intrigued to hear about this woman who can read the minds of little babies.”
“Wait!” He didn’t miss the sneer in Bernard’s voice. “Let’s just wait a minute here...” He could feel himself begin to perspire.
Why didn’t he take his pill before starting this conversation?
Fortunately for Richard, timing can be a blessed thing. Just then an email appeared in his inbox. It was from the Matron again.
He quickly opened it. There were only six words typed in the body of the email. It was enough:
She’s back. She’s with him now.
“Bernard! I’ve got to go. She’s here! She’s in the hospital!” He scrambled for his jacket. “Please wait. It might not be a good idea to bother the Professor with this, just yet. Not until I’ve spoken to her. I’ll call you back later.”
“See that you do,” Bernard said and hung up.
Christine was in her usual sitting position: her body was slightly crouched over baby Tobey’s bed, and her arms had gently encircled his fragile frame.
She continued to softly caress his lifeless body. She was smiling as she did so. Today, baby Tobey looked fully rested in his freshly laundered white and blue onesie. It was the first time she’d seen him like this since she’d started visiting him.
He was asleep when she had crept in earlier and it appeared he was still in that restful place, now. “I hope you’re enjoying your time there little man,” she whispered into his ear, his lips was lined in a faint smile. “Take all the time you need my sweet. When you wake up I’ll be here…waiting.”
The Birth Trail is a luscious place of eternal beauty. There are acres and acres of open, green spaces, begging to be rolled in. Rushing, crystal-clear streams, imbued with the fragrance of exotic fruits and flowers. And numerous walking lanes and paths set in precious stones. But despite the ethereal wonder of this habitat, there were indeed other eye-catching effects which added to its natural charm...
For you see, everywhere you turned the landscape was overflowing with mind-blowing creations of every description. There were sweeping architectural structures that lit up the horizon, humungous screens that spun around in the sky, breath-taking costumes and designs, and brightly-coloured machines that could fly. There was just an abundance of remarkably constructed things. Things, which the eye could not describe, but the mind had conceived. But the Creator of Love did not put them there. Oh no! For you see, in this utopia, it was the babies that did all of the creating; and as such, this magnificent realm was a wonderful manifestation of their creative minds…
While there, all the babies were free to enjoy each other’s exquisite handiwork. Showcasing their performances, appliances, devices and designs. No matter how big, no matter how small - or bizarre, everything was welcome and everything was acceptable.
At times, soul members came together to create a monumental thing of wonder. While at other times, they joined forces with neighbouring soul groups to bring another outstanding thing into existence. As such, although this paradise was a glorious place of rest, it was also a thriving hub of creativity. Why? What else did you think all these little ones did with their time? But of course, they had plenty of fun creating, just as the Creator intended.
However I am sad to report that on their travels through earth, only a few babies would get to see their greatest talents come to fruition – sorry, I exaggerate. Maybe more than a few. But still far too little compared to the wealth of inventiveness on display in this stunning paradise.
But why Siba? You ask me. What is the world doing to these little ones that are curbing their natural given talents?
That is a very good question to which there are many good answers. But not ones the babies are taking note of right now. For they are more preoccupied with trying to enter the race - just like how I was when I came into the world. They’re going to see to it that none of their Ancestors’ tales are wasted on them!
The babies are well aware the world is like an exotic beast: beautiful but cruel. To get anything from it - they would have to fight for it! And they were ready for that fight! But for how long? And against what? They had no way of knowing. But more annoyingly, neither did they not know, that they would have to fight…to hold onto that fight…
How terribly exhausting it must be for the babies. The earth journey is paved with never-ending stumbling blocks; a tirade of interferences raining down on these young adventurous souls, prohibiting these little ones to just - be! So, in my humblest opinion, if there is anyone in the world who - in spite of all the hindrances - is still able to create. Then by all means I say – let them create!
“Well done to you all!” Li Wei beamed. He was looking warmly into the faces of all his soul members. “Did you hear that? Did you hear the applause? We thrilled them with our music!” There was a rush of cheers again. All the babies congratulated each other on their hard work.
“I love you all!” Li Wei said throwing his arms up in the air, “We did it!”
Putting together the musical score was Li Wei’s idea. And with the help of his soul group, one of many of Li’s inspirational dreams was brought to life.
“What should we make next?” Victoria asked. She couldn’t wait to get started on the next project.
“Let’s create a maze,” one member suggested.
“How about a castle?” said another
“What about a submarine?” an eager voice called out.
“Yes. A submarine!” There was a rush of cheers in agreement. They were all going to make a submarine. Francisco suddenly stepped forward. “I think that’s great idea,” he said with an enthusiastic nod. “And I have this one suggestion. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for quite a while now…”
For Tobey it seemed like days had gone by and he was having the time of his life!
He, and his good friend Albert, were working together side by side. They were working on a very important vision, which, at some stage, should manifest into a stupendous submarine.
“How was your time away?” Albert asked looking a little bit troubled. He knew Tobey’s strange jaunts to earth seemed to be quite hard on him.
“It was a bit better,” Tobey replied. “I’ve made a friend. She’s the only one who can hear me.”
“She can hear you?” Albert smiled. “That’s awesome! Did you tell her about this place, and all of us here?”
“I’ve tried.” Tobey fell silent. “Earth is…a really weird place Albert,” he said tentatively. “Don’t get me wrong - It’s amazing! Everything you’ve ever dreamed it would be - and more… But you know the feeling you get? The one when we’re close to The Fears?”
“Yes. That uncomfortable feeling.”
“Well, on earth it appears that feeling is with you all the time.”
“All the time?” Albert looked aghast.
“Yes. All the time,” Tobey replied mirroring his friend’s expression, “…Then…magnify that sensation by ten!”
Albert said nothing but his eyes certainly grew as much as. “What?” He spluttered. “That’s crrrraaazy! How on earth do people in the world cope? How is it possible to do anything, with that – that - feeling all around you all of the time? That’s insane!”
“I don’t know!” Tobey answered in genuine awe, “but they do. Many grownups live their lives in fear: they feel lonely and unloved but they just get on with it.”
Albert winced, “That’s just awful,” he said pondering on the grim and the ugly, “What a terribly, onerous, burden to carry through life.”
Albert took a moment’s pause from his work. He turned to his friend, “All the same Tobey, I’m still looking forward to going there. Whatever trials and challenges lay ahead of me, I plan to overcome them all. I’m sure that I can - I don’t see why not,” he challenged, spontaneously flexing his underdeveloped muscles. He laughed, as did Tobey - with him and at him, naturally.
“I can’t waaaait!” Albert administered a series of punches to the air. “I’m soon going to be where you are!” He leapt off his feet, immediately launching himself into the open air. “And I’ve decided,” he said choosing to carry on his conversation from up there, “when I get to earth, I’m going to be a caretaker of animals. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to take care of as many animals as I can: horses, dolphins, gorillas, bears - you name it - I’ll take care of them all,” he rushed on. “I’ll build homes for those that need them, and find cures for the sick and wounded. I’ll also try and shelter as many as I can from the natural elements you talked of.” He smiled down at his friend and glanced across the hilltops, valleys and plains which surrounded them like a pantheon of lights. “Tobey just look around us. I love all the magnificent creatures we have over here, and I’ll love them just the same, when I arrive over there.”
Tobey smiled reassuringly at his soul mate. “That’s great Albert,” he nodded. He had nothing but the utmost admiration for all his friends’ passionate life plans. “I think you’ve got the right kind of attitude. Although, I must say, you’re definitely in for a challenge. On earth it seems time, is much shorter than the length of our plans. In the world, there’ll be much to learn, much to teach - in short, they’ll be much to do. I just hope you’ll be able to do it all in the time that’s been given to you.” He looked to Albert. “I...I just wish…I wasn’t born into so much pain...” He stopped talking, his face crumbled; he couldn’t disguise his sorrow.
Albert instantly stopped smiling. “Oh Tobey…” He flew down to give his friend a much needed, spirit-filled, hug. “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Maybe your path is a little different from everyone else’s. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as important. Remember Loves’ decree? Everything works out for good in the end…Everything always does...”
“What is it Tobey?”
“I know it’s a weird question to ask…but…where are you from?”
“Where am I from?” Albert said curiously, searching his friend’s face. “Indeed Tobey what a strange question to be asking. Like you - I’m from all over the world.”
“I know - I know that…I meant…Your most recent Ancestors - where did they hail from?”
“My recent Ancestors? Mmmm…Let me think…Well, not so long ago I met one of my uncles from generations back. He was full of sad tales but had quite a happy ending...Oh yes - my grandmother. She paid me a visit not too long ago. She said she had passed on quite recently. She said she was my father’s mother.”
“And where was she from?”
“I think she said from a city called London, from its East End, I believe.” He looked at Tobey. “Why? Do you know where that is?”
Tobey instantly recalled earth, and the private conversations going on around him…
‘This is the best place for him. We’re not moving from the East End!’ His father said in a firm voice.
‘I’ve come all the way from North London to see you,’ Christine conveyed in a whisper.
‘This is the largest hospital I’ve ever stepped into. I swear this place must take up most of The East End.’ Lydia had remarked.
“Do you think you might be born in the East End?” Tobey quietly asked his friend.
“I wouldn’t rule it out. From the little my grandmother said - and bearing in mind many of my recently deceased relatives also seemed to have come from there - it’s looking quite likely. Why? Is there a problem?”
“Albert...Do you remember Husna?”
Albert looked puzzled. “Husna? Who’s Husna?”
Now, just before you hastily conclude that all babies are emotionally detached, or fickle, or have the memory of a sieve - this couldn’t be further from the truth! For you see, once a member of a soul-group is lost to The Fears, the impact immediately resonates amongst the other surviving members. And this impact is everlasting…Even during their brief time in the world that pain does not go away. Instead it softly wavers in the background like the distant sounds of the sea: a sweet longing, a sharp deficiency, an existential grief, which, unfortunately, the mortal bodies they receive on earth are unable to nullify. Moreover, that soul-groups’ celestial resolve becomes ever-so-slightly diminished, much like the dimming of old gold. But alas, the memory of that precious member is no more. After all, in paradise, there can be no pain. So what more for the stinging reminder of loss…
However, be that as it may, Tobey Daley was no ordinary soul mate - he was the exception. And he could still remember everything...
“Husna was once a member of our group,” Tobey began to explain. He noted Albert’s apparent confusion. “Never mind,” he paused for a moment. “Albert. I believe your time is nearly due…I’m a little concerned about your journey to earth…” Concerned was putting it mildly, Tobey was petrified.
“Am I going to go to The Fears?” Albert cried, instinctively reading his friends vibes. He looked back at him in horror.
“No.” Tobey quickly reassured. “No - of course not!”
‘It wasn’t a lie. There must be more than one hospital in the east end?’ He quietly reasoned to himself. ‘I mean, what were the chances that Albert would be born in the hospital where death was waiting. And even if he was, who’s to say it was there to claim him?’
Although the chances were slim, Tobey had lived long enough to know there were no coincidences. He took a deep breath and looked to the spray of colours in the sky. His sleeping days were well and truly over.
‘I have to get back to earth!’ He sighed, ‘I have to get back to Christine!’
…Time travel…Infinite pain…Sleepless nights.
‘This was most definitely a job for a super-hero’ Tobey warily smiled to himself. ‘Maybe this was the job he was born to do.’
“Richard...Richard...” Henrietta breathlessly called out speeding up her efforts to keep up with him.
“Oh.” Richard spun around. He didn’t know he was being followed. He slowed down. “Yes, Dr. Metcalfe, what is it?” He was looking impatiently down the hallway towards baby Tobey’s room.
“Errrr, I’m sorry. I was just wondering if we’re still on for tonight. You said you were going to call me yesterday but…”
“Oh yes. That!”
Henrietta could clearly see that Richard was distracted. This was very unusual of him.
“I can’t do tonight, I’m actually…actually…If you’re free, come over.”
Henrietta was half expecting him to say no, but it seemed Richard had a sudden change of heart. Henrietta was indeed free and very delighted. “Same time?” she said.
“Same time. Yes. We’ll talk later.”
Richard continued marching down the hallway. He had a peculiar look on his face; a look, which did not go unnoticed by Dr. Metcalfe.
‘What was up with him?’ Henrietta mused. She proceeded to watch his movements. As soon as Richard got to the end of the corridor - where that extremely sick baby was holed up - he didn’t immediately enter room but tentatively peered through the glass partition. He stood there for a while looking through the opening. He was contemplating something, Henrietta saw. He briskly rubbed his chin but continued to stand where he was, occasionally glancing through the screen in the middle of the door.
‘What on earth was he doing?’ Henrietta was intrigued.
“Christine. Are you there? Are you there Christine?”
Tobey was awake
“Yes I’m here Tobey,” she quickly answered. “Talk to me.”
‘What was Richard contemplating?’ Henrietta wondered, as she stood quietly in the distance. She was due to return back to her office but decided that whatever was going on there would have to wait. Instead, she continued to watch Richard, watching, whatever thing had snared his interest.
Then, all of a sudden Richard straightened himself up and entered the room…
As always, curiosity got the better of Henrietta. She made a beeline towards the room. She too, wanted to get a look at that thing which had so fervently got hold of Richard’s attention.
Christine looked up. A tall and rather attractive looking man had entered the room. He was wearing a white coat. He appeared to be a medic.
She temporarily suspended her stroking.
Dr. Lawson stared directly at the youthful looking mixed-race woman. She was not what he was expecting, but more acutely, he noted, she did not possess the look of a hoaxer. “Who are you?” he asked.
She took her time to answer but then said. “Who are you?”
“I’m Dr. Lawson.”
“What is it Christine?” Baby Tobey whispered. “That’s him, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is,” she replied Tobey.
Her calm and somewhat candid demure threw Richard off-guard.
She could very well be legitimate, he thought, or very devious it was too early for him to say. As such he decided take a different approach.
“I’ve been told you have quite an extraordinary gift,” he said, taking a few steps further into the room. His eyes never left hers. He stopped walking and produced a tight smile. “Where are you getting your information from?”
Instinctively, Christine drew baby Tobey closer to herself. “I’ve been speaking to Tobey - he’s told me many things,” her words came tumbling out. “You’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing Dr. Lawson. You’ve killed ten boys and seven girls in furtherance of some private experiment you’re conducting.” She paused. “But, your exploration is still not complete and you plan to take more lives before your research is completed…It just so happens some of these lives you plan on taking - and have already taken - are very close to baby Tobey.”
Christine stopped talking. The doctor looked like he was about to erupt. But he said with an air of menace. “Look. I don’t know what this is but you better quit now or you’re going to find yourself in a lot of trouble.”
“Trouble? Is that a threat Dr. Lawson or can I call you Richard?” Lydia’s silky voice interrupted proceedings at the most opportune moment.
Neither Christine nor Dr. Lawson had heard the door open. Lydia stood in the centre of the room looking every inch like a snow queen. With her designer mac, bright red shoulder bag, and hair loosely swept up on top of her head, who knew salvation could look so stylish.
Their eyes immediately clashed.
Lydia sharply drew in breath. They had met before she recalled. It was that doctor she had briefly bumped into in the hallway. She saw the recognition flare up in his silvery grey eyes, too. ‘Oh hell!’ Lydia gulped ‘this is trouble...’
Richard looked at the pair of them, then back at Lydia. He did everything in his power to assume the impression of control. “That was not a threat,” he simply said.
He and Lydia were openly staring at each other, like two people fascinated by their own reflections. The conversation was now between these two, Christine gathered. She breathed a sigh of relief. Very little sigh and even smaller relief.
“Who are you?” Richard asked Lydia.
His voice sounded very strange to him, a little high pitched, he thought.
“My name is Lydia Cartwright-Snowden.” She titled her head back to look at him. “You didn’t give an answer to my question. Can I call you Richard?”
Richard smiled, mainly, because he had regained some semblance of control. And secondly, he liked her gumption. “I think we should all sit down somewhere and have a proper chat.” Richard suggested. “Don’t you agree? I don’t think this room is the appropriate place for it.”
In the meantime, while all this was going on, Dr. Metcalfe had firmly placed herself outside baby Tobey’s room. She had seen and heard everything - up to a point, and was buzzing with curiosity. But then all of a sudden that spirited sensation had turned to rot. Everything came to an immediate standstill, as soon as that woman had stepped into the room. It was as if Richard had suddenly come alive when he saw her. There was something in his eyes that made Henrietta pour scorn over the many times he had looked at her. For in whatever way that was, it certainly wasn’t in the way she was seeing now...
Quick! She had to get out of the way; they were all leaving the room.
“My department is on the mezzanine level. It’s not too far from here,” she overheard Richard saying to the two women. They were walking a few paces behind him.
“Is everything alright?”
Henrietta jumped. It was Susan the Matron.
“Yes - I’m fine.”
“I mean is everything alright with baby Tobey?” the Matron asked. “Didn’t you just come out of that room?”
“Errrr No. I’m just on the way to my office. Actually, I’m running a bit late...”
A beeping sound went off in the distance.
“Ah. It’s time for his suction now,” the Matron muttered nodding in baby Tobey’s direction. “Ok doctor, I better not keep you.”
“Matron.” Henrietta called. “What is the current situation with baby Tobey?” her delicately made-up face was all awash with concern.
The Matron gave the doctor a slow, piercing, once-over, “Do you have a minute?” she asked
“Yes. I do,” Henrietta lied.
“Then follow me please,” the Matron added, “Today, I’m overseeing his suction routine.”
Henrietta gladly followed the Matron into the room, where baby Tobey was slowly being primed for this painstaking procedure.