“There’s been a preliminary hearing scheduled.”
Henry felt his heart drop into his gut. He was already feeling nauseated again. They had stitched up his bullet wound, sewn up his chest, and put bandages over his bruises. The morphine in his IV had been lowered substantially, enough for him to be fully conscious and coherent.
He wished they could put him a drug-induced coma. Facing Saar right now, fully aware of the guilt that coursed through him, made him wish he could vacate his own body. Or fast-forward past all the gruesome parts. He was red-faced and sweaty, unable to look anyone in the eye.
“I’m afraid there’s really no getting around it. It’s the way it looks.”
Henry bowed his head. Carmen was standing in the corner, her arms crossed, listening in intently. The two officers from earlier were flanking Saar on either side, standing at the end of his bed. Henry swallowed.
“How long could I get?”
“A year, max, if you broke parole,” Saar said, cocking his head to one side. He glanced at his colleagues nervously, as though he regretted their presence there. “Did you… break parole, Henry?”
Henry said nothing. He stared down into his lap, running his unbound hand across the sheets. His whole body felt very numb. There were pins and needles in his arms, legs, and chest.
It was Carmen. He looked up. Their eyes met. Her look was imploring. He knew what she wanted him to do. She wanted him to come clean. She thought this was the end of the line for him. Honestly, the longer he sat there, stewing in the questioning gazes of the people surrounding him, he tended to agree. He sucked in his lips.
He stopped short, leaning back against the pillows. Collecting his thoughts. He didn’t know where to start. He’d must have committed at least a dozen things that broke his parole this last few days. From carting around a case of drugs that were more than a little illegal, to meeting with Shane, an ex-con, or murdering at least three men.
“Let’s just… get through the questions.”
Saar was looking at him anxiously, his brow furrowed, as though he feared Henry might give something away. Henry felt a surge of guilt rush through him. He was trying to protect him, but Saar had absolutely no idea what he was trying to protect Henry from. He had no idea the extent of the trouble Henry had gotten himself into.
His colleague, standing beside him, glanced down at a clipboard in hand.
“State your full name.”
Henry swallowed, glancing over at Carmen.
The officer scratched his pen over the sheet on his clipboard.
“Could you make a statement?”
Henry stared at him blankly.
“Just tell us how it happened, Henry,” Saar prompted, rubbing at the back of his neck.
“The torturing, you mean?”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Carmen hold herself a little tighter, her brown eyes stern and uncomfortable. Saar nodded.
“Where should I start?” Henry asked quietly.
“Well… let’s start with when I saw you last. You said the Sons of Saints were looking for you.”
“Do you know why?”
Henry glanced down at his toes, sticking out beneath the bed sheets. He snuck a look up at Carmen again, an ache in his chest. It felt hard to breathe. She nodded to him, her look firm.
“Because… I killed his men.”
His eyes didn’t stray from Carmen’s. Her look encouraged him to go on.
“It was self-defense.”
He looked back at Saar. He had blanched considerably, pale with dread. The officers beside him threw a glance at one another before the one with the clipboard wrote it down.
“When was this?” Saar said dryly.
“Yester… what’s today?”
“It’s Thursday,” Carmen answered him.
“Really?” Henry looked baffled. It still felt as though it had all gone down last night. He wondered how much time he had spent unconscious in this hospital. The thought made his skin crawl. Just how much time had Stephen had to himself, while he had been sleeping? “I guess it was Monday night. Late Monday night.”
The officer went on scribbling down the words as Henry spoke. He glanced at Saar again. His face was crestfallen, his eyes bright and hurt. Henry couldn’t bear to look at him. He looked at Carmen, swallowing, trying to get it all out in one go.
“My brother – Stephen Martin – that’s with a “ph”, not an “f”… yeah. He asked me to deliver something to Alby MacAwley. I knew it violated my parole. But, I thought I needed to see him again. Alby. I thought I was going to tell him off, tell him I wasn’t going to work for him anymore. But then he died. Or, I thought he died. He’d sampled… some of the stuff Stephen was having me deliver. I thought it killed him. His guards tried to kill me. And…”
He took a deep breath. His fists was entwined around the corner of his bed sheet, squeezing the fabric between his fingers tensely.
“What else?” Saar asked.
Carmen nodded to him again, encouraging him. Henry took another breath.
“And, they started looking for me. And Stephen started looking for me. He wanted… that stuff.” He looked at Alby sharply, terror striking his heart. He’d only just realized something. “Where is it?”
Saar frowned, his whole face collapsing beneath the weight of it.
“The… there was a backpack. In that room you found me in. There was a sheet inside, and a bunch of little vials full of brown liquid. Where did it go?”
Saar’s look was stern. He shook his head slowly.
“Anything that was in the room is either being examined or got put in evidence lock-up, Henry,” he said, his gaze piercing through him, searching for some explanation.
“You have to get it,” Henry snapped, looking from one police officer to the next. Their faces, much younger than Saar, were hard and unreceptive. They looked to Saar as though they wanted to interject.
“Those vials are toxic, Mr. Saar. Did you see Alby?”
Saar’s lips twisted thoughtfully.
“He shot the fluid from those vials up his arm. It did that to him in a matter of seconds. I saw, I was there when it happened.”
Saar looked from him up to the IV stand beside his bed, dripping medicine slowly into the bottom of his IV bag, as though he suspected the morphine was at the bottom of this. Henry sighed.
“Please,” he pleaded. He knew, with an audience in front of him now, just how insane it sounded. It was as bizarre to them as it had been when Stephen told him. “Do a test on the vials… or something. That guy, Julio –”
“What does he have to do with…?” Saar began.
“He’s infected too. Where is he?”
“We can’t disclose that information,” one of the officers cut in. There were veins standing out along his temples. The conversation was getting on his nerves. Henry looked from his to Saar, confused.
“Henry, it’s a legal matter,” Saar said exasperatedly.
Henry looked over at Carmen. She was staring at the back of Saar’s head, her hand covering her mouth, worry lines creasing her brow. He glanced back at Saar abruptly.
“You think… I’m going to go after him?”
Saar stared at him uncomfortably, his eyes questioning Henry’s sanity.
“Never mind, forget it. I don’t care where he is. He shouldn’t be around other people. I think this thing spreads, I don’t know how.” Henry remembered suddenly, getting Julio’s nose blood all over his face. He felt at the back of his neck uncomfortably, wiping the feverish sweat away. He wondered how Julio had gotten sick. “You should check out the rest of Alby’s men as well…”
“Excuse me, sir,” the other police officer interjected sharply. For the first time, Henry noticed that the man’s hand rested, naturally, on the butt of his holstered gun. “This has nothing to do with the question Officer Saar phrased. Could you please answer the question.”
“It… has everything to do with this. With his question,” Henry said quietly, looking to Saar for help. His eyes were still full of dread, closed-off, glinting wetly with a certain hint of betrayal. Henry felt his heart sink.
“How did you kill these men?” the police officer went on, as though Henry had not spoken. Henry was quiet a moment. He didn’t like the look they were all giving him.
“With a gun,” Henry answered nervously. He glanced over at Carmen desperately.
“Your gun?” the officer demanded.
“No. No, it was another man’s gun.”
“You stole it from him?”
“Yes. I mean, he dropped it. He was…”
“How many men did you kill? Describe the event to me.”
Henry looked at Saar sharply, his eyes shining sadly.
Silence bloomed inside the hospital room. The harsh tumult and clamor of the hospital staff and their patients, moving through the hall, filled up Henry’s ears. He swallowed thickly, his lips smashed together, fighting down the enormous uproar of pain and guilt intensifying in his chest, swarming throughout his entire body, building up against the back of his eyes. He stared at Saar pleadingly.
“Saar, I think…”
“…that my brother might be a terrorist.”
The quiet that sunk within the room was suppressive. Every eye bore into Henry, as though he had labeled himself a traitor.
“Excuse me?” the young police officer spat.
“Henry,” Saar began softly, shaking his head. “What are you talking about?”
“My brother,” Henry repeated weakly. “The last time I talked to him, he talked about… this poison in the vials he gave me, he said it was a disease. He meant for Alby to pass it along to his customers, Saar. He meant for a lot of people to die.”
No one said anything. Everyone just stared. Whether he looked to Saar or Carmen, he saw the nugget of disbelief lingering in their kind, wounded eyes. He sighed, bringing a hand to his head, covering his eyes.
“Please Saar. Please. You need to look at the vials. You’ll see. Just… test them.”
“I did horrible things. I didn’t mean to, I should have stayed at home, like you said. I should have looked for a real job.”
A sob broke out between his teeth. He covered his entire face with his one hand, his chin sinking onto his chest. He bit down on his tongue, stifling himself.
“I’m sorry,” he sniffed, his voice cracking. “But please. Please, you can’t let him do this. I tried.”
He looked up again, his cheeks wet, glancing around the room.
“You gotta go,” he said to Carmen, shaking his head. “You gotta take Holden, you gotta go to your parent’s house…”
“Henry,” she said, anger darkening her face.
“Please,” he insisted. He looked to Saar. “He’s looking for me, Saar. He wants those vials.”
“They’re safe now, Henry,” Saar said.
“Make sure!” Henry snapped. “They’re dangerous. He’s dangerous, Saar, you gotta find him too. I think there’s a lot of this stuff he made, or they made, there has to be.”
“I think that’s enough,” Carmen cut in. She was looking at Saar and the officers sternly. Henry swallowed, looking between the lot of them frantically.
“No, please…,” he began.
“Come back later if you want to talk to Henry,” she said.
“Ma’am, your boyfriend just admitted to…”
“He’s tired. He’s in pain and under a great deal of medication. Come back tomorrow.”
“Mark,” Saar pleaded with the younger officer, just as the man opened his mouth angrily.
“Please Officer Saar,” Henry begged him. “Look at the vials. Test Julio. It’s in him. He’s sick. He’ll be dead in a few hours, if he hasn’t died already.”
Saar patted the officer, Mark, on the shoulder, nodding to the other.
“We’ll continue this later,” he said, glancing at Henry anxiously. “There’s no rush.”
“Except for the murder we just uncovered,” Officer Mark replied sarcastically. But he began backing out of the room, with Saar and the other man in tail. Carmen stood to the side, watching them darkly as they departed.
“Please Saar!” Henry called after him, his face sticky with salt and tears. “I don’t want anyone else to get hurt!”
His voice trailed off as the three of them plunged into the tide of people outside in the hall, lost in a couple of moments. Carmen stood against the wall, her arms crossed tightly. Her face had a shadow cast over it, scowling at him.
“I’m going to go find a nurse,” she said, raking a hand through her hair in frustration. She ducked onto into the hallway, going in the opposite direction of Saar.
“What for?” Henry called after her. She was gone before he could get it out. He clapped a hand to his forehead, groaning in rage. He tore his hand over his head, nails digging, hurting the spot on his skull where staples had been put in – the soft, bruised spot where the Saints had dropped him. Carmen said the doctors thought he might easily have a concussion. Or two. He’d done a lot of falling on his head these past few days.
He flopped back against the pillows, staring up at the ceiling angrily.
Carmen came back in a good while later, a nurse in tow. She carried another IV bag, full of clear liquid.
“No,” Henry pleaded, sitting up. “Please Carmen, I don’t need –”
“Just relax, sir,” the nurse told him, taking down his old bag, nearly empty, and putting up the new one. He watched as the fluid sped down the tube, into his arm. As he stared at Carmen, eyes wide with hurt and betrayal, the edges of his vision began to bleed. She stared back at him, unforgiving.
“I don’t understand,” he croaked, as the nurse adjusted his pillows and cranked the bed back, so that he was lying down. “I thought you wanted me to tell them –”
“You asshole,” she said shaking her head at him.
Henry just stared at her, flabbergasted.
“Go to my parents?”
Henry swallowed. He could see the wetness glittering in her glowering eyes, right above her bared, angry teeth.
“Take Holden and go to my parents? After all the shit you’ve put us through Henry, all the fucked up people you’ve made friends with, or enemies, you tell me now to go to my parents’ house?”
Henry didn’t know what to say. The nurse, who had been standing awkwardly by the bed, made a hasty exit out the door.
“Fuck you,” Carmen spat. “Fuck you, Henry.” She covered her eyes, her shoulders shaking. Her breath rattled with sobs. Henry needed to formulate an answer, and his tongue slid sluggishly against the roof of his mouth to tell her he was sorry, to retract his previous statement, or something. But his eyes were crossing, his mouth wouldn’t move, and he couldn’t get his limbs to react. The morphine was pulling him down into a fog of sleep.
“I’ve done a lot of things for you Henry,” Carmen said quietly, wiping carefully at her eyes. She looked down at him, resting her hand over her mouth. “I don’t regret it. Any of it. But I’m not… not going to leave for you. Not now.”
Henry felt an enormous swelling rise up in his throat; of tears, of guilt, of remorse. But the only sound that emerged from between his lips was a long, pained sigh, and then he blinked, and Carmen and the hospital room were no more.
When he next opened his eyes, the room was dark and silent. His cheek was wet. He struggled to raise his head from the pillow, and found that he had been lying in a puddle of drool. He wiped it off his face, attempting to sit up one-handedly. His left wrist clunked noisily against the cuffs and the bed rail.
It appeared to be nighttime. It was difficult to tell from this side of the room partition – whether it was night outside or if the curtains had simply been drawn. The light overhead had been turned off, but light leaked out from the hallway, through the window in the closed door. Peering through the door, he could make out the heads of two police officers, still guarding his room. The chaos of the hospital had grown much more muffled, the clamor of voices subdued.
Henry sighed, falling back against the pillows. As his head turned to the side, he realized that there was a tray of food on the table beside his bed. He could see crumbs in some of the slots, where it looked like food had already been eaten. He frowned a second, wondering what it meant, before it came to him. Carmen.
He looked around. She wasn’t sitting anywhere in the room, unless she was somewhere behind the partition.
“Carmen?” he called out, his voice grating and gruff. He waited and there was no response. He lifted his head again, to try and see out into the hall, but the bed was too low to see well.
He tried to flop over onto his right side. A twinge of agony laced through his chest, and he groaned, stretching out his hand, reaching for the button on the side of the bed that raised the top half. He could feel the panel, but it was stretching his muscles, so that he could feel every bruise he had obtained in the past few days. His fingers traced over the buttons. He pressed one of them, and the bed began to sink.
“No, no,” he muttered hoarsely. He tried another, raising it back up. The next button he fingered made the bottom half of the bed lift up, like a folding chair. He finally found the correct one.
His chest was sore and throbbing once he was upright. He reached out to the food tray lazily, dragging it over to him. Just as he was about to hook his thumb underneath it, it toppled over the edge, smacking onto the floor.
Henry sighed, raking a hand across his face in frustration. Inching himself towards the edge of the bed, he looked down at the tray. The crumbs had spilled everywhere, but luckily Carmen had left him a juice box and yogurt cup. If only he could get to them.
He looked up at the door. The police officers were still standing guard, but he wasn’t about to trouble them for something like this. That would just be embarrassing. He threw off his sheet, just as he realized the bigger problem with what he was about to attempt. His left hand was still handcuffed.
“Ah, God,” Henry muttered to himself. He inched himself forward, trying to edge around the bed rail to which he was chained to. His wrist strained, and the effort with which it took to push himself forward pained his injured arm. By the time he had squirmed his way to the edge of the bed, and pulled his feet over, he felt hot and slightly feverish. He let his feet touch the ground. They felt raw and sore against the cold linoleum.
Henry heard a scream out in the hall. He looked up briefly. The officers by the door didn’t seem to be affected. He sat still a moment, listening intently. He felt queasy, but he realized it was probably just some other patient. He wondered what was happening in the room it had come from. He wondered what floor of the hospital he was even on. Was there a special ward for injured convicts?
He slid off the edge of the bed, and immediately felt woozy. He leaned back against the mattress, gripping the rail tightly. He waited a minute for his head to clear before he began to bend down, reaching for the yogurt, still holding onto the bed for support.
The scream repeated again, intensifying as Henry straightened up, the yogurt cup in hand. He tossed the juice box onto the bed and stood up, sitting on the edge. He was too tired or too lazy to get back beneath the covers. He opened the yogurt up with his teeth. He smiled for a moment, and then stopped.
“There’s no spoon,” he said to himself. It might have flown across the room. Or Carmen might have forgotten it. He stared down at the cup a beat. Then he sighed.
The scream echoed through the halls again, followed by another. Henry looked up. That was two people screaming. Henry didn’t remember hearing anything this bad earlier on, but then he had been pretty out of it. He could see nurses running past his door now, apparently rushing to someone’s aid. Henry craned his neck to try to see, but in vain. He looked down at his yogurt again, considering sucking it straight from the cup. He licked the residue off the lid. His stomach grumbled. He couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten. And it didn’t help that he had thrown up a lot since then.
A shriek pierced the air, rattling his ears as though it came from within his own room, making Henry jump. He looked around himself, confused. But there was no on the other side of the partition. He glanced at the wall behind his bed, inching towards it. The scream sounded off again, louder. It was coming from the next room over.
Multiple cries began to echo outside of his room. More nurses came rushing past, in a full out sprint, all of them talking loudly, hurriedly, some of them wearing surgical masks or with their arms pressed against their nose. He thought he saw red on one of their shifts as they darted past. But then they were gone, flashing by in streaks of blue.
The officers at the door turned to look at one another. One of them glanced back through the window at Henry. Henry blinked in return, realizing suddenly that they mightn’t take well to his being out of bed. But they both just turned away, talking amongst themselves.
A siren ripped through Henry’s ears, deafening him. He cried out, clapping his hand to his head, trying to block out the sound as best he could. Out in the hall, white lights had begun to flash and spin. An alarm had been set off.
Wincing, Henry watched as one of the police officers left his post, sprinting off behind a crowd of nurses that went by. Henry put the yogurt down and waited, unable to even hear himself breathe.
The lights in the hall went out. The only source of light came from the alarms, spinning rapidly, careening flashes of white and red against the walls. The officer still at the door glanced back at Henry again. Henry lifted his unbound hand towards him, giving a wave.
“What’s going on?” he mouthed at him. The officer just looked away, his expression pale and anxious.
Henry let his arm drop by his side, his chest beginning to compress with panic. He didn’t know where Carmen was. She could be in an entirely different part of the hospital, locked down. He just hoped that she would be alright.
The other officer came running down the hall, waving at his colleague frantically. Henry could not have hoped to overhear them, even if the siren wasn’t blaring. But as he watched on, the officer by his door ran to join the other, and they sprinted out of Henry’s sight. Henry got warily back to his feet, a sinking feeling in his gut.
The hallway was now empty. He didn’t see or hear any more staff or patients. He tugged at his cuffed hand half-heartedly, wishing very desperately that he could walk to the door or the window, to at least see what was going on. If the hospital was evacuating, Henry couldn’t believe that the officers would just let him sit here.
The sirens cut. Abruptly, he could hear a banging in the room next to him, where the scream had come from earlier. It was a large thud, like a body being thrown repeatedly against the wall, again and again and again. Henry swallowed. A shriek filled his ears, muffled between barriers, but still just as shrill and potent. There was another, enormous bang, and the shattering of glass, and then silence. Quiet filled up the void where sound had once been, screaming in place of the alarm.
“Hello?” he called out, wary. He didn’t know if anyone could hear him from behind the door. But he had a feeling one of the patients next door might have just been able to get out of their room. “Hello?” he called again, raising his voice.
A person shuffled dizzily by his door. They were wearing nothing but a blue hospital shift, their long hair covering the side of their face.
“HELLO!” Henry yelled.
The person stopped.
“Hello! In here!”
The person turned towards Henry door. Their figure was obscured and saturated by the sweeping motion of the alarm lights. But then they stopped just before his door, pressing their hand against the window glass, and cold, red light washed over their face.
It was a woman. There was blood gushing down her nose and mouth. Her skin was bubbling and yellow, her eyes bloodshot and bulging faintly from her head.
Henry reeled back. He felt all the blood drain from his face, like being doused in a bucket of warm water.
“Fuck,” he hissed.
The woman stared at him fearfully. She banged her fist against the glass.
“Help,” he heard her say, but then she began cough, hacking up blood. Her tongue had turned white. When she looked up at him again, red was leaking out of the corner of her eyes. “Help me,” she cried, slapping her hand against the door.
Henry’s mouth hung open. He didn’t know what to do. Her eyes drilled into him accusingly. He raised his right hand until he couldn’t any longer, miming silently to the handcuffs which trapped him to the bed.
The woman looked at him desperately, her lip curling up as she began to sob. She pressed her head to the glass, her eyes scrunched tight with tears. The pustules around her face began to burst.
“Please,” she moaned, sucking in deep breaths between bawling. “Please! It hurts! IT HURTS SO BAD!”
The glass splintered violently. Henry flinched, crying out. He watched, agape, as the woman fell out of sight, her eyes rolling back into her head, as though staring at the bullet hole piercing through it.
“Jesus fuck,” Henry swore, covering his mouth, fighting down bile. Behind her, he now saw a horde of flashlights bouncing down the hall, coming right towards him. Men in full S.W.A.T. gear came sporting them, with gas masks and rifles, much like before. Henry began to tug at his handcuffs frantically, trying to squeeze his wrist through.
The door smashed open, nearly ripped off its hinges. A flood of noise assaulted Henry’s ears, the voices of men calling out loudly to one another, in harsh commands. Guns were trained on him. He saw a group of them split off and continue down the hall, leaving only five in the room with him.
“GO, GO, GO!” they shouted.
He heard a trigger pulled, and a puff of air, something snagging him in the neck. Yelping, he grasped at it, pulling out a dart between his fingers. The world began to sway around him, going blurry. He fell backwards against the bed.
He looked up at them, down the length of his nose, as one tugged at his handcuffs, trying to pull his hand free.
“CAN I GET THE SAW?”
“What…,” Henry slurred, his eyes drifting sluggishly around the room. His heart was hammering with fear, but he could not move, even to speak.
“Just rip ‘em off!” one of the S.W.A.T. guys shouted.
“Are you nuts?”
Just as everything was beginning to go hazy for Henry again, he felt the plastic bed rail ripped straight from the side of the bed. Someone fumbled to tear his handcuffs off the bar, while another forced Henry to sit up. A bag was thrown over his head.
“Krasskow?” someone barked.
“I got him.”
Henry was lifted bodily into the air, and hefted across someone’s shoulder. He groaned sharply, a white-hot flare ripping through his chest as he was carried out of the room. He could see faintly through the black hood, due to the bright lights that kept and kept on spinning.
Dangling off the back of the S.W.A.T. officer, the blood draining into the top of his head, he watched as the guy holding him stepped over the body by the door. The woman’s eyes were still open, staring up at him miserably, and as they passed over her, he saw her jaw flutter, as though in an attempt to form words.
“Uh,” Henry gasped, trying to speak up. His head flopped against the back of the man’s Kevlar armor dully, and his lungs cried out in pain as his ribs were smothered. The lights all began to bleed together, and Henry felt his arms fall lifelessly by his head, the handcuffs still dangling from his wrist.