As soon as I heard Maddy’s name, I texted Ken to let him know what was going on and rushed quickly to the hospital. The entire drive I began thinking, what if Maddy was dead in a gruesome way? Would I be able to come out of the trauma?
When I arrived at the hospital, the receptionist told me she was admitted due to having injuries. Maddy was propped against the bed, connected to the IV, a large bandage on her neck. Her eyes were tear-stricken and she looked exhausted. I was so relieved to see her alive, I went to sit in the chair beside her bed.
“Maddy, what happened?” I asked.
She appeared to be in some kind of a shock. “I was attacked.” She choked out a reply.
Maddy stared at the distance as if she saw something that didn’t exist. “I was just going to get some medication for a patient. It was dark in the room so I switched on the lights and when I went to the cabinet, someone hit me from behind. When I regained consciousness, the man was dragging me by my ankle.” She said and then sobbed hysterically, clenching my hand in a death-grip. “I was so scared, Riley. I thought I was going to die!”
I tried to comfort her but her sobs were uncontrollable. “I kicked him so hard, but he was strong. There was blood everywhere. It was some cold dark room.” She shrieked.
“Who was it, Maddy?” I asked. “Who did this to you?”
She was saying something incoherent, I couldn’t make sense of anything other than her chants ‘he would have killed me’.
“Maddy, you have to remember who did it!” I said.
She looked straight into my eyes. “It was Jackson.”
I had no doubt in my mind that it was Ezra, that’s who Maddy had meant when she’d taken Jackson’s name. Maddy definitely wasn’t aware about the twin swaps. Everyone assumed Ezra was dead, so it was a no-brainer Jack was taking the blame.
Rage coursed through my body.
How could Ezra do this to his own brother? Hadn’t Jack suffered enough? If this went on, Jack could be no doubt executed for crimes he hadn’t committed. Ezra was dead to the public eye.
I stayed with Maddy until evening, and when she fell asleep, I took a coffee break. I saw Aaron rushing from an E.R barking instructions to a poor Physician assistant. When he saw me, his expressions turned relaxed.
“Riley.” He approached me.
“Doctor Shaw.” I never called him that unless we were in company of the higher-ups.
“I’m so glad to see you, Riley.” He said, having missed my slight taunt. “Did Agent Knight tell you everything?”
I gave him a nod. “Although I’d like to hear it from you.”
“I want you back here, working alongside me.” Aaron said with what I assumed was sincerity. He took my hand in his and squeezed it. “I need you.”
I searched his eyes. He seemed eager, almost desperate for me to join again. “What’s wrong, Aaron?”
He rubbed his temples. “Everything.” He whispered as he caught my wrist and pulled me into a corner. “The controversies linked to WoodVille’s hospital surrounding the Wolfe case have been bad for the faculty. One nurse brutally murdered within the hospital and the other almost killed! The staffs are piling my desk with resignations and Dr. Liu isn’t happy with this. I know you’ve been through a lot and it’s too much to ask of you but I can’t lose you too. I want you back in the Psychiatric Unit.”
“When would you like me to start?”
I saw relief cross his features. He looked so tired, I felt bad for him. “Tonight, if you can. Please. I’m short on staff. You won’t be assigned to one patient. All you’d be required to do are the routine duties.”
“Okay. I’ll be here.”
Aaron sighed. “I will forever be in your debt. Thank you.”
I smiled. “It’s my job. You don’t need to thank me.”
He appeared agitated. “There’s something else I’d like to talk to you about.”
When I didn’t say anything, he proceeded. “I don’t know what is Dr. Bennet’s deal.”
“What is it?”
Aaron glanced around; staff and patients alike passed the lobby. Lowering his voice a several tones more, he continued. “He was the one who found Madeline when she was attacked. While Madeline’s memory seems a little fogged up, she’s mostly giving bits of what she thinks she saw, we can’t be sure if it’s even true.”
And she’d blabbered Jack’s name.
“It’s normal, Aaron. She was attacked, she probably doesn’t remember anything.”
“It’s not just that. Paul was right beside her and he kept giving her some strange looks and when she would see his face, she looked away, almost as if he was forcing her to hide something.”
Now that was new.
“Why would Maddy do that?” I asked him. “You’re not implying that Paul is the one doing the murders, are you?”
“Jackson was locked that night. We checked his locks and made sure.” He said and I didn’t miss how’d mentioned a plural on the locks.
“I mean no offense to Paul, but he seems more of a book genius. He doesn’t strike me as clever or smart when it comes to executing planned murders.”
There was a hint of a smile on Aaron’s lips. “Guess you’re right but he’s been acting suspicious. Anyway, I’ll talk to Paul and see what’s going on. One thing’s for sure. No one can be trusted in this faculty. Not a staff and definitely not the patients.”
I went home that evening and a few hours later I was back at the hospital dressed in my nurse uniform. It felt weird to be wearing it after such a long time. I actually missed working here, I realized.
The scent of the cleaning solutions was repulsive for most people, for me, it was comforting. I felt like home here.
“Welcome back, Nurse Riley.” Bridget, the receptionist on the ground floor smiled at me.
“Thanks Bri.” I acknowledged her, making my way to the locker to dump my things.
I walked to the adjoining wing of the Psychiatric Unit. The head nurse Laila was more than happy to see me. Poor woman was having a rough time with a shortage of staff. The nurses in this wing had either asked for a transfer or plain handed out a resignation. They’d rather live being unemployed for a while than risk their lives at the hands of a psychotic killer. I couldn’t blame them; I would have done the same if I wasn’t so damn eager about this. Maybe I had a death wish.
The only staff that was now left was Bobby, the sly male nurse assigned to Ezra. There was the shy and short nurse Josephine whom Bobby had nicknamed ‘midget’ because she was four feet something. Then there was Tilly, the nurse Bobby was supposedly banging. With Maddy lying in a hospital bed, that left with me joining the team.
I was almost done with the work and decided to get a refill of my coffee when Josephine called out to me.
“I want to ask for a favor, Riley.” She said anxiously. “And in exchange I’ll cover as many shifts of yours as you want in future.”
I didn’t understand what had implicated such desperation but I was the type of person who always helped my colleagues. Sometimes I wondered if my softness had led them to take advantage of me. I was just too nice. Maddy often told me how unfair everyone was towards me. In Josephine’s case, I thought it had to be something really serious. She was far too sweet to ask reckless favors.
“Bobby took a half day off, said he was sick but you do know how cunning he is.” She said in apparent disgust. “He wants me to take the dinner and medication to Jack’s room. I’m begging you, Riley. Please help me.”
“How can I help you with that, Josephine?”
“He scares me! The way he looks at all the staff like he’s going to eat everyone alive.” She said. “Tilly went to his room the other day, and Jack said ‘Boo’ literally and Tilly almost peed herself. I saw her change into a spare uniform later that day.”
I bit back laughter. I couldn’t laugh at a nurse’s distress. Finding it funny was bad enough.
“You could always pass the food through the opening in the door. There’s no need for you to walk inside.”
“Jack doesn’t take his food that way. The plate just lies there with the food untouched. Nurse Laila won’t allow it.”
“So you want me to take the food and medication to his room?”
“Yes. You will, won’t you?” She asked. If I refused, would she burst into tears?
Thirty minutes later, I was bringing dinner to his room. I unlocked the room slowly, taking my time. Ezra was reading a book. I couldn’t read the title but knew he was reading a book by Stephen King. “If it’s mashed potatoes and gravy, you can take it back. I’d rather eat my foot than eat that for another fucking day.” He’d assumed I was Bob; he glanced up from his book and passed me a sheepish grin. “So nice to see you again, Sweetness.”
He was lounging in the chair like a lazy cat on a Sunday afternoon, not having a care in the world. “How unfortunate it is that at the end of the book, John Coffey was convicted and literally fried on the Old Sparky for crimes he never committed. I want to feel remorseful, I can’t.” It took me awhile to realize Ezra was talking about the book The Green Mile.
I decided to humor him. “Yeah. Innocent people get blamed for the crimes that they often never committed just because they happen to be at a wrong place at the wrong time.”
He chuckled, the voice oddly familiar. If I closed my eyes, I could bet it belonged to Jack and a painful yearning gnawed at me.
“Not me. I guess I’m rightfully blamed for the crimes I did commit. They couldn’t find a John Coffey here unfortunately.”
I placed the tray of food, and medication. “It’s shepherd’s pie and veggies. I’m hoping that’s up to your standards.” I teased him.
“What if isn’t?” He asked. “Would you get me a Big Mac? You could do an ex-lover a few favors.”
I folded my arms across my chest and watched him. He pointed at the tray of food. “Would you mind bringing the tray here?”
I picked up the tray, walked towards him slowly, keeping my pace casual and placed the tray of food on the table. A hint of a smile was playing on his lips, his eyes following each of my moments. He could sense fear and I knew that. One moment of weakness and I’d give him an upper-hand. Ezra’s posture, the way he kept his gaze trailed on me, it was clear he thought he was the King here, regardless of the fact that he was chained.
The twins had so much in common and yet nothing.
Ezra raised his wrists towards me. “Can I ask you to unlock my restraints? I promise to behave.”
“That won’t happen.” I said. “The restraints shouldn’t be a bother. I know you can move just fine without me unlocking them.”
He kept staring, “Do they know?”
“Who knows what?”
“Our little secret.”
I had to keep reminding myself that Ezra thought that I assumed he was Jack. I couldn’t act hostile all of a sudden. “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Beats me, neither do I.”
“Ezra, I know who you are and also, you suck at acting like Jackson.” I said.
If Ezra was surprised he didn’t show it in his expressions. A slow smile played at the corner of his lips. “What gave it away?”
“The kiss last time. You couldn’t kiss me back and it wasn’t mind-blowing the way it was with Jackson.” I confessed.
“Does my brother know you kissed me?”
“He doesn’t and I’d rather we keep it that way.” I said.
“We can change that you know.” He chuckled. “I’m sure I can show you better than mind-blowing. I have a dozen of ladies who can vouch for me.”
“Who I’m pretty sure were either chopped to pieces or are so scared out of their minds that they can’t talk.”
“You hurt my feelings.”
I sighed. He indicated me towards his bed. “Sit and talk to me for a while, Nurse Riley.”
I settled down on the chair instead. I didn’t want to go anywhere near his bed.
“Why did you kill all those people?” I asked outright.
He gave out a laugh. “Do you think I did it?”
“Yes. I have no doubt about that.” I pressed him further. “Why are you trying to pin everything on Jack? He didn’t kill anyone!” Okay, maybe he admitted killing three people but those weren’t innocent people at least, but Ezra didn’t need to know.
“What if I tell you that Jack’s the one who did it.” All the traces of humor had vanished from his expressions.
“I trust Jackson.” I said.
“That’s your call entirely.” Ezra said. “Do you know how utterly misbehaved he was in high school and college after that? Do you know that he sent three boys to the hospital in a fit of a rage? Have you any idea the extent of violence that Jack can inflict in point five seconds?”
“That’s in his past. He’s told me all about it. And he also told me how you were always preferred by your father, Brady Wolfe. You wanted to succeed the company.”
“True.” He made a tick in the air, “And true. I wanted the company. Past tense. Not anymore.”
“Then what do you want?”
“Time will tell you, Riley.” He said, raised his hands again. “Unlock me?”
I climbed to my feet. “I can’t do that, Ezra.”
He rubbed his fingers to his wrist. “I’m asking you nicely. Unlock the restraints.”
“I believe I spoke in English the first time I said no. Let me try it in French, German and Russian. Non, Nein and Nyet. Hope that makes it clear.”
“You can try Italian. I understand it better.” He smirked, his eyes turned dark. “On second thought, I don’t think I need you to unlock them at all.”
That’s when I realized Ezra had been playing a game with me, buying time. I took a step back then another. He pulled at the restraints, once, twice and then I could see the veins in his arms darken as he jerked at it with a loud masculine growl.
Before I could close the door behind him, he pushed his way out of the room. I stumbled and fell on my knees. The lights on the floor began going out one after the other.
Where were the security guards?
I glanced back at him. I could see his dark huge form standing in the middle of the hallway, the chains dangling after him. He wiped his blood stricken hand. “Run as fast as you can, Riley. I’ll give you a two minute head start.”
Hope you all enjoyed reading the chapter :) Please don’t forget to click the like below if you haven’t already, and I’d love to see your thoughts/ theories in the comments section. Also, I love reviews (Just no spoilers in the reviews please)