LUCKY TO BE ALIVE.
The hologram on Bob’s ultraphone revealed a disturbing and vile sight.
There was Stacy Maith, lying unconscious in a green hospital gown on a blue bed in an ICU unit, fully sedated with a brace wrapped around her neck like a noose, tubes in her noses, and five IV units attached to her arms. As he saw his wife and noticed the added details of her physical condition, Bob recoiled in queasiness and cried.
Curly brown hair was missing from half of Stacy’s scalp. The dark coloration of the bruise underneath her left eye matched her eye color. The stitches over the cuts on her cheeks applied by robotic nurses appeared like a tic-tac-toe board.
Bob’s eyes saturated when as she painstakingly tried to rotate her head toward Dr. Schwarz’s ultraphone.
“Oh, my Joshua, honey!” Bob quivered. “Thank God you’re alive!”
Stacy took labored breaths as she pursued to spit out her response. “Whuh… wha… where… where’s the kids?”
Bob mustered a slight grin of joy and concern. “I’ll get them right now! Jesse’s at Sarah’s house; I’ll bring him on a conference call!”
Shortly after, a white curly-haired Dr. Schwarz focused the camera on himself. The countering image of Bob on his ultraphone was complicated by lags in the interlink connection. “Your wife is fortunate, Mr. Maith,” Schwartz said. “We were able to contain the internal bleeding in her abdomen. If we didn’t, she would be dead. She also has a displacement fracture in her right leg, three separate hairline fractures on both her arms, a punctured lung, and ten deep lacerations on her torso, face, arms, and legs. She’ll survive, but it will be a long recovery period.”
“When was she admitted?!” Bob inquired while panting.
“At approximately 1700. We found her in the middle of Trinity Place. We estimate she was lying there since the immediate aftermath of this morning’s attack; over nine hours. She was dehydrated and malnourished. As you can see, we’ve hooked her up to a feeding tube.”
“What’s the best-case scenario for her recovery, doc?” Bob asked as he exited the den.
“At least a month. But you understand, the ER and ICU are beyond overflowing right now because of the attack, so it may be longer.”
“Hang on one second, I’m going to get my children.” Bob ran upstairs and knocked on Matt and Mary’s respective bedroom doors. Immediately after he mentioned their mother’s name and the hospital, they both met emerged into the hallway.
“MOM!” they cried. Tears streamed down their reddened cheeks.
“Kids,” Stacy labored as she attempted to smile. Her children felt thrilled she was alive. Together, they were repulsed by the tubes and braces secured to their mother.
“Are you leading to be okay?!” Mary cried.
“Ye-yeah, honey,” she spluttered.
“Doctor says she’s lucky to have survived,” Bob said.
“Mom,” Matt wept as he reached out his arm toward his mother’s pixilation. “I thought… we all thought…”
“I know, honey,” Stacy replied. “Whe-where… Jesse?”
“I’m trying to reach him now,” Bob replied. “We had an incident earlier, hence why he’s at Sarah’s.”
“It’s not important,” Bob muttered. Moments later, Jesse’s pixilation appeared. He and Sarah frantically clustered together in front of his ultraphone’s camera as they sat side by side on the white-leathered sofa in her parents’ living room.
“Jesse, your aunt is on the holo-line from Endgame Memorial,” Bob stated.
Jesse and Sarah’s jaw dropped as Stacy appeared, the bright lights shining on her bed revealing tiny hairs growing from her birthmark. “Aunt Stacy!” he uttered while his heart skipped a beat. “Oh, my goodness… how did you survive this?!”
“I… I guess God… was… with me.”
Still dumbfounded his aunt was alive, Jesse struggled to muster a reply, but deep down, he realized if there was a God, this intangible deity reached down from heaven and touched Stacy. “I can’t believe it,” Jesse muttered, his mind straddling the line between elated and skeptical. “What is your prognosis?!”
Shortly after, Dr. Schwarz reappeared on screen. “Hello, sir, my name is Dr. Elliott Schwarz, and I am treating, I’m sorry- this is your aunt?”
“Yes, sir,” Jesse replied.
“Yes, as I was just explaining to your uncle, her recovery may take a minimum of a month given her injuries plus the overcrowding we are experiencing because of the attack. And, I also want to add, Mr. Maith, while your entire family is on the line, Mrs. Maith will need surgeries to repair the displacement fracture in her leg and to insert a stent into her heart as a preventative measure should any blood clots occur in the next two weeks.”
“When can we go visit her?!” Bob asked.
“Well, sir, because of the military quarantine, it may not be for the next forty-eight to seventy-two hours, but this timeframe is subject to change via Ultimate Minister decree. We will go over holographic communication protocols between now and then shortly, but please await my word for physical visitation.”
“Understood,” Bob replied. “Jesse, I assume you’re going to stay at Sarah’s tonight.” Bob was careful not to place Matt or Mary in Jesse’s view, with the hard feelings of their fight still lingering within them.
“Yes,” Jesse replied. “I’m sure you’re aware of this, Bob, but Harrison asked me to meet him at Everton at 1200 tomorrow. I think I may know why.”
“Actually, Jesse, I’m not aware of this at all. I know classes are cancelled indefinitely, but I say this sincerely: I’m not aware of a meeting between you and Harrison, whether you believe me.”
“Well, he sounded very ominous when he called me an hour ago. And honestly, it’s strange he called so soon after the attacks. I know I’m probably going to get drafted because of you-know-who invoking the second, but I have a feeling something else is going on.”
“Do you feel comfortable visiting Harrison?” Bob asked.
“Now that I know Aunt Stacy is alive, yes. Can you put her on quick, please?” Bob shifted the holographic slide to Stacy’s pixilation, where Stacy was marshaling a wide smile through her brace.
“Jesse,” a quivering Stacy spluttered. “I’m so… soo… proud of… the man you’re be-becoming…”
Jesse’s smile appeared to dry his tears. “I love you, Aunt Stacy,” he quivered.
“You’re so smart… so accountable… so… your mom and da… would… be proud of you!”
“Thank you,” he whispered. “I don’t care what you-know-who says,” he growled, “I’m going to visit you.”
“Jesse,” Stacy attempted to shout as she sensed Jesse’s fear. “Plee-please… it’s not worth it… right now.”
“But I have so many things I need to talk to you about!”
“We will when… we speak again. Right now, I… I need rest. And… we can talk… after you see… Harrison tomorrow.”
“I must talk to you privately.”
“I love you!”
“I love you too, sweetie.”
Jesse collapsed onto Sarah’s shoulders as the pixilation panned away from Stacy. Sarah squeezed Jesse tight as he released a multitude of emotions, ranging from thrilled to miserable.