Copyright © 2002 Chris Gonnerman. All Rights Reserved.
Mark arrived quite soon, and I let him in. He looked down at his sleeping
ex-wife. "What's wrong with her?"
"Cancer, I assume. I can see it in her aura. I tried the ring, but it was of
"Can you show me?" he asked. I thought about it. I didn't want to use the Tap
again, and draw unwanted attention. The Aura Reading I had already cast was
still in effect, though, so as I had done before I adapted a prepared Mind
Reading spell and gifted Mark with it.
"See through my eyes," I told him, and I concentrated on viewing Valerie's aura.
Mark closed his eyes to concentrate. I walked around to get a better view,
making Mark sway from the changing perspective. "Watch out," I said, but he had
already regained his balance.
We both took a good look at the smoky place in her aura. I noticed then that
the roiling grayness did not mix with her bright peachy aura, nor even shade
into it, but remained apart like oil on water. I turned to look at Mark, and
realized he was looking at his own aura through my eyes. After a moment he
opened his eyes.
"Upstairs. I placed them both under a Sleep spell."
"Tell me about this spell. How long will Valerie be asleep?"
"About five or six hours," I said, struggling slightly in my mind with the
modern concept of time. Nothing else in this age has given me so much trouble.
"Can she be awakened?"
"Certainly, at any time... oh, no, sorry, you mean can anyone else wake her?
No, only me, or a mage using a counterspell. Otherwise she'll lay comatose for
the full duration."
"Good. Now, what about Emily? Can you wake her without waking Valerie?"
"Excellent. Have you touched anything here?"
"The phone," I answered, "and a quilt upstairs, and I guess I must have turned
off the television. I don't remember doing it, but it's off now."
"Okay. Here's my plan, then. I'm going to call 911 and tell them that Valerie
called me to come here, and when I arrived I found her unconscious. You keep
her asleep at all costs, so that they will think she collapsed. The ring would
have healed any bruises from falling, right?"
"Yes. I saw some bruises heal."
"Good, that'll remove any suspicions of foul play. You'll need to be invisible;
I want to be the only person they see or talk to, and the only person whose
presence I have to explain."
"I see," I said. "This will get her taken to a hospital then?"
"Exactly. Then I'll make arrangements for Emily."
"Can't you just take her? Her mother is obviously incompetent to care for her."
"Yeah, but Solo, you have no idea what a can of worms that would open." Mark
paused for a moment, reviewing his plan I assumed, then continued. "You need to
go with the ambulance, or follow it, or somehow get to the hospital with
Valerie. You need to let her wake up only after she has been examined by a
doctor, because they need to be convinced something is wrong with her. They'll
have to run tests to figure out what it is, and then hopefully they'll find
what's really wrong with her."
"I can do that. I'll take care of Valerie, and you deal with Emily and your
story." He picked up the phone and wiped it all over with his T-shirt tail.
Before he could dial it I asked, "Are you seriously worried about a police
"If she can find a reason Valerie would turn me in, so, yes, I'm worried." He
hyperventilated for a moment, then dialed the phone. "Hello? Yes, I'm at...
yes, that's the address. My ex-wife called me and asked for help, then the line
went dead, so I came as fast as I could and found her unconscious. Please send
an ambulance right away!" After listening for a moment he continued, "She's on
the living room floor, and she seems to be sleeping, but I can't wake her at
all. No, there aren't any drugs here, or alcohol, as far as I can see. Our
daughter is upstairs sleeping in her bed. No, I didn't try to wake her...
should I? Okay, I'll wait right here for the ambulance."
His performance was impressive. He sounded flustered and scared. Next he
dialed another, longer number. "Hello, Laura. I'm glad I got you. Yeah, this
is Mark. Listen! Valerie called me and said 'help me' and I came to her house
and found her on the floor unconscious with the phone laying beside her. I
called 911 and they are sending an ambulance, and I'm supposed to stay here.
Emily is asleep, but she's okay I think. Can you guys come and get her? Great!
I'll be here." He then hung up the phone.
"Okay, Solo, I'm going to check on Emily. You make with the fadeout and kind of
stay back, okay?" I nodded, then spoke a word and disappeared.
Mark was upstairs for longer than I expected, but he came back just as I heard
the sirens approaching. He opened the door for the paramedics. There were two
of them, carrying cases of equipment, and as one knelt beside Valerie the other
said "Where's the girl?"
"Up those stairs," answered Mark, pointing, "and to the right." I followed the
paramedic, and discovered why Mark had been so long. He had dressed Emily in
pajamas and placed her under the covers, with a stuffed animal under her arm. I
dismissed the Sleep spell on her as the paramedic began to examine her, and she
"Aaaaah! Who are you?" she cried, and Mark came into the room. I had to dodge
quickly to avoid being run down. "Daddy! Who is he?"
"He's a paramedic like on TV, sweetie. He's just making sure you're okay." The
paramedic evidently decided she was and descended the stairs; I followed him as
Mark sat down on the bed and began trying to explain to Emily about her mother.
Downstairs the other paramedic was discussing her case by radio with their
dispatch. "She's comatose but seems stable. We'll put her on a board and bring
her in." One went out carrying some of their equipment back to the ambulance
while the other remained with Valerie, apparently observing. Shortly the first
paramedic returned with a backboard and stretcher, followed closely by an older
man and woman. When one paramedic tried to stop them the man said, "I'm her
father, and this is her mother. Where's my granddaughter?"
Mark called down from the top of the stairs, "She's up here, Art. Would both of
you come here please?" I saw a look of worry on the woman's face; I assumed
(correctly) that she was the Laura that Mark had called. Art looked worried,
but also angry, and I was torn between following them and going with Valerie.
No. My friend asked me to go with his ex-wife, and I would not fail him. I
followed the paramedics out the door, and saw that there would be no way I could
ride in the ambulance with them and remain undiscovered. I carefully released
my Flight spell, not wanting to break my Invisibility, for it was still daylight
for perhaps an hour or so.
At the hospital Valerie was rushed into the emergency room and seen with
surprising speed by a doctor. Though young, she seemed competent as she
examined Valerie. "I don't understand it," she finally said to one of the
nurses, "she should be awake. There is nothing wrong with her otherwise. Is
that tox screen back yet?"
"Yes, Doctor," answered another nurse, "and it's clean. Not even any alcohol."
"Well, we'll keep her for observation. Does anyone know her regular physician?"
"According to the info her ex gave John, it's Doctor Harper. I think he's in
the hospital tonight... didn't his son just have surgery?"
"Yeah, Friday," said another nurse, "but the boy's okay. It'd probably be
alright to call Doctor Harper down here."
They did so, and Doctor Harper was as puzzled as anyone. He instructed that she
be admitted and assigned a room, then as she was being taken there he went to
the front desk and began scheduling tests.
About this point Mark approached Doctor Harper, and again I had to dodge.
"Doc!" said Mark, "How's Valerie?"
"Comatose but stable. I've ordered tests for tomorrow. It's too soon to say,
but I am thinking perhaps it's neurological. I don't really know yet."
"What kind of tests?" asked Mark.
"Oh, the usual, blood work, a CT scan; I may do an MRI also." I saw visible
relief on Mark's face as he heard this.
"Thanks, Doc." I decided it was time to make an appearance, so I slunk off to
the men's room and slipped in after another man went out. The room was empty,
so I let the spell go and became visible again.
I met Mark in the hallway and we went to the room assigned to Valerie. Doctor
Harper was there; evidently he was fascinated by her case.
As we were about to enter the room, Mark leaned toward me and said, "Hopefully
she'll wake up soon." I glanced at him and caught him in a wink, so I took that
as a signal and dismissed the Sleep spell.
At first she stirred slightly, and Doctor Harper practically jumped to the head
of the bed. "Can you hear me, Valerie?" he asked. Her eyes opened, and for a
moment she looked around in surprise.
What I expected to happen, I don't know, but I do know that I was surprised as
she threw back the covers and leapt out of bed, screaming obscenities at Mark
and then at all present. I decided Paralysis was called for, so I silently
formed the word and made the gesture, hoping that all eyes would be on her.
Well, it failed. Casting spells silently requires more concentration than the
normal way, and it is possible that I was a bit distracted by the screaming.
Valerie ran from the room, straight to the nurses station, and began screaming
something about calling the police. Doctor Harper and Mark followed her, with
me trailing. I had another Paralysis spell, so this time I took a moment to
concentrate fully, and released it silently.
Valerie fell suddenly, but was caught by an older man I recognized as Art. He
must have approached just as I was releasing the spell. Doctor Harper helped
Art to carry her back to her bed. Her eyes were open, and she was drooling a
little. The doctor examined her eye responses with a light, then said "She
appears to be paralyzed, but her autonomous functions are working normally. I
think more tests may be required. Valerie, if you can hear me, please try to
stay calm. You are very sick, but we are doing all we can for you."
Art took a tissue from a box on the nightstand and wiped away the drool from her
face. I could see terrible sadness in his eyes, but then he turned to Mark and
his expression changed.
"Get out of here, you idiot! She divorced you for good reason! Why are you
"She called me, Art. I had to come," my friend answered. Mark then turned and
walked out the door, and I followed.
"You need a ride home?" he asked when we were away from Art.
"No, I think I need to stay a while. I'll have to dismiss that Paralysis spell;
otherwise it will last half a day or longer. I'll make my own way home when I'm
"Okay, then. I guess I'll see you in the morning."
Valerie was calmer when I dismissed the spell. I waited, hovering invisibly
outside the window of her room, until it appeared that Doctor Harper was about
to leave, then I dismissed it. I wanted someone there for her to talk to when
she was released, but on the other hand I wanted her to feel the effects of the
Paralysis as long as possible. Even though it wasn't caused by her sickness,
she would naturally assume it was, and I wanted her to believe she needed to
stay in the hospital.
It was well after midnight when I returned home. I told Mara of all the events
of the evening. When I was through she put her arm around me and said, "Why do
you sound so sad? You did great! Emily is safe with her grandparents, and
Valerie is in the hospital where she needs to be."
"It's just such a foul situation. Art hates Mark for things I'm sure he didn't
do, and Valerie has what must be a terrible disease, and Emily has been abused
by her sick mother for possibly years."
"You were a statue for most of that time. You couldn't have helped."
I kept repeating that to myself until I fell asleep.
Next Chapter >>