Monday, June 17, 2013


See the page "About this complex story..."

Chapter One is here:




It was an odd but beautiful sight.  The scarlet leaves shaken from their homes within the past couple of weeks, partially covered by white snow which continued to descend upon the city.  Large flakes danced in the hospital lights, some sticking briefly to the window before melting.  In their places, drops of water briefly crept down the portal. One after the other, like the tears that had streamed down Rebekah Rose’s face less than an hour ago.

Davies’ song must have struck her hard.  Only a few nights ago, Dan had lifted the weight from her heart, only to add several cast iron plates to the imaginary bar pressing against her chest.  He’d declared things meant for another time and place, and then had told her kindly but sternly to move on. Things would get easier. 

Easier for whom?

Great way to handle a student, an eighteen-year-old girl who’d been betrayed by a teacher and her own father within months.  A girl who often marched against metaphorical winds comparable to those that suppressed tree growth in Wuthering Heights.

With Allie in a coma and the cafeteria eerily quiet and empty, the ghostly implications found in that novel gave him a chill.  Not that he believed human spirits roamed the earth, but there were other things.  Things would that would gladly suck the life from his sweet, little sister and smother aspiring young women like Rebekah Rose. 

The lights flickered.

Peeling himself from the window scene, he sat in the chair Rose had occupied moments before his idiotic declarations, and imagined a beer bottle in his hand.  Admitting to Ryan his desire for intoxication since father’s arrival would add another item to his growing list of foolish actions.

Dan, with Rose’s abandoned cup in his hand, gazed up at the ceiling before lifting the sickeningly sweet drink to his lips.  She hadn’t touched it, she’d announced before returning to Ryan. 

“If you need a good caffeine buzz, it’s all yours.” She’d knit her brows, her eyes sparkling with what he believed to be more tears, and then she’d reached for him.  He’d nearly stolen her hand but thankfully she’d withdrawn.  Slowly she’d turned and shuffled away.  Disappointed in her teacher, still hurting and confused and in great need of help.

His father shouldn’t have messed with her; but having been chastised by his own student, Dan realized that Oliver’s influence had once again reared its ugly head.  Mainly in his suggestion that he’d move Rose and her mother to a different city.

Damn if Dan couldn’t be stupid sometimes.

However, his father needed a good slug, one that Dan had nearly delivered the night of his arrival; but only brutes like Brian lashed out violently.  And Rose had actually considered his ridiculous invitation to the dance?

Dan hadn’t dealt with Brian as irrationally as she probably thought, but sharing his conversation with the young jock wouldn’t have been wise, either.

The lights flickered again.  More like a wink than a flicker.  Dan gulped the cappuccino and his stomach soured.  Not enough punishment for his failures.

A blond man carrying a tray sat down with his back to Dan, five tables ahead of him.  He and Dan were the only diners, which seemed fitting.

Seclusion was what he needed now.  If any change occurred in Allie, strained relationships wouldn’t keep his family members from finding him.

His mother had changed.  He’d seen it in the way she gazed at him, in the way she’d repeatedly patted his back and in the prayers that she frequently offered throughout the days and nights. 

But why now?  If she’d found faith in Christ, why had she waited until now to show it?  Perhaps some other religion or cult had snagged her, but he wouldn’t know until later. Either his father’s disapproval of Christianity had kept his mother silent or she and Dan had silently communicated some sort of pact- no serious discussions until Allie awakened.

He couldn’t explain it, but the resentment for years of neglect kept its noose around his spirit, and it seemed no amount of prayers had cut the rope binding him to the past.  Maybe he stood subconsciously but purposely in the way of healing.

Why, though?  He licked his lips, tasting salt.    

Why would he prevent resolution?  During emotional times like this, grudges only compacted the depression.  Longing to hold his mother and push her away at the same time, he felt like one of those conflicted characters in various novels he’d read and studied for years. Especially when he considered he’d been doing the same thing to Rose- wanting to embrace her and push her away at the same time; and the one woman he felt no inhibitions about holding wouldn’t allow him to hold her.

He ran his hand through his hair, the image of Grace dancing against his closed eyelids.  He needed her here but knew she was better off at home. 

He shoved Rose’s sugary muffin aside and thought about buying a healthier snack- he hadn’t eaten all day- but his legs wouldn’t budge.

Whiskers on his cheeks pricked his fingers and he caught his reflection in the window beside him.  Though dim and somewhat warped, his scattered waves stood out clearly as the scarlet leaves peering between broken spots in the snow sheet.  The top three buttons of his shirt had been undone, so he appeared sloppy as hell.

Did it matter if he buttoned them?  Who did he need to impress?

His Creator knew the depths of his pain and only He had kept him from drowning in it; but if others observed him in such a state, why would they listen if he tried to share his faith?

Why should anyone listen to him, hypocrite that he was?  He wondered if even Allie, upon awakening from her deep sleep, would want to hear any of his lectures ever again.

Ryan certainly wouldn’t, not after clarifying his justifiable suspicions about Dan and Rose. 

He heard something thump against the floor and then the certain whoosh of liquid spilling loose.  The blond man in front of him shot out a quick, “Dang it!” and ripped some napkins from the holder in order to pick up the mess he’d made. 

When he stalked toward the trash can to dispose of the napkins and an empty milk carton, Dan thought he recognized him.  The neatly combed hair, the flannel shirt, the eyes that reminded him of Kevin Murphy.  Usually only women would notice such a thing, but sky blue eyes stood out more than others.

Dan squinted as the man halted.

The blond pointed. “Hey…aren’t you….?”  He glanced around as though searching for someone.  “Are you here with Grace?”

Dan blinked.  “Pardon me?”

“You…date Grace, right?  From the bakery?”

Then it hit him and Dan groaned inwardly. He’d rather sit here sulking and turning his situation over and over in his head than be forced to make conversation.  Nevertheless, he stood, tugging his belted pants upward and wiping his right hand on the black material before walking over and offering to shake. 

This guy, a regular at Grace’s bakery, one Grace seemed to trust, was none other than John Carpenter.  Dan remembered the name only because of the work van that bore his name in big red letters:  Carpenter Carpentry.  Then, of course, he remembered the name because of Indiana Jones movies.  John Carpenter films.

John returned Dan’s shake, no smile coming to his eyes or even a hint of one. With whiskers dotting his face and his top shirt buttons undone, John resembled a blond reflection of Dan- only with neater hair and a taller stance.

Dan pocketed his hands, gnawing on whether to inquire about John’s presence at this death hotel. 

John’s sullen countenance fell toward the window, giving Dan the impression he wished he hadn’t struck up a conversation.

“You might want to tell Grace,” he said suddenly. “Diana’s here.”


“My….” He rubbed his chin as he thought.  “She’s sort of related and Grace knows her well.”

“What happened?”

He closed his eyes and turned slightly…the same way Dan would react if someone asked about Allie.

“It makes me sick,” John replied.

“What?” Without details, he couldn’t relay much information to Grace.

“She…”  He smoothed his already combed hair.  “She slit her wrists.”

Dropping his hand, John frowned and nodded toward his seat.  “I don’t want to hold you up.  But Grace always took special interest in Di…and I think she needs moral support.”

“Of course… and you’re not holding me up.”  Got nothing to do but feel sorry for myself, anyway. 

“I shouldn’t go into details, but things have been odd lately.”

“What do you mean?”

John scratched the back of his neck and winced before asking, “Did you notice the lights flicker earlier?”

“Uh…yes, I did.  Does that relate somehow?”

John seemed reluctant.  “I shouldn’t have said this much.  It’s a little hard, handling this on my own.”

“You have no other family?”

“My parents passed away a year ago, making me her official guardian.”

Dan stared, curious about the girl’s age while offering his condolences. “Sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate.”

Considering that John and his…"sort of” relative were important to Grace, Dan wondered why he hadn’t heard this story before. 

“Listen,” Dan continued, “I’ll be around for a while if you need to talk.  My…sister’s…” 

Now Dan looked out the window, the flagpole near the parking lot catching his attention.

There’s a flagpole rag and the wind won’t stop.
That’s my soul up there.

Yep.  A song for everything.

“She’s what?” John asked.

Dan explained about the coma and the anorexia, adding that Allie should have awakened once her blood sugar stabilized, but she remained unconscious.  “Something isn’t right.”

John’s frown deepened as he took a Swiss Army Knife from his pocket and began cleaning his fingernails with on of the blades.  He seemed to be thinking about what to say next, so many seconds passed.  Without looking up, he finally inquired, “How long has she been here?”

“Since Saturday.”

The man’s mouth opened and a small sound escaped, but he shook his head rapidly. “No, no.”

Dan folded his arms, hoping John wouldn’t try to connect all of this oddness together. 

But then John announced with a quiver in his voice, “Diana came in on Saturday. ”

This revelation was odd, because suicide-attempts usually planted a person in the hospital for overnight observation.  After that, they were forwarded to a doctor, counselor, or mental hospital.  

"And she's still here?  For slit wrists?"

John shook his head negatively.  "She...she won't wake up."


  1. Haunted hospital? ESP? (Please no zombies!! :D )

  2. Haha I promise no zombies. Just some mysterious happenings that will escalate mainly with the Diana character. Nothing too cheesy, I promise.