Patient, The: 2. Chapter One: John Doe

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2. Chapter One: John Doe

In what passed for the modern world, there was no place that epitomised it more
than New York City.

The twentieth century in all its grandeur, its mechanized momentum and
dynamically driven pulse lived and breathed in the city that heralded Wall
Street, the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. The people who
walked its streets felt the power of it. It had as much to do with their
identity as genetic make up. Whoever coined the term ‘urban jungle’ was
undoubtedly thinking of New York, even if he did not know it. The name alone,
conjured images, from people a world away, of rapidly evolving progress that
quickened the breath merely thinking of it.

Even in the wake of its greatest tragedies, New York seemed to take its defeats
like a punched drunk prized fighter who did not know when to quit. These days
the arrogance of the typical New Yorker had bled away to a quiet strength and a
sense of self worth that had risen in the face of adversity. The evidence of the
destruction was everywhere, even when it was slight. It could be the gapping
emptiness where so many had lost their lives in a cataclysmic expression of
human madness, or a dying flower against a bitumen pavement. Inadvertently, one
would find themselves at the same place, no matter what triggered their memory
to begin with.

A New Yorker still walked the streets like he owned it but now it was with the
knowledge that he earned the right to be there.

Doctor Aaron Stone was present at one of the first hospitals to be assailed with
casualties after the hijacking and the subsequent destruction of the World Trade
Centre.

He was a doctor who never quite left residency. He should have been conducting
medicine from a leather wing chair in some Park Avenue address but could never
bring himself to leave the frantic activity of the hospital where he had began
his medical career. In truth, he had every intention of becoming a surgeon when
he first enrolled in medical school but by the first year of residency, he had
decided that psychiatry was what he truly wished to do. The healing of the mind
became an infinitely more important field of medicine to him and until the
tragedy of the World Trade Centre; he had never questioned that decision.

When the casualties were brought in with horrific injuries from debris, fire and
other symptoms of the fallout following the destruction of the twin towers, he
suddenly realised that he wanted to heal flesh as well as the mind. Fulfilling
the necessary requirements, Aaron divided his time between the hospital
emergency room and the psychiatric ward. While some might think it frivolous,
Aaron felt he had achieved some form of balance at least in his own conscience,
in being the doctor he wanted to be. It certainly helped him sleep better at
nights, even if his dreams were rather strange.

He did not give them much thought although he wondered what Freud would think of
the vague dreams that left him with the sensation that something in his
existence was lacking and he could not for the life of him discern what it was.
For as long as he knew, he lived with this strange void inside of him that no
amount of conscience pandering decisions could fill. It was a peculiar to feel
incomplete, particularly when he had unburdened himself of the limitations most
people placed on their lives by fear or by circumstances. It seemed to creep at
him especially at night, when he looked up into the twilight sky and found
himself staring at the stars like the secret to all the questions in the world
was waiting for him in their light.

There was no reason for him to feel unfilled after all, as lives went he had a
pretty good one. It was beset with its own tragedies, in particular the loss of
his parents and since he was an only child, it was hard not to feel alone
particularly during the holidays and birthdays. He had acquaintances but only a
few close friends. He seldom had a woman in his life long enough to consider it
a relationship and his colleagues seemed to think he was the handsome doctor
enjoying the bachelor life to the utmost. However if anyone had asked Aaron, it
would have surprised them to know that it was not that at all.

He was searching for someone who did not exist.

She did somewhat in his dreams, though if he were asked to describe her or the
circumstances of their encounters in the dreamscape, he would have been hard
pressed to answer. Yet when he did dream of her, he impact on him was more than
just the image of some ideal fantasy woman but rather being flooded with a burst
of emotion. It was passion and deep abiding love combined into a rather potent
mix that awoke him with that same feeling that his life was not all that it
should be. Aaron wondered if he felt this way because a feeling of
displacement dogged his whole life.

There were times when he was visited with flashes of insight that told him where
he should be for no other reason then because it felt right. Like the day he
had decided to go to the hospital because some instinct compelled him to do so
and then found himself surrounded by a deluge of patients following the tragedy
of the terrorists attacks. His premonition had allowed him to be on hand to
help and it was an event he did not regret being thrust into. There was deep
sense of satisfaction in knowing that his actions had helped to ease the burden
of that terrible day.

Fortunately, there was no instinctual reason governing his presence in the
hospital today, other than paperwork. Despite being one of the most respected
doctors on staff, he was often on the verge of violating dress codes because his
choice of his wardrobe did not extend itself beyond jeans, sneakers and a long
sleeved t-shirt. When he was required to face patients, he donned on a
respectable white coat but did not hold with the notion that he had to look the
part when it was enough that the he was a doctor. His dark hair was not exactly
long but it could not be considered short either and though he was nearing
middle age, there had been many of times he had been mistaken for a first year
resident.

The psychiatric ward was busy today. As he made his way towards his office, his
gaze registered briefly the non-violent patients wandering through the hallways,
lost completely or partially in their own psychosis, awaiting evaluation so they
can be transferred to either state run or privately funded psychiatric
hospitals. Orderlies remained visible while they kept a close eye on them and
nurses hurried from place to place with medication. It disturbed him that there
were so many patients that he had become indifferent to them but he supposed
these were the calluses doctors were meant to grow over their feelings in order
to ensure professional objectivity. The words sounded impressive but the
practice was surprisingly hard for many.

”Doctor Stone!” Aaron heard his name echoing down the hallway from behind him.
The voice was familiar to him because he knew most of the people on staff and
was able to narrow down the possibilities.

Aaron turned around and saw Warren Sheldon, one of the second year psychiatric
residents on staff walking towards him. It was early morning and judging by the
bleary eyed look on Warren’s face, it appeared the young man had been on call
last night. Warren was an able young man but Aaron was certain as soon as he
was done with his residency, the extent of his psychiatric practice was going to
be listening to rich matrons telling him what was wrong with the world and why
breast implants would cure all of it for them.


”You’re still here Warren?” Aaron said with some measure of surprise because
someone else would have taken over Warren’s shift by now and he really did look
like he needed the sleep. The young man’s light blond hair was ruffled as if he
had ran his fingers through it too many times and he appeared more sallow
looking then usual.

“Yeah, I wanted to talk to you about a John Doe that was brought in last night,”
he remarked rubbing the bridge of his nose, a gesture Aaron had come to
associate with Warren preparing to refer him a case that was too much for him.

“Tell me about it on my way to my office,” Aaron retorted and resumed walking,
fully expecting Warren to follow.

“Well he’s an old guy about Moses age I’m sure. Anyhow, NYPD picked him up last
night for causing some kind of disturbance outside the Malcolm Building. He’s
got severe hallucinations and it took both cops to get him into a squad care.”

”Pretty strong for a guy Moses’ age,” Aaron commented. “Is that his file?”

“Yeah,” Warren nodded and handed the manila folder over. “We tested him for
chemical abuse and the only thing of note was the amount of nicotine in his
system. The guy should have lung cancer with how much he’s smoking instead he’s
in pretty good shape for someone that old.”

“What about any neurological abnormalities?” Aaron asked.

“Nothing,” Warren shook his head. “No irregularities whatsoever. It’s not the
wiring.”

Aaron gave him a look, “that’ a professional opinion ‘doctor’?”

“I mean he has all the symptoms of schizophrenia,” Warren answered a little
flustered. Aaron suspected the hours were catching up on him. “But it just
doesn’t feel right.”

Aaron studied the file before him and could not deny that there were gaps in
their knowledge of the patient that prevented them from making an accurate
diagnosis at this point. The patient had no identification whatsoever,
preventing them from retrieving any records regarding previous medical history.
Aaron could see why Warren was reluctant to act on his own because this was a
case that would require the evaluation of someone far more experienced than a
first year psychiatric resident.

“You go on and get some rest,” Aaron answered after a moment. “I’ll go see
Moses. Is he lucid?”

“Yeah,” Warren nodded. “When he calmed down he was pretty lucid but any
discussion about where he came from did make him agitated.”

“Enough to be violent?” Aaron stared at him in question.

“I’m not sure,” Warren answered with clear uncertainty.

“Sounds interesting,” Aaron frowned, not really up for this today and sighed
with resignation at the fact that he needed a secretary if he ever wanted his
paper work done. “On your way out, get one of the nurses to move Moses into my
office. I’ll see him as soon as he’s ready.”

*************


A short time later, Aaron found himself staring across the floor at the man
designated John Doe.

Warren’s estimation of his age was understandable now that Aaron came face to
face with him. The man was clearly in his late sixties with a long flowing
beard and an equally long hair that sometimes appeared white instead of grey.
Even his eyebrows were grey and bushy and seemed to curl outward from his brow.
His blue green eyes seemed a little dazed but this was to be expected since he
had been dosed heavily with Thorazine the night before. Enough time had passed
to allow the full brunt of the drug’s effects on the patient to wan a little so
Aaron could conduct a somewhat productive first evaluation without fear of
Moses/ John Doe becoming violent.

Doctor and patient stared across the space between them for a few minutes as if
a mutual evaluation was being undertaken. Aaron sat in his chair with a note
pad in hand, watching the man react to being observed. He tried to picture this
old man causing a disturbance outside the Malcolm building and could not deny
being sceptical at the fact that this person would try to harm anyone.
Something deeper than instinct told Aaron that the patient was ill, not
dangerous.

“May I have a glass of water?” The old man spoke first, his voice beginning as a
croak but then evolved into clear, and erudite with a trace of accent that could
have been English.

“Certainly,” Aaron poured a glass of water from the jug resting on the side
table next to his chair before handing the receptacle to his patient.

”I feel uncommonly parched,” John Doe commented before taking the glass and
adding his thanks to the end of his statement.

“Thorazine can do that,” Aaron answered in understanding.

“I do not like the concoctions you put in my veins,” John Doe replied giving him
a look after he drained the contents of the glass.

“You were dangerous,” Aaron said not about to apologise for anything. The best
way to gain a patient’s trust was simple honestly He found nothing worked
better. No psychiatric buzzwords that made little sense to them or patronizing
tones of empathy, just plain sincerity. “We had to give you something to calm
you down.”

“Yes, yes,” the man rumbled impatiently, shifting in his seat, “so they tell
me.”

“You don’t remember?” Aaron asked gently taking note of it on the pad.

“No,” he said shortly.

“Do you often have memory problems?”

“I don’t know,” he replied, his lips began to quiver slightly; as if he were
nearing a place he did not wish to be. Aaron made a mental note to pull back to
safer ground for the moment. “The benefit of having memory problems is not
remembering that you have a memory problem.”

A small smile cracked Aaron’s lips, “good point. What do you remember?”

“Walking up in this place,” his gaze shifted away from Aaron’s, as he replied,
“nothing more.”

“You don’t know what you did yesterday?”

“No,” the patient said sourly.

Aaron could tell that he was just as unhappy about this as everyone else. The
response sparked a wave of curiosity within the doctor about his patient who was
dressed in hospital pyjamas in a blue sterile colour that seemed out of place on
the rest of him. There was something about the man that Aaron could not put his
finger on, something that convinced the doctor he was not dealing with any run
of the mill schizophrenic, if indeed that was what he was. The patient’s eyes
seemed a little glazed but that was more due to the medication he had been given
to subdue his violent outburst during admittance. Deciding he did not want to
push the patient in the first session, Aaron decided to move onto a new subject
of discussion.

“You weren’t in any condition to give us your name last night,” Aaron remarked.
‘Care to tell us what it is? I don’t really want to be calling you John Doe
during our sessions.”

A furrow appeared on those bushy eyebrows and the blue eyes stared at him with
hesitation, “I don’t know what I am called. I told you I don’t remember
anything more than what I’ve said. Is badgering me with foolish questions your
way to help me Thorongil?”

Aaron blinked and stared at the man. “Excuse me?”

John Doe looked back at him just as perplexed, “what?”

“You just called me by a name,” Aaron pointed out.

“I did?” The old man regarded Aaron sceptically.

“You called me Thorongil,” the doctor reminded his patient.

“I don’t know why,” Moses met his eyes and Aaron could see the sincerity in his
answer, not to mention the genuine puzzlement, “it just slipped out. It
felt…appropriate.”

Aaron arched a brow at that statement and made a note of it. The patient did
not seem violent but then he was not about to underestimate the effects of 500
cc of Thorazine on a person either. He did want to see what the man was like
without the medication because at this time, Aaron was finding it difficult to
make a diagnosis from this session alone.

“We have to think of something to call you,” Aaron remarked offhandedly. “If
we’re going to continue talking to each other, I think I would prefer to call
you something other than John Doe.”

“How many of these talks are we likely to have?” John Doe looked at him
pointedly, a trace of urgency in his voice.

“I’m not sure,” Aaron confessed. “Until we find out what your name is and why
being outside the Malcolm Building upset you so much.”

Suddenly, Aaron noticed his patient tensing visibly in his chair. Relaxed hands
were soon clenched into fists, his back straightened and the muscles of his jaw
flexed involuntarily. He was angry and barely able to restrain it, Aaron
deduced.

“You seemed disturbed,” Aaron probed gently, doubtful if he would get an answer
that made any sense. “Is there something about the Malcolm Building that upsets
you?"

”It is a place of darkness!” John Doe snapped rising to his feet and seemed to
tower over the doctor as his voice altered, becoming deeper and more forceful.
It was a voice that made Aaron beware, not for his life but because for a brief
insane moment, he was almost ready to believe the old man.

“Sit down,” Aaron said calmly, determined to maintain control of the session.
“Please,” he added to make it easier for the man to obey.

He looked at Aaron with a start, as if he suddenly remembered where he was and
the burst of anger subsided, once again replaced by confusion.

“Why do you think it’s a place of darkness?” Aaron could not believe he was
using such a melodramatic term. This is the kind of conversation one had when
one was describing the plot to the latest George Lucas epic, not a psychiatric
session.

“I don’t know,” John Doe replied once more, his expressions strained. “I don’t
know anything. I just feel.”

“It’s alright John,” Aaron replied gently, feeling a surge of pity for this old
man who was so displaced in the world. Who was he in the world, when he was far
away from this place? Did he have a wife or children, or even grandchildren
since his age allowed for the possibility. “You don’t have to tell me until
you’re ready.”

“I want to tell you,” he said softly, “I think I need to tell you. I think I’ve
been away for a long time and it’s important that I come back.”

“Admitting you have a problem is always a good step,” Aaron said offering him
more assurance then was customary. However, John appeared to need it. “We’ll
find the answers together, I promise you. In the meantime, I hope you don’t mind
if I won’t keep calling you John Doe. You’re not a person who doesn’t exists,
you’re here and you’re my patient. How does Moses sound to you?”

“Moses?” One bushy eyebrow flew up. “You’re going to name me after a man with a
bad sense of direction where mountains are concerned and masonry skills?”

“A bad sense of direction?” Aaron almost laughed.

“It does not take an inordinate amount of sense to discern that he was wandering
on that mountain for 40 days because he was lost,” he rumbled, sounding very
much like the cantankerous old men who waved canes at young children from their
porch. “Certainly not enough to dedicate an entire testament to his affairs.”

“Alright then,” the doctor replied deciding he was not even going to bother
arguing with him on this, “you tell me what to call you.”

A loud harrumphed followed before the patient retorted grumpily, “Moses will do.
I suppose under the circumstances I am in no position to take the high ground
when it comes to sanity.”

*************


The ship appeared out of the mists in the middle of the North Sea almost three
months before Doctor Aaron Stone was confronted with the patient he had
temporarily named Moses. Its arrival was understandably unnoticed because
people tended to avoid travelling through the North Sea during the winter
months. It was icy cold on a good day, let alone during winter. Sheets of ice
drifted hazardously above the dark water, pieces of flotsam jettisoned by the
artic pole and sure to spell death to any ship unfortunate enough to encounter
them. Icebergs, mists and usually turbulent waters made the North Sea a most
inhospitable place, even for those who spent most their lives on the sea.

If anyone had been present, they would have seen a ship not unlike a Roman
trireme, with a trio of large white sails as grey as the mists it had just
escaped. The ship was made of wood but was the carpentry that crafted it was
beyond anything that had been seen anywhere in the world. It was a thing of
beauty, crafted not by ship makers but rather the life’s work of an artist. It
moved across the choppy water as if it was gliding upon the waves, trailing a
bed of foam as it surged towards its destination. Amidst the singing voices of
humpback whales, the ship did not seem quite real and anyone who saw it would
most likely wonder whether or not they were dreaming.

There were only three passengers on the craft that would seem big enough to
accommodate more. Three was all that was needed for this was a journey that
they had each thought about making for so long. The galley was stocked with
food and water to reach their destination and back again and thus far, the trip
had been without incident. If anything it had been somewhat dull until they
pierced through the veil and stole secretly into the world they had left behind
them so long ago. Once they left it, their trip became a little more exciting
as it had been smooth sailing until that point. Where they had been the sun
shone brightly and the water was still. There was enough breeze to power their
sails and keep them cool. It was idyllic.

Now they were trust into a place where the waves could rise almost as high as
their masts, where it was grey and gloomy even though they could see the sun was
above their heads. Winds lashed at the travellers with sheet of rain and the
air was charged with the periodic rumble of thunder and lighting. It was a stark
reminder indeed of how truly far away from home they had chosen to venture.
Those left behind had advised against the journey, calling it foolishness to
venture from place of safety into the unknown, undoubtedly grown more barbaric
since their departure.

Legolas Greenleaf stood at the bow of his ship and saw nothing ahead but horizon
of a grey sea, against an equally grey sky. The wind was so cold that his pale
skin was almost frozen but the notion of leaving the open space for the shelter
of the craft’s innards did not occur to him. It was too long since he felt
anything as adverse as weather and he was rather enjoying it. Valinor’s
perfect weather was so constant that he no longer knew how to appreciate it. A
few months of this, he thought, and he would be happy to return home again.

“You should come inside,” a voice advised him.

Looking over his shoulder, Legolas cast his gaze on Elladan who was wrapped in a
thick warm cloak and had been good enough to bring him his own.

“Thank you but I prefer to remain out here for a little longer,” Legolas said
gratefully as he took the garment and slung it over his shoulders, before facing
front again.

“How long do you think it will take us to cross this sea?” Elladan asked as he
sat down on the deck behind Legolas.

“I do not know,” Legolas, answered truthfully, “a hundred millennia can change
the shape of the world considerably. We sail what was once the western sea but
we do not bear east to Mithlond but farther west then even where Valinor used to
be when it still existed in this realm. We are most likely bound for what was
once the eastern coast of the Sunlands.”

“Are you sure that is where we must go?” Elladan asked with concerned, aware
that more than just their quest fired the passion of the Prince of Mirkwood.

“It is the only clue we have to begin,” Legolas shrugged, unable to deny that
the quest they had set themselves was difficult indeed for the scant information
they had and the fact that they had emerged into a world that most likely
remembered nothing of their kind.

“He could be dead,” Elladan pointed out, knowing that this was a volatile
subject to discuss with the prince, especially now that they had embarked upon
this mission. However, Elladan and his brother had placed themselves at risk
just as Legolas had when they chose to accompany him on this journey. That
earned them both the right to speak their mind as far as Elladan was concerned,
the right to make Legolas aware of the reality of the situation as well.

“If he were dead, his soul would have returned to Mandos,” Legolas said tautly.
“It has not so he must still live.”

“Legolas,” Elladan said gently, “no one wishes to think the worst but you must
prepare yourself for the possibility. Much has changed in this world that we are
unaware. We may find that the reason there has been no word from Mithrandir
could well be something has befallen him equal to death.”

“I refuse to believe that,” Legolas said firmly, his eyes staring out into the
gloomy horizon.

“You may not wish to but you must at least entertain the possibility,” Elladan
insisted.

“I will speak of this to you no more,” Legolas declared, standing up abruptly to
leave.

“Legolas,” Elladan stopped him before he could leave with a hand on his
shoulder. “People die. It is an unfortunate reality of being what we are. We
must accept it.”

Legolas turned to his old friend, his features softening a little because he
could not deny that this truth was at the heart of the pain driving him to find
Mithrandir. “I have done nothing but accept the fact that the price for
immortality is to see all that I love die. I held Melia’s hand when her life
slipped beyond my reach and I sat at Aragorn’s bedside when he passed on. I
thought if Gimli were to journey with me to Valinor it would stave off the
inevitable but I was wrong, he too left me in time. I will not be the last
member of the Fellowship that still lives, Elladan. I refuse to be left behind
again. Mithrandir is alive and I will find him.”

Elladan could appreciate Legolas’ grief for he too, knew all too well what it
was like to care for mortals and be helpless to prevent their eventual demise.
He had loved Aragorn and Gimli as well and Legolas was not the only one who lost
someone close to his heart. “I understand your fear to be the last of the Nine
Walkers but we have all lost. Do you think the pain was any less for me when I
learnt of Arwen’s passing? There was no reason for her to die but she allowed
herself to do so anyway. Her grief killed her Legolas, it killed her because
she could not envision a life without Aragorn.”

Legolas saw the sorrow in Elladan’s eyes and felt his own heartache knowing that
the Evenstar was gone from their lives. So many of her words remained with him,
even after so many thousands of years since her passing. To this day, her
family still mourned her passing. Elrond would light a candle on day her life
began as he had done so every year since Legolas had returned to Valinor and
told him that his daughter was finally at rest with her king.

“This does not have to be this way for you Legolas,” Elladan continued. “You
have not lost as much as you think. Melia passed on but we all know that her
soul lives within Ariel and Ariel loves you.”

Legolas could not refute that and he did love the elven lady he had married
shortly after returning to Valinor. When he had lost Melia, Legolas had
believed it was forever but the souls of humans did not go to Halls of Mandos in
death. Mithrandir had once told him that Eru had a different plan for the race
of men and while they were not immortal, as the elves knew it, they did possess
it in a way because their souls would always return to lead new lives. When
Legolas had met Ariel for the first time, he knew that Melia had come back to
him. It was not the wife he knew and loved but his heart recognised her and
since then they were seldom apart.

If he had allowed her, she would have accompanied him on this journey but
Legolas was not about to risk her life for anything, especially when what lay
beyond Valinor was such a mystery. However, he could not relinquish the idea
that somewhere in the world, Mithrandir was in trouble and needed assistance.
The Valar would send no one else and Legolas suspected they were reluctant to
send another in Olorin’s place when they knew not what had became of him. For
four centuries, Legolas had waited patiently for his old friend to return but
with the passing of another millennia, he knew it was time to act. Convincing
Elladan and Elrohir to accompany him, Legolas was determined to find Mithrandir
almost as much as he was determined not to be the last living member of the
Fellowship.

“I know she does,” he turned to Elladan after a moment, “I ache that she is not
here with me and I will ache every day that we are apart but this task must be
done.”

“I know,” Elladan answered with a nod, admiring the prince of Mirkwood’s
determination if not his sheer stubbornness. “I cannot say I understand the bond
between you Walkers but I wish to see Mithrandir too if he is alive.”

“It is more than bond,” Legolas met Elladan’s eyes, “it is knowing that in my
place, he would do no less for me. If it were I that were lost, Mithrandir would
find me.”

Elladan hoped it would be as simple as all that, to simply find Mithrandir and
hope that he was alive. However, as their ship sailed further and further away
from the comforting mists that kept them safely anonymous in this new world,
Elladan could not help but thinking that it could be impossible to ever find the
Istar again.

**************

Detective Eve McCaughley stared at the body.

It had been floating in the river for some time now. She could tell by the
deterioration of the skin and the location against the embankment that it had
been brought here by the currents. It was probably dumped further upstream and
had been slowly making its way down the river over the past few days. Rotting
leaves and various other materials like twigs and insects had attached itself to
the corpse during its journey downstream and upon coming to a halt at the
embankment had provided a natural obstacle for the materials that usually
floated down river. It had remained in place until a family of three taking a
morning walk through the park through which the river ran, had stumbled across
the body.

Eve slipped on the latex glove over her hands as she knelt at the body exactly
where it was found. She had ordered the patrolmen to keep the area clean and to
keep a distance themselves to maintain the integrity of the crime scene for the
forensics team and the medical examiner when they arrived. Meanwhile, she
prepared to make a preliminary exam of her own. Lifting a small tape recorder
to her lips she began speaking. Eve had fallen into the tradition of making
voice notes as she went along. It helped considerably when it came time to type
the report.

“Detective Eve McCaughley – homicide,” she began her narration. “Victim appears
to be a caucasion male, 5 foot seven, 170 pounds, medium built with brown hair
and blue eyes. His age appears to be anywhere from between the mid twenties to
thirties. Cause of death appears to be from a gunshot wound to the head. The
manner of the skull damage seemed to indicate that it could have been fired at
point blank range. The bullet entered the bridge of the nose, blowing out the
back of the skull. Ballistics cannot be confirmed at this stage but I’m
guessing its a higher calibre gun, possibly a 45. Victim is fully clothed
wearing a suit, losing except one shoe but whether or not this because of the
river or during the incident is difficult to say. The one that has remained on
his foot is laced. The suit looks expensive, possibly Armani so I’d say that
he was a professional of some sort.”

“Detective McCaughley!” She heard a patrolman calling out to her and immediately
turned off the recorder as he approached. It was standard procedure to send out
a few officers to canvass the area, particularly at the embankment of the river
since it was possible that items on the body might have become dislodged.

Eve gazed across the green before her, covered in falling leaves and framed by
trees along the river. It was a nice area to go for a walk and the path for
visitors ran only a few feet away, giving them a pleasant view of water. It was
the kind of place where you sailed model boats with your kids and had picnics.
It was much too pretty for the macabre discovery at the water’s edge. The
patrolman, an officer named Scavelli, approached her with something inside a zip
lock bag. Judging from the outline of it, Eve guessed Scavelli or one of his
officers had found a wallet.

“What have you found Sergeant?” She asked as he approached.

“One of my men found this,” he handed her the bag.

“By the river?” Eve questioned because the contents did not look as if it spent
any time in the water. In fact it was in remarkably good condition.

“No,” Scavelli shook his head. “It was found in a garbage bin near one of the
paths. It has a New York driver’s license and a Manhattan address.”

Eve did not answer for a moment as she examined the wallet herself and found
that there were no credit cards or money. The only thing that remained inside
it had little monetary value, like the driver’s license in question. She stared
at the face on the plastic and knew that the person in the photo and the one who
met such an abrupt demise was one and the same. The face staring back at her
was nothing extraordinary; he could have been anyone she saw down the street, a
bystander really.

“His name is Robert Falstead,” Eve noted, “lives at 94th Street, Manhattan.”

“I think that’s off Columbus Avenue,” Scavelli nodded in recognition. “Wonder
how he ended up as fish food on the other side of the river?”

“I don’t know,” Eve remarked and fell silent for a moment as she thought deeply.
The few pieces of the puzzle were coming together to form an incomplete picture
at this stage but something was clear and she was certain the rest of the
investigation would prove it. “This was not a robbery.”

“No?” Scavelli looked at the homicide detective and knew her track record enough
to respect her determinations.

Most of the officers knew Lieutenant Eve McCaughley. She was one of the youngest
women to make detective and she did so because she had an amazing eye for detail
and mind that seemed to be gifted with criminal insight. It also helped that she
could hold her own against a perp in hand to hand or with a gun and was not one
those detectives who sent patrolmen out to do the hard work while she presided
over reports at a desk. Eve liked getting her hands dirty and she was not
squeamish. She was from a family of cops, her father had been one and her
brother, who had been killed some years ago, had died a patrolman’s death when
he intervened at a liquor store robbery.

It was hard to picture her as a cop sometimes because she a beautiful woman.
She went to considerable lengths to hide it so that she would be taken
seriously, wearing little make up and keeping her long mahogany hair in a braid.
Sapphire coloured eyes were hidden behind steel framed glasses, though she only
used them when she was typing reports. Most of the time she looked like some kid
that just walked off a college campus for she liked dressing casually and on
first impressions, she did not inspire the confidence needed in a detective.
However, she had proven herself over time with her expert handling of cases and
those who knew her, was aware of her ability.

“No,” she shook her head. “This was made to look like a robbery but it isn’t.
The victim’s jewellery was removed. He’s married incidentally. I saw the tan
lines on the index finger of his left hand. There are no credit cards or money
in this wallet and this guy looks like an accountant, not the kind to put up a
fight if a mugger came up to him. There’s no reason to shoot him at point blank
range through the face no less and dump the body in the river.”

“Then why leave the wallet behind?” Scavelli asked, seeing the sense in what she
said though this one point left him at a loss to explain. “I mean if the shooter
was doing it for an ulterior motive, why remove it from the body?”

“Just in case we did find the body and didn’t look to the obvious,” she pointed.
“You see this wallet? It’s genuine calf leather. Something like this you buy in
Manhattan if you can afford it. Take it to a hockshop anywhere else and you’ll
get a hundred bucks for it, easy. A mugger wouldn’t leave this behind. He’d
dump whatever isn’t valuable to him and keep going.”

“Maybe the mugger ain’t that smart,” Scavelli pointed out.

“Maybe,” Eve said with a little smile, “but I doubt it.”

************

It was sheer impulse that made Aaron drive to the Malcolm Building on his way
home that evening.

Despite himself, Moses’ case occupied his thoughts for the rest of the day.
For the rest of their session, Aaron had allowed Moses to do the talking and
found the man to be surprisingly insightful about his perceptions of the world,
what of it he could remember. There were moments when he tried to remember his
past that he would become agitated and Aaron was certain that if it was not for
the Thorazine, Moses might have become violent. However, the doctor was
starting to wonder if this violence was borne out of a need to hurt or as a
result of his own frustrations at not knowing reaching uncontrollable levels.
In any case, Aaron ordered Moses’ transfer to be delayed for a few days.

Aaron was convinced that some trauma had locked Moses’ memory away from him that
he held some terrible knowledge or act in his past that his mind was unable to
accept. Unfortunately, there appeared to be no record of the man’s existence
anyway thought understandably it was hard to glean information when they did not
even have a name to search. Aaron knew the key to helping Moses was to unlock
the reason for this trauma but how he was to discern this was another thing
entirely. Aaron had continued the day following his session with Moses, trying
to get his paperwork completed but invariably his mind would return to one
point.

Thorongil.

What did that word mean?

As the Malcolm Building loomed overhead, he used the speed dial on his cell
phone to contact the only person he knew that might have access to the
information. For all he knew it could be a gibberish produced by Moses’ damaged
psyche but Aaron was working in the dark and he had to use whatever clue he
could find, even if it was as slight as this. It did not take long before the
connection was made following the dial tone and Aaron found himself speaking out
loud using the hands free function of his cell phone.

“Hey Stuart, its Aaron,” Aaron announced himself to his friend, the college
professor who taught at NYU.

“Hi Aaron,” Stuart returned. Aaron could hear the clicking of a keyboard in the
background and surmised that Stuart Farmer was still in his office at the
English Lit department.

“You still working?” Aaron teased aware that Stuart often spent too much time at
work that he forgot to have a life.

“Yeah, not all of us like to waste time driving around in our expensive cars
harassing friends who do real work,” Stuart returned dryly.

Aaron grinned inside his car and replied, “we still up for the game on
Saturday?”

“I’m bringing the beer,” the crackling voice returned.

“Great,” Aaron nodded looking forward to seeing the game and his old college
buddy, “listen, I’ve got a question for you. You ever heard of a word called
Thorongil?”

“Excuse me?” Stuart returned automatically.

“Thorongil,” the doctor repeated rolling his eyes as he turned into the street
whose end would see him in front of the Malcolm Building.

“Not off hand,” Stuart confessed, “but I can look it up in my database. Give me
a minute.”

“Thanks,” Aaron replied as he came to a halt at the kerb and put the car into
park.

Beyond the windscreen of his car, he could see the towering glass structure that
was known officially as the Malcolm Building. Though not as tall as the Empire
State Building, it was certainly more imposing and had earned the nickname of
the ‘Monolith’. This was due to the fact that the façade of the building was
covered in black glass and built with equally dark marble. At night when it
stood against the dark sky, it almost appeared as if it was a void where the
stars could not exist. As Aaron stared at it, he could not deny that it lookrf
somewhat ominous to a mind already fragile with psychosis. If Moses was already
plagued by hallucinations of imposing evil then it was understandable why the
Malcolm Building might provoke the fiery outburst that saw Moses brought into
the psychiatric ward.

“Aaron?” He heard Stuart’s voice a moment later, snapping his out of his
ruminations.

“I’m here,” Aaron replied, still looking at the building.

“There is a record of the word but its extremely obscure,” Stuart replied. “Only
someone who was an expert at medieval folklore might have knowledge of it and
even then I wouldn’t count on it.”

That made Aaron sit up and pay attention, “what do you mean?”

“Well it’s small reference noted in the field of study regarding the theories
about the Arthur legend.”

“The Arthur legend?” Aaron exclaimed undeniably astonished, “as in the knights
of the round table, that Arthur?”

“Yeah,” Stuart’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “That Arthur.”

“Okay,” Aaron eased back into the car seat looking rather perplexed. “What’s the
reference?


“Well according to popular theory, the Arthur legends are meant to be a
composite of stories, not about one individual. Before Mallory made it into
what it was, there were these legends floating around the place and one of them
apparently had to do with someone named Thorongil who was a king that started
out as something else, hiding his identity until he was needed, that sort of
thing. It’s believed that this element of Thorongil’s story was incorporated
into the Arthur legend.”

“So Moses is some kind of medieval history professor…” Aaron mused.

“Who?”

“This patient I have,” Aaron replied deciding that Stuart deserved an
explanation though he was not at liberty to discuss too much about Moses’
condition. “He’s a John Doe with no identification whatsoever. He sounds like
he could be English but I can’t be sure of that. I think he’s suffering from
severe amnesia brought on by a traumatic event and while we were in session, he
called me Thorongil.”

“So you think he might be an expert in medieval folklore?” Stuart surmised.

”That’s the best lead I have,” Aaron shrugged. “So this Thorongil legend is
being studied somewhere?”

“No,” Stuart shook his head. “What I told you is all there is to know about it.
I’m not kidding Aaron; this is an extremely remote reference. There isn’t even a
record of where it might have originated. Your man would have to be an expert
in obscure legends to have even heard of it. Unless he knew the guy himself,”
Stuart chuckled.

“You’re a real comedian Stuart,” Aaron retorted with a disappointed sigh. He
had hoped there would be more but at least Stuart had given him somewhere to
begin in searching for his patient’s identity.

Without knowing why, Aaron was certain that finding out the truth about Moses
was the key to understanding everything.

************


The man stood by the glass and watched the world below him with a little smile
of satisfaction.

Even though the building was not the tallest in the city, it was sufficient to
provide him with a panoramic view of New York. Personally he thought it lost a
little without the familiar sight of the two towers but so much in mortal
existence was fleeting. Buildings like humans being had little staying power.
When he had first ordered the construction of his own, he wanted to build
something that had presence without needing to be aesthetically pleasing. The
architects seemed to think that buildings should be high but he preferred to
remain grounded, as far as he was concerned, the heavens were extremely
overrated.

While the building was tall enough for him to enjoy this view, he had happier at
its dark façade then he was at its height. Within the walls of the building he
knew was called the ‘Monolith’ after the alien object in the Kubrick film, John
Malcolm Iran his corporation like a god ruling his empire. The Monolith was the
centre of his kingdom and from here he kept watch over everything. Leaving
behind the view of New York by twilight, Malcolm returned to his desk. He lived
in the penthouse suite attached to this room, below the swimming pool and
gardens that took up the space on the roof.

Fortune 500 had called him one of the most powerful men in the world but the
appellations did not concern him. Power was subjective and he knew perfectly
well how much of it he had, which was to say quite a great deal. It was not the
kind of power possessed by any of the men in Fortune 500 hundred though Malcolm
was certain they dreamed of it. The tendrils of his power reached not merely
the boardroom but in realms that most would never even dream. Man’s potential
was limitless and Malcolm spent his entire existence on this earth exploiting
that boundless potential.

Most of the time they did not know he was behind the scenes, working things with
the expertise of a puppet master. Secrecy was something Malcolm did well and he
had prided himself in how far his influence extended. His agents were far and
wide and they were worked for him with unswerving loyalty because they knew the
price of failure. However, they were also well rewarded for their efforts and
because of this, his reach extended into the highest echelons of power. There
were heads of state that would be grateful for his attentions.

Of course the public knew nothing of this and that was exactly how Malcolm
preferred it.

Malcolm knew who was at his office before the door opened. He and lowered
himself into leather chair before the marble desk. He liked the cool of the
dark stone and endeavoured to furnish his office with as much of it as possible.
The office had a stygian feel about it with smooth dark surfaces and had a
Spartan air by the lack of personal items. Malcolm had as much use for these as
he did people, which was to say very little. They served and then they died. It
was all so simple. Why complicate things by developing unnecessary attachments
to them?

“Sandra,” John greeted when the woman walked in. “I don’t remember sending for
you.”

“I am sorry Mr Malcolm,” the woman who was his personal aide and confidant
apologised in her dark suit with the high collar. In her youth, she had been a
stunning woman with flaxen gold hair, now worn in a bun and the glimmer of
emerald fire in her eyes had lost its lustre as the world took its toll upon
her. At the age of fifty, Sandra Collins was still a handsome woman but it was
clear that she could no longer trade on her looks to get by as she once had.
“However, I did not think this could wait.”

“I am intrigued,” Malcolm, gestured her forward.

She had sense enough to pause before coming any closer, aware that permission
was required beforehand. She had to wait for the Emperor granted her an
audience. Sandra had been holding a manila folder under her arm when she entered
the room. However, upon being asked to approach, she reached into it to remove
the appropriate intelligence it contained.

“This was caught on security cameras last night,” she replied placing the
photographs on the desk before him.

The pictures were grainy but held enough definition for him to be able to make
out what had caused her such concern.

“He isn’t dead,” she pointed out. “He’s alive and he was outside the building
last night.”

“Indeed,” Malcolm nodded, feeling less anxiety than she did. “I did not expect
him to be dead Sandra. I knew he was alive somewhere but he’s hardly in any
position to be a threat to me.”

“I think we should resolve this matter once and for all,” Sandra stared at him.
“We have people working for us that could make it look like an accident. He was
taken to a psychiatric ward after the NYPD picked him up. It would be a simple
matter to just…”

“I have told you once and I will tell you again,” Malcolm rose to his feet and
glared at her. His voice sent icicles of fear through her skin and for an
instant, she saw everything that was vile and unholy surface in his eyes “He is
not to be killed under any circumstances. The minute his blood is spilled will
be closely followed by your own. Do you understand?”

Sandra felt herself shudder at the blackness of his eyes and nodded quickly,
“yes sir.”

“Good,” Malcolm lowered himself back into his chair. “What you will do is find
out who in that hospital has the power to commit my old friend to a nice little
asylum where he can be forgotten for another four hundred years and that will be
the extent of action on this matter, is that clear?”

“Yes Sir,” Sandra nodded. “What if they won’t do it?”

Malcolm blinked as if she had asked him something ludicrous, “they’ll do it if
they want to live.”








This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Scribe

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Other

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/07/03

Original Post: 04/03/03

Go to Patient, The overview

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