Patient, The: 3. Chapter Two: Many Meetings

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools

3. Chapter Two: Many Meetings



Aaron had not slept well the night before.

When he arrived at the hospital the next morning, he was more than a little
irritable and bleary eyed, leading him to question himself on whether or not he
was in any fit state to see a patient. If it had been any patient but Moses,
Aaron would have been inclined to cancel his appointments for the day. However,
it was Moses and for reasons that made utterly no sense, he really did want to
speak to the old man again. The conversation with Stuart lingered heavily in his
mind and he wondered how would an obviously highly educated Medieval professor
like Moses end up in the state he was in when the NYPD picked him up.

What could have happened to a man his age to create such a wall of defence
against the truth?

Unfortunately, a good many things could have happened. Amnesia was a symptom of
terrible trauma in a person’s past, an incident to morally and physically
repulsive that the only way the mind could cope with it was to block it out
entirely. It was particularly common in child abuse cases, especially the ones
where the victims repressed the memory when they grow into adulthood. The usual
recourse in those instances was to use hypno therapy, to draw the truth their
minds in the dream state.

Aaron knew that if Moses’ therapy did not improve he would have to resort to
such methods. It would be a still last ditch effort of course since other he
had yet to explore other avenues of treatment. For the first time since he had
been a psychiatrist at the hospital, Aaron wanted to follow this patient’s
progress all the way to its end. Usually the extent of his involvement was to
conduct an evaluation where he would diagnose the patient’s problem before
recommending transfer to another facility or to another doctor who could provide
more in depth treatment for the specific malady.

It was not unusual for Aaron to allow his feelings to cloud his judgement and
though it was a practise generally discourages by most of the medical
profession, Aaron felt it was necessary to his being a better doctor. How could
he help a patient if he could not even empathise with him on some level? Yet it
was more than that with Moses. Aaron wanted to help the man, in fact he felt
rather compelled to do everything in his power to draw Moses from the mental
limbo the old man found himself trapped. The night before had seen him plagued
with odd dreams he could not remember but was almost certain Moses was apart.

When he had left the night before he had ordered Moses’ dosage of Thorazine
reduced so that he could tell first hand what kind of symptoms the old man was
suffering. He had been left in one of the evaluation rooms where his behaviour
could be closely monitored during the night. Before his session with Moses
began, Aaron watched the tapes and observed that without the medication, Moses
began hallucinating, carrying on conversations in a language he could not
identify, that could have been Eastern European for all he knew with person or
persons only he could see. The words were hard to discern because the language
was unknown to her but it was apparent that Moses was suffering a range of
emotions from agitation to outright fear.

When he became too violent for his own good, the doctor on duty sensibly
prescribed the medication once more since enough had been recorded for Aaron to
make his evaluation. Aaron took a copy of the tape in the hopes of determining
what language Moses was speaking in, if at all it was a language. Some
schizophrenics could develop a language of their own that sounded like gibberish
to everyone else. Gibberish or not, the content of the conversation seemed to
upset Moses considerably, even if to Aaron’s ears it sounded somewhat one sided.

“You appear as if you need more sleep than I,” Moses remarked, raising a bushy
brow in accusation as they sat across each other once again when the session was
finally underway.

Aaron rubbed the grainy feeling out of his eyes and regarded Moses once more,
“probably. I had a strange night.”

“Really?” Moses eased back into his seat. “Perhaps we ought to be changing
places,” he remarked with a hint of teasing.

“I like the view from here,” Aaron replied. “How are you feeling today?”

“These potions you have been filling my veins allow me little recourse but to
feel sluggish and complacent. I do not like how they feel.”

“I am sorry about that,” the doctor retorted automatically, “however, you’re not
exactly on your best behaviour without them.”

“Did you ever think that without them I might think more clearly?” Moses pointed
out.

“I think we need to know why you can’t remember anything first before I start
gambling on what you will and won’t do,” Aaron said pointedly. “I don’t really
want to keep you in a straight jacket to keep you from hurting yourself or
anyone else.”

Moses frowned, a loud huffing noise that was only common to ornery old people
who thought that the price of everything was too high and young people in
general should stop playing loud music and get hair cuts. “You do make a
convincing argument though I remember little of what happened the night before,”
Moses said unhappily.

“What do you remember?” Aaron leaned forward, asking.

“Fear,” Moses replied shortly. “I remember fear, feeling it in my throat and
lungs, as if it was something I had fallen into and could not escape. It was
very unpleasant.”

”I imagine it would be,” Aaron replied, trying to sound sympathetic. “You seemed
to have conversations with people we couldn’t see. Do you remember anything
about that?”

Moses fell silent for a moment, gazing at Aaron with a strange sort of look.
For a moment, Aaron actually thought that the old man might have remembered
something but the blank mask fell over his face again and he shook his head,
“nothing. I remember nothing except that I feel these people. There are times
when they are close enough to grasp in my mind but it slips away.” He looked up
at Aaron and declared, “I am too old to be this forgetful. When one reaches
this age, what else is there but the memories? If I do not have those then it is
better to be dead.”

His eyes clouded with emotion and Aaron knew Moses was at the limits of his
emotional restraint. He was right, a man Moses age should at least be left the
memories of a life lived so long. It did not seem fair and Aaron wanted badly
to regain that much for him, if nothing else. “We’ll find them Moses, I promise
you that. It won’t be easy and it won’t be overnight but we will find out what
happened to your life.”

Moses regarded his words and smiled at the sincere honesty in his claim and
offered softly, “I am strangely encouraged by that claim.”

“You should be,” Aaron grinned, sitting back in his chair. “I don’t make it
often.”

“So now what do we do?” Moses replied, the moment passing to something a little
less emotional, which suited both doctor and patient well.

We’ll continue with the therapy,” Aaron replied, “but for the moment, I found
out what Thorongil means.”

“Thorongil?” Moses stared at him as if he had forgotten the strange name that he
called Aaron during their first session.

“Yes you called me that remember?” Aaron gave him a look before continuing,
wondering why Moses suddenly sounded uncomfortable about uttering that word.

“I am not about to argue you with my doctor,” Moses deadpanned with a hint of
sarcasm. “Please, I bid you to continue since you are obviously bursting with
enthusiasm to tell me what you have learnt.”

“Since you asked so nicely,” Aaron answered with similar sentiment. “It appears
that Thorongil was the name of a king in some obscure myth connected to the
Arthur legends. It’s believed that it was the origin for Arthur’s own history.
There’s almost no information available about the character other than this and
what has been recorded was handed down from myths that predate the dark ages.
It’s not the kind of thing that one would know unless you were into medieval
folklore at an academic level. I think you might have been some kind of history
expert in this field.”

“Arthur was nothing but a mere warlord,” Moses declared crustily, “one who broke
the cardinal rule when possessing a beautiful wife.”

“Like what?” Aaron stared at him.

“Never leave your beautiful wife in the company of an equally beautiful best
friend,” Moses said with a smile, “invariably it will always end badly.”

“I won’t argue with you there,” Aaron chuckled, finding Moses’ view of
historical figures very amusing if somewhat cynical. “What about you Moses, do
you think you have a wife waiting for you somewhere?”

“No,” he replied with surprising firmness.

“You sound pretty certain about that,” the doctor pointed out. “You can’t
remember what you did a week ago, you shouldn’t discount the possibility.”

“I do not have a wife,” Moses repeated himself with more than a set to his jaw.
“I am sure of this if nothing else.”

Aaron took note of that. Obviously he remembered some things even if he did not
wish to speak of them. It could be just an intuition but it gave Aaron hope
enough to believe that Moses’ past was not as shut off from the rest of his mind
as they had previously believed.

“May I ask you something Doctor Stone?” Moses spoke up suddenly, interrupting
Aaron’s note taking.

“Sure, go ahead,” Aaron replied, still fixated on his observations of the
session.

“I notice that the other patients who came in at the same time as I have since
been transferred elsewhere,” the old man looked at Aaron with deep scrutiny. “I
heard one of the nurses talking. Apparently, I should have been moved to
another location but I still remain here, undiagnosed. Is that normal?”

Aaron raised his eyes to the patient and lowered his pencil, “no, it isn’t. I
suppose I could make a quick evaluation and send you on your way but I’m almost
certain that deeming you’re a schizophrenic or someone with bipolar disorder is
incorrect. You have suffered some kind of trauma and your symptoms are a direct
relation to that event, whatever it is. I believe if I can find out what event
it was that forced you to block out those memories, you’ll be on the road to
recovery. If I have to, I’ll keep you here as a patient exclusively under my
care.”

“Am I to be your pet project then?” Moses asked but there was no trace of
hostility in his voice, merely amusement.

”Something like that,” Aaron replied, “its what I get for being a bachelor with
no family to take up my time. It just means I get to occupy myself with the
really peculiar patients.”

Aaron knew he was becoming too personal with this patient even though he had
only seen the man twice. However, something about Moses struck a chord in him,
something familiar he could not explain and until he understood why this empathy
to a near complete stranger had suddenly developed, he would keep Moses close at
hand. An intuition he could not explain any more than the rest of it told him
that there was more going on that he could possibly imagine.

Or wanted to imagine.

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

Eve needed a drink.

She did not indulge often and certainly not whilst on duty but she had just
delivered the news to a pregnant wife that her husband was fished out of a
river, murdered. Something like was more than enough to penetrate even Eve’s
well-maintained mask of professional indifference. Standing at the bar from
the corner of the new widow’s home, Eve’s hands were trembling a little as she
raised the mug of beer to her lips. The other officers who had accompanied her
on this duty had gone on their way after Eve feigned some excuse to get away
from them so that she could take a few minutes to compose herself.

As the lead officer in the investigation, it had been her duty to stand before
Mrs. Falstaff and explain to the woman that her husband was dead and then have
to launch into the unfortunate circumstance of how that end had come to pass.
Sometimes Eve hated her ability to notice everything because she surely did not
need to notice Mrs. Falstaff face shifting from denial, to horror and finally to
grief in a flash of an instant. Eve knew she would be hearing the woman’s tears
for quite some time. It was not the first time Eve had been required to perform
such a task and it certainly would not be the last but she could not detach
herself from their pain when she understood it all to well.

Eve had lost her brother n the line of duty and knew the price that came with
the badge. However, that did not prevent her from missing him dearly because the
badge did not make the pain any less, just tolerable. She took a few greedy
gulps of beer and felt it settle into her stomach, taking the edge of her mental
state. She barely drained half the mug before pushing it away. She was still
on duty and now that the unpleasant task of informing the wife was over, it was
now time to talk to Falstaff’s employer, the famous John Malcolm.

Like every other person in the city, Eve knew who John Malcolm was.

Although reclusive, Malcolm was undoubtedly one of New York’s elite, not simply
because he was one of the richest men in the world but also because he was the
sole heir of America’s most elusive dynasties. The Malcolms were fiercely
private, having learnt from the experiences of the Kennedy’s that being known or
treated like royalty was not always such a good thing. Since their arrival in
New York from Europe following the Civil War in the 1860’s, the family had built
itself an impressive business empire because it seemed to escape the dynastic
trait of one generation being lesser than the other. All the Malcolm’s born
were strong and capable of taking the family fortune to the next level with
their business acumen. The latest Malcolm was no different.

After leaving the bar in a more composed state then when she had entered it, Eve
slipped into her car and drove into town. It took her almost an hour to weave
through the traffic to find herself at the imposing structure that was the
Malcolm building. Although she had seen it in the distance on almost a daily
basis, it was the first time she had stepped onto the actual premises itself.
Staring at the building for a few minutes she could understand, now more than
ever why it was called the Monolith. A cold shudder, she could not explain,
suddenly ran through her as she took in the sight of the imposing building. For
an absurd moment, Eve found herself thinking it looked almost sinister, if not
evil.

It made no sense but as she entered the main entrance of the building and
identified herself to the front desk manned by security guards, she could not
shake the feeling of uneasiness. As Eve had made her appointment with Malcolm
almost as soon as she had learnt that Falstaff was working for him, there was no
reason for her to wait and Eve was promptly allowed to go on her way. Upon
stepping into the lift that would take her to penultimate floor where Malcolm’s
office was known to be, Eve felt her inside hollowing with dread.

What was happening to her? Suddenly it felt as if there was not enough space
around her and the need to start pounding at the doors to get out became damn
near overwhelming. Something was wrong. She could feel it in every fibre of her
being but it made no sense. The sensation was so unpleasant that Eve was almost
on the urge of being physically ill. She could feel its cold tendrils wrapping
itself around her spine when the doors slide open after a gradual slowing. Eve
almost bolted past the doors to get out and for a few seconds after the lift had
closed and went on its way, she stood in the narrow corridor leading to
Malcolm’s office and composed her.

Her hands were shaking and this time it was not from delivering some unpleasant
news to a widow, it was because for that brief time inside that lift car, she
had felt genuine terror. She could not understand why she would feel that way.
She was a cop for God’s sake! She had been in life threatening situations
before and none of it had caused the level of anxiety she felt during those few
minutes she spent inside that lift. Eve steadied her racing pulse, trying to
crush the unsteadiness she felt because now was not the time for such
weaknesses. John Malcolm was waiting and Eve was determined to get her answers.

Entering the small door at the end of the corridor, she found herself in what
appeared to the workspace of John Malcolm’s secretary. The décor of the room
was in vibrant reds and the colour seemed to be tasteful thought it could have
been easily garish. There was a huge set of doors behind the woman’s desk and
Eve assumed that led to John Malcolm’s office. The rest of the walls were
coloured in shades of red earth surrounded the black marble floor and with the
cherry wood furniture, the woman seated behind the desk seemed almost as vibrant
as the room. She was a stunning red headed beauty, impeccably dressed in a suit
and Eve wondered rather snidely, whether she was an actual secretary or a
playmate. Her image certainly did not promote the belief that her best talents
were typing.

“Can I help you?” The woman said smoothly with a clearly Bostonian accent.

“I’m Detective Eve McCaughley,” Eve produced her badge. “I believe Mr. Malcolm
is expecting me?”

The woman’s gaze swept over her and Eve had the distinct impression that she was
being scrutinized deeply. “This way please,” the secretary remarked as she led
Eve to the doors.

Eve followed her closely, taking time to observe her surroundings and could not
help feeling that there was something very wrong with this place. Still she was
grateful that the sensation assailing her in the lift was gone for the moment.
She wanted to be in full control of her faculties when she finally met Mr.
Malcolm.

He was waiting for her on the sofa suite he had in his office, having ready
himself for the meeting the instant it had been announced that she would be
coming. Eve thought as she was introduced to the man. Her first impressions were
that the magazine pictures did not do John Malcolm justice. He looked
spectacularly good for a man in his late forties and Eve could just imagine
society debutante’s jockeying for position to claim this most eligible bachelor.
Physical appearances aside, Eve could feel the man’s presence even in something
as innocents as an introduction but once again her instincts told her almost
immediately that she could not trust him.

“I checked up on you, you know Detective McCaughley,” Malcolm said with a smile
after they were settled and Eve was furnished with a glass of water provided by
the departed Ms. Carmichael, Malcolm’s secretary.

“Understandable,” Eve replied. “I would be surprised if a man in your position,
didn’t.”

He raised a brow, seeming very impressed by that statement, “I am glad that we
understand each other on this level.”

“I understand that it is necessary for a man in your position to check my
credentials and the validity of intention to see you. However, I hope you
understand that I have questions for you that are not meant to be invasive, just
necessary for the investigation,” Eve replied just as politely before she turned
on a tape recorder.

“I appreciate your candour detective,” Malcolm answered unperturbed by the
recording device. “Naturally I am very sorry to hear what happened to Richard.
He was my senior accountant for over three years, and was very reliable and
ordered. Just the kind of person you would depend on to manage your finances.”

Eve absorbed his words for a moment before asking again, “when was the last time
you saw Mr. Falstaff?”

“I think it was five days ago,” Malcolm responded. “You must understand that
Richard worked downstairs and unless he had a problem with our finances or some
matter that needed to be discussed with me, I would not have seen him.”

“Fair enough,” Eve nodded in understanding. Malcolm was the CEO of a
conglomerate and it was perfectly reasonable that he would not have frequent
contact with his employees, especially since he ruled his kingdom from these
lofty heights. “Is there someone I can talk to about finding out when was the
last time he was seen at work?”

“As a matter of fact, I took the liberty of gathering that information for you,”
Malcolm replied, handing her a folder that had been splayed before them on the
coffee table. “You will have all the details of who was the last to see
Richard, what time he was seen departing the office, even access with the
building’s security tapes if you like.”

“Thank you very much,” Eve said graciously but she did not like the fact that he
was feeding her all this information. She would have preferred to interview
these people before someone else had reached them and quite possibly coached
them into conforming their statements to what was in these nicely typed pages.

“You are of course free to talk to anyone of them,” Malcolm continued speaking.
“Trust me Detective, I want to find Richard’s killer.”

I’m sure you do, Eve thought sceptically. She knew she was being cynical, that
it was entirely possible that Malcolm was just trying to be helpful but instinct
told her that he was hiding something. Unfortunately, she had no way of proving
it without further investigation and Eve had a feeling that Malcolm was a man
who knew how to keep secrets.

“I would like to see Mr. Falstaff’s office?” Eve asked instead.

“Certainly,” he replied just as amicably, “however, I thought that this was just
a mugging.”

Eve’s mask of calm held as she answered, “it was made to look like a mugging but
it’s clearly an execution style murder. He was shot in the face at point blank
rage. His jewellery was taken and his wallet stolen to ensure that we’d think
it was a robbery. Mr. Falstaff did not appear to be the kind of man who would
give a mugger much difficulty and a mugger would not have taken the time to drag
the body to the river. His first instinct would have been to run. Mr. Falstaff
was dumped in the river to destroy any physical evidence we may find. It was
premeditated and according to someone’s agenda so if you please, I’d like to see
his office. It may have a clue as to a motive.”

She had hoped her words would have rattled him a little but Malcolm seemed to
take what she said with understanding, “I must say Detective McCaughley, I am
impressed. No doubt with you on the case, it will be only a matter of time
before Richard’s murderer will be found.”

”It is my job to notice the details,” Eve replied, not at all swayed by his
compliments because there were criminals who thought stroking a cop’s ego could
deflect suspicion from himself or herself and Eve was used to those too.

Eve gave Malcolm a polite show of thanks before Ms Carmichael showed her out of
the office and pointed her in the direction of the names on the list Malcolm had
given them. Although it as more or less a foregone conclusion that she would
find nothing more than what was in their typed statements, Eve felt compelled to
try nonetheless. She even braved using the lift again and while the sensation
was not so thick this time, she could not help experiencing the same feelings of
dread once again. Eve did not know what was wrong with her and was starting to
think she might be developing latent symptoms of claustrophobia when she
realised that the feeling had only climaxed inside the lift.

It had started when she was staring at the building from the outside.

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


This journey was becoming more than anything they had imagined.

Whilst they remained on the familiar territory of the western sea, they had felt
relatively in control of their circumstances, However, they began to see more
and more things that were beyond their comprehension as they slipped further
from the reach of Valinor and the familiar mists they had crossed to emerge into
the world. As they sailed further and further from the cold seas where the
water was warmer and the waves less turbulent, they began to see other sailing
vessels. Caution forced them to keep their distance but the encounters
indicated that the race of men had clearly evolved from the time of the elves
departure from Middle earth. Whether or not this evolution was good or bad, was
still a matter of debate.

At first they could not conceive of the thing being a sailing vessel for it had
no mast to speak of and it was made of iron. The size of it was enormous beyond
belief. Legolas did not think that they were cities as large as the craft that
lumbered through waves, somehow managing to remain above the water instead of
sinking as something that size should. It moved by means a mechanical keel at
the rear, thrashing rapids of foam behind it as it journeyed westward. In
comparison, the craft they occupied was practically dwarfish and it was wise to
keep a distance from it because it could easily crush them without being aware
of it. There was something about its construction, all that dark iron that
inspired in the elves the dark memories of Angband and Melkor’s Iron fortress.

However, the steel beast made no effort to accost them, merely continuing
through the ocean, oblivious to the vessel whose awe it had captured for a time.
It was certainly not the first of these vessels that the elves would see as
they continued their journey and as they came closer to their destination, they
saw the frequency of such crafts increasing in number. Not all of them were
like the steel behemoth they had seen but their construction was mostly steel
which confused the elves. It seemed like such a heavy material to construct a
sea going vessel with. Wood was so much lighter and simpler for that matter.
However, very little about the race of men was simple, even in the days of
Middle earth.

Sometimes, they heard noises in the sky and they would see what appeared to be a
mighty winged bird soaring through the clouds, though its construct was once
again of steel. The elves began to wonder what was this worship of iron that
inspired men to create everything from it. The sound of it moving through the
air was like a low rumble of thunder and the speed in which it crossed the sky
would have put even the great eagles to shame. Legolas doubted that even
Thorondor could match the swiftness of the iron denizen moving above them. While
some of these things were to be marvelled at, others concerned Legolas greatly.
It was clear the world of men had changed far beyond anything they had ever
conceivably dreamed.

His suspicion was well founded it seemed because no sooner than they caught
sight of land in the far distance, they were approached by a vessel of similar
size on a bearing of intercept. Legolas would have preferred not to engage
anyone until they had found Mithrandir but the vessel gave them no choice. It
too was crafted of iron and it was capable of sinking them with ease it chose to
ram them. As it approached, a voice materialized out of thin air, speaking a
language that none of them could understand. Legolas had believed that they
would be able to converse with the race of men in Westernese at least but the
language spoken had none of the finesse of Gondor or any of the kingdoms Legolas
had known of Middle earth.

“They mean to board us,” Elladan had declared as the craft closed the distance
between us.

“I do not wish to place my fate in the hands of men at this time,” Elrohir
declared hotly. “We have no idea what has happened to them since our
departure.”

“I do not think we have a choice in this matter. They appear to be coming
aboard, whether or not we give them our consent. Quickly, cover your ears, they
do not need know that we are not one of them,” Legolas declared grimly as he
stared across the bow at the fast approaching vessel. Adjusting their hair
somewhat, they effectively disguised their ears before they were boarded.

“You do not mean for us to go with them, surely?” Elrohir stared at him once
they were ready.

“I think perhaps we should see what their intentions are before we assume the
worst. A great deal has changed since our departure. We know nothing of men or
their ways. Perhaps it is best that we adhere to their ministrations for the
time being.”

“They are using sorcery,” Elrohir reminded them. “A voice spoke to us out of
nothingness!”

“I have seen steel birds that fly, ships as large as cities that could not
possibly float in the past few days. I do not know how much of it is science
and how much of it is invention. From my association with Gimli, I can tell you
that dwarfs could build devices that were truly amazing. We have been away for
almost a hundred millennia, what we perceive as sorcery could simply be their
more elaborate creations,” Legolas offered. His reasoning was based on the lack
of danger he sensed from the approaching craft. If they were creatures of
darkness meaning to harm Legolas and his companions, the elves would have surely
felt it by now. As it stood, they did not feel anything sinister from the
approaching humans, just a need to be cautious.

“I must agree with Legolas brother,” Elladan weighed in. “We should see what
they wish of us before we act. For all we know, we may have simply wandered
into their territory without permission.”

“True,” Legolas had not thought of that.

Thranduil had almost been fanatical about ensuring that Eryn Lasgalen was free
of trespassers before the days of Sauron’s destruction. With Dol Guldur sitting
at the edge of Mirkwood, such measures had been necessary to protect his people.
Legolas did not know any kingdom that did not protect its borders in some way.
Perhaps that was what was transpiring here. If so, then Legolas hoped a simple
request to travel the Sunlands was all that was necessary because despite his
efforts to be reasonable, the Prince of Mirkwood was allowing nothing to stop
him from finding Mithrandir.

The vessel eventually came to a halt of their bow and Legolas, Elladan and
Elrohir had a closer view of the vessel. Though it was fast descending into
evening, the ship was adorned with a myriad of lights of that did not appear to
be generated by flame. It reminded of the light that Mithrandir was able to
cast from his staff during their travels in Moria. Once again, that strange
voice spoke to them and its intensity indicated to Legolas that it was a
warning. The elves were unable to answer and decided that the best course of
action was to try and respond, hoping that perhaps (though highly unlikely) that
someone on board may be able to understand elvish.

While it did not appear that the new arrivals understood a word they said, the
fact that Legolas had spoken in a language they did not understand seemed to
diffuse the situation slightly. The humans boarded wearing their strange
clothes and carrying oddly shaped pieces of metal at their hip, where swords
should have been worn. They overtook the elven ship like a swarm of locust,
examining every corner of the craft and grew more confused at every discovery
made.

“I do not like those things they are pointing at us,” Elrohir replied as a
number of the humans surrounded them, pointing the strange metal objects in
their direction.

“Is that a weapon?” Elladan asked, noticing their speech was raising more brows
from their captors.

“I would say that it is,” Legolas remarked, more curious by them then he was
actually afraid. “Notice they are all from different races of men?”

“Yes,” Elrohir nodded. “These are of Westernese, Haradirim and Sunlands.
Perhaps they have finally matured enough to unite into one people.”

“Or one has conquered the others,” Elladan pointed out.

“They have women among them,” Legolas pointed out, noticing that one of the
searchers ransacking their ship was female. “If this is a combat vessel, why
do they have women on board?”

It was a question no one could answer through lack of knowledge or of language.
The searchers continued working for another hour or so before the leader among
attempted to communicate. The man was tall and reminded Legolas a little of
Boromir. Certainly, he had the man of Gondor’s gruff manner. He was by the
look of him an experienced man of the sea for his hands and his sun-dried skin
bore the marks of an experienced mariner.

He tried speaking to them for a few minutes but the language was so foreign to
anything that Legolas knew, that his words sounded like gibberish. Legolas who
was one of the last to leave Middle earth felt somewhat ludicrous because he
should have been able to understand the man on some level. However, a hundred
thousand years had ensured that any means of communication between the elves and
their human captors was impossible. When it was clear that no headway was going
to be made in understanding each other, the leader ordered them off their craft
into the his own.

They went without incident, taking note that their ship was being towed instead
of being destroyed, as they had feared. The inside of the human craft was an
odd construct of steel, wood and other materials that Legoals could not
identify. They were locked in a room shortly after boarding and if it were a
dungeon then it was the cleanest one they had ever seen. While they were
concerned at their situation, they were still fascinated by the strange objects
that filled their prison. In particular a receptacle whose only purpose could
have been sanitary and how efficiently the device worked, not to mention a twist
of the handle could produce fresh, clean water into a ceramic basin. The water
was unlike that drawn from rivers without silt, sediment and clear as if drawn
from the cleanest pool in Valinor. As Legolas tried some of it, he could tell
immediately that it was treated with something but not poisonous.

“What is that?” Legolas asked when he emerged from the cubicle and saw Elladan
staring at a strange box with a glass face.

“I do not know,” Elladan replied, running his hands over the dark finish. “I
can see no purpose for it.”

“What are those things on the front?” Elrohir asked as he sat on the bed,
wanting to be anywhere but indoors. The elf had taken to staring longingly at
the sea and sky beyond it.

Elladan ran his fingers experimentally over the largest one and pushed. The
sudden sound it made, not to mention the image that suddenly appeared on the
glass sent all three elves retreating backward, startled.

“Palantir!” Elrohir declared as the three elves stared mesmerized at the image
appearing before them.

“That is not a seeing stone,” Legolas replied. “I have seen them and I know they
do not look like that.”

“Whare are we seeing?” Elladan asked as they watched the moving pictures before
them. A shapely young woman was running across a shore, wearing almost nothing.
The image of her seemed to be moving slowly, allowing them to be afforded a
very aspect of her body’s movement as she leapt into the ocean.

“That is not decent,” Elrohir declared. “She was almost naked!”

“I knew men had a capacity for decadence but this is debauched,” Elladan
remarked as the woman swam through the water, the pictures showing her progress
from beneath the waves.

”And yet you two have not moved your eyes away from her,” Legolas offered with a
smug smile.

“Is this sorcery Legolas?” Elladan asked after a moment. “I know of only seeing
stones that can produce visions like this.”

“It could be,” Legolas hesitated to respond. “Yet they have treated us with
surprising courtesy even if they have taken our ship. I do not know what to
make of them or their intentions.”

“Legolas we cannot remain in their custody,” Elrohir said seriously. “As well as
they have treated us so far, we do not know their intentions.”

“I agree,” Legolas nodded after a moment. “I think we should wait until darkness
before we make our bid to escape. I would prefer to do it when we are close
enough to port so they cannot pursue us into shallow water. We will need to go
to our own vessel to retrieve our weapons and the gold we need to trade.”

“Are we even certain that they still use gold?” Elladan said dubiously as he
cast his gaze over the room. “They seemed to have a preference for iron.”

“We have to take the chance that gold is not out of fashion. In any case, we do
not have a choice, its all we have,” Legoals sighed.

Their escape was relatively simple because their captors had no idea what they
were about and were unable to ascertain the level of danger they posed. When
the craft neared the shoreline in the dead of night, a ruse of shouts had
brought one of their guards into their makeshift prison to investigate. After
that it was a simple matter of elven skill and agility to overpower him and make
their way to their own vessel. It would not take long for the humans to
discover their departure for their escape plan was not elaborate enough to
prevent that. Stealing onto the grey ship following their escape, the elves
retrieved what they needed and then paddled to the shore with a canoe.

They were almost to the shore when their escape was discovered and by the time
the humans had mobilised enough to follow them in pursuit, they were able to
lose themselves in darkness and the trees that waited them beyond the shore.
Even in this strange world, the forest were the same and they were each
experienced woodsmen who knew how to lose conceal themselves when the need took
them. In the dead of night, they were able to cover much ground, following the
stars that they had been instructed to lead them to Mithrandir.

“The air smells foul,” Elladan remarked as they made their way through the dark
woods.

“It reminds me of the scent of Mordor,” Legolas remembered how the air had
smelled when they had stood at the Black Gates during the last days in the War
of the Ring. It was heavy with ash and other things that he could not identify.
While this was nowhere as bad, it did not smell like fresh air and deepened
Legolas’ concern at what other changes had taken place in the world of men since
their departure.

“Those who visited these lands after the last of us had left Middle earth said
that there was some sort of dark age,” Elladan replied, “perhaps the loss of
Westernese is because of that.”

“It is possible,” Legolas could not deny the Prince of Imladris’ claim.

After many centuries remaining in Valinor after his own arrival, some of the
elves had decided to explore the world beyond, to see what had become of the
Middle earth in the wake of their departure. They brought back stories of
Gondor’s demise that many of the kingdoms of men had fallen into ruin and that
humans were scrambling to survive with stone tools and none of the craft the
elves had taught them since their emergence at Hildorien. It was like listening
to the news that a beloved child had died. It had not only broken his heart but
those who had counted men as trusted friends and allies.

Legolas remembered his own anguish thinking of how hard Aragorn had fought to
build something great, to reunify Middle earth so that all would prosper. To
know that all of it would crumble into darkness the way Beleriand had sunk into
sea would have broken the proud spirit of his noble friend. Legolas was rather
grateful that Aragorn was not alive to see it.

“They will be searching for us,” Elrohir commented over his shoulder at the path
they had taken through the woods.

“I do not doubt that,” Legolas said shortly, determined to go on despite the
risks.

“Legolas, this quest of ours may not be possible,” Elladan declared. “We thought
the terrain would be unfamiliar but this is beyond us. We cannot make our way
in this world without being noticed. You saw how they looked at us. If we did
not conceal our ears when they found us, I doubt our escape would have been as
easy as it was.”

“Do you think I do not know that?” Legolas stared at him. “However, we cannot
stop until we find Mithrandir, not merely for his sake but ours. Do you think
they will simply let us go if we chose to turn back? If there is one thing that
remains constant in the race of man it is their propensity to fear what they do
not understand. There has been nothing like us in their presence for centuries,
if we were to reveal ourselves and what we are, none of us will leave this
place. If Mithrandir is still alive, then he will be able to help us leave.”

Elladan or Elrohir did not speak because for the first time ever, Legolas had
said if Mithrandir was alive.

**********


Aaron had seen his last patient for the day and was looking forward to having a
quiet night at home when he heard a knock on his office door. Glancing at the
clock and taking note of the time, the healer wondered who would be calling on
him in the evening. The lack of sleep the night before was catching up on him
and Aaron was looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep. He hoped
whatever business his late caller had would not take too long and called out for
them to enter the office. He had expected to see a colleague or a nurse coming
through the door with some new problem that could not wait, however, instead of
either, a woman in a smart business suit and brief case stood before him.

The tall blond woman was of an older vintage but that did not change the fact
that she was still a spectacular beauty who was had the look of a lawyer or
someone affiliated with the corporate world. She offered him a smile as she
entered the room, her hand extended in a gesture of greeting and yet Aaron could
tell that like the rest of her persona, was an image manufactured for the
purpose.

“Doctor Stone, I’m pleased to meet you,” she replied as they exchanged
handshakes. “My name is name is Sandra Collins, I am an associate of Mr. John
Malcolm of Malcolm Industries.”

“I know who he is,” Aaron returned, somewhat confused at why the woman was here.
“What can I do for you?”

“May we sit down?” She asked politely.

Aaron saw no reason to deny the request. He was still rather puzzled at why
someone from Malcolm Industries would wish to see him but supposed that she
would state her business eventually.

“So what is this about Ms Collins?” Aaron asked once they were settled in.

“I understand you are treating the man who caused a disruption at our premises
two nights ago?” She asked gingerly.

“Yes I am,” Aaron nodded and wondered what her interest in Moses was and also
noted that she knew perfectly well that he was treating the old man since she
had come all the way from Monolith to talk to him. “He is still undergoing
evaluation,” he answered.

“I have been instructed by Mr. Malcolm to provide the best care possible for
Mr..?” She gazed at Aaron for a name.

“We don’t know who he is yet,” Aaron explained somewhat surprised by the
interest a corporate giant like John Malcolm was showing Moses especially when
Moses considered the Monolith something of an ominous presence, “I am calling
him Moses for the moment.”

“How sweet of you,” she smiled and once again Aaron was struck by how devoid it
was of any real warmth or emotion for that matter. “I see he is in the best
hands possible. Mr Malcolm however, would like to offer financial assistance
for any medical expenses ‘Moses’ may incur and perhaps facilitate his transfer
to a private sanatorium where he can be afforded proper treatment.”

“He is being afforded proper treatment here,” Aaron declared somewhat annoyed by
the insinuation that Moses was languishing under his care with treatment akin to
leeches and shock therapy, “I am treating him.”

“I meant no offence of course,” she apologised quickly, trying to compensate for
the slight. “However, your role here if I understand it is to simply evaluate
the patients for transfer to other facilities for specific care. You are not
meant to have patients of your own as such”

“You understand it correctly,” Aaron answered, becoming more annoyed by the
minute at this woman’s presumptions. It was irregular for him to keep patients
here to treat himself, irregular but not impossible. To keep him on staff, the
hospital administrator was more than willing to extend him some liberties,
especially since he was willing to practise his craft in a hospital and not some
expensive practice somewhere. “However, I do from time to time, take on patients
as I have done in the case of Moses. Now might I ask why John Malcolm is so
interest in a transient? Do you know who he is? Is he a friend of Mr. Malcolm?”

“Not at all,” Sandra returned automatically but Aaron was practised enough in
reading human behaviour to know that she was lying through her teeth. “My
employer simply feels sorry for this old gentlemen and wishes to help him anyway
he can.”

“Well the best thing for him right now is to remain here where I can continue
treating him,” Aaron declared firmly while trying to remain polite at the same
time. “Something terrible has happened to Moses, Ms Collins, something he needs
to remember in order to regain his identity. Switching doctors on him is not
going to help, he needs a face that he can identify with and confide in. I
believe I have attained that level of trust in him and I am not going to betray
it by transferring him to another doctor. Now, if you wish to fund his transfer
to a sanatorium, by all means do so but I will still continue to regard him as
my patient.”

”I see,” her lips thinned and she gave him a deep meaningful look. “I do not
suppose I can convince you to relinquish your claim on the patient?”

“Relinquish my claim?” Aaron stared at her in astonishment. “He is not a piece
of property. He is an old man with severe memory problems and the patient’s name
is Moses.”

“He is not your responsibility,” Sandra shot him a look that convinced Aaron
that she ran on pure ice water, not blood. “He is nothing, a human tragedy
walking the streets, like so many others. You waste your time and effort in
attempting to salvage something from the wreckage of him.”

Aaron could not believe he was having this conversation with this woman. “He is
a patient and he needs help, I am a doctor and I treat people like him. I don’t
consider him wreckage and if he was such a nonentity, then why has Malcolm sent
you here?”

She did not answer but reached instead into her briefcase. Aaron wondered what
she was up to now and hoped she did not plan to cite some jurisdictional
nonsense as all this corporate types tended to do when their back were against
the wall. She produced a heavy brown envelope and handed it to him.

”If you cooperate, what is in that envelope is yours,” she said coolly, still
wearing that expression of smug triumph on her face. “All you have to do is
sign Moses over to us and you never have to be troubled by him or me again and
Mr Malcolm would consider this a close personal favour. Its always advantageous
to have friends in high places.”

Aaron glanced into the envelope and felt his breath catch. Inside its confines
was more money than he could possibly imagine. It stared at him in thick piles
of green, all in thousand dollar notes. He could not even count how many there
was in there but it was a great deal. He raised his eyes at her in question,
astonished by what he was seeing.

“What is this?” He managed to ask.

“Your fee for cooperating,” she answered, certain that the money would be the
deciding factor in his choice.

“This is a bribe?” Aaron exclaimed.

“I would not put it quite that way,” Sandra laughed softly, “consider it a
bonus.”

“Who is he?” Aaron surprised her by asking instead. “Who is he that you’re doing
all this?”

“That is none of your concern,” she replied coldly, all trace of humour draining
from her face. The beauty he had admired was gone and in its place was a mask of
cruelty. Aaron had a feeling that he was seeing the real Sandra Collins now.
“The time for games is over Doctor Stone. Understand that if you turn me down,
the next request will not be made so cordially. We want custody of your patient
and if you will not help us, then we will acquire him ourselves.”

“The hell you will,” Aaron snapped, thrusting the envelope back into her hand.
“I won’t be bribed and you want to strongarm me, fine. You do that and I’ll have
to start making inquiries into why you’re so interested in him and maybe the
police might be just as curious.”

”That would be a mistake,” she warned. “I don’t think you appreciate your
situation. Perhaps I should leave you with a day or two to consider your
options.”

“Is that a threat?” He demanded.

“We do not threaten Doctor,” she replied turning to leave. “We never threaten.”

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

Aaron was more than a little shaken by his meeting with Sandra Collins and was
glad to get out of the hospital so that he could think more deeply about what
had happened. Aaron never thought a woman could ever unnerve him but Sandra
words had been disconcerting. The old story about the corporation with dirty
dealings was a cliché that Aaron did not want to believe but Sandra did not
sound like she was making empty threats. All in all, his encounter with the
woman had proven conclusively that there was more to Moses than meets this eye.

When he arrived at his apartment, Aaron entered to find a note had been slipped
beneath the door. He unfolded the plain, crisp white paper and stared at is
contents.

Call Stuart.

S.C


Aaron went to the phone immediately and dialled his best friend’s number. For
some reason his heart was pounding with anxiety and would not be satisfied until
he heard Stuart’s voice. He was greeted with a ringing tone for a few seconds
before it was finally answered. However it was not Stuart who answered but
rather a woman whose voice Aaron recognised to be that of Maggie Brent’s,
Stuart’s secretary.

“Maggie,” Aaron said quickly, “is Stuart there?”

For some reason his heart was pounding.

“Oh Doctor Stone,” she broke down tearfully. “I’m here with the police right
now, Doctor Farmer was just involved in a hit and run accident. He’s dead.”





.

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

Comments

No one has commented on this story yet. Be the first to comment!

Comments are hidden to prevent spoilers.
Click header to view comments

Talk to Scribe

If you are a HASA member, you must login to submit a comment.

We're sorry. Only HASA members may post comments. If you would like to speak with the author, please use the "Email Author" button in the Reader Toolbox. If you would like to join HASA, click here. Membership is free.

Reader Toolbox   Log in for more tools