A new short Science Fiction Story will be published during the next weeks, Changing Minds.
I’ll inform in one of the next Newsletters my readers about the presentation of the cover of this eBook on this Blog, via a new post.
I must inform my readers that the text hasn’t yet been proofread by my usual american editor (yes, I pay her to satisfy my readers with texts written in good English), but I hope they’ll appreciate to discover it by advance.
A woman who was seeing her father dying, is grateful to Dr Kuiper, when he saves him.
The old man seems to be a new one, he comes out of the hospital, she feels it’s a real miracle! But where does he go outside, during the night? And why does she find, sometimes, that his gaze is the one of a complete, cold stranger?
What she will discover by following him will reveal her that the mysterious good Doctor wasn’t as astruistic as she had thought…
« Oh… hello, Patricia… » whispered the old man, making a little smile to her. Jessica retained herself from crying and answered, « Hello, Dad. » The woman, clearly in her forties, was watching her father lying in the hospital’s bed, with oxygen tubing fit in his nose, unable to get up. Odors of urine proved once again he could no more retain himself, he was quickly returning to a baby’s state. « Where am I? » the old female voice grasped Jessica’s attention away from her father, and she saw through the opened door of the bedroom an old woman she recognized vaguely, named Betty. Her frightened eyes showed that, lost, she probably was having a new Alzheimer’s crisis, and was resisting the efforts of a nurse, who told her, « Let me bring you back to your room. » Finally, aghast, the woman in her old pink bathrobe stopped resisting, and went away. Jessica looked again her father, telling herself, are we all condemned to finish like that? Suddenly she felt something on her shoulder and shivered. It was the weight of a man’s hand and turning back on herself she recognized Doctor Kuiper, the Physician who had been following her father’s state during the last months… « Mrs. Maple, can I have a little talk with you outside? » « Yes, Doctor… » she looked sadly at her father who had closed his eyes, his belly going slowly, painfully, up and down, and reluctantly followed the bald man, who shut carefully the door behind her, before taking both her hands into his, watching her calmly in the eyes. « Mrs. Maple, I wanted to have a conversation with you about your Dad, without him listening to us. » She swallowed hard, wiping a tear going down one of her cheeks, and answered, « I’m listening… tell me. » « As you know, the physical state of your father is getting worse each day, now. » « Like his mental state: he mistakes me for my mother, Patricia… » The Physician sighed and added, « Jessica, I’m well aware of that… and I must inform you that his health is becoming worse and worse, and I’m afraid… » He stopped speaking and she opened big eyes, asking, « What are you afraid of? » The man in his forties squeezed lightly her hands as a friendly support and added, « He’ll probably die, and very soon. » She couldn’t avoid to begin to cry while listening these words. « Doctor, my Mother died a few years ago, but he seemed so much stronger! I hoped he would be able to get over it with my help… my daughter loves him so much… can’t anything be done? » He approached her, looking her straight in the eyes, and added, « Yes, there is! » « Doctor? » Dr. Kuiper was startled and looked back, imitated in the same fashion by Jessica. They both saw a young man, almost a teenager. The woman recognized on his face the features of trisomy 21. The Physician calmed down and smiled at the shy boy, answering, “Hi my good lad, how are you doing?”
“You…” the teen was hesitant, before continuing, “You told me you would help me”.
“Yes, Tim, I’ll come to see you soon, in your bedroom…” he walked to the teen and, pushing, made him go out of the room, adding, “… I’ll go there to see you, as soon as I’ll have finished something here.
The Physician closed the door, making the dazed face of the boy disappear. Turning around, Dr. Kuiper smiled at her too and said, “Let’s begin.”
A few minutes later, she was watching the Dr. Kuiper, standing near her dad, who was lying asleep in the hospital’s bed, and at the same time, surveying, at times, if someone opened the door.
Annoyed again, she wasn’t feeling well about what the Physician was going to do. She saw him take a syringe out of one of his white shirt’s breast pocket, and approach her father. She saw that the container, with its thin needle, contained a strange, green fluorescent liquid. « Are you sure it’s really a good idea, Doctor? Why wouldn’t one of your colleagues trust your miracle product? » « Because…” answered the man, who was now pressing the plunger of the syringe, « …they couldn’t understand its benefits, they would be jealous, and destroy all our hopes! » As the strange luminescent liquid was being injected, she was asking herself if this wasn’t an error. Why was the Physician so cautious in front of his colleagues in the hospital? She doubted even more when she saw her father awaken and have some trembles. She screamed, « What’s arriving to him Doctor? » « It’s a normal reaction, don’t be afraid! » the Physician said, maintaining with both hands the old man who was violently shaking in his bed. « What’s happening here?” a loud voice banged. Another physician, wearing a white shirt too, and seemed older than the Doctor Kuiper. Clearly, since he seemed so authoritative, he seemed to be his hierarchical superior. He was standing in the bedroom’s entrance, a hand on the door’s knob, looking suspiciously at the two of them. The woman murmured shyly, impressed by the angry look on the man’s face, « Well… » « Everything’s fine, » Doctor Kuiper said loudly, interrupting her, « the patient just had a hard moment breathing, but it’s over now. »
Jessica watched her father and saw he was breathing normally now, calm, immobile in the bed. She smiled at Doctor Kuiper who winked at her. « Dr. Kuiper, can I have a little conversation with you outside? » asked the other Physician, looking severely at his young colleague. « No problem, Doctor. » and the two men exited the room, shutting the door behind them. While Jessica was watching her father sleeping calmly, she could here an argument outside between the two Physicians. Minutes passed by, seeming longer and longer, while the argument was becoming louder and louder
in the adjacent corridor of the hospital. She left her Dad sleep and joined the two men in the corridor. Just as she arrived, the older one was quitting the other, shouting « I hope I won’t have to repeat my warning! », and was already turning around, walking quickly toward the end of the corridor. Impressed by the old Professor’s anger, Jessica was beginning to ask herself if she hadn’t made a big mistake… The smiling face of Dr. Kuiper’s bald head appeared in her point of view, masking the silhouette of his colleague who was continuing to walk quickly in the corridor. « Come tomorrow and you’ll see a big improvement. Trust me! » He seemed very confident… she had decided to give it a try, and after all, what could she or her father lose?
Jessica was on a high, the following morning. Not only did she feel more optimistic, concerning her old father’s health, but she was literally high, since she was working many meters above the ground, working on an electric pole for the local electric company. Wearing a hard hat, she had just finished a repair when she felt her smartphone vibrating, in one of her pockets. She answered, « Yes? » « Good morning Mrs. Todd, I have good news for you, you may come this evening. » said Dr. Kuiper, whose voice she recognized. « I… of course Doctor, with pleasure, as soon as I’ve finished. » The phone was cut abruptly. The Physician had stopped the communication very suddenly. Not the most social man I know… she told herself. She shrug her shoulders and came back on the ground.
« Where are you going? » asked a male voice behind her, while she was taking off her hard hat, and going toward the females’ locker room. « I’m going to the hospital, someone just phoned me about my father. » Her chief sighed and said, « You know, I understand your difficulties, because of your Dad… but there’s a project to finish, here… » « I won’t be long Jeff, please! » He watched her in the eyes, annoyed, and put an open hand on a pillar next to her, almost encircling her before continuing, « Can I hope you’ll finally accept my invitation to dinner, one of these evenings, to speak about something else than work? » She flashed a big smile to the rather not handsome man, who was stinking what she thought was an awful smell, and answered, “I promise to think about it. » A big silence fell upon them, as Jessica, hopeful, her heart beating hard in her chest, waited his approval. Hope sparkling in his pig-like eyes, he smiled and answered: « OK, Jessica, you can go. » The young woman, comforted, sighed of relief, and gave him a little kiss on one of his bad shaved cheeks, saying, « Thank you very much! »
Wearing normal everyday clothes, she followed a nurse in the hospital’s corridor. Jessica had asked to see her father, and saw no sign of Dr. Kuiper, who had nonetheless phoned to her. « He had to go to discuss with the hospital’s Chief Physician. Perhaps he’ll come to see you later, » the old woman had answered. « I’m surprised, generally Dr. Kuiper is often with my father, and he treats him with so much consideration! » « It’s no longer necessary… » said the old woman as she opened her father’s bedroom door. As the nurse was entering and the door was progressively opening, she saw the bed where the precedent day her father had been lying.
It was empty. « Dad, no! » her heart was bursting in her chest as she was already mourning her loss. The appearance of a man sitting in a chair near the bed made her gasp! This chair had been the last thing to appear on the left, as the door had now been completely opened. She had the surprise to see that it was her father who was sitting in the chair, watching her. She sighed of relief and, inexplicably kind of shy, she approached the man she most loved in the world. « Hello Princess. » She became overwhelmed by emotions, because she hadn’t heard him call her by her childhood nickname during many years. In fact since her teen years. He had begun to call her by that nickname when she was a little girl, when she was fascinated by Barbie, sometimes wearing a princess gown.
When she was thirteen, she got more and more interested by more mature and adult things, and asked him to no more call her like that. Sometimes, he had continued, just wanting to tease her, but it became rarer and rarer, as she became a full adult… and perhaps someone too serious, she told herself. Forgotten memories from the past have come back, I imagine… She watched him smiling at her in the chair, wearing a comfortable bathrobe. At least he seems in a much better state than yesterday! « It’s a pleasure to see you again, Jessica. » The woman opened big, surprised eyes. These words coming from him, calling her with her good first name, all that was unimaginable, the day before. « Da… Dad? » she asked hesitantly. « Yes? » still that same smile… he seemed almost having fun. « I… » she swallowed before continuing, emotion making her throat dry, before continuing, « I’m surprised… and so happy! I thought you were going to die, yesterday, and I find you alive, out of your bed, this morning! » He became much more serious, and asked her, seeming suspicious, « You seem disappointed… » « What? Me, disappointed to see you feeling better? Oh no, Dad, I find it wonderful! » « I know, I was just kidding, » and he burst in a big laugh, one she hadn’t heard from him during many years. » She approached him, getting closer, standing in front of him, and feeling a wide range of emotions: bewilderment, astonishment, joy… Her father, who had stopped laughing and had been smiling again, became suddenly more serious.
Perhaps even worried.
Surprised, she saw him approach a no more trembling hand – he had begun to have Parkinson, recently – and touch one of her cheeks. He caressed her, the same way he had comforted her, during the bad moments of her infancy, and said: « You’re crying, Jess! » She smiled and wiped the tears flowing down her cheeks, saying, « I know, Dad… I’m just so happy to see you feeling so much better… » He smiled back, happiness showing also in his eyes.
But… didn’t she see something else, in his eyes? Something… artificial, indefinable.
She shook her head and quickly gathered herself. I’m becoming paranoiac…