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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 54: Hastings 151
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 53: Kondor 145
It was still dark when a groggy Doctor Conway dragged his chair into Lauren’s room.
There had been photographs, the equivalent of Polaroids® but with a different brand name in this universe. It had been done reasonably respectfully, the caregiver positioning two towels to cover her more personal areas before the photos were taken, a picture of her face taken first and then the makeshift gag removed. They covered the exposed buttocks of her attacker before taking his picture, then security helped him to his feet and let him secure his pants before taking him from the room. Once her own situation had been photographed, she was released from the restraints so she could put her own clothes back in place. She was just trying to do something with her disheveled hair when the doctor arrived.
“Sorry to wake you,” she said. “I wasn’t planning to be awake so early myself.”
He waved it off wearily and sat. “So, why don’t you tell me what happened.”
She shrugged. “What have you already been told?”
“I’d like to hear your version first.”
She wondered whether that meant first before he heard the others, or first before he told her what they said. She wasn’t sure whether he had already seen Brack, but he must have gotten some information from the staff before he entered the room.
“I was awakened by someone shoving something into my mouth; it felt like a washcloth, terrycloth texture and not large enough to be a towel. It was then I discovered that I had been pinioned to the bed in restraints, and wasn’t going to be able to defend myself so easily. He was removing my clothes, and his own, and I kept trying to think of something I could do to stop him. I’m not sure what happened next; I was kind of panicking. Maybe I head-butted him. Anyway, he fell back, and next thing I know the lights came on and staff rushed into the room.”
The doctor shifted in his chair and pressed the back of his pen against his lips pensively.
“Brack claims that you used some kind of magic power against him, that some invisible force pushed him backwards into the wall.”
“Does he? What an odd thing for him to have said.”
“It’s kind of difficult to make sense of what happened in here, given his position on the floor and his claims about the invisible force.”
“What do you expect me to tell you?” she replied. “God’s angels protect me when I cannot protect myself? I come from another world with powers you can barely imagine? Or how about this: of the two people in this room at that time, the crazy one wasn’t strapped to the bed. You think I’m paranoid and delusional. I think you have failed to grasp the reality that really exists, or to assess the amount of danger accurately. The world is not like you think it is; at least, your orderly wasn’t.”
“And you deny having done anything to create this conflict?”
“You saw the photos. I was strapped to the bed. I couldn’t as much as scratch my nose. Someone stuffed a gag in my mouth and taped it down. Someone pulled up my shirt and bra, and pulled down my pants. When the light came on, he was lying on his face on the floor of the room with his trousers around his ankles. No one can explain how I could have done any of that, with my hands and feet tied to the bedrails.”
“Ah, but you warned me that if he came near you again he might not, what were your words?” He flipped through his notebook. “‘I don’t promise that if he tries something like that again he’ll walk out of here.’ It seems he may have tried something like that, and somehow you managed to stop him despite being in restraints.”
“Well, I said that I was dangerous if cornered. But seriously, you can’t see any way I could have done what he claims. The best guess is that I must have head-butted him when he got close enough, he stumbled back, hit the wall, came forward, tripped over his trousers, and landed on his face. But as I say, it was dark in here. I’m going by what I felt, what I heard, what I saw when the lights came on, and what I remember from a very panicky situation. And I’ll thank you not to put me in restraints again. I don’t like to think what could have happened. I apparently got very lucky.”
The doctor stood. “Well, I’m still not sure what did happen. I’ll probably want to talk with you again, and it may be that the police will want to talk with you.”
“You’re reporting the attack to the police.”
“We haven’t decided yet.”
“Right. It would be very bad for the hospital’s image for word to get out that one of your employees attempted to rape one of your patients--twice, particularly since your response to the first attempt was to tie up the victim and make the second attempt all the easier.”
“That’s not why.”
“No? Explain it to me, then.”
“The big problem is that you would have to testify, and while you sound very credible when you explain what happened, your inability to adequately identify yourself would make it impossible for you to appear as a witness in court.”
“Oh.” She could see the problem. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth was going to begin with an impossible account of her own identity and the fact that she was a patient because she had not been able adequately to explain herself. From there, just about anything she said would be considered doubtful, even with the photos. And without cooperation from the hospital, she would never get the photos.
“Well,” she said, “it’s up to you of course. But if you keep him you’re going to have a rapist on your staff who will probably try it again with someone sometime, and if you fire him he’s probably going to go somewhere else and do it again.”
“I know. It’s too much to hope that he’ll voluntarily submit himself for treatment, and work in that area has not been terribly successful. So we’re considering our options. You don’t mind talking to the police?”
“Not at all.”
“I’ll let you know.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #291: Versers in Action. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: