Home > BZRK (BZRK #1)(8)

BZRK (BZRK #1)(8)
Michael Grant

FOUR

Sadie McLure had passed out in the ambulance on the way to the ER.

She’d awakened in bits and pieces, in flashes of light, and hovering faces, and tiled ceilings and fluorescent fixtures rushing by overhead. Images of green scrubs, masks, tubes, and shiny metal instruments.

Like a dream. Not a good dream.

Sharp, breathtaking pain from her arm when someone jostled it.

And with the scrubs came the black suits. Security. Protect the McLure. That was her now: the McLure.

A stab of pain that was not from any nerve ending, a stab like a cold knife wielded by her own soul.

Then muzzy relief flowed through her veins as the opiates arrived to take the edge off.

Sleep. And terrible nightmares of falling into an oozing mass of burning flesh. Like overcooked marshmallow. And it wasn’t her father or brother burning but her mother, who hadn’t burned, who had died in a bed like this one, her insides eaten by cancer.

Sadie woke. How much later? No way to know. There was no calendar or clock in the room. What there was was a man in a black suit, white shirt, black tie, and an earpiece. He was sitting in the chair, legs crossed, reading a graphic novel.

He would have a gun. He would also have a stun gun. And probably a second gun in an ankle holster.

Sadie’s body was one massive bruise. She did a quick inventory and decided, yes, every single inch of her hurt. Inside and outside, she hurt.

She was on her back, head slightly elevated, a needle taped to her right arm. A clear plastic bag hung beside the bed.

Her left arm was wrapped in hard plastic sheathing, bent into a lazy L and suspended from a wire.

Something had been inserted in her urethra. It hurt, but at the same time she had the feeling it had been there for a while.

“Who are you?” she asked. It sounded perfectly clear in her head, but she had the impression it came out as a whisper.

The man’s eyes flicked up from his book.

“Water,” Sadie gasped, suddenly overwhelmed by the sensation of thirst.

The man rose quickly. He came to the bed and pressed a button. The door opened within seconds, and two nurses came in. No, a nurse and a doctor, one was wearing a stethoscope.

“Water,” Sadie managed to say in a semicoherent voice.

“First we have to—” the doctor said.

“Water!” Sadie snapped. “First: water.”

The doctor took a step back. She would not be the first or last to take that step back.

The nurse had a drinking bottle with a bent straw. She let Sadie swallow a little. A blessing.

Nurses, Sadie remembered. That’s what her mother had said as she lay dying. Doctors can all go to hell; nurses go straight to heaven. Not that Birgid McLure took either heaven or hell literally.

Alone.

Sadie was alone. The realization scared her.

Just me, she thought.

She thought she might be crying, but she couldn’t feel tears, only the need to shed them.

A second guy in a black suit was in the room. Older. The corporate security chief. Sadie knew him. Should remember his name, but she didn’t. A third man, sleek in very expensive striped suit, might as well have had “lawyer” tattooed on his forehead.

The corporation was swinging into action. Lawyers, security, all of it too damned late.

She had a stupid question to ask. Stupid in that she already knew the answer. “My Dad. And Stone.”

“Now isn’t the time,” the nurse said kindly.

“Dead,” the security chief answered.

The nurse shot him a dirty look.

“She’s my boss,” the man said flatly. “She’s McLure. She asks a question, I answer.”

The doctor was busy reading the chart. The nurse peered at Sadie, as if measuring her courage. She was Jamaican, maybe, judging from the accent. Or from one of those other islands where they do cool things to the English language.

She gave a slight shrug and let Sadie take another blessed, blessed sip of water.

“I need to know how soon I can move her,” the security chief said. Stern. That was his name. Something Stern. He had one of those faces that always looked as if he had just come from shaving. His tie was neat, but the collar was twisted a bit sideways around his neck. And although he was trying hard to look impassive, the corners of his mouth kept tugging downward. His eyes were red. He had cried.

“Move her?” the doctor yelped. “What are you talking about? She has a compound fracture of the ulna and radius, a concussion, internal bleeding—”

“Doctor,” Stern said. “I can’t keep her safe here. We have a place. Our own doctors, our own facilities. And air-tight security.”

“She needs an MRI. We need to see if there’s any brain damage.”

“We have an MRI machine,” the lawyer said, oozing confidence. A Harvard Law voice. A voice with which you were simply not allowed to argue. “I am Ms. McLure’s temporary legal guardian, and her attorney. And I think Ms. McLure would rather have our own doctors. And frankly, you and this hospital would rather not have the media camped outside twenty-four/seven.”

Stern looked at her. He was careful not to be too obvious, but Sadie intercepted the look and understood.

No, it would not do to have strangers looking inside her skull. They might see something they’d have a very hard time understanding. So, Stern knew. Useful.

“Take me home,” Sadie said.

Stern nodded once. “Yes, Ms. McLure. Home.”

There was a park not far from Noah’s home, but it was drizzling and threatened to go to full-on rain, so he and his two mates, Mohammed and Little Cora, kicked the football around in the partial shelter of two high walls.

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