The Prophesy Tower. Chapter 45. Write a Novel Challenge.
Charlotte paced restlessly through the hospital corridor with Frankie close behind her. It took every ounce of her strength to not crumple down in a corner and cry her heart out. But she knew that she had to be strong for Neina – the friend who had been more of a sister to her and had stood by her through thick and thin. Her Neina.
The past 12 hours had been a nightmare. She had been in the middle of a presentation in her office which was in the same building as Neina’s, nine floors down, when she had heard the commotion outside. The shrieking sirens that reverberated through the streets had pierced their way through the glass and concrete of the building. Staring out of her street facing window she had seen a woman lying supine on the pavement. The worst thoughts crossed her mind. Could it be …
The slightest of anomalies around her totally threw her off balance these days. With the strange way Neina had been behaving in the recent past, she feared for Neina’s well-being more than anything else in the world.
Charlotte had raced through the corridor and hit the elevator button repeatedly until the doors opened and she got in frantically. After what seemed like hours, the elevator drew to a halt and Charlotte bolted out and sped through the front doors.
There she was. Her worst nightmare had come true. Sprawled on the pavement, with her right hand covered in blood, and with shards of glass standing out painfully, as Neina. Charlotte’s heart hurt and she thought her hearty would burst as she raced to get to her.
The sounds of the sirens grew louder and she heard tires screech behind her on the asphalt. Paramedics raced out.
Charlotte stood with bated breath as she watched them examine Neina who lay motionless like a rag doll. She felt utterly powerless. Feeling a hand on her shoulder, she turned around to see Frankie. He looked shattered. Older. Fragile.
A paramedic spoke to his colleague, “Vital signs are stable. I don’t suspect a spinal injury as of now. Limbs seem normal too. No external injury except the right hand. There are embedded splinters from the window glass she punched through.”
They lifted Neina on a stretcher and whisked into an ambulance. Before the doors closed, for a brief moment, Neina eyes flickered opened and she looked directly at Charlotte and blinked in recognition.
That was 12 hours ago.
Neina was still in a medically induced coma. She was being treated by the same doctor she had met earlier, Dr. Craig Davis. Charlotte was grateful to him – he had taken time out to speak with her and the police’s investigating officers about Neina’s condition – and prognosis. What little they knew, as of now, came from the statement of the taxi driver. Neina had entered his cab in front of the building and, when he had asked her where she wanted to go, had seemed preoccupied with her thoughts. He had asked a couple more times and she still hadn’t said a word.
Then, out of the blue, she had punched through the window glass, thrown the door open and lunged to the pavement.
The officers had also procured a video patched up from the footage of multiple cameras following Neina’s movement though the office leading up to the incident. It showed monochrome, grainy footage of Neina walking through the corridors and entering the café. She had stood alone in a corner, staring into space, as if lost in thought for almost 10 minutes. Then she had walked out and hailed a taxi. Two minutes later, after getting into the taxi, she had smashed the window of the taxi with her closed fist. The footage blurred momentarily before showing Neina lying head down on the pavement.
Dr. Davis had had a detailed talk with Charlotte and Frankie. “Neina told me about her condition the first time we met – the visions she’s been having, the hallucinations and her irrational fear of the people around her. These kinds of symptoms are common when a person has gone through debilitating trauma. The pain manifests itself in various ways – in Neina’s case I suspect it is paranoia set off by post trauma stress.” seemingly looking at Charlotte directly, he had continued: “The good news is that she has a strong mind. She can, sometimes, recall hallucinations and can distinguish what is real from what is not. For the brief time that she was awake she told me what she remembered of the incident. She remembered Charlotte dressed as a scarecrow and leading her to the taxi. The taxi started flying in the sky. And then both of you plunged through the door.”
Charlotte winced, fighting back tears.
“There’s something else” Dr. Davis continued, drawing out three cards and handing them to Charlotte. “These were in the pocket of the jumper Neina was wearing when she was brought here. Do they mean anything to you?”
Charlotte took them and read out the disturbing content.
“This game will be full of death –
I know you’ll take your own last breath”
She had read the words again and again until she recoiled in shock. She knew this handwriting. The alphabet was written with extreme calligraphic precision and the handwriting was distinctively that which could only have been mastered after years of practice. It was handwriting which she knew intimately down to every minute stroke and loop. It was Neina’s own handwriting.
“It’s Neina’s handwriting! You can have it verified through official channels, but you have to trust me. I would recognise this writing anywhere!” Charlotte felt her heart breaking into a million pieces.
Dr. Davis drew a deep breath, “Well, it’s clear now that Neina needs treatment. It will need to be a combination therapy of medicines and counselling. We cannot ignore it – she is at clear risk of taking her own life.”
Charlotte turned to Frankie, “ Frankie, she needs us. We are all she has …”
Frankie spoke, tears swimming in his grey eyes, “ I will do whatever it takes. I still remember the day she walked into my office 15 years ago. The starry eyed Neina. I’ve always looked after her as my own and she has given me a hundred reasons to be proud. She is and will always be my number one. I’ve tried to help her, I said to her that she must rest and
recuperate. It kills me inside when in return all I have seen in return is her distrust in her eyes for me…” Frankie’s voice trailed off as word failed him.
“It’s not that she doesn’t trust us Frankie”, Charlotte spoke gently. “Deep down inside she does. And now we need to live up to that trust by protecting her against what has always been her best friend, but which now has now become her worst enemy – her own, brilliant, mind ….”
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The Prophesy Tower – A Novel.
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To read Chapter 44, click here.
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