Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Veronica Brett

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 655

The Blackbank Mile

 

Chapter 1: Dr. Veronica Brett

 

Overlooking Scotia City from her office, Doctor Veronica Brett stares off to the setting sun. The elegant, hygienic city is juxtaposed with the darkness in the distance. Clean streets, free from garbage, homeless, and crime. Almost unsettling, one must wonder, “How is the possible?”. Veronica watches two officers, dressed completely in black with their faces covered with a bone black mask, wander back and forth in front of her office building. The officers “sense” Veronica’s gaze. Both Officers quickly look up to her, but she jolts her face away.

In front of her rests a stack of paperwork. Files from her patients. Mostly sick individuals seeking treatment for their illnesses. Veronica takes the first file, hesitates, then flips it open. With her eyes closed, she runs her hand across the first page. Her fingers come across the protruding red marking in the center. Her hand pauses. Her breath broken and paused. She opens her eyes to the red stamped paperwork. The DENIED capital lettered word sprawled across the center of the page stares at Veronica. She slams the folder shut.

Her door opens revealing a young blonde assistant - Sarah Maclean. She immediately senses the tension in the room. In her arms are a few more folders for Veronica. She takes a moment to build confidence before stepping in farther. Sarah takes a deep breath and begins to head toward the desk. She places the folder down, avoiding eye contact with Veronica. She exhales and begins to walk away.

“What would you do in my position?” Veronica asks, without raising her head.

Sarah stops in her tracks.

“What do you mean?” Sarah responds, without turning.

Veronica turns back to the window to watch the Officers disappear down a hallway. The sun has finally set.

“You have the power to save, yet your hands are tied.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Sarah responds, finally turning back to Veronica.

Veronica quickly stands, throws the folders from her desk, spilling them all over the floor. Stacks of patients paperwork spreads across the floor. The red DENIED stampings stare up at Veronica in a mocking manner. So many negatives, almost impossible to find an accepted patient treatment. She places her hands on her desk to help regain her composure. This isn’t her usual demeanor.

Sarah lowers her head, but turns her gaze towards the paperwork. Although she delivers the files, her curiosity has never gotten the best of her. Even when one of the files contains her boyfriends information. Sarah’s eyes scan across the ground, looking for her boyfriend - Jeff’s - file. Her eyes focus on one of the files, but realizing what Sarah is doing, Veronica quickly begins to collect the files.

“I haven’t had the time to go through all of them.”

“I was just wondering, maybe, if Jeff’s file is in there?” Sarah responds, turning her daze from Veronica.

Veronica pause for a moment, forgetting about Jeff.

“You and Jeff will be the first to know.” Veronica says.

“Okay. Thank you. You should head home and get some rest. Don’t let the stress get to you.” Sarah says with a smile. She leaves.

Veronica places the mess of papers back on her desk. She files the correct papers to their original folder. She stops when her hand comes across Jeff’s file. The usual red stamp of bad fortune is spread across the file. Veronica sets the folder down.

“Shit.”

 

* * * * * * *

 

Clean streets. Like every other neighborhood, this one is just as safe. No crime; no homeless. Cookie cutter homes line both sides of the road. Perfectly cut grass. Same vehicles in every driveway. Each house contains the equal amount of members with two point five children. Veronica’s house sits among the rest. The early morning as given rise to each family's daily rituals.

Veronica sits in her kitchen staring out to an empty bird feeder. She quietly sips her morning coffee while the feeder blows back and forth in the wind. Her husband, John Brett, enters into the kitchen, dressing himself, as he reaches for his morning toast. He stops to look over his distraught wife. He takes a bite, and the crunch breaks Veronica from her daydream. She smiles at him.

“Where have all the birds gone?” Veronica asks.

John looks at her confused.

“I’m sure they’re out there somewhere.”

“I haven’t had to fill the feeder for weeks.” Veronica responds quickly.

John walks over to Veronica and gives her a light embrace. He kisses her gently on the forehead. His focus lands on the empty feeder. He looks out to the trees and through the yard. All empty. This thought had never crossed his mind. Now, it sets an eerie feeling over him. He gently moves Veronica aside and peers out the window.

“What would you do if you had the chance to save someone, but you would get in trouble if you did?” Veronica asks.

` John turns his focus from the window. Here is the real the problem. The thought that has been weighing on his wife’s mind.

“What kind of trouble are we talking? Like, a slap on the wrist or fired?”

“I don’t know. Could be either really.” Veronica responds.

“Well, personally, and this is just if I were in that position, I would save the life and take whatever consequences. It would be on me, ethically, to do the right thing.” John responds. He walks back over to Veronica to hug her, but she frees herself from his grasp to move on.

“Even if it meant losing your job?” Veronica responds.

“Of course. It’s just a job at the end of the day.” Michael says, while he continues to eat his toast.

“A job that supports a family. Our family.” Veronica looks down.

“Still, it’s just a job. You are very talented, and you deserve to be able to make the ethical decisions. You are a Doctor, there will always be a job waiting.”

“It’s not the same world anymore, John. Who knows what the future may bring. Doctors might not even be needed.” Veronica responds.

John finishes his toast. Although Veronica is distraught, the dire situation seems lost on him. He pours himself a travel coffee and heads toward the door. He reaches over to her and gives her one more kiss on the head. He leaves his lips there longer than usual. Veronica closes her eyes to hold back her emotions.

“Do what your heart tells you. What’s the worst that could happen?” John speaks the words that should never be spoken. As soon as they leave his mouth, a sense of worry comes over him.

“You’re right. I have to follow my code of ethics.” Veronica finally gives in to John’s embrace.

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

Veronica’s desk is clean. All the files have been sorted and placed inside the desk. One file sits on the desk in front of her. She opens Jeff’s file and looks over the DENIED stamp again. She finally agrees to doing the right thing. She closes the folder and turns to the window. The first smile crosses her face, as she watches the city become cast in a yellow glow. The smile soon fades when her focus comes across two Officers standing on the sidewalk. Although their faces can’t be seen, their attention is directed at Veronica. A sense of unease comes over her. Her decision begins to waver. A knock on the door breaks the trance.

“Come in.” Veronica says, collecting herself.

The door opens, and a weak, meager male stands on the other side. Jeff, Sarah’s boyfriend, steps into the office. He lightly waves to Veronica. His skin is pale. His arms are shaky and weak. He slowly steps toward a chair. Sarah peers in from the doorway, hoping she will be allowed to enter. Veronica waves to Sarah to come in. Sarah smiles and quickly enters, closing the door behind her. She nods a, “Thank you”, to Veronica.

“Jeff. How are you feeling?” Veronica turns back to look at the Officers. They continue their focus on her. Veronica begins to think about her family.

“I’m about as good as I can be.” Jeff responds.

“Yeah? No improvement?”

“No, quite the opposite actually. I have begun to cough up blood, and the other day, I woke up on the ground.” Jeff says, looking over to Sarah. Sarah lowers her head, but places her hand on his.

“Did the treatment approval comeback?” Sarah asks.

Veronica takes a moment. She begins to weigh her options before responding.

“His file is back, yes.”

“Why so cryptic, Doc?” Jeff’s responds.

“The treatment was denied, Jeff.” Veronica responds, without making eye contact.

Jeff lowers himself in his seat. The air seems to leave his lungs. His eyes begin to tear. He pulls his hand free and turns his face from Sarah. He wipes a few tears from his eyes and tears out into the morning sky. He regains his composure and smiles over to Sarah. He grabs her hand tightly, smiles, then breaks down completely. This begins Sarah on the same path. She grabs onto Jeff and holds him tight.

“Did they know I worked here?” Sarah responds, hoping her stature will affect the outcome.

“Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.” Veronica responds.

“So, that’s it? I have no other option?” Jeff calms down and his sadness begins to turn to anger.

“They feel you are too far along, and the resources can be used on younger, healthier patients.” Veronica responds.

“Really? Well, no healthy individual will actually need treatment.”

“He’s right, Veronica. I mean, Doctor Brett.” Sarah says embarrassingly.

“It’s beyond my control.” Veronica says with a stern undertone.

“You have the treatment though. You have the ability to give it to anyone.” Jeff quickly responds.

“It doesn’t work like that, Jeff. The process is actually quite difficult.” Veronica responds.

“There is something wrong with our city. Don’t you agree? Doctor’s used to care about the patient. They made the choice. It wasn’t a suit behind a closed door. Maybe it’s better that I’m leaving this place.” Jeff says.

“Jeff.” Sarah responds.

‘No, really. What kind of country do we live where a hidden entity controls everything. Seriously, we are living in a dangerous place. A scary police service wanders the streets. People disappear. We don’t even have animals for fuck’s sake. Not even birds.”

The last sentence strikes Veronica hard. She turns back to where the Officers were once standing, but they’re gone. She turns back to Jeff. She grabs the folder and holds it tightly for a moment. Beside her desk sits a paper shredder. She turns it on, and places the folder into the machine.

“What are you doing? Sarah asks.

“We are going to start the treatment.” Veronica responds.

Jeff’s anger quickly turns to shock. He grips the armrests of his chair and tightens. He takes a moment to catch his breath - harder to do as the tumor has grown. He shakes the dizziness from his head.

“Are you serious? Why? Why would you do this?” Jeff asks.

“Because, I signed a code of ethics when I became a Doctor that said I would do what it right for my patients. And, this is the right decision.” Veronica responds.

“Thank you. Thank you so much.” Jeff responds with excitement.

“Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?”

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

An operating room contains all of the equipment for illness treatment. The room is completely white, with all modern equipment. Wireless equipment running on solar power. Stored energy sources all through the room. LED lights shine from above. Everything the best Medical hospital would contains. A wall of machine monitor the health of the patient.

In the center of the room sits a gurney with Jeff’s unconscious body. A heart monitor beeps to his left. A drip leads to his hand containing the treatment. His skin is blushing, and his appearance is no longer weak and meager Veronica, leading Sarah, is dressed in blue scrubs walk over to Jeff.

“How is he?” Sarah asks.

“Recovering well. He needs to rest, but the treatment has been working quite well.”

Sarah smiles and grasps Jeff’s hand. Jeff slowly wakes up and looks over to both women. A light smile crosses his face over witnessing Sarah for the first time since beginning treatment. Sarah bends down and kisses him on the forehead. Jeff wraps his arms around Sarah and holds her close. Jeff begins a slow cough, which begins to grow more aggressively. Sarah takes a step back.

“Not too much excitement. His body is healing.” Veronica says, while pulling Sarah back.

Jeff, calmer now, has stopped coughing. His color has returned to normal pigment, and his smile hasn’t faded yet. He just continues to smile at both women in front of him.

“How much longer do I have to stay?” Jeff’s asks.

“One more week of treatment, and you should be able to leave.” Veronica responds.

Veronica’s phone begins to ring. She pulls out the phone and looks over the screen - HOME. Veronica answers the phone and holds it to her ear. Nothing but silence fills the other end. All she can hear is the faint breathing in the background. A sudden moment of dread comes over her.

“Hello?” Veronica cries out into the phone.

No response from the phone. Just the continued breathing through the line. A few seconds pass and the other line hangs up. Veronica lowers her phone and stares at the blank screen. The dread soon turns to a anxiety. Fast heart rate, sweaty hands, and quick breaths. Sarah notices the change in Veronica’s mood. She steps beside Veronica.

“Everything okay?” Sarah asks.

Veronica, confused, doesn’t know how to respond to the question. She stares at Sarah in silence, as the anxiety continues to build.

“I, ah, have to leave.” Veronica stammers, as she fumbles for her keys.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, fine. I think I should get home.” Veronica responds. She turns and races toward the door.

Sarah and Jeff watch as Veronica throws the door open and disappears into hallway. The door slamming behind her.

Veronica drives down her road faster than usual. Her imagination is playing on her. Up until this point, she has been trying to call the house from the car. No answer every time. Each time, Veronica get more nervous. She grips the steering tightly, as she approaches her driveway. Nothing out of the ordinary. Quiet. Lights are on. John’s car sits in the driveway. A calming sensation comes over her. She exhales lightly as she pulls the car into driveway. No need to worry.

Veronica gets out of the car. She collects her things, and makes her way inside. A light violin concerto plays in the background, as the smell of dinner fills Veronica’s nostrils. She sets her keys and belongings down on a side table. She removes her coat and lays it down on a small chair. The smell of dinner lowers her blood pressure just enough to finally calm herself down. Veronica heads toward the kitchen.

“John? Boys? You in here? It’s smells great in here -”

Veronica’s words are cut short John’s body hanging from the kitchen ceiling. Veronica screams. John’s body dangles, lifeless, as his skin is completely blue. He rocks back and forth. Scratch marks on his neck from him trying to break free. Veronica slowly enters the room. She clings to the wall, and tries to fight back the tears. Her foot catches something on the ground, almost sending her to the ground. She looks down to she her child - lifeless - on the floor.

“Michael? Please, no!”

Veronica falls to her knees and caresses her unconscious child. She holds him closely and screams out into the house. She screams for help. Footsteps cut her screams short. Veronica listens to the direction of the steps. She clings her child close. The footsteps pound through the lower level of the house. Veronica reaches for her phone. She pulls it out, and dials 9-1-1 and waits for the operator. The phone cuts out, and responds with, “Your phone is not in service.” Veronica drops the phone as a figure in black enters the kitchen.

The Man In Black (Zee), stops, and watches Veronica on the ground. Although cold outside, Zee wears a black leather vest with nothing underneath. His torn jeans are dirty and frayed. His appearance is something never seen in Scotia. An enigma. A goon hired to take care of the dirty business in the city. And, he enjoys his business.

Veronica slides back, gripping her child, and tries to get to her feet. Zee pulls out a side arm, in the blink of an eye, shoots Veronica in the right leg. She cries out in pain. She falls, but protects her child. Veronica turns to face her murderer. She knows there is no chance of negotiations. These will be her final moments. She closes and readies herself.

“Why are you doing this?” She cries out, needing to know the reasons for her family’s murder.

“Didn’t ask.” The raspy voice of Zee, responds.

Veronica slowly slides herself backwards across the ground. Zee follows her across the ground. He watches, with glee, as he struggles away from him.

“I didn’t kill the boy. Yet.” Zee says, with a hint of laughter.

“Let him go. Please, just kill me.” Veronica responds.

“Of course.”

Zee lifts his gun, fires one shot, striking Veronica in the right eye. He head slams back on the floor. She drops her child onto the ground. Zee places his gun back into the holster and walks out of the room. Zee steps out onto the front step, as a white van pulls to a stop. Four Hazmat individuals exit the van and walk toward house. Zee passes The Cleaners as they head into the house. Zee steps out onto the street. He continues to walk and disappears into the darkness.

Moments pass, and the Hazmat men carry out two body bags. The body bags are loaded into the van. The Hazmat men reappear with cleaning supplies. They head back to the house and disappear inside.

 

*******

 

The bodies of Veronica and John are rolled down a well lit hallway by individuals in scrubs. Their faces covered. They lead the bodies into a large room containing an incendiary device. Both bodies are lined in front, ready to be burned. The individuals in scrubs grab John’s gurney and place him in front of the fire. One individual pulls a lever and the gurney raises on a sixty degree angle, forcing John’s body to slide into the fire.

The individuals ready Veronica’s gurney in front of the flame. The fire so hot it pushes two of the nurses back. The same nurse that decided John’s fate, reaches for the same lever, as the body bag begins to move. All of the nurses jump back in fear. Muffled cries come through the meal black leather death bag. One of the Nurses reaches for the body bag zipper. The others stay back in trepidation. The Nurse starts the zipper as Veronica’s hand reaches out of the bag.

All of the Nurses scream.

“Quick. Get the door.” One of the Nurses exclaims through her face covering.

One Nurse runs to a second inactive incendiary device and reaches up to the lever. She pulls its and the device begins to slide outward revealing a secret room in behind. The Nurses quickly grab Veronica’s gurney and roll her towards the opening. All, but one, of the Nurses disappear inside. The large inactive incendiary device closes behind them, leaving no trace of their insubordination. The last Nurse grabs John's gurney and heads back to the hallway.

 


Submitted: August 29, 2016

© Copyright 2021 squiggs82. All rights reserved.

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