Beep … Beep … Beep … Constant. The beeping and the small noises were steady and repetitive. A reminder of just how much Abraham Murray had failed the frail soul lying in bed before him. It had been several hours since the batteries in the machine controlling the morphine drip had completely drained. At that moment, when the beeping and the noises grew louder Abraham thought for a moment he saw a sign of life from his now helpless friend.
Abraham had sat in this room, on and off, for seven days, waiting, hoping, and praying for a change. Nothing. There was no response. Only sleep. A deep sleep. Perhaps it was the depressing atmosphere. The hospital room was very similar to the patient rooms found in the Carnegie Hill Rehabilitation Center. White and boring. Lifeless. A world without color or imagination.
Most days, Abraham would sit alone, next to the bed, watching for any sign of recovery. He would only leave long enough to check on a few friends that depended on his and his help. Today was different.
Today he was joined by a new friend. A friend that he had only known for a few short years. She sat on the opposite side of the bed, shielding her eyes from the rising sun shining through the fourth-floor windows of the UK Medical Center. Abraham stared at her for a moment. He felt sorry for her. She’d had to endure far too much in her young life. At one point in time, when he was in her presence, the world was bright and cheerful. Now, she was broken. It was his fault. A child should never have to watch her house burn down, especially on Christmas. A woman should never have to hide from the world and conceal her identity, especially one so talented and intelligent as Dr. Hannah Lacy.
Her voice sounded defeated. Abraham hated hearing this once confident and strong individual look so broken and depressed.
“Yeah, Hannah. What is it?”
“Was all of this necessary?”
Abraham looked at Hannah, showing confusion and concern on his face.
“Was all of ‘what’ necessary?”
“What do you mean?”
Was she referring to their current location? Their current place in life? The answer to those questions was ‘no.’ They were not necessary, and they could have been easily prevented.
Three weeks ago, when Cameron Thompson, better known as Junior to Abraham and the patients at Carnegie Hills approached him with a plan to escape the institute he should have ignored him. Better yet, he should have discouraged him. At least, he should have convinced him to leave Seth Conley out of the plan. Abraham was desperate, though. He was trying to protect Seth, and he thought that with his help, Junior’s plan just might work. He was wrong, and now the lives of Seth Conley, himself, and others were in jeopardy.
“No, Hannah, none of this was necessary.”
“Then why’d you make me do it?”
“Do what? I didn’t make you do anything.”
“Yes, you did, Abraham. Look at me. I’m a reflection of death warmed over.”
Abraham sat up straighter and peered over the bed to Hannah raising an eyebrow. He had no idea what she was talking about. She did look paler than usual, but since he found her passed out from near starvation, she looked much better.
“Need I remind you than when I found you lying in your bed wearing the exact same clothes that you wore on the day you were fired you were close to death. You hadn’t eaten in nearly three weeks. I don’t know how you survived.”
“I’m not talking about that. Look at my hair. Look at my face. Was it necessary to change all of this.”
Abraham studied Hannah’s facial expressions for a moment. She was clearly disturbed by having to cut her hair and dye if jet black. Hannah had always been proud of her red hair and loved to style it and show it off. Now, she didn’t have much hair left. There was nothing left to style. There was nothing to show off. Just a cheap haircut with a cheap pair of sewing shearers.
“Yes. I’m sorry, Hannah, but it was very necessary.”
Abraham didn’t want to tell her why. He didn’t want to tell her that if he had not found her when he did, someone else could have found her and ended her life. Andrew Aiken, a man hired to replace Edgar Martinez at Carnegie Hills was recruited to do more than occupy apposition left open by Edgar’s death. He was the newest hire Mr. Nesher. He was purposed with the task of spreading rumors throughout the facility that Dr. Hannah Lacy had killed herself after losing her job. He was also told to find Hannah, and kill her. Thanks to Junior and a fit of rage that many had feared he’d held back for far too long, Andrew Aiken died in the common area of Carnegie Hills just a few days after his first day. Abraham was sure that Andrew had already been replaced, but since he was no longer allowed entry into the rehab facility, he had no idea who it might be.
“Hannah, you don’t realize this, but there is something big going on. There’s a reason Edgar and I feared Mr. Nesher. He’s a dangerous man, and I’m afraid that since you failed to get Seth to confess to the murder of his family he’s going to be coming after you.”
“Why would he do that? Why would he care about a psychiatrist from Kentucky? Why, in fact, would he care about Seth? Why do the cops care so much about this? They say they have the evidence to convict him, why bother about a confession.”
Abraham smiled. Hannah was smart. She asked a question that more people needed to ask. Why do the cops need a confession when they have evidence that proves his guilt. The evidence does not lie.
“The cops don’t care as much as you have been told. Mr. Nesher, on the other hand, is waiting in anticipation for Seth to admit to the murder of Sara and Angel Conley. He cares a great deal.”
Abraham sat for a moment, pondering if he should tell Hannah all that he knows about Seth Conley’s situation.
“I don’t know why, but Mr. Nesher wants Seth dead.”
“Well, if this Mr. Nesher is so scary and so powerful why didn’t he try to have Seth killed.”
Hannah was growing frustrated. For years she was under the impression that Mr. Nesher, the owner of the facility she had been hired into straight out of medical school, was a benevolent soul. She was told by her superiors that he cared so much about the suffering of the world that he dedicated most of his life to caring for those that were unable to care for or defend themselves. She had a hard time accepting that he was a monster that brought fear into the eyes of two of the strongest men she had ever met.”
“That’s the thing, he did try to have Seth killed. He hired two assassins to kill Seth and his family. They were only partly successful.”
Abraham could see a sudden change in Hannah. Her frustration transitioned into anger and confusion. He watched as Hannah contorted her face and twisted what was left of her hair trying to understand what he was telling her.
“Do you remember the time you confronted me about hovering of Seth too much?”
“This is why. I was trying to stay close to him so that I could protect him.”
Hannah stood up to stretch and walked over to the window. Abraham watched as she stared into the morning sun. It had been an unusual winter for Kentucky. This morning was the first that the sun had revealed itself in several days. This was a good thing. The world that Abraham and Hannah were currently living in was dark and cold. They both needed the light.
“All right, that makes sense, I guess, but still, if the cops have all of this evidence, why do they need the confession?”
Again, Abraham sat quietly for a moment, pondering the question, and regretting the need for the conversation.
“Like I said, there were two assassins there that night. Seth’s neighbors attested to this when the cops questioned them.”
Hannah returned to her chair, eyes watering. Abraham knew that any conversation about Seth Conley would be a touchy subject for Hannah. He knew that she still loved him dearly, even though he could barely remember her. Abraham blamed himself for that, as well.
“Seth couldn’t have had many neighbors. According to his papers he still lived in the house he grew up in. Unless someone rebuilt my parent’s house, there weren’t very many people around.”
“I suppose that house was rebuilt. The husband and wife that lived there said they watched two masked men enter into Seth’s house that night. They called the cops after hearing gunfire. That’s why the court can’t convict Seth. That one little detail throws their investigation into chaos.”
A steady stream of tears now flowed from Hannah’s eyes. Abraham feared that he was revealing too much.
“And these neighbors. Are they still alive?”
Hannah was smart. Too smart. Abraham shook his head.
“What happened to them?”
“Car accident. It killed them and their two kids.”
“Was it really an accident?
“Because they knew too much.”
Hannah burst into sobs and buried her face in the palms of her hands. Abraham watched as this intelligent, beautiful young woman convulsed from the lack of oxygen reaching her lungs.
“Hannah, you’ve got to sit up. Take a minute and just breathe.”
She ignored him, so he walked to where she was and forced her to her feet.
“Hannah, look at me, we’re not supposed to be in here. I had to pay the guard off, and he promised to keep a lookout for us, but if you don’t collect yourself, he won’t be able to explain away to anyone walking by what these noises are.”
Hannah lifted her head and stared into Abraham. Anger flashed in her eyes.
“Abraham, how do you know so much about all of this?”
He stared at her for a few seconds before answering. He’d already said too much.
“Abraham, I want to know. Tell me.”
“Why do you need to know?”
“Why are you deflecting?”
Abraham had forgotten that Hannah Lacy was a brilliant psychiatrist. He knew that he’d have to give her an answer.
“I know all of this because of Edgar Castillo – well, you knew him as Edgar Martinez. He was one of the assassins.”
Hannah stepped back from Abraham and dried her eyes with the black, raggedy shirt that Abraham made her dress in. Abraham made a mistake by mentioned Edgar’s original family name.
“So, he had to change his name afterward.”
Abraham pulled at the collar of his shirt. He was hoping that she hadn’t caught that.
“No, he had to change his name before that.
“What about you?”
He didn’t answer, instead choosing to look down at the body being kept alive by tubes and machines. Abraham realized that this was a mistake, too. When he looked back up, an angry smile crept across the face of his raven-haired interrogator.
“Is Abraham Murray your real name?”
Hannah Lacy was smart. Too smart.