~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague
“I have never been really keen on fish, but red herrings, there is just something about them that makes them deliciously palatable.”
* * *
It was a risky decision, but one that was necessary for the taking. The Etta-beast proved to be a greater threat than the Pulse had anticipated. It had only believed her to be nothing more than a hiccup in the sequence, one that was easily done away with. There had been others like her with similar fire and rebellion, but she was not like them. Tonight had been proof of that.
Clive and the Pulse looked at the empty chairs in the room. The rest of the seat holders had gone, carrying Ayo and the German with them. Tonight was supposed to have been a deadly end for Etta and Baldwin Falk, but it had turned out to be nothing short of a vicious standoff, one that the Pulse had not been able to win.
Grinding Clive’s teeth, they walked across broken glass, the sound of its crushing made them imagine with one mind what it would sound like to crush Etta’s throat. She had done a fare amount of damage to everything. It had been over an hour and Clive’s heart was still beating irregularly, all because of her, all because of her rebellion.
“So much damage,” Clive jerked out a chair and plopped down into it. “She nearly killed me.” He whispered in response to the Pulse’s thoughts. He felt its presence shift in and around him.
“You are still alive, thanks to me.” That was true. Had the Pulse decided to break connection with Clive in that moment, Pastor Meeks would have succumbed to an incredible heart attack. That would eventually be his fate.
Clive shook his head. “What do we do now? Two more members are down. If the world catches wind of this it will be chaos. People everywhere will ignore the sequence, all because of that little wretch!”
“Calm yourself. I have a plan.”
“But you can’t even kill her! She has her own Lotus, she stared you down and nearly killed me doing it! Baldwin Falk never showed his face today. He sent her alone, which probably means the sneaky little bastard is wielding some powers of his own that we need to be worried about, not just Etta’s.” He pounded his fist on the table. “I was humiliated today, and almost died. This isn’t what you promised me,”
Darkness fell over the room and clouded Clive’s eyes. Fear began to seep from his pours and his heart trembled even more, he clutched his chest and felt for the bottle of aspirin that he kept near his tiny flask. He could hardly get the cap open and fish out a pill before the darkness and trembling ceased. The Pulse had made its point. It may not have been able to kill Etta Castle Teague, but it could easily kill him.
“I know what I promised, but I never said there wouldn’t be opposition. The Etta-beast is that opposition. But she will be disposed of in due time.”
Clive slipped the aspirin into his mouth and swallowed it down without water. The taste of it was as harsh upon his tongue as the bitterness from having been humiliated by Albert’s granddaughter was. “What do you plan to do, hire someone to kill her?”
“I don’t need her dead. Not yet at least. I need to know what she is planning, what her next move is. She is a clever beast. She wants to do harm and she wants to do it in front of an audience. She also wants to protect him.” A smile, drawn by the emotion of the Pulse grew upon Clive’s face.
Etta had been strong, she had fought to put up walls once they had come into physical contact, but she had not been strong enough. She could not hide Baldwin Falk from the Pulse even though she had tried, even though he hid from sight.
It wasn’t just the vague image of the man that had flashed across Etta’s mind that caused the Pulse to feel like precious ground had been won. It was however the concentrated emotions connected to the image. Etta Castle Teague was in love with the man in whose name she sought to save the world. There was guilt laden within her emotions for him, uncertainty. It was a dangerous weakness to have.
“I need to know more about him,” The Pulse brought Baldwin’s image up again and played it upon Clive’s memory.
“But I’ve already told you what I know.” And he had on the same day that he told the Pulse about Etta. He vaguely remembered the details surrounding Baldwin Falk and his involvement with Etta apart from the fact he had been Etta’s boyfriend and had gone missing over a decade ago. Other than that, little else rested in his memory. He had spent those years soaking his mind in liquor, after all.
“You will gather more from whatever sources you can, even if that means another encounter with her. And actually I encourage another physical encounter.” The Pulse felt the fear rising again in Clive. The concern he had for his heart was great but of little consequence. The sooner the Pulse was rid of Etta and Baldwin, the sooner it could destroy the Seats of the Silence throughout the world, and put humankind back in their rightful place as chattel.
It said, “It will be a brief encounter. I know what I am looking for. So have no fear for your heart, Clive. But in the mean time,” A violent shockwave jerked his body forward and up out of the seat.
“Wha-what did you do?” He panted.
“I did what was necessary for you, and the preservation of the sequence. Trust me we are about to get what we want.”
* * *
Etta’s body jerked as if she had been electrocuted with high voltage power line. She didn’t know how long she had been out or how long Baldwin had been calling her name. What she did know was that her head was throbbing and the horn of her car was beeping non-stop.
She slowly raised her head and narrowed her eyes. The sound of the horn ceased once her wait was off of it. The head light on her left was shining brightly into the trees and bushes, while the other was obstructed by what she could only imagine was blood. If her memory served her correctly, she had hit the tale end of the large buck in the road.
“Jørn?” She suddenly felt panicked and could only think to call his name. She touched her forehead and felt the large speed bump protruding from her face. At least it wasn’t bleeding.
“Etta? Etta can you hear me?”
Baldwin. That was Baldwin talking to her. She couldn’t bring herself to answer. Her mind was still swirling. “Give me a second, Baldwin,” She slowly looked around her again, gaining her bearings. She wasn’t that far in the brush. If the car still worked she could drive a little further. She thought to call Jørn first, let him know what had just happened to her.
It amazed her that she could face of with an alien entity and hardly break a sweat, but the moment she veers off the road and bumps her head, all she could think of was the protection of her husband.
She called his cell several times but got nothing, each call after the first three went straight into voicemail. Why wasn’t he answering? She could have cried from the irritation that was building inside her. Instead she chose to do what she had always done, take the bull by the horns and manage the situation herself. He was probably avoiding her, thinking she was going to verbally lash him for what he had done to Kyle. She had planned on it, but that was before the accident.
She shifted in her seat and turned the key in the ignition. It took several tries before the engine turned over.
“What are you doing?! You can’t drive like this. You need to get an ambulance!”
“I need to get out of these bushes and get as close to Greenwich Pass, as possible. With my luck Clive Meeks will see me out here and try to run me over with his car.” She put the car into reverse and eased her way back onto the road. She drove slowly, never going above 30 miles per hour. She drove for a half an hour before Greenwich pass came into view. Her vision was blurred and she couldn’t tell if it was from hitting her head or from the angry tears that threatened to fall. Jørn hadn’t even bothered to call back!
She pulled into the emergency parking lot of the hospital. She didn’t attempt to park the car straight. She wasn’t even sure she could if she tried. She grabbed her purse and phone from the passenger seat and wobbled out of the car. Shutting the door behind her caused the airbag to deploy and set Etta falling backwards onto the asphalt. This time she did cry. Where in the world was Jørn?
“It was just the air bag, come on. Let’s get inside, get you checked out.” Baldwin’s voice was so tender. He knelt down in front of her as she gave a few whimpers. “I am so sorry.”
She pulled herself up and gave Baldwin a watery-eyed look. The shame on his face was enough to dry her tears. “What are you sorry for? You weren’t the one driving and you certainly didn’t call that stupid buck into the road,”
She pushed herself up and into the hospital. Moving towards the registration desk, her back and neck seeming to grow stiffer with each step she took. She brushed the remaining tears from her eyes, “Or did you?” She glanced at him. She knew her joke was in bad taste but at least it had wiped the look from Baldwin’s face even if it had not earned her a laugh.
She leaned up against the desk. “I need to see a doctor. I hit a deer, and I bumped my head.”
The nurse looked up at her. “Okay, sweetie, we will be right with you.”
“And can you call my husband please? I couldn’t get him on the phone. His name is Jørn Teague, he is an NP here.” She gave his cell phone number and sat down for nearly 30 minutes without anyone coming to check on her.
The ER was sparse, which as a good thing. It also meant that someone had to have been available to treat her by then. She walked back up to the nurse, her attitude gridding with the stiffness of her muscles. “Excuse me? What is the hold up, Amanda?” She positioned herself to read Amanda’s lanyard.
“Yes my name is Amanda, Mrs. Teague. I have not forgotten about you I just have to wait for a triage nurse to become available—”
“Is there a doctor available?” Her words were clipped. She had tired Jørn again and got nothing. “And did you call my husband?”
“Ma’am, please take a seat,” Amanda pointed towards the waiting area. “And be patient, please.”
Etta narrowed her eyes. “Amanda I am sorry but I lost my patience some 20 miles down the road when the deer came out of nowhere, and I am barely running on fumes. I have been waiting for 30 minutes. My head hurts, my neck hurts. My butt hurts from falling in the parking lot! I want to see a doctor, and I want to see one now!”
Amanda stood up, her hands positioned in a nonthreatening manner. “Ma’am, please take a seat.”
“Amanda, didn’t two comatose patients come in within the hour, an Ayo Adeyemi and a gentlemen, a German?”
“Etta what are you doing?”
“How did you know that?” Amanda had checked them in herself.
“How did I know that? Well, they, like you, wore out my patience, so I put them to sleep.”
Etta raised a halting finger in Baldwin’s direction. Her head was swimming again. “Now unless you want to end up like them, I suggest you get. Me. A. Doctor. Now. And call my husband again.”
Amanda stumbled out the door. Rumors about how Vanessa Wong had gone into a coma at the Yard had spread fiercely. Amanda wasn’t taking any chances.
Etta closed her eyes. Her head was beating like a kick drum at the mercy of a skill-less ten year old boy.
“Etta, have you lost your mind? You can’t threaten people. That is not what we are about. And you certainly can’t just start putting everyone in coma’s just because they don’t do what you want them to! I know you are hurting and you are upset but you need to cool it! What is wrong with you?”
“I just had a car accident, that is what’s wrong with me.” The nurse came back with a doctor in tow; a short lady with a bad bowl cut. Grey shards just like Mr. Albert’s and others on the Council were all around her.
Etta growled. “Get me someone else, I don’t her.” No one but the council members had grey shards like this. What was going on? Baldwin mumbled something under his breath. Amanda picked up the phone.
“What are you doing? Get me another doctor,” The doctor with the bowl cut came towards her. Etta gave her a glare so fierce the woman stopped dead in her tracks. “I don’t want your services, doll. Go back to wherever it is that you came from.”
She turned her attention back to Amanda.
“Doctor Anderson will be right in to see you. Let me try your husband again, before I lead you to a room.”
“Thank you. That is all I wanted.” Etta forced a smile
* * *
Jørn felt his phone buzz again in his pocket. At this rate his leg was going to go numb from Etta calling him. Each call made him even more nervous. Kyle had undoubtedly called her and now she was out for blood, his blood. Without looking at the phone he turned it off completely.
“Is everything okay, Jørn? Are you sure you don’t want to take her call right now? I can wait.” Maryam sat across from him, her legs crossed as she gently swiveled left to right in her leather swivel chair.
Jørn ran his palms on his pant legs again. At this rate he was going to ware holes in them with all his nerves. “No, no. Its best I talk to her face to face.” He blew out a shaky breath.
Maryam reached forward and patted his hand. “Why are you still so nervous? This is a safe place. No judgment here. Let’s just take this slow. You have already turned off your phone, so there shouldn’t be anymore calls. So relax, concentrate on your present environment, and let’s keep talking. I don’t have any patients tomorrow, so we have all night.” She laughed.