Chapter 3: Electric
If there was one thing that Hyde's Park was famous for, it was the hospital. The Dean of Medicine, Dr. Robert Talsteed graduated high school at fifteen and received his medical degree from Dartmouth College by the time he was twenty-eight. He received job offers from nearly every college in the nation, but Talsteed was a good old fashioned country boy and accepted the position of dean of medicine in Hyde's Park over all other job offers.
On his bicycle, Miles arrived first. If there was anywhere he knew would be unchanged during the polar shift, it was the hospital. The lights at the entranceway flickered on and off for five second before finally returning to normal. Just more polar shift abnormalities. Finally, after almost a half an hour, Allison's car came into view. Begrudgingly, she pulled onto the curb and set her car in park.
“He's in the back?”
“He's in the back,” she replied.
“I'm not pulling him out,” Miles explained. “We'll get some doctors to take him off our hands. Dr. Talsteed runs a tight ship. The whole world has gone crazy, but the hospital should be running smoothly as always.” Upon entering, Miles ate his own words faster than he could gasp. No one was working. The hospital was full of workers, but they all appeared to be break.
Miles was having trouble breathing. One place. One place that was supposed to be perfect and it was in more disarray than anywhere else. The only person still working was the janitor as he passed the teens with a mop. “Where's Dr. Talsteed?”
“Talsteed?” the janitor mirrored. “Ah! The mustache guy! Yeah, he's not here anymore. Apparently he's always wanted to be a interpretive dancer. Left yesterday.”
“Who's in charge now?”
“All the qualified doctors left so it's that guy over there. I think his name is Sarkassian.”
The janitor pointed to a young man in blue scrubs at the end of the hallway. He was panicking. No one was listening to his orders and he seemed to have a lot of them. The teens approached the young man, who stall hadn't noticed their arrival. “Okay!” he yelled at an orderly. His voice was high-pitched and verging on cracking. “Mr. Simmons needs his medication. Did anyone give it to him yet?” No one replied to him. “Hello? I asked a question! Why isn't anyone listening to me?”
“Dr. Sarkassian!” Allison interrupted.
“What?! I mean, what?”
“Are you in charge?”
The young man seemed flustered by the question. Apparently, no one had asked him that question before. Finally, he replied. “Yes! I'm Drake. Drake Sarkassian.”
“Drake,” he insisted. “I haven't completed medical school yet.”
“Your the dean of medicine, right?” Miles asked. Drake nodded. “And you expected me to believe you were given that position despite the fact that you don't have a medical degree.” Drake nodded again.
“Dr. Talsteed's approved. I have his signature on a napkin to prove it.”
“Just to quells my fear and to just fast forward this argument,” Allison interrupted again, “I'm just going to call you Dr. Sarkassian. Miles will too or else I'll kick him behind the knee. Now that introductions are over, I have a coma guy in the back of my car. Could you take him off our hand, please?”
“Injured guy?” Drake asked. “That I can do. Guys I need a stretcher for an injured man in the parking lot!” No one listened. “Did you hear me?" Still no response.
“Let me try," Allison offered. “Hey! Lazy asses! Get off you lazy asses and start moving if you want to be with paycheck. The world may be ending, but that doesn't mean the government is going to stop from repoing your sports cars!” Slowly but surely, a handful of orderlies stood up and followed Allison to the parking lot.”
“Coma Guy, huh?”
“That's what Allison says. Apparently he muttered something about ending something.”
The light above them flickered on and off again. This time, it lasted about ten seconds. “It's been happening all day,” Drake explained.
Meanwhile, across town, Chuck and Jamie arrived at the Westin house. Jamie was not impressed. “This was supposed to be romantic. This is anything but romantic and –what are you doing?”
“Picking the lock,” Chuck explained. “I lost the home key about five times in one month and my mom refused to keep giving me new copies and told me to find my own way in, so I got my friend Richard to teach me how to to pick a lock. I wonder if he still lives in town.”
The door popped open. Chuck strolled inside, but Jamie still had convictions about entering the suburban home. “Mom!” Chuck called. “It's Chuck. I'm home! I don't think you've met Jamie before!” No response. Chuck figured he wasn't home. “Make yourself comfortable. Someone will be home soon.”
The lights in the hospital continued to flicker on and off for the next hour, each time seemed to last longer than the one before. The most recent almost reached a minute. Regardless, the man was finally in a stable hospital room and a handful of orderlies and nurses had returned to their daily rounds. Allison approached Drake. “Dr. Sarkassian, do you think he's going to be okay?”
“Hard to say,” he explained.
“Please don't say it's because you never got this far in your textbook.”
“I'm not that incompetent. He's in a coma. The driver's license in his wallet says his name is-”
Allison put her finger to Drake's lips to shut him up. “I have a year to live. I think I deserve a little mystery. Lets pretend that he doesn't have a wallet. Let's pretend that he's an enigma. This will be much more interesting that way.”
“Are you sure? I have all his information right here.”
“Wait a minute,” Miles interrupted. “You didn't even want to bring him here in the first place and now you want to follow it? What does that even mean?”
“The coma guy mentioned that it started here and that it'll end here. He was probably talking about the polar shift. I could shift it back!”
“Do you really believe that?”
“No, but I have a year left and I'd like to spend it in an adventure and this is a good enough one as any.”
“Whatever,” Miles replied. “Just take me home already. I leave the coma guy in the capable hands of Sarkassian.”
The teens began to walk to the exit and Drake began to follow them. “Hey, if you want to keep track of the coma guy, you should probably give me your phone number. I can call you if there is any changes.”
“No offense,” Allison began as she exited the hospital through the automatic doors, “but I'm not that interested.” Miles was already waiting by the car. Allison sighed and began to walk towards her car until Drake came from behind and pushed her out of the way, causing her to tumble into the hood of her car.
“What the Hell was that?!” Lightning. Before Drake could response, a large bolt of lightning landed between the hospital entrance and Allison's car right where she had just been standing. “Holy crap. You just saved my life. How did you notice that?”
“I'm surprised you didn't,” Drake replied. “I sense it coming.”
“Oh, yeah,” Miles whispered to himself. “Now I'm interested.”
Principal Ling, after almost four hours, completed the paperwork that the polar shift shoved onto her desk. Almost all of her students had dropped out. The remaining students could barely fill a classroom ,which worked out well since Aaron James was the only teacher to remain at his teaching position.
“I'm not going to let my school fail. End of the world or not, education is still necessary. I have faced a lot worse than this.”
“Talking to yourself again, Mary?” Mr. James said as he walked in. “I'm usually a sadistic bastard, but only to the student. I really do feel bad about this but Superintendent Matthews is waiting outside. Hannah is making small talk to distract them. I'm going to be honest. There's nothing I'd rather do than teach and this polar shift hasn't changed that. I want this school to survive just as much as you do so we have to think of an excuse to get rid of Matthew or he's pulling the plug on all the school in the state.”
“I'm not scared of Matthews,” Ling explained bluntly. “As a matter of fact, I have a fairly good idea for the remaining teachers and students in the district. Bring him in.”
“I'll bring myself in,” Matthews' intimidating voice boomed as he walked in. Matthews appeared just as intimidating as his voice was, standing a good foot taller that Aaron James standing next to him. “I couldn't help but overheard. Your secretary makes really bad conversation. With the polar shift, schools are just a drain on the economy. We don't need them anymore.”
“We don't need all of them anymore,” Ling corrected. “I've made a lot of phone calls today and had Aaron do the math. There are exactly 3,492 students still enrolled in school in this county. 52 teachers as well. Come to think of it, that amount of people could make a a full school wouldn't you say, Mr. Matthews?”
“Get to the point.”
“Bring them all here. I'm the only principal left in the state. Have all the students report for class tomorrow at Hyde's Park High School. I want the teachers here by 6:00.”
“You make a lot of demands,” Matthews pointed out. “Very well. You can have it on one condition. Central High School received a new assistant principal about three days ago. He hasn't resigned, so he'll be coming as well.”
Chuck and Jamie had made themselves comfortable at the Westin house for almost three hours now. All their clothes were unpack, albeit scattered across the different rooms of the two-story home. Chuck glanced at his watch. He wasn't aware of any change in time that his mother returned home from work and she was usually back on Thursdays by 4:00.
“I'm beginning to think that you family moved away and forgot to tell you,” Jamie started as she entered the living room with a slice of pizza she stole from the refrigerator. “Overall, that sucks. But, on the plus side, we can try out this 'romance' you promised me existed in the suburbs that you couldn't find in the city.”
“Now is a good a time as any,” Chuck agreed as Jamie sat down next to him on the couch, discarding her pizza as she moved her lips closer. Chuck closed his eyes and met Jamie's lips, but the enjoyment was cut short.
“Oh come on!” Miles whined. Jamie and Chuck immediately separated while Allison held in a chuckled. “I thought I was done watching by brother make out with random girls every week when you moved out. Wait. Let me guess. The polar shift. You had a sudden urge to relive your childhood. Right?”
“Still the same depressive jerk you've always been, despite the imminent doomsday. I came here to check in on the family.”
“I you just decided to pick up a hot blonde on the way here.”
“I left my man-whoring way at Hyde's Park High School. This is Jamie Reese, my fiancée.”
“Charmed, I'm sure.” The facetiousness in Miles voice went over Jamie's head. “Yeah, she's a natural blonde. Back to Chuck. There's no need to come and watch over the family. We can take care of ourselves.”
Miles hesitated. “Uh...she went the store.”
“In an hour it'll be almost 72 hours now.”
“You didn't think to call the police?”
Allison interrupted. “Don't think that would do much good. Have you heard the message they have on there?”
“I'm sure she's fine.”
“Guys,” Jamie popped in. “I didn't think it was important before, but I found a postcard from an Adrea Westin in the driveway. Is that important?”
“Yeah. She's a blonde.”
“Let me see it,” Chuck ordered. Jamie handed it to him and he read it aloud:
Dear Miles (and Chuck as well if he gets a chance to read this):
Don't worry about me. I've decided to go my own route. If you're wondering where I am, don't be. I don't even know where I am or where I will be. If you're wondering where I got the money for this world trip from, I'm not exactly sure. I used you father's emergency stash. Don't bother looking for that either. I took it all. Have fun!
“Well, that was... well written,” Allison commented.
“This could prove very bad for us,” Chuck pointed out. During prohibition, the Westin family made some less than questionable deals with a few bootleggers. In order to pay off their debts, our ancestor embezzled some money from his company, expecting results, but prohibition ended and we were left with the embezzled money. I though were got rid of it, but it looks like mom has it now.”
“How bad could that be?”
“Unfortunately, very bad. The polar shift will give us some cover, but if mom spends enough of that money, the government and the company that our great-great-great-grandfather stole from will have their revenge.”
“Don't tell me that you're going to waste your time looking for your mom, are you? We were supposed to plan our wedding and have romance and stuff of the like.”
“And we will. I'll hire a private investigator. This will be done with in two days tops. Deal?”
“Let's recap,” Miles said. “We have a mysterious coma guy, an AWOL mother, a 'doctor' with a sixth sense, and a lot of high school drama because our lovely students have decided to go topsy-turvy. This year just keeps getting better and better.”