This is the last section of Chapter 1 for you to read. I know I shouldn’t do this at this stage, but I have had a quick read back and there are a number of areas I can already see that will need to be “plumped” out a bit. But I hope you got a bit of a feel about Zoe. Her character will unfold a bit more in Chapter 3. Chapter 2 will be an introduction to the other pivotal characters in my story.
They left the little room and returned back along the passage to the reception area. The doctor paused before the green screens, looked at her for confirmation which she gave with a tiny nod. He quietly directed her behind the screens and slowly made his way down a wide passage. On each side were many hospital beds, some blocked off by green screens and others open with men and women lying attached to assortments of machines. Not looking left or right and breathing deeply, Zoe followed the doctor closely to an area midway down and to the left. Here another screen obstructed what lay behind. The doctor paused and pulled the screen back allowing Zoe to enter.
‘I’ll leave you alone with your father for a short while,’ he said. ‘We will be taking him up for his ECG shortly.’
‘Thank you,’ said Zoe.
Taking a deep breath she moved past the screen and stopped, gasping for air. Her father was lying pale and still on the hospital bed. The doctor had warned her about the machines and instruments attached to him, but it was still a shock, he looked so vulnerable. There was a large breathing tube, drip and various heart monitors attached to him, it all looked alien and out of place connected to her robust father. Straightening up, she took a slow shaky step towards the bed and stopped again, her father was not alone? Standing on the far side of the bed gazing down at her father was a tall man, a man she did not recognise. He was not dressed in hospital attire but a large black hooded coat, which was strange in itself as it was extremely warm inside but this did not appear to affect him in anyway. He appeared to be totally comfortable in his heavy clothing as he gazed steadily down at her father. His face slightly averted from her was in the shadow of the raised hood, but from what she could see he appeared to be extremely pale. His skin, almost translucent, was paler than her own even in her shocked state, making him appear serene and almost beautiful. He looked like a monk or a mourner at a funeral and did not appear to notice her presence. As she stood there puzzling over him, he raised his arm and extended his pale hand towards her father.
‘What are you doing?’ queried Zoe rather sharply. The doctor had not told her that there was another visitor. A visitor she did not know and had never seen before.
The man stopped with his hand in midair and glanced up towards where Zoe stood.
She gasped slightly as she stared into his eyes; eyes as black as a moonless night, eyes that appeared to look directly through her. The stark contrast against his pale skin giving them a depth that appeared to sink them deep into their sockets.
‘Do you know my father?’ she asked getting annoyed by his lack of response.
Instead of answering her, the man looked over his shoulder as if expecting to see someone else. As he turned back his gaunt face expressing puzzlement and surprise, his hand dropped quickly onto her father’s shoulder.
Suddenly, the heart monitor machine on her father’s right beeped loudly and the pulse indicator began to drop.
‘Nooo,’ yelled Zoe, sensing the sudden urgency. ‘Dad.’
Zoe rushed frantically to her father’s side as the screen behind her was pushed aside and nurses and doctors hurried in and tried to push her away.
‘No, I need to be with him,’ she shouted, grasping desperately for her father’s hand. The nurses tried to pull her away but she clung to her father’s work hardened hand, praying fervently.
Then, the machine stopped beeping and just as quickly as his heart beat had decreased, it rose again and his eyes fluttered open.
‘Zoe, my life,’ he whispered hoarsely, gazing lovingly up at his daughter clinging to his hand.
‘Dad, you’re awake,’ sobbed Zoe, burying her head against his shoulder, tears soaking into the horrible white hospital gown.
‘Shush, my child, shush,’ whispered the old man trying to pat her on her head. ‘Everything is going to be alright.’
Unable to pull Zoe away from her father, the puzzled doctor’s resorted to checking the monitors to ensure that they were all working correctly, confused about there sudden malfunction. Dr Marshall appeared and conducted a few more checks to reassure himself that the patient was responding and comfortable and left leaving the screen pulled back in case of another emergency.As the area grew silent, Zoe looked up and noted that everyone had left. She was alone with her father and he was awake. She smiled.