What Price Freedom
Chapter 15
by Marc Carlson
Copyright 1992 by Marc Carlson
 
 

Chapter 15

     "Dr. McCoy! Your breakfast is ready."  Mrs. Jenkins' voice came through the bedroom door, jerking Helena from a deep sleep.

     Her head hurt, and she felt like she had syrup flowing in her veins.  For a moment, she had no idea where she was.  Then it came back to her.  She slowly pulled herself to a sitting position.  A blinding sunlight filled the room, telling her that whatever time it was, it was getting late.

     "Jesus, Mary and Joseph," she moaned to herself.  It made no sense that she should feel as though she had gotten no sleep.  After the battle, it hadn't taken them long to get their patients put to bed, including the new one.

     Yuvon and Morgan had driven off the bulk of the attackers, and, based on what he had told her, he had only killed three of them.  The survivors had been allowed to cart away their dead, but she suspected that the townspeople wouldn't be satisfied with that.  They hadn't even wanted the man she had wounded back, fearing that he might be infectious.  Regardless, she knew for a fact that it had been before ten o'clock when she had turned in.

     With a titanic force of will, she pushed the quilt and blankets away from her.  She let the cool air caress her for a moment before she slid out of bed.  She promptly fell flat faced on the floor as her legs refused to do their work.

     "Damn," she muttered.  Pushing up with her arms, she realized that they weren't all that happy about working either.

 After a few moments, she managed to flop over onto her back.

     A thumping came from the stairs followed by a knocking on her door.

     "Doctor? Are you all right?" came Mrs. Jenkins worried voice.

     Helena thought about it for a moment or two before answering,

     "No!"  Honesty was, after all, the best policy.

     Mrs. Jenkins opened the door and poked her head into the room.

     "Oh my goodness!"  The woman rushed in and knelt by Helena's head.  "What happened?"

     "Oh, not much.  I think that my body has just gone on strike."

     "How horrible.  Is there anything I can do to help you?"

     "No, just help me get back into bed, please."

     After a few minutes struggle, it became apparent that neither Helena nor the elderly woman were capable of getting the doctor back into her bed.

     "I should go and get some help, yes?"

     "Oh, I suppose so."  Helena was frustrated and sounded it.

     "Dr. Arelssyn is in the barn.  I'll go and get him."

     "Good place for him, I suppose."

     Mrs. Jenkins left the room.  Helena looked around, taking the opportunity to examine the room from a new perspective.  She sighed as she noted that even in the guest room, traditionally one of the least used rooms in a house, there was no dust under the bed.

     Yuvon came in a few minutes later.

     "Good morning," he said cheerfully.

     "Go to Hell."

     "Thank you, but I've been there.  Badly overrated."  He crouched down next to her and screwed his monocle into his eye.  "Are you in any pain?"

     "No, not really.  Although I think I bruised my chin on the floor."

     "I used to have a cat that did that all the time, jumping off tables.  So what happened?"  He began to run his hands over her limbs, first gently, then more firmly.  Helena hated to admit it to herself, but the heat from his hands and the pressure felt wonderful to her aching muscles.

     "Nothing whatsoever happened.  I simply tried to stand and my limbs refused to cooperate."

     "Nothing feels torn."

     "I'm glad to hear that.  I was starting to wonder if you were merely groping me for your own amusement."

     "You shouldn't worry your pretty little head about things like that."  She slipped his arms beneath her and lifted her up.  "Of course, I was only doing for my own amusement."

     "God, I love strong men," she said dryly.

     He dropped her onto the bed.

     "Now it's time to really examine you."

     "I thought that you'd done that already."  She nodded toward the floor.

     "You mean that little grab and tickle?  That was just to make sure you were still alive."

     "So what's your prognosis?"

     "You've been dead for three weeks."

     Over the next few minutes, he examined her thoroughly.  When he finished, he took a deep breath and looked down at her, thinking.

     "So I repeat; what's your prognosis?"

     "Offhand, I would say it was exhaustion."

     "Exhaustion?"

     "Yes, a collapse brought on by physical exhaustion.  It would appear that you have been abusing your body, and it has finally refuse to cooperate.  You've hit the wall."  He thought for a moment.  "You have been experiencing significant pain lately, and yet you have said nothing.  Why?"

     "Well, maybe a little, but I figured I could keep up with you.  The soreness from the riding should have faded rather quickly."

     "You're right, and it would have, but you've been doing more than just that haven't you?"

     "I suppose ..."

     "'I suppose.' Listen, Helena, I can't think of very few people who can 'keep up' with me."

     "Why?  Because you're such a big strong man?"

     "No, because I ...  Never mind.  A few days of bed rest, and you should be fine."  He reached into his medical bag and began to look around.

     "Don't you dare put me off like that!  Either you give me a real response for a change, or get the Hell out of here."  She glared at him.  He looked at her and raised his eyebrow.

     "You're right, of course."  He looked at the ceiling for a moment, then back at her.  "What I should have said was that the reason, people have trouble keeping up with me, is that I have always been somewhat more resilient that my peers.  That, and for much of my adult life, I have live an intensely active life.  This little jaunt is a peaceful vacation."

     "Then why didn't you say that?"

     He shrugged one shoulder.  "I just assumed that you wouldn't believe me."

     She threw her head back in frustration.  She noticed him produce a hypodermic from his bag, and begin to fill it.  "What's that?"

     "Vitamins."

     "And what are vitamins?"

     "New stuff, developed by some people in the orient."  He pulled out her arm.

     "Not that eastern medicine rubbish again?"  She pulled her arm back from him.

     "I'm serious.  They're doing fascinating work on the nutritional values of polished versus unpolished rice."

     "Nutritional values?"

     "Of course, You know what scurvy is, don't you? How do you cure it?"

     "Increase the patient's intake of fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits."

     "Correct.  Well, there's a chemical in those foods stuffs that you need to be healthy.  It's called vitamin C ..."

     "Oh, be quiet," she snapped, and thrust her arm out at him.  "I don't care, just give me the damned injection.

                          * * * * * *

     Helena was forced to remain in bed and rest for the next few days.  That first morning, after her breakfast tray had been cleared away, Helena found she had just enough strength to make it to the outhouse and back on her own.  While it might not have seemed like much to anyone else, it shored up her eroding sense of independence.

     Helena grudgingly admitted to herself, as she struggled to crawl back into bed, that a rest wouldn't be a bad idea for her.  It was, after all, what she would have prescribed for someone else in the same situation.

     And, she added ironically, it wasn't as if she could do a great deal about it.

     Leaning back in her pile of pillows, Helena began to take a clear stock of the room she was in.  It was clean and somewhat spartan, like the rest of the house.  Mrs. Jenkins' decor was in stark contrast to the baroque bedlam that made up the ambience that Helena usually inhabited.

     Next to the bed stood a small table and a wooden chest.  There was a tall armoire across the room from her bed, and a few feet from it a small writing desk sat.  Between them, a bow window opened up into the yard.  Helena could see the top of the barn across the yard.

     Helena could see a small row of books on a shelf over the desk.  With and enormous effort she crawled out of bed,a nd went over to examine the books.  They were all novels.  Vathek, the Castle of Ontronto, and Wuthering Heights seemed to top the list.  Helena carried them back to the bed with her, and settled in for a long rest.

     Yuvon did not spend much time with Helena during her time of rest, and to be honest, she preferred that.  He was really making her feel uncomfortable, although she wasn't sure why.  Mrs. Jenkins spent some time with her in the evening, particularly after discovering that Helena could play cribbage, but during the majority of the day, Helena was alone.

     By Thursday morning, Helena was actually feeling up to getting up and moving about for extended periods.  She had polished off a number of novels during her two days of solid bed rest, and she was getting seriously bored.