Planet of Wishes
Chapter Thirteen -
Friends in Not So Funny Places
Scott Barlow ended up in trauma almost every holiday. Not that he didnít like holidays; it was just that he, not being married and not having any relatives closer then the Intermountain West, just naturally ended up holding down the fort at Memorial Trauma Center on holidays such as Christmas and New Yearís Eve. And it had been a typically crazy Washington DC night. Already at 8:30 p.m., he had treated twelve gunshot wounds, a half a dozen car accident victims, several attempted suicides, and various assorted illnesses.
And, he thought wryly, one mustnít forget George Washington. George was sitting in the chair across the room from him smiling blissfully. An older gentleman, his real name known only to himself and God, George would most definitely have benefited from the services of a nice mental facility. However, the poor soul had fallen through the cracks of a system that couldnít seem to handle the needs of everybody. The man was also very claustrophobic and wouldnít stay in a group home, so every time the thermometer dipped towards zero, George was usually brought into the emergency room to thaw out for a while until the walls closed in and he slipped out again. Scott liked the old man so much that he had even offered once to let George share his apartment, but the old fellow had stayed for only half a night before leaving to go back on the streets.
"Dr. Barlow, we have another hypothermia coming in. Seems to be in shock, too, from what the EMTís have told me," Billie said through the open door.
"Might as well have them bring him in here, since most of the equipment is ready. Or are we talking about a her?" Scott pointed to the far exam bed. "Over there and bring me the transmission reports."
"Him," she said matter-of-factly, in a soft southern drawl. "A John Doe. No coat, gloves, ID, nothing. Like he walked out of his house somewhere to pick up the paper and got lost. He was picked up near the capital building." Scott nodded. Within minutes, he heard the shrill undulating siren and went out to the sliding doors to help the technicians. Shivering when the door slid open, Scott grabbed the data pad as the EMTís rolled the victim into the room indicated.
He and Billie checked the vitals of the man, who although suffering from the cold, didnít appear from the data to have been exposed too long. From all indications their John Doe was in a comatose state. When he had determined that there was no immediate danger to the manís life, Scott gazed at him more closely. He felt as though he had seen him before, not personally, but.... Right now, though, he didnít have the luxury of standing around trying to think of who their John Doe was.
Checking the instrument panel that was now set up to monitor the vitals, Scott tried to figure out what could have put his patient into such deep unconsciousness. "Billie, heís stable for now. Call Vlad and tell him I want a test done on our John... uh, Doe here." She nodded and left. He checked to make sure the hypothermia blanket was securely wrapped around his patient and then took a moment to ponder.
The manís name was John, he was sure of it, but John what? He felt Georgeís presence at his elbow. "George, you really need to wait over there. Only one doctor per patient, you know," he said with a chuckle. George chuckled with him.
"Gotcher self a real spaceman there, Dr. Scott," George said, looking intently at the unconsciousness man.
"Spaceman?" he murmured. "What are you talking about, George?" And then it hit him. He knew why the man on the exam bed looked familiar. Jupiter II mission. He had been most of the way through his doctoral program when the Robinson family had taken off for Alpha Centauri, and he had not missed a report, article, or internet posting before, during or after the launch. That originally had been the only thing he was interested in: space. Specifically, space medicine. But the disastrous disappearance of the space ship had taken the edge off of any space programs, and Scott had simply opted to go into emergency medicine. He was now in his last year of residency at Memorial.
And before him lay Professor John Robinson. How, he couldnít conceive, but he would bet his life on the fact. Reaching for the intercom, he called the front desk. "Deanna, get security down here with their ID kit. We need to do an ID on an emergency patient." He turned to find the hematology technician coming through the door.
"Okay, doc, whoís the lucky soul I get a bite from," Brent Mayer, a.k.a. Vlad, said brightly. Scott pointed to ĎJohn Doeí and then escorted George back to his chair.
"Now, doc, he doesnít look like most of the ice cubes that are brought in during weather like this. Whatís his problem?" Vlad asked, curious as usual.
"Don't know yet, Vlad. Thatís one of the reasons youíre here," Scott answered. Vlad worked quickly and methodically and soon had his sample.
"Zoom, Alpha Centauri," George piped up from the corner. Vlad laughed as he headed back to the lab.
Several hours later, with vitals fluctuating just enough to give him an excuse to keep ĎJohn Doeí in the emergency room, Scott was still waiting for the results the ID tests as well as the blood test. He checked on the mysterious patient in between several more emergencies, most of which dealt with the effects of too much alcohol. Finally just before midnight, Billie brought in the results of the tests. Mentally, Scott was grateful for computer technology that enabled such quick findings.
"Billie, read me what the reports say. Iím kind of tied up right now." He was stapling together the results of a drunken knife brawl.
"John Sims Robinson, born Lowell, Massachusetts, 1967. Last listed address, Houston, Texas. Also lists next of kin. You want me to make contact?" Billie asked matter of factly. "Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year, doc."
"Not yet. But Iíll let you finish the bandaging; I have the worst done. Thanks. And Happy New Year to you, too," he said as he washed up. Just as he was finishing, several loud cries came from the one of the other rooms.
A nurse rushed in. "Doctor, problems in three."
Scott followed her and found John Robinson moaning and thrashing on the emergency bed. And he was speaking a language that Scott had never heard before. He checked the diagnostics and saw that the vitals were, for the most part, normal. Suddenly with a shout and the cry, "Mo," his patient sat up and gazed around the room as though expecting someone to be there.
The nurse looked at the patient with wide eyes. "Honey, I certainly hope you speak English, because I sure canít talk to you in that language you were just speaking."
John blinked at her, somehow expecting to see Rrangruk, the Ugorrim doctor, in front of him; his dream had been that vivid. And then he realized where he was. "Iím on Earth," he stated. "Whereís my wife?"
"Your wifeís not here, Professor Robinson," Scott said. His patient looked confused and kept glancing around the room.
"But I left with her..." Johnís voice trailed off, suddenly remembering the trip from the Jupiter II. "Where am I, Doctor...?" he asked.
"Memorial Trauma Center, Washington DC, and Iím Dr. Scott Barlow. An honor to meet you, Doctor," Scott smiled. "How do you feel, by the way?"
"I have a headache that would rival any produced by a hangover, but otherwise Iím fine," John said wryly. He looked at the rails on the bed. "Any possibility of getting rid of these, so I can get off of this thing? Itís not made for comfort."
Scott laughed and put the rails down. He grabbed the professorís arm to steady him as he slid off the table. He considered the circumstances of Dr. Robinsonís appearance here and ventured a query which he hoped wouldnít insult his patient. "Do you have any place to stay tonight?" he asked.
"No," John answered and then felt his pockets. "And no way to get back home. By any chance, were any items taken from my pockets?" Scott shook his head, no. In a way, John was relieved because that meant that Maureen must have the cube and therefore a way back to the children. Looking at the young doctor, he smiled. "I was really expecting to end up somewhere a bit more temperate."
"Iíll be off in half an hour, would you like to settle in my apartment for the night?" Scott asked.
"Iíd appreciate that, Doctor," John told him.
Maureen felt the cold grip of fear once again clutching her heart. "Where could he be? What happened to him? Oh, not again."
Don grabbed her arms and looked intently into her eyes. "Maureen, there is a logical explanation to this. There has to be. You saw how it was able to take Will to that planet, when he didnít even know where it was, or what it was, or even what it looked like."
"And I think I know what the explanation is," Will announced. Everyone looked at him, no one saying a word. "You were both going to visit Aunt Colleen, right?" His mother nodded. "Well, I bet that something else was on Dadís mind just before the device activated, and somehow it sent him to whatever place he was thinking about, while it sent you to Aunt Colleenís just as you had planned."
"But he mentioned Colleen just before we left," Maureen said.
"Well, what happened before you left? Think back, Mom," Will coaxed.
Maureen thought back. "He teased me about everything I was taking, his lizard gave him a hard time about leaving, and...." She paused, pondering. "Wait, he was reading one of those papers that Penny wrapped presents in." She ran to get the newspaper and was reading it as she came back. "Of course, he was disgusted. And hereís an article about a forced resolution against further funding of the Jupiter III project."
"I bet Dadís in Washington DC," Will announced. Everyone looked at him intently.
"Then I need to go back to Colleenís because he will try to contact me there," Maureen said resolutely.
"Let me go with you, Mom," Judy said.
"No, first of all, when your Dad and I get back together, weíll be coming back. We donít know if the cube will handle three. And second, we also donít know what effect all of this teleportation might have on the baby," Maureen stated. "Iíll be fine and I will find your dad." She hugged and kissed each of her children and went back to her cabin. Concentrating, she felt the now familiar languidity that accompanied the teleportation process.
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