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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Memories Unlocked #4

The plane had landed as Tea and Ross reached the landing field and they broke out into a run
seeing a couple of people exiting it. “Oh Thank God, you found us.   Ross and I were about to give up hope anyone would figure out where we were,” Tea said as she ran up to the couple exiting the plane.


Sam Vance frowned. She recognized the ex Mrs. Manning but she had no idea who the hell Ross was.   “Ms. Delgado, we’re glad we found you too.   Is Todd Manning with you by any chance?”


“I’m sorry do I know you?” Tea asked puzzled.


“I’m Sam Vance, I was hired by Blair Manning to find Todd.  We weren’t aware you were with him when he left Hawaii.  Is he coming?  She’s anxious to get him home.”


“Oh.  Ms. Vance we thought Todd sent you.  He left the island.  I just assumed...Are you saying, Todd is still mIssing?” Tea looked over at Ross and he moved in to pull her close.  “Ross, could he be...?”


“Tea don’t. You knew he was taking a risk when he left.”  Ross turned back to Sam. “Manning left here on a raft a couple of months ago.  He was determined to get back to his family.  We tried to stop him but he refused to stay any longer.  When we saw your plane we thought he had made it to civilization after all.”


Sawyer took in their ragged attire and knew they had probably had a rough time. “You folks have been here the whole time, huh.  Sam, we need to get back in the air, I want to get to the next known destination before sunset.  I’m figuring you two don’t have anything much you need to grab.”


Ross laughed  “You figure right.  Come on Tea.  Let’s get on board, we can catch these people up on our story once we’re out of here.”


Sam watched as Ross lifted Tea into the plane and then hopped in after her.  She turned and looked at the island.  Todd was gone.  Now she needed to reassess.  If Todd left that long ago, he might be dead.  She didn’t want to have to convey that information to Blair. She took Ross’  hand and got helped into the plane. Then she made her way back to the co-pilot’s seat.


Sawyer looked over at her. “Well, it’s your call.  We can head back to Hawaii, or we can drop these two off at the nearest populated island and keep looking.”


Sam straightened her shoulders.  She wasn’t ready to give up.   “Let’s drop these two off.  If Todd left here two months ago I’m betting he made it someplace.   The man has more lives than a cat.  His wife believes he’s alive and I’m not going to be the one to tell her different.”


Sawyer was surprised,  “You’re kidding right?  You heard that guy, he said Manning left here on a homemade raft.  You honestly think he’s still out there?”


Sam nodded. “Actually, I do.  Just call it a gut feeling.  He’s out there and I’m going to find him.”


****

He was freezing, and his legs were useless as he was being swept along.  Sharp fingers of ice sliced and stabbed him while the current pushed him further down the frozen river.  In desperation, he flung his arms through the water in an attempt to get to the bank.  His hand connected with a branch and he grabbed it, pulling his body toward it.  Hand over hand he struggled to maneuver his way around the roots of the tree, finally feeling the ground.  If he didn’t get out of the water soon he would die.  The cold was seeping into his whole body, but he forced himself to claw and scratch his way onto the bank until he was free of the water.   He lay there, then forced himself to sit up. If it weren’t for his legs he could move deeper into the woods. They wouldn’t find him there. He slammed his hand down in frustration against his leg.  He wanted to scream as pain shot through him and he felt something warm gush against his hand.  He looked at his hand in amazement as the blood dripped slowly off of his fingers.  He wasn’t paralyzed, he had been shot.


Dr. Sanchez stood at the foot of Todd’s bed.  She thought back to the previous afternoon. After removing Todd from the MRI, he had been totally unresponsive.  Believing his pain and subsequent collapse was due to fragments she spotted right before the incident, Dr. Sanchez  had ordered immediate surgery.  Several of the fragments had moved in his panic and the procedure proved to be a delicate one.  Todd failed to awaken in recovery and then his condition deteriorated.  He developed a staph infection and they were fighting it, but the infection seemed to be winning. Todd had been in and out of delirium.  It was apparent by his mumblings that certain memories might be trying to surface.  She turned to the nurse.  “Increase the antibiotic and continue with the cold cloths.  Let me know if you see any improvement whatsoever.” She made the necessary adjustment on his chart and got ready to continue her rounds.


He stared at the blood on his hand and then his whole body felt like it was on fire.  Suddenly the scene around him wavered and instead of lying on an icy bank, he was on a sandy shore, with the ocean waves lapping around him.  As he attempted to move, the pain that raged through him almost made him pass out.  It felt like every bone in his body was broken.  He carefully turned his head and saw the remains of the car he had been fighting to get out.  Although he couldn’t move, he watched as it sunk from view.  He was free of it, but he would probably die anyway.  It wasn’t enough that they shot him, they had stuffed him into a car and pushed it off a cliff.   He could feel his life draining from his wounds  Turning his head away from the ocean he looked up at the high cliff beside him.  It would all be over by high tide.   As he lay there, it was as if he could hear his heart beating its last beats.


Alarms went off, and Dr. Sanchez rushed back in to find her patient in cardiac arrest.  After several attempts, they brought him back and his heart once more stabilized.  She walked out of the room to find several of the small children, Todd had befriended, standing there.
“Children, you should be in your rooms.”


Blanca spoke up.  “We wanted to know how Mr. Drake was.  Li Kwan and the others sent us to find out.” She indicated to the other two children with her.  “He’s a friend and friends need people to care and worry about them.  We know he doesn’t have any family here.”


Miguela was touched.  In one short afternoon, Todd had made a strong impression on the children and now they felt he was one of them.  “He’s pretty sick right now, but I’ll tell him you came asking about him.  I promise to keep all of you informed, and in the meantime why don’t all of you make him some cards.  When he wakes up he’ll see them and know he had someone worrying about him.”


Blanca turned to her companions and after some discussion, she turned back to the doctor. “Okay, we’ll do that, but when he’s better will you let us see him?”


Miguela smiled.  “When I’m certain it’s safe for all of you, you’ll be allowed in to see him.”  She watched as the children headed back to their wing and then walked back into Todd’s room.
“I don’t know if you can hear me, but you should know there are a number of children that are worried about you and are hoping you’ll get well.  Todd, you strike me as someone who hates to disappoint children.  You need to fight and survive.  Someone out here cares for you.”


He was drifting, his hands had been torn to shreds during that last squall.  He laughed weakly.  There was no way he was going to disappoint those kids.  He owed it to them to get home.  He hadn’t survived this long to give up now. “Kids, I’m coming. I swear.” His voice was barely a whisper, he was so parched.   He struggled to regain a sitting position, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate.  He just wanted a cool drink of water but like everything else in his life it eluded him. He laughed bitterly at the irony of his situation and then sobs overtook him.  He was floating atop millions of gallons of water and could drink none of it.


Miguela was again leaving when she caught his husky whisper.  He was talking to someone. Kids.  Had he heard her?  If so, then maybe he was on closer to coming to.  She looked at his vitals and saw that his temperature was beginning to come down.  She watched as the nurse gently wiped the tears off his face.  Would he remember anything when he awoke?  She left to complete her rounds.


In the midst of his sobs, a wave suddenly capsized the raft and he began sinking.  He wasn’t going to go down without a fight and he struggled to pull his dead weight to the surface.  A wave picked up his body like driftwood and smashed him into the rock.  Excruciating pain shot through his back.


Todd screamed in agony and awoke from the dream.  He lay there for a moment and realized the pain was gone. His mind was still trapped in the lingering effects of the dream and everything was hazy.  Todd felt someone put a cool cloth on his forehead.  It felt incredible. He was so thirsty.  “Water, please!”


The nurse reached for the water and put the straw in his mouth. “Just small sips, Mr. Drake.  You’ve been pretty sick and you’re dehydrated from the fever.”  She reached over and pushed the button on the bed.  “Tell Doctor Sanchez that Mr. Drake has awakened.”


What did she call him?  Mr. Drake?  Who the hell was that.  I’m Todd, Todd …... What the...Why can’t I remember my last name?  The water flowed down his throat like an icy river through a sun dried gully.  It enabled him to clear his throat.   He tried to speak again. “Why did you call me that?  It’s not my name.”


“It’s alright, I understand.  It’s the name you gave us permission to use.  The one the children gave you.  Do you remember?”  


He frowned. “Children gave me that name, I don’t understand.”


“Mr. Drake, do you know where you are?”


He suddenly remembered the car going over the cliff. He was trapped inside. No, he made it out. He had been hurt bad. He must have been found. “The car crash, they tried to kill me. They shot me and put me in the trunk and sent the car off the cliff.  I didn’t think anyone would find me.  How did I get to a hospital?”


Now it was the nurse’s turn to be confused.  “I don’t know anything about a car crash.  You washed up on the shore a couple of months ago.  You were badly injured.”


“I was shot, right?  I know the crash broke a lot of my bones, too.  I really thought I was a goner there for a while. This hospital, is it in Dublin?”


The nurse turned as Doctor Sanchez entered.  “Perhaps I’ll let Dr. Sanchez answer your questions.” She walked to meet the doctor.  “He believes he’s in a hospital in Ireland.  I didn’t know what to tell him.”


Miguela walked over to her patient. “Mr. Drake, Todd, it’s good to see you awake.  You had us all worried.  You’ve been pretty sick and it seems you have some confusion about where you are.  What’s the last thing you remember?”


“I just told the nurse, there was water everywhere.” Todd stopped talking. “No that’s wrong, I was lying on a beach,  the cliff...” He shut his eyes and again just saw water all around him and he was floating.  What the hell?  He opened his eyes.  “I’m not in Ireland, am I?


“No, you’re in Guam.  Something has jogged some memories, this is good.  Do you remember anything else?”


“That’s a strange question.  Of course, I remember things. “


“Excellent.  What’s your name?”


“Todd.  Why did you ask that?”


Dr. Sanchez was disappointed. “I was hoping maybe you had had a breakthrough with your memory, but I see you still don’t remember your real name.”


“That is my real name.  Hey, what’s going on here?  My name is Todd ….. Todd...,” his last name was still eluding him. . “I don’t understand, why can’t I remember my last name.  Just what am I doing here?” He looked around frantically.  What had the nurse said, something about washing up on a beach?  Suddenly memories started flooding through his mind.  Memories of waking up encased in plaster.  Being unable to move.  Oh God.  It can’t be true.  He looked down at his body, his hands moving to touch his legs.  Nothing, no feeling. It is true.  

Miguela had been watching him intently.  From his movement and the look on his face, she had a feeling his recent memories had surfaced.  She spoke quietly when she saw him try and feel his legs.  “I’m sorry, there’s been no change.  The recent surgery has put you back to square one, I’m afraid, and now we have to wait for the swelling to subside again before finding out if you’ll regain any feeling. "


Todd was only half listening to her.  That’s it, not only are you paralyzed, Todd, but your memory is faulty too.   He remembered the children giving him his name and understood why Drake sounded strange.  That was the name they had picked both his first and last name.   But Todd is my real name, I know it.  Come on think. There’s something else.  That’s it, Todd’s my middle name.  I’m Thomas Todd …..Damn it, it’s not there.  This is stupid Todd, you should know your own last name.  He noticed the doctor staring at him, she seemed to be waiting for something.  “I’m sorry, my mind was wandering a bit.  It’s all coming back to me, at least, the last couple of months.  You said something happened during the test you ran and you had to go back in and do more surgery. Right?   I think I remembered something from my past during that test.  One minute I was listening to that infernal noise and the next I was trapped inside a trunk of a car.  I was hurt, I’d been shot and the men who shot me put me in the trunk and sent it off a cliff.”


“Todd, you told the nurse about a crash when you first woke up.  Are you telling me it really happened?


“I’m not sure but I think it did.” He struggled to get more upright.  Finally settling for leveraging up on his arms.  “That’s not all.” He said excitedly.  “The name the children gave me.  I believe it’s really my name.”


The doctor looked skeptical.


“No really, I’m not kidding.  My name is Todd, actually, that’s my middle name.  My first name is Thomas, but everyone calls me Todd.   I’m certain of it.  I remember thinking how familiar it sounded when you first said it.  I’m Thomas Todd.....”  The last name remained  elusive.  “Damn it, that’s all I remember.” He dropped back on the bed his euphoria gone.


“Easy, Todd.”  She watched as his excitement ebbed with the fact that he had remembered so little. “Don’t be discouraged. This is a good sign.  It means you might regain more memories.  You mustn’t push it.  Being in the machine triggered one memory, you just need to stay positive.”


“Why is it so hot in here, did you guys forget to pay a bill or something?” he wiped his hand across his brow.  


MIguela glanced at the nurse, and she laid another cool cloth on Todd’s forehead. “I’m afraid you’ve got an infection.  You’re running a fever.  I believe the medicine is finally kicking in but you’re going to probably feel uncomfortably hot for a while as we bring it down.”


He laid there and closed his eyes, it took too much effort to keep them open.  He started to drift off and remembered.  “The children, my kids,... I promised ... “ his voice faded as he dropped off to sleep.


Miguela heard him and leaned over.  “The children will be here when you wake up.  Get some rest.”  She made some more notations on his chart and smiled.  They had a partial name and a partial memory.  Maybe they could begin trying to find out who their patient was.


****  


Sam made their two passengers comfortable and then thought it was time to ask some questions   “You said Todd left on a homemade raft over two months ago.  Was that the last you saw of him?”


Tea nodded, “We tried to talk him out of leaving but he refused to stay any longer.  He was determined to get home to his family.   Like I told you earlier, we thought you were sent by him.”


“I’m really sorry to hear all that.   We’ll have to keep searching.  We’re headed to the Marianas to get fuel and spend the night.  I’m sure we can get you a connection from there, home.”  Sam got up and headed to the back of the plane where James had a cooler stashed.  She pulled a couple of iced drinks out and some fruit and walked back, giving some to Tea and Ross, then taking the rest up to the cockpit for her and James.


Tea immediately moved to sit beside Ross.  They had had long discussions on the island about what they would do if they were rescued.  “So, as soon as we get down, I’ll make a call to my banker and get us funds.  If we pay the right people we should be on our way to Tahiti in no time.”


Ross was a little surprised.  “I thought you would want to get back to the States and help look for Todd?”


“There’s nothing I can do to help.  If he hasn’t surfaced by now, I fear he didn’t make it.  Todd’s resilient, but even you said he was facing insurmountable odds.   Todd made his choice and I made mine.  Besides, I’m in love with you.“ Tea said the words and realized how true they were.  Ross was the man who had kept them alive.  He had made her feel safe and wanted, something Todd had never been able to do. “If you can’t return to the States, then I go where you go.”


“You’re sure, Tea?”


“Absolutely.”  To prove she meant every word she kissed him.  His arms enfolded her and she sighed. “This is where I belong.”  As she made herself comfortable in his embrace, she couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for Blair.  


A short time later, they landed in Saipan.  Sawyer had radioed ahead and informed the authorities that they were bringing in some shipwrecked survivors who had just been found on a deserted island.  The authorities were highly accommodating and before the night was out, Tea and Ross had two temporary visas and were allowed to leave the airport with Sam and James.  After getting rooms, Tea and Ross disappeared.  Sam turned to James.  “I don’t know about you, but I could use a drink.  Care to meet me in the bar in an hour.  I need to inform our employer about this latest development.”

Judging by her tone, Sawyer had a good idea that Sam Vance was in the mood for more than just a drink.  “Sure, you’re paying the tab for this trip.  I’ll meet you in an hour,”  he watched her as she made her way to her room.   He had heard the disappointment in her voice when the woman she called Delgado had given them the information about Todd Manning.   It appeared Vance felt something for the missing millionaire, too.

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