Esther strode angrily through the hospital hallway, a fretting nurse trailing behind her.
“You’re not supposed to be back here!” said the nurse.
“Where’s my brother?” growled Esther.
The nurse was jogging to keep up, and starting to get a little winded. “You can’t… see him… It’s a… police matter…”
Esther whirled around a corner and saw a tired-looking police officer sitting on a folding chair in front of a set of double doors, rubbing his eyes. Before the officer could register what was happening, Esther had blown past him and bulled her way into the hospital room.
Another cop and a couple of people in grey suits were standing around a hospital bed. Max was lying back on his pillows, looking tired and frightened.
Esther hissed, “I want to see my brother.”
The door guard and the nurse had followed her in. “I tried,” gasped the nurse, “to tell her… to wait.”
“Well,” said the cop by the bedside, “so much for catching her on the way in, eh, Mia?”
One of the suit-wearers, a middle-aged woman with narrow glasses and a lined face, made a sour expression at the officer who had spoken. “You can go,” she said to the nurse, who seemed relieved not to be receiving a sterner reprimand. The woman turned to Esther. “So, you’re the sister?”
“Yeah, and I want to talk to Max.”
The woman adjusted her glasses. “Well you’re going to have to wait until we’re done with him.”
“Until you’re ‘done’ with him? What’s going on? Max, are you okay?”
Max tried to lean forward to look past the bodies that were surrounding him, but the effort was obviously painful and he collapsed back onto his pillows with a ragged sigh.
“What happened to him?” demanded Esther.
The cop who had spoken earlier stepped forward. “I’m Detective Sullivan,” he said. “I’m sorry we couldn’t tell you more over the phone. We thought it best to have this conversation face-to-face. Your brother was attacked this morning by a special with extraordinary abilities. Officers Mia Pavelec and Richard Callahan are federal officers from the RCMP’s Specials Unit, based in Vancouver. They’ve come to help us out with the investigation.”
“Wait, he was attacked this morning?” said Esther. “Why did you wait so long to call me over here!?”
Sullivan flashed Pavelec a meaningful glance. “Well,” he said, “there are certain, um, sensitivities within this case. We thought it best…” He trailed off. “I’m sorry,” he added.
Pavelec took over. “Ms. Merton,” she said, “we have some questions for you.”
But Esther cut her off. “Questions for me? Forget it. I want some time alone with my brother, and all of you can get out.”
“Ms. Merton,” Pavelec protested.
Sullivan quickly obeyed, joining his fellow officer outside the room. Callahan followed. Pavelec was the last to leave, and her glare lingered behind for several seconds.
When they were alone, Esther sat down on the edge of Max’s bed. “What happened?”
Max heaved a sigh, and winced. “Caleb.” His voice was raspy and faint.
Esther lowered her eyes. “This is my fault,” she said. “I knew he was in Victoria. I saw him on Saturday. At least, I thought I saw him, but I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to scare you… I’m so sorry, Max. I should have said something.”
Max looked Esther in the eyes. “It’s okay,” he said. “I’m fine.”
Esther wiped away a tear. “You don’t look so fine,” she said.
“It’s just cuts and bruises, mostly,” Max rasped. “And three cracked ribs and a sore larynx.”
Esther winced. “Ouch! What did he to you?”
“He tossed me through a plate glass window,” said Max, cringing as he recalled it.
“What? How? There’s no way Caleb is strong enough to do that.”
“He can fly, Esther.” There was a mixture of fear and awe in Max’s eyes. “And I saw him throw a car, too. Something’s happened to him. He’s completely crazy. He was going to kill me!”
“Oh, Max!” Esther hugged her brother. “I’m so sorry. How did you escape?”
“I didn’t. I blacked out and woke up here. Mr. Sullivan says a policeman was driving past on patrol and rescued me. Esther,” said Max, his eyes growing wide, “he said they shot Caleb. And Caleb dropped me and flew away!”
“And where is Caleb now?”
“They don’t know. The people from Vancouver are trying to find him. They’ve been questioning me all day, asking me over and over, but I don’t know what to tell them. I didn’t know Caleb could do any of those things. Do you think he was just hiding it all along?”
“No,” said Esther, after a moment. “If he’d been able to fly all along, he never would have become the way he is. It’s all he’s ever wanted, to be special. Now, somehow, he is, and look what he’s doing with it…”
“Do you think he’s dead?” asked Max. “Mr. Sullivan said he might be.”
“I don’t know. I guess it depends where he got shot, and where he went afterwards. Did he say anything about that when he came after you?”
“That’s what the Specials Unit people have been asking about. I don’t think he did. But he did say something about the sun rising, and how it was always nighttime somewhere. Does that make any sense to you?”
Esther shook her head.
“No,” continued Max, “me neither. Like I said, he seemed really crazy. And his eyes were all red, like he hadn’t slept in a while.” Max coughed. “Aaah,” he said.
“Want some water?” offered Esther. She poured him a glass from a pitcher on the bedside table.
Max took long, slow sips, coughing a bit in between.
“How’s your throat?” asked Esther.
“Sore,” said Max.
“You’ve probably done more than enough talking for today. Why don’t you lie back for a bit, and I’ll go talk to the police and see what I can learn. And don’t worry now. I’m here, so you’re safe.”
Max leaned back gratefully on the pillows and closed his eyes.
Esther dimmed the lights and stepped out into the hallway.