No Good Deed
Copyright© 2019 by Lumpy
“Get the others. I’ll call Jawarski and have her come pick us up. Meet me out front.”
Zoe nodded and disappeared into the crowd to find the rest of our group, while I slipped my cell phone out of my pocket and headed for the front door.
“What happened, now?” was the first thing she said when she picked up the phone. “I knew I should’ve been there with you.”
“Nothing happened, come pick us up. Something’s gone wrong with Celia.”
“I told you helping her was a bad idea,” she said as she hung up, saving me from getting caught in an argument.
Of course, she wasn’t wrong. Both Jawarski and Jonathan had warned me about getting involved with a junkie, and especially that one from a rich and hands-on family was a bad idea. I was certain I’d be hearing more about this once things got sorted out.
First, we had to get this sorted out, though. Jawarski came zooming up in front of the house right as the girls all rushed out the front door. There were enough of us that we were a little cramped in Jawarski’s SUV, with Tami being forced to sit on Zoe’s lap in the back seat.
“So what happened?” Jawarski asked as I slid into the passenger seat.
“I don’t know. Head toward the apartment while I figure that out.”
I dialed the phone number we’d put into the apartment, and put my phone on speaker. Megan must have been sitting literally by the phone, as it was picked up before the first ring had finished.
“Cas?” she said in a panicked voice.
“Cas, I’m so sorry. I swear we didn’t...”
“Megan, it’s okay. What happened?”
“Celia’s gone. We got back late this afternoon from Alex’s lab, and Celia headed straight for her room. I sat up in the front room talking to Mrs. Hollabrand for a few hours, and then she went to the kitchen to get dinner ready. I went to Celia’s room to tell her dinner would be ready soon, and she wasn’t there. I swear, we were in the front room the whole time. There is no way she got past us.”
“But she wasn’t in the room?”
“No. The window was open, but we’re on the third floor. There’s no way she could’ve gotten out the window.”
“Never doubt what junkies will do when they’re jonesing for a fix,” Jawarski said. “So she’s been gone for a few hours?”
Jawarski looked to make sure she was clear, and then threw the car into a U-turn, and headed in the other direction.
“Where’re you going? The apartment’s that way,” I said, pointing over my shoulder.
“We won’t learn anything else at the apartment. By now she’s found a fix and somewhere to shoot up.”
“She’s never been here. How would she have already found a place to buy drugs?”
“It’s what Junkie’s do. Trust me.”
“So where are we headed?”
“There’s a place junkie’s go to shoot up. It’s an old department store that shut down about five years ago. So far, no one’s bought the property. We ... I mean, the police, roust it every few weeks. But within days the place is infested again. Especially when it starts turning cooler.”
“We have enough addicts living here for that?”
“Yeah. Alice isn’t a big town, but it’s big enough. Maybe not ten years ago when cocaine was the thing, but with crack taking over and now meth-amphetamines, which they make out of cough medicine, we’re seeing more and more people getting hooked. So, yeah, with both the addicts and the homeless, and there’s some crossover there, we have enough for that.”
“And you think she would know how to find something like that?”
“Yeah. She’s been scoring long enough she’s probably able to figure it out. It’s a place to start.”
We turned into an older section of the city. It would at one time have been a major commercial street, but had several boarded up shops, now. There were still places that looked occupied. Antique and boutique style shops, but they looked to be holdouts from before the big box stores opened across town, and started putting these smaller places out of business.
The building where Jawarski pulled up was smaller than I’d been expecting. If it’d been a department store, then it was one of the mom and pop variety. The windows were boarded up with a ‘for sale’ sign plastered on one of them.
“How do we get in?”
“Front door. The lock’s been broken so many times, the property owners gave up trying to fix it, since the junkies get in anyway.”
I headed to the front door, only to have Jawarski grab the back of my shirt and pull me back.
It was really dark inside, the boarded-up windows keeping all but the smallest slivers of light from the streetlights outside from getting in. As promised, there were almost a half a dozen people scattered across the big open room, and there were probably more in some of the closed off rooms in the back of the store.
Occasionally, a little light flared here or there from a small flashlight or a burning cigarette. The place smelled like a cesspool. We split apart, although Jawarski remained on my heels, walking past people who didn’t seem to realize we were even there. The few people that even looked in our direction seemed to look past us, instead of at us.
“Over here,” Vicki called out from across the room
Celia was pushed up into a small corner, her eyes closed and her head lolled to one side. Jawarski reached down and felt at her neck.
“She has a pulse. It’s not strong, but it’s there,” she said. Gripping Celia by the shoulders, Jawarski started to shake her side to side, “Celia. Celia. Hey.”
She didn’t even stir.
“She’s totally out of it,” Tami said.
“Is it normal to be that out of it?” I asked.
“Depends on what she took,” Jawarski said, pulling out a small flashlight from her pocket.
Kneeling down in front of Celia, she pried the girl’s eyelid open with one hand, and shined the light with the other. Putting the flashlight down, she lifted Celia’s arm up and released it, the arm flopping back down uncontrolled.
“It’s not normally like this, though. There’s usually some sign of consciousness, even if she was just passed out. The pupils aren’t responding. I’m not an expert, but she’s more out of it than most junkies I’ve encountered.”
“But she’s alive? She didn’t OD or anything?” I asked.
“Yeah, she’s alive.”
Jawarski leaned in close, putting her ear to Celia’s chest.
“I can’t tell, but her breathing seems weird. She’s alive, now, but I think we need to call an ambulance.”
“No. Let’s pick her up,” I said.
“What?” Jawarski said. “Cas, we need to get her to a hospital.”
“I know, but we already have a better fix for her. The change will clear any of the shit she took, out of her system, for good. It’ll repair any damage it did, to boot. Once she’s in a hospital, we won’t be able to put her through the change without someone noticing. Zoe, call Alex. She should know by now if Celia is negative. If she is, we’ll take her to the hospital. If not, tell Alex to meet us at her lab. We need to put her through the change, now.”
“Cas, I think we should listen to Jawarski,” Zoe said.
“I know, but I’m right about this. If she is having a reaction to whatever she took, the damage to her system might be irreparable by conventional means. Just listen to me, please.”
I reached down and picked Celia up, cradling her in my arms. She was surprisingly light.
By the time we got through the front door and to the car, Zoe was hanging up her phone.
“Alex said Celia is not a negative. I described what we saw, and she said it could be a drug-induced coma. She agreed with you that, if Celia was breathing and had a pulse, we should bring her there.”
“Okay. Emily, you and Tami squeeze into the passenger seat together. Zoe, you and Vicki get in the back seat, and I’ll put her on top of you, and then get in and hold the rest of her. We need to keep her steady, so she doesn’t hurt her neck or anything.”
Once we were all jammed into Jawarski’s SUV, she took off. In ten minutes, we were pulling up in front of Alex and Mom’s lab, where Alex was waiting outside.
“Cas, bring her in and lay her down on the examination table,” Alex said, holding open the front door for me.
I followed her instructions and had her in the lab’s one examination room, laid out. As soon as she was down, Alex pushed me out of the way and started checking on Celia, listing to her chest, lifting her eyelid, and repeating the flashlight thing Jawarski had done.
“She appears to be in a coma. Her pulse is weak, her breathing is uneven and labored, and she has a limited autonomic response. Do any of you know what she took?”
“No, we found her like this,” I said.
“There was a syringe lying near her, but we didn’t bring it with us,” Emily said.
“Shouldn’t the change flush her system, regardless of the drug?” I asked.
“Yes, but I’m more worried that she’s going to have some kind of seizure or cardiac episode while we wait for the change to take place. Still, it’s our best shot. I’m going to administer your blood to her now, and then we have to wait. I’ll stay and keep watch on her, but I’d like someone else here with me, so there’s always someone with her if I need to check on something else.”
Alex went to one of the wood cabinets along one wall, pulled open a drawer, and picked up a packaged syringe. Pulling off the paper covering identifying it as clean and unused, she removed the syringe and carried it over to a large metal cabinet sitting on one corner top.
The cabinet had a keypad on the front, into which Alex tapped several numbers, before pulling the door open. Inside were rows of small vials, some clear and some blood red. She extracted one of the red ones, pulled off the small plastic covering on the tip of the syringe, and inserted it, quickly pulling blood into the syringe.
“I’ll stay,” Zoe said, as we watched Alex replace the vial in the metal cabinet and walk over to Celia with the now filled syringe.
“Do you want the rest of us to stay?”
“No, we’ll be okay, Cas,” Zoe said. “It’s getting late, and we don’t all need to be up all night. You guys go get some rest.”
“Call Megan. I guarantee she and Mrs. Hollabrand are going to still be upset about Celia getting out. They are going to want to be here, too.”
“Okay,” Zoe said, looking back at Celia, who didn’t flinch when the syringe plugged into her arm vein.
I stepped up to Zoe and pulled her into my arms.
“I know I made the decision to bring her here,” I said. “Thanks for staying with her.”
“Hey, once the change takes place, she’ll be clean forever. I can lose a night of sleep to save someone’s life.”
“And that’s why I love you,” I said, leaning in and kissing her.
“Please call me if anything at all happens.”
“I will,” Zoe said.
“We’ll be fine, Caspian,” Alex said. “The blood’s been introduced, and we know she’s not a negative. All we can do now is wait while it takes over and pushes that crap out of her system. Then it’ll start fixing whatever damage this girl’s done to herself. There won’t be much to see here for a while.”
“Okay, you’re the doctor.”
As we headed out to Jawarski’s car, I noticed one of Carter’s men sitting in the previously empty front waiting room.
“What’s he doing here,” I asked as we headed into the parking lot.
“Better safe than sorry. We’ve had enough surprises for one night. If she wakes up and decides to fly the coop again, I want a professional here to stop her. Should have insisted on having someone stationed at the apartment in the first place, then we wouldn’t have had to chase her down at all.”
“‘Cause they would have predicted a twenty-year-old girl would somehow find a way to climb out and down from a third story window?”
“Maybe,” Jawarski said as we all got in her car.
Her tone said she didn’t really believe that, but there was no way she’d willingly concede the point to me, so I let it drop. It was late when we got home, so we all just piled into bed and called it a night.
We had one more day until school started back up, and I’d hoped to spend half of it lounging around the house before going and checking on Celia. An early morning knock on the door killed that plan, and I found myself sitting at the dining room table drinking coffee with Ted, Charles, Marcus, and Jonathan.
“So what’s up, guys?”
“Well, I know your Christmas break is almost up, and I thought it would be a good time for us to catch up on stuff now before school started back. Let you focus on getting your semester started without having to also burn the midnight oil in the office.”
“Thanks, Ted. That’s really thoughtful. You know I don’t mind coming into the office though. I managed to maintain that schedule last semester.”
“Sure you can, but why do it when we can swing by today, so you don’t have to? You push yourself too hard, sometimes, Cas.”
“He’s right. That’s like what I was saying the other day,” Jonathan added. “There’s no reason to push yourself to the edge, when you don’t have to. Save it for times when you have no choice.”
“I know, you’re right. Okay, I can hear mom in the kitchen, and if I know her, she’ll be putting breakfast in front of each of you soon, so let’s get started before we have to take a waffle break. I spoke to Douglas late last week. He said the battery and solar panels are coming along well and he’d have something for us as soon as next month.”
“Cas,” Marcus said, “I know you’ve looked at the specs he’s getting and some of his plans, and you no doubt understand everything he’s sent over, I’m not sure you realize how revolutionary some of the stuff he’s producing is. Let me tell you, what I’ve seen in his lab so far has blown me away. I know batteries and solar panels aren’t sexy like drones, but he is really pushing some boundaries on what I thought was possible. The man’s exceptional.”
“Of that, I have no doubt. Hopefully, you’re there when he presents his prototype. Douglas can get a little over excited when he gets ramped up about something, and it gets hard to keep him from getting into the nitty-gritty techno-speak.”
“Ohh, trust me, I’ll be there.”
“How’s Ronald doing?” I asked.
“Great. They took a few days off for Christmas but got back at it hard this last week. The plant is, for all intents and purposes, finished. There’s some minor finishing work to do and safety checks to perform, but we’ll be up and running in less than two weeks. He’s already got the people he’s bringing into the states to manage the individual shifts and some on-site engineers out there, and he’s starting hiring and training locals.”
“So how far in the red are we?”