Ghost In The Machine


cat_icon.gif knox_icon.gif tmonk_icon.gif

Scene Title Ghost In The Machine
Synopsis When Niki Sanders fails to heed T.Monk's summons, Catherine Chesterfield is left to pick up the slack, and put the pieces of the puzzle together…
Date June 22, 2009

Upper East Side

Mount Sinai Hospital

In our lives, there is a time for everything in its place.

Thick clouds turn the heavens a slate gray in the late afternoon, drowning out the colors of sun and sky all together. The main entrance of the monolithic Mount Sinai Hospital in New York's upper east side nearly matches the color of the skies, a muted shade of brown-gray concrete fashioned in the blocky architecture of decades past. The automated doors slide open with a soft rush of air as a broad-shouldered but deceptively short man walks in, sweatshirt hood pulled up to keep his head dry from the drizzling rain. Behind him, a woman his height walks in, attire less relaxed than that of Benjamin Washington.

A time to run, a time to hide, and a time to stand aside.

"So, this guy— he's like, a friend of Rajas mentor or something?" Knox turns to look over his shoulder, one brow raised in question to the lieutenant of Phoenix striding in at his heels. Knox pauses, hands tucked into the pockets of his leather jacket, head cocked to one side. "I dunno, I think I know why that girl didn't wanna' show, right? This seems like a trap to me."

But there are other times, key and monumental, where we must follow the call to act.

As if answering the question for himself, Knox furrows his brow and breathes out a tired sigh. "I'm way too suspicious," he notes, one hand coming up to rub at the back of his neck as his eyes follow Catherine Chesterfield's confident stride towards the reception desk, then out to the handful of people seated in the waiting area. "God, I hate hospitals…" his stomach turns, muscles tensing from the edges of fatalistic fear that he can already sense from all around him.

For if we hesitate, if we fail to hear the call of opportunity's knock on our door…

"…Nothin' to be more 'fraid of than death, I guess." Knox murmurs to himself, tucking both hands back into the pockets of his jacket, watching the dark-haired nurse at the reception desk look up on Cat's arrival, offering her a warm and cordial smile in greeting.

…we have lost before we even began.

"It could be," Cat replies to the man walking with her, speculatively. "But I'm doubtful. I don't think Jazzman would ask for it if there was trouble afoot." She doesn't so much hate hospitals, and this is a different one than she has such vivid memories of spending time in last September, but the images flash through her mind just the same. Dani in the bed, not yet awake after her head trauma, experiencing the damaged memory. Reading the chart, speaking with Peter, sitting in the cafeteria reading and meeting Ygraine when she ordered real food from Piccoli's and Debater brought it, also at her arrangement. Her eyes close for some moments with these images, some of the guilt and loss surfacing along with it, the flash of seeing her bones in the morgue some months later. She shakes her head, drives the images away. There is business at hand. And for the purpose she's clad like an attorney somewhat. Suit jacket, peach blouse, smart shoes, skirt.

"Good afternoon," she offers the nurse in greeting while looking her over briefly to determine age and marital status by a glance at her left hand so she can determine if this is a Miss or a Ma'am and use the proper address, "could you direct me to the room of Garabed Bashur, please?"

"One moment," The receptionist notes, glancing up from the keys for a moment as she types in the patient's name. While she waits for the data to come up, Knox wanders around behind Cat, jaw working from side to side as he senses the palpable waves of fear emanating through the walls of the hospital, brows tense and eyes closed.

Reaching to her side, the receptionist pulls up a clipboard and pen, laying it out on the counter space in front of her. "If you could just sign in here," she motions with the pen to a line, "and fill in your relation to the patient here," another tap of the pen, "he's in room 618."

"Thank you," Cat replies, taking the clipboard and pen as she makes a mental assessment. She hasn't been asked for ID, but could be. Simply signing in is sufficient, and she needs to show a relation to the patient, so… She opts not to use a false name but to instead employ a medical doctor's trick. Her hand scrawls out a nearly illegible signature with her own name, designed to fill the requirement without actually giving a name that could be traced if anyone dangerous is interested, then she prints sloppily in the other space the word attorney.

Then the clipboard is handed back and she turns to head for the nearest elevator.

"I'll ah— " Knox glances around, "You know what this might not have been such a hot idea, Feline. I'm— " his brows furrow, a few uncertain steps being taken back. "I'll wait down here for ya, right? If you need me for — you know — just buzz my phone." With a half-hearted wave of one hand, Knox backpedals away from the counter, moving over to one of the visitor seats, slouching down against it with a sigh. He thought he had a handle enough on his ability to be in a place like this, but with the sheer size of the hospital and the types of patients here, he just can't manage it.

Her eyes rest on him and she nods once. It's clear to Cat something unsettles him, but she doesn't understand just what it is, without that innate ability to sense and employ fear. Maybe he had someone close to him die after a long illness, or suffered one himself and has scars in the mind.

But she does flash a smile, and make a teasing reply of mock displeasure. "Feline? I've been downgraded from Lioness? Aw, man. That hurts." Then she's off to the elevator and room 618.

The smirk Knox gives at Cat's back is one given with a modicum of awkwardness as she slips into the elevator along with a pair of orderlies. She was the Lioness of Phoenix, that is until he heard more about Hana Gitelman. Anyone seems like a kitten compared to that woman.

The journey up six floors, with a few stops in between for passengers getting on and coming off the elevator is largely a silent one. There's something about the smell and stillness of a hospital that inspires a certain level of uneasiness, especially when something as simple as sights, sounds and smells can inspire memories of the past to Catherine.

By the time the doors slide open, revealing the six floor hall, there's a group of nurses heading out from the elevators across the way. Catherine turns, heading down along the path of numerican ascension that each of the rooms holds to, finally coming to the nondescript faux-wood door with the black placard on the wall adjacent to it that reads: Long-Term Care - 618. Just as she nears the door though, the handle turns and a nurse steps out a bit too quickly from the room, nearly bumping into Cat and giving herself a bit of a startle.

"Oh!" The young woman grimaces awkwardly and laughs to herself, taking a few steps back and to the side. "I'm sorry I— oh are— " she glances back into the hospital room, where a soft beeping sound emanates from. "Are you— visiting?" There's a tone of surprise there.

She swiftly steps aside to dodge the emerging nurse, moving herself to the wall, and faces her once she's recovered her bearings. "I am," Cat replies in a grave tone. Quietly, she asks "I gather he doesn't get many visitors, Miss?" There's an undertone of professionalism in her voice as she speaks now, the words solemn. "That would be sad," is added. "In here, with no human contact, even in his condition." She turns to glance inside the room at the patient beyond briefly before returning attention to the nurse.

"Well," the Nurse glances in to the room, hugging a clip-board to her chest, "ever since he was admitted here, there hasn't been anyone to come visit him. I'm— I'm not sure what your relation is, but mister Bashur has been unresponsive since he came under our care." Biting down gently on her lower lip, then nurse looks back into the room. "He's been without higher brain functions for a long time now. I— " anxious eyes dart back to Catherine, "Mister Linderman has continued to pay his medical bills, but— Oh— are— " she averts her eyes, "are you here from the Linderman Group?"

"It's good to see Mr. Bashur is in such capable hands, Miss," Cat replies. "I'm an attorney, yes." Her eyes rest on the nurse again, and she shows a slight smile. "Please, don't let me keep you from your work. I'd hate to deny other patients the comforts of your excellent care."

The Nurse manages a crooked smile and takes a step back, tipping her head into a nod as she moves out of the way, allowing Cat into the hospital room. It's a private affair, the room, a single bed but no personal effects. There, hooked up to a respirator that keeps him breathing and machines that monitor every aspect of his vital signs, rests not a man — but rather a boy. A young boy with curly, dark hair and dark skin, eyes closed and head ever so slightly tilted to the side, one curled lock of black hair hanging down over his brow.

The soft beep of the machines and the hiss of the respirator fills the room in a mechanical symphony, and the look of both peace and stillness he has reminds Cat of how Dani looked that first day she came to visit her in the hospital after her attack. Both times, now, in a hospital room tied to the Linderman Group.

Inside the room, she approaches the boy in the bed and watches him in quiet, her eyes glancing once back at the door to see if the nurse is still there or has gone on about her business. On this depends what she wishes to do next. To take out her iPhone and use the camera feature to take a photo of him. Fortunately it works without seeming like a camera, the feature usable by accessing the icon on the front of it and aiming at the subject, there being no flash and images having decent quality. It's a thing she needs, to show Niki in hopes of getting her to come here. It being important for the MPD sufferer to come here, she reasons Niki might know this child. Then she would like to peruse his chart briefly. But none of these things can be done if she's observed.

"Excuse me?" The voice comes unexpectedly from behind Catherine, accusatory at first, then perhaps realizing he's been a bit terse grimaces and ducks his head, holding up one hand in a wave. "Sorry I'm— my name's doctor Benson. Lydia told me that you're this boy's attorney?" His eyes wander to the young man laying in the bed, lips pressed together in an awkward expression.

"I was hoping you might take just a moment of your time?" One brow rises slowly, and the doctor folds his hands behind his back, walking over to the bedside, gently brushing a curly lock of hair away from the boy's face.

She gets the photo she needed and pockets the iPhone, then starts to turn toward the end of the bed where the chart is, only to hear the voice behind her. Cat turns to face the source, her features solemn and businesslike as she regards the man. Her voice shows the same tones, sympathy for the boy and professionalism about her task, as she asks simply "Yes, Doctor?"

"I ah," looking away from his patient, doctor Benson turns a worried stare over to Catherine, "I know this question isn't entirely mine to be asking, but— I've made repeated attempts to get this information from the Linderman Group. I— your client is suffering from a very rare, degenerative neural disease. To put things plainly, his life is in considerable jeapordy… Normally this disease is easily treated, but without donor cells from a parent or sibling— " his words catch in the back of his throat, and the doctor lowers his voice some.

"If I can't get help from one of your client's parents, he's going to die." Blonde brows furrow together as the doctor looks back to the boy in the bed. "The Linderman Group claims to not know the whereabouts of either of this boy's parents, and they've been presumed dead in 2006. I— " one hand gently smooths over the doctor's mouth, "I was wondering if you're in contact with his parents, maybe you could— I— " his lips press together tightly, "I was hoping you might be able to have them get in contact with me? Come down for— it's a matter of whether he lives or dies, miss."

Well, now. That sheds some perspective on things, indeed. Her mind flashes back to the day before. Time is of the essence, Monk had said. All will become clear at the hospital. But if he told her more, it might drive Niki away. Hmm. That could be trouble. It's a theory in her head, but it fits the facts so nicely. Time is of the essence because the boy is dying and Niki is a relative. Proof will come when she's shown the photo.

"I've been looking into that, Doctor Benson," she confides. "It's a sensitive matter, you understand. I have to ask you not to speak to anyone of my having come here, and ask your nurse to do the same. We appreciate your confidentiality," she adds. "Thank you."

"Of course, of course…" Benson's eyes turn to the boy on the bed, managing a hesitant smile before looking back to Cat. "If you do find one of his parents, please… please let them know he doesn't have a great deal of time left." Taking a step back, Benson nods his head silently and starts to turn for the door. "I'll— I'll leave you be, then. I apologize for the intrusion." As the doctor turns, headed for the door to room 618, Cat's cell phone vibrates slightly, with a text message:

T.Monk» I hope this all makes some semblance of sense now. I apologize for eavesdropping via your telephone Mic.

Her eyes watch the Doctor depart, and after he's gone she pulls the device out. Her head shakes briefly as she reads the message, then types in a reply. It's fortunate I didn't heed the standard hospital warning about cell phones maybe interfering with hospital machinery and put it on airplane mode, sir. Cat sends the message, then begins another.

You said saying more might dissuade her. Is it safe to tell her the full truth? A friend went to Niki, Detective Harrison knows her much better than I do, and she declined to come without the situation being checked out, so I came to do just that. I have his photo now, to show her, if that's advisable. If not, I'll come up with some subterfuge aimed at getting her here.

«My one concern, Catherine, is that if she finds out Daniel Linderman is involved in his safekeeping, that she may be too afraid to come here.» Monk's words now come as voice, with the doctor out of earshot. «She, for a long time, was a puppet of the Linderman Group, she and her husband, this boy's father. Unfortunately, I cannot find him, and I fear that Daniel Linderman is keeping him here in secret, as he is registered under an alias. The boy's name, is not Garabed Bashur.»

Linderman,, she types with a grimace on her face, is not a name I plan to mention to her at any point in time. And I will speak with the Doctor when I get her here, in hopes he will not comment at all on the connection to her. I have to hope he does as I asked and tells no one of me being here, the nurse too, and no one mentions me to the Linderman group. They don't have my name, I signed in illegibly downstairs. But cameras might have my face, and Knox's.

Now at the end of the bed she picks up the chart and looks at the pages long enough to commit it all to memory, then puts it back.

When we let opportunity pass us by, we forsake a second chance that may have been offered

«You would do best to stay clear of Daniel Linderman, yes. He used to be a good man, a caring man… but…» Monk's voice fades, «Enough of then. More of now. Go find Niki Sanders, Catherine, and do what you can to convince her, or this boy's life is forfeit.»

In this choice, we settle ourselves down and hope for the best, hope that the chance that we let slip by was not the last.

«Should he not have a chance on life, I would hope that he is remembered by who he really is, not this fake name given to him. He should be remembered as his mother knows him…»

For our own sake, and of those we leave behind.

«Micah Sanders.»

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