The Unwanted (Black Water Tales Book 2) (8 page)

BOOK: The Unwanted (Black Water Tales Book 2)
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CHAPTER NINE

D
ays passed and Anya’s words still worried Blaire, sometimes occurring to her randomly over breakfast, in the middle of her nightly shower or just before bed as they did now. She sat up and peeked out her window. The wind was picking up, sweeping the building with a loud whistle. Blaire looked at Travis, who was sound asleep. Nature was calling, but she hated the idea of skulking around St. Sebastian at this time of night. She remembered the nightmare that she had on that first night at St. Sebastian, which still made her queasy with thoughts of Dolly, but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to sleep until she went.

Blaire opened the bedroom door and tiptoed quickly to the bathroom. She smiled at her mischievousness, like a young girl at summer camp, sneaking out of her cabin after bed check to head for the boys across the lake. She didn’t bother to turn on the lights as she could make out the silhouettes of everything in the bathroom with just the dim light from the moon. When she was done, she washed her hands quickly and as she headed toward the door, she caught a glimpsed her own reflection in the mirror over the sink but she wasn’t alone; there was someone behind her.

A short bursting scream escaped Blaire as she turned to face, not another person but a huge furry rat that was perched on the counter. The hairy creature hissed at her and she stumbled back, tripping over her own clumsy feet. A sharp pain shot through Blaire as her elbow crashed into the hard floor. She moaned in pain.

Clambering to her feet, Blaire looked frantically for the small beast that had already scurried away. Looking into the mirror now she saw only the reflection of her disheveled self and the empty bathroom behind her.

“You look terrible,” Travis said the next morning when he woke to Blaire slipping into faded jeans and a violet blouse.

“Yeah, I know. I haven’t been sleeping well,” she said, whisking out the door and down the hall. On the first floor, she ran into Marko just as he was slipping into his office.

“Ms. Baker,” he greeted.

“Can I talk to you?” she asked. Marko held the door open for her and she marched inside.

“How can I help you?” Marko sat down in his
beat
-up chair, and Blaire took a chair opposite of him.

“You have rats.”

“Rats? We haven’t had rats in years.”

“I went to the bathroom last night and one almost take my nose off, you have rats. They scratch at the walls all night, and I can barely sleep. It’s making me crazy. You have to do something about it.”

“I will have Heinrik put out some traps.”

“Traps? That’s it, traps?”

“I’m afraid that we can’t afford to do much more than that. There aren’t any exterminators in the traditional sense in Borslav.”

“It’s dangerous and disgusting, and what if one bites one of the children?”

“Ms. Baker, you are the only person from whom I have received a formal complaint.”

“Does that automatically mean that there is no problem?”

“No, but it implies it.”

Blaire scoffed. Marko softened.

“I believe that we have some rat poison in the shed somewhere. I will have Heinrik look into it and put some traps around and some poison out, but that is the best I can do.”

Blaire grumbled under her breath, as she lifted herself from the chair and headed for the door, somehow managing to say, “Thanks, Marko.”

“Today is going to be a good day,” Blaire chanted to herself over and over as she made her way to her classroom.

After an hour of working on lesson plans, Blaire had calmed and wondered if she had not overreacted with Marko. She took a moment to relax and admire her clean and well organized classroom and realized that her globe was missing. When she got up from her desk, she was surprised to see the globe lying on the floor between two rows of desks. Blaire glanced at the windows, sure that she must have accidently left one of them open yesterday, allowing a rogue breeze to come in and topple her educational prop. Blaire eyed the windows, all of which were closed tightly. There was a titter from one of the
clown
-faced children, and Blaire frowned at the photograph.

“Hey,” Travis said peeking into the door. “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” Blaire said after lifting the globe and restoring it to its proper placement.

“We still need to get the kids’ files from Marko.” Travis had a
business
-like air about himself this morning.

“Sure, I will talk to him first thing in the morning.”

Travis got comfortable in one of the desks before he spoke again. “Can I talk to you about something?”

“Sure, anything.” Blaire tried to focus her attention on Travis instead of the strange movement of her globe.

“We have got to do something about the kids’ nutrition. It’s basic. Eating well is a fundamental building block of mental and physical health, and, until that’s right, we’ll be fighting an uphill battle.”

Blaire thought for a moment and said, “Maybe we can do some shopping and add some stock to this place.”

“You know I’m here to pay off my debt. I don’t mind giving to help, but I don’t have much,” Travis replied.

“Don’t worry. I’ll pay.”

“You rich or something?” Travis asked with amusement.

Blaire gave an abrupt laugh. “I’m not rich, but I can spare some to get these kids a good meal a couple of times a week,” she said, knowing it was a lie.

Later that night, Blaire tossed trying to find a warm spot under her thin cover as the estival nights in Borslav were uncharacteristically chilly. Again and again, Blaire found herself replaying the memory that had come to her recently in the classroom, the recollection of that summer day in the car with her parents. The memory was brief and vague, just a fluke, something that would not dare repeat itself, though she secretly harbored a grotesque desire that it would. She fell asleep trying to remember and going over the strands of the recollection in her head with a
fine
-toothed comb, like buried treasure just found.

Blaire woke to the creaking of the bedroom door.

“Hello?” Blaire called out as her unfocused eyes found a small, dark shadow standing in the corner. Laughter rang out as another short shape flitted across the room.

“Hello?” Blaire called again. She blinked several times and opened her eyes to see the little form standing directly over her now. Immense, messy curls drew a heavy silhouette around the dark figure’s head in the moonlight.

“Danya?” Blaire called out as the shadow lifted something that she thought was going to come hurling down on her. “Danya don’t,” she cried, holding up her arm only to hear the distinct click followed by a brilliant flash of light that burst into her eyes, completely whiting out her face. Blaire was lost and screamed at the powerful flash that illuminated the room that she now saw was filled with the gaunt children of St. Sebastian.

Blaire jerked up, little beads of perspiration slipping down her chest, catching her thin night shirt, making it cling to her in places. The door was closed and the room was empty. Blaire’s chest was waving up and down and her heart was pumping furiously. She lay back down and listened to the scratching of the rats, which was like a strange lullaby now. The wind hummed through the building faintly like the voices of a ghostly children’s choir.

There in the emptiness of the night she listened, and the wind grew louder until it completely filled her head with sorrow, and she knew that it was no longer the wind, but real pain. Blaire shot up in bed when she realized that someone was crying out in agony.

CHAPTER TEN

B
laire
g
ra
bb
e
d
h
e
r
pho
n
e
and us
e
d it
a
s
a
f
l
a
s
hli
g
ht, holding
it out at
ar
m

s l
e
n
g
th in
fr
ont of
h
e
r
a
s she
c
re
pt
d
own the
h
a
ll. On the second floor Blaire
stood
a
lone
i
n the
sil
e
nt,
e
mp
t
y h
a
llw
a
y
, until anoth
e
r
w
a
il
c
r
ac
kl
e
d th
r
o
u
g
h the
corridors
b
rea
ki
n
g
the
sti
f
f
sil
e
n
c
e
.
Blaire
j
o
gg
e
d to the room labeled 2E where the younger boys slept
a
nd g
ra
ppl
e
d with
t
he
stubbo
r
n knob
.

“What?” she said to herself when she realized that the door was locked. Blaire twisted the door handle frantically. The boy cried out once again.

“I’m coming,” she yelled.

Blaire raced down the hall and back up the stairs where she passed Vesna, who had shuffled to the door of her room in a tattered robe. “What are you doing?” the
bitter
-faced woman asked. Blaire ignored the question, pushing passed her and into her own room, where she pulled open her drawer to retrieve the keys which clanked loudly, waking Travis.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“They are locked up! They have them locked up like animals!” she shouted, barely realizing she was yelling as she sprinted back down the hall, keys in hand. At the boys’ door again, she reviewed the keys desperately, driving a new key into the lock with each failure of the one before.

Vesna appeared behind her, followed by Travis. “What are you doing?” Vesna asked with her hands on her hips.

“Why are they locked up like this?” Blaire said in a rage. The entire second floor had come to life with the squeals of children. The lock released and Blaire practically catapulted herself through the door to witness a dismal sight. One boy sat straight up in bed, staring out the window aimlessly, while another boy hummed a particular tune over and over. Ivan sat completely still, watching the movements of everyone very closely. In the far corner, another small boy walked in circles. In the bed next to Ivan, a boy sat rocking back and forth continuously, only stopping the persistent movement every couple of seconds to swat away something that was not there. There was another cry, and Blaire’s eyes searched the room and found the boy who had been screaming out. He was twisted up in his bed, moaning fretfully. Blaire flipped on the lights which cast the dilapidated room in a sickening greenish hue, she raced to the bed and threw back the thin sheet that covered the boy, and she gasped.

A sick purple color had spread across his arm, and his bone jutted out of place under the skin.

Blaire swept the boy into her arms as gently as possible and held him close. He winced in pain.

“Be careful,” Travis said in a whisper, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Travis inspected the injury. The boy flinched and began to cry, cutting Travis’ examination short.

Vesna returned to her room with a huff that signaled little more than her disinterest in the drama that the Americans were attempting to stir up.

“How did this happen?” Blaire asked Travis.

“It happens all the time,” Ivan said with a hopeless expression.

Travis used his finger to pull down the skin under the boy’s eyes, which revealed that the whites of his eyes had a
blue
-gray quality.

“If I had to guess, I would say brittle bone disease.”

“What is that?” Blaire questioned.

“Brittle bone disease is where the bones are so weak that they break very easily. He has a pretty good fracture here,” Travis explained.

“What do we do? How do we fix it?

“Well, there’s really nothing that we can do for the disease if he has it. But for now, I’ll have to splint his arm. Give me a few minutes. I have to get some things from my office. Try to keep him calm and still, any movement can be extremely painful, and I don’t want him to go into shock,” Travis started for the door.

He turned back to Blaire and spoke in a low voice, trying not to be heard by the children. “It’s gonna hurt,” he said.

Blaire understood. Travis was telling her this more for her than for the boy. She was obviously emotional, and he wanted to be sure that she could handle it.

“Ok,” Blaire told him, trying hard to give Travis the reassurance that he needed from her. Blaire looked down at the little boy, whose eyelids were pressed tightly together, translucent tears gathering just at the corners of his eyes. His entire body was covered in a layer of perspiration. With Travis gone, the room was suddenly filled with a penetrating cold. The children were all around her, but there was something more, an obscure presence, watching them.

Growing up, Blaire always wanted to be a doctor. In high school she joined a program for young people who aspired to go into the medical field. As part of her training, every Friday afternoon she left school early for work at Gateway Community Hospital. One particularly dismal afternoon while Blaire was working, she had been sent down to the first floor emergency room to gather supplies. A chorus of rhythmic pulses from medical machinery, along with the soft chatter of the staff, greeted her as she stepped off the elevator. While in the supply room grabbing packages of syringes and alcohol swabs, she heard the entire floor burst into a whirlwind of controlled chaos.

Stepping into the hall, Blaire saw a stretcher guided by two paramedics come flying through the double entrance doors into the emergency corridor, where a doctor and nurse sprang into action, guiding the stretcher toward the operating room. In a
trance
-like state, Blaire watched the frantic activity that suddenly seemed to be happening in slow motion. Everyone’s lips were moving, but Blaire found herself trapped in a dome of silence, and she couldn’t hear a thing. Blaire jumped back, pressing her body tightly against the wall as the stretcher nearly mowed her down. She only caught a glimpse of the man, but his skin, the skin that he had left, was raw. Most of his clothing had been burned away, but some remained, charred into his flesh. Blaire crept toward the emergency operating room, stood on her tiptoes and peered into the window, where she observed the hurried movements of the doctors and nurses, and then she saw him. As she glimpsed his tortured eyes, sound abruptly penetrated her from all angles. The man’s screams paralyzed her, while the world around her blazed into audible life, and she could feel his pain. Mixed in with his agonizing howls were other familiar cries, the cries of her mother.

Her mother called out to her in a wave of excruciating agony.
BLAIRE!

Blaire’s throat was painfully dry as she turned away from the man. Calmly, she placed the supplies down on the counter of one of the nurses’ stations and found the water fountain, bending over for a long drink. When she was no longer thirsty, she walked out of the double doors onto the street and never returned.

Once again, Blaire found herself in room 2E of St. Sebastian, but at the same time in the backseat of her father’s sedan. The Mamas and the Papas sang cheerfully, and her mother was laughing loudly one moment, and, in the next, they were gone. All of them were gone, sucked out of the world and out of her memories.

“Everything is going to be fine,” Blaire said to the boys, finding herself singularly confined within the walls of St. Sebastian once more. This wasn’t a burn victim, but a simple fracture with no blood. Surely, Blaire could handle that.

“What is your name?”

“Andre,” he whispered hoarsely through chapped lips.

“Andre, everything is going to be okay. Nurse Wells is going to fix you up and make the pain go away, okay?”

Andre nodded his head though he seemed skeptical.

Travis returned with medical supplies, water, a bottle of pills, and a towel among other things. He crushed four pills and made Andre swallow them with water. Blaire used the towel to pat the boy’s forehead. A few moments later, Blaire was instructed to hold the boy tightly. Travis felt around the injury with a gentle touch and, without warning, executed a precise move that caused Andre to release a
bone
-chilling scream. Blaire tightened her grip and snapped her eyes shut.

Once it was done. Travis finished by placing an ice pack on top of the injury.

“I’m sorry, buddy,” Travis said to the boy.

It was nearly 10 a.m. before Marko made it into his office. Since Blaire had been watching and waiting with little patience, she gave him less than a minute to settle himself before she was knocking at his door, “Marko!”

“Come in.”

Blaire threw the door open, hardly able to contain herself, as she stepped inside and began to pace the short floor of the office.

“We need to talk.” Blaire’s hands were set staunchly on her hips.

“Have a seat. I have been told that there was an incident here last night.”

“An incident? Yes, there was an incident, Marko.”

Blaire didn’t take him up on his offer to sit, which Blaire saw as a ploy to calm her when she had absolutely no intention of being calmed. Her hands were trembling, as it was much too late for calmness.

“I heard one of the children crying in the middle of the night, and when I went down to the room, the door was locked.” Blaire informed him in a voice that sounded as if it would dissolve into sobs at any moment.

“Of course, it was locked. The doors are always locked. We lock them every night for the children’s safety. I thought I explained that by giving you keys,” Marko said, countering the attack immediately.

“Their safety? They’re not prisoners! What if they need something or need to go to the restroom or, God forbid, this place catches fire, then what?” Blaire grabbed the thick brown hair that had found its way inside of her shirt collar and pulled it out with a swift yank.

“Ms. Baker, many of these children have special needs, some of them can barely walk, some can barely talk, some are blind, and others have mental illness. If we leave the doors open, they could come out of their rooms unsupervised, fall down the stairs, get into the kitchen knives and hurt themselves, hurt others…maybe, even get out of the facility and down to the sea. Any number of things could happen, and we do not have enough staff to sit and watch overnight, since we can barely afford to pay the people that we have watching during the day. There is one person here overnight, and many times it is the same person that works during the day. The overnighter is only for emergencies. We work on a skeleton crew here, and again, I know that you come from a place where funding is abundant, but
we
do the best that we can under difficult circumstances. You are here to help us, not judge us. Whether you think so or not, I am very committed to my job. It is my life, and let me remind you, Ms. Baker, that a year from now you will get to go home, but I
will not
, the workers
will not
,
and the children,
certainly, will not
. This is home for us, and we do the best that we can with it, and if it is not up to your standards, Ms. Baker, then maybe you should not be here.” Marko was pleased with his speech and relaxed into his chair.

Blaire was disarmed by the rebuttal. She had been prepared to yell, scream, and curse Marko like she had never cursed anyone before. Blaire wanted to let him have it, but after hearing his explanation, though it did not completely absolve him, it was reasonable at least and admittedly, she had not expected any explanation that he could give to be even that.

You’re not in America anymore,
Emma’s words were haunting.

“W…well…” Blaire stuttered, trying to wrangle her tongue to cooperation. “I apologize. I may have overreacted just a bit. I am just not used to this. I want to be here I assure you,” Blaire said, plopping down into the chair where she lowered her head into her palm.

“I assume nurse Wells took care of Andre’s injury?”

“Yes, of course,” Blaire confirmed.

“Good. It happens to the boy quite often.”

“If you don’t mind, Marko, I would like to purchase…donate some things to St. Sebastian, like books, blankets…if that’s okay?”

“That will be fine,” he said as Blaire got up to leave.

“Ms. Baker…” he called before she could exit.

“Yes?”

“There are locks on all of the doors at St. Sebastian, including the one to your bedroom,
I
suggest you use them.

BOOK: The Unwanted (Black Water Tales Book 2)
13.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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