Everything was on fire. The heart of the Egyptian temple was burning, the ancient pavers beginning to crumble under the furnace like heat. I grimaced against the heat, trying to spot my enemy through the orange and blue walls of flame. I couldn't see him, he must have escaped through the mouse hole that I had climbed through to get into the chamber. I groaned. When had everything gone so wrong? What had I done that left me running from the law and trying to free myself from a flaming Egyptian tomb? I guess it all started with that cursed bracelet.
The year was 2017, and I was working the night shift at the local ER room. The hospital was located high in the Colorado Rockies, and most of the people we got had injured themselves in some kind of skiing or snowboarding accident. However, on occasion we would get an avalanche, and end up with the victims piled up in our small little clinic. Being an ER doctor isn't for the weak of heart, but I loved it. Despite the sometimes gruesome wounds and necessary solutions, you got the chance to help someone in dire need.
The night was pitch black, there was no moon. The stars glimmered like tiny diamonds up in the sky, and the snow gleamed a bright pearly white under the bright stars whose glimmer was unhindered by the pollution of the city. It had been a quiet night, often we didn't get many people on nights like these, so a lot of times us nurses and doctors would go outside and enjoy the fresh air.
I stood, pondering the soft gleam of the snow with a warm mug of coffee in my hands. Jessica, the receptionist, made the best coffee you could imagine. She was from Colombia, and her brother (to our delight!) sent her fresh coffee from their family's plantation for Christmas and her birthday. James, the other ER doctor walked over the stand next to me.
"Venice, I can never figure out why you think the view of the city to be so interesting when you could stare up the peak of the mountains." He said with a light lilt of curiosity in his voice.
I laughed, my voice carrying down the silent slopes. "It isn't the city, but the perspective. I think it is interesting how pretty the lights and buildings look from so far away, but up close all that is left is the cold, crowded grayness of a metropolis. But things that are truly beautiful, like the mountains, well, they look beautiful up close and far away."
James smiled and shook his head. "Feeling philosophical are you?" Again, I smiled with a nod. We stood there in pondering silence for a moment, looking out over the city before our silence was shattered by Lily, one of our nurses, came running over.
"Doctors! We just got two patients in, both are in crtical condition!" Her voice wasn't panicked, merely spoken in a tone that conveyed urgency. I turned sharply, pawning off my cup of coffee to James before walking quickly back towards the clinic with Lily.
She show her head as she spoke. "We don't really know. Our first patient arrived on skis with two bullets to the abdomen, one in the lower right calf, and one that punctured a lung along with lacerations to the skull that may have come from a bout of fisticuffs," I raised my eyebrows sharply. Bullet wounds and fisticuffs? Sounds like this guy had quite the story to tell. "And the other patient?"
"Arrived shortly after on foot with a knife in the shoulder and major lacerations. Both are in critical condition, but patient one is demanding to speak with the doctor before treatment." I shook my head as I threw open the door of the clinic and hurried through the halls. "Jessica! What room is patient one in?" I called as I passed her desk. "A1!" She responded through her typing. Presumably she was running their blood samples through her computer, trying to identify them and retrieve their medical records. What is the world? A pitch black night and two men arriving at the clinic with bullet and stab wounds? What on earth was going on? I pushed open the door to A1, my lab coat fluttering behind me. He was surrounded by the nurses, with IVs in his arm. I studied the man. He was tall, maybe 6' 3" with blonde hair that was stained a dark maroon with dried blood. His face was chiseled and through the slits of his eyelids you could see a peep of icy blue. Around his early 30s, and maybe of Nordic decent. It was hard to tell. I took my clipboard from Lily and turned to Thomas, another one of our ER nurses. "What's the status?"
"V, this guy is in rough shape. The bullet that punctured his lung is making it hard to breathe and it's filling up with blood. We don't have the resources to treat him here. He won't tell us what happened unless he gets to speak to you in private, Doc." I pursed my lips. "How long will he live with us?" Thomas thought for a moment. "With life support and our best efforts, we can probably keep him alive for another hour, two tops."
"Well then, what are you waiting for? Do it. Lily, call an ambulance up from Ambrose hospital. With luck, we can get him onto that ambulance and to Ambrose for surgical removal of the bullets and full treatment. I'll talk to him once he's on life support! Go!" Calculated chaos ensued as the nurses rushed to follow my directions. "What's the status of the other guy?" I asked Lily. As we hurried down the sterile white corridor towards the other room.
"He is in much better condition. We should be able to treat him here, but if we are getting an ambulance from Ambrose we should send him with it just to be safe." I nodded.
"Sounds like a good precaution." We walked into the room, and once more, I studied our patient with a doctor's eye. He was completely unconscious, but he had a menacing aura that rolled off of him even though he was out cold. His hair was a dusty silver, not turned that color by age, but born with a distinct mix of silver and black hair. He was also tall, a hair above six feet with broad shoulders. His face seemed unusually large, with a square chin and large nose. He was an unusual man, that was to be sure.
Michelle, our last ER nurse turned to me, an edge of fright in her eyes. "Doctor, we found these on him." She held up two 9mm pistols and three long, curved, soaked looking knives. I hesitated before responding. "Don't put your fingerprints on them and put them on the table in B3. We will turn them over to the authorities later. For now, prepare this man for transit." Michelle nodded, her hands shaking. I froze at the door before turning on my heel. I placed my hand on her shoulder reassuringly. "Michelle, it's all going to be okay. It was probably a simple misunderstanding, alright? Do your job the best you can do it, and I'll take care of the rest. We will go for drinks at the end of this shift, okay?" I finished with a wink. She smiled. "Sounds good. You're buying!" I nodded with a smile before turning to find Thomas standing at the door.
"Lily took the weapons to B3," he told me, "Patient one is on life support. He is demanding to speak to you, and refuses to say anything to anyone except you." I pursed my lips in irritation, and also curiosity. What was his story? I hadn't expressed to anyone that the weapons had made me nervous. Nobody but Thomas, Lily, Michelle, and I knew about them.
"Thomas, do me a favor. Don't tell the other nurses about the weapons just yet. I don't want them to get freaked out." He nodded.
Jessica came rushing down the hall, stopping me just outside of A1. "V, I searched for their medical records. I can't find them."
"Does that mean that they haven't ever been to a hospital before?"
"I need their names. All it means at this point is that their blood and fingerprints aren't in any of our systems." I pulled her aside.
"Jess, I want you to go in the police system and try again. Make sure to keep your trail clear. I need to know who these guys are now." She raised a surprised eyebrow. "You want me to hack the police feed?" I sighed.
"Jessi, I know you can. Remember last year's New Year's party? I can't stress the importance of it." She pursed her lips.
"Fine. I'll bring the results to you as soon as possible." I grinned. "Thanks a million!"
I turned back to Thomas. "Stay out here. I am going to talk to him in private." He nodded.
I pushed open the door, and was surprised to see that the man's eyes were opened, fully this time, and were looking around the room with an urgent curiosity. I turned to the nurses. "A moment in private, please." They all left, knowing that I could handle whatever happened competently enough. I looked at him, my gaze matching his.
His voice began to creak out of his bloody mouth slowly. "Are you...Doctor Venice?" I was surprised he addressed me by my first name, but even more surprised that he knew my name. He spoke with a curious accent, and it was clear to me that from his accent (his English itself seemed quite fluid) he wasn't a native English speaker.
"I am indeed, sir. May I ask your name and what happened?" He coughed a cough that was wet with the blood that was beginning to fill his lungs. I knew then that he wouldn't, he couldn't, make it. He was dying.
"What happened is of no matter. I know your family, it goes back to the time of the Templars," I found a tidal wave of incredulity welling up inside myself. What if he was just a dying man raving? "Doctor, you know as well as I that I will not make it. I need you to take this." And so, with a lot of effort, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a bracelet.
It was small, and of a dull gold color. It was a collection of flat, oval beads over a twisted gold string. Each of the beads had a small engraving on the face of it, and the bracelet was beautiful and very old looking.
"Whatever you do, don't pawn it. Keep it with you. Trust nobody but the Crescent Moon. Don't leave the man that came here with me alone. You are destined to be more, protect the bracelet." He croaked. I stared at him, doubt filling my mind. But who was I to deny a dying man's wish? Especially one who had given me a present. His words echoed ominously in my head.
"Thank you sir." I responded gratefully. He nodded. "Remember, don't trust anybody by the Crescent Moon," then, his mission fulfilled, he lapsed into unconsciousness, his eyes closing for what I suspected would be the last time. I sat there for a moment, staring at his bloody face. He had spoken with conviction, but I wasn't a believer in magic. I slipped the bracelet in my lab coat pocket, and headed out the door.
I nodded to the waiting nurses and they rushed back in. Thomas stood at my side again. "What did he say?"
I thought for a moment before replying, "Nothing but the ravings of a dying man. He wouldn't even tell me what happened." Thomas nodded and I breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. I was following the mans advice, I wasn't going to share his words with anybody. We walked back in to check on Michelle and the other patient. I gave Thomas a light smile before pushing open the door.
I gasped. Michelle lay on the ground, a large bruise spread out across her temple and the patient was gone. I turned to Thomas my eyes wide.
"Go call the police!" I ordered him and stood there, my body slack against the doorframe. I could see from here that the blunt trauma to Michelle's head had killed her swiftly. Oh, sweet innocent Michelle had died because she had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. I groaned and let myself slide down to the floor, my eyes stuck on her limp body, my brain failing to comprehend what I was seeing. I placed my hand in my lab jacket pocket and closed my eyes, trying to remove the image of Michelle's corpse from my brain. I felt the smooth metal of the bracelet and wondered, what had I gotten myself into?
I swirled the whiskey in the glass quietly, watching the amber liquid slosh around, hearing the ice clink. I had always been more of a rum and beer kinda gal, but the small bar just down the slopes from the clinic didn't serve rum and they were out of beer.
The ambulance from Ambrose hospital had arrived along with the police. The man who had given me the old gold bracelet had been handcuffed to his cot and swept off in a blur or red and blue flashing lights. Police officers had set up a perimeter and had their detectives spread around room B3. Michelle'a limp form had been sealed in a body bag, and all of us doctors and nurses had been told to go home and stay at home until further notice.
As we had been shepherded off the premises after a brief questioning, I had turned to the police officer who was escorting us off the grounds. He was a little younger than myself, and only a slight bit taller. He looked fresh out of the academy, and was obviously a bit shaken. I read his name tag, Officer O'Connor.
"Sir, who were those men that we had in our clinic?" I inquired, an innocent look full of curiosity masking my hidden terror.
"I'm afraid that's confidential, m'am." I looked at him pleading with my eyes. He shook his head. Nice guy act was over now. I felt my expression turn to steel, my features maturing in an instant.
"Officer O'Connor. I am the head doctor at this clinic, and it is my medical responsibility to know who endangered my staff tonight, and why all you police officers didn't ask any of us if we killed Michelle. You all know who they were, don't you?" He pursed his lips, a hint of shock registering across his features. My attitude had surprised him.
"M'am, I'm afraid I ca-" I cut him off "You can and you will, O'Connor," I said "I want to know who they were. That's it."
He sighed, defeated. "We don't know who the man in the ambulance is, but the other man you described matched our results for a known spie with multiple counts of murder and treason. He's slippery, we haven't seen him in years. That's just rumor, ok? I don't know anything more than that." I didn't respond, my body was numb.
Not just from the cold, but from the fact that I had stood next to a murderer, a man who would have presumably ended my life as quickly as he had Michelle's. O'Connor walked me to my car, and I climbed behind the wheel slowly, hesitantly.
"Doctor, I admire your courage tonight. Please let me know if you need anything. Have a good night." I nodded, taking the slip of paper from his outstretched hand, not reading it.
"Thank you for your assistance, Officer. Good evening." He took one last long look at my face, studying my expression, before walking back towards the clinic.
From the clinic I had driven straight to the bar. I didn't want to get drunk, I wasn't there to party. I was there to think.
And so I sat, reflecting on the day's events. The voice of the bartender broke me away from me thoughts.
"Venice, you look upset. Something happen?" I nodded.
"Big mess up at the clinic. Two guys down from the slopes." I replied quietly.
"I saw quite a few police officers up there. Who were those guys?" He asked, his eyes studying me carefully. I hesitated.
"I don't know. They looked dangerous. Things happened quickly and all of a sudden the police booted us off the scene."
"Did one of them give anything to you?" I struggled to keep my face blank and composed. I had known Bill for years, yet the warning of the dying man had given me caution. My brows creased lightly despite my efforts.
"No...should they have? Why would you ask such a such an odd question?"
"No reason. I was just curious." I nodded, hardly satisfied by his answer. It was early in the morning, maybe around 2:30 and I was the only one in the bar. My suspicions were aroused, and I quickly threw back my drink and swallowed the whiskey, it leaving a burning path down my throat.
"It's been good talking to you, Bill. See you later." I said, quickly placing the money for my drink on the bar and gliding out of the bar quickly, Bill's gaze locked on me as I retreated from the bar. The dying man's words had put me on edge. There was something going on and I wanted out of it.
As I cruised down the smooth highway roads out of town, I realized how tired I was. I was looking forward to collapsing on the bed back at the apartment.
The street was slient, no surprise there. As I pulled into the driveway, I got a really bad feeling. I didn't know what it was, but all of a sudden I went into reverse and pulled out, driving off my street and back towards town.
I can't describe what it was inside of myself that made me turn around, something told me that there was something bad going on. At the time, I convinced myself it was just a simple little suspicion of a tired doctor, and that I deserved a night in a nice resort. I drove back up into the hills a little ways until I arrived at the Golden Pines Resort. It was a ski resort famous for its yummy food and superb room service.
Just one night I decided to pay for a nice room. And it was a darn good thing I did.