------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------- Rachel Goldstein was bored. For two whole months she had stared at the bleak, dull, stark white ceiling of Royal North Shore Hospital. She stared at the small TV again, not really paying attention to the daytime soap that aired at the same time every boring day. She looked around the ward again, taking in the same bed, the same walls, and the same patients, Nancy to the right with increased intracranial pressure, Rachel had talked to her for the past 2 days until Nancy's condition had taken the better of her and she lapsed into unconsciousness. The more Rachel looked at her, the more disillusioned she became, her mind wondering to thoughts of her own life at that stage, only 10 years ago. The Same nightmare... god she wished the nightmares would stop. Rachel's eyes drifted closed once more to relive the horror of the night that nearly cost her life. It was dark when they entered the warehouse after Axe Grevile, their devious and now hunted informant. He had split after receiving a phone call from his supplier, leading them to an abandoned warehouse. Dark and almost smelling of evil and decay. The smell of decay assaulted her nostrils as she leapt from the car, not bothering to turn the headlights off or close the door. As silently as she could she ran into the warehouse, gun drawn, breath ragged with anticipation. She noticed her hands were sweaty, as though her body knew something was wrong. Footsteps were silent until a piece of tin attached itself to her shoe. It rattled loudly, startling Jack and even herself. Mentally cursing herself she moved forward, each step another closer to the masked assailant that was to come up behind her. Mounting the stairs she looked ahead of her, searching for a sign of the villain they were after. Nothing. Silence. Not a breath, not a sound. Jack's face popped up the stairs and said something about the 'dogs' doing something. There was a sound behind her, like the rushing of a freight train. Turning towards the sound she saw a figure, clad in black, but there was light reflecting from something, was it glasses? Recognition clicked in her mind, it was the bloke from the Federal Passport office in Canberra. 'What the hell is he doing here' she wondered. She saw the recognition in his eyes, and his hand as it darted towards something on the railing. Still staring in disbelief, unable to comprehend what he was doing, she stood as he lunged towards her, forcing whatever he had picked up into her stomach... she heard a voice.... did her attacker try and say something to her?
"Rachel? Rachel?!? Rach.. you okay?"
The voice talked to her... her attacker... why was he worried about her... oh god the PAIN... it assaulted her body, ripping her apart from the insides. She convulsed and staggered...falling to the catwalk beneath her.. feeling its hard metal against her warm skin.
"RACHEL! Rach.. wake up! Its a dream.. come on girl.. wake up!"
She was shaking... suddenly cold and hot at the same time...the pain intensified.. causing her to convulse again with sheer agony.. someone was calling her...
Her eyes were closed... squeezed shut in mortal agony, vaguely she realized if she lived through this she'd have to identify the man, forcing her eyes open she tried to look into the rimmed eyes of her attacker and saw.....
"Helen?" Blinking something... was it sweat... out of her eyes she looked up at Helen's face again... wondering why Helen was there, still trying to comprehend what was happening.. "There was a man... and he was wearing glasses... and... he.. I..." Rachel blabbled.. still working out in her mind what was going on around her. White walls? where was she? Where was the warehouse? Where was the man who attacked her? She bolted upright... knocking over Helen and vaguely wondering why she was on the floor. "Rach! Its okay.... you were dreaming... having a nightmare.. its okay.. you're still in hospital." Helen soothed. If rattled the socks of Helen to see Rachel like this, so vulnerable and helpless. Rachel seemed unaware of her surroundings, and had curled up into a tight ball, shaking with the intensity of her dream. Concerned Helen wrapped her arms around the shaking woman, trying to protect her from whatever her mind was throwing at her. In the back of her mind Helen wondered if Rachel would ever recover from her experience, or would she be the victim of flashbacks and nightmares for the rest of her life, pushing her closer and closer to the brink of insanity. She tried to look into Rachel's eyes, tried to judge what was happening inside her mind, a vacant frightened gaze was all she got in return. She heard another sound.. was it footsteps.. or the beating of her pounding heart and she clutched her abdomen, the glass in her hand cutting her flash deeper and deeper, the pain nothing compared to the feeling of fire burning from her stomach towards her limbs. Jack's voice appeared again.. it seemed to drift into her already full mind, he was yelling something about ambulances... and hanging on... and something else... Helen was beginning to get worried, this was the longest episode Rachel had experienced. Usually they only lasted a few minutes, and comprised of vacant stares and a rigid posture, Rachel returning to normal as if nothing had happened only minutes after. This one was different though, something was wrong. Glancing up quickly Helen grabbed the buzzer lying on Rachel's pillow and pressed the bright red button 3 times before turning back to the curled up, shaking shell of her friend. Moments later a team of nurses rushed into the room, all asking questions and taking readings from devices. "What happened.. what did she do.. did she take anything...." the questions became more urgent as their patient began to convulse, her slender body thrashing without her control. Jack was doing something... something to her stomach.. god it hurt.. Jack.. don't... hurts.. Jack.. JACK!... David... what was gonna happen to David... oh god don't let him be hurt by this... don't let him see me like this...David!!!!! Frank.. where was Frank when you needed him.... Frank.. you should be here.... I need you Frank.... oh god it hurts... breathe.. just breathe... come on girl.. just breathe...in.. out.. in .. out... breath.. god it hurts! somebody stop the hurt! please! Helen was pushed out of the way as the nurses took control of the situation, functioning as well oiled machine, obviously knowing what to do in such circumstances. They rolled her onto her side...and held her head back as limbs went flying, knocking furniture flying as Helen watched on in horror. 'This can't be happening' she thought to herself. She'd dealt with seizures before, but never someone so close to her, someone who meant so much. "Call code blue!" one of the nurses shouted, sending someone scurrying to the big red emergency button situated on the wall... this was not looking good to Helen, not looking good at all. The room suddenly filled with a large number of people, moving furniture, wheeling in trolleys and drawing the curtains. "What's happening?!?" Helen called out to someone who looked official. The person turned to her, a worried expression on his face. "She's having a seizure.. we don't know what from...it could be she's rejecting the blood transfusions we've been giving her.. we don't know.. now if you'll kindly step outside.." The doctor started. "No! I wanna know what's happening to her.. none of this 'could be' crap.... we need some ANSWERS!" Helen shouted at the poor man. As soon as she'd said it she regretted yelling at the poor man, he was only trying to help Rachel... but still, uncertainty was not something Helen Blakemore was comfortable with. The doctor turned his attention back to his patient, getting several nurses to hold her arm still while he inserted a cannula into Rachel's left arm. Jack.... JACK..... I can't see you... I can hear you.. but I cant see you.... oh Jack stop the pain.... please.. just stop the pain... FRANK.. can you... stop it please.... don't let it hurt so much.. protect me.... let it stop.... Rachel gazed up at the black sky.. it was closing in...... the pain was fading....darkness fell upon her... forcing her to be still, controlling her mind against her will.... forcing her to sleep. The doctor withdrew the syringe...using his other hand to wipe the sweat from his brow. Rachel had been heavily sedated.. for now. What the cause of her seizures were, he didn't know. But one thing he did know...they would be fatal if they weren't stopped. He turned back to the woman behind him, looking her directly in the eye. "I've sedated her, how long she'll be out I'm not sure. We'll transfer to the High Dependency Unit until we figure out what's causing this... if you'll excuse me..." He pushed past the woman in the uniform to organise a new room for his patient. While the nursing staff were reorganising the now unconscious form of her best friend, Helen stepped out to make some phone calls. Soon afterwards the voice of a worried friend echoed throughout the empty hospital corridors. "Yeah yeah I know... but look... she's taken a turn for the worse, some kinda seizure that she had, and they've moved her back up to High Dependency...yeah yeah.. I'll see ya soon.. thanks.. bye" Helen looked around as she hung up the receiver. As much as she hated to disturb Jeff when he was working.. she had to let him know what had happened.. and why she hadn't returned from her lunch break. Jeff would also break the news to Jack and Mick and Rachel's other friends back at the station. Black, blessed nothingness, nothing could hurt, nothing could hurt her. Nothingness, blessed black.
An hour later the small hospital room slowly filled with her colleagues, all stopping in as soon as they finished their shifts. Tayler was sobbing into Helen's arms.. Mick and Jack were silent.. still as statues, as if the slightest move would set off another attack. Jeff stood beside Helen, his arm around her shoulder in a gesture of support. It wasn't conceivable to any of them that they could lose their closest colleague, so soon after getting her back. Tommy and Gavin stood outside the door, almost guarding against any evils that might dare to injure their friend again. A routine developed amongst the tightly woven fabric of friends. Every day one of them would spend time with Rachel, so that she was never alone, and every day Rachel remained still and silent. She seemed so peaceful, so untouchable... so distant. The doctors said she was in a deep coma.. and that drugs... nor therapy.. would be of any benefit. Rachel had to choose to come back, she was at the crossroads. A month down the track a shadowy figure swaggered down the corridor of the Royal North Shore Hospital. The figure stopped at the nurses station, before following the directions to the room he wanted. Tommy looked up as a shadow fell across Goldie's bed, casting eerie shadows across her pale features. "Frank? How... what.. who... How'd you know?" he stuttered... a million questions flooding his mind. "well you know.. I had the scanner set to the Police Channel, and I heard about what happened 3 months ago.. and you know.. I turned around and came home." He looked over at the frail figure in the stark white hospital bed. " How is she" he added, wondering why...after 3 months.. his expartner was still unconscious. "She took a turn for the worse about a month ago. She had some kind of seizure and ended up like this. The doctors can't do anything for her" Gavin sniffed as he filled Frank in. He still wondered why Frank had automatically come to the hospital and not to the station first. 'must be that bloody ESP thing those two have' he thought. Seeing the way Frank was looking at Rachel, Gavin took his cue to leave, vacating the chair he'd pulled up by Rachel's bedside. Frank watched Gav leave, seeing him walk down the corridor to the phone before turning to settle in the chair beside the bed. He picked up the pale hand, careful not to touch the tubes running into her veins, keeping her alive. "G'day Rachy. Gez, how'd ya get yourself into this mess? I go and leave and the next thing I bloody know, you get yourself stabbed by some bastard. I dunno what they've told ya.. or what they think.. but I KNOW you can pull through this...please Rach.. ya gotta, for David, for your Dad, hell even for Jack, but most of all, for me. I'd be lost without ya Rach, I know that, cos I've already lost ya once.. and I'll be bloody well damned if I lose you again." whoa.... not quite so black... nothing to hurt still, hang on... a voice.. who's that voice... a presence...I know who it is... I need to think. think girl THINK.. you're Rachel Goldstein... you can do this.. who is it? She gingerly broadened her perceptions, feeling cool air against her skin, although her hand was in something warm, something soft. What was it? a mitten? a glove? and hand? hang on.. hand.. now that sounds about right... Frank studied Rachel's face.... something was different... something subtle like the creasing of her forehead, like she was concentrating on something. He squeezed her hand again in encouragement. According to Gav, she'd been comatose for just over a month, so anything at this point would be considered at plus. "Come on Rach.. you can do this.. face the nightmare... face it and put it behind you. Its gonna hurt, but once you've done it.. everything will get better. But Rachy.. you gotta face it.. I'll help ya through it.. I'm here.... but you've gotta face the demon again" It made sense to Frank that Rachel was hiding in her own mind from the nightmares she was obviously getting. He'd had them himself, when Kiwi Dave had pulled a gun to his head. He knew what it was like to get the flashback, the nightmares, the horrors. But he also knew that once you faced them, they could no longer hurt you. Rachel had to see that.. she HAD too. Frank! I can hear you! I can hear you! okay.. the movement thing... nope. kay.. that's not working.... blackness lifting.. yes.. good thing.. yess.. keep going..... warehouse?? oh god not again.. please no not again.. FRANKKKKK please.. don't let this happen again. I cant.. I cant go through it again.. it hurts.. it hurts too much.. FRANNNNKKKKKK!!! "Come on Rachy... you can do this.. face it.. face it and win it over... you can do it.. come on girl.. please? I need you Rach, but you gotta face this demon... or it'll rule over you forever. Come on girl.. you can do it..." Frank.. no.. I can't.... It hurts too much... Frank.. please don't make me.....PLEASE! I don't wanna go through the hurt again... its too much... I cant.... but I don't wanna be in here any more.. its lonely.. but out there is hurt.... oh please.. help me Frank.. if you help me.. I'll try.. please.. Frank.. be there... Frank noticed another small change in Rachel's face.. like her mind was tossing up the pros and cons of what he was asking her to do. He pressed onward, squeezing her hand and urging her on with encouragement. The warehouse... it was cold... dark, rank. Decay... you could smell it. She pulled her gun...god hands weren't sposed to be this sweaty....silent footsteps... SHIT tin.. sokay.. calm down girl.. it was just a bit of tin.... the bastards still out there.. you've gotta get him...a soft click click as she mounted the stairs, gun still drawn.. only to find Jack waiting for her.... Jack?? where are you going?? what about the 'dogs'? oh god.. its coming Frank.. FRANK.. I don't wanna do this.. its gonna hurt.. I know it...Frank. please don't make me.... please.... please.... "Goldie.. come on.. I know you can do it.. we could do ANYTHING you and I... who would annoy Jeff all the time if we weren't there? Come on Rach.. face it... you can do it girl..." a sound.. like the sound of wind...footsteps... who was behind her? was it Jack? turning... SHIT! not Jack.. who?? who are you?? hang on.. I know.. you're.. you're ..passports.. something to do with passports... shit.. here he comes.. gotta face him.. face... him.. god.. he's coming.. fire! pain! agony! FRAAAAAANNNKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!! gotta.. face.. him... face... demon.. face... face...... whoa... brightness........ Frank looked in astonishment at the blue eyes he thought he'd never see again. She blinked at him and smiled, a weak, pitiful, hurtful smile... but a smile nonetheless. "Hey Rach.. I knew you could do it" "Frank..... thanks.... I owe you one" she whispered. A smile lit up Frank's face. She'd chosen life, chosen life because of him.