December 7, 1979
She had woken this morning with a severe headache and not for the first time, either. She had been having them, off and on, for many weeks now, but this one seemed worse. She climbed out of bed, and went looking for her mother.
"Mum! Where are you?"
Her mother emerged from her bedroom pulling a robe around her. She took one look at her daughter and pushed her into a chair, and then held her hand up against her forehead.
"How are you feeling, darling? Are you sick?"
"It's another one of those headaches. Its really bad."
"Have you taken anything?"
"No! I don't like that stuff. It makes me sleepy."
"The doctor says you have to take it. Come on."
"No, please. I don't like it."
"At least, take an aspirin, then." Her mother went to the sink, and came back with a glass of water.
*. . . we need to talk . . . your name??*, she heard it, but she wasn't sure how. It sounded like a boy, or a man. She looked around, but only her mother was there, leaning over her with a concerned look in her eyes.
"Annie, darling, take this please."
"Did you say something, mum?"
"Yes, take this. Come on."
She took the tablet, and placed it in her mouth.
*. . . Hallo . . . can you hear me . . .* she heard the voice again, as she swallowed the tablet. It wasn't aspirin, but one of those vile things the doctor had given her.
"Don't be silly. The doctor says you have to take them. Now act your age and drink the water."
Antoinette took the glass with very poor grace.
"Hell!", the young man sitting at the table pushed his chair away and stood up, "We almost had contact. We were this close, and then it clouded again. TIM, did you get any idea where she is?"
The table speaks, "We are not dealing with a trained mind. I could not get a trace."
The woman sitting at the table sighed, "Maybe she isn't ready, John. Maybe it's not time."
"Elizabeth, its been weeks. It shouldn't take this long. Even if she can't work out how to respond, we shouldn't feel that type of blocking."
John looked at her, "What?"
"How do we know she's a she?"
He sat down. "You're right. We must have got something more from her that time. Thank You," he said, rolling his eyes to the ceiling, "About time!"
Antoinette lay in her bed, half asleep. She could hear her mother talking with the doctor in the lounge. Her mother had never realised how thin the walls of the house were.
"Doctor, its making me very nervous. She's constantly having headaches, and aspirin doesn't do anything for her. I think there's something worrying her but she won't tell me what it is."
"Mrs Selkirk, Antoinette is a perfectly normal adolescent girl. I can find nothing wrong with her. If these headaches only came on school mornings, I'd be tempted to say she's faking. But I can't see any reason why she'd do that. Can you?"
"No I can't. Could you speak to her, Doctor. She might talk to you, tell you what's worrying her. She just doesn't seem willing to tell me."
"Yes, I'll speak to her."
Antoinette heard him come to her door. He knocked, and she told him to come in.
He sat down next to her on the bed.
"Hallo Annie. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Dr Meadowes. I just have these headaches."
"Your mother tells me that you don't like taking the tablets. Why not? Don't they help?"
"They get rid of the headaches just fine. It's just they slow me down.They make me tired."
"Yes. Look I know they have side effects, but you can't go around with a headache all the time. Annie, your mother thinks that there's something worrying you. Is there?"
Annie looked at the doctor. Dr Meadowes had been taking care of her, since she was very small, and she trusted him. She was also getting really worried.
"If I tell you, will you tell my mother?"
Dr Meadowes leaned back, and placed his fingers together. "Annie, its very important that a patient trusts their doctor. Doctors don't normally reveal their patients secrets. It's called confidentiality. But you're only fourteen and I can't promise not to tell your mother. There are some things that I feel she would have to know."
"Like what, for instance?"
"For instance, if you were pregnant. You're not, are you?"
"No chance at all?"
"No, nothing like that."
"That's a relief, and it will be to your mother too. I think that's what she's most afraid of Annie. She thinks you're hiding something. What's worrying you?"
She decided to trust him, "Doctor, is it normal to hear voices. Inside your head, I mean."
"Nooo, its not normal, but it's not necessarily a sign of anything serious." The Doctor leaned forward, "Is that what's worrying you. Are you hearing voices?"
She nodded. "I see. Tell me about the voices. Are they male or female, older or younger than you?"
"I don't know. Older I think, male definitely, but there's a girl too, sometimes."
"How many times have you heard them?"
"Four or five times over the last month, I think."
"What do they say?"
Antoinette tried to remember, "It's hard to tell. I only hear part of what they say. They seem to be telling me not to worry, that there nothing wrong with me. They ask me questions like what my name is?"
"Have you tried to answer?"
"You don't talk to voices. That's the second sign of madness."
"Really? What's the first."
She bit her lip, "Hearing voices in your head."
He cupped her chin in his hand and turned her bright eyes towards him. "Listen to me, Annie. You're not mad. I've known you a long time. I'd know, so don't worry about that. Now just wait here while I speak to your mum."
"You're not going to tell her about the voices?"
He looked at her, obviously assessing something in his mind, "I'll leave that up to you, Annie. I think she should know. It would make her feel better, and she just wants to help you. But I'll respect your confidence if you insist. But I do want to speak to another doctor. He's a colleague of mine, and I think he might be better equipped to help you."
"He's a neurologist - a brain doctor. These headaches worry me a bit. He'd be better qualified than I am to determine what's causing them."
"Okay, you can talk to mum, if you think its important."
"Sensible girl. I'll be back in a minute."
The doctor walked out of the room. Annie heard him speak to her mother.
"Mrs Selkirk, I need to call a colleague of mine. He's a neurologist, Dr Lassiter. Frankly I'm worried about these headaches. They may be a sign of some form of brain anomaly - perhaps a tumour. Dr Lassiter is one of the best in the field. May I use your phone?"
"Of course, please go ahead."
Annie heard a shuffle of papers and then the Doctor dialling. After a few seconds,
"Dr Lassiter, please . . . Dr Frank Meadowes," a pause and then. "Hallo Dr Lassiter, my name is Dr Meadowes. We have met, but you probably . . . that's right, yes, at the Convention. I've got a case here and I'd appreciate some advice . . . Thank you, very much . . . it's a fourteen year old girl. She's suffering severe headaches, normal pain killers have no effect. It doesn't seem to be migraine . . . no, they're quite real . . . she's hearing voices, and because of the paper you delivered . . . Is that relevant, Doctor? A male and a female, both older than her . . . Any what? Paranormal? Are you serious? . . . I see, you really think so? That urgent? I'll speak to her mother and arrange it." He rang off.
"Mrs Selkirk, Dr Lassiter seems to think that Annie's condition may be serious. He wants her at his clinic immediately, he's sending a car. We have to get her packed and ready to go immediately."
"Yes. He think she may have a new type of tumour, which causes permanent brain damage. He thinks he has a treatment for it, but he's not sure. What is imperative is that the treatment begins immediately. If she does have the condition he suspects, it could be her only hope."
Annie felt her skin crawl. She was frightened almost out of her mind. She felt pressure building up in her head, behind her eyes and forehead, as if something was happening in her brain. Her head began to throb, and pain seared through her body. She let out a gasp and then a scream.
The door crashed open and she could see a shape bending down over her. It was Dr Meadowes, the last thing she felt before she blacked out, was the expression on his face, an expression of very real, very deep concern.
John and Elizabeth looked up as they heard a gentle hissing sound, coming from the back of the room. They looked over at the jaunting pad, as three human figures began to appear - two boys and an Asian girl.
"How was your shopping trip?" asked Elizabeth.
"Very nice," said the girl, "Except Mike insisted on looking in every record shop."
"Hey, I like music," said the older of the two boys / young men.
"Yes, so do I, but every shop has the same thing in it, and you never buy anything. It gets really boring."
"I have to agree," said the other boy, Andrew, for a wonder, not in his kilt. His taste in clothing was gradually changing, although as its primary influence was what Mike wore, there wasn't as been much of an improvement as it otherwise might have been, "all you do is look. It's not as if you . . .", he winced in sudden pain as did all the others. Hsui Tai almost fell, but was steadied by Mike.
*What was that?* he 'pathed, stunned out of speech for the moment.
John sat down at the table, "Quickly, everyone, let's link."
They all move to obey him, instinctively, and sit down around the table. They spread their hands, each just barely touching the fingers of the people next to them.
*Who are we looking for?*
They all sit and concentrate, sending out their thoughts, hoping for an answer.
After a minute, John breaks the link, "Nothing. Not a peep."