I woke up in a bed, soft light shining through a window on my left side. My eyes were taking some time to focus, but I could tell I wasn’t at home. The blankets were scratchy, and the space smelled…sterile.
“Hey there, sleeping beauty. Thought I’d have to call a priest if you were out any longer,” Liam’s voice hovered above me. I looked up and my eyes finally cleared up to reveal his features.
“You freaked out and fainted. Made me spill coffee all over your crossword puzzle book.”
“You owe me five bucks for that,” I said. My throat was unbelievably dry. Liam poured me a cup of water from the side table and handed it to me. I moved to sit up, but my head began to pound when I tried to lift it. I eased back down on the bed, waiting for the throbbing to subside.
“Take it easy. You bumped your head on the counter, so you’ve got that whole concussion thing going on,” he said, putting the cup of water to my lips. The last thing I remembered was…what? We were talking at the table about something.
“Ms. Cabot, you’re awake! That’s certainly good news.” Liam and I turned to find a gorgeous doctor standing in the doorway. Seriously, the man was something straight out of a hospital drama – jawline, stubble, one of those noses a romance writer would call “greek”, hazel eyes and straight eyebrows.
“Yeah, but a nap every now and then isn’t so bad,” I said. He laughed, showing all 30 or 40 or whatever of his perfect teeth and stood at the end of my bed. I instinctively reached up to touch my hair. How did it look right now? Was my high bun frizzy? My curls were definitely smashed by the pillow. Not cute.
“Down, girl,” Liam muttered under his breath. I elbowed him.
“Well, it’s a good thing your brother here acted quickly. I’m Doctor Brendt Lucas, and I’ll be taking care of you, Krystal.”
Yes you will, Doc. Do whatever the hell you want.
“You may have a concussion, so we’d like to get a CT scan to confirm that everything is all right. But first, I’d like to test your motor skills. Can you stand up on your own?” Liam helped me out of bed, and Dr. Lucas walked me through the standard tests, assessing my vision, balance and reflexes. As I settled back into the bed, he pulled a pen out of his lab coat pocket, and wrote on his clipboard.
“Okay, everything seems to be all right there. Now can you walk me through what happened?” He looked up at me from his clipboard with those gentle hazel eyes, and my breath caught in my throat.
And then the heart monitor next to my bed beeped a little faster.
“Uh…I…” I cleared my throat to distract them from the sound, but Liam was already snickering, and Dr. Lucas glanced at the monitor. He looked down at his clipboard to hide his smirk, but I caught it. I could feel my face burning. Are you fucking kidding me?!
“Go on, Ms. Cabot,” he said, giving me a gentle smile.
“Well, I had dinner with my brother last night, we had a couple glasses of wine, I went to bed and got up just fine. I made coffee, did a crossword puzzle, and then Liam came out.” I paused, trying to remember the rest. I had heard voices, hadn’t I? Yes…a bunch of different languages were speaking to me. Yelling at me?
“Ms. Cabot?” I looked back at Dr. Lucas. If I told him I heard voices, he’d start asking more questions, and I knew I wasn’t crazy. At least, I didn’t think I was.
“Um…I know we started talking, he asked me if I was okay, and then…that’s it. That’s all I’ve got, I’m sorry,” I said. He finished writing notes on his notepad, and looked back up at me as if he were going to ask something else, when a nurse walked in and tapped him on the shoulder. She leaned in to whisper in his ear. His face quickly dropped, and he thanked the nurse. I felt a wave of panic rush into my chest. He then turned to me with his standard Doctor smile.
“I’ll be back in a few moments. Excuse me.” And he rushed out of the room.
“The patient in 643 is dying,” I said, before I even had a chance to think it.
“Whoa, the nurse gave off some serious vibes, but you know all of that?” Liam asked, sitting in the chair next to the bed.
Our abilities normally allowed us to feel the emotions of those around us. It was a great gift when doing tarot readings, or dating, but not in more depressing places like hospitals or senior homes. But I had no explanation for knowing the room number, or that the patient was dying. I shrugged.
“I don’t know where that came from. It just…popped into my head.” We sat in silence for a moment, listening to the bustle of patients being transferred and nurses chatting in the hallway. Then the long beep of a flat-lining patient cut through the noise, the other sounds fading away. It was as if the world muffled itself to make way for death. Soon after, I heard the familiar “code blue” being yelled, Dr. Cabot’s voice giving instructions to the nurse, a momentary staccatoed heartbeat, and then the long tone again. As that happened, I felt a strange, forceful lifting sensation in my forehead, like I was going to leave my body. I squeezed my eyes shut and took a few deep breaths.
“They’re…gone,” I said. My chest felt empty, as if I had been hollowed out. This felt very wrong. Tears rushed along the sides of my face, and my body started to tremble; I just felt death.
It was time to leave the hospital. I didn’t think I’d survive if I felt that sensation every time someone died here. I started to sit up again. This time Liam helped me.
“Hey, what just happened? Who’s gone?” he asked.
“What? You heard. The flatlining,” I said, taking a few more breaths.
“The flatlining…? Krys, you’re kinda freaking me out. And this morning—what actually happened this morning? I know you left something out with the doc,” he said, handing me my water glass. I tried to hold it with minimal shaking.
“Uh…maybe I’ll tell you after we’re out of here,” I said, downing the entire glass of water. He looked around in our shared room. There wasn’t a patient on the other side, and the nurses didn’t seem to care what was going on with us.
“Nobody’s listening. I think we’re fine.”
“Well…I heard voices.”
“Nobody’s. Well, nobody I knew. It was like, a chorus of voices. So many people. Different languages. They were talking at first, and then just started yelling. That was the last thing I heard before I passed out.” He crossed his arms and stared at a floor tile, tapping a finger on his bicep. It seemed he was working out an idea in his mind. Just as he looked back over at me to say something, Dr. Cabot walked back in, same smile as before.
“Ah—I’m sorry about that. We had a situation,”
“We heard. I’m so sorry,” I said. He tilted his head.
“Yeah, we heard the heart monitor go flat, you instructed the nurse, and th—” suddenly Liam nudged me and started laughing nervously.
“You’re so out of it. We literally JUST had General Hospital playing on the TV, and one of the patients died,” I looked up at him. He seemed a little pale. Had I been I hallucinating again? He squeezed my arm.
“Oh, you’re right. Haha,” I said.
Dr. Cabot then stepped forward and placed a hand on the end of my bed. He looked from Liam to me.
“I…I did lose a patient. But they were… a floor below you.”
Shit. I was the only one who heard any of that. It was definitely time to go.
“Crazy coincidence. Uh, anyway, can I head out soon? We have plans. I’m feeling much better,” I said, waving my hands in front of him. I wasn’t sure why I did that, but maybe it was a subconscious attempt to show him that my motor skills were fine. Or that I wasn’t married.
He stayed at the end of the bed for a moment, head still tilted, then shook his head and laughed.
“Well, let me just check your blood pressure and reflexes one more time.” As he wrapped the band around my arm, I caught a whiff of his cologne. It was so familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. As he checked my pupils one more time, I got to see that his beautiful hazel eyes also had a solid ring of green around them.
“You should be fine with over the counter ibuprofen if you have any headaches later on today or tomorrow. But if they persist, you call me, all right?” He pulled a business card out of his shirt pocket and then wrote a number on the back of it.
“That’s my personal number if you have any questions,” he said, then shook my hand and Liam’s and walked out.
Back home, Liam ordered food while I changed out of the pajamas I had been in since that morning. I was starving and for some reason, I was craving ramen like crazy.
“What a fun day,” I said, dropping onto the couch after changing. The gesture was too much for my poor head, though, and it began to throb harder than the dull pain I had been sitting with on the ride home.
“Pill me, Liam,” I said, holding my head. He walked into the kitchen to grab a glass of water and my pain killers.
“Well, other than the headache, how are you feeling?” he asked.
“I feel like I went on a rollercoaster without the harness, thanks.”
With his back to me, I decided to test something I had been worried about since he showed up. Ever since we were children, we could always feel each other’s presence. For me it was a subtle sensation of warmth; a sensitivity lying just under the skin that reminded me I wasn’t alone. But since yesterday’s reading with Paul, I felt off; there was an emptiness just below my ribcage that I had never felt before.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, using what I learned to reach out and feel Liam’s energy. I imagined long energetic tendrils reaching out from the crown of my head toward his aura. I waited, but nothing changed. I tried again, but still felt nothing. I sensed no warmth, just myself. I opened my eyes as he walked up to me.
“Do you feel any different?” he asked, handing me the glass of water and pills.
“Well, don’t be alarmed, but I can’t…feel your energy.”
“What? You were able to feel the nurse, and that dying patient, though. How did you even do that?”
“Don’t remind me. I felt like…like I died, too.” A shudder ran through me as I said that.
“It’s gotta be the Channeling, Krystal,” Liam finally said, almost whispering.
My stomach flipped. I shook my head.
“No. Those were stories grandma told us for fun. No.”
“Denial doesn’t look good on you, sis. Besides…” he sat down next to me. “Grandma told me I needed to be here.”
He nodded. “Four dreams in the past two months, actually. Figured it was urgent.”
So this visit wasn’t as spontaneous as he first made it seem.
“And you think it’s because of the Channeling,” I said, standing up, feeling heat rush through my body.
“So do you, Krystal. What else could it be?”
If Grandma’s stories were any indication, the Channeling wasn’t a temporary situation – It wasn’t like the goddess chose a specific moon cycle to divine the future. For the remainder of the vessel’s life, she would continue to be an oracle of the future. As a child, I’m sure I looked forward to this moment as some magical dream come true. But as I grew older, I realized that it also meant the end of living a normal life for me. I was already abnormal with my psychic abilities, and being a conduit for some godlike entity seemed a bit much. It’s not like I could tell my friends about what was going on. As I considered the very real possibility of being the new vessel, I felt my plans for the coming weeks and years – work, nights out with friends, relationships – drift out of my reach.
I stood in silence for a few moments, looking out my back window at the maple tree that stood in the center of my small yard. It had been raining all afternoon. I observed the heavy low hanging branches, hovering just inches above the ground despite the weight from above. Liam and I spent the last 20 or so years of our lives psychically linked. No matter where we were in the world, we always felt each other’s presence in some way. But now, here in my living room, considering why these changes were happening, I wanted more than anything to feel that connection with him. We were only a few feet away from each other, but I was the most isolated I had ever felt in my life. I could only assume he felt a similar discomfort.
But I couldn’t know.
And I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to again.
“Happy Birthday to me,” I muttered. As I turned to Liam, I felt a slight tingling at the base of my skull. I then felt a strong surge of energy coming from the front door, like the opposing force of two magnets.
“Someone’s here,” I said, turning around.
“Wha—” the doorbell rang as Liam turned to me. “Pretty cool, sis!” he said, grinning. If these new abilities allowed me to sense when our food would arrive, I guess that could be a perk? Not that it was incredibly useful. Dogs did the same thing.
When he opened the door, we were greeted by three women in red hooded shawls. They all smelled strongly of calamus, and wore matching stone necklaces. The woman in the center bowed lightly, and the other two followed suit.
“Thank goodness we’ve found you, dear one. We are the Sisters of Amali.”