Chapter Forty-One

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One, two, three... Hannah rushed down the brightly lit corridor passing numbered, windowless doors; even numbers on the right, odd numbers on the left.

"Hannah... Wait!"

"What, Tucker?" She couldn't help but snap at him, annoyed to find him trailing behind.

"I'm just not sure if this is a good idea."

She laughed, "Of course it is; the guard has gone."

"No, no... that's not what I mean... your parents... they could be..."

For the first time that day, her friend looked scared.

"Tucker, it's thanks to you that we have got this far. Don't for one minute think I am going to stop now, no matter what happens, or what I might find behind ..."

Hannah shook her head trying to clear dark scenes and then set off down the corridor once more. After a moment, she heard the sound of Tuckers footsteps following her and the knot in her stomach eased slightly.

At the next door, they passed through using the grey card again, their pace slowed as they approached room seven. Hannah's heart thumped wildly, her gut pained by the ratcheting tension.

Please be okay, please.

Hannah took the grey card from Tucker and pressed it against the black box on the left of the door; nothing happened. She pressed harder and still the door didn't move.

"Give it to me," Tucker said, rolling his eyes at her. He took the card and swiped it gently over the box; the familiar hiss and click followed.

Tucker stood back and let Hannah enter first. The door moved too slowly, so she gave it a shove, the heavy door swung forward revealing a brilliantly white room. A strong disinfectant smell assaulted her nose, the same odour in the room where she'd recently had her SPR review. From the dullness of the orange tinted bulbs in the corridor, the overhead strip lighting seemed unnecessarily bright, its fluorescence reflecting back off the glossy white walls and floor making her squint. In the centre of the room lay a body on a trolley bed, covered over by a thin white sheet. Next to the bed, on either side was an array of machines, one of them bleeping continuously. A large monitor was fixed upon the back wall with random sequences of numbers and symbols speeding across the screen.

Hannah took a step further and shivered, the coolness of the room not the only reason she felt so chilled. Despite wanting to see who it was under the sheet, she found she couldn't move her feet further. A whooshing sound made her jump, followed by a fast ticking noise and the data on the screen flashed wildly. The sounds then stopped as suddenly as they had started, leaving just the low beep, thumping with regularity, just like a heartbeat. She felt her own heart beating its own frenetic, haphazard rhythm in reply.

Hannah felt the warmth of Tucker's hand in her own as he gently pulled her towards the bed. A multitude of colourful wires trailed over the bed, a stark contrast to the white all around. At the top of the bed, she saw the person's head almost encased entirely in a large, white helmet with more wires protruding through the top. Closer still, she could see it was her father's face in the small uncovered section of the helmet. A thick, clear tube protruded from tape placed around his mouth, a small white clip pinched his nostrils closed. His skin, what little she could see of it, looked pale and thin and although clean shaven, he looked tired, unkempt and old.

"Dad," she whispered, her hands found the metal bed rails for support. He remained still. "Daddy, are you ok?"

She tentatively lifted her hand and caressed his cheek with her index finger.

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