Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 4:04 AM, Central Time Zone, GMT
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Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
'Are you the husband?' the young doctor asked Jack.
Jack was about to say "no", then realised he'd be told nothing if he claimed otherwise, and would probably be forbidden to see Arley.
Hoping his body-language was conveying "yes", he said, 'How bad is it?'
The doctor hesitated fractionally, then said, 'With this type of injury, it appears that your wife's attacker was interrupted before he could finish her off.'
Jack frowned. 'How can you made that sort of determination?'
'Her injuries are consistent with those inflicted by someone who is a martial-artist; someone who is trained to kill. The type of injuries she's sustained are those meant to incapacitate before a fatal blow is administered.'
Jack stared. 'Meaning whoever did this to her-'
'You were very lucky,' the doctor told him. 'They probably meant to return and finish her off. Which means if you hadn't got out of there when you did, we wouldn't be standing here now, having this conversation.'
'Look,' Jack said in a low voice, drawing the doctor aside, 'I think I know who did this-'
'You should be telling the police this,' the doctor cautioned.
'The problem is,' Jack pressed on, 'that the people who did this, I'm certain, are the kooks who are sitting on that alien ship.'
The young doctor's face twisted in angry comprehension. 'Oh, this crap again! You wouldn't believe how many complaints we've heard about those guys! Pulling people out of their cars at gunpoint and violating their rights! Slapping people around and intimidating them! Just last week they strip-searched a young mother right in front of her small children! But- why would they go to your house?'
'We live in the area,' Jack lied, telling the truth insofar as Arley did live in the downed craft's vicinity. 'They're like Nazis! They've been breaking into people houses in the middle of the night-'
'Like that old couple last week,' the doctor nodded, taking the bait. 'The old fellow was having a heart-attack, and they tried to stop the wife from calling an ambulance!' He sighed, angrily. 'Look, your wife is pretty banged up, but she's good to go, so long as you let us take her home by ambulance and keep her in bed a couple weeks. The thing is, I'd get her out of here if I were you. Those government types may try to barge their way in here and try to interrogate her. My advice is, take her to a relative's, and don't tell anyone where she is. It's the only way we can be sure she's going to stay safe. After that, I'd lay low until that pack of rabid dogs loses interest. After all, they seem to have a short attention-span.'
Jack thanked the doctor, made the arrangements for Arley's transport, then went in to see her.
To his surprise, she was awake. He was wholly unprepared for the anguish and desperation he saw in her eyes.
'Ian tried to kill me!' she choked in disbelief, and began weeping, bitterly.
Jack was unable to conceal his shock. 'What? Ian? But I thought . . .'
'I trusted him! I thought he loved me! How could he do this to me? H-mf!'
'Shush,' Jack said quietly into her ear. 'We're getting you out of here in a few minutes. It's not safe here. Do you understand me?'
She nodded, wincing, her mouth muffled by his hand.
'Sorry- you must be in a lot of pain! No, don't try to take this plastic collar off! Leave it! It's there for a reason. Your neck's hurt. You're pretty banged up.' He removed his hand.
'That bastard! He stole that thing from Satu! I told him to give it back, and then . . . I thought he was going to kill me!'
Jack thought about telling her how he met his end, but decided it had better wait.