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Twttw eighth draft formatted copy

PEARSON/the way through the woods Waves, crashing gently against the shore. Or is it the wind in the trees? Or is it someone whispering a name? Something moving in the dark - something immeasurably huge, spinning, round and round and round. Can’t see it. Can feel it though, tugging, pulling; irresistible. Beautiful. It’s beautiful. Am I supposed to be here? Time’s running out. A man’s voice with a weird accent - South African or Australian.
First the sound of his voice; then the pain. “God almighty,” Caden whispered. “Christ-all-fucking-mighty!” Pain unlike anything he could have imagined coursed through his body like molten metal in his bones, a paralysing agony which made him bite down on his teeth.
“Fuck me,” he hissed. “Yes, I can hear you, I can fucking hear you. Jesus Christ. Please. Please oh-god-it-hurts-it-hurts, please!” “Mr Kent. I can give you pain relief but first I need to do a couple of tests.” PEARSON/the way through the woods Oh god-almighty, oh Jesus, please stop this, please stop the pain, I can’t take it, I can’t “Mr Kent.” Louder, more insistent. “Mr Kent, I need you to focus. I need you to help He forced open his eyes - or rather, eye, the left one was covered with something, held shut - and looked at the doctor. Tall, spindly thirty-something, greasy face.
“Yes,” he said through his teeth. “Okay.” He felt a sharp pain somewhere on his lower body.
“Yes, fuck, yes, I can feel it. I can feel it.” “Good,” said the doctor, reappearing over his bed. “That’s good. I’m going to give you some morphine, Mr Kent. It should help.” “Yes,” he said, eyes closed against the pain, his breath shallow with it, the taste of it His jaw began to jitter. He felt the doctor push down on his arm and then sudden, immense relief as the pain washed away and a giddy, stupid smile crept across his face. Thank you doctor. Thank you very much. “Good evening, Mr Kent.” The doctor with the weird accent again. “How are we His mouth was dry as dust and his voice came out as a wordless gargle. He tried to PEARSON/the way through the woods The doctor came closer and leaned over him. “Here,” he said, pouring liquid from a paper cup into Caden’s parched mouth. The water tasted of disinfectant. He spluttered and The doctor pulled away, waited for him to stop, then gave him some more. “How are He was flat on his back in a hard bed. Something beneath him was pushing uncomfortably against his spine. He tried again to move but his muscles refused to obey. “Now now, Mr Kent. You need to remain as still as you can until after surgery. You’ve done yourself some damage I’m afraid.” The doctor peered down at him and smiled a practised smile. “Can you remember what happened? Do you know why you’re here?” “I .” he swallowed. The act felt unnatural and raw. “I don’t know what .” His mind span with confused images and fractured moments, faces and distorted sounds. His skull Now a memory of Helen smiling up at him, pleading with him to come back to bed. A flash of Claire from work licking her lips.
“I can’t .” he said, frustration growing, the world beginning to spin. “I can’t The doctor adjusted a machine by the bed; it started to beep.
“Can you tell me what the last thing is that you do remember?” said the doctor.
Caden tried to think back but it was disjointed, like the morning after a heavy night on the town. Fuck town, more like a night on the streets drinking meths through a straw. The machine continued to beep. The pain in his head intensified.
“I remember . I remember it rained on the way to work,” he said. “And the lift -” PEARSON/the way through the woods Oh Christ, the lift. Had he fallen in the lift? Why was everything so confused? Why did he have the feeling he’d done something terrible? He remembered paint-balling. He remembered shooting Dom in the woods and Claire’s face as he - His hands tried to grasp on to the sides of the bed, flailing weakly, as memories of the The beeping of the machine began to speed up.
Falling. The children. The tree. The boy had cut the rope, kicked him down. And they’d laughed as he fell. Jesus Christ, did that really happen? His head pounded furiously with the sound of the beeping, with the sound of his heart, with the sound of his laboured breathing. The doctor was doing something by his bedside, calling out to someone else. Frenetic movement around him blurred into a visual mishmash.
In fact he had died three times on the way to the hospital. It was due to the skill of the paramedics that he was here at all, so - he was told - he should consider himself very lucky indeed. Right thigh shattered and right wrist badly broken during the fall, thoracic vertebrae T11 and T12 fractured on impact, one collapsed lung (left), retina detached from left eye, ruptured liver, ruptured spleen, fractured skull and inter-cranial bleeding in three places on impact, assorted abrasions and contusions . There was more but after a while it had become PEARSON/the way through the woods The surgeon was a well-spoken older gent with glasses. He was dressed in a suit and tie. “Before we can operate,” he explained, “we need you to sign a consent form, Mr Kent.” “It confirms that you understand the risks involved and agree to the surgery.” “The surgery will involve some delicate procedures, Mr Kent. There is a chance we will not be able to fully mend the retina of your left eye, in which case you would be left partially blind. The spinal surgery could leave you with a degree of paralysis, but this is very unlikely and in my opinion to leave it would pose more of a threat long term.” “We need to operate on your brain, Mr Kent. And with surgery of this nature there is always a risk of more serious complications. But you are in the best hands in the business, I “Are you happy to sign the form, Mr Kent?” “Cade?” Helen. Never before had her voice been so welcome, so soothing to his soul, so like a beautiful dream. “Thank god,” she said, her voice quivering as she reached down and very gently put both trembling hands over his. “I thought .” she said. “I thought that .” She leaned over and kissed his forehead, then drew back. She looked tired. Her gorgeous green eyes were raw and puffy, her face pale and drawn.
“I’m okay darlin’,” he said. “I’m okay.” For a long moment she looked at him with such tenderness, such love that it made him PEARSON/the way through the woods want to cry. But when she spoke again her voice was changed, the softness gone. “Have they told you you’ve got to have surgery?” she asked.
He nodded again and managed to force a smile. “It’s okay,” he said. “Don’t.” Her expression hardened. “Don’t you dare say it’s okay.” Caden’s smile dropped away. “Baby?” he tried softly. “I need to tell you what Helen raised a hand and covered her mouth.
“It was kids,” he said. “Little fucking kids. You wouldn’t believe it, this little girl told “Stop it Cade,” she said, shaking her head, looking away from him. “Please stop.” She began to sob into her hands. He wanted to go to her, to hug her and tell her everything was going to be all right.
“Honey, don’t cry. I’m a big boy, I’ll be okay. But someone needs to get out there and find those little fuckers. They might be doing the same thing to some other poor sod right now. Do you know if the police have even been told?” She stopped crying and just looked at him, a strangely alien expression on her face.
“Honey?” he said. “Baby, come here.” “Do you really not know?” she asked quietly, that same expression on her face.
“What?” he asked, confused. The morphine was making him want to laugh. “Do I not “I mean,” she said slowly, coldly, “do you not remember what actually happened? What PEARSON/the way through the woods His head began to spin again. There was something going on here he didn’t understand, didn’t want to understand. It was making him feel out of breath, sick and panicky.
Helen came a step closer. Her eyes were glazed, her expression blank. “I called Kate,” she said. “And your parents. They’ll be here soon to take care of you.” “Oh Christ, I almost forgot. Did you tell them what happened?” “I only told them you’d had -” she paused, “an accident.” Again, that almost accusatory tone. Again that horrible expression.
“Honey,” he said. “What’s the matter? Why are you looking at me like that?” She looked down to the floor and then back to Caden. Her face was emotionless now. “They said you’d probably be confused, Cade.” Somewhere in his stomach, a cold tightness took hold. “I’m not confused,” he said, suddenly indignant. “I remember everything. I told you, they need to get someone out there. Stop them doing it again. For Christ’s sake they -” “Helen? Baby, what’s the matter?” he said, his stomach knotting. “Please don’t go. I The South-African-Australian doctor returned with a nurse. “Surgery is ready for you “Get yourself well, Cade,” said Helen with a smile. It was a goodbye smile. “I’m With that she walked away, the click of her shoes speeding to a run as she left his “Helen!” he called after her, the exertion causing his head to throb.
“Come now, Mr Kent,” said the doctor, as the nurse adjusted something to the side of PEARSON/the way through the woods his bed. “Let’s go and get you fixed up.” He tried to shout after her, tried to call her name, but he had no strength left. As they wheeled him out of the ward and down an empty corridor, he tried to make sense of what had just happened. Darkness began to seep into the periphery of his vision. The world began to “I’m going to count back from one hundred, Mr Kent, and you will feel yourself going to sleep. Just breathe deeply. You may feel a cold sensation in your arm.” That hurts. My arm hurts. Is it supposed to hurt? Feels like there’s something wrong. Is this right? Oh fuck, what is that? Her voice was like music. It drew him gently from his morbid dreams and he yawned “Hello Caden,” she said again. “I’m Doctor Lucy Campion. How are you feeling?” She stood at the end of his bed, clipboard in folded arms and a quizzical smile on her face. Long glossy dark hair, good looking - late twenties perhaps, maybe very early thirties.
He yawned again. “Tired,” he said.
PEARSON/the way through the woods “That’s not surprising. Though you’ve actually had a pretty good sleep.” He felt giddy and silly from the anaesthetic and he smiled stupidly, but then dark memories returned with a jolt. He blinked, and it occurred to him that he could see out of both eyes, albeit not very well. When he closed his right eye, the vision through the left was like looking through frosted glass. He tried to lift his head but a bolt of sharp pain shot down his spine, twisting his face into a grimace, forcing his eyes shut. “How did it go?” he asked, squinting through his right eye. “The op.” She nodded. “Extremely well, for the most part. You’re very lucky. We expect you to “Well, you did give us a few surprises. That’s partly why you’re now in Addenbrookes “Your inter-cranial bleed proved something of a runaway once they opened you up. The surgeons had to induce a coma to protect your brain until the swelling went down. Caden, you’ve been under for a week. They transferred you here so you could benefit from the best specialist equipment in the region. And, of course, the best follow up care.” She smiled again. “Yes. I specialise in helping patients come to terms with trauma.” “A psychiatrist actually. Same thing, just means I can prescribe you drugs.” “It’s standard practice for someone coming out of an induced coma. But I also need to PEARSON/the way through the woods run a few tests. Make sure everything’s switched back on properly.” “My family?” he said, suddenly afraid and then, “Helen?” “Your family have been here with you almost every moment of every day. Your sister Kate’s been reading to you, telling you jokes.” She smiled. “Soon as I’m done with you, you “Your girlfriend? Caden, some people find this kind of thing very difficult to deal with. “Now,” she said. “I have some psychiatrist questions to ask you. A little quiz. Do you She asked him questions about dates and current affairs, questions about his past and about his job, his family, his likes and dislikes. He answered as best he could, drawing frustrating blanks on some, as Doctor Lucy Campion took notes and nodded encouragingly. Finally she stopped and put down the clipboard. “Well I think that’s that,” she said.
“You did very well, Caden. But you have to understand that a full recovery is going to “That depends on you, and how much work you put in. Soon they’ll get you started on physio to get you back up on your feet. You’ll need to wear a back brace for a few months until your spine heals. But you could be back home in three months if you work hard at it.” PEARSON/the way through the woods “Maybe sooner. But you have to understand just how lucky you are to be here at all. Caden, probably only one in a thousand would have come away from that fall and lived to tell the tale. You’re very very lucky.” He tried to move his arm; pain surged up it to his neck then raced like cold fire down “Doesn’t quite feel like it,” he said.
“I’ll speak to someone to get you some proper pain relief, but first there’s something “Are you asking me out on a date?” he said, straight-faced, “I need to ask you about the fall, Caden. I need you to tell me what happened in as “Okay,” he said. And he told her everything he could remember. The little girl lost in the woods, the figure he thought he might have seen, the climb up the tree, the laughter as the boy cut the rope and the sensation of falling, the fear, the sound of his screams. When he finished she came and sat by his bedside. “Caden,” she said. “Before I tell your family to come in, there’s something I need you to know. And you will need your family to help you through what will be a difficult thing to come to terms with. Also know that I’m here, every day, to help you until you’re better.” “What?” he said. The sickness was building in his stomach again. “What is it?” “Caden, a family out in the woods heard you screaming,” she said. “They got there just before you - fell. They were the ones who called the ambulance.” PEARSON/the way through the woods “Right. Okay. So they can tell the police. Then they can catch the little bastards.” “Caden,” she said. “They each described the event to the police. But Caden, what they saw is not entirely what you remember happening.” That familiar taste in his throat. His heart started beating harder.
“Caden, it’s typical for the mind to create a story - sometimes a complex or fantastical story - to cover up a more difficult truth.” He wanted to look away. He didn’t want to hear this. He wanted this to stop. The taste of stomach acid was bitter in his mouth.
“Caden,” she said very softly. “We think you tried to kill yourself.” For Doctor Lucy Campion it had been a long day. She had spent the morning checking in on patients at their homes: a dementia patient who believed she was living in the First World War era; a seven-year-old boy tragically stricken with CJD, not expected to live past nine years old; and a violently paranoid schizophrenic teen-age girl who was struggling to come to terms with her condition, and would likely soon have to be sectioned if she couldn’t be persuaded to take her medication more regularly. In the afternoon Lucy had attended her various hospital patients, including Mr Kent, the delusional, suspected-suicide attempt. Unusual case. But then it was often the good-looking high-flyers with everything that broke down when they reached some perceived mid-life. But the alternate reality his troubled mind had created was unlike any other she had come across. Attacked by little children. No doubt some significance, perhaps early-life trauma. She would have to read up on it.
At seven-thirty p.m. she changed in the hospital cloakroom into her ‘civilian’ clothes. She stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom and cooly regarded her reflection. She looked as she felt - tired, rundown and unwell. She reached down, gave the cold tap a nudge, and let PEARSON/the way through the woods the icy water run over her fingers. She gasped from the cold, then drew her hands up and splashed water over her face. With a final, stern look at herself, she picked up her things and “Hello Doctor Campion,” he said, smiling warmly. Pete Campion, brave-hearted brother and best friend had, until the diagnosis three months ago - was it only three months? God, it seemed another life ago - been on the way to becoming one of the most accomplished paediatric surgeons in the country. Now, he barely had the strength to speak. His rugged good looks were wasted away, all hair gone, even his eyebrows. His face was gaunt, his lips pale and his eyes - those magical eyes which always shone with such life - were now watery and weepy. He still managed the trademark lopsided grin though.
“Evening Doctor Campion,” she said grinning back as she went to his bed. She placed her palm on his forehead and then his hand. “How’s it going Petey?” “I’ll have you know I am a respected surgeon, and respected surgeons are not referred to as ‘Petey’,” he said, in mock-retort, raising what would have been his eyebrows and turning his face away with pretend-indignation. “And I’ll have you know - Petey - that as a resident physician of this hospital - ” She stopped when he started to cough, gently at first like a whisper, his expression frozen as he tried to stop it building, but then louder as it grew, the pain of it etched on his face. She put an arm round his shoulder as his withered body rocked with the heaving, hacking coughs, gently rubbing his back until the bout finally subsided, his lungs left wheezing and cracking as he fought to steady himself. A young nurse - her name was Polly or something - came hurriedly “Is everything okay Dr Campion?” she asked timidly.
PEARSON/the way through the woods “Yes thanks,” they both answered in perfect unison. The nurse’s face, a picture of dedicated concern, looking quickly from one sibling to the other, caused Pete to giggle - a short, painful snort. Lucy turned to him quickly, the concern in her face mirroring that worn by the distraught nurse, but then seeing Pete, she laughed as well - guiltily, like the dreaded giggle-fits feared at funerals, or when someone’s crying, and then freely, until both of them were in tears - absurd, inappropriate, wonderful, laughter. The nurse smiled meekly and left the bedside to continue her rounds. Lucy took her brother’s hands in hers and gazed into his sickly brown eyes.
“I love you too, sis. And don’t worry so much - I’m starting an exciting new combination therapy tomorrow and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to do the job.” “Ah, I’m told it’s a heady cocktail of cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone. “Sounds very delicious. And I’ve got a good feeling about it too.” They chatted for another hour or two about nothing and about everything. They talked about their parents, and how much they still missed them. They talked about Lucy’s career and how overworked she was - he told her off and said she must do less or she’d burn herself out. They discussed how Cambridge was changing and growing and how house prices were starting to really rocket. And they debated the potential factors behind the noticeable change in the flavour of prawn-cocktail crisps: it had become less intense lately (it was not just Pete’s taste buds, but Lucy’s own which had detected this) and something needed to be done about PEARSON/the way through the woods Lucy waited until her brother had fallen sound asleep before leaving the hospital and driving home to seek a few hours oblivion before the onset of the trials of the day to come. Later that night, after drifting off to an uneasy slumber, she dreamt she walked beside a dark wood, next to a dark ocean under a dark sky, and somewhere, something unseen but terrible was hunting her. She woke shivering and sat up in bed. In moments the image faded and she dropped into a dreamless sleep for the short remainder of the night.
The morphine gave Caden nightmares of unusual ferocity. Not your standard run-of- the-mill bad dream, from which you might wake up in a cold sweat at the moment of absolute horror - when the knife goes into your chest, when you hit the ground after falling from a great height, when the monster is about to eat you; in morphine dreams the drug kept him there, suspended in sickly dread, frozen at the point of imminent death. When he did finally wake he felt continually afraid, sick and tired. And paranoid. He knew everyone believed he’d tried to kill himself. He could see it hidden poorly behind their concerned, caring expressions. Could hear it in whispers by his bedside. Even Kate. It was better hidden with her, but it was still there, undoubtedly there. He could read his sister; why couldn’t she read him? He didn’t do it. Someone was talking shit. But the drug was even beginning to make him doubt himself. He was afraid he was going mad. After a week or so he asked to be taken off the morphine tap. The result was better dreams but a great deal more pain.
After three weeks he was able to piss without the aid of the tube in his urethra. When they removed it it was the most liberating feeling of his life. After another two weeks he was strapped into a leather and steel back-brace and helped to stand. It was difficult at first; his limbs were stiff, his muscles atrophied. The effort of standing up made him dizzy and initially he could only manage a few steps but after two weeks more he could make it to the toilet by PEARSON/the way through the woods himself. No more having his arse wiped in his bed by the nurses. The second most liberating The beautiful Doctor Lucy was good to her word. She came to see him every afternoon. She told him to focus on getting mobile and getting healed before they delved into his perceptions of what had happened back in the forest, and into the potential reasons behind them. She was a big part of his motivation; he wanted to show her that he was getting better, and he wanted to prove that she was wrong about the ‘delusions’. But for now she seemed satisfied that he was making good progress; they could look into ‘all that’ after he was back home, she said. Some days she seemed distant, like her mind was elsewhere. He dreamed The sight in his left eye was temperamental. At times he thought it was almost back to normal; other times when he looked only through the left eye it was like being under water - wavy, sparkly, dizzying. But he was told it was miraculous that it was as good as it was. He never once heard from Helen. From what she had apparently told Kate, she had “things to think about” and “needed time”. He had tried to call her a couple of times from the hospital bed, but she hadn’t picked up. Hell with her. He hadn’t heard from anyone at work either, even though Kate had let his office know what had happened. Hell with them. Other than Doctor Lucy, his family were what got him through it. Whatever they thought deep down about their poor mad son, poor mad brother, they spoiled him and urged him on in turn. His sister told him silly stories about stuff they got up to when they were kids; his mum constantly told him how brave he was, and his dad quietly coaxed him to walk further each day, until after seven weeks he could manage the whole length of a corridor without crutches. In just over eight weeks, and a whole month earlier than they had forecast, Caden was ready PEARSON/the way through the woods “I’ve tidied up best I can,” said Kate.
He looked round the open plan living room of the two-floor flat. It was spotless. The wood flooring gleamed, the leather sofa-suite was immaculate, not a spec of dust. And none of Helen’s things. All the boxes were gone.
“She um, left you note,” said Kate. “Pretty cowardly. If you want it it’s with all your post. Oh, and I opened a few things which looked like bills, but there’s nothing to worry “Thank you. I don’t know what I would’ve done. I just -” “Shush,” she said. “We all love you, you know that. We just want you to be okay. Now are you absolutely sure you don’t want me to stay for a while?” “Or you could come back to London and stay with us, or with mum and dad. They’d “No,” he said. “I really appreciate it, but I need some time, just me. Need to work out what’s going on. Need to have a think. And find out about work too - you know the bastards still haven’t even called to find out if I’m alive?” “Okay. But listen, if you need anything. Anything at all.” “I know,” he said. “I’ll call you. And thanks for getting the car. Soon as I’m a bit more sorted I’ll drive down and see you all.” PEARSON/the way through the woods The apartment felt very empty after his sister was gone. The two floors of the Victorian town house had seemed too small when Helen was moving in; now they seemed too spacious. In the small tidy kitchen he poured whiskey and coke, no ice, into a tumbler. His back ached, his eye throbbed, and his head felt heavy, but the first whiskey in two months made him feel pleasantly giddy and light-headed. He’d think about work and bills and serious stuff tomorrow; tonight whiskey and crap TV. Later, when drunk, he’d probably end up reading the bitch’s letter, but he’d be damned if he’d try calling her again.
He was pissed after the second whiskey, the pain in his various body parts consumed by a very welcome, all-over warm, fuzzy glow. He was making his third when the phone rang

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