Defective (The Institute Series Book 3)

BOOK: Defective (The Institute Series Book 3)
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Defective

 

By Kayla Howarth

Kindle Edition

 

Defective Copyright © 2015 by Kayla Howarth

 

Cover Illustration Copyright ©

Cover Design by Wicked Book Covers

http://www.wickedbookcovers.com

 

Edited by Emmy Edits

http://www.emmyedits.com

 

All rights reserved.

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher.

For information regarding permission, write to:

Kayla Howarth - permissions - [email protected]

 

ISBN:
9781311041913

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Chapter One

 

 

A loud thump against the clinic doors reverberates through me. I snap my head up from the reception desk as someone slumps against the left door, blood smearing across the glass. Scrambling to get outside, I grab gloves off the counter on the way out and put them on. The bright sun temporarily blinds me as I swing the right door open and look down at the girl shivering and bleeding on the ground.

“Kenna! I’ll need a hand here!” I yell. “I need a gurney, now!”

Kneeling down in front of the girl, I check over her body to pinpoint where the blood is coming from. It’s everywhere. Was she dumped here by someone? Or did she make it here on her own?

I find the source of her bleeding, a long gash in her abdomen.  Her hand is clutching at her stomach. All of my strength is needed to apply as much pressure as I can to her wound. I glance up at her face and immediately have to look away so my brain doesn’t memorise the terrified look in her eyes. I’ve learnt it’s best not to look directly at their faces anymore. She’s pale – too pale, her lip is shivering, and her hair is wet with sweat. She’s in shock, her body is shutting down.

Aunt Kenna and a relief nurse from the hospital are ready with the gurney. They help lift the girl while I keep pressure on her stomach.

“Allira! You need to apply more pressure,” Aunt Kenna yells at me. She’s not being mean, even if it comes out that way, she’s just instructing me on how to save this girl’s life.

Climbing onto the gurney next to the patient, I push my hands harder into the side of her abdomen, trying to stop any more blood from escaping. Any more pressure and I fear I’ll put my hand right through her. Aunt Kenna and the nurse wheel us into the trauma room of the clinic.

Looking down at the scared girl under me but still making sure I avoid eye contact, I wonder if we’re doing more damage than good. She’s been stabbed – most likely by someone who found out she’s Defective. Surely the hospital wouldn’t be able to turn her away and keep her waiting. She’s on the verge of bleeding out right in front of me. We aren’t exactly equipped here to handle these things. We can, but it’s a struggle. I just think the hospital should deal with situations like this.

When Aunt Kenna first pitched the idea of a Defective clinic, we all thought it was a brilliant idea. Yes, Defective people are entitled to get treated at any other clinic or hospital, and yes, they’re meant to receive the same level of care as any normal person. The truth is, though, they don’t. They’re put to the back of the line, the bottom of the list. “Higher priority” injuries or illnesses tend to arrive, pushing the treatment time back further and further. They’re given mediocre care – doctors prescribing medications without tests, not following up on results. Aunt Kenna took it upon herself to fix that.

“We’ll do everything we can to help you, okay, sweetheart?” I try to sound reassuring. Aunt Kenna said whenever in doubt, just get the patient talking and try to distract them from what’s going on around them.

I stopped asking their names about five months ago. It didn’t take me long to learn that knowing their names only makes it harder. If I don’t put a name to their face, I don’t have to relive it when I fill in the paperwork later. It’s easier to move on if the outcome is less than ideal. It seems these days there’s about a fifty-fifty chance of that happening.

The nurse puts a cannula in the patient’s arm as my muscles begin to ache. Sweat drips off my brow, but I remain still, reminding myself I’m doing the most important bit – preventing her from bleeding out.

“Where’s Vic?” Aunt Kenna asks as she gloves up and puts her surgical mask on. “We need him!”

Vic is the other doctor who works here. He lives rent-free in the apartment above the clinic, so while he’s only scheduled for the four opposing shifts to Kenna, he’s on call twenty-four hours a day for situations like this one. It’s quite common for him to be here when it’s not his shift.

We’re going to have to put the patient under. There’s no way we could give her a local and stitch her up considering I can feel her insides trying to make their way to the outside. The stab wound is too big.

Aunt Kenna adds monitoring pads to the patient’s chest and an oximeter to her finger to monitor her pulse. Vic comes through the door a couple of minutes after the nurse calls for him, gloved up and ready to get to work. He’s an older gentleman, about mid-to-late forties, but he looks fit and strong for his age, his muscles apparent through the scrubs he always wears. He’s a man of few words, which means he and I get along perfectly. I guess he’s learned that when working with mostly women, it’s wise to keep his mouth shut – about everything.

Once the patient is under, Aunt Kenna steps up next to me. “Okay Lia, try to focus. Can you feel where the blood is coming from?”

I give her a quizzical look.
Feel where the blood is coming from? Is this a trick question?
“I’m guessing, ‘from her abdomen’ is the incorrect answer here?”

Aunt Kenna’s mouth is hidden because of her surgical mask, but I know she’s smiling, her eyes wrinkling around the edges.

“Is it coming from above her stomach, closer to her lungs and heart? Maybe her liver? Or lower, like the intestines and bowel?”

I look down at my hands. “To be honest, I can’t feel where it’s coming from. There’s just a lot of pressure under my hands trying to get out.”

Aunt Kenna’s brow furrows. That’s not a good sign. I’ve seen that look before and it rarely ends well. “Okay, we’ll have to move quickly. Nurse, you want to help with this one?” she asks.

Neither of us know this nurse’s name, she’s just a fill-in from the hospital. When we’re short-staffed we call on temps to come in and work, and they’re usually a different person every time.

“I can do that,” the nurse replies, and I’m kind of relieved. I’m more suited to the less traumatic and low-risk cases. I can clean wounds, cast broken bones, draw blood, and even stitch someone up. This is a big step up for a girl who used to feel faint at the sight of a needle. But preventing someone from bleeding out? I feel like I’m cursed in that department, starting when Chad bled out in my arms eighteen months ago. I’ve seen many deaths since then, but none have – or even could – hurt as much as his.

The patient’s heart rate plummets to an alarmingly slow rate.

“Nurse, she needs two litres of saline. Lia, pull your hands away, now,” Aunt Kenna instructs. I remove my hands, move off the gurney as fast as possible, and take a step back. Aunt Kenna and Vic work frantically to find the main source of bleeding. There’s nothing for me to do but stand and watch as they begin to lose the fight. “There’s too much. There’s just too much,” Aunt Kenna mutters to herself.

That’s when I know. We’ve lost another one.

 

 

***

 

 

“It’s getting worse,” I say.

“What is?” Aunt Kenna asks, putting her arm around me.

It’s been a few hours since losing the patient, and it’s been a relatively quiet afternoon since then. I’ve been sitting at the reception desk, just thinking about what we’re actually accomplishing here.

“The attacks. They’re becoming more frequent, more violent. This time it was in broad daylight,” I say, my voice low and quiet.

“That’s why we’re needed now more than ever. What would’ve happened if that girl was stabbed when we weren’t open?”

“The same thing that happened anyway. She died. We didn’t help her.”

“We tried, Lia,” she says in a soft, sympathetic tone. “We can’t save everyone. She was already too far gone when she came in here. I don’t even think the hospital could’ve done anything to save her.”

“It still feels crummy.” Crummy isn’t exactly the word I was thinking, but I don’t like to curse in front of Aunt Kenna.

“I know,” she replies, kissing me on the side of my head. “I know it does.”

Excusing myself, I go out the back to the empty treatment room to try to calm myself down.

Vic walks in and stalls as soon as he sees me. I assume my face is all blotchy and red from trying to ward off the tears.

“You couldn’t have done anything different,” he says sternly. I know he’s trying to help, but I can tell how awkward it is for him to be talking to me at all.

“I know. Aunt Kenna just gave me this speech.”

“She was practically gone when she got here,” he says.

I let out a little laugh between the sniffles. “Yeah. She said that too. I’m okay, Vic. I’ll get over it.”

“It will get easier,” he says walking over and putting a hand on my shoulder. “You’re still relatively new to this, and it may not seem like it now, but it will. It’ll get easier.” He walks away before I get the chance to respond.

Will it get easier? Do I even want it to? I’m not sure I want to be so desensitised to death that it doesn’t affect me anymore. Then again, I’d love to not feel so guilty all the time.

 

 

***

 

 

Entering my apartment building, dazed and exhausted, I really just want to shower and go to bed. Reaching the elevator, I press the button and rest my head against the wall, waiting for that tiny dinging sound to let me know my ride has arrived. I close my eyes for a brief minute, forcing myself to stand up straight when I hear it.

One of the guys from the building security team steps off when the doors open. I’ve lived here for six months but I always forget this guy’s name. Roger, maybe?

“Hello, Miss Daniels, Mr. James has been asking for you,” he says, holding the elevator door open for me.

“Well when he calls back, can you please tell him that Paxton James is not my keeper?” I force a smile to try to pass it off like I’m joking, but a part of me is completely serious.

“You can tell him yourself. He arrived home a few hours ago.”

“He’s home?” My eyes widen. “He wasn’t meant to come home until Wednesday.” As soon as I say it, I realise. “Oh crap. It’s Wednesday, isn’t it?”

Roger just smirks, giving me my answer. He removes his arm from the elevator and nods goodbye before walking off. The doors begin to close as I swipe my key and press the ‘P’ button. The elevator starts its ascent to the very top of the building.

When the elevator doors reopen to the living room of my apartment, I find Paxton with a displeased expression across his face. “You forgot, didn’t you?” he asks.

“I missed you too! What kind of greeting is that after not seeing me for a week?”

Paxton walks up to me and gives me a brief hug and kiss on the cheek. “Nice try at diverting this, but I know you forgot. I’ve been trying to call you all day to remind you.”

My shoulders slump forward. “Okay. I admit it. I forgot about tonight, okay? It’s been a hectic week at the clinic.”

“Hmm?” he asks with no real interest. It’s clear he doesn’t actually want to hear how my week was.

“I’ll be an hour, tops,” I say, hurrying to my bedroom to get ready for tonight’s political event.
So much for going to bed.

After a quick, scalding hot shower, I find myself staring at my scars in the mirror. One of them, a white circle on my shoulder that reminds me of the worst day of my life, and the other, a black backwards S shape just on the inner side of my right elbow. I can still feel the pain of the tracker going in, I can still see the mark as it appeared moments later. It’s my reminder that we still aren’t truly free.

Tate was right when he said we’d have to face an entirely new set of struggles. When we set ourselves free, our fight had only just begun. We won the right to live on the outside, but that doesn’t mean we won the right to be treated fairly.

Paxton bent the rules and found loopholes in the law in order to set us free. Every Defective person now has just as much right to get jobs and work, pay taxes, vote, and be married.

The government, in retaliation, passed new laws. They force us to attend monthly counselling and monitoring sessions at the Institute. I think these are more for the general public’s peace of mind – that we’re still under control – rather than to actually help us. The use of abilities in public is forbidden, and any offenders are imprisoned in a mainstream prison; the type of prison that makes the Institute look like a nice vacation spot. Then there’s the clincher, all round, twenty-four hour tracking surveillance – and not the cheap Institute agent trackers either, but the injectable, scar-inducing trackers.

I often look at the mark on my arm and wonder if the S shape was caused by the insertion of the tracker – like a side effect from the harsh needle used to insert it – or if they purposefully added ink or something to it so it would leave a permanent mark and we’d forever be identifiable. It’s a dark bluish black and almost looks like a bruise, but it has a distinct shape and doesn’t go away, like a tattoo. There’s no significance to the shape, in fact, it almost looks like an incomplete infinity symbol more than an S. Maybe that’s what they were going for, letting the world know we’re incomplete. Sometimes I want to give the government the benefit of the doubt, but then I berate myself for that kind of naiveté. Of course they did it so we could be easily targeted.

I force my eyes away from my arm and get started on my makeup, smiling at my reflection when I’m done. Ebb would be proud. Months of these types of events has made me pretty skilful with a makeup brush. I needed Ebb’s help the first few times, but I’m a fast learner and it wasn’t long before I could do it myself. Curling and styling my hair, I pin it to one side, letting it fall over my collar bone. Then I add my jewellery – chunky, sparkly earrings and matching bracelet.

BOOK: Defective (The Institute Series Book 3)
6.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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