The interview rooms themselves were situated in some single storey annexe to the original stone built police property. Larger windows and lower ceilings it was obviously a different era of construction. As they waited for Murphy to return, Miss Peters sat patiently wondering what to say, quite clearly the situation was one she was not comfortable with. Mac paced out the perimeter of the square room, slowly, one step after the other, wondering if he had said the right thing. In the panic of the moment it was the only explanation that came to mind. Now the horse had bolted and there was no turning back, so what was he going to tell Margaret and Walt? Would he need to, could he get home soon? That would not be fair though, especially to Margaret. Why had he become so involved with her? It would have been much better if he had resisted her advances. “And that’s another horse,’ he joked under his breath.

Outside the weather had taken a drastic turn for the worse. A cloud burst was hammering upon the flat roof which separated them from the elements. Like a legion of drummers the falling rain beat out a warning of what force it held, and what a force it was. That dream of Burdett Hall came to his mind, the water running from off the extension and falling past the one large window made secure by the addition of steel bars no further apart than would allow a leg through and opening on to an untidy back yard, reminding him of the deer shelter.

Miss Peters came over to join him. “I didn’t see a forecast for today did you?” she asked, raising her voice a little to be sure he heard.

“No I didn’t catch it this morning. Does it do this a lot?” His false predicament now offered the ability to enquire without being found out.

“Just lately, the past few years we seem to be getting these worse storms, and flooding of lower ground levels. It’s global warming they say but I don’t buy it.”

There was that phrase again, global warming, he knew it and had done some research on it. “It’s the crops that’ll suffer.”

“You can bet prices will go up, any excuse.”

Mac smiled understandingly but offered no further input on that subject, his opinions on the matter would be too outrageous for Miss Peters’ world view anyway. Besides there was a suggestion of anxiety beginning to creep across his shoulders, taking in the nape of his neck and the back of his head as well. A feeling of stretched skin burnt by the afternoon sun on a day at the beach, but with more to it. There was that edgy dread of doubt which accompanied it, holding hands to find home, seek shelter and establish parity with sensibility and well being.

“Do you not have any recollection at all then Mac?” It was obvious from the weak delivery of this question she had finally plucked up the courage to ask. Her head tilted slightly also betrayed the fact that it was not an enquiry she wanted to make but felt duty bound to attempt.

“Not one bit, although….” Mac thought for a moment. Should he throw in a morsel to keep them occupied. Why not. He shrugged both shoulders in an attempt to dislodge the grasp of his tormentor.

“Yes go on, no matter how little it could be important Mac.”

Oh ok. Maybe he was wrong. Perhaps it was just her juvenile posture again that gave incorrect messages of her naivety.

There was the ringing sound again, but not in his ears, more of the mind. Talking would take his perception off it. “I just had a thought of a shelter, I was under it in another storm, it was in a park belonging a huge mansion, something Hall it was called.”

Miss Peters took the bait again, and although he did not like leading this intelligent woman along another addidge from that first library visit came back once again. Any port in a storm was the wording. Well there was certainly a storm for sure, and Miss Peters’ served as a welcome port for his predicament unfortunately.

“I’m almost sure it began with a b,” he continued, “the name of the house”

This was the way the next minutes passed, a guessing memory game, too and fro between the two of them, played out above the din from the roof, Miss Peters suggesting names, Mac unsure of any.

A desperate thought of making it back home as soon as he was allowed his freedom also flooded in. Images of Sal and his family, his home and the beautiful event coming up in only a month now. Only a month! He had missed Sal’s last trimester, what would she be thinking, would she be still in the dark over where he was? She had better not! Where was Aunt Bessie? She said she would come and fetch him.

This unusual anger playing about inside allowed him to take back the ground fought over with fright and, accompanied by the concentration on what precisely to disclose began to send the episodic spasm of creeping skin and dull awareness back from where it was born..

When after a good half hour of leaving, Murphy returned, a duty doctor in tow. Doctor Rai began with his own introduction and then some general note taking, performed with some effort, drowned out as it was by the noise. He was very considerate, thoughtful and patient, and because of his well spoken diction Mac was able to acknowledge and answer each question in spite of the weather.

A small man carrying some weight, though oddly not looking fat, he had a shiny bald head which reflected the spot lighting from the ceiling on occasions. He asked all the questions that a phycision should to establish the facts, and Mac answered as before. If not tapping on his handheld the replies given, the doctor played with his horn rimmed spectacles off from his face, only to observe and then replace them before his next question. Perhaps they were new to him Mac thought, he enjoyed them so much.

A dozen enquiries noted and the doctor stood up and walked around the table to where Mac sat. “May I examine your head Mr Hammerton?”

A nod of approval saw Doctor Rai take out a flattened paper bag from the inside breast pocket of his brown jacket and proceed to tear it apart revealing a pair of thin rubber gloves. These he put on before investigating further. Obviously there was nothing to find. Mac was starting to worry though over whether he should have taken this route, and what with the worry his heart seemed to be beating fast still. although the anxiety had gone, the ringing in his head remained as a reminder of his fragility. He wondered on whether it was always there but only obvious when he noticed it in times of stress. Would the doctor take his pulse? He tried to calm himself, breathing as deeply as was not obvious.

Doctor Rai confirmed his findings. “No sign of any trauma there. So to recap then, you say the first thing you remember of late is being under the railway bridge?” Doctor Rai snapped the gloves from off his hands and retook his seat.

“Yes.”

“Do you remember having a headache?”

“No, just a bit fuzzy that’s all.”

“And walking through this town, in a daze you say, bewildered because you didn’t recognise anything or any person….”

Mac interrupted. “Yes, it wasn’t my home town at all, or rather I didn’t recognise it as anywhere I knew.”

Sat on the desk Murphy made another quick scribble on his pad. “Nothing is familiar Mr Hammerton?” he confirmed with a squint of his left eye.

“No, not at all.” Mac turned back to the doctor. “I didn’t want to panic too much, I suppose….. I was in the here and now, not sure where that was though, not sure what to think…. lost but alive and something just kept telling me to keep calm, keep searching, I can’t explain the feeling I simply don’t know why but I just …..” he pretended not to find the words.

The doctor rescued him speaking sympathetically. “And so you slept out a couple of nights?”

“Yes, in that hut,” Mac sighed in relief of supposedly unburdening the weight from off his shoulders, “and then found this lovely farming family, the Helliwell’s who took me in.”

“By then you had made up a new identity, but for what purpose?” His spectacles were off again and under scrutiny. Perhaps they were smeared and not giving a clear vision.

“Again I don’t know, I can’t explain, I just wanted to be normal I suppose, didn’t want to admit anything was wrong, didn’t want a fuss, felt it would all turn out all right. It just seemed to be the correct way to go.”

Murphy scribbled again. “And you chose Whitby because you’d read the name in a paper in the library?”

“Yes. Sounds pathetic doesn’t it.”

“Obviously we need to manage this situation without any more stress to yourself Mr Hammerton.” Doctor Rai had his diagnosis and his spectacles back in their place. “It is my opinion that we need to get you admitted for further tests and take it from there. Is that alright with you?”

Mac looked shocked. “Can’t I just wait for things to get back to normal myself. I’ve settled in at Walt Helliwells now.” he suggested, hoping the idea might suffice. He needed to play the next move just right or else the consequences may take over too rapidly for him to be able to parry, feeling himself in check already he did not want it to be mate, better to get a draw than loose everything. “Perhaps I could have the tests then come back?”

“We certainly need to establish what has happened to you Mr Hammerton, and yes you shouldn’t be under any stress, so I will suggest that your case be managed from here, but lets get the process underway first, blood tests and a scan I think.”

Murphy was still thinking, it was betrayed on his face, that disbelieving grimace so annoying and immovable. Sat on the corner of the desk, his feet dangling a foot above the floor, he scribbled another note, then bit at the plastic end of the pen. The next question welled up and came out in an incredulous manner. “So what do ya think’s up with him Doctor?”

Doctor Rai thought a moment then answered. “Oh Mr Hammerton is telling the truth Inspector. Severe retrograde amnesia I would say, though these further tests are needed.” Mac feigned a worried look. On the roof another band of heavier rain introduced itself. Doctor Rai raised his voice to explain. “You have completely lost your memory, this is obvious, a pretty severe case of it too I would say, but that’s nothing to be afraid of, it will return. We will help you. I would guess you had a fall and banged your head.”

Mac played along. “I can’t remember.”

“You will have been concussed, unconscious even for a time, not necessarily on the railway itself though. You were very lucky being on that track not to get hurt,” Doctor Rai paused momentarily, “or worse even than that Mr Hammerton.”

Mac looked grateful. “So what next then?”

“I’ll take you to hospital and we will organise some blood tests, an e.e.g. to test your brain function and an m.r.i. scan to take a look at it, see if we can find a reason for all of this.

Murphy shuffled on the tables edge and added his help at long last, writing down a memo as he spoke, “I will release a statement asking for anyone to come forward with information of who you are Mr Hammerton. One thing’s for sure you don’t have any criminal record to draw on.” Was he coming around Mac wondered, difficult to tell really with the way the Inspector twitched his nose and screwed up his face whether or not his apparent conversion was sincere.

“And we should know by later today if you have any medical history of this happening before,” the doctor added.

Miss Peters had listened throughout the interview, there to help if necessary but not finding she needed to, standing on the periphery of the room and the proceedings, looking out the open window every now and then to capture the natural event unfolding outside. Having abated a time or two the deluge was now back once again, and at its worst. In one corner of the confinement chamber a patch of wet had appeared on two of the off white polystyrene ceiling tiles. Older stains on these told their own story. The flat roof had given up the struggle. Mac wished he could trade places with the legal representative and be free of the questioning, or even be out there in the rain. A heavy storm would be much better a place to be bothered with than what was happening inside.

She finally broke her silence. “Tell the doctor of your memory Mac.”

“What’s that then? ” Murphy butted in.

“Did you have a recall Mr Hammerton? Please tell me,” the doctor insisted the snippet of information be told him.

Mac explained again, as before, but still could not bring up the name of the hall. He sighed, somewhat at a loss.

Doctor Rai was more confident. “Well it’s a start, and as I said you will get your memory back, of that I am sure, so if we can proceed Inspector?”

“I’ll be off then Mr Hammerton,” Miss Peters instructed, walking across the room to him, and offering a hand to shake gave a card with the other. “If you need any help in the coming days or weeks just give me a call.” A sweet smile betrayed more than her sentence. Miss Peters did believe him and appeared to know something else, something that bothered her and by her expression ought to bother him if he was in his right mind, which his fake predicament would preclude. But not being so her concern did register. What was it she worried over? Her hand shake added more, a little longer than was necessary it amplified her words, suggesting he beware, keep in touch and be careful.

There was rain and then there was whatever this storm was. On route to the hospital, courtesy of the good doctor, one surprise after the other brought home its severity. As if the torrential downpour was not enough the roads were awash with water, fountains sprouting and spurting up from manhole covers, some of the heavy metal castings actually absent, removed by the pressure from the drains. Doctor Rai had to drive with caution to navigate both the debris brought out from the fields and the gaping holes left by the covers. At one point he was forced to turn around his black shooting break from the valley bottom route because the road was flooded by a good four foot of waters depth and take to a higher hillside direction into the city.

It was here, up above the valley, that the greatest indication of the ferocity of the storm became apparent. Even though high up the hill side, water was gathering so much that at one point it was streaming over a stone wall like a waterfall, flowing from off the higher banked field on the far side. Rushing across the land it dropped over the three foot high stone boundary for a width of some ten feet, only then to make its way down the road in a torrent of destruction, observing nothing in its path. There were areas of road surface ripped apart and tossed to one side, thin, six foot strips of tarmac torn up and carried in the current of what was at times best described as a river occupying the highway, and still it rained. Down the gradient it swept, no respect for property or person. Open doorways of houses in the waters path just let the flow pass through to continue on its gravitational journey to the basin below. Some residents had been prepared and placed sandbags at the perimeter of their properties but water being what it was had in most cases found another passage through.

“The land is soddened wet through.” Doctor Rai dealt in accurate statements, being a medical man there was no grey areas for him, just black and white. “This will mean trouble further down river believe you me.”

“Think what it’ll do just further down the hill,” Mac added.

“I dread to imagine, and it’s not the first time.”

“No, Miss Peters’ was telling me.”

“We seem to be getting it more and more, the gulf streams too far south you see, drags cold air down from the north, keeps us British very wet and bedraggled it does.” Then the doctor pulled himself up and paused for a moment. “I’m so sorry Mr Hammerton, I should be more worried about you than this, please accept my apologies.”

Mac laughed out loud. “I would rather be treated that way Doctor Rai, believe me. I don’t want any fuss, I’m sure I’ll mend myself, in fact I seem to have an inclin that the big house in that flashback was called Burdett Hall or something similar, so that must mean something is getting done in here.” Mac tapped a finger on the side of his head.

The doctor smiled, a knowing smile telling of education and knowledge. “Very clever, the human brain Mr Hammerton, very clever indeed. I have no doubt you will be back to your self within a month.”

That sentiment struck a chord, though not the obvious one. “I hope it’ll be half that time Doctor Rai!”

“Let’s hope so then young man.”

Another more than interesting discovery also plied for attention driving along this high route. Over a valley Mac had not seen before was a plateaux of countryside that offered a hope of sorts. On it stood two rows of wind turbines slowly turned by a prevailing wind from the north east. One to eight he slowly counted them, and then noticed construction of two or three new ones, these half as big again as the ones currently employed. Hope indeed then for the world he now new, the first indication of a resource captured back home for such a long time, and here it was apparently in its infancy. Nowadays with the advent of osmosis turbines there was nit that many back home but the power of the wind was still not overlooked. Maybe Margaret’s world was coming to its senses.

“Been a lot of controversy over those.” Doctor Rai said, seeing Mac looking their way. “People just don’t want them, spoil the view.”

Mac had his own opinion. Should he voice it? Why not. “No more than them ugly monstrosities.”

The Doctor looked confused.

“Those, carrying the wire across valley after valley.”

“The pylons,” the doctor added. “Yep, if the same hoo ha had gone up when they were put up, them mist of these protestors would not have any electricity.”

“I find the turning very soothing,”

“I’ve started to have lunch up here and get away from it all I must admit,”

“And it adds to the view, don’t ya think.”

“Yes I do, but don’t quote me,” the doctor laughed.

More and more rain led them on to the city and an appointment telephoned ahead by the good doctor on his handheld, routed through a system of communication in his vehicle. Mac kept quiet while it was organised hoping to pick up some snippet of information if what was to come. None was forthcoming. Sal and the farmyard came to his minds eye and brought about a rest if sorts. Hopefully he would be in her company within the day.

The hospital visit was nothing like expected. Although not the clinic of home it did boast some computerised
gadgetry, especially the magnetic resonance imaging scanner which although quite crude did produce a representation of the inside of his skull and all its contents. Nanotechnology it was not, but it did provide the confirmation that there was no pathology to be found.

There was no explanation for his circumstances the clinicians in white coats concluded, sat three at a time at various screens directing effort towards a prognosis. Even when he had been asked to try and bring to mind more memories of Burdett Hall the correct areas of his brain were recorded he was shown afterwards.

“Quite a normal picture ,” one was heard to remark to another.

“So whatever the problem is does not find its aetiology within an organic matrix,” the elderly consultant in yellow shirt and purple tie explained, to his patient as well as the medical staff. Where they being trained?

The multiple vials of blood taken would return their results, some within a few hours and others in days to come another explained as the last sample of blood was drawn. One specimen at a time, it took too long and again Mac thought it an archaic method of investigation but that was the matter of it and there was nothing else for it but to accept the treatment plan and play along with the scenario.

The absolute worst experience in all his born days though was when he was asked to lay on his side curled up in the foetal position to allow another cilinician to take some spinal fluid from out his lumbar region. The theatre greens seemed reasonable when offered, but the procedure was not. Words came to mind when the needle was being inserted, words that had been learned since arriving in this place of imprisonment many weeks ago, and although none were spoken the perspiration which stood on his face and shoulders betrayed the pain of the procedure. Apologies and bed side manner took none of the sting out of the aspiration and when it was over the feint that almost took him to the operating theatre floor when finally allowed to stand won a cup of coffee with a spoonful of sugar.

By mid afternoon the tests were complete. Now what to tell Margaret and Walt? He worried over this for long enough, sat in a long beige corridor, seat after seat lining the way, beige paint and same colour flooring. Why that colour had been chosen seemed beyond sense. The walls held a record of past fingermarks at various heights and size, while the floor was beyond redemption, scuffed, scoured and stained as it was with evidence of overuse.

Fortunately the mobile phone Margaret had given him had run the battery flat, a blessing in disguise. She probable knew something was afoot by now, he would have missed lunch. Not unusual in itself that, but with communication down and her fathers report of Officer Simpson coming to fetch him, well that was sure to have set alarm bells ringing. Go along with this ruse or tell her the absolute truth? That was the dilemma now. This current ploy would be the more convincing of the two, naturally. There was the decision then, a lost memory but happy in his lot. The lies though, she would not like, who would? The fact that all she knew about him was fictitious, but it was better than the truth at any rate, and that was the bottom line, better to lie than tell the honest truth. He had betrayed her though, telling any lie was a betrayal, of confidence if not of love, so how to appease that fact,well only time could tell.

“Mr Hammerton?” A feminine voice shouted down the corridor. “Professor Smith will see you now.” His case had ratcheted up a notch. Now the upper echelon wanted a look at him, professor indeed, and of psychiatry at that.

More beige walls, hardly calming or beneficial to a patient under stress Mac thought. “Professor Smith,” he began offering a hand to the phycision.

The professor stood from his leather swivel chair and leant over a heavy wooden desk, leather inset to match, and offered a hand in return. “Mr Hammerton, how nice to meet you, I am sorry you are having some trouble but we are going to try and sort that out for you,” he replied.

“Good, and thank you…..very much.”

What followed was what could only be described as an assessment of his mental state, and although he was sort of prepared for one to take place there were a couple of times when the questioning came close to bringing an angry response to the table. Information was supposed to be sparse anyway but suggestions of the event being triggered by violence, either given out or received, did not lie well with Mac. How dare this complete stranger look over his half moon shaped spectacles, fiddle with such a stupid looking shape of a beard, it only surrounded his mouth and nowhere else, and imply that he could be running away from some sort of traumatic episode, and the only sure way to rid himself of the memory was to shut it out altogether. Another line of suggestion supposed he might be involved in taking some illegal substance or other, whatever they might be, and be suffering effects of a psychotic nature.

Advertisements