I had every intention of following Isy. I had never met her son, face to face, I figured this was my chance. But as usual, ‘the powers that be’ or whoever the fuck is holding us here had other plans.
Ok, fate had other plans.
Was fate preventing me from moving on? I’ll get to the point. I was suddenly sucked to the emergency room. Like someone clicked on my undead soul and dragged and dropped it into the examination room where my father was fighting for his life. “Dad?” I said out loud since I was certain no one in the room could hear me.
Doctors and nurses were talking around me. “Hispanic male in his mid-forties. He’s a real-estate agent, the wife said he blacked out in the middle of a meeting.”
The nurses were cutting off his clothes. I knew what they were about to discover; my father had third degree burns over forty percent of his body, namely his back and shoulders.
The doctor gasped. “Any info on the medical records?”
“No, wife says he’s a military veteran, treated at the VA. The scars are a combat injury.”
With his suit on the scars were barely visible. But without, it wasn’t difficult to read the story of what the improvised explosive did to my father’s back. Even After reconstructive surgery, the nerve damage was so severe it was a miracle he relearned how to walk. I knew it was no miracle, it was my father’s fighting spirit.
I watched as he flat-lined. His heart was seizing up. The doctor called for the paddles and it took several tries to shock his heart back into rhythm.
I stayed by his side for what felt like hours, until he was sent to a room in the ICU.
Isy reappeared. “I’ve been looking for you.”
“Sorry,” I said, as I turned to her. “How’s Sean?”
“He’s good, or as good as someone with cystic fibrosis induced pneumonia can be.” She said with a shrug. “He looks so much like my little brother.”
“At least he doesn’t look like his father.” I immediately regretted my choice of words.
Isy swallowed hard. Even in death, she could see the face of the man who raped her all those years ago. “Speaking of fathers I don’t think I’ve met yours.” she approached my father’s bedside stroking the IV in his arm. “You look so much like him.”
“I guess.” I took a seat, watching their her interactions.
Her hands were trembling as she touched my father’s skin at a place where the scars on his back met the tattoos on his arms. “I always loved tattoos. Growing up I drew little pictures, my dream board for when I turned 18.” Her fingers caressed my father’s cheek.
That’s when I saw her body shudder. “What’s wrong?”
“Did the doctors say what happened to your dad?”
I shrugged. “Something about stress, a partial stroke, I think.”
“His brain is bleeding.”
“You can see his brain?”
“I feel it.” She reached her hand to his neck, moving with the rise and fall of his breath. She suddenly recoiled, screaming in terror.
“Isy?” I threw my arms around her, holding her close.
“I-Is your dad on painkillers?” she asked in a meek voice.
“For his back? I guess so.”
Isy nodded, it was clear she was trying to calm down. “That’s probably it.” She pushed away from me. “He probably just took too many pills, it happens.”
“What exactly did you feel?”
“Numbness- like a shock of nothingness,” there were tears in her eyes and a sense of fear in her voice. “I-I’m not describing it very well. When I touch your father I feel such a sense of hopelessness…”
“Is he sick?”
“No, it like he’s being tortured.” Isy leaned over my father, her tears falling on his closed eyes. “Someone did this to him.”
My father’s eyes blinked open. “Are you an angel?” His voice was scratchy and horse. But to hear him speak nearly broke me.
Isy was blushing. “Maybe one day. I’m actually a friend of your son Cam. He’s here.”
My father swallowed hard. “Does he forgive me?”
“Of course, you’re his hero.”
“No,” he said with pursed lips, his face racked with pain. “I deserve this fate.”
“You stood up for your son, you allowed him to die with dignity.”
“I watched my child die. The little boy I once held in my arms. I just stood by and watched as he took his last breath.”
Isy started to become transparent, her physical form reflecting her fragile, emotional state. “B-But that was what he wanted. Cam wanted to die, he wanted to be free of the pain of living.”
“And in doing so he left behind a trail of despair in his wake. But I don’t blame him. I gave in. I was weak and now I must pay.”
His words caused Isy to run crying through a wall.
My father simply shook his head. “Even the angels turn from me.”
I approached my Dad’s bed. “I’ll be right back.” Not that he heard me but I felt better saying it. I phased through the wall, into the crowded hallway.
Doctors and nurses were passing through, all speaking unintelligibly. Their voices were like radio static getting louder and louder.
“Isy?” Where had she gone? As I turned the corner my mouth fell to the floor. She was making out with the emo-cowboy paramedic.
With every touch, Isy’s body glowed with a neon radiance. Her skin, her eyes, her hair; she was materializing. Was he pulling her into his world? I felt rage pulsing through my muscles. The burning, electric sensation took hold of my arms, then my hands. So when I punched that douchebag in the back of the head he went down- hard.
All of the sounds in the hallway went back to normal. A few people glanced at the clumsy paramedic who appeared to have tripped over his own feet.
Isy was, of course, glaring. “Cam, how could you? He was only trying to help.”
“By putting his tongue down your throat?”
“What? No! He was siphoning my energy, helping me focus, so I could better understand what I felt from your father.”
The paramedic pulled himself to his feet and began to walk in the direction of the waiting room. It was clear to me he wanted us to follow so he could speak without looking completely insane.
I watched him duck into the handicapped restroom. It was a single stall and I didn’t want to see this guy taking a piss, but since Isy’s first instinct was to follow him, I did as well. Thankfully he was waiting for us, with his pants on.
That was when I noticed his name badge. “Johnathan Phoenix Desilva? What kind of name is that?”
“My friends call me Johnny.”
“So, who calls you Phoenix?” I had to ask since I had heard that name from multiple sources.
Johnny sighed. “My supervisor noticed my ‘extra special’ middle name and took it upon herself to make it my nickname- and it stuck… throughout the majority of the emergency room department.”
Isy leaned her head on his shoulder. “I think it sounds cool, like a superhero.”
“Or a lawyer…” I muttered.
“Oh yeah, Phoenix Wright- right?” Isy’s focus was still on Johnny.
“How about we both call you JP?” I suggested if only to move things along.
“Fine by me,” he said with a shrug. “Greetings Cam, my name is JP and it’s an honor to finally meet you face to face.”
“Face to face?” I asked. I was curious as to why he added that last part.
“I’ve seen you around. In the time I’ve been here I think I’ve spotted pretty much all of the trapped spirits but I’ve only met a few dozen.”
“All?” Now I knew he was full of shit.
“There are hundreds, some are people who died here but a few are people who worked here.”
“And they show themselves only to you?” I shook my head.
“I don’t know if that’s entirely true. I mean Isy has seen a few.”
Isy remained quiet, but I could have sworn the mouthed the word, “sorry.”
I understood what was happening. I was the weak one, the newbie ghost. I would have to follow their lead. “How do I know I can trust you, JP?” I asked, a little crueler then I intended. “I trust Isy because we both died in our teens and her son-”
“Her son knows your sister,” JP said calmly.
“Did Isy tell you that?”
“No, I learned a few things working in the emergency room.” JP was looking at the floor.
“Do I make you nervous?” The realization hit me like a ton of bricks. “What do you know about my Dad?”
“I know that his loyalty to your mother is going to get him killed.”
“My mother is trying to kill him?”
“But on the bright side, your sister is doing a lot better.”
“My sister? What do you know about my sister?”
“I was there, in the hospital the night your dad brought her in. I honestly thought she was dead. But she’s looking a lot better.”
“She’s here?” I was a little pissed that I couldn’t sense her. Maybe that was fate screwing with me, again. “Take me to her, and you will have earned my trust.”
check out Sean’s story on-
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Sean has lived with cystic fibrosis his entire life. He falls in love with Jen, a girl with a dark, emotionally painful past. Living with chronic illness, Sean knows a little something about overcoming pain. But when he meets her family, his courage will be put to the test.
Jen’s father, Diego, is a disabled military veteran. He is being mentally and physically abused by his wife, due to his role in the death of Jen’s brother. Accompanied by a mysterious, supernatural, presence, it will fall to Sean to play the hero. All while navigating a life with chronic illness, and chasing his dreams in California.