I turned on my heel and walked back to the elevator. Why was Elizabeth moved? I thought to myself. Did it mean her condition was improving? Worsening? The door dinged and opened. There was a woman already on the elevator. A pretty nurse stared at me with a shocked look on her face as I approached. She had dark hair the color of a night sky and bright green eyes.I suddenly realized that I knew those eyes. The last time I saw those iridescent eyes, the shop was being robbed.
“Lily?” I said in surprise. She responded by stepping forward and taking a swing at me.
It connected with an audible thud. Now I have been hit in the jaw before. Detective Frank spent quite a long time teaching me how to take a hit, so when I say Lily’s punch knocked me on my ass, I was not being humble. The next sensation I registered was the other side of my face striking the tile floor.
Dots danced in my head, and it took me a moment or two to realize that Lily was getting away. I shook my head to clear it and scrambled to my feet. Lily had reached the staircase in the time it had taken me to get to my feet. If Lily was involved with what was going on, I had to catch her and get some answers. If not, then I was just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I took the gamble and started after her.
We were on the second floor of the hospital, so Lily did not have many stairs to get through before she would hit an open area and would try to lose me in the hospital’s many hallways.
I took the stairs two at a time. Lily stopped at the door and swung it inward. This allowed me to make up precious seconds and close the gap between us. The door hadn’t closed all the way by the time I had reached it, allowing me to just squeeze through without needing to stop. We came out to a long corridor that leads to an exit. I saw Lily sprinting towards the door. I knew that if she made it to the street that laid just on the other side, there was little chance in hell I was going to see her again. At that moment I knew I had one goal, to catch Lily, so I mustered what strength I had left to pick up my pace and close the ever so daunting gap between us.
I moved as fast as I could. I may have been taller than Lily and my long stride aided in closing the gap, but she was small and agile. She was obviously not going to make it easy for me to catch her. Adrenaline pumped through my veins as we approached the end of the hall. I had to think of something and quick. There was a dirty clothes bin nearby. I grabbed it, not breaking my stride, and shoved it towards Lily. The cart struck her from behind. She didn’t fall into the cart, but the force of the collision did send her tumbling to the ground, allowing me to catch up to her. Ha, karma. I did not give her a chance to get up as I grabbed her by her nurse’s scrubs and hauled her into the nearest room.
That room happened to be a small non-denominational chapel. Lucky for us the room was empty of any parishioners seeking divine guidance. Lily pulled herself free of my grasp almost as soon as I entered the chapel. She turned and shifted her weight to her back leg, arms raised. Lily stood poised and ready. She did not look it, but she was built like an athlete and knew how to use her unimposing frame to her advantage. Her dark hair was pinned up in a bun, and her almond-shaped eyes scanned me for any signs of weakness.
“Really,” I said. “We’re going to fight, in a church?”
“Well,” Lily said in a sultry voice. “You’re the one that pulled us in here. I’m guessing we’re about to fight or you just really missed me. To save time just know I don’t have the apple.”
“I’m not here for the apple,” I said. “I didn’t know you were here.” I held both my hands up, palms open.
“Then you wouldn’t mind if I left?” She asked. “Sorry about the jaw, but I get a little feisty when cornered.”
“Look, I came here on a prayer and ran into you. That can’t be a coincidence. You’re here for something.”
“Henry,” she put her hand to her chest in mock surprise.“I’ve turned a new leaf. I’m giving back to the community.”
“Please, spare me the lies,” I said.
“It’s true, while I may not be a nurse, I’m no longer a thief.” Lily smiled.
“Then what are you doing here?” I asked.
“Minding my own business.” She said.
“Come on Lily,” I said in frustration as I thrust my hands down in exasperation. That is when she lunged towards me. Lily grabbed my right arm and kicked my leg out from under me. In the instant that followed, I was hurled forward into the aisle of the little chapel. Don’t worry; my back broke my fall. There was a thud as I hit and a sharp pain shot up my back for an instant. This would have been the opportunity she needed to escape had I not had the genius idea of grabbing her midsection as I was rolling over. She landed with me, and we tumbled for a few moments.I came out on top and pinned her down.
“Look, Lily,” I said in a quiet, angry voice. “I’m not here for you I just want to know if you know anything about the comatose kid in room 314.”
“Which one?” Lily said through a clenched jaw.
That made me sit up. I let go of Lily’s arms, and she stopped struggling.
“There’s more than one?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Stop straddling me, and I’ll tell you.”
I notice the position we were in and rolled off her. I made sure to be between her and the door.
“Alright, spill,” I said
Lily tucked her knees under her as she sat up. She brushed a loose hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear. The gesture did not go unnoticed by me. Lily was still breathing heavily, which did interesting things to her chest. All in all she had shifted from fighter to vulnerable in a couple of breaths.
“Two,” Lily said as she held up two fingers. “The hospital moved them together, but there’s more.”
“Alright,” I said. “Enlighten me.”
“Hold on,” Lily said, putting a hand up. “I only told you that much to get you off me. Anything else is going to cost you.”
“I don’t have time for games, Lily.”
“I understand that,” she said. “Hear what I have to say and then decide whether or not you want the information.”
I nodded skeptically.
“I wasn’t lying to you when I said I’m not a thief.” She said. “Lately I’ve been doing retrievals. People pay me to steal from the people that stole from them.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“It’s a good gig. Anyway, I believe our two jobs have just intertwined.” She crossed her fingers to help make her point.
“Go on,” I gestured for her to continue as she rolled her eyes.
“I have been tracking an artifact.” She sighed. “It was part of my client’s collection until a few days ago when it was stolen. I traced it to the city but lost the trail. The only lead I have is a string of cases, since the day after the artifact was reported missing, were perfectly healthy kids are slipping to comas.”
“Why do you think they are linked?” I asked
“Because only one kid drops a day. They have no pre-existing conditions and each test the doctors ran came back negative. Doesn’t this all seem to point to a supernatural force at work? I mean it did all start after this artifact went missing. Come on; you have to see that this has to be connected.” This time she gave me jazz hands.
“That’s a bit of a coincidence.” I agreed.
“Here’s the deal,” Lily said, a wicked smile played across her lips. “We work together.You need to find out what’s doing this to these kids and I need to find this artifact, so let’s help each other by sharing information. Let’s be honest; you need me.” Lily held up a hand for me to shake.
I sighed, the devil you know, right.