This post is one of a series in the ongoing Juniper Campaign posts. If you’re new to the blog, you may want to consider starting from the beginning, or reading the summary to get caught up on events up to this point.
The party’s quest to stop the tentacle-tongued monsters of Disco Nuit could generously be called a mixed success, but right now there’s nothing anyone can do except go home and hope for the best. Felix, of course, can’t even do that, since “home” is probably the first place the police will look. He accepts John’s offer of a ride and a couch to crash on, at least for now, and the two of them head back to the house that John shares with his grandmother.
After arriving back at his place and making sure that Felix won’t get eaten by his dog, John goes to check on his grandmother. She seems to be sound asleep, but she hasn’t taken her medication, and she doesn’t respond when John tries to wake her up. All her vital signs seem normal when he checks her over, but she still won’t wake, so he calls an ambulance.
Once at the hospital, he’s approached in the waiting room by a man who introduces himself as Dr. Bob Johnson. The prognosis: She’s had a major stroke, and the activity in her brain has dropped off as a result. She doesn’t require life support, and it’s possible she’ll wake from her coma in the future, but right now she needs round-the-clock care.
Johnson informs John that his grandmother qualifies for admittance at Shady Acres Centre for Elderly Living, a retirement-and-hospice centre that specializes in caring for vegetative patients. It’s staffed by a number of specialists, including Johnson himself; it is of course open to visitors; and admittance would be permanent “until and unless it’s no longer needed.” Johnson offers to put John in touch with the Centre’s director to arrange a tour and have any questions answered, but assures John that his grandmother’s admittance to this facility is “the best case scenario you could possibly hope for.”
All of which, of course, is starting to sound a little too good to be true. John starts by voicing the most obvious concern. “I can’t afford this,” he says, gesturing to the hospital.
But Johnson, it seems, has an answer for everything. His grandmother’s stay at Shady Acres would, apparently, be entirely covered by her medical insurance. Her hospital care is likewise covered, but only for the first 72 hours, after which she would either have to be transferred to Shady Acres or back home–which Johnson naturally recommends against. He offers to get the paperwork started.
John is already well aware that he can’t provide the 24/7 care that his grandmother needs. “Go ahead and start the procedure. This does sound like a good option, but I’ll just want to confirm.”
“Of course.” Johnson hands him a business card, and then leaves John alone with his grandmother. John talks to her for a little while, promising her that he’ll record her TV programs and telling her about the centre where she’ll probably be staying until she’s ready to come back home.
Before leaving the hospital, John calls his house phone–since Felix has, of course, destroyed his cell phone–to let Felix know what’s going on. For his part, Felix is understandably a bit nervous about answering the phone, in case it’s the police on the other end. Somewhat less understandably, he decides to hide his identity by answering the phone with his very best Christian Bale impersonation.
“Um,” John says–a perfectly reasonable response, all things considered. “Hi, Batman…?”
“Oh, it’s you. Hi.”
John tells Felix that his grandmother is still alive, still in the hospital, and that he’ll probably be pretty busy in the next couple of days making arrangements. “So, stay safe, make yourself at home.”
“Okay, thanks,” Felix says. “I’ll keep walking Duke.”
“Yeah, if you could record Coronation Street, that’d be great.”
They say their goodbyes–John figures he’ll be back in an hour or two–and Felix dutifully sets about recording every instance of Coronation Street he can find, which is how he stumbles across the following news broadcast:
We interrupt this program to bring you late-breaking news of an apparent serial killer. Jimmy Johnston reporting.
We have late-breaking news of two new attempted murders, for a reported total of four victims over the past 48 hours. The police believe they have identified a suspect in the mysterious alley-slayings.
The broadcast is showing a picture of Felix’s driver’s license photo.
“Oh, that’s not fair, guys,” Felix mutters. “That’s just kind of dickish.”
Fortunately, the photo on the broadcast lives up to the reputation that driver’s license photos have for being absolutely terrible, and the picture on the screen looks nothing like Felix and more like a 60-year-old black man. That’s the only fortunate thing about the situation, though, as the broadcast goes on to prove:
Felix Chen is wanted for immediate questioning regarding the murder of two salsa dancers who were walking home from the club Disco Nuit. In addition, he was involved in another altercation during which, after following other individuals home from Disco Nuit, he shot a male with another woman who had been at Disco Nuit. Apparently one of his accomplices also attacked another female who had been at Disco Nuit; the two females had been together.
“Come on, guys, I pay taxes and stuff…”
His vehicle was found at the scene, on fire and full of bullet holes, after it rammed a florist’s shop and a post office. Police are saying that this could be cult-related as ‘esoteric magic-like books’ related to human sacrifice were found in his home. He is considered armed and dangerous. If you see this man, please call the police.
The broadcast flickers off and Felix slumps on the couch, trying to decide whether he wants to sulk or panic. He’s still doing that when, some time later, there’s a knock at the door…