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Does life really flash before your eyes?

Posted on Sat Aug 24th, 2019 @ 3:59pm by Lieutenant JG Isabelle Veran PhD & Lieutenant Commander Christine Descharmes

Mission: Between the Pages
Location: Betazed Hospital - Specialist Burns Unit
Timeline: A Lot of Years Ago

The archaeology department was what he was interested in. To be more specific, it was a certain artifact he was searching for which would garner a substantial reward from the buyer. It was simple enough to pass himself off as a consulting scientist, on Betazed for temporary secondment. They took the bait, lapped up the idea of a fellow researcher with his 'credentials'. The man whose identity he stole would never need them again. He made sure of that. And this long con would take weeks. It already took weeks to find the right target. His steps eventually took him here, to a university campus. He would watch how this plays out. Patience.

~ University of Betazed Campus ~

Every night he saw her. Predictable as she walked by, around the same time. Sometimes alone, deep in thought. Sometimes with friends, laughing. As the days wore on, she intrigued him. Reminded him of someone he was close to not that long ago. Her walk; a confident saunter. It was as if she knew everyone would be watching her. The way she tossed her hair over her shoulder, the red hair glistened in the fading light brought on by dusk. Reminded him of a sunset and not the golden light brought on by a midday sun. He wondered how the strands would feel between his fingers. Would they be as silky as he imagined? Once in a while, her laughter faintly reached his ears. The sound of bubbling brook, it fell like soothing rain on his tortured soul. She taunted him, he was sure of it. Why else would she come by this way? His interest in her grew and he found he looked forward to this part of the day. Looked forward to the time she walked by his window. He kept finding excuses to make sure he was always in his office at the right moment. But the buyers were getting impatient. They were tired of waiting. They wanted results. This was by far a more interesting game to play though.

Then he saw her the one day. There she was. Alone. His cold, blue eyes followed her as she walked by. Wordlessly, he stood up from his desk. The choice was made, the path was set before him and he followed it. He would follow it to the end. Maybe only then would this yield an end to the torment she imposed on him.

He kept his distance, hands in his pockets as he followed her. She led him to the dorms. A typical student dwelling. He stole in behind her, pretended he was lost and in need of direction. Her voice when she spoke, the apologetic smile. And then she was gone. Down a hallway. He still kept his distance. Through the common area she led him. It was quiet at this hour, very few students present. He averted his eyes from those he passed, avoided eye contact. He stopped to admire a painting he had little interest in. He kept his gaze slightly to one side, keeping her in his peripheral vision. It was only a few seconds. He watched as she let herself into a room. He smiled, turned and continued at a moderate pace.

With her studies over for the day Isabelle made her way back to her room. Her roommate was out this evening, so Isabelle had plans to enjoy a nice quiet evening in. As she arrived home she set about turning on the shower ready to refresh before settling down to relax.

He knocked. The door opened. She was surprised to see him, the stranger she let into the dormitory. It was only a matter of seconds. He stepped through the now open door and it closed behind him. He clamped one hand on her mouth, the other crept over her neck to the back of her head, grabbing a handful of her glorious red hair. He pulled her close.

At first Isabelle froze, her instincts soon kicked in though as she struggled and tried to put up a fight, her nails digging into her assailants skin to try and injure him, to give her a window to try and struggle free. All she'd need to do was get the door open to call for help or to have a chance to scream and alert others that she needed help.

Her sharp nails raked against his neck and face. The pain only served to fuel his need and the hand on her mouth tightened. He brought his face close to hers. Her scent, her perfume; it whispered to him. Her eyes; the color of emeralds. Those wide, innocent eyes. They filled with fear. It sent his pulse skyrocketing and his breathing quickened.

The whole thing had seemed like a bad dream that Isabelle had expected to wake up from and learn wasn't true. The evening at the University had started like any other, Isabelle had returned to her room after a long day of learning planning on enjoying a pleasant night. A knock at the door later a hand was clamped over her mouth and she was wrestled back into her room, she'd tried to put up a fight but in the end she was left lying unconscious on the floor her body used and beaten.

Her attacker had tried to cover his tracks by setting fire to the room with her in it, fortunately her fellow students had risked their own lives to save her but not before she'd sustained life threatening and changing burns to her entire back.

After several weeks in a coma while her body fought the seriousness of her burns, Isabelle lay on her side in bed, her pain controlled by powerful drugs. All she'd done since waking was to lie staring at the walls, hardly any words had left her lips.

"Miss Verne," the petite doctor said, holding a padd. She walked in the room, followed by several nurses. She moved around to Isabelle's head and pulled up a chair so that she could easily look her in the eye.

Isabelle was lying staring at the walls, she knew what had happened to her but she was trying to force the memory away, to bury it and pretend it never happened. Her eyes looked up at the doctor, as a handful of tears slowly ran down her cheeks. She slowly raised a hand and wiped her cheeks before her gaze finally met that of the doctor sitting before her. Her voice was quiet and hoarse as she finally spoke. "Yes?"

"How's the pain today?" the soft, feminine voice spoke quietly. She leaned, resting her forearms on her knees as she looked in her eyes.

“It’s...manageable, thank you.” Isabelle looked at the Doctor. Up until now she’d avoided eye contact as much as possible but she knew she couldn’t hide away forever. The thoughts of what she’d say to a patient in the same position kept running through her mind. She knew to bottle the emotions, to fight away the memories, was only going to cause her huge problems in the future. She had to face the horrors of what had been done to her, it was the only way to move on with her life. She winced as she moved a little to make herself more comfortable, she hadn’t even asked what the extent of her injuries was. “Wh...what did to me?”

The doctor glanced over at one of the nurses, who subsequently injected Isabelle with another hypo. She returned her focus back to her patient. "There's third degree burns on 35 percent of your back. If someone hadn't pulled you out..." she let those words hang between them for a few seconds before she continued. "It's gong to be a long, slow process. We can do skin grafts from other parts of your body once it heals. Do you remember anything of what happened that night?"

Isabelle looked at the other woman, the shock at what she'd heard was written all over her face. "35 percent of my...." She paused before putting her mind on the question she'd been asked. "I....I remember....there was a knock at the door....I opened it and he pushed his way in!!" Tears started running down her cheeks. Her arms moved as though to cover the front of her body in a defensive manner making her wince in pain as it pulled on the skin on her back. "I....I couldn't stop him!!"

"Shh," the doctor said, quieting her patient. "Please don't move, you need to be as still as possible." She sat back in her chair. "Right now, I want you to concentrate on recovery. The physical part of it will heal over time. The psychological recovery will take longer. I'll have a counselor stop later on. The campus security want to ask you a few questions, while you still remember some of the events, okay?"

Isabelle nodded. “I...I’ll try!” She had noticed some female officers standing talking to one of the nurses.

The doctor stood up from her seated position and beckoned for the officers to step over. "Ask your questions," she said to one of them.

The taller officer nodded her head as the two moved over to the bed. "Miss Verne," she asked, pulling out a padd on which to take notes. "What's the last thing you remember from that night?"

"The last thing?" She stared into nothingness. "Lying on the floor, wishing I was dead!!" Tears ran down her face. "Then there was smoke...heat....burning pain!!!"

She made a couple of notes. "I need sights, sounds. Did the perpetrator say anything to you? If he did, what did he say? What did his voice sound like when he spoke? Little details. Try and remember anything. "Did you know him? Had you seen him before that moment?"

Isabelle frowned. "Seen him....before?" She paused for a few moments. "Yes! He....he's been on the campus....I saw him!" She paused again. "All he said stop fighting and enjoy it!!"

"Can you describe him to us, please?" the officer continued. "Any little detail."

"Describe..." Isabelle tried to think but her head was filled with fears. In an uncontrolled panic she broadcast what was in her mind directly upon the officers who were interviewing her, both backed away clutching their heads as her memories filled their minds. It only stopped when Isabelle realised what she was doing and got herself back under control. "I....I'm sorry!!"

Both officers shook their heads when the images finally cleared and looked at each other. "I think we have what we need," the one who had been asking the questions said. She glanced at the doctor and then at Isabelle. "Thank-you."

Isabelle looked at the Doctor. "I....I didn't mean to do that!! I couldn't control myself!!"

"That's fine," the doctor said. She glanced over to the two officers and fixed them with a steely look. "You've been through enough." The two female officers glanced at each other, taking the hint and backing up out of the room.

Tears ran down Isabelle's face, all she knew was her life felt like it was in tatters. She didn't know how she was going to face life from here and she was afraid of what would happen next. "What's going to happen to me?" She looked at the doctor as though expecting her to have some miraculous answer to her question.

"You'll stay in the burn unit for now, until you have healed. A few weeks, months, it's hard to say," the soft-spoken doctor answered. "That may be up to you."

"Up to me? How is it up to me?!" Isabelle looked at the doctor with a frown. "I'm not a doctor I'm just a psychology student!!"

The doctor smiled down at her, knowing full well what she meant. She sighed. "Healing is not just the physical, Isabelle. It's the mental and the emotional part of it too. And that journey may take only months. Or it may take years. It's up to you."

Isabelle nodded. "I will not be a victim!!" She looked at the doctor, a more stern look in her eyes than had been there before. "I won't let this....let him get the better of me!!"



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