Sergio nodded in agreement. They both new the risks of checking the girl into a high-profile place like an emergency room. The added surveillance was a concern, but they couldn’t dwell on that now. Alice needed medical attention.
Within moments, they were packed and ready to go. Sergio asked the manager of the motel for directions to the nearest hospital, and moments later they were off.
It took about twenty minutes before they found the place. It was a large rectangular building on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Sergio dropped Kat and Alice off at the entrance to the ER. Kat quickly explained the situation to the nurses there, who instantly took Alice and began working on her. Kat was relieved. She had heard of people waiting hours at the ER, but apparently infants took priority. A few moments later, Sergio joined Kat in the waiting room. It was the first moment of silence they had that morning, and Kat didn’t like it. She wanted to be up, doing something for her girl, but Alice was out of her hands at the moment. She could do nothing but wait, and she hated that.
Sergio, sensing her uneasiness, put his arm around Kat as they sat. It took an hour or so, but a nurse eventually came to update them.
“Your daughter has respiratory syncytial virus or RSV,” she said.
“How bad is that?” asked Sergio.
“Normally it’s not a major problem, but your daughter is showing some fairly advanced symptoms. But thankfully, it’s completely treatable” she added when seeing the concern on Kat and Sergio’s faces. “We’d like to keep her here for a day or two, but after that, she should be fine.”
Kat breathed a sigh of relief. Her baby was going to be okay. They thanked the nurse, who retreated from the room.
However, Kat’s relief was soon replaced with another fear. Invergence. If they stayed in this hospital overnight or longer, how likely was it that Invergence would find them? She didn’t want to think about it.
Sergio seemed to have the same worries. “Do you think one of us should go outside and watch for them?” He didn’t need to explain who them was.
Kat nodded. She doubted it would make a difference if Invergence actually showed up. But it would feel good to be doing something.
“Kat,” Sergio spoke carefully, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but this whole ordeal really had me worried for Alice’s future. Could we please arrange to baptize her later. She doesn’t have to grow up with any religion. I just want her soul to be safer than her body.”
Kat’s blood started to boil. Really? He was bringing this up, now! “I will not have her inducted into any crack-pot religious mumbo-jumbo!”
Sergio looked hurt, “What gives you the right to make that decision?”
“Oh, I don’t know, I’m only her mother.”
“And I’m her father! But I guess that doesn’t count for anything because I didn’t give birth to her.”
“I don’t want this for her, Sergio.”
“Why should it matter to you? If you don’t believe in religion, then what difference does it make whether she’s baptized or not? You think you’ve got it all figured out, when the truth is, you don’t, we don’t. Everything that has happened proves that. We need a little faith right now.”
Kat had had enough. Without another word she stormed out of the room. Her breath came in savage heaves. She had never been this angry with Sergio. She took a moment to steady herself in the hallway.
When her pulse calmed down, she decided to walk outside. It looks like she would be the first to watch for Invergence. Besides, a little fresh air might help her clear her head.
She walked outside and felt the warm, dry air wash over her. She welcomed it, and felt it dry her tears. She found a small bench with a good view of the parking lot and the road leading to the hospital. She settled herself in for a long wait.
A few hours later, Kat was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, Invergence hadn’t caught wind of their stay here. Sergio hadn’t joined her since their fight, and she was glad. She couldn’t deal with any of that right now. She just needed to hold out until Alice was healthy. Then maybe, they could resume their argument in a more civil fashion, when she wasn’t dealing with so much stress.
Tired of waiting, Kat stood to stretch her muscles. She decided to grab a bite to eat from the small cafe at the hospital. She could use the energy.
Walking back inside the building, she did her best to look casual. Though she felt anything but.
She picked up a small sandwich and a diet coke and stood in the corner while she ate, glancing occasionally at the door, still worried that Invergence might show up. She listened idly to the news coming from a television mounted in the corner.
“Reports of missing persons have increased dramatically, especially in remote areas of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Officials remain uncertain of what is causing the disappearances, but security footage captured recently at a small motel in San Jose, might give us a clue.”
Kat looked up. Missing persons? And from areas where she and Sergio had travelled. She stared intently at the screen as the news anchor warned viewers of potentially disturbing images. Then came some low-resolution footage from a security camera. Kat thought she recognized the place as a motel they had stayed in just three nights before. The footage showed a man exiting one of the motel rooms at night. Suddenly a dark shape lunged out of the darkness, grabbed the man, and disappeared almost before Kat could blink! The footage was dark and grainy, but it chilled Kat to her bones. The news anchor reappeared.
“Officials say they do not, as of yet, know what to make of the footage, but tell everyone to keep their children indoors in case of rabid animal attacks.
Kat scoffed. Rabid animals? A rabid animal couldn’t drag a fully-grown man that far in a matter of seconds. She knew what it was. It was the beast that had come looking for them that first night, when the blonde girl from Argo Force had saved them.
And it was hunting them.