Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 22

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 22

“Your daughter is awake, Ms. Thomas.” The doctor held up a hand when Jane started to rise. “But she’s asking to see Ms. Frank. Insisting on it, actually.”

Shelley got to her feet and started walking toward him, but the doctor gave her a slight head-shake. She stopped, confused, until he quickly glanced right before turning back to Jane, who was yelling she would sue the hospital if she couldn’t see her daughter right now.

Turning to look where the doctor had glanced, she saw a nurse in the doorway, holding a piece of paper and gesturing for her to come that way. Moving quickly, Shelley went to her and took the note. There was only one thing on it — the number 206.

Giving the woman a smile of gratitude, she went out the door and down the hall, Jane’s cries still audible as she moved farther away. The numbers on the doors were getting smaller, and finally she turned a corner and there it was. Room 206.

Pausing for a moment, she took in a deep breath and let it out slow. So much had happened since that morning. Would Tabby blame her like her mother did?

She could see her friend through the open window blinds, purple and red bruises stark against the white hospital sheets. And a noticeable space underneath where her right leg should be.

Grasping the handle, she opened the door and stepped into the room.

“Shelley?” Tabitha turned her head, recognition and tears sparkling in her eyes. “Oh my God, Shelley. I’m so, so sorry I didn’t listen to you. I was so scared. There was a bear, and Mike tried to stop him and there was so much blood – it hurt so bad!” She grabbed Shelley’s hand, sobbing. “They cut off my leg, Shell. It’s just…gone now. The bear…what am I going to do?”

Shelley leaned in, hugging her friend tight for a long moment before pulling back enough to see her face. “You’re going to get well, and learn to walk again, and then you’re going to finish school and start that business, just like you planned. You can still do this. You just have to stay strong.” She nodded, and Tabby nodded back, snuffling.

“Strong.” She acted like she was tasting the word, rolling it around in her mouth. “I don’t feel very strong right now, Shelley. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. And Mike, he tried to get me to come back, tried to keep me safe…”

A fresh waves of tears fell and Shelley pulled Tabby into her arms again. “Shh…it’s okay. You’re okay now. You’re safe, and we’re gonna get through this. I’ll help you, every step of the way.”

Behind them, the door slammed open, and Shelley bolted upright, keeping her body between Tabby and the door.

“There — arrest her. She’s an impostor, pretending to be my niece. She’s the reason my daughter was in the woods in the first place, and she has no right to be here. I want her to stay far, far away from my daughter and me.”

Shelley looked at Tabitha. Her mouth was hanging open in disbelief, and her eyes were wide as saucers. Shelley assumed she was as shocked as anyone that her mother would do such a thing.

“I’ll be back, Tabby — I promise. I don’t know why your mom is doing this, but I swear I’ll be back soon.”

Tabitha slowly eased away, shaking her head. “An impostor? For all these years? That explains so much…”

Shelley frowned and took a step back. “You believe her? You really think I’m an impostor? We practically grew up together! You’ve known me my whole life!”

Steel hands clamped down on Shelley’s arms, pulling her toward the door. “This isn’t right,” she said, not fighting, but not making it easy either. “I’m Jane’s niece, and Tabby’s cousin. Jane just didn’t want me to see Tabby for some reason, but right now it’s her word against mine Don’t you have to have proof before you drag me off to the security guard station or call the real police or something?”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 23!

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