An Unexpected Event
Collier awoke pressed against the roof of his vehicle. He had no idea how long he had been unconscious. How did I not see that damn lorry? Lozenges of late summer cloud lazily swam by in his view. He heard the creak of a wheel turning and the busy sounds of birds chirping. Strange. No traffic sounds. Foisted in an uncomfortable and contorted position, he could barely move. Gravel trickled by. Suddenly, it became an avalanche. Panic surged through him. No! This can’t be happening! He braced for impact, but the vehicle did not move. Outside, frantic voices grew louder. Where are you? His hand searched for Lila’s and finding it, he affectionately squeezed it and received a reassuring message in return. Whimpering sounds from the children filled the cabin. Are they alright? Then he slipped to the bottom of an inky black well.
When Collier opened his eyes, he immediately shut them. “Please. Someone! Block out the light!” A soft grunt was followed by shuffling that receded then approached. The person’s breath had a tinge of garlic riding on it.
“Fix the pillow for you, Inspector?”
“Corporal Dubin?” Collier was astonished to hear a familiar voice. It took a moment for his eyes to focus. A bland single room, medical paraphernalia surrounded him. Each breath he took was filled with the odour of hospital cleaning agent. He tried to sit up in bed, but the corporal’s hand gently discouraged him.
“Not wise, sir. At least not yet.” The corporal adjusted Collier’s pillow.
I don’t understand, how is it you’re here?”
“Here, sir? Where else would I be?”
“In Bournemouth, man, not here in Harwich.”
“You’re in Bournemouth, sir. No, no, no, you must stay in bed. NURSE! HELP!”
“Where’s Lila?! The children?!” Collier pushed back hard against the corporal and attempted to stand. Every part of his body ached with the effort.
“Uncle Sandy! Get right back into your bed! Now!”
Soaked with perspiration and out of breath, Collier stopped struggling. “Diane. Please. I need to see them. Where are they?”
“You just sit on the edge of your bed and don’t move,” she replied. “Out you go, Corporal. Scoot.” She...