by Zhu Juran
Will Zola find her friend? Will Zasu and her lover be reunited? And what of Svenius and Lilliana? Stay tuned for answer to these important questions and more!
Our story thus far:
A pregnant Zasu, along with her dog Toto, has been returned to RL by the white disk, who hopes to locate her lover by following her. Her lover remains in the hospital with injuries from an unknown accident, and almost no memory of his former life in SL (or RL for that matter!). Zasu’s friend Zola has lost her business, ZOLAshes, due to a lawsuit, and is now free to search for Zasu. In SL, Lady Zhu has learned of a disturbing trend of avis going missing from the grid. In ancient Rome, Svenius has disappeared from the cave where he and Lilliana were hiding, after the appearance of several mysterious white disks. Lilliana has been abandoned to whatever the fates bring her.
The white disk behind all of our characters’ troubles has been revealed to be none other than Philip Linden in disguise, and he has gone on to bigger and better things. A fellow white disk now controls SL, and is bent on causing trouble (lag, anyone?)
He pretended to be asleep, so he could watch her a little longer. She reminded him of his beloved, some of her mannerisms, and as he watched her, he could almost pretend it WAS her. It was comforting. He still didn’t know who his beloved was, but he remembered her now. He knew this woman wasn’t her, although how he knew that he couldn’t say. He just knew.
Zola smiled to herself. She knew he was awake, peering at her under half-closed eyes, but she didn’t mind. Her travels had brought her to the northwest, to this hospital, doing volunteer work. She didn’t know why exactly, but she found herself spending a lot of time in this man’s room, curious about who he was as he didn’t even know himself. She continued straightening up the room, and wondered if she should throw away the small white disk she’d found in the one of the corners of the room. With a shrug she tossed it in the trash. “I’ll be right back,” she said brightly, and went to empty the garbage. When she returned, Dr. Svenius was in the room.
“I’ll need to talk to the patient privately,” he said kindly to Zola. She excused herself and left the room. Dr. Svenius was another mystery. He had just showed up at the hospital one day looking for work. His credentials were excellent and his bedside manner comforting, and he seemed happy to work for a modest salary. But none of the nurses had been able get any information out of him about himself, and they tried every trick they knew to get the handsome, patrician-looking doctor to talk. Dr. Svenius was immune. His methods seemed archaic sometimes, but no one argued with his success rate.
“You can go back in now, “ Dr. Svenius said in passing as he went on to the next room. He smiled to himself, the girl seemed to have a crush on his John Doe patient, but he could tell John Doe perked up a bit when she was around. But then he frowned, remembering someone he’d lost long ago, someone he could not quite visualize or name. With a shake of his head to clear his thoughts, he greeted the person in the next room.
Zola poked her head in, “Mind if i come back in for a bit?” He smiled at her, no use pretending to be asleep when the doctor had just examined him. Before he could stop himself he said, “You remind me of someone I hold very dear.” He’d not shared any confidences with her before, let alone reveal that he was remembering things. Zola wasn’t sure what to say. She sat down on his bed, deciding to see if she could draw him out some more. “What else are you remembering?”
“I just have impressions. I don’t know who this someone is, but I know she’s out there. I think we had a fight, but I can’t remember why yet. And I don’t know why she isn’t here.” His voice was pained.
“I’m looking for someone too, she just disappeared one day. She might be dead, but somehow I don’t think she is.” Zola hoped by sharing something of herself he would talk more, maybe remember more.
He laughed. “It’d be funny if it was the same person!” “My friend’s name is Zasu, I’m sure you’d remember that name,” Zola laughed with him. But instead of laughing back, he turned pale. Zasu....that was her name, he was positive! Seeing the change in him, Zola grew pale herself, and went to find her purse, she had a picture of the two of them.
“Is this her?” Tears came to his eyes. His beloved was real, he was staring at her picture, and then he realized, he hadn’t really found her. No one knew where she was!
Meanwhile, back in the cave....Lilliana was near death from thirst. She’d gone through their stores of food, and had managed to find some roots and berries nearby, but she had yet to locate a water supply. It was time to risk venturing further out, but she wasn’t quite ready for death by wild animal or worse, at the hands of Roman troops. She had been praying desperately to the goddess Vesta but the goddess knew when she had been spurned, and refused to answer. Lilliana began to hallucinate, Svenius was back with her and was cradling her, soothing her brow, whispering that it would all be okay. She smiled peacefully and died in his arms.
How to find someone when you had little money and no idea what their name was? That was Zasu’s predicament. After finding herself back in RL, although she had no idea how, she’d made her way back to her old house. It was locked up and silent. The yard was overgrown. Toto was ecstatic to be back, and immediately ran to the woods to chase squirrels. She wondered if her key would still work, then she wondered if she still HAD her key. It was odd, whenever she thought about something she might want or need, it seemed to appear casually, as if it had always been there. She wasn’t rolling in money, but there was always some in her purse for food. And there was her key, down at the bottom, as if it was just waiting for her to think about it. And yes! It still worked!
She walked into her front room and sat down in her favorite chair. She needed to think. She’d already tried searching for her lost lover under his SL name, but no one by that name seemed to exist in any database she’d been able to search. Her own name had stayed the same in both worlds, but maybe that wasn’t always the case. She groaned as the baby moved and pressed on her bladder again. Maybe I need to start looking for a doctor instead, she thought. By her calculations she still had a few months to go. Luckily she’d felt healthy and strong, and the baby moved frequently, signaling that it too was just fine. She dusted off the Seattle phonebook and flipped to the hospital section to see if any had birthing rooms. Hmmm, Emerald City Hospital seemed to have quite a few. She picked up the phone and asked for an appointment with the next available obstetrician, explaining that she wanted to check out the hospital’s facilities at the same time. Dr. Svenius was available in two days, she was informed, so she got directions and resolved to take a break from her search for the time being.
Dr. Svenius looked at his appointments for the day. An OB appointment, that was odd, he wasn’t the resident OB, even though he knew he could handle it. And why here at the hospital? Most pregnant patients would go to a doctor’s private office for their prenatal care. Oh well, makes the day more interesting, and he stopped in to see his John Doe for a moment first. He heard voices inside the room, not a common occurence; his patient rarely talked. He hesitated, waiting to see if he should interrupt or not. He recognized the voice of that pretty volunteer as the other person talking, and suddenly, his ears perked up. Had they said the name Zasu? That was the name of his new OB patient, a very unusual name. He listened some more, telling himself he was eavesdropping only in the interests of his patients. Zola and John Doe seemed to both know this Zasu, and also, didn’t seem to know where she was, and they both wanted to find her. Was this good or bad for Zasu? Dr. Svenius didn’t know. Silently he withdrew, and went to his appointment with the mysterious Zasu.
After introducing himself, Dr. Svenius made a decision. His gut told him to tell Zasu of the conversation he’d overheard, and his gut was seldom wrong.
“Ms. Adams, I know you’ve come here for a prenatal visit, but I’d like to discuss something else with you first.” Zasu looked at him questioningly. “Today I overheard a conversation between two people in this hospital, and your first name was mentioned. I need to know, are you in any sort of trouble?” Zasu was shaking, “Two people? Who?”
Dr. Svenius noticed her reaction and said, “Please, my only concern is for your safety. If you’re running from someone I can help you.”
“No, I’m not running from someone, I’m searching FOR someone! Please, tell me who mentioned my name!” Now it was Dr. Svenius’ turn to turn pale. “I have a patient, a John Doe, who’s been in this hospital for a few months now. He had complete amnesia when he was brought in for injuries from an accident. I overheard him talking to one of our volunteers, and it seemed like they both knew a Zasu.” “Zola? Is Zola here too?”
Dr. Svenius took a deep breath. “It sounds like it’s time to take a little stroll. We can walk by his room; if you recognize him, you’re free to go in. Providing you don’t have a gun on you,” he joked. Zasu nervously fingered the gun she’d found in her purse the other day, when she’d been so furious with her lover for disappearing on her that she’d shouted to the empty air, “If I ever find you I’ll kill you!” Was that really what she wanted? She’d been thinking about it constantly ever since, her anger growing. She smiled tremulously at Dr. Svenius. “He’s the father of my baby, I just want to be with him again.” The good doctor nodded, and took her arm. He wasn’t buying her act for a minute. He’d spotted the telltale bulge in her handbag as they were talking, and now he regretted telling her what he’d heard. How he knew it was a gun he had no idea, he was more knowledgeable about the ancient weapons, like the pilum and the little-known gladius. Walking past the nurses’ station he pressed the silent alarm; he only hoped the security guards would respond quickly.
Zasu saw her lover’s face, and Zola’s, through the open door to his room. Immediately she dropped her purse and ran in to greet them. Dr. Svenius breathed a sigh of relief as he retrieved her purse, and apologized to the guards who arrived, questioning what the problem was. He watched the trio hug each other amid tears of joy, all talking at once before hugging some more. He saw John Doe put his hand on Zasu’s belly in wonder and joy, and heard Zola’s squeals of congratulations. “Please ask Ms. Adams to reschedule her appointment with me,” he said to the head nurse who was enjoying the reunion scene, and he discreetly transferred the gun to his own pocket before handing her Zasu’s purse. “And see that she gets this before she leaves.” “Of course, Dr. Svenius”, the nurse replied, trying out a coy smile. But it was aimed at his back as he left the floor, walked out the front door of the hospital, went to the parking garage and got into his car. Time to move on, he thought to himself, although he didn’t know why.
The white disk had finally maneuvered itself out of the piles and piles of trash it had landed in, when it heard deep within its consciousness, “Children. Put your toys away. Please.”