this scene needs more research on police procedure, and has some subpar dialogue and pacing, feedback welcome.
Chapter 2: The Arrest -
She awakened to find herself in a hospital ward. Her senses were met with the monotonous beep of a machine stationed by her bedside, its rhythm like a metronome marking the passage of time. She looked down to find IV tubes entering her veins, their red hue illuminated by the dim light filtering through the curtains that surrounded her bed.
She sat up and drew the curtains, and her eyes took a moment to adjust to the light and focus. As her blurred vision began to sharpen, she looked around at her surroundings. The hospital ward was a world within a world, a place where the ticking of the clock echoed through sterile hallways and the hum of machines formed a symphony of life-saving measures. The air was thick with the scent of antiseptic, mixed with the faint aroma of flowers left by well-wishers. The sound of footsteps echoed through the corridor, as nurses moved quietly from room to room, their faces a blend of stoicism and compassion.
Most of the beds around her were empty, but there were a few other patients in the ward. Some were old, their eyes clouded with memories of a life well-lived. Others were young, their eyes bright with hope and the promise of a future yet to be written. Some were hooked up to machines, their breaths shallow and ragged, while others slept soundly, their chests rising and falling in a steady rhythm.
The walls were white, the floors gleaming beneath a veneer of scuff marks, and the curtains surrounding each bed a sanctuary of privacy. The room was alive with the sound of beeping monitors, the hiss of oxygen, and the hushed whispers of visitors. The late afternoon light filtered through the windows, casting a soft glow over the room, as if to remind the patients that they were not alone.
She looked down at her hazel hair, and had a fleeting thought that it looked longer than usual. The machine beeped again, and in that moment, Nurse Helen Redding appeared, her steps slow and steady as she approached. She was middle aged, and a bit stern looking for Emily’s tastes. With her eyes fixed on her patient, she reached for a digital tablet and jotted down notes, glancing up every so often to assess her patient’s state.
Nurse Helen approached Emily's bedside, her eyes flicking up to meet Emily's briefly before she began to speak in a clipped, professional tone. "Good morning, Miss. You're in the hospital," she said, glancing down at her tablet to take some notes.
Emily looked around groggily, trying to process the situation. "What happened?" she asked, her voice still heavy with sleep.
Nurse Helen let out a barely audible sigh before responding. "You were in a car accident, and you've been in a coma for a few weeks now. Do you remember anything from before the accident?"
Emily shook her head slowly, wincing at the pain that radiated through her body. "I'm sorry, no. Everything is just a blur," she replied.
Nurse Helen's lips tightened into a thin line, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly. "That's alright, Miss. Let's go over a few basic questions to get you reoriented." She continued to ask Emily questions about her name, date of birth, and address. Emily couldn’t help but notice a palatable dislike in the nurse’s tone.
She answered each question as best as she could, trying to ignore the nurse's cold demeanor. As the questioning came to an end, Nurse Helen took a step back, still scribbling in her tablet.
"That'll be all for now, Miss. The doctor will be in to see you later," she said, before turning on her heel and marching out of the room.
As the nurse made her exit, Emily was left with a sense of bewilderment and disquiet from the exchange with the stoic nurse. She briefly entertained the notion of calling out to the nurse and inquiring about the current date, a pang of worry striking her as she wondered how long her daughter Lisa might have gone without her medication. However, the world around her started to grow hazy once more and the nurse's footsteps began to recede into a distant murmur.
As she gradually regained consciousness, Emily found herself surrounded by unfamiliar faces. A group of strangers introduced themselves as police officers, their voices gentle and polite. The officers inquired about her wellbeing and asked if she was in a condition to answer some questions.
The room was filled with an unsettling stillness, as the officers patiently waited for Emily's response, their gaze fixed upon her. Emily felt a sense of disorientation and confusion, struggling to grasp the reality of the situation she found herself in. Despite her confusion, the officers continued to speak softly and calmly, as if trying to comfort her. But the longer Emily remained in their presence, the more she became aware of an undercurrent of urgency in the officers' voices, as if they were searching for answers to a pressing problem.
She felt a shiver run down her spine as she looked around the sterile room, taking in the antiseptic scent of the hospital. The nurse, standing off to the side, watching the proceedings intensely, her eyes piercing and fixed upon Emily as she interacted with the police officers. Emily couldn't shake off the sense of unease that seemed to cling to her, making her heart race and her palms sweat. Something was not quite right, and she felt trapped in a dream-like state, unsure of what was real and what was not.
Detective Harris leaned in towards Emily, his eyes dark and probing. "Ms. Parker, we understand this is a difficult time for you, but we need to get to the bottom of what happened that day"
Emily slumped in her hospital bed, her eyes downcast. "I was driving home from work, and I stopped by the pharmacy to get Lisa’s medicine, and then I realized that I had left my phone at the office, because it wasn’t in my pocket. After that it’s just a blur, I was driving, and then I woke up here"
Detective Jones stepped forward, his voice low and insistent. "But see, that's a problem, Ms. Parker. We have evidence that suggests otherwise."
Emily looked up, her eyes widening in disbelief. "What are you talking about?"
Detective Harris reached into the pocket of his worn gray jacket and pulled out a stack of papers. "Well, for one thing, you just lied to us"
Emily's mouth went dry. "I have no idea what you’re talking about."
Detective Harris shook his head, his expression grim. "But you did, Ms. Parker. You were on the phone when the collision occurred. We found the phone in your hand at the scene. You can see where we’d be concerned when we’re investigating a situation, and the first thing you tell us is a lie, especially when that situation had fatal consequences."
Emily’s green eyes flickered with confusion for a moment, then she asked. "What do you mean by fatal consequences, I’m obviously alive"
The two detectives glanced at each other, and then back at Emily”
Detective Jones leaned in a bit. “Are you telling us that you don’t remember anything about the three kids?”
Emily shifted uncomfortably, noticeably thrown by this last question. “What Kids?”
Detective Harris jumped in abruptly. “The three kids you killed. The three kids that would be alive today if you weren’t distracted with your phone while driving through a populated area”
Detective Jones motioned for Harris to calm down. “We’re only here to find out what happened. Can you give us any other details about the day in question? Were you in a hurry for any reason, or taking any substances? Were there any mechanical issues with your vehicle?”
It was just dawning on Emily what must have happened, and she struggled to form an answer, frustration and fear creeping into her tone. “I just told you, I was on my way home from the office, stopped to get Lisa’s medicine, realized I didn’t have my phone, and was planning to go back to the office to get it.”
Detective Harris sighed heavily. "Ms. Price, you need to understand the gravity of your situation here, three kids are dead, and the prosecutor is taking the situation very seriously.."
Detective Jones picked up the baton. “We just need to know the truth about what happened here. Typically if someone admits that they weren’t paying attention, or maybe just hadn’t been sleeping well, the courts take it easy on these vehicular homicide cases. Of course once the lawyers get involved, there’s nothing we can do to help you. The best thing you can do is just tell us what caused the accident, and we’ll tell the DA that you were cooperative.”
“We find that innocent people are usually willing to just cooperate” Harris chimed in.
Emily looked up, her eyes brimming with tears. "I-I think I need a lawyer. This is starting to feel like an interrogation."
Detective Jones took a step forward, his voice stern. "Ms. Parker, that's because it is an interrogation. You're under arrest for vehicular homicide with aggravating circumstances. You’ll be confined to the hospital ward until you’ve recovered from your injuries, and then transported to jail pending trial."
She looked up at them in disbelief, as they handcuffed her to the hospital bed.
As the two police detectives prepared to exit the hospital room, they paused, turning their attention towards Emily. "Ms. Smith," one of them began, "We'd like to introduce you to Jim Stanley, a deputy who will be staying here at the ward to keep watch over you."
“Hello miss Emily” Jim said, stepping forward from behind the two detectives and giving her a brief smile.
He had light blue eyes, and wore the brown and gray uniform of the sheriff’s department. His dark hair was cut short and neatly styled, adding to his air of authority and professionalism. But it was not just his appearance that set him apart. Jim's easygoing personality and friendly mannerisms put Emily at ease, despite the fact that she was under his constant guard.
Emily looked at the stranger, confusion etched across her face. "Do the officers think I'm dangerous?" she asked, the fear evident in her voice. "I have a young daughter, I need to take care of her."
The detectives exchanged a quick look, before one of them spoke up, "This is for your protection, and the protection of the public. We need to make sure you're safe."
"Safe?" Emily repeated, confusion and fear warring within her. "What do you mean?"
But the detectives merely glanced at each other silently and stepped out of the room, leaving Emily to ponder their words and the watchful gaze of the deputy stationed at her bedside.
The days passed by in a blur for Emily as she remained confined within the hospital ward. The only solace she found was in the company of the deputy, Jim Stanley, who was assigned to guard her. Despite being her jailor, he seemed to take a genuine interest in her well-being and was often seen reading to her from his favorite books or simply chatting about life in general.
Jim made a few calls and found out where her daughter was, and told her that her sister Hannah had picked her up after being notified by the hospital as next of kin. That evening, she was able to call Lisa. Her heart ached as she heard the little girl's voice, filled with confusion and fear. Emily reassured her that she would be back home soon and that she was being taken care of. Hannah got back on the phone afterwards, and the two talked a bit about how Lisa was handling things.
“She was scared for a while, and some kids at school said some things, but this last week she seems to be ok. I think she really misses you”. Hannah’s voice sounded reassuring and calm.
“Can you both come and visit soon?” She asked.
“We’ll be there tomorrow, and I’ll even smuggle some doughnuts into the hospital for you” Hanna said with a smile in her voice.
They hung up, and Emily settled back into her bed, momentarily relieved by the news that she would see Lisa again soon.
It was then that Emily noticed that the television news program, which had been left on mute, was doing an update story about the crash. She listened attentively to the solemn tones of the newscaster as he began his report.
"We now go to an update on the accident two weeks ago that cost the lives of three innocent children and put Isle of Hope in the national spotlight." She turned her head towards the television and watched in growing horror as the reporter described the events that had led up to her current situation.
The camera cut to a field reporter standing in front of Emily's car at the city impound lot. She described how it all started with the horrifying accident, and mentioned that the car had been going at least 10 mph over the speed limit at the time of the collision, and spoke about the cell phone the police had found clutched in her unconscious hand when the paramedics pulled her from the crashed vehicle.
Emily felt a wave of sickness wash over her as the camera panned across the car, revealing that the front end was badly smashed and the windshield shattered. She clutched at her hospital gown, her mind reeling. How could she have caused this? How could she have been so reckless?
She felt her heart sink as the screen changed to a shot of the reporter Interviewing one of the children’s parents.
A middle-aged man with deep lines etched on his face stood before her. This was Stan Perkins, the father of one of the children killed in the accident.
"Mr. Perkins, thank you for speaking with me today," Tricia said.
Stan nodded, his eyes sad and weary. "Of course, anything to keep the memory of my son alive."
Tricia began the interview, "Can you tell us about your son, Michael?"
Stan took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment before responding, "Michael was a happy-go-lucky kid. He loved playing video games, riding his bike, and spending time with his friends. He had so much life ahead of him."
Tricia's eyes flicker for a moment, but quickly reverted back to a composed state. She cleared her throat before continuing, "Can you tell us what happened that day?"
Stan looked down at his hands. "It was a beautiful day, just like any other. Michael was walking to the park with his friends, and that's when it happened. A car came out of nowhere, and before he knew it, Michael was gone."
Tricia could see the pain etched on Stan's face and gave him a moment. "I'm so sorry for your loss," she said.
Stan took a moment to compose himself before continuing, "I just don't understand how someone could be so careless. What kind of person endangers children’s lives over a phone call?"
Tricia nodded, "Some people in the community are saying that it was an accident, and that no one should be accountable because there was no intent. How do you feel about that?"
Stan's eyes blazed with anger, "I feel sick to my stomach. People like that have no business being on the road. They have no respect for life or the consequences of their actions. She may not have intentionally killed Michael, but anyone who puts their own convenience over the safety of the public belongs in prison"
Tricia nodded in agreement, "Do you think justice will be served?"
Stan let out a heavy sigh, "I hope so. All I want is for the person responsible to take responsibility for what they've done and face the consequences. It won't bring my son back, but it's a start."
Tricia thanked Stan for his time and the news returned to a shot of the anchor desk, but Emily was already tuned out, her mind spiraling through her fragmented memories, trying to remember who she had called, and why, or even when she had found her phone. Had she gone back to the real estate office and gotten it? How much time was missing before the accident?
Suddenly, Emily heard a voice behind her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." It was Deputy Stanley, who had come to check on her. "Are you alright?"
Emily shook her head. "No, I'm not alright. I don't know how this happened. I don't remember anything."
Deputy Stanley looked at her kindly. "I know it's hard, Emily. But we need to find out what happened. For the sake of those children, and their families."
Emily felt tears welling up in her eyes. "I understand that, but I just can't remember. It's like my mind has gone blank."
Deputy Stanley nodded. "I know it's frustrating, but we're not giving up. We'll get to the bottom of this, I promise you."
"Jim," Emily asked in a small voice. "What is going to happen to me?"
Jim's expression softened as he walked over to her bedside. "Don't you worry, Emily," he said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "The truth will come to light. In the meantime, just focus on getting better." Emily took a deep breath and nodded, grateful for the deputy's words of comfort.
Emily was left feeling hopeless as she made call after call to lawyers. She scoured the internet, searching for anyone who might take on her case. Each time she reached out, she was met with disappointment. The first few simply declined her without explanation, but she pressed on, determined to find someone who would believe in her innocence.
When she finally got through to the fifth attorney, she was beyond frustrated. "Why won't you take my case?" she demanded, her voice shaking with anger.
The attorney sighed on the other end of the line. "A lot of people in this town are very upset, Emily. The children who died in the accident were very young. Their parents are demanding justice, and bottom line, it’s a no win situation from an attorney’s perspective. If I lose the case, I’m a bad lawyer who lost a highly publicized case. If I win, I’m always going to be the guy who set a child killer free."
"But it was an accident!" Emily pleaded, desperation creeping into her voice.
"I'm sorry, I just can't help you," the attorney said, his tone final. And with that, the line went dead.
Emily sat there, staring blankly at the phone in her hand.
As Emily sat in her hospital bed, she gazed out the window at the passing clouds, lost in thought. She couldn't help but think about her daughter, Lisa, and how she had been separated from her for weeks now. She felt a sense of guilt wash over her, as she realized the impact her actions had had on so many people.
Suddenly, the door to her room creaked open, and she saw a figure appear in the doorway. It was her sister Hannah, who had traveled all the way from Savannah to be by her side. Emily's heart swelled with emotion as she saw her little girl, Lisa, peeking out from behind her sister's dress.
"Mommy!" Lisa cried out, as she ran over to the bed and threw her arms around Emily's neck.
Oh, Lisa, my sweet girl," Emily said, tears streaming down her face as she hugged her daughter tightly. "I've missed you so much."
"I missed you too, Mommy," Lisa replied, smiling up at her.
As the two of them hugged and caught up, Hannah stood off to the side, happy to see the mother and daughter reunited.
"I was just wondering about the medicine she takes for her anxiety" Emily said, looking up at Hannah.
"Has she been okay without it?"
"Don't worry," her sister reassured her. "I picked her up the night of the accident and got her medicine the next day. She's been doing just fine."
Emily breathed a sigh of relief, grateful to her sister for taking care of everything. As she hugged her daughter close, she knew that she had a long road ahead of her, but with her family by her side, she felt better for the first time since waking up in the hospital.
Hannah sat quietly by her bedside, looking sad and uneasy. Emily asked, "What are they saying about the accident in town?"
Her sister hesitated, fidgeting with the edge of her sleeve. "It's not good, Emily," she said softly. "There are so many rumors going around. People are saying that you were drunk when it happened, even though the toxicology reports have proven otherwise."
Emily's eyes widened in disbelief. "How could they think that? I wasn't drinking!"
"I know," her sister replied, "but people are angry and they want someone to blame. They want justice for the families of those children."
"But it was an accident," Emily said, her eyes widening in disbelief as the reality of the situation gradually sunk in.
Her sister nodded, her expression filled with empathy. "I know, but sometimes, people don't want to believe the truth. They want someone to pay."
Emily sighed, feeling overwhelmed. "I just want to go home. I want to make sure Lisa is taken care of."
"We’re doing the best we can," her sister said, taking her hand. "Just take care of yourself. That's what's most important right now."
As Emily sat in the hospital ward, staring out the window and watching the raindrops cascade down the glass, her sister spoke to her in a hushed tone. "There's something I have to tell you, Em," she said, her eyes downcast. "It's about the prosecutor who's handling your case."
Emily felt a knot form in her stomach. "What is it?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
"He's got a reputation," her sister began. "People are saying that his conviction rate is unusually high."
Emily's eyes widened. "What do you mean?" she asked, her voice rising.
"I mean, he's not used to losing cases" Hannah said, her tone serious. "People are saying that he's looking to make a name for himself, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to get a conviction."
Emily felt a sense of dread wash over her. "But... but I didn't do anything wrong," she stammered.
Her sister placed a hand on her shoulder. "I know that, Em," she said. "But it's not just about what actually happened. It's about what people believe happened. And right now, people believe that you were at fault. We need to find you a lawyer as soon as possible"
Emily listened intently as her sister spoke, a sense of unease settling in her chest. "I tried calling several lawyers I found on the internet," she told her sister. "None of them would touch the case with a ten foot pole.”
Hannah’s eyes drifted for a moment, searching for something in a memory.
“I think I know what’s going on. One of the kids Parents is Steve Whittaker, and he’s on the city council, which means that all the lawyers know him. It’s a small town, and he holds a lot of sway in that group. I expect no one wants to be the first to cross him.”
Her sister nodded, her expression thoughtful. "I heard about someone in Savannah who sometimes takes cases at reduced rates to help people. Would it be okay if I went to talk to him about your case?"
Emily nodded gratefully. "Yes, please do, I need all the help I can get." She watched as her sister stood to leave, feeling a glimmer of hope for the first time in what felt like an eternity.