Out of the Abyss
Chapter 1: Broken
“Chloe I am so s-sorry,” Max says while hugging Chloe. Chloe looks at her confusingly and Max continues “It’s my parents. We are leaving for Seattle”
Chloe through her tearful and swollen eyes looks at Max “What!?” she asks. Her voice is thick with all the crying and her throat still hurt.
‘It was just yesterday, Dad was here. We were making pancakes, He took a photo of Max and me. Then he got a call from Mom who needed a lift from the grocery store. Dad went out with his car keys. A few hours later, the cops came in and informed that dad’s been in an accident. He’s gone…he’s dead and now Max is telling me that she’s leaving? She’s abandoning me when I need her?’
“No! Max… I need you. Please don’t leave me” She pleaded.
Max is equally teary-eyed tells her “Chloe, I don’t have a choice, I want to stay but they won’t let me stay here. We…we are leaving tonight”
She tries to hold Chloe’s hand but Chloe snatches her hand away. Max looks at her, confused at the scornful look Chloe is giving her “My dad died yesterday and now you want to bail on me, want to run away. You are abandoning me because you don’t want to burden yourself with me!? Some best friend you are Max!” She shoots at Max.
Max pleads “It’s not like that Che. I…” Max almost tells her the words she has been keeping to herself for the past forever. She has feeling for Chloe but was always too scared of thinking that confessing her feelings will mess up their friendship. She doesn’t want to lose Chloe so she buried her feelings deep in her heart. Even right now she wanted to tell Chloe how much she loves her, adores her and want to be with her but thinks ‘Now is not the right time. Chloe is hurt and grieving. Confessing to her right now will only feel I’m taking advantage of her and only when I am leaving her here and going to Seattle?’
Max tries to hold Chloe but she shoves her away and screams at her “Go away! Maxine, I don’t need you! Get the fuck out if here! Go fucking die in Seattle!”. Max is shocked and tears flowing from her eyes.
“Chloe…” She sobs, but Chloe turns away holding her hands on her ears and screams again ” GET OUT!!”.
Max’s face is now smeared in tears, heartbroken and feeling the guilt of leaving Chloe, turns around and starts walking slowly towards the exit. Before leaving the house, she looks back hoping Chloe will call for her but all she hears is her door slams shut loudly.
Max wipes her eyes and says goodbyes to Joyce and moves out of the house. She looks at her parents waiting in the car. She opens the door and sits in the back without saying anything. Ryan Caulfield looks at his wife, Vanessa and starts driving.
Vanessa starts talking to Max,” Honey, Chloe will be alright. She’s hurting right now. Give her some time and contact her later when we are settled. You both are best friends, and she knows you care for her. We are sorry that we had to leave Joyce and Chloe at a time like this but I hope you understand honey” Max nods with a hmm.
Vanessa smiles to her daughter “You will be in touch with her soon. She can even visit during weekends, you will be together and spending time sweetheart” Max still disheartened and stiffens a sob but nods and hopes she will call Chloe as soon as she reaches Seattle.
Price House, April 2013
Max and Chloe sitting together with their fingers twined. “Che, you are my best friend forever. I promise I am never leaving you” Chloe smiles at Max but her smile falters when she sees Max’s expression as she starts to get up. “I am sorry Chloe, but I have to leave.” Chloe tries to hold on to Max’s hand but can’t reach it. ” Max, I need you, please don’t leave me”. Max without answering starts moving away. Chloe keeps calling for her “Max, don’t go… Max.. Max!”
Chloe’s eyes flutter opens. She groans and squints her eyes as the sunlight from the window hits her. She takes a deep breath and tries to recall the dream she had. Her expression changes with her train of thoughts, sleepiness to sadness to anger. Why is she dreaming about Max?
‘It’s almost been five years and she never got in touch with you, called you or even sent a fucking text. Why are you even thinking about her? That bitch abandoned you. She bailed on you. Just Like Dad. She’s probably having a blast in Seattle while you are bitch-moaning here for her. Fuck her!’
Rubbing last of the tears that welled up in her eyes and her brows knitted in a frown, Chloe picks up the lighter and a joint from the side of the bed and lit it and start blazing not caring if David is home or not. She is pissed and doesn’t give a shit. Just as her joint is almost burnt, she hears the home phone ringing.
Chloe remembering Joyce has a morning shift. She gets off the bed lazily, leaves her room and down the stairs. The phone goes to the answering machine but before it records anything the call disconnects. Chloe begins to turn around and the phone starts ringing again. “Fuck…” Chloe swears. and picks up the phone.
“Hello?”. There’s a young male voice… “Uh… Chloe? Chloe Price?” The voice says. “Yes, who is th-“. But the voice cuts her off hurriedly “Listen… It’s about Max”. All the lazy stupor Chloe was feeling from her joint is gone instantly and she is alarmed.
“What the fuck? What about Max? Wh-What happened? Who are you?”. The voice takes a heavy breath. “I… I cannot tell you anything on phone. Please come to the City Hospital” the voice pauses “She’s in bad condition. City Hospital, Room 302”.
“Hey! Who the fuck are-” and the call disconnects.
Chloe swears again and puts the phone down and try to process what she heard. ‘What the fuck!? Max have been gone for five years, without contact or anything. And now someone calls and tells me she’s here and she’s probably hurt? what happened? I have to go to the hospital to find out’ She quickly rushes upstairs to her room, changes her clothes, takes her keys and leaves the house.
Chloe parks her truck. Turns off the engine and gets out of the truck not caring where she parked. She hurries to the main door and inside. Almost speed walking to the reception and asks. “Hi, I’m here for Max Caulfield, Room 302”. The Receptionist taps on the keyboard and looking at the screen. Chloe gets a glimpse that the receptionist’s expression changes slightly. She looks up and asks “Are you a relative?”
“Family friend. Chloe Price. I got a call from the hospital that she is hurt and admitted here.”
The receptionist types on the keyboard again and looks at Chloe “Okay, 3rd floor, 2nd room from the right corridor”
“Thanks,” Chloe says and walks for the stairs. She doesn’t want to for the elevator and takes the stairs all the way up to the third floor.
Upon reaching the corridor of the 3rd floor almost breathless and heaving. She hears murmuring of some people talking. She feels a chill of unease, her stomach turns, and twists. She always hated hospitals. It’s always grim and full of miseries.
She looks for Max’s room and almost upon turning the corner to room 302, she hears a blood-curdling scream of a girl. Some other patients and visitors also are startled and lots of heads simultaneously tilt towards where the scream came from. But Chloe is frozen.
She feels her blood has been iced. All of the voices surrounding her are muffed. The only voice she hears is the broken screams of the girl mixed with her own rapidly increasing heartbeat. Her ears pulsing and hot.
This voice, no this cry, this twisted broken scream full of hurt, its feels vaguely familiar to her. Somehow, somehow, she knows who this voice belongs to. But her body is refusing to move. Her legs have given up and her chest is hurting and she hears it again, the screams, the miserable pleadings “It hurts. Please! don’t hurt me. I am sorry. No! No!”
As if life has come back to Chloe’s body. She jolts, she runs almost tripping on her own legs but she runs towards the voice. There, room 302 where the screams are coming from. Some people have gathered near the room as if want to watch a macabre scene of a tortured flick. Chloe shoves some people away and tries to barge in the room only for the nearby staff catching her before she breaks into the room.
“Max! Max! Let go of me! I know her. She’s my friend’.
“Please wait here. She’s in a shock right now. The doctor is with her” The nurse tries to pacify Chloe who’s tried to wriggle out of his firm grip.
The screams eventually subside and the nurse releases Chloe and asks her to wait for the doctor. Chloe leans on her back on the opposite wall. Her hands are trembling. Her legs are heavy. Her breathing is still irregular.
‘What the fuck is going on? What happened to Max? Why was she screaming like that?’ She thinks to herself.
That’s when the door to her room opens and a doctor along with another staffer comes out and close the door behind him. He instructs something to the nurse and Chloe can make out a few words ‘abuse, trauma, and mental condition.’
The doctor looks towards the leaning Chloe. “Can I help you?” He asks calmly. He’s calm but there’s also a trail of sweat on his brow. An indication of tension. He’s a doctor, and doctors are supposed to have nerves of steel. But only an inhuman being can hear screams like these and stay unflinching. So, he considers himself human.
“C-Chloe, Chloe Price. I am here for the patient in room 302. Max. She’s my friend” The lump in her throat makes it hard to complete her sentence but she tries “What’s happening here? What happened to Max? How is she? Please tell me. I want to see her. I want to see my friend right now” she barrages the doctor with questions and demands.
The doctor sighs and calmly replies “Please calm down Ms. Price” and he continues “I am Dr. Thomas and I am looking after Ms. Caulfield. You cannot see her for now, she’s sedated and sleeping. As you’ve can imagine, she’s in no condition or ready to have visitors for now at least”
Chloe feels the unease in his tone. She refuses to move.
“Doc. You have to drag me out of this hospital with security because I am not going to move from here. I want to see my friend.
The doctor scratches the bridge of his nose and sighs giving up. “Okay, I understand. But you cannot stand here. Please be considerate of other patients. How about you wait in my office and I fill you in while Max rests?”
Chloe looks towards the door but she knows she has no choice. She gives up and nods at the doctor “Okay”
Dr. Thomas offers Chloe a seat but she is too tensed to sit and wait so she opts to keep standing for the time being.
“Listen Doc. I am hella confused right now. Please tell me what happened to Max? Why is she here? Is she hurt? Why was she screaming like that?” another volley of questions.
Dr. Thomas holds his hand up “Please calm down Chloe. You know very well it’s not a usual practice for doctors to disclose a patient’s condition without their consent to anyone other than immediate family members, right?”
Chloe huffs “Doc, please. She’s been my friend since we were kids. We practically lived together. Our families have been close before they left for Seattle five years ago. Why would I be here if I am not concerned about her?”
“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to contact her parents. The numbers we have in our database are disconnected and we don’t know anyone else has contacted her”
“Contact my mom, Joyce, Joyce Madsen Price. She’s her legal guardian in case Max’s parents cannot be contacted”
“I will do that” He makes a call through the hospital phone to the staff instructing them to contact Joyce. He repeats the number Chloe shares with him.
“Now Doc, please tell me everything” Chloe almost pleads to the Dr. Thomas
He sighs” Very well. But Chloe, remember what I am about to tell you is not good. I want you to sit and remain calm and listen” He pauses and Chloe swallows through her dry throat and only replies a nod.
“I was contacted that an assault patient has been brought in by the police in extremely distraught condition. I’ve seen many cases of assaults throughout my career. But to see such thing on a young girl” He scratches nose bridge again probably out of habit.
Chloe’s heart is pounding and her brows knitted in a deep furrow. She’s not liking where this is leading to but she listens.
“Max in bad condition. The assaults seem like it’s been happening for a long time. She has bruises all over her body probably from physical trauma. Her backs has scars caused by whips probably and belts”
Chloe’s breathing is rapid and her hands are balled into fists. Her ears are ringing. Her eyes are welling up slowly with anger and sadness.
Dr. Thomas continues after a brief pause “There are also round burn marks probably from cigarettes all over her body. Her heart rate was slow when she was bought in and we suspected her being malnourished. So, we immediately administrated nutrition fluids via IV to keep her hydrated”
The world around Chloe has darkened. She’s biting her trembling lips. Her tears are flowing freely and her hands are shaking. She’s struggling to breathe and a sob comes out of her mouth then another and another and finally she can’t stop her crying. She gets up from the seat and looks at the doctor.
“Why!? Who could have done this? Why Max? What sort of monster would do such things to a young girl? She’s just seventeen. Not even an adult!” her voice hitches.
Dr. Thomas gets up from his seat and walks towards Chloe. He holds her shoulder and squeezes it slightly to console her. “I am truly sorry that this Max had gone through this tragic event. It even pains me to tell you that they didn’t stop to this only”
Chloe through her tears looks confusingly at the doctor “Wha? What do you mean?”
Dr. Thomas pauses again, trying to find easy words and be considerate but he knows there’s no easy way to tell this crying girl about such grim reality “While examining Max for treatment. Along with the bruises and burn marks, we suspected more. So we did a pelvic examination of her”
Chloe’s eyes begin to widen with pure fear and she puts her hand on her mouth to muffle a scream that is about to come out.
“Unfortunately, our suspicions were right. It really pains me to tell you, Chloe. But there are signs of sexual assaults and the signs shows it’s been happening repeatedly for a long time also. I am really sorry that you have to hear this Chloe. I wish I could find easier words”
This was the last straw for Chloe to keep the hold on her sanity. Her breath hitches. She tries to breathe but her breaths are caught in her chest. She clutches her chest tightly. She feels like her legs have turned into jelly and she can’t hold her balance upright. She collapses on the floor.
‘No… No…no no no no! NO! This cannot be, this is not happening.. not to Max! Not her, not my Max! This is a bad dream, I am in a bad dream, this is not happening, Max is safe, she’s in Seattle with her parents, taking photos with her camera… How can this happen? What kind of world does this? Who does this?… I want to see her, I want to see my Max’
Thomas kneels down and helps the crying girl up. “Chloe please calm down”
“P-lease, take me to Max. I am begging you. Please take me to my friend. How could this happen? Why did this happen to my Max?” She cries.
“Chloe please, listen to me,” he says ” I don’t know the circumstances that led to this but It really is unfortunate that Max has gone through such a torment and abuse at such a young age. I really wish whoever is the culprit should get caught and thrown in the prison to rot for life. Even for us, as doctors, it’s not easy to handle cases like this. Because patients who have gone through such events are heavily traumatized. Same is the case with Max, unfortunately.” He pauses and passes a bottle of water to Chloe and urges her to drink which she complies.
“Max have been unconscious when she was brought here. We put her on the monitor but as soon as she woke up she started screaming. She couldn’t recognize being in a hospital and a safe environment. In her mind, she’s still in that haunting place she’s probably been kept. You heard her screams yourself” Chloe chokes another sob remembering Max’s broken screams.
“She’s confused and scared and what she needs right now is a familiar face. We can say it could be a fortunate fate that you are here”
Chloe through her tears looks at the doctor confusingly and asks “Me?”
“Yes,” Dr. Thomas smiles and continues “Because the only word she spoke was a name, Chloe. That’s you, right? Do you understand Chloe? Right now, only you can calm her down. With medication, we will try to heal her physical scars but you have to be strong and be with her to heal what scars her mental state has and pull her out of this. She will need a lot of help.”
Chloe wipes her eyes and sniffs and nods frantically at the doctor. ” I will. I will do anything for Max.”
“Come, I’ll take you to Max. You can stay there so when she wakes up she can feel safe and easy to have a familiar face. I’ll talk to the staff” Thomas motions Chloe to follow him.
She gets up and remembers something ” Doc? Who brought Max to the hospital?”
Thomas scratches his nose bridge again ” I am sure the cops did. I think they mentioned they got a call via payphone that a young girl was lying unconscious in a car and she’s hurt. The cops left just before you came in. They wanted to question Max but seeing she was in no condition at that time. They said they’ll come back later”
Chloe looked confusingly at Dr. Thomas who himself is confused why he’s getting that look
“I got a call at my place too. A guy, he told me Max was here and also said he will meet me at the hospital.” She continues,” When I came here, I didn’t see him or anyone came to me, and with Max’s condition. I forgot that until now”.
“I’ll ask the staff about this. Whoever he is, only he and Max herself will have answers about what happened to her. Come, let’s go see Max” Chloe nods and walks out of the doctor’s room and towards Max’s.