A Case for Conners:

By: Hugo L.R. Reed

Part I: Origins

Prologue: John Doe

A stiff breeze blew across the outside seating area of The Green Harbor, a local tea and coffee shop that had long since become the favored café of Dr. Josh Michaels. Doctor Michaels was an attending physician approaching his tenth year working for St. Anthony Hospital. Many of his collages had started to grow cynical and bitter, treating as many addicts and liars as anyone else. Somehow, Josh had managed to hold onto his optimism a while longer than many of his co-workers. Perhaps it was because he always held out hope that just one of his patients was someone who desperately needed the help, and he would actually be able to improve their life.

As the wind blew again, Josh drew his coat a little tighter around himself.

Well, he thought, amused. They don't call it The Windy City for nothing.

The February air was still hard and cold, causing him to shiver a little. Still, Josh enjoyed the cold rush of air against his forehead and temples. For the dozenth time that hour he went over his mystery patient in his head. The patient had yet to be identified–a male in his late teens or early twenties. He'd woken up early that afternoon after being comatose for a few months, but immediately there had been a few problems. True, as a fairly experienced doctor, Josh was fairly used to problems: those who thought that they'd brought the bubonic plague back into society, people who tried to insist on unnecessary surgery instead of a simple regimen and treatment, and every single patient who seemed to think that between the Internet and "a friend" that they had figured out their own illnesses.

However, memory loss was a tricky problem. Sometimes there would be a driver's license or a family member or friend who could help reveal the person's identity. That hadn't been the case with his mystery patient. Still, the kid was incredibly bright, and very alert. He'd been found in a bank that had apparently just been robbed, although it wasn't clear what involvement the kid had in it. The police hadn't labeled him a suspect, but he was considered a person of interest, which meant that he wasn't allowed to be discharged without being released into police custody until he was properly cleared.

Of course, that had hit the first hurdle when he had awoken and it was clear he didn't know what his own name was, let alone why he'd been discovered in a bank. Honestly, Josh was surprised that the kid was physically fine after the beating he'd taken. His head had been bashed open after being smashed against some solid surface, which was doubtless the cause for his memory loss. He'd also had a split lip, some internal bleeding, two broken fingers on his right hand, and a black eye.

The kid had been unconscious for almost four months, and while he'd physically healed up fairly well, Josh had long ago figured that the kid would die or be a vegetable forever. Then, at almost noon on the dot, the kid's vitals had picked up, and he'd opened his eyes. Then, as if that weren't enough, he'd started talking as if he'd gotten a dossier on them in his sleep.

The kid somehow put together what had happened to him–at least so far as the extent of his own injuries–after only a minute or so of self-examination and had then thanked several of the nurses, able to tell which of them were regulars in charge of taking care of him while he'd been out. Josh had no idea how he'd been able to tell that, because he never even glanced at his chart, nor had he talked to anyone very much before he began to talk. He instantly seemed to understand which hospital he'd been placed in and quickly pointed out Josh as his attending.

When they'd asked how the kid seemed to know all of this, he'd only had a simple, maddening answer.

"It's clear to me," he had said. "Can't you see it?"

That single question had been driving Josh up the wall for the past hour. Sure, some believed that a lot of what a comatose person heard could live on in their subconscious, but that was nothing like what this kid was doing. It wasn't like he was just guessing either, aside from being right far more than fifty percent of the time, he also genuinely seemed to have no idea what his own name was or what he'd been doing when he was injured. He had, however, quickly worked out that he was the subject of an ongoing investigation and forbidden to leave his room.

That had been another thing Josh wasn't sure if he liked or not. On one hand, it meant he got to skip a very difficult conversation, which never got easier no matter how often he had to have them. On the other hand, the kid had no right understand things as throughly and quickly as he did. It gave Josh the uncomfortable feeling that the kid could somehow read minds, which was impossible, of course. Still… it was disconcerting to talk to the boy.

Of course, the kid still wasn't permitted to actually leave the building, and after a slight moral debate, Josh had phoned the police and informed them that John Doe was up and talking. Josh sighed deeply, taking in the mixture of aroma from his hazelnut-flavored coffee and the crisp air that persisted, reminding everyone that they still had one month of winter weather to endure.

As he took another drink from the paper cup, Josh felt his cell phone buzz insistently in his pocket. Josh pulled it out and tapped on the screen a few times. The screen proudly displayed his long-time friend, Conner Castro. Conner was a cardiologist and had quickly become Josh's best friend in the building, and they usually went out to drink together once a month or so and complain about things at work.

It was Conner who convinced Josh to buy the smartphone he was currently struggling with. The thing was still pretty new, released about nine months ago, and honestly it was pretty high-tech. The idea that the thing only had a single button and relied on a touchscreen was something that fascinated him often. Still, that didn't keep him from wanting to chuck the thing off the roof a few times when it was being stubborn, like it was doing at that moment.

Eventually he got the phone to accept the call and let out a breath of relief.

"Hey Conner," Josh said, lifting the phone to his ear.

"Hey Josh, glad I caught you," Conner replied, sounding a little out of breath. "It's about your John Doe in room 267."

Josh sat up a little straighter, his body instantly preparing for action, even if he had no idea what he might need to do.

"Is he alright?"

"For now, yes. However the cops just arrived to question him and he's gone."

"Gone? What do you mean he's gone?"

"I mean he just walked right on out the front door. He apparently picked a pin from a nurse when she was check on him and picked the cuffs."

"How'd he get past security?" Asked Josh, standing and and jogging back towards the hospital, already knowing there would be nothing he could do at this point.

"Apparently he found and intentionally triggered a silent alarm on the third floor before and waited until they left the doors before he walked out, cool as you please."

Josh felt his body freeze at that. This kid had somehow analyzed his situation, freed himself, dressed, and organized his own breakout in less than half an hour. That wasn't even considering that he couldn't remember anything and therefore had no way to know what the layout of the hospital was, let alone where the silent alarm triggers might be.

"Conner, what the fuck is that kid?"

"Honestly, I don't want to know. You'd better get back here though, the higher-ups are gonna rolls some heads before this is done and the sooner you ensure yours isn't among them the better."