Fictitious Persons, by ClassicalGal
Lois and Clark and friends belong to DC Comics, December 3rd Productions, Warner Brothers, and others, none of whom are me. My thanks to them for tolerating the fanfic community.
Also thanks to Robert Heinlein, for a portable sewing machine (and the playground that comes with it).
Finally, thanks to my beta readers, Morgana and my daughter, who helped make this story much better.
Inspirations, all highly recommended:
Superman: Secret Identity, by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen
Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones
Veritas, by Shayne Terry
Family Reunion, by Mr. Beeto
If there's anything original left after all of that, it's probably my fault.
• • •
Chapter 1: Meet Jane Doe
Dr. Emily Jordan took a long drink from her styrofoam cup of coffee, then made a face. "Yuck." She hesitated, then drank the rest. I need the caffeine tonight. She put the cup on the desk in front of her, in one of the few spots not covered in papers, then reached back and redid the scrunchie holding her dark blonde hair in a ponytail. She closed her eyes and massaged her forehead.
She went back to work, hoping to get a bit more done before the next interruption. However, a moment later she heard the siren of an ambulance pulling up at the emergency entrance.
So much for finishing that report. She stood quickly, hurried to the door of the staff room, pulled it open, and nearly collided with a nurse, an older woman, who'd been about to knock.
"Doctor? That little girl the cops found out on Cedar Beach Road just arrived."
"Thanks, Jean." Emily followed Jean out into the E.R. proper; thankfully, it was empty at the moment. It was late on a Wednesday night and there hadn't been much traffic, so far, and no bad trauma cases — yet. This was her first rotation in the E.R. at Milford Memorial, and she was still getting used to dealing with what came through the doors some nights.
At that moment two EMTs were maneuvering a gurney through the ambulance entrance; they were followed by a Sussex County police officer. Emily hurried over to the patient, and cringed inwardly. A pretty little girl, about eleven, with beautiful light golden blonde hair. Emily couldn't help but think of her little sister, who was only a couple of years older.
The girl was still unconscious, as the EMTs had radioed. Emily reached out a hand to her patient's forehead, and this time winced for real — she was quite hot. Jean was already taking her temperature.
Emily turned to the EMTs. "You called in her temperature as 120? She should be having seizures, or be dead. The world record is like 115, and that was an adult."
Jean finished and stood up, shaking her head. "I get 106.2." She immediately set about putting a cuff on the girl to take her blood pressure.
Emily frowned. "Still pretty high, but reasonable."
The EMTs looked at each other. The older one, a stocky Hispanic man in his forties, shook his head. "We took it twice, Doc. And she was really hot to the touch." His partner, a tall young man with bright red hair and freckles, nodded.
Emily shook her head. "Never mind that now." She'd been taking the girl's pulse as Jean measured her pressure. Steady at 110, definitely elevated but not unusual for a patient with a fever.
Jean announced, "88 over 60, Doctor."
The policeman tried to interrupt. "Can we…"
Emily held her index finger up to hold him off. "A bit low; between the fever and the exposure she's probably dehydrated." She listened with her stethoscope; breathing and heart sounded normal.
She shook her small patient gently. "Honey?" There was no response. She pulled out her penlight, pulled up the little girl's eyelids and shone light in her blue eyes. They reacted as expected. "Pupils normal." She sighed slightly in relief; the girl wasn't dying, despite the urgent radio from the ambulance. Emily wasn't sure why she was unconscious and feverish, but at least she was stable.
She turned to the policeman. "I'm sorry, you were saying, Officer… ?" She held a hand out. "I'm Emily Jordan."
The officer, in his forties with salt and pepper hair and a mustache, shook her hand. "Ed Kabanek, Sussex County Sheriff's office. Doctor, given the circumstances, we'd like you to examine her for signs of assault."
Emily felt her stomach lurch, but nodded. "Just a moment." She turned to the EMTs again. "Guys, can you tell me anything else?"
The two EMTs shook their heads. "It was a short trip over from where they found her. About five minutes. We just had time to take her vitals and check for trauma…" The older man trailed off again.
Emily shrugged. "You might need to calibrate your equipment, guys. 120…" She shook her head. "We'll take it from here; you can go take care of the paperwork. And thanks." After another glance between the two of them, the EMTs waved and headed off.
Emily turned to Jean. "Let's get her into a gown, OK?" Jean nodded and moved off with the gurney, pushing it into one of the curtained exam cubicles.
Emily turned back to the policeman. "OK, what were the circumstances? How did you find her?" She beckoned him and they followed Jean into the cubicle. The nurse was already undressing the little girl, and Officer Kabanek averted his eyes.
"We got a call from a motorist who noticed her, on Cedar Beach Road just past the fork with McColley. I was the responding officer. She was just lying by the side of the road wearing those clothes." He nodded at the clothes that were now piled on a bedside table: a pale blue turtleneck and jeans with hearts embroidered on the pockets.
Emily frowned. "A bit thin for October. Nothing else, no bag, no jacket, nothing to identify her?"
Officer Kabanek shook his head. "Nothing. She didn't have anything with her, like she would if she was a runaway. That's why we think someone dumped her there. And that's why…"
Emily frowned again. The little girl was quite pretty and an obvious target. "Yeah," she sighed. "Officer, if you could step out for a moment?" She pointed outside the privacy curtain, then turned back to her patient.
• • •
Ed Kabanek blew out a sigh. "Nothing?"
Emily was equally relieved. "Nothing. She's fine." She turned to look at the girl, who still lay unconscious on the gurney. "Why would someone dump a little girl by the side of a country road? Cold feet?" Ed shrugged. "Do you think she's local?"
The officer shook his head. "No, there's no missing person reports locally that match her description. We've passed it on to the FBI. Do you think we'll be able to talk to her tonight?"
Emily frowned. "If it were just the fever we should be able to rouse her. It's already dropped to 103.2. There's no sign of anything else that could explain it, either; as far as I can tell her basic brain functions are OK. Without knowing why she's unconscious I can't say when she'll wake up." She paused. "I have a hunch from her responses that she might be drugged. We'll know more when we get the report on the blood sample back from the lab, but that test'll take hours. If she is drugged, it should wear off by morning. If we can't rouse her then we'll have to do more tests." Emily felt a shiver of unease. I hope the poor kid doesn't have brain damage…
Jean came into the exam room wheeling an IV pole in front of her. Emily stood up. "Did you get a white count, Jean?"
"It's only slightly elevated, Doctor."
Emily frowned, perplexed. "Well that's weird."
"I know!" said Jean. "After a fever like that?"
Emily shook her head. "Huh. Then just saline for now; I want to get her re-hydrated." The nurse nodded. "If the fever goes back up we'll start an antibiotic to be safe. And let's get her into a room; she's obviously going to be here overnight."
She turned back to the officer. "Do you have any idea how long she was lying out there?"
He shook his head. "Nope. From the time the call came in to the time she was here at the E.R. was about fifteen minutes, though. We spoke to the motorist and she said she called it in immediately. She pulled over and stayed with the girl until we could get there."
Emily raised an eyebrow, and Ed responded, "I know it sounds suspicious, but it was one of the local farmers. Unlikely, but whoever gets the case will look into it just the same.
"Speaking of which," he said, rising, "I'd best be on my way. A detective from the Milford police will pay you a visit tomorrow if she's awake. I don't know if we'll hear back from the FBI by then or not." They shook hands again. "We need to talk to this young lady as soon as we can."
• • •
Maria Santarosa stepped into room 112 to check the vitals on the young Jane Doe who'd been brought in late last night. It was around seven-thirty and the room was starting to brighten as the rising sun lit the world outside.
Maria took the girl's wrist for a pulse and was pleasantly surprised when her young patient started to stir. The girl's eyes fluttered open and she blinked, confused, at Maria.
"Good morning, honey," chirped the nurse. "How are you feeling?"
"Kinda sleepy," replied the girl. "Where…" She looked around. "Is this a hospital?"
"Right you are, honey. An ambulance brought you here last night; they found you by the side of the road. What's your name, by the way?"
"Kara Kent." She yawned. "With a K."
"Well, Kara with a K, I think some folks have lots of questions they'll want to ask you, but first I need to take your temperature. Let me just put this under your tongue, OK?" Kara nodded and acquiesced.
While the thermometer did its job, Maria pushed the call button by the side of the bed. The box squawked to life: "Yes?"
"Mina, page Dr. Jordan and tell her the patient in 112 is awake. She wanted to know right away." She smiled at the girl. "And her name is Kara Kent. With a K." She winked at Kara.
"Got it, thanks."
The thermometer beeped, and Maria pulled it out. "99.5. That's a bit on the high side, but still normal."
"Are my parents here?" asked Kara anxiously.
"Well, honey, we didn't know who you were so we couldn't call them. I bet they're really worried about you, so let's call them right away. Can you tell me how to get in touch with them?"
"My mom's cell phone is 668-555-2049." Maria pulled out a small notebook and jotted the information down.
"And what's her name?"
"Lois." Kara raised her arm. "What's this thing in my hand?" She made a face. "It hurts a little."
"That's an intravenous line, sweetheart. We had to put that in you last night because we couldn't wake you up to have a drink of water, and you needed some. I think now that you're awake we can take that out a little later, OK?" Kara nodded. "Let me go take this number to someone who can call your parents. Your doctor will be in to see you in just a minute, OK?"
"Do you think my parents will be here soon?" asked Kara, still worried.
"I'm sure they'll get here as fast as they can once they find out where you are, honey, so don't you worry. We'll take good care of you for them." Kara nodded and seemed to relax.
Emily Jordan came through the door just as Maria was leaving. She had dark smudges under her brown eyes, being near the end of an overlong shift, but she pulled out a bright smile for her young patient. "Hi there! My name is Emily; I'm your doctor. You're Kara, right? It's nice to finally meet you!"
Kara smiled cautiously. "Hi Dr. Emily. It's nice to meet you too."
Emily pulled the chart from the end of the bed and scanned the fresh vitals. "You look like you're doing much better this morning! How do you feel?"
Kara thought. "OK, I guess. A little tired and my arms and legs hurt. How did I get here?"
Emily smiled and sat on the bed next to Kara, brushing the girl's hair back. "Well, you had a bad fever last night so that explains the aches; they should go away soon. As for how you got here, that's what we'd like to know, sweetie. The police found you by the side of a road, and you were brought here by ambulance. We couldn't wake you up last night, though, so the police will be back today to ask you some questions."
"Do you think I can go home soon?"
"You're looking pretty healthy this morning, but we want to make sure before we send you home, OK? We wouldn't want you to fall over on your face because you're still sick!" Emily mimed passing out, making Kara giggle.
Just then there was a knock at the door. "Breakfast…" A candy-striper came in with a tray, and set up the bed table while Emily raised the bed up.
Emily smiled. "Why don't you eat breakfast, honey, and then rest or watch some TV? I'll come back when the police are here, OK? And I'm sure your parents will be here as soon as they can."
• • •
Emily checked her watch and sighed. She knew she should go home and get some sleep, but she wanted to be with Kara Kent when the police arrived to question her. Meanwhile, she could catch up on her paperwork; she sat in a corner at the nurse's station.
A phone rang, but phones were always ringing here. She paid it no attention until Maria Santarosa called out "Dr. Jordan?"
Emily didn't look up from her report. "Yes?"
"That was Administration. The phone number for Kara Kent's mother didn't work so they haven't been able to contact her. We need to get their full names and address."
Emily nodded and wearily got to her feet. "Maybe she remembered it wrong. Poor kid's probably stressed out."
Just then a short, middle-aged black man appeared at the nurse's station. He flashed a badge. "Detective Malcolm Spalding, Milford Police. I'm here to interview a kid you have. Possible kidnap victim, name's Kara Kent? She was brought in last night and we got a call she was conscious."
Emily smiled a tired smile. "Perfect timing, Detective. I'm Emily Jordan, Kara's doctor. I was just about to go see her; why don't you come with me? She's down in 112."
They walked down the hall together. "Have you contacted her parents?"
Emily shook her head. "The phone number she gave us doesn't work. I think she must have remembered it incorrectly."
"Do you have any more information since last night? The officer's report said you suspected she was drugged."
Emily nodded firmly, once. "Yes, the lab report came back positive. There were traces of chloroform in her blood."
"Very likely a kidnapping, then. I guess whoever it was got cold feet. Or maybe they got what they wanted. We haven't heard back from the FBI yet; maybe they already know about this case."
Emily knocked on the door of 112 and peeked inside. Kara was watching TV. "Hey Kara, it's me again."
Kara looked over. "Hi, Dr. Emily! You have weird TV here. It has shows I've never heard of before!"
Emily laughed. "That's the first time I've ever had a patient say that!" She stepped inside, and gestured to her companion. "This is Detective Spalding. He's from the police and wants to ask you some questions. Do you think you can turn the TV off for now?"
Kara nodded and complied. She smiled shyly at the man. "Hi." Suddenly she looked to the open doorway. "Are my mom and dad here yet?" She bit her lip nervously. "What's taking them so long?"
Emily shook her head. "They're not here yet, sweetheart. That's one of the things we need to talk to you about." She sat down heavily in the one chair in the room. She looked up at the detective, feeling guilty, but his attention was on the girl.
"Hi Kara, I'm the detective who's been assigned to your case…"
Kara tilted her head. "'My case?' What happened?"
"That's what we're trying to find out. All we know so far is that someone used chloroform to put you to sleep, then left you by the side of a road. It looks like a kidnapping—"
"I was kidnapped?" interrupted Kara anxiously.
"It sure looks that way, but you're safe now, OK? We won't let anyone hurt you. Do you think you can answer a few questions for me, so we can figure out what happened last night?"
Kara nodded slowly. "I guess so…"
"First, what's your full name?"
"Kara Zoe Kent."
Detective Spalding scribbled in his notebook. "Uh-huh. What's your date of birth?"
"Umm, June 29, 2000. I'm eleven and a quarter. I just started sixth grade." She frowned slightly.
The detective nodded. "And what are your parents' full names?"
"Lois Joanne Lane and Clark Jerome Kent."
There was an awkward silence. The detective found his voice first. "Excuse me… what did you say their names were?"
"Lois Joanne Lane and Clark Jerome Kent. They're reporters at the Daily Planet. Well, Mom's an Assistant Editor now." Kara looked between the two adults, confused. "Do you know them?"
• • •