A/N: Something I should also have probably mentioned in a note for the previous chapter I shall mention for this one. Incorporated into the text of these two chapters are direct quotations from Orczy's 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' - not my own creation!
Chapter 8: Awakening
That really hurt that time, Jen thought to herself. Her brain felt like a bowling ball knocking about fiercely inside her skull, constituting the worst headache she had ever felt in her life. Her arms and legs felt stiff and sore. She could hear the sounds of murmuring voices, one of them sounded like her younger sister.
"The moment he had disappeared, Chauvelin slipped into the room, and the next instant stood calm and impassive by her side. 'You have news for me?' he said. An icy mantle seemed to have suddenly settled round Marguerite's shoulders."
Jen opened her eyes. Everything was blurry at first, but eventually she could make out Marguerite's face bending over her.
"Marguerite," Jen said, her voice coming out in a hoarse whisper, bringing her to another realization that she was very thirsty, "I just wanted to let you know that your husband is the Scarlet Pimpernel."
Marguerite looked oddly at Jen. Jen suddenly noticed that Marguerite looked very much like a nurse. She was in fact, bending over Jen, listening to her heartbeat with a stethoscope that had Spongebob Squarepants stickers on it.
"You've had a pretty hard bump to your head, sweetie," she said matter-of-factly, "but you should be fine. My name is Margie and I will be your nurse until 8 p.m. this evening. Your ICP has stabilized and there are so far no signs of infection at the surgical site. Sue should be in shortly to get another set of blood cultures."
I hope I'm not supposed to understand any of that right now, Jen thought to herself. The rest of the room slowly came into focus and revealed itself to be that of a modern hospital. Her sister Casey was sitting in a chair with one of their mom's friends, Mrs. Baxter, reading aloud from a book that Jen recognized immediately as The Scarlet Pimpernel.
So that would explain all the Scarlet Pimpernel dreams I had, she thought. Casey dropped the book as she saw her sister was awake and came to her bedside.
"Jen! Boy did you stay knocked out for a long time. I guess it's been about three days now. Mom had to take Austin to soccer practice but she let me stay here to watch you. I hope you don't mind I was reading your book, it's really interesting."
Jen grinned, "Interesting is an understatement. You won't believe this Casey, it's really weird, but somehow, your reading aloud somehow made it's way into my head and I've just had the most incredible adventure with the Scarlet Pimpernel."
"Yeah," Jen laid back against the pillows and then looked down at herself. "Casey," she murmured, closing her eyes, "Please tell me that I'm not wearing one of those stupid hospital gowns that opens up all the way in the back."
"You kinda are," Casey said. "Also, not to break the bad news to you, but you've got a bald spot on your head too."
"What!" Jen screeched. Suddenly several beeping alarms went off on the monitor next to Jen.
"Jennifer, you have to be calm sweetie," the nurse said, "You had a subdural hematoma that needed to be removed."
"In other words?" Jen murmured.
"A blood clot," the nurse reiterated, "When you bumped your head after falling down the stairs, you got a blood clot under your skull that the doctor had to take out because it was pressing too hard on your brain. In order to perform surgery, Doctor Blake needed to shave a patch off of your hair to make the incision. Don't worry, you can cover it up with the rest of your hair and no one will even notice. You need to relax so that you don't stress your surgical site and cause internal bleeding."
Jen lay back in bed, feeling very miserable. Her head hurt, she was wearing a horrible hospital gown, she had a bald spot on her head, and she had just been wrenched from the best world she had ever been in and had no hope of ever meeting the Scarlet Pimpernel again! She started to cry.
"There there sweetie!" Margie soothed. "You really are very lucky, you know."
"How could I be lucky!" Jen wailed.
"When you fell down those stairs, you could have suffered some severe brain injury, and may even have ended up with permanent damage," Margie replied. "That's what Dr. Blake says might have happened if it hadn't been for one of your books falling out of your backpack and landing in just the right place so that your head hit it instead of the ground."
"It was this one, Jen," Casey held out the small library book and placed it on Jen's lap. Jen picked it up and looked at the picture of the man covering his face with a gloved hand. She smiled. "It's true then," she murmured, "I was saved by the Scarlet Pimpernel!"
Jen's recovery progressed rapidly and it wasn't many days before Dr. Blake pronounced her well enough to go home, saying that she had escaped with no permanent injuries. Jen returned to school in a few weeks and proceeded to startle her friends and all who knew her with some rather strange behaviors.
One of the first things Jen did was to make it something of a regular habit to wear a skirt to school on days that she was feeling particularly happy. Her grade in World History soared to nearly the top of the class. She sought out the company of Amber Morris – who had never expected any attention from her and was rather surprised at first. Soon, there was much passing of notes between them (signed with small red, star-shaped flowers), discussions of various Scarlet Pimpernel books (yes, Jen had discovered that there were sequels!) and time spent at each other's house either watching Scarlet Pimpernel movies, or conducting what they referred to as 'League business'.
Lauren got jealous, and Zach got curious. Soon, both of them read the 'zit book' and consequently became sworn members of the league. Now the action really started. A courier system was developed and league members were observed by other students to be inserting notes sealed with something that looked like a spill of birthday candle wax into other league member's lockers on a regular basis during each break between periods. What did these papers contain? League orders, to be precise.
One such example was when Zach observed a shy new girl in his science class, he wrote orders to Jen and Amber, who would have the same lunch as her, identifying her and making note to ensure that she wasn't left sitting by herself.
Some students, upon reaching the cashier in the cafeteria, found that their lunch had already been paid for by the person in front of them, which often turned out to be a league member.
Little Corin Baker, small and skinny for his age, and always picked on by the bigger and stronger, found a strange and sudden reprieve from his bullies. He didn't know that Zach, who was quite an athelete, had demanded his peers to put a stop to their cruelties toward him, and that as Zach was a respected member of their circle, they had complied. Corin was soon making friends after that – among them Zach – and he could never figure out how his change of fortune had occurred.
When Ms. Parker, the art teacher lost her glasses, word was spread amongst the league and who should find them but Jen who kept her eyes open for it and discovered their location in one of the ladies rooms?
All sorts of acts of consideration and protection were committed, both great and small. Rumor had it that many of these deeds were acts of the 'league that sounded like it had something to do with zits' but otherwise, students were inclined to remark on Jen and how strange she had become since her accident. Jen had been relatively popular before, and most of the other students had been aware of that whether they knew her personally or not. So this change in her became very interesting to them.
Oh! There she goes now! Look at her wearing a skirt again! What is she talking to Amber about? And why is she talking to Amber Morris in the first place? She used to hardly give her so much as a sideways glance. There! That is what they are talking about. Jen is displaying a ring on one of her fingers. She has finally found a ring with a scarlet pimpernel on it and seems much too excited!
Doctors and surgeons may have been pleased to pronounce that Jen had suffered no brain damage from her fall down the stairs, but the students at her high school knew better. Jen had completely lost her senses, of that they were certain!
A/N: And the moral of the story is... don't knock the Scarlet Pimpernel story until you read it! Who knows? You could become a crazy Pimpernel fan too!
Thank you so much to everyone who has read or reviewed this story.