When I started to revise Mad World, I started to add extra material to the front of the story. I had an entire first chapter written but I decided I’m not using it. I don’t hate the material — it just really doesn’t fit the story because Elizabeth’s not in it and this has to be her story.
But hey, y’all are being patient, so I’ll post this cut chapter and let it serve as kind of a preview for where we’re going. This is not edited or revised, but first draft.
Quick set up: Starts in the post panic room era of 2003. You really shouldn’t need more than that (Courtney’s not pregnant because that was a stupid storyline. Like most of 2003.)
Friday, July 11, 2003
General Hospital: Waiting Room
They hadn’t let him into the emergency room.
Monica’s eyes had been filled with apology as she had gently held him off with her hand out, palm out. “I’m sorry, Jason. You can’t be back here.”
He didn’t know the other doctor’s name, but she’d had a nurse block him from even approaching the other curtain.
Sonny could be there. Sonny was allowed access. But not him.
“Jason…” Bobbie Spencer’s soft hand touched his forearm. “Why don’t you try sitting down?” Her red hair slid over her shoulder as she tilted her head in concern. “When was the last time you slept?”
Jason Morgan squinted at her as if the question was in another language. Sleep? Why would he have slept? When was there time to sleep?
His silence was all the answer she expected as she nodded. Her own eyes told the story of the last six weeks. Those terrifying days that now seemed like one endless nightmare.
One moment Carly had been outside the church waiting for his wedding to begin. And then…and then she’d vanished.
If Jason could not remember the last time he had slept, he didn’t think Bobbie could really remember either.
Bobbie folded her arms, tapping her fingers against her upper shoulders. Restless. Her foot tapped as well. She stared at the curtain where Carly was being kept.
And then looked to the other curtain. There were more doctors and nurses in and out. He had seen Monica holding a set of x-rays.
“I don’t understand,” Bobbie murmured. “What did they say on the phone?”
“Nothing much.” Jason scrubbed his hands over his face. The grit and sand of sleepless nights dug into the corners of his eyes. “Mac called. There was a 911 call from the house. Paramedics got there. Ric apparently pulled up while they were…” He absently rubbed a fisted against his chest. “Loading Elizabeth into the ambulances. They arrested him.”
“So he wasn’t there during.” Bobbie exhaled in a huff. “Monica won’t tell me anything. They can’t. Privacy laws. Well who the hell are they going to turn to? Her grandmother is gone. Her sister is across the country. I couldn’t tell you where the rest of her damn family is and her husband—” She closed her eyes. “I don’t understand how she got hurt. I don’t know how my daughter is. If she’s okay. All I know is she’s alive. And I’m sorry, but that’s—”
“Bobbie…” Courtney Matthews approached with worry. “Hey. Can I get you something? Coffee?”
“No.” Bobbie shook her head. Stepped away from her. “No. I just need answers, and I can’t get them until someone—”
Nikolas Cassadine was glaring as he joined them. “You know, I still own controlling shares in this place. You’d think that get me somewhere.” He took a deep breath. “I did manage to get something out of one of the paramedics who responded.”
Jason focused on the dark prince. “What?” he demanded. “What happened? Where was Carly? How did Elizabeth find her?”
“If she didn’t already know,” Courtney muttered. Jason shot his fiancee a look and she glared right back at him. “What? I’m not the only one who thinks it—”
“Go away,” Bobbie said, her voice trembling, her eyes flashing. “Now.” With a roll of her eyes, Courtney returned to a chair next to her father, Mike, and Bobbie waved for Nikolas to continue. “What did the paramedic say?”
“Elizabeth was on the ground, and Carly was…” Nikolas took a deep breath. “It looked like she’d been in some sort of panic room. Her leg was chained. She was hysterical, but she looked okay, they said. Her vitals were crazy, but no injuries.”
“Chained,” Jason repeated. In a panic room. She’d been there all along.
Every time he’d looked in that house….he’d walked right past her.
“What about Elizabeth?”
“I don’t know yet. I only found the ambulance that transported Carly. I’m trying to pull some strings. Her next of kin isn’t available. I don’t know who steps in at that point—” Nikolas shook his head. “Did she ever sign a power of attorney?”
“Unless she did before she got married.” Bobbie all but growled as she continued, “I should have been paying more attention. I should have seen—”
Monica’s quiet voice broke through and the three of them turned. “I’ve been talking to Legal about Elizabeth’s situation. They’re in contact with the PCPD about getting Ric involved in her treatment—” She held up a hand when Nikolas opened his mouth. “I’ve already lodged a complaint but until we can prove what happened is because of him…”
“That’s not good enough,” Bobbie shot back. “What’s wrong with her?”
“I—” Monica hesitated. “We’ve pulled Elizabeth’s medical files from her stay last year—after she was grazed by a bullet on the docks. She listed you as her emergency contact, Bobbie. So until Ric arrives or sends legal representation, it’s you. But I don’t know how long.”
“Okay. Then what’s happening to her?” Bobbie asked.
“We’re not sure,” Monica admitted. “According to the paramedics on the scene, she passed out. They…” She paused. “They lost her in the ambulance.”
“Lost her.” Nikolas’s hand reached out into space as if he wanted to hold something, but it fell to his hand as Jason just stared at his mother. He couldn’t seem to make the words penetrate and make sense. “What—”
“They were able to resuscitate. She’s on a ventilator but she cannot breathe on her own.” Monica looked at Jason. “There’s a blockage in her lungs, but we need more tests to diagnose.” She held out a clipboard. “I can explain these to you—”
“Do whatever you need to do.” Bobbie scrawled her signature at the bottom. “Monica…” She looked at Jason for a moment then back at her. “Can you let us know when we can see her? I just…I need to hold her hand. To let her know she’s not alone.”
“Bobbie—” Sonny called from the curtain. “Carly’s asking for you.”
“How is she?” Courtney demanded, lunging to her feet.
Bobbie hesitated, took a step. “Elizabeth—”
“Authorize me,” Nikolas said. “At least to know her condition.”
“Okay, yeah.” Bobbie pressed a hand to her head. “And Jason. You can tell Jason.”
She joined Sonny and Courtney and they disappeared behind the curtain. Monica took the paperwork and left Jason standing with Nikolas.
They eyed each other, perhaps remembering the last time they had been in the hospital together. “Shouldn’t you be with Sonny and Carly?” Nikolas bit off.
Part of him agreed. He’d been searching for Carly for weeks. Hadn’t slept more than a handful of hours here and there. Food…he couldn’t remember what he had eaten. Carly had been the reason for all of that.
He should walk away. Join his partner and best friend. Stand with the woman he had asked to marry him and share a life with. See for himself that Carly was okay.
“I know Carly is okay,” Jason said evenly. “And there’s a lot of visitors. I can wait. I need to know—” He looked at the curtain. “I left her in that house. I knew he did it. I knew he was guilty, and I left her there.”
“Yeah, well, I congratulated her on marrying someone who wasn’t you,” Nikolas muttered. “Neither of us are shining examples of friendship.”
General Hospital: ICU Waiting Room
Nearly an hour passed and Jason still didn’t have an opportunity to see Carly. She was resting, Sonny had told him with a sigh. Exhausted. Understood Jason was waiting for Elizabeth’s condition.
She understood it, Sonny had repeated with a dangerous flash of dark eyes. He didn’t. And neither did his sister. Courtney had left to be with Michael, but Sonny wasn’t going home without his wife. So he sat in her room as Carly’s only allowed visitor.
“I can’t believe he’s mad at you,” Bobbie muttered. “You didn’t kidnap his wife. You didn’t do any of this.”
“I didn’t find her,” Jason said flatly. And that was enough to condemn him.
Another week and his source at the city would have given him the plans for the house. He was sure the panic room would have shown up. He would have found her.
Monica stepped out from behind the curtain. They stood and met her in the middle of the waiting room. “Elizabeth has a pulmonary embolism.”
Nikolas frowned. “What?”
“It’s a blood clot in the lungs,” Jason offered absently. “I don’t—she doesn’t have any of the risk factors.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Nikolas demanded.
“Immobilization, travel, recent trauma, obesity—” Bobbie hesitated. “What about her pregnancy?”
“We’re not sure yet what caused it, but her chem panels suggest her estrogen levels were through the roof.” Monica hesitated. “We just don’t know yet what caused it. What we need to do is decide how to treat it—”
“I believe that is where I come in.”
The new voice came from a man in a dark suit who held out a piece of paper. “Thomas Livingston, legal representation for Richard Lansing. This is paperwork allowing me to make medical decisions on behalf of his wife, Elizabeth.” He arched a brow. “You no longer have a need for her emergency contact to handle this.”
“I am family,” Bobbie snarled, but Nikolas put a hand on her shoulder.
“Let me bring you up to speed,” Monica said with a warning glance at Bobbie, and then another at Jason. As if she could read his mind and knew he was thinking of the best way to take this son of a bitch apart. “Elizabeth is suffering from a pulmonary embolism. She lost consciousness while at home and coded in the ambulance. She cannot breathe on her own and is on a ventilator.”
“Treatment options?” Livingston said briskly.
“We have her on blood thinners,” Monica said. “But we think the situation merits more aggressive treatment. I would like to take her to the catheter lab and break up the clot.”
“Is that the only option?”
Jason scowled. “It’s the best one or she wouldn’t have asked for it—”
“I’m sorry, are you a doctor here?” the lawyer asked with a sneer. “Dr. Quartermaine, perhaps we should continue this in private—”
Monica ignored that. “Other treatment options include stronger medications then what we’re currently using, but having already flatlined once—”
“If you will excuse me, I will phone Mr. Lansing and inform him of the options,” Livingston interrupted. He crossed the room to a bank of pay phones.
“Any progress on getting Ric removed as next of kin?” Bobbie asked.
Monica sighed and shook her head. “No, oh, maybe Lieutenant Taggart can help.” She waved a hand to the doorway.
Jason turned and grimaced. Marcus Taggart had never met a situation he couldn’t make worse. Followed by another cop Jason didn’t know, Taggart embraced Bobbie tightly.
“Hey. We came as soon as we heard Carly was stabilized. We need to get her statement because Lansing is making noises about not knowing anything.” Taggart grimaced. “He’s half a step from blaming Elizabeth. How’s she doing?”
Bobbie explained the situation as Livingston rejoined them.
“Mr. Lansing would like to proceed with the treatment she is currently receiving.” There was a slight twitch as if…just maybe…the lawyer didn’t quite agree. “He doesn’t want anything invasive.”
“Anything invasive—” Monica faltered. “Are you insane? She needs stronger treatment—”
“He’s a fucking psychopath,” the cop next to Taggart growled. “He’s blaming the wife. She dies, he’s got reasonable doubt.”
“I’m sure that’s inappropriate,” Livingston began, but he trailed off. He cleared his throat. “You may not like the situation,” he said slowly. “But for now, this is how it is. I will…continue to make your arguments to Mr. Lansing.”
He excused himself and disappeared.
“I need Carly’s statement,” Taggart said tightly. “She might know something that can get Ric disqualified.” He looked at Monica. “How much trouble do you get in if you ignore his orders?”
“A lot,” she admitted. “Nikolas?”
“The board will bury him in legal fees if he tries to sue you,” Nikolas said. “But…”
“Your medical license,” Jason said quietly. “Don’t ignore the orders, Monica. We’ll find another way.” Uncomfortable with her look of gratitude, he turned his attention to Taggart. “She’s a witness against him. Can’t that be enough?”
“Baldwin’s already filing paperwork, but we don’t have enough yet.” Taggart rubbed the back of his neck, turned to the other cop. “Vinnie, stay out out here and keep an eye out. That lawyer comes back or, God forbid, Ric gets bail, I want a cop here.”
“I’m going to take a preliminary statement from Carly.” When Bobbie shook her head, he touched her shoulder. Gently. “The last thing I want to do is make this night worse, Bobbie. You know me. This isn’t about Corinthos or Morgan for me. It’s just not.” His voice was rough as he continued. “I saw the panic room where she was kept. I saw the chain. I need to make sure Ric can’t get released. He gets out, he might flee.”
Bobbie closed her eyes. “I’ll go with you. Run interference with Sonny. He’s not going to understand.”
“He just wants to protect his wife.” Taggart hesitated, looked at Jason. “I mean it, Morgan. Nothing else matters to me or the department except putting Lansing away.”
And as Taggart followed Bobbie to the elevator to go to Carly’s floor, Jason believed him.
General Hospital: Carly Corinthos’ Room
Carly blinked, opened her eyes, and then closed them in relief. She was still okay. Still in a hospital.
Not in the panic room.
It hadn’t been a dream.
She wasn’t sure exactly how long it had been since she’d been brought to the hospital. They had kept her on light sedation and she’d drifted in and out. She remembered doctors. Her mother. Courtney and Mike. Sonny.
Jason…she vaguely remembered he was still in the emergency room with Elizabeth. Was the other woman okay? Why had she collapsed?
“Carly?” Sonny’s voice was rough as he leaned forward. His hair was disheveled, falling in its soft curls around his face. His eyes were bloodshot and several days of scruff lined his jaw.
She reached forward, her fingers lightly brushing his chin. “You look like hell,” she managed.
He laughed then, shakily, as he dipped his head, pressing his forehead against her limp hand. “I feel it. But you’re okay. You and the baby. You’re okay.”
The door slid open then, and her mother came in. “Mama.”
“There’s my beautiful girl,” Bobbie murmured, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “I hate to disturb you both but we’ve got a problem. I need you to give a statement to the police.”
“Fucking bloodsuckers,” Sonny began, lunging to his feet but Carly looked at her mother.
“Ric wasn’t there when I was found,” she said quietly. “He came later. I remember that. He’s pretending he doesn’t know anything.”
Bobbie nodded. “And he’s still responsible for Elizabeth’s medical treatment. He has this scum lawyer here recommending the last effective treatment.”
Sonny scrubbed his hands over his face. “Jesus Christ. He’s trying to kill her.”
“Monica filed a protest and Scott is working up a protective order, but we don’t….Taggart says that Ric might get released. He doesn’t want that. I’ll be here the whole time, Sonny. But he’s not going to hurt her.”
“Let him in,” Carly said. “Let’s…get this done.”
“Are you sure?” Sonny demanded. “You just woke up—”
“He terrorized me for six weeks. I need him to be away. I need…I can’t let him be out. Be free.” Carly closed her eyes. “I just can’t.”
Bobbie had already gone to the door and gestured for Taggart to come in. Carly’s interactions with the cop weren’t all that friendly unsurprisingly, but there was no trace of irritation or impatience today.
“Hey, Carly.” He stood at the foot of the bed. “Thanks for letting me come in.” He looked at Sonny. “Thank you.”
Sonny just blinked at him as Carly took a deep breath. “I’m…I’m not really up for a whole thing—”
“Just give me the outline.” Taggart reached into his pocket and drew out a recorder. “When you’re feeling stronger, we’ll go for a more detailed statement, but for now—” He pressed play and set it on the tray table hanging over the bed. “On May 25, 2003, where were you, Carly?”
“I was at the Queen of Angels church,” Carly said. “Jason and Courtney were going to get married, and I was outside. Someone came up behind me, put a rag over my mouth. I passed out.”
She closed her eyes. “I woke up in the back of a car and I was tied up. I could see Ric in the driver’s seat. He pulled into his driveway and dragged me into the house. He had a remote and pressed a button. A wall slid open and he chained me inside.” She looked at Sonny. “What day is it?”
“July 11.” Sonny looked at his watch. “July 12, actually, I guess now.”
More than a month. Carly exhaled slowly. “Elizabeth was passed out on the sofa. She never woke up. Ric told me later he had drugged her to make sure he didn’t get caught. The panic room was sound proof. She never heard me screaming.”
“God.” Sonny put his arm around a silently weeping Bobbie.
“You never spoke to Elizabeth?” Taggart asked.
Carly narrowed her eyes. “That son of a bitch is blaming her.” Her cheeks heated as she continued. “He lied to her every day. Told her he was leaving the house to go somewhere and waited for her to leave the room. He spent hours in that panic room talking about his plans.”
“His plans,” Taggart prompted.
“To take my baby and kill me,” she said flatly. “To arrange a private adoption. Elizabeth needed a baby. She wouldn’t stay with him forever if he didn’t give her a baby. Since Sonny took their baby—” Carly leaned back, exhausted. “Faith Roscoe poisoned a pitcher of lemonade. Ric was in the panic room and I told him. I begged him to stop her from drinking it. But if he left—”
“She’d see him,” Taggart murmured. “He waited.”
“He’s lucky he never killed her between that, the drugs the night he took me, and the birth control pills—”
“Birth control pills?” Bobbie demanded. “What?”
Taggart squinted at her mother, then turned back to Carly. “What birth control pills?”
“He gave them to her every day. Three or four times a day. Can’t have her getting pregnant now, she might not want the baby he’d killed for.” Her voice broke. “God. Oh, God. He was going to kill me.”
Sonny took her her hand, sat back down. “No, that’s enough.”
“I got what I needed. Just…one more question, Carly, and I’ll go.” Taggart picked up the recorder. “Do you know where Ric kept the pills?”
She nodded, her eyes closed. “There’s…a safe in the panic room. It was locked, but he kept them in there. Is that what’s wrong with her?”
“Maybe.” Taggart stopped the recorder. “Thank you, Carly. That was more than we needed. Get some rest.” He looked at Sonny again. “I’m sorry we didn’t find her. I wish to God we had.”
“You and me both.”
General Hospital: ICU Waiting Room
Bobbie charged off the elevator, her eyes lit with fury. “Where’s Monica? Where’s that goddamn lawyer?”
Jason and Nikolas shot to their feet. “What happened?” Nikolas asked, his voice slurring a bit from lack of sleep. “What did Carly have to say?”
“If I get in the same room as that son of a bitch,” Bobbie began, but Monica stepped out from Elizabeth’s room, irritation in her eyes.
“I need to get her on stronger meds,” Monica said without preamble as she joined the three of them. “There’s no improvement.”
“He fed her birth control pills,” Bobbie spat. “Three or four a day for the last six weeks. Could that do it?”
“Jesus Christ,” Nikolas breathed as every muscle in Jason’s body clenched. Birth control pills. “Three or four a day?”
“Yeah, that would do it. Nikolas, I need—”
“I’ll call the board counsel to prepare an injunction against Ric’s supervision of Elizabeth’s treatment,” Nikolas said. “Carly saw him do it?”
“She knows where he kept the pills. Taggart already left to locate them and secure them.” Bobbie tapped her foot. “He drugged her the night he kidnapped Carly and sat by while Faith Roscoe poisoned her to protect his secret. He was going to kill my daughter and give their child to Elizabeth.”
“He was going—” Jason couldn’t finish. Couldn’t repeat it. “Take the baby?”
“A private adoption, no doubt,” Monica muttered. “Get that injunction, Nikolas. I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be able to stabilize her on the ventilator.”
She disappeared back into Elizabeth’s room and Nikolas excused himself to make some phone calls. Bobbie sank into the chair as if her energy had simply evaporated.
“Six weeks she spent in that room,” Bobbie murmured. “Trapped. Screaming. Knowing Ric planned to kill her. She was able to talk about it today, but…” She met Jason’s eyes as he sat next to her. “I could see it starting to set in for her. The adrenaline of survival—it got her through the statement, but…my God, Jason. The emotional torture of it all. How does she ever come back from this? And Elizabeth.”
Tears slid down her cheeks. “Her entire world is going to be shattered when she wakes up. Her husband not only kidnapped Carly, but…he tried to kill her. Is still trying to kill her.” She pressed a fist to her mouth. “How did I miss it? How could I not see it?”
“Bobbie—” Jason hesitated, the guilt settling into his bones again. He should have ignored Sonny all those months ago and killed Ric when he’d had the chance. This was his fault. He’d allowed Ric to walk free, and he’d tormented everyone Jason cared about.
He hadn’t found Carly in time to save Elizabeth. Hadn’t found Carly at all.
“Thank you for waiting here,” Bobbie murmured. “Nikolas can represent the hospital and take care of her, but I’m glad you’re still on her side.” She squeezed his hand. “She’s family to me, Jason. And I’ve been bad at it lately. I can do better. I’m going to do better. I’m going to get my daughter through this. And I’m going to get Elizabeth through this, too.”
“Elizabeth is my friend, too,” Jason said, though it sounded awkward even to his ears. It wasn’t really true, but at the same time, it wasn’t true enough. She existed in a gray area in his mind. Not quite friend. Something more.
The elevator opened again and this time, Courtney stepped off. She located the two of them and Jason could see the irritation snapping in her blue eyes as she approached.
“You’re still here,” she said flatly. “I thought you’d be upstairs with Carly by now.” She stopped in front of them. “Is Elizabeth okay?”
“No,” Bobbie said softly. “She’s still in critical condition. Jason has been keeping me company—”
“Don’t,” Jason said quietly, touching her hand. Appreciating the excuse Bobbie offered. “I stayed because I wanted to. You didn’t ask.”
“Does you being here change anything?” Courtney demanded.
“Courtney,” Bobbie began, but Jason stood to face his fiancee.
He understood—somewhere inside—that Courtney saw Elizabeth as a threat. And Jason tried to imagine how he’d feel if Courtney was waiting for news about AJ and refused to leave him—if that would be something he could live with.
But AJ had terrorized and stalked her. It wouldn’t make sense to stand by him.
Elizabeth had done nothing except be manipulated by Ric—they had all allowed him into their lives to a certain extent. Ric had even defended Jason against murder charges.
“Elizabeth is in critical condition,” Jason repeated. “Ric is still in charge of her treatment, and the PCPD thinks he might sabotage her treatment so he can blame her for kidnapping Carly.”
“Okay,” Courtney said slowly. “So you’re protecting Carly’s interests by staying here?”
“No,” Jason said, because he wouldn’t lie to her. “I’m here because I care about Elizabeth and what happens to her.”
“Oh.” She pressed her lips together. “Okay.” She looked at Bobbie, then again at Jason. “I’m going to go home. It’s almost two in the morning, and I haven’t…I haven’t slept. I left Michael with Leticia because I was worried, but I guess…you guys have everything handled.”
“So I’ll go.”
Courtney walked to the elevator, paused at the door as if he would stop her, and then stepped on board.
“Jason,” Bobbie said after a moment. “Courtney…she’s right. There’s not much more you can do tonight—”
“I’m not leaving this hospital until I know she’ll be all right,” Jason said, and clearly Bobbie believed him because she dropped the subject.