The man’s eyes creaked open. A second after awakening, pain surged through his body, becoming so intense that it almost dragged him back into unconsciousness, but he held through. In the corner of his eye, he could just about see the figure of his wife dozing on a chair. Better not disturb her.
He lay there in agony.
Justine got home at dawn, whenever that was (she was too tired to check the time). As per usual, she was shattered and looked as if she had been through hell and back. But as per usual, rather than going to bed she turned on her laptop as she came in, making a cup of coffee while the computer booted up. She had three new emails:
One was spam - delete
One was a newsletter from some obscure shopping website - in other words, spam - delete
One was an email from a man called Jacob:
From: Jacob Kexer
Subject: Diamonds are forever
To: Justine Alphonse
Just letting you know that I’ve started translating it. Drop by mine this evening, need to talk.
Jacob was a journalist, and Justine would have been one too had she not switched to medicine. She had asked a favour of him, which she didn’t want to admit to since it wasn’t strictly legal. The events that lead up to asking this favour had begun a few months back, when Justine was assigned to a patient who no one really knew anything about. The patient was mute, but psychologically so, and the tests that the doctors took seemed to suggest that she had been trained not to speak. But apart from this odd attribute, she didn’t really have a medical reason to be staying at the hospital, and what made matters more confusing was that Justine was told by someone on the director’s board to treat this woman with absolute respect, and that she had to have a room to herself (of course this wasn’t possible, although the nurses did manage to squeeze her into one of the very few semiprivate suites). Now normally Justine would have assumed that this woman was wealthy enough to buy her way into the hospital - she didn’t doubt for one second that the hospital seized every chance to earn some more money - but heck, they didn’t even know her first name! Her presence was a continual mystery.
After she died, Justine became so intrigued into who this woman was that she just had to find out more about her. She noticed that the patient often wrote in a journal, so when they cleaned out her room, Justine succumbed to the temptation of taking it. She could have lost her job if anyone had seen her, but Justine eased her conscience slightly by reminding herself that she wasn’t technically stealing it (even though legally she was).
It was then that Justine found out she couldn’t read the diary because it was all in shorthand. She could recognise one or two words from each page as a result of her journalism course, but the rest was indecipherable to her. Fortunately, she still kept in contact with some of the people that were on the same course, and many of them had quite high positions in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them knew shorthand well enough to translate a book. It was through a friend of a friend that she met Jacob, which eventually lead to asking Jacob for this favour.
The first major problem that they ran into when Jacob opened the first page was that the shorthand was personalised. This meant it would take a long time for him to decode the diary, assuming if he was able to at all.
However, this email renewed Justine’s confidence in seeing this project through to the end. She texted Jacob to let him know that she would be over later. Then she collapsed onto her bed, falling asleep in a matter of seconds.