The drums pounded incessantly inside Marta King’s head. They began doing so three days earlier and had never stopped. She felt they were meant as a warning. What that was a warning of, however, eluded her.
The pretty brunette reached for the aspirin. The pounding was giving her a headache. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t work. Before long, she feared they’d put her away as she slowly went mad.
“No relief yet?” The question came from Marta’s husband, John. He looked at her with concern.
“You should go back to the doctor, honey. Aspirin isn’t going to cut it. You need relief from the pain so you can get some sleep.”
Marta offered a wan smile. “I have an appointment this afternoon,” she returned. “I’m hoping they’ll take pity this time.”
John reached out to take his wife in his arms. He hugged her and placed a kiss in the center of her sweet-smelling brown hair.
“I can take off and go with you if you want,” he said as he pulled her even tighter.
“No, that isn’t necessary,” Marta returned. Still, a part of her hoped he would do just that. She didn’t like doctors. They intimidated her.
“I know I don’t have to,” John cooed. “I want to. How about I meet you in the lobby, say 3:00 p.m.”
Marta looked into her husband’s rich brown eyes and smiled again. “Thank you,” was all she said. Then she watched as he disengaged to get ready for work.
The morning progressed as it usually did, save for the pounding drums. After picking up around the house and doing the dishes, Marta decided to get some fresh air. She headed to a nearby park to watch children play. That always somehow comforted her.
Marta sat on a bench near a young mother who was giving instructions to her brood before setting them loose. That done, she relaxed backward. Marta watched as she raised hands to her temples. It was an all too familiar gesture.
“Headache?” The question was probably too personal for a stranger to ask. Still, Marta was dying to know the answer.
“Yes. I can’t get rid of it,” the woman returned. “It sounds like drums in my head.”
Marta drew pale. She turned to meet the woman’s clear blue eyes. “I have the same thing,” she whispered. “Don’t you find it odd that both of us are experiencing the same phenomenon?”
The woman pushed a strand of blonde hair behind her ear before speaking. She was deep in thought.
“Did you try going to the doctor? I did and they refused to do anything.”
“Same here,” Marta muttered. “They didn’t run a single test. They just told me to go home and take aspirin. That is a useless effort,” she continued.
“I got the exact same speech,” the woman said as her face grew pale. “Who is your doctor?”
“It’s Ted Johnson, over in Bay View.”
“Well we don’t have the same doctor. Mine is Mary Sheen, here in Chancellor.” Turning to study Marta’s reaction, the woman continued.
“It seems odd that both doctors would say the same thing, don’t you think?”
“I think everything about this situation is weird,” Marta admitted.
“If we’re having these symptoms, there must be others.” The blonde beauty seemed deep in thought.
“I wonder about the common denominator,” Marta mused. “Let’s compare notes. My name is Marta King. I was born on May 1, 1980. I don’t know who my real parents are or even where I was born. I was left on church steps. I was raised in the system.”
Marta watched as the blonde room grew even paler. She seemed to be at a loss for words.
“My name is Katie Moore. I was born on May 1, 1980 too, right here in Chancellor. However, I know my parents. They are James and Lily Hammer.”
Marta stopped to take in the commonality. “We were both born on May 1 in the same year. That can’t be a coincidence,” she mused.
“It does seem unlikely,” Katie returned. “I just wish I knew what it meant.”
“Me too,” Katie whispered.
“Maybe we need to see if we can find others born on that same day,” Marta suggested.
“How do we go about doing that?”
“I don’t know. We could put an ad in the newspaper.”
“I’m not sure anyone would respond,” Katie returned.
“Well, we won’t know unless we try. In the meantime, I suggest we keep our little connection to ourselves. I don’t know why, but I feel strongly that it is important to do so.”
“I feel the same way,” returned Katie. Then reaching in her purse she took out pencil and paper. “Here’s my number. Feel free to call me anytime. At least we can keep each other from going mad.”
Marta nodded. “I’ll draft the ad and then read it to you before I post it. Sound good?”
“It’s a start,” Katie answered. “At this point, I’m open to anything.”
“Me too,” Marta mumbled. “I thought I was going insane. Now I know that something else is going on here. That somehow makes me feel better.”
The women parted as Marta headed home to prepare for her doctor’s appointment. It went no different than the first one.
“It’s just a headache,” said Dr. Johnson. “It isn’t a migraine so there’s no need to heavily medicate you.”
“You don’t understand,” John King interrupted. “My wife hasn’t slept in a week; not even an hour. How long do you think she can withstand that kind of torture?”
“Mr. King, I understand your frustration but we can’t just go handing out narcotics to everyone who has a headache.”
“Give me my wife’s records. We’ll be seeking a second opinion.” John looked at the MD with fury in his eyes. “It’s obvious you don’t take your Hippocratic Oath seriously. You are doing harm sir; a lot of harm.”
“Look, any other doctor is going to tell you the same thing.” Ted Johnson stood his ground.
“Maybe so, but we want to hear from them. Give us her medical records – NOW!”
The doctor blanched and looked down at the floor. “Perhaps I’ve been a bit hasty in refusing to medicate Marta,” he began. “I guess a few Vicodin couldn’t hurt. Maybe they’d allow her enough pain release to get some sleep.”
John leveled his gaze at the man. One could almost see the wheels turning inside his head. He found the whole visit confusing. Something strange was taking place. He didn’t know what it was but he didn’t like it. Still, he nodded agreement that medication was acceptable; at least for the moment.
The doctor wrote the prescription and the Kings left the building. Once outside, John looked at Marta.
“There’s something not right about this,” he insisted. “That sudden change of heart was strange.”
Marta then relayed the information she found out from her park mate.
“May 1, 1980. I know that date well,” John said quietly. “My secretary was born on that date. She once remarked that you and she had the same birthday.”
“Well how is she doing? Is she experiencing headaches?” Marta looked for an answer in her husband’s eyes.
“I don’t know. She’s called in sick for the last few days,” he responded.
“Then she probably is,” Marta mused. “We need to talk to her. Can you call her?”
“I can,” John answered, already dialing the number. When someone answered the phone he asked, “Can I speak to Mary please?” His countenance changed quickly. He hung up the phone and stared at his wife before saying words she didn’t want to hear. “Mary Bailey is dead.”