“Tell me about these death cases.”
“I’m not sure what you’re asking me,” Dr. Demetrius said, dismissively. “It’s a hospital, people are born, we heal most, but we have to deal, manage if you will, death.”
“Yes,” Gene said. His puffy hands typed on his iPad without looking over at Artemis. “We have the EHR’s all in line, up to date, what’s missing in your mind, Ms. Lamb?”
“They appear way to clean,” Artemis said. She stared directly at Gene. “What would a plaintiff lawyer conclude?”
“We follow national standards,” Gene said. He looked up, he shrugged. “They’ve got nothing but here-say, good luck with that, right Dr. Demetrius?”
“True, I do appreciate the enterprise being in line with the national record keeping push,” Artemis said. She leaned back, she glanced over at Dr. Demetrius. “But, it appears to me most had addiction issues, you know, opioids, so forth, I’ve read it’s an epidemic here?”
Dr. Demetrius unbuttoned his lab coat. He pushed his elbows forward across the conference table.
“Blame it on us Greeks?” Dr. Demetrius said. He smirked.
“I don’t understand?” Artemis said.
“You know anything about Greek myth?” Dr. Demetrius asked while steadily holding his gaze at Artemis. “I love your short, red hair, you look like you could have been a warrior goddess.”
Artemis sensed his unwelcome advance, it was not lost on her. It was in Dr. Demetrius’ dark eyes. She looked back over at Gene who had simply ignored the comment.
“Let’s be professional,” Artemis said, calmly.
stared directly at Dr. Demetrius. “Right? Go on.”
“I meant no offense,” Dr. Demetrius said, smugly. “Besides, I’m just stating the obvious, you’re hot, so forgive me for being honest.”
“Let’s keep moving this along,” Gene said. “Greek myth?”
Artemis pointed her gaze over toward Gene to encourage Dr. Demetrius to continue with his comments. She pursed her lips and decided to let the creepy comment pass along into history.
“Story of Adonis, it was written that he was a beautiful young man,” Dr. Demetrius said. He smiled as he opened his arms. “Loved by Aphrodite and Prosperone, but he had a rather unfortunate accident with a wild boar, it killed him. He bled out from a horn impact into his thigh. It was simply hemorrhagic shock.”
“So?” Gene asked.
“Exsanguination,” Artemis said. “He died in minutes.”
“Yes, very good, Artemis. In fact, some scholars think the goddess Artemis, yes her, took him out as spite with Aphrodite,” Dr. Demetrius said. He playfully hummed. “But then, thanks to Zeus, Adonis moved from the living, to the dead in Hades, and then, back to the living.”
“I’m not a goddess,” Artemis said.
“But you understand life, and death,” Dr. Demetrius said. “It has been offered that Aphrodite’s tears after Adonis’ death created the poppy plant, the Greek’s used the poppy plant for a variety of purposes from antiquity.”
“I’m clueless?” Gene asked. He searched Artemis for ideas, and then over at Dr. Demetrius. “Where are we going?”
“In other words, the opioid crisis has been a problem for thousands of years,” Dr. Demetrius said. He waved Gene away. “People have pain, physicians prescribe for example, fentanyl, its used in anesthesia without negative outcomes. But, then when it’s used in the wrong way, we end up with addicts coming to our facility usually inside an emergency transport.”
“I understand now,” Gene said. He tapped his hand on the conference table. He looked over at Artemis. “We have to help them either way, you understand? They are God’s children.”
“Thus, all the additional ICU beds?” Artemis asked.
“It’s the logical move,” Dr. Demetrius said. He sat back. “We cannot just add beds, for certain services without government approval, it’s nonsense to me.”
“It’s how we manage healthcare, we need a certificate of need,” Gene said. He scratched his head. “I don’t make up the rules, community standards. The state must approve our services from a needs assessment, it’s a formal process.”
“I get it, I know,” Artemis said. She paused for several moments staring down at her iPad. The screen was dark having timed out fifteen minutes earlier.
“What are you thinking about?” Gene asked.
Dr. Demetrius leaned his head on his hand right hand like a bored teenager stuck in a civics class.
“I’m not sure how it looks,” Artemis said. “The hospital gets paid for care either way. Prescribing, pain meds, in a way, gets the patient hooked. And then treating them as addicts, when they return, might expose us, easy avenue for an attorney to make a case. I know you both follow what I’m saying.”
“It’s all about the data, we can support our services,” Gene said. His lazy eye ogled over at a former CEO’s portrait. “We make a healthy profit, for our, not for profit.”
“Should I work for free?” Dr. Demetrius asked. “My research has taken great steps forward. I’d hate to move on, I like it here. But, I’ll not be a part of this political game.”
“This is my job,” Artemis said. She closed her iPad. “I have to consider the medical facts, the outcomes, against what a lawyer might plead in a court of law.”
“This is about money,” Dr. Demetrius said.
“It is,” Artemis said.
“Ms. Lamb,” Gene said. He coughed. “If we don’t make a profit, we go out of business. Dr. Demetrius cannot advance science, healthcare, without those resources. All we do is react to what is happening in society, and yet, we are to blame?”
“I’m not saying, or expressing that,” Artemis said. She wondered how Gene had actually finished college, and gotten into an accredited law school. “You know that, but, we have a nasty claim to defend. I think he’s just fishing, for now. He keeps bringing up the trucks?”
“I see,” Dr. Demetrius said. He tapped his hands on the table. “Have you not taken Artemis over to our processing facility?”
“Ah, no, she has not,” Gene said. “I don’t see how that’s relevant to these medical malpractice claims.”
“But, it’s part of your facility,” Artemis said. “That, by the way, we reinsure above your tiny self insured retention.”
Gene scowled over at Artemis. He pressed his left ear lope with his thumb and forefinger.
“Let it go,” Dr. Demetrius said. He pushed his hand downward like a televangelist managing his hypnotized flock.
“It’s top secret,” Gene said. “I don’t care if the locals wonder. I just don’t want to invite outside interests. They’ll get a sniff to our work, a lot of money is at stake.”
“The world will know, eventually, my patents are being, well, approved,” Dr. Demetrius said. “You know that?”
“Tell her,” Gene said. “I cannot stop you.”
Dr. Demetrius grinned over at Artemis.
“Do you know what the largest organism in the world is? Dr. Demetrius asked as he excitedly looked back over at Artemis. “It’s quite impressive.”
“No clue,” Gene said. “She’ll have not had a clue, that’s been, until now, our secret.”
Artemis remained quiet, and allowed them to talk. It was a technique learned from Wylie and claim management 101. Get the client or plaintiff talking, and then, shut up, and just listen.
“I’ve told you this,” Dr. Demetrius said over at Gene.
“Well, I must have forgotten,” Gene said. He shook his head. He glanced over at Artemis. “Why are we going down this rabbit hole?”
“It’s my work,” Dr. Demetrius said. “You all make a lot of money, while, I’m saving the planet. One plant at a time.”
“Those plants might be misunderstood,” Gene said. “I’m just saying, I’m not judging. I’ll leave that to the master, to God the father.”
“Why?” Artemis asked.
It was the best question, and the simplest question. Dr. Demetrius and Gene instantly locked onto Artemis.
“Tell her,” Gene said, dismissively. “She’ll keep quiet.”
“I know,” Dr. Demetrius said. His wide toothed movie star smile was his poker tell. “Part of the Amanita genus, my mushrooms, but it’s really the mycelia. It’s not the mushrooms, they are her fruit, it’s the mother ship, underneath that matters.”
“You lost me,” Artemis said.
“For example, in Oregon, a state in this country,” Dr. Demetrius said. “A mycelia has grown under the ground, better than two thousand miles in diameter, deep within a dense forest. It feeds off the trees, and the rot, quite amazing.”
Artemis realized that Satan was nearby her. It was as if something, or someone was clapping their hands together in a joyful manner, almost childlike in her mind.
“GMOs, legal products,” Gene said. He pointed at Dr. Demetrius. “We are selling samples, its an active online business that the system has kept secret. It’s non-public, only invited bio-technology, universities, mind you. We have been accounting for the revenue as medically related, for now. But, in time, we’ll need to make an announcement.”
“It’s amazing,” Dr. Demetrius said. “I can hardly sleep, I’m discovering a whole universe.”
“Genetically modified organisms?” Artemis said. Her eyes started to look down at the table and move back and forth as she processed the information. “Mycelia?”
“Exactly,” Dr. Demetrius said. “How do you feed the world, enrich the Earth’s soil? The answer, I believe, mycelia, the mushrooms are my darlings fruit, it’s that simple, it’s laughable that we walk over them, all under our feet.”
“To be clear, these are safe mushrooms, and,” Gene said. He sort of focused his lazy eyeball over at Artemis. “This has absolutely nothing to do with a malpractice claim, right?”
Artemis acknowledged Gene’s comment.
“The trucks do breed questions,” Artemis said. “That’s all I’m saying, it’s obvious.”
“We know,” Dr. Demetrius said. “But, it’s none of their business. The staff are kept quiet, otherwise, they’ll be unemployed. It’s not a good place to be unemployed.”
“Jobs are tough to come by, here,” Gene said, sinisterly.
“I gather that,” Artemis said. “What else should I know about, you know, your research? Hospital might get state visitors, take a look at your licenses, if you’re not careful.”
“Dr. Demetrius,” Gene said. “Remember her role?”
“I know, I know, but she’s so cute,” Dr. Demetrius said. He looked over at Gene, and then over at Artemis. “I have invented a mycelia that can be planted and used to build safe, mind you, safe, mushroom crops. And used in a vast variety of methods.”
“Not the magic mushrooms,” Gene said. “Or, what do you call them?”
“Oh, death caps is the trade name, and others, again, they are part of the Amanita genus,” Dr. Demetrius said. He sat up straight, and wiggled on the conference room chair. “Amanita phalloides, again, from the Amanita genus, quite poisonous, in fact they resemble edible mushrooms, but they are deadly.”
“Got it,” Artemis said. She stared over at Dr. Demetrius with an open, accepting face ignoring his suggestive comment. “Go on.”
“Penicillin was an accident, as I’ve pointed out,” Dr. Demetrius said. “But, if my theories are correct, and I’m certain they are, the mycelia are the root to a God like solution, if you’ll excuse my nonsense.”
“Of course,” Artemis said. “You should know, I’m a non-believer.”
“Me too,” Dr. Demetrius said. He winked at Artemis.
“We’ve had some, shall I put it,” Gene said. He wiped his sweaty face with a handkerchief. “Break ins, we have a nearby group that worships magic mushrooms. A weird guy calls himself, Prophet Higgs Boson, has followers, the reason we’ve kept the lab secret, and for the most part in a locked down area.”
“Oh, the mycelia amaze me,” Dr. Demetrius said. He gazed up at the conference room ceiling like a curious newborn. “They are under everything, they live beneath the soil like a vast network feeding off the dead, the trees.”
“As you can see,” Gene said. “It’s not related to those claims, we’ll talk soon, once you have a plan?”
“Correct,” Artemis said.
Gene got up quickly after he closed his iPad. And he hurried Dr. Demetrius out of the conference room.
“Another visit to my lab?” Dr. Demetrius said to Artemis as he stood at the doorway. “You’ll love what I have discovered.”
“Time to go,” Gene said. He patted Dr. Demetrius on his shoulder. “Let’s keep moving.”
“I’ll take you up on that,” Artemis said. “Maybe next week, or sooner.”
Artemis sat alone in the conference room. She heard outside the fancy door the normal, everyday hospital activity. There was a shrill sounding ambulance alarm three floors down at where she was certain was the the emergency department. She contemplated the show she and Agent Beaky had seen in the forest. It was what lurked underneath the ground, it was that fact that she was certain Prophet Higgs Boson and Dr. Demetrius had as a connection. And it was in Dr. Demetrius’ expression after the name came out of Gene’s mouth, Prophet Higgs Boson. He would never have ignored such a comment about his research, in particular, protecting his mushrooms and his sacred mycelia. It was the reason the Company had sent her. It was what Wylie was never told about her real work. She had been sanctioned to kill. The question Artemis had to answer, was her kill to be only Dr. Demetrius, or this Prophet Higgs Boson, or was it both?
End. Chapter 23.
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