Memories

From the Story Arc: Finding a Host

Previous Story in the Arc: Redemption by Seraphic Flame (Tuesday, June 14, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: They Found Me by Home World (Friday, June 17, 2005)

(posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005)

Home World sat upon one of the higher buildings in Galaxy City and stared at the open spaces below. It was quiet up here minus the wind blowing the tips of the tall sky scrapers. He began to get himself ready for the transfer, as he did he recalled the events which led him to gaining the powers.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. The slowly falling snow, the gray cloud-covered sky, the whistling of the wind past my hospital bedside window, it's all etched into my mind. Then again, the events of a day like that aren't easily erased from your memory.

I sat in silence as I glanced toward the clock next to me, 6:15. I still had a good hour of sleep before the doctor and my parents would arrive to bother me, but somehow I wasn't tired anymore.

Leave it to life to deal me a hand as unlucky as this. As I sat there and looked out the window at the slowly awakening city, a virus ate away at my brain, slowly shutting it down. I hated to think about it. But hey, it would only be a matter of time before I couldn't even do that anymore.

I rolled over, away from the window and tried to drift back to sleep before the lights came on above my head. I opened one eye and glanced toward the door just in time to see my parents along with Dr. Hedrick. He along with Dr. Williams had discovered my condition. The virus would no doubt be named something like the Hedrick-Williams disease.

"Francis?" my mom said softly, sitting down on my bed, "Francis are you awake?"

I simply nodded, not really feeling like talking. I glanced over at Dr. Hedrick, he was holding a clipboard and looking over something nodding and sighing every once in a while.

After a moment the silence was deafening and I had to say something, "What's up?"

"Well," my dad said optimistically, "the doctors might have found a cure."

I looked at him skeptically, I had heard that before. Countless times had someone told me I would be cured with some vaccine or treatment only to find out that it was just as I figured, useless.

After a moment I replied, "What is it now?"

Dr. Hedrick noticed the frustration in my voice and it made it even harder for him to make his next statement, "It's an experimental vaccine."

I sat there for a moment, letting the thought sink in. Experimental? What were they going to do just strap me down to a table, mix some chemical there on the spot, inject me with it, and wait and see what happens? I wasn't going to let that happen.

"Experiment?" I almost yelled, "What am I just some guinea pig to you people now?"

"Calm down Francis," my mom started, rising from my bed, "we've talked this over; it's the best thing to do for all of us."

As angry as I was what she said made sense. It was either this or basically become an inanimate object. If there was even a tiny chance of this vaccine working, I figured it was worth a shot.

"Alright," I sighed, "alright."

Dr. Hedrick nodded and began talking with my parents as he led them out into the hallway. Whatever he was saying wasn't of interest to me right now. As I sat there glancing out the window once more a couple nurses came into the room and began to wheel me out. Everything becomes a blur there, until I was to wake up a few hours later.

I looked around the room; a haze seemed to fill my eyes as I could only make out cloudily outlines of what and who was in the room with me. I recognized my mother's voice and the sound of the constant toe tapping of Dr. Hedrick.

I felt a throbbing pain in my arm. I felt along and noticed a machine needle of some sort, one that hadn't been there before, who knows what kind of tests they would run on me now.

As my vision began to fade in from what seemed like thick rolling fog the first face I focused on was an unfamiliar one and I was a bit startled.

"Calm down," my mother said softly and she held my arm.

"Ouch," I winced in pain as she pressed on the freshly embedded needle I had noticed moments before.

I looked around the room; my father and Dr. Hedrick were off in the corner talking while my mother sat next to me, an unfamiliar man behind her.

"Who..." I began to ask.

"Francis this is John Jacobson," my mother started.

"I'm a researcher from the Center of Disease Control, I just came by to check out what's happening with you Mr. Grant," the man behind her cut in, putting out his hand to shake mine.

I timidly raised my own with a half scowl on my face, "its Francis."

Just what I needed, another guy in a cheap suit writing stuff down on a clipboard about me. I found solace in looking out the window, avoiding the glances of everyone in the room. The city was alive with activity now despite the falling snow. Cars racing down the street, children storming down the sidewalk, how I longed to get back out there.

I was brought back to my pitied reality by Dr. Hedrick. He held a clipboard in front of him, not paying attention to much else, like always. My father stood next to him, beaming.

"What's up?" I asked, not sure what to expect.

"We're just going to run a few tests," Dr. Hedrick replied dryly.

Moments later I found myself stumbling down the corridors in my hospital gown, a procession of parents, doctors, and researchers close behind. Now I definitely wanted out of this place.

I had asked to stop as the need to use the bathroom for hours now was killing me. I went to wash my hands; the water was cold but refreshing as I splashed some on my face. I grabbed a couple paper towels from the dispenser and began to dry my face as I stared into the mirror. My eyes began to glow white like a bright fire was coming right out of my pupils. I screamed out loud falling back against one of the bathroom doors. Doctors rushed in finding me on the ground; quickly they brought me to my feet.

“Are you alright?”

“No I am not alright---look at my eyes for crying out loud”.

“What? What’s wrong with them?”

“What’s wrong with them? Are you mad or something, I mean look” Francis walked towards the mirror and stared his eyes were the normal green color they had always been. “Wait just a second ago they were glowing bright white---I swear they were”.

“Sure---umm let’s set up a vision test first”.

I was led into a small room with an eye chart on the wall and a few other assorted things scattered about. Dr. Hedrick stepped in behind me.

"Okay Francis, first we're going to test your vision," he started, "since the virus appeared to have originated near the back of your brain, your vision was damaged quite a bit. Now if everything worked out with the vaccine, you should be able to go ahead and read me the 4th line down, no problem."

I shrugged, placed a hand over my left eye and began to read. After going through several lines each progressively smaller they concluded the tests.

I glanced toward Dr. Hedrick and he returned my look, rather impressed. He then asked me to switch my hand to cover my right eye and try again. I did so, and recited the chart with perfect accuracy.

Just for kicks I took a few steps back and read the chart back again. A spark seemed to light up in Dr. Hedrick's eyes.

Soon I found myself halfway down the hall; one eye covered preparing to read the chart. I squinted a bit but found it to unnecessary. I again found myself seemingly inches from the chart as I called out the letters perfectly once more.

I could hear John Jacobson murmuring into a tape recorder. I gave him a quick glance to capture the astonished look upon his face.

For the first time in a while I was happy. It was looking like that vaccine had actually worked, and worked well. I imagined myself back home, sitting on the front porch on cool summer nights with friends watching the stars come out, not a care in the world.

My nostalgic dreams faded back to the hospital once more as Dr. Hedrick called from down the hall.

"Francis, if you'll follow me we have a few more tests to administer," he beckoned.

"Isn't this proof enough?" I asked, frustrated. I just wanted to get out of that place.

Dr. Hedrick laughed, "It's a good start, but not quite."

Looking around puzzled and looked to the doctor to see what this was all about. He handed me a pencil and a small stack of papers stapled together.

"A test?" I asked.

"Along with your vision, which has now vastly improved, we believe the virus had done a little bit of damage to your problem solving skills, reasoning, basically your overall knowledge. This is just a short test to see any improvement.

I will be on the other side of that glass along with your parents and Mr. Jones. When you finish or if you should need any help, press this button here," Dr. Hedrick explained as he motioned toward a red button on the wall.

I nodded and took my seat, still feeling a little uncomfortable. The sound of the clock on the wall ticking echoed as I opened the test booklet.

I stared off into space, nervously tapping my foot. I knew everyone was waiting for me. Watching through the mirror over there, like that really helped lift any pressure.

I sighed and began; surprisingly the questions were incredibly easy. I whipped through each one with ease and even continued past the section Dr. Hedrick had told me to complete.

After what seemed like a half an hour to me I pressed the red button. The doctor came in soon after.

"Yes Francis?" he asked, "Which question are you having trouble with?"

"I’m not having any trouble, I'm done," I answered.

The doctor's jaw almost dropped as I tossed him the completely finished booklet, "This only took you five minutes!"

I look at the clock and smirked, "Yeah, I guess it did."

I put my pencil down on the desk and sat back as Dr. Hedrick began to leaf through the booklet. I guess he was checking answers.

"Francis, you've got a perfect score... all except for this one question. It asks who discovered America and you left it blank," he started, "Why?"

"I felt that the correct response was not there," I answered, "The normal person would've said Christopher Columbus, but this is not true. The Vikings or Leaf Ericson to get specific discovered America first, calling it Vinland because of the plants that grew here. Then again if you want to get really technical, the Asians who crossed the Bering straight when it was still solid land actually discovered this place."

Dr. Hedrick stood there, astonished, but was forced to agree. Test two passed with flying colors. I was then led out of the small room and taken even farther down the hall.

I could hear the sounds of treadmills running, crutches squeaking, and punching bags swinging back and forth. The air smelled of sweat and some sort of sports drink. My only guess was we were going to the physical rehabilitation center.

Dr. Hedrick stepped into the room first followed by my parents and John Jacobson, who was still murmuring into that tape recorder of his. I could only imagine what he was saying about the circus freak that was Francis Grant.

I stumbled into the rehabilitation center last and caught a glimpse of Dr. Williams, Hedrick's partner in crime.

"Mr. Grant," Dr. Williams was beaming, "it's nice to see you back on your feet again. How have you been doing since your vaccine?"

I began to answer but John Jacobson cut me off, "He's been doing remarkably well! He read the eye chart from over 50 feet away and achieved a perfect score on the written exam he was presented!"

"So what are we doing here?" I asked after a few moments of watching the others exercising.

"We're here to test your motor skills," Dr. Hedrick replied, "hand eye co-ordination, agility, strength."

After astonishing them with further skills beyond there comprehension that brought me to go over my results.

I stood there, breathless. After a few minutes Dr. Hedrick led me back to my hospital bed for rest. I sat there staring out the window as dusk settled in on the city outside. Fewer cars were on the road, the children playing as rare as diamonds now.

"Francis," Dr. Hedrick started, interrupting my serene view of the world once again, "I'm very impressed with what I saw today. As much as I'd love to let you go right now I'm going to half to keep you here one more night. We've seen positive signs on the outside; now let's see what's going on internally, what's going on in that head of yours."

I looked toward my mom and she simply nodded, "Just lay back and go to sleep Francis, we'll see you in the morning."

The lights flickered and went off as I laid back, countless devices measuring my brain activity. How was I supposed to sleep?

It seemed that I was only asleep for a minute before a light from my right side hit me like a punch in the face and I squinted heavily to stop the stinging. I looked over and nothing was there but a dimly lit lamp, no light stronger than a flashlight about to die, yet to me it seemed like I was staring at the sun.

I sat there in silence for a while until the lights flickered back on in the room and in walked my groupies.

Dr. Hedrick had some sort of printout in his hands and Mr. Jacobsen was busy loading a tape into the recorder he held so dearly. My mom and dad simply followed them in, as clueless as I was.

"So, am I going to be okay?" I asked, longing to get out of that hospital more than ever.

"Well Francis, according to this reading you achieved much higher brain activity as compared to your chart a week ago," Dr. Hedrick explained, "In fact; this is a higher registry than I've ever seen."

John Jacobson began murmuring into his recorder once again while Dr. Hedrick continued to look over the chart.

"So I'm going to be okay?" I asked once more.

"Well yes, in fact you're free to go whenever you're ready, I've given clearance. But if you'd like to you can stick around for some additional..." the doctor started.

"I’d like to go home please," I cut in.

Dr. Hedrick simply nodded and just like that, I was free to leave. It felt like I had been in prison. I stepped into the bathroom with a change of clothes my mother had brought me and tossed the hospital gown to the floor.

I slid into my clothes and opened the door, ready to get out of that place.

After we had been home for a little while the phone rang. My mother answered it and I could hear her say hello to Dr. Hedrick. I instinctively headed up the stairs and grabbed the receiver in my room, covering up the mouth piece as I lay there in silence to listen.

"Dr. Hedrick," my mother started, "To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"Mrs. Grant, you left so abruptly today that I didn't get a chance to explain to you what's going on with Francis," Dr. Hedrick replied.

"He's alright isn't he?" my mom asked.

"Yes, he's fine, ship shape, the vaccine worked well," he said.

"Then what's the problem?" she asked.

"Well," Dr. Hedrick started, "It's just that the vaccine may have worked too well, parts of Francis brain has opened up that weren't opened before, parts that aren't normally opened for anyone. No one is sure of the effects but it's speculated that it could result in superhuman traits, such as we saw yesterday."

My mother began to laugh, "Dr. Hedrick, my son isn't some superhero."

"Perhaps you're right," the doctor replied, "although there is one thing about Francis I really thought you should know. His immune system is still extremely weak, there's no telling how long it could stay that way, and it could even be permanent. I'm simply saying be careful."

"Alright Dr. Hedrick, will do," My mother said.

It was then that I hung up the phone. Had I been blessed with powers? Was that what helped me through those tests yesterday? Only time would tell.

Home World awoke from his dream and continued to stare down at the city below. This had been the weakest he had felt although he was sure that his encounter with Hiigaran did little to help.