Chapter Three: Perfect Insanity
Jenny Adams checked the read out on the EEG machine and sighed. A week had passed and still no change. She nibbled her thumbnail to the quick. This just didn't make sense. There was no logical reason how Travis' injuries could have healed so fast. When he was brought into ER he'd had several lacerations, many broken or bruised ribs and a fractured skull. Yet most of the teen's wounds were gone and only two ribs remained broken. She had seen some strange cases in her time at St Michael's but none as X-Files worthy. So far she and the others staff members close to Travis had managed to keep things quiet by fudging his records so it appeared he was still seriously injured. However the rest of the staff was starting to get suspicious. Moreover two men in suits had just stopped by for a chat about the boy.
"Miss Adams we would like to have a word with you about a patient of yours," said Agent Smith, "We have come into some rather interesting information about one Travis Johnston. It would in the boy's, and your best interest to come with us."
"I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about and now who did you say were with again?"
"We didn't. Suffice to say we are with a branch of the government that deals with these situations," deadpanned Agent Smith.
"I don't care if you're the President of the United States, I aint going nowhere with you. Now kindly leave, you're disturbing my patient."
"I apologize for my partner's rude behavior, we are only trying to help the boy," Agent Anderson said and then stepped forward before he continued, "Ma'am can we grab a cup of coffee and maybe talk a bit?"
"I don't know. Um, ok. Just let me check in with the nurse's station and we can go," Jenny replied. She stared over at the unconscious boy and couldn't help wonder what her Travis had gotten himself into. Jenny locked eyes with Agent Anderson and the silence stretched out before them. They glared with unblinking eyes, daring the other to be the first to cave. Finally Jenny's pale blues eyes teared up and she broke down.
"I won't let you take him to be a lab rat at Area 51. You have no idea the world of pain he suffered and I'll be damned if you put him through more!"
"Melodramatic aren't we Madame; the boy is all of what 14? So what do tell is so gosh darn special about him, hmm? And for the record, Area 51 doesn't exist."
SMACK, went Jenny's right hand across Anderson's face. She balled up her fist, prepared to strike again, but regained control of herself. She sighed then recounted how she first met the Johnstons: The entire staff of St Michael's ER converged upon Travis as his father hurtled his frail, six-year-old body into the hospital. Jenny was out of nursing school and had never seen a more chaotic place. She watched the barely conscious boy descend into a world pain as doctor after doctor poked and prodded and tried to stabilize him. Thinking them monsters, she supposed, Travis cried out to his parents, but no. He was too weak to utter a sound. She watched his eyes search until they found his parents and beseeched them to rescue him from these demons, but his pleas went unanswered. And Travis shed the first of many tears.
. Her classes never covered something as obscure and it wasn't until the fifth doctor examined the boy that, finally a diagnosis was made: Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) This severe allergic reaction caused flu like symptoms, a red rash, spiking temperatures followed by hives, lesions, organ failure, blindness and death in extreme case. In Travis' case the allergen was penicillin he received two days prior for a strep throat infection. Jenny helped start several IVs and then the attending physician administered epinephrine to reduce the rapid swelling that had begun in the boy's throat. It had little effect and they had to perform an endotreacheal intubation. She held his tiny hand in hers until crisis adverted; Jenny cut off the boy's clothes and quickly applied heart monitor leads, a pulse oximeter and got his vital signs. The inner ear thermometer harbingered further bad news for the boy: 105 degrees Fahrenheit. In an instant they descended upon him again. Jenny packed his petite frame with mountains of ice packs. The cold pierced Travis to his core and set off a violent shivering fit. She watched as Travis closed his eyes. The heart monitor let off an ear splitting wail.
"What happened to him exactly?"
"Oh, so you give a damn now, hmm? Well after about an hour we brought him back and he spent the next two years in the ICU with a good bit of it in a coma. You see Travis' skin literally melted from his bone and we had to treat him like a burn victim. I still have nightmares about the first time I saw the lesions. Now I don't know how it happened but his vocal cords were severed and since then he can't really talk all that good, you know. I watched him change from this happy go lucky, care free little boy; to the withdrawn, sullen depressed teen I see today. Maybe had I stepped up to the plate he'd be a lot better off, I don't know. But I'll tell you this much. You'll have to pry my cold dead fingers from him!"
"Whoa, back Simba, back; I have no intension of handing Travis over to the lab geeks at DBRC. If even half of what you said is true we're beyond royally screwed here."
"Why the change of heart, did my feminine wiles beguile you?" Jenny said batting her eyelashes.
"Ha, no but you are quite the hottie if I do say so myself. Actually let's just say it's better to keep on his good side because he's basically an omega class mutant."
"Oh sorry, huge X-Men fan here. Well you see of all mutants the omega are the most uber powerful and can do things like end the universe. The clip notes version of is we don't know what he's capable of now but based on what he did as a toddler we do not want to piss him off if we can help it."
"What are you talking about, I've known him all his life," Jenny said and shoved Agent Anderson into the wall.
"Jesus you're stronger than I thought. It's classified but there was an incident he was around 2 and afterwards children around the world began being born with paranormal abilities which set off an arms race so to speak. That's all I'm at liberty to say, but here's what happens now: you go get Travis and I'll distract Agent Smith while you guys make a run for it. Go north to a small town called Otter Lake. Make a right at the gas station and you'll come to a cabin. Stay there and when the coast is clear I'll join you. Ask for a man named Hu. Tell him Tommy sent you about Project Hellfire, he'll know what it means. Go!"
"You know I could definitely see myself falling for you if things were different hun."
"Well aren't I the lucky one then."
"Yes, yes you are," Jenny said and leaned in to kiss him.
In the room down the hall Josh and David were making the best of a bad situation.
"Dude shut up, it's not that bad looking."
"Right, I hear the eggplant look is so in right now," Josh said, dodging David's in coming spit ball.
"Real mature Mitchell, what are you five-years-old?"Josh said and launched a spitball of his own.
"Aw you shrimp; you got it right in my eye."
"That's what your mom said," Josh replied causing them to burst into a fit of laughter.
"JJ seriously don't make me laugh, it hurts too much," Dave said and pressed the button to start the morphine drip.
"Sucks to be you, I only got a broken nose and a few bruised ribs out of the deal."
"You are so lucky my back's messed up, or I'd come over there and tea bag your ass. And I'd rather be all jacked up like this than, be an albino four- foot-nothing stick,"Davis said and dodged the spitball that followed.
"Well excuse me for not being an overgrown retard like you. And for your information I'm 4'4." Josh really wished his growth spurt would come, like it did last summer for his 6'3 friend.
"That's still short as hell. Tell me do you have to shop in the toddlers' section?"
"Screw you! I'm big where it counts."
"JJ you crack me up. You probably don't even know how to use it. I've never seen you even talk to the ladies, what's up with that man?"
Josh remained quiet in the hopes David would move on to another topic, but he didn't and a lull in the conversation engulfed them. Josh hazarded a look at his friend and as their eyes locked.
"Has it ever occurred to you that I might not like girls, hmm?"
"Come again? You're joking right Josh. You can't be a pole smoker, right?"
"Nope this isn't a joke, I like dudes."
"Shit man, you're not secretly in love with now are ya, `cuz I don't swing that way bro."
Josh's chest ached from the fit of laughter that racked him. Finally when it had passed he spoke to his friend.
"No offense but, you are so not my type. I'm not big on the whole roided out look; seriously man there is a thing as too much muscle."
David gestured at himself and said, "How could you not like all of this?"
"Conceited much? Just `cuz I'm gay doesn't mean I drool over every guy I see. I'm not a man-ho like you and Jason."
"Ha, ok good one squirt. So umm you got a boyfriend or whatever?"
"You're being surprisingly blasť about this, but no I'm single."
"Well that's `cuz Jason's bi and we're like total bros you know. Yeah like it's kind of weird when he switches to gay mode, but otherwise dude is way chill. Come on there has to be someone you got your eye, hmm?"
"Hold up, Jason is bi, since when? Like I so didn't even suspect he was. Man my gaydar must be broke or something. And if you must know, I liked Travis until I found out what a complete ass he was."
"No offense dude but your taste in guys stinks."
"Says the breeder, but ugh this is so frustrating. I hate him, but I love him. Like I'm the only one who sees the pain he hides behind his walls and I just want to take it all away. But he hates me and is so screwed in the head. Fuck my life," Josh said and his sobs filled the room. David looked at his friend and his heart broke.
"Listen to me Josh. I know you're all Brokeback for Travis, but you're still my dude and you can talk with `bout shit, OK?"
"Yeah. I love you man, no homo."
Josh chucked his soda can at the blonde and it clunked David's forehead.
"That'll teach you fucker."
"My bad, we cool?" David said, but before Josh could reply the unmistakable sound of an explosion seeped through from the room up the hall.
William Smith had been a DBRC agent for nearly 30 years and he was every bit worse for the wear. The balding, pudgy man had long since stopped caring about being gregarious. In his line of work good manners was a luxury he couldn't afford. The Department for Biological Research and Control was commissioned by DARPA to investigate paranormal incidents, with the goal to find candidates for their super soldier program. Most of the time it turned out to be false alarms caused by over panicky people, but sometimes they hit pay dirt. There was Kyle from Ohio who could crush cars with his mind and was currently deployed in the Middle East. Then there was Savanna from New Orleans who could paralyze people with her touch. And Lloyd from Florida who could become invisible: they were in Iran running black ops together.
Of all the cases Agent Smith had been on this is the first time he'd had a personal interest in the subject. Although the face had become more angular and the nose broader there was no mistaking it: William was staring at subject Prometheus from Project Hellfire. Just then the EEG exploded and Travis opened his eyes.
"Long time no see Billy, consider this payback for all the times you experimented on us. Travis doesn't remember it, but I do, "said the entity in control of the boy's body. Agent smith let out a scream then crumpled to the ground, blood gushing from his shattered nose. Just then Tommy entered the room and stopped in his tracks.
"OK kid, easy now I'm not going to hurt you. Follow me and we'll get you out here," he said edging towards feral boy.
"As if you could hurt me, but let's get one thing straight. I aint gonna be a guinea pig again and I'll ice anyone who tries to take me in. Understand?"
"Now hold up if anything happens to me you can kiss your freedom goodbye, understand," Tommy said with his hand poised over his gun.
"Try me bitch, I'd have done melted that motherfucker before you even got a shot off," Travis said and heat began radiating off him. Agent Anderson broke out in a sweat as the temperature climbed. The fluid in Travis' IV bag boiled then it burst. The bedding and furniture started to smoke then an explosion wracked the building. Screams rang out amid the blaring alarms as people panicked.
"What the hell were you thinking? You just turned a simple extraction into a cluster fuck. We have 5 maybe 10 minutes max before the police swarm this place; not to mention Homeland Security will be sniffing around come tomorrow. Come on we have to leave, now!"Agent Anderson yelled over the chaos and pulled Travis with him. They ran into Jenny on to the stairs and filled her in on the way to the parking garage. As the trio exited the garage they were stopped by the Michigan State Police.
"Great how are we going to get away now?"Jenny whined.
"Well I can take care of them," Travis said.
"Right, I think you've done enough for today kid," Tommy said and shook his head.
"Hey, you try being cooped up in his head for ten years and see if you aren't a little rusty. Besides, I don't see you coming up with a better plan, so either make with the planning or screw off," the boy said and hoped out the car. The officers drew their weapons prepared to fire, but stopped once they realized it was just a kid.
"Son how about you come over here and we can short this mess out," the officer in charge said and motioned him over to their car. The boy smirked and melted their guns scarring the lot of them back in the car. Before they could escape two black hawk helicopters landed and soldiers surrounded them.
"We can do this the easy way or the hard way, now how bout you save yourself some trouble and come along nicely kid," the commanding officer said.
"How about you suck my balls," Travis said then unleashed a shockwave that left a three foot deep hole in the street and the most of the soldiers unconscious. The few that were still battle ready prepared to open fire but were impaled by shrapnel as their helicopter exploded. Not satisfied Travis began exploding things at random.
"Stop this sweetie, we're safe now let's go," Jenny pleaded.
"Are you kidding me, do you have any idea how long I've waited to be free? And now when I finally have a bit of fun you want me to stop? Hell fuck no," Travis said and continued his rampage until his vision blurred and the world went black.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org put Phoenix Diaries in the subject so I know it's not spam. And for those wondering the chapter titles are song titles and the voices in Travis' head aren't hallucinations.