Lab Rat part 25

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Family, Fiction, Test Subject

I stop the playback and drop the pad onto the bench with a thunk. The sensor wand rolls off the bench and into the fire foam that’s creeping across the floor of the airlock. Between the two of us, we essentially kill me, nearly kill her, and destroy the lab. Yeah it hurt and I still suck at walking and moving, but I basically get to walk away unscathed from all of this. She gives me the best healthcare available anywhere on Earth, and I give her all the anger I can muster. Great. I hit my head on the wall behind me and slump down. I sit up again. I’m suddenly disgusted with myself. I never even asked if she was okay.

I fight my way to my feet, and push myself away from the wall. I wobble a bit, but my balance is already much better. I take a halting step, then another. I don’t hit the ground. I shamble over to the airlock and cycle it. I snort; the airlock isn’t keeping anything in the Blast Room right now. I haul my way up the stairs into the lab proper and go to the refrigerator where Ally keeps the full cartridges. It’s locked and has a keypad, but I know a trick. I reach down underneath the hinge and unscrew the bolts that hold the thing on. The door falls at an angle, but I’m able to catch it before it hits the floor. I waddle backward holding the door and it opens backward with the lock acting as the hinge. I set it down, and eject the empty cartridges from my injector. I reload it from the rows of labeled cartridges inside the refrigerator, and grab an extra of the regenerator.

After a moment’s work, I’ve put the door back on the thing, and I start toward medical. I’m able to make it down the hallway on both feet, and my pace is already improving. This hallway was much longer on the way out. It’s possible that if I had waited, my body would have finished rewiring properly and this wouldn’t be such an accomplishment. Sadly, I’m good at precious few things, and being patient isn’t one of them. I smirk; neither is being a patient.

I push through the white double door and into the exam room. Ally is sitting on the gurney with her face in her hands. That must hurt like hell with all the blisters. She doesn’t look up. I totter over to the cabinet and pull out a fresh syringe. I load it with the regeneration goop and pull a stool from the corner so I can sit down in front of Ally. “Doctor Allison, are you okay?” She sniffs. “Listen, thanks for saving my life.” I pull her hand away from her face. It’s wet. She lifts red rimmed and glistening eyes to meet mine. I can’t take her gaze, so I don’t even try; I turn her hand over and stick the syringe into a vein in her forearm. I hear her hiss as I press the plunger.

Thursday, I went to the Jefferson County Detention Center to visit my little brother. He’s made some mistakes and has some mental health issues, and is awaiting sentencing on Feb. 8th. I wasn’t looking forward to going. In fact, I almost bailed and didn’t go at all. Since I did go, I figure I’ll talk a little about it.

The visitation booths are library-style partitions, at least on my side. On his side, they are tiny cells with doors that lock behind them and a phone receiver mounted on the wall. I had to wait for probably 15 minutes before he showed up, so I divided the time between pacing back and forth and sitting on the stool that was set into the floor and tracing pictures on the quadruple paned glass windows. Every single one of the windows in the visiting area was covered in a spider’s web of hairline cracks. It’s almost like the people there don’t handle anger very well. When my brother finally appeared, we picked up the phones and discovered that they were dead. He pushed his call button, and I went and tried to get a guard’s attention, but to no avail. Everyone was on break or something. We made do by talking loud enough to be heard through the window. It became a running gag that we decided the guards must be watching these two idiots yelling through the glass and ignoring the phones next to them. “Why the hell aren’t they just using the phones?” They’d ask each other. Eventually time ran out, and they called him out of his cell. I headed back to the lobby.

As I pulled my coat on, the guards manning the reception desk called me over. “Can you go back up? I guess they forgot to turn the phones on.” I told them I could, and they stuck us in a different booth. We basically got a double visit. Small miracles happen every day, right? Over the course of my time there, we talked about the fairness of incarceration, the stigma of being labeled mentally ill, how we wished Mom were here, how he’s a long damn way from being a scientist like he wanted to be, and so on. He broke down and cried a couple of times. I teared up, but I can’t help it; I bite back on just about everything. I remained stoic in the face of heartbreak. Make no mistake – that isn’t a point of pride, it’s just what happened. The visit ended with me telling him that I love him, and to hang in there because nothing can get better if you aren’t around.


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