Lab Rat part 66

Posted: April 2, 2011 in Fiction, Test Subject
Tags: ,

“Thanks,” I say as she clears the bag and tools away. I flop the vest onto the floor and stand. I wobble a little. I haven’t been upright in the better part of a week. Jennifer starts toward me, but I wave her off. “I got it.” This isn’t nearly as bad as when I died. My right leg holds. I weave drunkenly to the bathroom. “Be out in ten.” She must be a little freaked out, because she doesn’t say anything. I push the door closed behind me and stretch. Man, it feels good to be mobile again.

The shower is a white upright plastic coffin. I reach in and turn a single oversized knob set into the wall, and water erupts from one wall. The showerhead resembles a sunflower, but with more calcified junk hanging off of it. I step in and pull the tattered blue plastic that passes for a shower curtain closed behind me. The water is too hot, but I hold myself still in it anyway. As soon as I’m acclimated to the heat, I run my hands over my face and head. My hair is gone, but I have some stubble now that the burns have been repaired. My rubbing gathers up a truly revolting amount of skin and scab and what I imagine is debris from the explosion. I grab a tiny individually wrapped bar of soap and get to work.

As I lather up, I spot the tracery of veins on my left arm. It’s still a criss-cross of charred black skin. I flex my hand. Everything still seems to work. It doesn’t hurt, but it didn’t heal. I stand there for a second, watching the water course around and between the cracks of the carbonized flesh. I shake my head. All the more reason I need to find Taryn and soon. I finish lathering and rinse off. The burns on my arm keep me from feeling as refreshed as I want to be, so I don’t waste anymore time. I step out of the shower and pull a towel from the stack on the back of the toilet. I can hear Dad and Jennifer talking as I dry off, but I can’t quite make out what they’re saying. I scrub myself dry, and wrap the towel around my waist.

Dad looks up from his seat on the bed as I walk out. “I feel like a million bucks,” I tell him. I grab my scorched jeans from the pile on the floor and pull them up under my towel.

“Good to hear, because you’re leaving tonight.”

“I’m what?” I zip up and drop the towel. “I’m not leaving. I have to find Doctor Allison.”

“You’re a suspected terrorist. You’re leaving town, and I’m getting you out of the country at the earliest opportunity.”

“Taryn’s in trouble, and I’m not leaving her hanging.”

“She pays you that much, huh?”

“Something like that. She’s pulled my fat from the fire more than a couple of times. I’m not leaving without her.” I cross my arms and do my best imitation of Dad’s hardass look. It has nothing to do with the money. I hear her voice crack as she tells me she’s going to fix me up. I feel my jaw clench. He strokes his chin for a minute. Jennifer busies herself with packing up the medical equipment.

I still feel my stomach twist in a knot every time I see that Megan has messaged me, but my memory isn’t torturing me as hard anymore. I took all of the pictures out of my phone. They’re on my hard drive, but I don’t have to see them constantly. If at some point I decide I still want these memories, they’re still there. Right now, I’m unsure. I feel that I should be careful about doing things I can’t undo.


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