Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Hallow: Part 2

     "What is your name!"
The blow felt like a bag of potatoes had been dropped from ten feet high onto his chest. He was quite certain this lick had cracked a couple of his ribs as the burn raced through the span of his body, the breathing more painful than the assault now. The threshold to stay conscious was beginning to be more and more challenging, fighting the urge to blackout from both the pain and the Electra-shock of his travels to get here. Time was not on his side. He had to work quickly if he wanted to stick to reality this time.
     "I am only going to ask you one more time, you sack of rotten lunch meat, what is your fucking name!"
Where was he? Where had he been prior to getting here? Focus. Ignore the burn in your chest, the shouting in your ears, the difficulty to stand on your own two feet. Where are you?
     "I think we knocked him stupid."
Here was cold and poorly lit. Here smelled of urine and dried puke. Here was an interrogation cell. Dubbed as "The Janitor Room" by the staff. The cell was outside General Population, beyond the prying eye of the security system, out of reach from the Warden, stowed away deep below what was known to the faculty and inmates as, the Hive. The Janitor Closet was far worse than any solitary cell. To those who knew about this place, the mention of it brought immediate obedience to the most seasoned and deadly inmates the Hive had to offer.
     "I think this one has given all he is going to, sir."
     "Too bad. I was just getting my swing down."
The guards all froze at the turn of the doorknob.
     "What the fuck?" The one holding the pillow case filled with soap whispered.
The lunch meat on the floor winced. A guard stifled his grief with the palm of his bloodied hand.
     "Shut up!"
The ringleader among the four guards stepped forward, leaning onto one knee, slapping the cheek of the docile inmate.
     "Yeah. This one is finished. Take him to "Smitty" and tell him this one got himself into some trouble in the yard. He will not rat, if he knows what is good for him," he said as he noshed his teeth on the last bit of his sentence, "This is our little secret, right lunch meat?"

Focus. Let the mind introduce itself to you slowly. Your surroundings dictate actions, actions dictate the outcome of the host. First priority: protect the host. Remember, it is not yours to abuse. You are a visitor here. Observe. Collect. Disband. 

When he woke, he found himself in the medic ward. Each bed was filled with a body, each body a different reason for being here, a shank wound, rape, disease, a failed escape attempt. He tried to move, but the sharp pains overwhelmed him. He grimaced. His chest was tightly wrapped in bandages. He could feel the weight of his beating upon his lips, swollen and bruised. His eyes were puffy, on the cusp of shutting completely, his vision distorted but not blinded. Thank god. Not all trips were successful ones. The last host had been CTD, the most dangerous vessel a traveler could land inside. Close To Death, be it suicide or victim of a violent crime. It was part of the risk involved with Telejumping into a host. First came the disorientation, and then control of the vessel, which was a lot like learning to fly only doing so in complete free fall. Fail to gain control and both the host and the donor instantly crash. The risk was an easy one for Adam. The journey into a host body meant that he could gather some intelligence on the world outside. Perhaps, if he was lucky, find a way to travel to a host that could allow him to find his son. It was a long shot, if any at all, but one he was very much willing to risk life and limb for.

     "Well, you're awake sooner than anyone expected."
Adam concentrated on the motor receptors of the host. Always a difficult task, considering each person was different than the next. If this host brain were considered a bi-plane, Adam's link was set for the controls of a jet plane. This would take some getting used to. He slowly turned his head.
     "A woman?"
     "Good. Your eyesight is not nearly as bad as it looks." She smiled at him.
     "I'm sorry...I just mean-"
     "Too pretty to be working in the medical ward of Saint Luke's Correction Facility? Yeah. That is what I told myself to, before I took the job. It's not as bad as you might think though."
She took his pulse. Her hands soft and oddly warm. Across the room was a small window without any bars that allowed some natural light to flood into the ward.  He assumed it was not much of an escape, since most of the patients were tied to their beds, and those who weren't did not have the strength to lift themselves out of bed.
     "Are you always this pleasant with inmates?"
     "Honestly? No. You don't strike me as a threat though, for some reason, no matter how unassuming that tattoo on your face is."
She picked up a silver plate from the bedside table and held it in front of him. Half his face had been tattooed in black tribal lettering. His face had been pummeled too much to know what any of it said, though he suspected it might have been "ouch" or something to that affect.
She gave him a quizzical look, and then a shot of morphine for the pain. He lifted his head back as the icy medicine soothed the burning in his chest. Ah, now he could clearly see the controls. Drugs held a certain advantage to the donor, allowing for ease of access to the brain. The free fall he had been in prior was now under his control. Like riding a bike, he thought.
     "Do you trust me?"
     "No. You're in prison...for murder, I think."
     "What if I told you I knew things about you that I shouldn't. Would you believe me then?"
     "Unlikely, but go ahead. Wow me."
The inmate closed his eyes. For a moment, it appeared as though the inmate, Jaurez number 119023446 was laying in the bed, and not the person she first walked up to minutes before. His eyes opened, panicked and confused, cursing her and yelling to be released from his binds, and then clam. His eyes opened again, a smile etched across his tattooed face.
     "Your mother, Jean, is battling ovarian cancer. There is an experimental drug called Prothenall that have promising results, however, your mother cannot receive the drug because it has not yet been approved."
The nurse took several confused steps back. She had never seen this man before. There was no way he could have known this. She turned to call for the guard outside, when the inmate called her, this time, by name.
     "Janelle, please. I have very little time. I know you are a devout. Your mother, who is also a devout, would listen to her heart and not her eyes. Please. I am begging you."
Janelle paused. She attempted to hold back her tears.
     "Who are you?"
     "My name is Adam."
     "Adam? Fine, Adam. What do you want with me?"
Janelle turned. Her instincts said there was, at least, a good story she could share with her friends with this one.
     "Okay, Adam, I've nothing else to do right now. Humor me."
Vessel control, transmission is breaking up. Host is resisting reboot. Expect recovery procedure.
     "Jesus...No time...Time...Janelle, I must know the time-"
    "Four Twenty-"
     "No, damn it! Year, time of year!"
His outburst forced Janelle to step back. "Um, 2012...October 30th!"
Mainline breach. Brain stem failure. Recovery imminent. 
     "Where am I? Location...City..."
The inmate tensed. Every muscle in his body converted into a single convulsion. His chest lifted from the bed as though pulled by an unseen force, or the result of a defibrillator shock that brought back a heartbeat more familiar with the body.

Connection lost. 
The pain was nearly unbearable. His head felt as though it were caught between two polar magnets, each refusing to give in to the other's demand for his brain, splitting it down the middle, the static charge rushing down his brain stem into his spine.
     "No! Goddamn it, get me back. Get me back, now!"
Algorithm gateway open. Link unconfirmed. 
     "Same period?"
Confirmed. Host connection not stable. Possible DOA or DIP. Jump not recommended.
     "Noted. Establish link."

The image started out blurry, like all the others. When his visual link removed the static noise, the young woman's face was wet, filled with tears, make up running along her cheeks, cries echoing all around him, and then he saw the barrel pressed against her temple. The most dangerous part of Vesseling was not knowing the host, or the environment of thew host. It was, in the literal sense, the truest form of taking a "Leap of Faith". The image was gruesome in the mirror. There were voices shouting, begging, bargaining...and there was another familiar voice. A demon perhaps. Adam felt the initial impact of the bullet, a deathly blow to the center of the host brain, yet the instant death would not follow.
Interruption. Foreign link detected. Source...Omega 666.111.666.111. 
     "Omega? Root?"
Root relay Omega, source 000.1
     "The Motel?"
Demonic possession...Static...rerouting in 3, 2, 1.
     "No, wait!"

The light ate away the darkness. The pain of its luminosity intense, burning his eyes like pepper spray, a different kind of pain than he was used to. This was a good burn. An easy transition into a new host, a smooth leap inside a vessel that was undisturbed, unconscious.
Link Permalink established. 
     "Open your eyes." A voice low and sweet said.
The smell of rubbing alcohol hit him hard. Its stinging cleanse wiped across his right eyebrow. The nurse was gentle and smiled kindly at him.
     "You got yourself a nasty gash there Sarg. I hope the other guy got what was coming to him."
     "Hmm? Um, yeah. I'm sure he did."
The door opened and in stepped several men, dressed in uniform, armed with attitude and pepper spray. They huddled around him, slapping him on the back, cracking jokes about his injury, making passes at the pretty young nurse tending to him.
     "Jesus H. Christ, Sarg, the fact you walked away from that shit with just a cut and a few scratches is a goddamn miracle!" One said.
     "What the fuck happened back there?" Another asked.
He sat silent while the others continued their joking and flirting. It allowed him enough time to access the memory banks of the host. The two pudgy co's Funny Boy and Eclair were standing to his left cracking jokes, and the tall slender one asking the floor nurse to dinner and a movie was Casanova. Outside the host memory banks, these fellas looked familiar.
     "Those...knuckleheads...will know better next time." Adam replied.
     "Especially that one you threw out a window, Sarg." Funny Boy said.
     "Ended up in worse shape than that other fella, aye Cas?" Eclair said.
     "What other one?" Asked Adam.
     "Just some lunch meat that needed a lesson in manners, Sarg." Casanova said, still focused on the young nurse. "Janelle, is it? How about we grab some dinner after shift?"
     "Janelle?" Adam said.
He turned to the young nurse. Was it possible? Finally, he had leaped into the same period and managed a stable vessel in one link. Adam had once again found his faith, when his well had nearly run dry.
     "Why don't you three get an early start on the paperwork I need on my desk in an hour. Be sure to dot all the i's and cross the t's too. Oh, and Funny Boy, make sure you check on Peter Pan. Lieutenant Mettle will want details with his injuries."
     "Yes sir!"
Casanova kept his eyes on the prize before him.
     "That means you too Cas."
Casanova put his hand next to his right ear, like a pretend phone, mouthing the words, "Call me." as he backed out from the room. Adam's first impulse was to pick up where he had left off with Janelle, but quickly changed his mind. He was now in full control. The game was different now, open to alteration on the fly, his options no longer limited. He thank her for patching him up, and then left the med ward. It was not easy, trying not to react to this new freedom he had sought out for what now felt like an eternity. He made his way out from six house, leaving his post as he reached for his walkie to inform his team of his early leave.

He found his Blue Honda Civic in the parking lot, searching his pocket for the keys, jabbing them into the ignition. On the passenger seat was the morning newspaper, its headline read, "All Hallows Eve: The story behind the tradition." He could not help himself, grabbing the paper and finding the article. Like all myths, this story was filled with inaccuracies, pieced together with witches and goblins to drive sales. If they only knew, he thought, folding the paper and placing it back onto the seat. In the backseat of the car was a black backpack. He reached back for the pack, sitting it in the passenger seat, inspecting it. An extra pair of street clothes, a cellphone, a pistol with an extra clip, and a GPS was inside. There was also a badge.
     "Angel's Security." Adam laughed. He tossed the badge into the pack and laughed again.
He shifted the gear and backed out from the lot and onto the dark road heading west. With Saint Luke's in his rear-view mirror, he plotted his course. He Looked at the clock on the dash. It read, 12:01am. 
     "Happy Halloween, Sargent." He said to the man in the mirror. And then laughed some more.

The lights of the civic rounded the curve as it veered onto the highway. Adam had arrived, and found a host that offered him everything he needed to continue his journey. God had given him a pass. He deserved it. they deserved it. Above all, his son deserved it.  

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