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Gift of the Gruldak, Chapter 12: Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital of Glendale, Arizona

Updated on August 9, 2016
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Kylyssa Shay is releasing a serialized science fiction novel in single chapter increments that you can read for free only on HubPages.

Fetuses made of soap bubbles falling from the sky, an illustration for Gift of the Gruldak, a serialized science fiction novel.
Fetuses made of soap bubbles falling from the sky, an illustration for Gift of the Gruldak, a serialized science fiction novel. | Source

Join Kevin as dedicated caregivers fight to help him regain his stolen powers of speech in Chapter 12 of Gift of the Gruldak.

Chapter Twelve, Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital of Glendale, Arizona


The Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital of Glendale, Arizona was a lot cozier than the name might suggest.

At first I was restrained and sedated, but the staff soon realized that it was completely unnecessary as I was completely harmless. Unfortunately, I was completely harmless.

Have you ever had to really reach for a word? Do you know that feeling when you’re urgently trying to get something terribly important across, but your mind just goes blank in the spot where the one and only word with the exactly correct meaning ought to be rooted? That’s what every word was like for me then.

The serious-faced caregivers brought me things to drink and warm towels for my face. An even more serious-faced speech therapist earnestly spoke to me twice a day while I answered her with, “Uh, uh, uh, uh,(sigh), hmmmm,” and assorted variations thereof. You’d have thought I was saying something understandable from the earnest looks on her face. And from the way she laughed at my replies sometimes, you’d have thought I had a great sense of humor.

I later found out she wasn’t actually a speech therapist, she was just there to keep my mood up with human interaction. It helped but not enough.

Being unable to communicate effectively when people were being silenced and people were being vaporized was a pretty tough hit to one’s sense of self-worth. It also made me far more prone to rage than humor. I responded so well to her because I thought she was starting to understand me.

My room was lovely, actually. I had a thin, springy mattress of some sort that was more comfortable than anything I’d ever slept in on earth before although not approaching the coziness of falling asleep inside Guido. It smelled fresh and somewhat herbal, maybe like lemon verbena and green tea or something like that.

My bed was under remote control shades which could be rolled up into near nonexistence allowing the polarized glazing above me to let in the sun’s rays after filtering and gentling them to fall softly on the skin.

The room was actually part of a much larger room, a giant studio apartment inside a botanical garden under glass with a creek running through it. The gentle lapping wave sounds came from a sound system somewhere but the tinkling brook noises came from the real thing. I was served delicious meals and kept busy with stimulating activities like picking miniature avocados or finger painting on wet stone under a waterfall. If I hadn’t had so much on my mind it would have come fairly close to my idea of paradise.

People were with me round the clock whenever I wanted them and sometimes when I did not. I have no idea how they sometimes came at just the right time, but they did so far more often than not.

I woke up from the dream that I kept having again and again, the one about waking up in another place, somewhere that the bed was alive. It wasn’t a nightmare; it was just that I started shaking uncontrollably whenever I woke up from it to find I had only been dreaming.

The sane, comfortable reality around me was the terror.

The guy I’d come to think of as Eyebrows was there with a soothing cup of tea and a warm face towel. Eyebrows, a young, Mediterranean-looking gentleman with a strong jaw and a nose just this side of distinctive lifted my hands and washed them carefully with a warm piece of terry cloth. If I’d been a woman, I probably couldn’t have helped falling in love with him. I think maybe I fell in love with him a little bit anyway.

He brought up the lighting and pantomimed an invitation to the hot tubs but I just declined. I think I’d already determined that wherever I was, these folks weren’t in on the matter transmitter conspiracy and they were earnestly trying to get my mind back in working order. Those goons, whoever they were, had made a terrible mistake dumping me there.

Eyebrows seemed to have the best timing of them all. He even knew enough to help me get tidied up a bit before Kira’s visits, even the ones that seemed completely random to me. It’s funny how much being completely incommunicado makes one’s world lose its apparent patterns and sense.

I couldn’t write out words or type them or understand them when written or typed or even drawn on my own skin or cut from sandpaper. I stole one of those letters and rubbed it against my fingertips night after night until it wore them bloody. It was the only way I could express the pain I was in and even forget it for a time. I later realized the letter was an ‘o’ but to me it was just an unending track of sensation, burning in a mind-filling surge as the roughness dragged across sensitive nerves.

I would drag first one finger around the gritty surface until I could just feel it start to sting then move on to the next and the next until each of my fingers and thumbs had been rubbed to beads of blood. Swollen and throbbing, those nerve stuffed extremities could steal away all of my mind’s attention. It allowed me to stop screaming in my mind for long periods at a time.

Eyebrows, Blondie, Elderly Gent, and Lab Coat all ended up cleaning a lot of blood off my hands. They all did it just a little differently but all were very gentle about it.

My hands were clean and sprayed with some kind of waterproof but air-permeable coating that soothed, healed, and protected them until it peeled off like gloves. So I got up to use the toilet in the stone column right behind the head of the bed, staggering a little as per my new normal.

On my way back I detoured to the small paved sitting area just the other side of a green hedge from the jakes and rested on the wrought iron bench with cushions that looked like rough-hewn rock but felt like goose down.

Real Doctor looked into the sitting area and, presumably called my name. Whatever it was, I gathered she wished to communicate with me. She looked significantly in the direction of my bed, then to me and back again.

She followed me back to my sleeping area where assorted medical devices and other conveniences lay in wait in their cleverly camouflaged kiosks. She was carrying a small case I hadn’t noticed before. Eyebrows helped me into bed and cleaned a spot on my throat where Real Doctor used her skin permeator or whatever you call it to inject something into my blood stream.

Eyebrows indicated I should try to relax. Real Doctor took my vital signs and left but Eyebrows stayed around, rubbing my shoulders and feet until I fell asleep. Waking up was a little different. I felt uncharacteristically nauseous but somehow, the shapes in my room were not so confusing as they usually were when I woke up.

I went about getting showered and dressed in a comfortable linen shirt and trousers from the drawers under the bed and found my comfortably worn-in sandals under the table in the sitting area.

Blondie brought me a tray with fresh fruits, cheeses, and nuts on it along with a tall glass of cool herbal tea.

“Good morning,” she said to me, “How are you feeling today?”

“Morim, Blon’nee, ahm goog,” I almost said but really more-or-less groaned.

Blondie looked extremely startled but then her face broke out in an excited grin that took twenty years off her appearance and made her radically bleached blond hair look cute and sparkly.

She set the tray down and asked me, “You understood that, didn’t you?”

Not trusting my mouth, I nodded.

She squealed, clapped her hands and hugged me.

She squeezed the collar button on her uniform and spoke into it, “Doctor Keller, I think it’s working already! You need to get down here right now!”

Doctor Keller ended up giving me a sedative because once I caught on to what was happening, I tried my hardest to explain about the matter transmitters and so on. I was still groping for 90% of my words though so I really just got myself all worked up. It was with a very hopeful feeling and a fresh green scent that I floated off into drugged unconsciousness. It didn’t last long and my half-eaten breakfast suggested my body woke up a little earlier than I had.

Improvement was very swift. I was able to understand much sooner than I was able to speak or write but I stopped bloodying my fingers on my sandpaper 'o' within a few days. Apparently they were trying out a new type of nano bots to rebuild my verbal connections.

My healers seemed to almost shake with tightly constrained eagerness as I progressed but they were very careful not to push me even though I could sense their focused curiosity. It became more and more clear that they had realized I was the victim of foul play for some time. They were also aware of the problem with matter transmitters.

Sugar Maple Siren in chalk, charcoal, soft pastels and PhotoShop
Sugar Maple Siren in chalk, charcoal, soft pastels and PhotoShop | Source

I still couldn’t put much together by the next time Kira visited but she understood that I was getting better and she knew with absolute certainty that I was not Bob. But on her visit a few days later, I was able to communicate with her at almost my full level of coherency.

“About the kiss,” I said.

“What about the kiss?” she asked, studying my face closely.

“I wanted you to know I wasn’t Bob,” I said, unable to meet her liquid brown eyes.

“I already knew.”

“I mean, for certain. When did you know I wasn’t Bob for certain?”

She replied, “If I hadn’t already been sure when those men showed up I was when they did.”

“Didn’t you call them?”

“No, I called Bob’s doctor.”

“Then why did you agree to kiss me?”

“I wanted to say my goodbyes to Bob,” she said, the moisture in her eyes just barely defying gravity with surface tension.

“But you knew I wasn’t him.”

“You had his body.”

“Didn’t that just make it weird?”

She smiled gently and surface tension lost its battle in her right eye as she said, "Haven't you ever been to a funeral?”

“Yeah.”

“I was kissing him like I would in a coffin.”

“Somehow I doubt you’d have slipped a man in a coffin the tongue,” I said, immediately regretting it.

“That’s an interesting way of putting it. It made it harder to let him go. It would have been so easy to pretend.” She smiled sadly.

“I’m sorry.”

“But it was also because I loved you a little bit then.”

“But why?”

“You saved Bob’s life.”

“It was only the once and it probably didn’t last,” I said with a guilty shrug.

“You didn’t know, yet you’ve set off a revolution,” she said softly, settling into the chair next to the iron-framed couch I was reclining in.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she sighed.

“But people are dying...”

“They already were; they just didn’t know it. Somehow that seems so much worse than knowing what you’re dying for.”

“I’d prefer nobody die at all.”

“Me, too,” she whispered, “You know I’ve been using the matter transmitter to visit you?”

“What!? No! You are not!” I exclaimed.

“I knew I was going to die and it didn’t matter. I’d done it so many times before. But I wanted to die these last few times. I’ve gone in hoping I’d stop feeling the pain of wondering who I am and wondering who it was I even lost when I lost Bob. I want to stop wondering how many times we lost each other without even knowing.”

“Kira. Kira, please don’t use them anymore,” I begged.

“It’s OK, Kevin. I can stay here if it will make you feel better. I don’t know any discreet way I could keep visiting you and avoid using the MTs.”

“You don’t need to be discreet; just stop killing yourself, please.”

“I will,” she said, “The pain outlives me every time I die, anyway. I came to tell you what we’ve started doing. Your friends sent instructions for rerouting the power at the sending end of a matter transmitter and shutting off the vaporizing burst of energy. We’ve been doing it.”

“But what about the duplicates?”

“The duplicates almost always survive but security teams have been killing a lot of the originals.”

“Oh, my God... But how do you know?”

“Oh, they’ve been blaming the explosions on terrorists, but since we’re the terrorists, we know we didn’t bring any bombs.”

“You didn’t, right?”

“Not even a little one. No, I think they’re just blowing up all the witnesses.”

“That’s not good.”

“Kevin, it’s really not good news. I think that you’re going to be targeted.”

“But if everybody is messing with matter transmitters why bother going after the kook?”

“The movement is gaining momentum and it could easily be blamed on terrorists trying to turn you into a martyr.”

“Do I need to get out of here? What about the doctors and the rest of the staff?”

“They’ve all evacuated, but many have left originals here.”

“Oh, I think I have a headache,” I said, “why is nothing simple anymore?”

“I think we should evacuate and leave originals here.”

“That’s a terrible plan! We’d still be here to get blown up or whatever and I have nano robots in my head recording everything. They can’t go through the matter duplicator.”

“That’s OK, you haven’t had any in your head since you got dropped through the last MT in Tucson.”

“I... I’ve been through it?”

“Yes, I don’t know how many times, but you’ve been through at least several times. We even suspect there might be a duplicate of yours still in the hands of Trans Matters.”

“Trans Matters?”

“It’s the name of the company that owns each and every matter transmitter in the solar system.”

“And they’ve got one of me?”

“We think they might but this you has information you need to get back to... to... to them, out there,” she said, waving her hand vaguely skyward.

“OK, I’ll do it, but we’re disabling the zapper and we’re going to try to survive here, too.”

“Of course!”

We left the botanical garden area and entered the main facility which formed a sort of hexagon around the greenhouse, forming its side walls. We walked up, down, and around slowly sloping hallways and entered and exited a confusing number of elevators. I was glad Kira knew where she was going because I had no idea.

Eventually we came to an area that looked like a miniature version of the booth in the Honolulu terminal behind a door Kira had to get a security clearance through her net connection to open.

Kira worked on disabling the zapper and I tried to figure out what part of the hospital would be the best place to wait out a siege. A brief examination of the blueprints through Kira’s tap into the hospital computer system turned up an old safe room.

We went into the blue booth together, holding hands tightly. We got flashed by a bright blue light that left spots in our eyes and I clutched her hand fiercely and pulled her to me. We exited the booth when it pinged, not knowing whether we’d walk out somewhere else or still be in the hospital complex.

“Somehow I doubt you’d have slipped a man in a coffin the tongue,” I said, immediately regretting it.

— Kevin Capricorn Wang

© 2015 Kylyssa Shay

Will Kevin Bob and Kira Make It Out Alive?

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