Your Personal Best, a Science Fiction Story, Part 3
Read Part One First for Optimum Reading Enjoyment
- Your Personal Best, a Science Fiction Story - Part One
Megan's dreams are full of floating bubbles of blood and her origin is unknown, but her life has been completely ordinary right up until now. She'll never see herself the same again after this.
Part Three: The End of the Beginning
I was blindsided by it. My animal testing had given no indication. Sammy already loved me with all her heart and, if mice get lovesick, who could even tell? All the evidence put together looked like very single one of my human patients had fallen in love with me.
I knew I would need more confirmation before I shared my theory with Mark. I managed to set up a meeting with Anne Vandenberg, the patient I had missed at home. I prayed I was wrong. I wasn’t. Poor Anne was head over heels for me despite being a conservative, married heterosexual woman.
I don’t think I ever drove to Mark’s house as slowly as I did that night. I rehearsed what I would say over and over until I got it wrong in a dozen different ways, thinking of the look on Anne’s face when I just tried to disengage myself from our conversation. By the time I was walking in the front door on auto-pilot I had completely forgotten any truly useful ideas I might have had to spare his feelings.
Mark greeted me with a hug, which I accepted somewhat stiffly before melting into it.
“What’s wrong, Meg?”
I considered not telling him for about five and a half seconds as I inhaled his scent and soaked in the heat of his breath on my hair. But I’d done my grieving on the way over.
“The healing, it did something to you, Mark.”
“I know, it saved my…”
“No, stop; I’m serious. This, us, I mean... what we’re feeling, it’s not real.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” asked Mark, his eyebrows raised in confusion, forming brand new wrinkles on his brow.
“You don’t really love me; it’s just a side-effect!”
“We’ve gone over this. Yes, I’m grateful you healed me…”
“No. Listen to me. Healing you caused you and everyone else to love me.”
“Wait, what? How did that kill the Eckhardt girl? I feel fantastic. Why am I still fine?”
“Think about it, Mark, you’ve got me. You know what you are longing for and you’ve been able to have it.”
“I think I’m beginning to see, and I don’t like it one bit.”
We talked through the night and I called in to my job at the flower shop in the morning. Something intangible changed that night but most of it was actually very good, despite all the tears from both of us. One thing we concluded about my power was that, while the side-effects were daunting, I couldn’t just give up on it. Broken hearts get better with time, end stage cancer doesn’t.
Another thing we concluded was that we should take a break in our relationship.
Two days later, Mark called me at six in the morning, just as I was on my way out the door with Sammy for her first walk of the day.
“Hi, Meg, I hope you don’t mind if I stop by before you leave for work this morning, I have a surprise for you.”
“I don’t know if I want any more surprises, Bud.”
“Just withhold your judgment until you see it.”
“And when will that be?” I asked.
“In just about sixty seconds, we’re almost there.”
I stayed on the phone with Mark as I stood on the front steps with Sammy tugging at her leash. A big, modern-looking mobile home parked in front of my house blocking my view of the street. Seconds later, Mark pulled his car far into my driveway. A white pickup truck driven by a red-faced man dressed in a baseball cap pulled in right behind him.
Mark got out of his car and met up with the driver of the RV who handed him a plastic clipboard with something to sign. Mark handed back the clipboard and pen and the two men shook hands. The driver of the motor home got in the passenger side of the company truck and it backed out of the driveway. I must have dropped Sammy’s leash because she was no longer by my side but sniffing, and likely peeing on, the shiny, expensive-looking recreational vehicle.
“So what do you think?” asked Mark.
“The sky is blue, ice is cold, and chocolate tastes good.”
“I mean about the motor home.”
“Seriously? What do you plan to do with it?”
“How else are you going to travel all over the place healing diseased tykes?”
“Stay in hotels, I guess, get a new job in a different city every few months. I didn’t really think about the details that much.”
“Geez, Meg, you’re not Bruce Banner. I guess that’s what you need me for!”
“Mark, I thought we agreed to take a break.”
“This is a break,” Mark said, putting the keys to the motor home into my hand.
“This way you can take Sammy with you and you won’t need to worry about finding pet-friendly hotels.”
“But I can’t accept this; it’s way too much.”
“I quite literally owe you for the rest of my life. And I want you to be safe and happy. I’ve been doing a lot of research since we’ve been talking about this.”
“I’m listening,” I said when he paused for just a bit too long.
“Well, keeping in mind all of the rules you came up with, you know, no old folks unless they can get a new identity, no adults without a strong support structure…”
“Cut to the chase, Mark.”
“OK, I’ve set it up so that you should be able to heal one person every forty-eight hours if you want to.”
“How did you do that?”
“I’ve been locating candidates from the moment you expressed the desire. I have enough lined up that you could keep healing for six months.”
He leaned into his car and pulled out his laptop to show me the screen.
He pointed at the screen, “See there? That thick red line? That’s your route, and those green dots are candidates, arranged in order of time sensitivity.”
“But how can I keep the tank full and still heal people that often? I won’t be able to hold down a job.”
“Meg, I think we can agree this is your job. No one else can do it and you really want to.”
“I’ll cover it, Meg.”
He cut me off again, “I’ve said it before, I literally owe you…”
“For the rest of your life. Yeah, I get it.”
I drove into work and put in my two weeks notice at the flower shop.
I’ve traveled around the country with Sammy, doing hit and run healings. Mark and I came to the conclusion that, once out of my presence long enough, Mark found he only had gratitude and friendly love for me. But gratitude for his life, friendship, and a belief in my cause were enough for him to bankroll my mission.
While no one has to pay for my services, some have been generous in their appreciation. Mark claims I’m now self-supporting though the money is still funneled through his accounts. He also still maps my travels so I can heal one person every 48 hours most of the time.
I heal mostly children now because it seems to be safest. With parental consent and care, they get the follow-up treatment they need. Occasionally I make exceptions and heal adults when someone takes responsibility for their emotional well-being afterward.
All of us are damaged goods.
Our ability to reach our full potential is already disturbed before we’re even born. Our mother’s health, her age, her diet, the antibodies and hormones in her womb all play a part in our health; they impact our longevity and vigor. The trauma of birth itself causes us harm, quite dramatically in some cases. It causes cerebral palsy, mental retardation and a host of other problems, but fortunately most of us get off much lighter. Viruses and illnesses we suffer, injuries, our diet, our habits and our environments damage us even more. Living itself wears down our genes until they can no longer faithfully reproduce.
Not only do we have potential curled up in our genes, we also have destruction hiding in there as well. We have genes that are harmful to us. In those of us who are lucky, those genes aren’t turned on but most of us only stay lucky so long. Eventually, something gets to us, cancer, autoimmune disease, kidney disease, or some other deadly beast.
I have the power to undo all of that damage, restore genes to their most perfect state in every cell of a person’s body, and to turn off all of those monsters hiding in the DNA. But there’s a catch.
The process of reaching into every cell of a body and healing its DNA is so intimate that it creates a profoundly powerful emotional bond between me and the recipient. Somehow, I become etched into the subject’s brain chemistry like an addiction.
Maybe my ability doesn’t have to make people fall in love with me; maybe it’s just a side effect of healing a creature I love profoundly on my very first try, I don’t know. In any case, my horizons have expanded more than I ever imagined.
© 2015 Kylyssa Shay