His life has now been forever altered. Can Sean and his newfound friends stay one step ahead of a power hungry secret organization and an immortal madman from a war long since over.
Utopia is the first installment of the Gifted Series. A down to earth super-heroic tale of intrigue, conspiracy, action, romance and much more. Show Less
“C'mon, already.” he muttered under his breath. It had been at least two hours since they had taken his blood and then just left him waiting in there. There were none of the typical magazines or brochures or anything really to pass the time with - just the steady ticking of the clock on the wall. He had resorted to reading the only poster in the room about three times now. A medical poster - a diagram of the lungs with captions and information pertaining to asthma and other respiratory ailments, he knew it almost by heart at this point.
He really regretted going to the doctor's office now. There wasn't anything really wrong with him. In fact, there never had been - ever! Since he was a child, he had never experienced so much as a common cold. It was just how weirded out the event had made him that sent him to seek some medical explanation.
It had been a typical vacation in upstate New York at his family's cabin retreat. He had been there many times fishing with his father when he was still alive. His breakup with his girlfriend had prompted him to get out of the city for a week, and the cabin had always lifted his spirits. This was only the second time he had visited the place since his father died a few years ago. The first time was to retrieve some items that his father had willed to a good friend - the odd fishing rod and reel, and a couple of old hunting rifles. That trip was in and out - this time melancholy sank in as soon as he arrived. His father's things were still everywhere - a reminder of the loss he still hadn't yet come to terms with. This would probably be the last time he would come to the cabin he told himself, as he settled in for some alone time.
Only two nights had passed when he awoke from a deep sleep in a panic. Maybe it was a stray ember from the fireplace or some other mishap, but he awoke on fire. The whole cabin was beginning to become ablaze, and there he was in his bed, roasting. He hadn't felt the heat while he was asleep, but once awake, he was aware of it. It was surprisingly tolerable, even though the sheets he was wrapped snugly in were engulfed - and so was he. He made a mad dash outside and rolled upon the dew-soaked ground until the fire had been extinguished. It had to be a dream. It just had to be. A neighbor or someone seeing the orange glow in the night sky must've called the fire engines, and when they arrived, he knew he was very much awake and unscathed, with not so much as a blister upon his entire body.
He didn't tell the firemen about his wondrous experience. He really didn't know yet how to put it into words or even if he could believe that it had happened at all. A week passed, and then another and he found himself sitting in his apartment with a book of matches. He lit one and held it until it burned down to his fingers and eventually out. There was not a mark on him. The heat was akin to standing in front of an overly warm heater or an open oven, and the flame itself didn't scar him in the least. It freaked him out!
That is why he had gone to the doctor. That's why he was now regretting it. He must've sounded like a madman ranting about being fireproof. Maybe he was crazy. Maybe he had snapped and was living in a dreamworld of his own whimsy. He definitely shocked the doctor with his match demonstration when he repeated it in the examination room. A few calls were made and he was sent to this “specialist,” where he now found himself waiting. He didn't like this new doctor, who had taken his blood and now left him waiting for an eternity.
Dr. Irving Mann was a short, pale round-faced man with very porcine features. He had more of a snout than a nose and big thick glasses that magnified his squinty grey eyes. He was rude and seemed to ask a hundred questions all in one breath. Sean had given them enough of his time he estimated, and it was time to go. Whatever was wrong with him didn't seem fatal, and he had enough.
He listened for a moment, and hearing nothing in the hallway, attempted to open the door to leave. Locked! What? Why is the door locked? He was beginning to get angry, then it hit him… what if I'm contagious? What if what's wrong with me is a precursor to something worse? A million thoughts raced through his mind.
Almost another hour passed before Dr. Mann finally returned. He shuffled into the room with his clipboard and his glasses pulled down low over his nose. He stood for a minute and then addressed Sean.
“I'm waiting for your blood analysis to wrap up. It shouldn't be too much longer. So what do you think is happening to you, Sean?” he said dryly.
“I don't know,” Sean shot back. “I came to you. Aren't you supposed to know? The cabin fire I could maybe have come to accept as dumb luck, but the matches… it's really got me scared. Am I going to be okay? I want to know what the hell's wrong with me?”
“So do we, Sean.”
“You don't have a clue, do you?”
“I've been in conference calls with some of my peers. We won't have any conclusions until we are done with the workup on your blood. It won't be long.”
“Well, can't I go? Why's the door locked?”
“This is not a typical hospital. This is mostly a research center. Just relax you’re in a very secure facility. We have some labs here that are contracted out to do work for the government. It's simply a security protocol to keep non-accompanied guests or patients sequestered in their rooms. I promise, give us the time to finish your blood work, and we can conclude this.”
Dr. Mann turned and quietly exited the room. Sean listened for it and heard the door being locked. What had he gotten himself into? Was he going to be a lab rat - or a guinea pig? He regretted all of this already. Why did something so stupid have to happen to him? It wasn't like having this gift, if that's what it was, would be all that bad. Maybe he had a career as a firefighter ahead of him or, with his terrible kind of luck, some carnival sideshow. He could see it now. Come one! Come all! See the fireproof man! He couldn't help but chuckle to himself at that - if only in resignation.
Linda Grey sat at the lab table thumbing through a stack of papers. Even though she held more PhDs than half the staff combined, she still considered herself just a researcher. Her red hair belied her bookish nature, while her slender and buxom frame also did well to hide her calculating intellect. She had just set her reading glasses down when Dr. Mann entered the room.
“Have you read it all?” he asked.
“My god, yes,” she replied. “This is extraordinary. It's almost as if the boy's blood cells are almost cancerous - they’re devouring one another, yet at the same time they are regenerating.”
“Yes, I know. His blood cells are constantly being destroyed and recreated at an exponential rate. It's something we have never seen before,” Dr. Mann elaborated. “I would hazard a guess that his entire cellular makeup is identical. It's not that he doesn't burn at the touch of fire; it's that his body adapts to the fire and, for the time he is in contact with the flame, considers that the norm and maintains it. At least that's what I'm theorizing.”
“It is amazing,” she responded. “If this is true of his entire cellular makeup, then Sean could conceivably adapt himself to any environment as well as heal at an extraordinary rate. With a few of his stem cells this could revolutionize medicine or even lead to cures for almost any disease - cancer, leukemia, AIDS - you name it.”
“I'm aware of that. It would be ideal if we could do more tests or get skin or hair samples and do a biopsy, but he's due to get picked up at any moment now.”
“Yes, Dr. Grey. Once I read the workup on his blood, I made some calls. There are other people who are more equipped to deal with him - people who have been looking for someone such as this for a long, long time. People that I don’t fail to add use to employ me.”
“You’re talking about your old government job, the one you had before you came to this facility, aren’t you? You're going to make him a guinea pig for some government lab coats with no conscience and no oversight?”
“I've been granted permission to oversee Sean's further examinations. In essence, I've been rehired - effect immediately. Since I will be leaving, I will announce you as the new head of this facility in a day or two. I would not leave you to dwell upon this if it did not in some way benefit us both, Dr. Grey.” he stated proudly.
“Well, good for you!” she spat. “This sounds like some kind of men-in-black scenario. You know neither of us will ever see that boy again.”
“I assure you, Dr. Grey, that I will oversee the boy's well-being. This isn't some fascist state where people are just whisked off the streets to never be seen again.”
He continued on with renewed passion. “Don’t you see this is something new? Something we need to see further. Something the people I now work for once again can only help in. We're unequipped here to do much else but proclaim the boy healthy and let him go.”
“Maybe that's what we should do.”
“Trust me. If you're worried about getting credit for any discoveries that come out of this, I’ll see to it that you do.”
“It's not that at all. He came to us for help. I saw him in the lobby when he arrived, he looked scared as hell. He didn't ask for any this.”
“Yes, and we are going to help him - one way or another.”
Dr. Mann casually collected the paperwork on the lab table and slinked out of the room. Ms. Grey sat in silence for a short while before she finally picked up her cellphone and placed a call.
“Yes? Klaus?” she asked when the line was answered. “Okay. Look, I think I found something that can help your friend with his problem.”
She listened intently while getting up to make sure that the lab room's door was locked.
“You won't believe it. But I have no doubt it could lead to something that could do what he needs it to do for him. I'm going to sneak some of this boy's blood out and run some more tests with my lab setup at home, but, yes, I am confident this might be x-factor for the cure he's been looking for.” She paused to hear the reply. “Yes, I said blood. Look, I'll explain tomorrow. Meet me where we had that wonderful dinner last week. Um, that Italian place - Sitio's? Yeah, there, I gotta go.”
Sean was there for five hours now. His body ached. The only chair in the room was hard and stiff. The examination table was equally unforgiving. He had banged on the door once and called out not long after Dr. Mann had left him the last time, but no one responded or came. He was getting hungry now, too. He was considering giving banging and yelling another shot when he heard the door unlatch. Two suited gentlemen and Dr. Mann entered.
“Ah, Sean.” Dr. Mann started. “I was really hoping that the results of your blood work would show us something, well, positive and that we could let you go home. We're going to have to do some more testing. Testing that we are not capable of doing at this facility. I've arranged everything. All will be taken care of. These men will escort you to…”
“Wait a minute!” Sean stood up. “What is this? I just want to go home.”
“You can't go home, Sean. We have to see this through. What is happening to you is something I can't quite explain. We need experts on this - more experts.”
“You can't keep me. I'm not sick, and I'm pretty sure I'm not dying, so you can’t keep me. There's nothing wrong with me.”
“There is though, and we desperately need to find out what it is. Don't make this more than it has to be. It will only be for a few days, I promise you. You have my word.”
Sean bit hard on his bottom lip and after a few seconds of deliberation made a break for the door. He only had a glimpse of the hallway before the two men had him on the floor. His arm was being twisted behind his back and the weight of both men seemed to suffocate him. For a second he also thought he saw that one of them had a gun on their belt.
“Sean, please,” Dr. Mann pleaded. “No one's going to hurt you. As a patient in my care, I can keep you if it's a detriment to your safety to allow you to leave, and I assure you it is.”
“You're hurting me!” Sean shouted as he writhed beneath the two suited men. One man fumbled for something in his jacket pocket.
“Calm down, please, Mr. Miller.” Mann asked, as if using Sean's last name would somehow make him more pliable to the circumstances.
“Just let me go, dammit! What have I done?”
A stream of liquid sprayed across Sean's face. The man who had fumbled with his pocket had maced him. Sean shook his head unfazed. He could smell the capsaicin and other ingredients, but it did not burn, it did not stun. He wasn't surprised. The two men were. They were putting something around his wrists now. Restraints? Zip-tied plastic cuffs. Sean struggled for a moment, but he was now bound. A moment seemed like eternity until Dr. Mann appeared before him with a syringe. Panic and fear raced throughout Sean's body, but he could not move. The men still held him firm, and now his hands were bound behind his back. Then the good doctor injected him, and the world slowly slid into darkness.
Sean awoke strapped to a gurney. His body jostled and swayed and he knew he was in the back of an ambulance or van. He raised his head as far as he could. A grated cage separated him from the driver's compartment and, aside from the man that had tried to mace him sitting on a small bench to his right and the driver, he was alone.
Sean struggled with his bindings and the man took notice.
“Calm down, son.” he said.
“How long have I been out?” Sean asked groggily.
“About an hour or so. The doctor gave you a strong but short-acting sedative,” the man said dryly. “We've had to use it before. It normally lasts twice as long, but I guess the doctor didn't give you the whole injection. And, if you're curious, there are no side effects other than that massive headache you must be feeling right about now.”
The man grinned and checked the straps that held Sean fast. He seemed to clinch them even tighter out of some malicious joy. Sean thought for a moment. He didn't have a headache at all. He felt fine. Fine, and extremely angry and anxious.
“I'm going to sue all of you!” he spat in defiance.
“Yeah, I'm sure you are,” the man cajoled. “You don't even know who we are.”
“I'm suing Dr. Mann…! I'm suing the medical center…! I'm suing…” Sean was cut off as the van seemed to suddenly go off-road. It seemed to bounce from side to side, and just as he locked eyes with his guard and captor, it capsized. The man flew over him and crashed into the driver's side wall and the gurney overturned. If not for Sean's captor cushioning the blow, Sean might have broken his neck in his confined state. The man was not so lucky. As Sean focused his eyes, he could see that the man stared into space blankly over his right shoulder. His head sat at an odd angle - his neck broken. His days of tightening gurney straps were at end.
The whole crash took only a few seconds, even though to Sean it played out in slow motion. He listened for any sound from the cabin of the van and heard none. Then there came a sound. The groaning and squealing of metal and the rear doors burst opened suddenly. The light flooded the dim inside of the rear of the van. It blinded him. All he could see were shapes. Several of them were moving toward him. He felt the straps give way and a set of strong hands hoist him up and over a shoulder, and then consciousness left him again.
Thank you for reading and +voting for my JukePop serial! It’s readers like you that help keep my serial alive.
If you have a couple minutes, would you be so kind as to donate to help support me as I continue to write this amazing story for you.
Simply click the "Support Author" button. Thanks in advance for your support!