਀ ਀ ਀ Facing Death਀ ਀ ਀
Facing Death
਀ By Brad Patten
਀ ਀


਀ Ethan Taylor sat on the plane to Chicago, the woman with him wasn't his wife, but one of the hospital nurses that had agreed to come along and make sure he made it back to the hospital. Her name was, Maranda DeCelio.

The main reason I had a nurse with me was because of my condition, I was dying of cancer, an extremely rare type of brain cancer. What was happening was that this cancer was making copies of brain cells and making new connections, and causing me to become smarter.

How smart, you might ask. Take the flight we are on, not only could I describe every person on the plane, who I saw. I can recall every sound and smell perfectly. While this might be a benefit, it was also quite nerve racking, I knew how many threads were in the blanket I had over me, and various other facts and observations. Mostly I tried to sleep on the plane, it would make my brain shut down for a while, but sleep was becoming harder and harder for me.

The flight lasted what seemed like an eternity. Maranda helped me to the hotel GenTech had set aside for me. I would be meeting with a number of doctors and researcher in the morning. My main concern was Maranda; she was here because I had offered her a job, not because of the hospital. You see this meeting with Gentech if all went well would net me ten million in cash and a perm ant interest in the company. I could make sure that those who helped me would and could be rewarded.

I won't go into the plans I have set in motion, or what my goals are, not yet at least. But this was a major stepping stone for me. If all went well there was a possibility I could undo the damage my poor body has suffered from my condition.

I knew every day I was facing death, every day was one more day I had to plan, I didn't need too many more and I knew, I could have many many more.

I sat in the Hotel room, Maranda had taken the rental car at my urging to get out see the city, and I convinced her I would be fine. I put on the suit and tie, it was painful and the sensations were intense, another side effect of my condition. Every nerve was over stimulated, sending more data that I needed, but this I pushed through, it seemed easier after a while. I knew I was kidding myself. Maranda arrived about an hour later and we drove to the meeting. I had my notes and laptop ready. I don't think they expected me to walk into the meeting, it was excruciatingly painful, but again it’s amazing what the human body and mind can endure to survive.

I finally relaxed in the chair and waited for the executives of Gentech to show up. I didn't have to wait long. "Forgive me if I do not stand, I am very tired from the flight and my condition. I understand you have question about the manufacturing process. I took the liberty of typing up detailed information. I also copied it to a digital format." I had given Maranda the notebook and CD to present to them.

"Mr. Taylor, you seem to have an impressive grasp of chemical and biological engineering. We have tried setting up a preliminary generation station, but all we get is green ooze, that is nothing like the samples that were sent. We were wondering if you could..."

I knew what the problem was, and it was something I had happen when I first started, "Change the copper insert, and make sure its gold plated. The copper is getting into the mix and contaminating it, gold will not react."

They made notes and one of them made a call giving the details of what to change.

Ethan waited thirty seconds and the phone rang, without waiting for the question he said, "make sure you still have a copper ring but gold plated, don't just put a solid gold ring in, it won't work. " The executive relayed the information and said. "How did you know"?

Ethan sighed, "I told you it took me six month to figure it out, now are you interested or not, I really am getting tired."

Two of the executives looked at a third, "We are not able to sign off on this until we get a workable product"

Ethan stared at the man breathing steady and looking him in the eyes. "Very well, I will see if your competitor is still interested."

"Wait, Mr. Taylor, You must understand we have some misgivings about the science involved", the CEO of Gen tech said.

Ethan stared at him waited, several heart beats and said, "The science is sound, and it works, I have the synthetic blood keeping me alive at the moment, if that’s not enough, then I think our business here is concluded"

------------------------------

I smiled as I walked out of GenTech, the check they had given me was a major step in the right direction, and while not a full ten million it was ten percent or a million dollars. It was a concession they finally agreed to. I gave them the information and they signed the contract my lawyer had drawn up. It would take at least a week or more to get a laboratory setup where I could work.

That evening before I sat on the edge of the bed, I needed another dose of my specialized medication, and the only thing keeping me going. The headaches were starting to get worse no doubt due to the density of the brain matter in my skull increasing; eventually the cranial pressure would kill me, unless I could implement my plan. The trip to the bank was uneventful; the woman didn't even bat an eyelash when I filled out the form for the check. The forms were of course standard practice for large banking. The rest of the money would be deposited in the next couple of days.

Mrs. DeCelio, the nurse came out of the bathroom. Even in the dim light I could make out deep bruises on her back. She went to the other bed and got under the covers. I was going to say something, when she asked me, "Why did you push them earlier for them to sign that contract."

"They were stalling, trying to figure it out without having to pay for it; I have patents pending in the system for the technology. If they can get it working without my help they can get it caught up in a legal case and wait for me to die, without anything being paid to me."

"So you were bluffing about taking it to that other company?" she asked.

"I never bluff, it’s a form of lying, and I can't afford at this stage to get caught up in a lie. Does your husband treat you well?" I asked, I knew this would cause one reaction if my observations were correct.

There was a long pause, and she turned away, "Goodnight"

I didn't reply, but I had my answer.

--------------------------

I sat awake, since sleep rarely came anymore. I listened as her breathing became more rhythmic and once I felt certain she was asleep. I got up and left the hotel.

I knew it was about eleven in the evening, and had to be sure that I got back within two hours.

I made to the nightclub that I was to meet up with a contact. I went inside after paying the cover charge, and tipping the bouncer fairly well. Heading to the bar, I found a seat and waited.

"What do you want?" The bartender asked.

Looking him right in the eye, I said, "Whatever the house special is"

He served up a glass of beer.

"You wouldn't happen to have any limes back there would you?" I asked after he filled the glass.

He gave me a look, and put a half slice of lime in a small dish next to my glass.

I didn't have to wait long, before I found what I was looking for. Near the bathrooms was a greasy dark haired punk. I could tell he was selling narcotics, and the two men on the far side of the club were more than likely DEA agents, as they watched him intently. So my guess was that this guy was bigger than he seemed. This was a good break, all I had to do was get rid of the DEA agents, and I would be able to contact him with a proposal.

I downed my drink and made my way towards the punk by the bathrooms. I looked towards the bathrooms and as I passed him, I said, "Looks like some feds are interested in what you’re doing." I continued into the bathroom.

I knew he would be right behind me, and more than likely the feds wouldn't be too far behind him.

I didn't have to wait to long as he came in, looking for a fight. I turned around and said to him. "If you have a gun I suggest you hand it over, the feds will more than likely come in if you don't go back out shortly." I waited for the tirade.

"Who the fuck do you think you are motherfucker?" He said drawing a small caliber gun from his waistband and pointing sideways, gangster style at my chest.

I took one breath and said to him in the calmest tone I could manage. "I am someone who has a job offer for you, but in about thirty seconds you're going to be arrested, however if I have your gun, drugs and money you will be out of police custody in a few hours. You can either trust me or don't."

I could see the hesitation, the doubt behind his eyes; I was also guessing that the federal agents would close in. I had to get him to go along with me or else, go looking for someone else best case or worse case suffer from a gunshot wound or death. "I’m not here to cheat you; I want to make you a job offer, if you’re interested. Meet me tomorrow evening in the Marriot hotel two blocks over."

I had been counting down; the Feds more than likely knew he wasn't going anywhere, just yet. "Tell you what Ill buy the gun from you and the rest of the
Drugs you have." I held out a ten hundred dollar bills. I could see the light go on in his head, as he relaxed.

"What’s to stop me from taking your money," He said, lowering his gun.

"Nothing, however I don't know if you will get a chance to spend it."

-----------------------------------------------

It was a bit after one when I got back into the hotel room. I took the gun out when I went into the bathroom. I hadn't planned on carrying the guys dope, cash and gun. This however made things more difficult and easier at the same time. I took a towel and rapped the items inside. I then put it between the mattress and box spring. This would be a good spot for a day until I could make more permant arrangements.

"You’re out late," Maranda said rolling over.

I felt the sweat start to bead on my forehead, and the shock of being caught red handed went right to the pit of my stomach. I didn't want her involved with what I was doing.

"I don't sleep much, I took a walk. I am sorry I woke you," was my quick reply.

"Umm, you want to talk about it," She asked.

I sighed, at this rate I had two options tell her everything or change the subject, I chose the later. “Not really, I was just concerned about you, is your husband treating you right."

I saw her stiffen for a moment, and knew I had struck a nerve.

"I’m going back to sleep," she said rolling over.


-------------------------
After Gentech had agreed to the payments I had decided to relocate to Chicago, as it was closer to Gentech and I really didn’t want to fly back. Maranda went home to Los Angels.

It took me the better part of the week to get a building I could use; it was part warehouse with areas for research as well as some underground connections to the sewer system. It didn’t cost me as much as I had expected.

I also made contact with the local criminal element, not only returning his firearm but a large amount of cash, for his cooperation. I was going to meet with him and several of his men that evening at my new lab.

I buzzed them into the building, He had brought three of his friends, and I brought them into the conference room I had setup for just such occasions.

"This the guy", one of his cronies said, He looked like he had some Indian heritage in his history as well as a good sampling of Hispanic or Mexican. He seems to be ready to start a fight at a moments notice.

"Yeah", He seemed pleased since the last couple of time we had met; his hair was a bit neater and his clothes cleaner.

"Miguel, it’s nice to see you again." I said seeing his cronies relax somewhat. With me wearing a medical coat seems to have them on edge.

"Yeah, I got some guys who might want to hear what you have to say Mr. T." He replied.

I looked over his crew, they seems to all be street punks and possible gangsters, not that I really cared. Miguel was still calling me that.

"Ok here is my proposal, you bring me a guy or girl who stays here for eight hours gets some medical tests and then they leave, I will pay you two grand per head, no questions asked as long as they are breathing and are not over thirty. I don't care how you get them here, but they must be gone after the tests."

"What kind of tests." on of his cronies asked?

"Nothing that will leave a scar, though if you want to volunteer you will have to be knocked out." I grinned back at him.

"No, no just asking" He said.

"Well it’s medical and complex and I don't have the time or energy to explain. That pretty much it, if you’re interested, you work it out with Miguel here, if you don’t call ahead you won't get paid till the next day."

After that they looked at each other and headed out.

--------Two weeks later --------

I haven't been idle, I had the building I bought renovated in a week’s time, it cost me a bit. The facilities I had setup appeared on first and second glance to be just exclusively for my comfort, this is how I wanted it to look. The Lab I had setup in one of the back rooms, was pretty well insulated from the outside, and the room was kept sterile as I could get it.

Maranada checked in on me every other day to see how I was doing, per the doctors orders, they knew I was going to die and I am guessing to make sure I didn’t croak and leave a body for some one else to find. She was being paid to come and check not by the hospital, but because of the contract I had with Genetech. She had gone back home earlier in the week. I would supposedly get someone to check up on me, but No one ever showed up, quite possibly because I didn't trust anyone else and let the suits at GenTech not to bother.

Of course Miguel and his cronies knew that once things got settled, that I wanted people to get genetic samples from, and on that note they had a ready supply of people to drop off and pick up after hours, very discreetly as you might imagine.

However when one of Miguel gang members showed up with Miguels younger sister, I think I was a bit perplexed.

"Mr. T she took some pills she thought they were candy."

Of course I didn't have formal medical training, but having spent the good part of a year in the hospital and being as bored as I had been it wasn't hard to make friends with some of the interns. I even went on rounds with them for three weeks before I was asked to stop. They didn't let me practice medicine, but the interns knew I was a walking encyclopedia of medical facts, thanks to them letting me borrow their books.

I mean even though I was acting like an intern, and trying to help people out, I did learn a lot about medicine and people in general. The doctor even said that if I could make the grades and take the courses, he wouldn't mind having me as an intern. I even managed to save a few lives while playing intern.

I checked over his sister, and because I also had testing equipment for my own research, finding out what she had taken was fairly easy. it was a stimulant most likely ecstasy or something similar.

"Mr. T you have got to save her, Miguel will kill me if anything happens to her. I was supposed to be watching her." He was shaking like a leaf and I imagine scared out of his mind.

"I need to know what she took." He fumbled in his jacket and brought out a package of what looked like candy. I took one of the tablets and went into my lab. After a few tests, I identified the compound as a form of ecstasy. Suffice to say I had something that would keep her alive while her system purged the drug.

I went back out to where they were, and gave her the injection. The effects would take a while; in the mean time I needed to defuse this as quickly as possible. "Call Miguel tell him what happened its better if he hears it from you and that she is going to be ok."

He looked like he was going to have a panic attack right there, "He'll kill me."

"No, he won't if you tell him what happened." I replied calmly.

It took him a bit to make the phone call, and he went outside, I didn't see him until three days later. Miguel did come in about twenty minutes after the phone call. "How’s my sister Mr. T" He asked.

"She will live, thanks to your friends quick thinking, if he had tried to go to a hospital she might have died. I don't mean from them misdiagnosing her, but because it may have been too late. She should be waking up shortly, I put her into one of the backrooms its quieter back there.

Needless to say everything worked out Miguel was a bit mad but not at me. I didn't know it but I think I made an impression on him and his gang. I didn't know how well until a week later when they parked black four by four in one of the bays. They had tweaked it out, and added a number of hidden compartments into the vehicle as well as state of the art electronics.

"Mr. T you saved my sister so I wanted to make sure you understand how much I appreciate it."

Because of my condition, I didn't drive. It wasn't because I couldn’t; mainly it was uncomfortable for me to do so.

It wasn't until I got a call on my cell phone from the doctor friend called.

"Ethan, I was wondering if you can pull some strings and get a pint or two of your synthetic blood?" He asked.

"I have a few extra here with me on site, you have a case that can benefit from it?" I asked because it would put it on a fast track to FDA approval if it was shown safe as well as a life saving. Unfortunately I wasn't really a good candidate for testing.


"Yes", he said I could hear the tension in his voice, "Its Maranda, she was just admitted about a half hour ago with lacerations and contusions. She’s lost a lot of blood, and I am not sure how long she will live with current infusions."

What he wasn’t saying is that the healing properties of the synthetic blood would more than likely increase hear odds for survival, as the fluid with a certain catalyst would gel and cause a clot, This was something that only myself the doctor and the heads of GenTech knew.

"I will have to make a few calls and see if I can get them to move her here, No promises, but I do have some pull with GenTech", I replied.

"Thanks Ethan," I could hear the tension drain as he said that, not to mention that he said my first name.

------------


After making several calls and exerting some pull I was able to get them to agree to move Maranda to Chicago, considering that I owed her, this was the least I could do. She had been the one to cheer me up when I had lost hope. Not to mention the fact that after talking with the Dr. Neelan I found out what had happened to Maranda.

It seemed that the local authorities were looking for her husband who had beaten her almost to death. She was lucky in that a fellow nurse was there to pick her up for work and saw her unconscious on the floor through the window. The police and paramedics removed her from the house and her husband was wanted for questioning.

It took the better part of the night, but she arrived at the main hospital where a Gentech medical team was waiting and began the transfusion of the synthetic blood. With the catalyst and synthetic blood she was out of the woods.

She didn't wake up for three days, and because of the beating she had received the doctors were not sure if she would ever wake up. When she did it was during the day when I had dropped in for an hour to check up on her and even though she was unconscious. I read to her out of a medical book she had given to me when I had been a patient where she worked.

I also found out that her husband had taken a fit and beaten her with a baseball bat and when she tried to defend herself with a kitchen knife he had slashed her with it. She was still shaking when she finished.

"Well you’re in Chicago, and I asked if they could give you some police protection. Your welcome to stay with me I have plenty of room."

------


Maranda took me up on the offer. After a week she was released from the hospital and she and came to the warehouse. I didn't know what her feelings about my experiments might be so I let Miguel know that for the next couple of days that I would be busy. I had a room setup for her and took her shopping so she would have some clothes. That night I took her out to dinner to talk about what happened.

"I don't know what set him off, I must have done something" she started to tell me.

"Doesn’t matter, there is no excuse to beat you almost to death, you just lucky your friend came by to pick you up." I replied.

"And that you were able to get me moved here, I don’t think he will find me here in Chicago, but he does have friends on the police force in Los Angels."

"Don’t worry about it, I have friends I can call if he does come around." I said toying with the half eaten steak.

"What do you want to do after this?" she asked, in a somewhat hushed tone. I of course missed the obvious queues. It wasn't until later that evening that I found out what she wanted to do. Because of my condition, I don’t sleep much anymore, so I left her in bed and went back to work. I got a call from Miguel that a subject was ready. I was almost done when she came into the room. "What’s going on here?" she asked. "I can explain," I said my mouth suddenly very dry.

After the subject was picked up, I sat down and explained what I was doing. With her medical knowledge she asked very pointed questions, and there was no way to weasel out of them. She left without a word, and took my Jeep. I didn’t see or speak with her for five days, but I also didn’t have any police making arrests. On the sixth day she showed back up with all her personal belongings crammed into the jeep.

"I thought you were mad at what I was doing." I said when she got out of the jeep.

She gave me a look, "I don't want to talk about it. What your doing isn't ethical, as well as legal. I don’t have anywhere else to go, and your not really hurting anyone." she then started unpacking and moving her stuff to the room

"No, I am not How else can I get the data I need? I am open to suggestions" I left the conversation open.

"I don't want to talk about it. Just drop it Ethan." She said closing the conversation.

"Do you need any help?" I asked tentatively.

"I got it go back to your other project, at least there your not hurting anyone" She said, and I could tell she was upset about something.

"What’s the matter?" I asked, I knew this was a mistake. She turned and glared at me. I could tell her gaze was softening. "I.. I um I'll tell you later. I just need to move this stuff, I’m ok" She said obviously lying.

"Ok, you know where I will be." I headed back to my robotics lab.

----------



I’m not sure what was going on with her, but I entered my lab intent on getting back to the robot I had been working on for months. I suppose I should have know she would have been followed, it never occurred to me that her husband would come after me.

"So your the other man", I of course turned towards the speaker there was a balding haired muscular man with a bit of a gut.

"Scuse me?", I asked, not sure what he was talking about.

"Don't play dumb", he said drawing out a small caliber handgun. "Your the one who’s been sleeping with my wife."

The pieces fell into place, This sleazy piece of shit was not only a wife beater but Mr DeCelio, the one person I really wanted to get my hands on. He had walked right into my lab. "Just the once after you tried to kill her. Not that its any of your business, but from what I hear you didn't like the divorce papers and beat her nearly to death. Your also holding me at gun point so I have every right to defend myself."

He laughed, "I don't see you having anything to defend yourself with." He pulled back on the hammer and I heard it click. "She mine and you cant take her away from me." I expected him to shoot, but at that moment Maranda said behind him, "I’m not yours, I never was." He turned and that’s when I moved, I one fluid motion I had the syringe in my hand and popped off the needles cap and injected him with enough of Depixol to put him out for several hours.

He of course hit me with the handle of the gun and tried to get a shot off. I stumbled from the pain and dropped to the floor. The shot missed and hit somewhere in the lab throwing up a shower of glass. My head throbbed and the pain was excruciating, so much so that it was several minutes before I could focus on anything else. I dropped the syringe as I fell and it rolled under the lab bench. I heard him collapse in a heap and the gun clatter to the floor. Maranda was there helping me back to my feet.

"Are you all right?" She asked.

I regained my composure and looked at the wife beater lying on my lab floor. "Maranda, I think you should leave." My tone was stone cold.

"What are you going to do?" She asked.

"Its better you don't know, what does he drive?" I asked.

"A black firebird, it should be close by, but he has an alarm on it." She said, stating the obvious.

"Go shopping, do something, but don't come back for at least three hours, I should have this cleaned up by then", I said unclipping my cell phone; I was making the call before she started to turn. "Miguel, give me a call when you get this?" I said leaving a message. I gently grabbed her before she could leave. "Do you want to get rid of him?"

She shook her head no, and I could tell she was crying. I gave her a hug from behind. "He will never hurt you again, I promise." She turned into me and sobbed into my shirt.

I led her out of the room picking up the revolver and pulled the clip. I led her back to the four by four that was still partially unloaded. "Three hours, that’s all I need, take your cell phone."

She was a bit calmer and got into the four by four and left.


It took about two hours to get done what I wanted to do. Miguel and his cronies took care of the body as well as his Trans-am he was dumb enough to leave parked out front.

She came back a little over three hours later. She seemed calmer than when she left.

I could see she wanted to know what I had done. After several minutes of silent tension she asked. "What did you do to him?" She asked.

I smiled, "Like I said, he will never touch you again. He seemed to be in a bad state when my friends dragged him out of here."

"What did you do?" she asked again

"Oh nothing, nothing at all. I didn't kill him if that’s the question, but he was so kind to volunteer. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to study" I continued to smile at her.

"WHAT DID YOU DO?" She asked one more time.

"I got rid of him, what more do you want to know?" I said dropping the grin. "You wanted to tell me something earlier and I was to distracted to listen, what’s up?"

She seemed to change gears, and said softly, "I'm pregnant."

Now I had had two shocks today, and I was still a bit high from the deed I had done. so it didn’t register at first. "That’s nice, so who’s the daddy?" I said jokingly.

"You are", she said.

"C’mon, we only did it that" The sudden realization finally registered., "One time."

She just nodded.

It took an hour or so for me to stop hugging her and holding her and then hugging her again. It was quite possible that my son or daughter might hold the key to my cure.

I also forgot about Mr. DeCelio until later that night. Where i continued my new experiment. "Subject number one, seems to be responding well to the brain mapping, perhaps in a day or two I will see if its possible to use some of the interface chip I bought to get a working brain map program working."

The brain sat in its own self-contained vat of synthetic blood. All it all it was a good day; I had faced death one more time and walked away.