Evan Lanway was a kleptomaniac. There really was no other way to explain it. He was simply a kleptomaniac, a fact that frustrated his parents, and his older brother, as well as teachers and school counselors. He had a feeling he would be frustrating people with it all his life. Of course his own stature didn't help, as he was a small boy who seemed to be quite unnoticeable at times. He wondered if he was invisible at times. On one occasion he had been sitting in a chair in plain view of anybody standing in the room with him, and his mother had come into the room asking, "Where is Evan?"
If being a kleptomaniac wasn't enough, he was also stuck with an insatiable curiosity. Ever since he was little, he loved going new places to see knew things. The first day of school, he managed to escape the kindergarten classroom - his parents hadn't put him through preschool - to go wandering throughout the school building. A very flustered art teacher had finally caught him just before he walked into the kiln room. Of course not being allowed to go into the kiln room then had only fired up his curiosity even more. Every chance he got he tried to go to escape to see what was in the kiln room. He knew it was dangerous, he knew that if he got locked in there he would die a fiery death. That wasn't what concerned him, he wanted to see what was in there.
In the end, he never got to see what was in the kiln room. He went on to middle school, and now High school. His curiosity was still as great as ever, and given the present situation with his brother, it was enhanced even further. The mere fact that he may have contracted some African disease, this Yaounde virus, made his little psyche even more eager to see what was going on. Of course he had been to the doctor's office many times. Dr. Ryan was nothing new. The office however, always held a little sense of mystery to it, as if within it's walls some monstrous experiment was taking place. If he just opened the right - or wrong depending on how he looked at it - door, then the secret to life would be revealed to him, or something of unbelievable worth and value would present itself to him, asking for him to take with him.
When they arrived there, his parents met with Dr. Ryan, who was accompanied by several men in what looked like yellow space suits, completely sealed off from the air about them. The rest of the doctor's office was sealed off as soon as they arrived, to prevent contamination by any little virus. Dr. Ryan was talking with one man who appeared to be about his height and a few inches, and of slim build. He and Dr. Ryan approached the Lanways.
The man in the anti-bacterial suit looked to Mr. Lanway and smiled beneath the Plexiglas of the faceplate, "I'm Dr. Samuel Morgenstern of the CDC. And you are?"
"Dr. Marcus Lanway." his father replied.
"Doctor eh?" Morgenstern seemed surprised. "What field?"
"Astronomy." Mr. Lanway replied. "I teach Physics and Astronomy at George Mason University."
"Like to look at the stars then?" Morgenstern asked.
"Of course." Mr. Lanway gave a forced smile. He patted the left side of his sports coat which bulged slightly. "I always carry around my brass telescope that my parents gave me when I was a kid."
Morgenstern smiled, "We all have those little things we treasure. Speaking about treasures, which one is Jacob?"
"Jacob." Mr. Lanway called, and Jacob - already as tall as his father - stepped forward. His father was of medium build, with a lean face accented by a bushy mustache, which already had specks of white. His otherwise blonde hair was parted to the left, and was cut short just behind his neck.
Jacob looked Morgenstern over. His face seemed distorted by the faceplate, and he could make out very little of what he looked like. "What's wrong with me doctor?"
"Well, we're going to find out." Morgenstern assured him. "Don't you worry about a thing. Dr. Harris and Dr. Simpson here will get you ready for the tests." He gestured to the two men whose expressions seemed rather stolid. They led Jacob down the hall into another room; Dr. Ryan accompanied them. Morgenstern then looked to his parents again, "If you'll just wait here, we'll see if your son does have what we fear."
"Will he die?" Mrs. Lanway asked, her eyes pleading. It looked like she had been crying. It looked like she might begin to cry at anytime as well.
"It's not likely. If he does have the Yaounde virus, we will have caught it soon enough for the antidote to take effect. If it had been another week, then I'm afraid there is nothing we could have done." Morgenstern told them in his urbane manner.
"What about us?" Mr. Lanway asked. "Are we going to have to be tested as well?"
"Since none of you have shown any symptoms, it really won't be necessary. We'll supply you with the antidote as well just to be safe. However, we won't give it to you until we're sure of whether or not your son Jacob actually has contracted Yaounde. Now if you'll just wait right here, I'll administer the tests. It should take me an half-hour at the most."
Mr. Lanway nodded his arm about his wife's shoulder, helping her to sit down in the available chairs. She laid her head on his shoulder, and he comforted her, trying to aleve her worries. Evan milled about, watching as the men in spacesuits disappeared into the room.
Jacob Lanway was made to lie down on a table. It wasn't cushioned, and the only thing that separated him from the metal was a thin sheet of paper. He was also very hot. He was sweating a little bit, not too much, but he, dressed only in shorts and a tank top, felt like he was in the desert. The two men who had led him into the room intimidated him slightly. He wasn't sure whether it was there size, the bright yellow suits they were wearing, or the fact that neither one of them spoke to him, or replied to anything he said, other than to give him instructions.
So, sullenly, and sweating, he lied down on the examination table. His tank top and shorts were lying on the chair beside him, as they had made him take them off. Dr. Ryan was watching all with that concerned look in his eye, and a tad bit confused. He saw them open up a briefcase, and he was looking inside. Jacob couldn't tell what he was thinking, but he knew that Dr. Ryan was not altogether pleased by what he saw. Then one of the men, Simpson he thought, got in his way, and began to apply a cotton ball to his arm. Before Jacob could say anything, he had been pierced by a hypodermic needle where his arm had been dabbed.
It took only a second, but soon the entire room began to get hazy, everything seemed indistinct, and there was a fog about his mind. He could hear the voices about him, but they really didn't make sense. He could distinguish the words, understand their individual meaning, but not the context in which they were spoken.
Another figure entered the room, and he heard voices about him. "He's ready Morgenstern."
He felt a bit of pressure to his stomach, and then nothing. There was a liquidy feeling. He looked down at himself, there was a small incision in his stomach, and the hands of a man were in the way, feeling about inside him. Although he could see it, and he knew what was going on, he could not make sense of it.
"He has the secondary epidermal layer. Has the storm up at the station abated?"
"Asgaard's assistant called this morning to tell you it had; she said that Asgaard...."
"Don't worry about him. Prepare our plane for launch, have them radio ahead that we have another inmate."
"What's going on?"
"Oh, Jacob just has the Yaounde virus that's all. However, he has it at an advanced stage, more so than we realized, we are going to have to put him in a special quarantine location until the antidote has the time to take effect."
"You said virus. You don't use an antidote on a virus, you use a vaccine." Jacob looked and saw the rather indistinct figure of Dr. Ryan backing away form them. "You aren't real doctors are you?"
"Of course not. But you are in reality exposed to this virus and you need the antidote." Jacob saw the speaking-man pass a syringe filled with a bright blue liquid to one of the other men. "Harris, would you administer the antidote to Dr. Ryan here before he starts frothing at the mouth."
Jacob saw Ryan try to run out the door, but Harris moved swiftly over to him, gripping him by the arm, and swinging him into front of him. He saw the pained expression on Ryan's face as the syringe was pumped directly into him. Jacob watched, completely detached, bemused really, as Ryan crumpled to the floor, the syringe now empty in Harris's hands. Out from Ryan's mouth came a mix of saliva and gastric juices.
"Too bad, I guess we were too late. Go take care of his family as well. We are finished here with this one."
Suddenly, Jacob heard a rather strident ringing, and he saw the one man reach into his briefcase and pull out a small box. Expanding it, and pulling it apart, he began to talk into it.
"Ah, Dr. Henry Houck, what a pleasant surprise. And how are you today?" The man made a gesture to the other two men, and they stood stock still, the syringes with the bright blue fluid already in their hands.
There was a moment of silence, and then he continued, "Too bad. I'm really very sorry to hear that." Then suddenly, he switched into a different language, Jacob couldn't understand a word of it, plus he wasn't even able to tell what language it was in. He really couldn't even figure anything out about it. In that time he just blanked out, looking down at his stomach, which had been stitched shut. The blood was still there, pooled about him, but it really wasn't all that much.
"All right then, it was a pleasure as always to talk with you. Good day." The man set the object down, on the shelf by the door, and then looked back at Jacob. He turned to the two men "Dr. Hemley has passed away. He was in a multiple car accident."
"What else did Houck say?" Harris asked.
"Nothing you need to worry about. I think it's time we took care of his family now don't you?"
"What about the other staff here?"
"Who cares about them? They'll find the bodies, but by then it will already be too late. And remember the old adage, 'Dead me tell no tales.' "
For Evan Lanway, seeing Dr. Ryan killed so cold-heartedly had made him nearly squirm enough to bolt from the crack in the door and leave. However, his curiosity once again got the better of him. He stayed right until he thought it better not to. He knew immediately from the tone of Dr. Morgenstern's voice that he was going to have them killed, just like he killed Ryan. Of course he had to tell Mom and Dad, and they had to get out of here, but something inside him told him to stay.
It had been easy enough slipping away form his parents to go and watch to see what they were going to do to Jacob; it just was a matter of staying out of sight. The door was open a crack, and so he watched and listened form the crack. He had to duck out of sight when Morgenstern, who had been walking absent-mindedly about the room as he talked on his cellular phone, had walked right past the door. However, when he passed, Evan looked back in, and saw him put his phone down right on the shelf next to the door. The temptation was too much. Evan snaked his arm between the crack, and extracted the phone. He then walked swiftly back to his parents.
"Mom, Dad, they're going to kill us." Evan spoke in a whisper so as not to alarm the men in spacesuits.
"What?" his Dad asked, confused.
"They killed Dr. Ryan, said they were giving him the antidote. But it killed him."
"Your just imagining things." his father concluded.
"No I'm not, they're going to come and kill us." Evan repeated, getting frantic, and looking back at the doorway he had been listening at.
"What about Jacob?" his Mom asked.
"They want to fly him to some far off research station. They didn't say why."
His father looked thoughtful then, and then reached inside his jacket pocket and pulled out his telescope. It was made of highly polished brass, about a foot long, with lenses at either end. He cupped it in his hands, and then slid it up his right sleeve. "Just in case." he told Evan, and then looked up at the men coming out the door.
His father stood up, and so did his mother, her fit of sorrow over, the grip of fear felt on all of them. They tried to look cool, but they could not, the idea that they might be killed set too heavily on their mind.
Morgenstern was walking at the head of the group, and he had a grave expression on his face, "I'm sorry, but your son does have the Yaounde virus. We're going to have to give you the antidote just to make sure."
"You're not really doctors are you?" Marcus asked.
"Of course we are." Morgenstern remarked, bemused. "What makes you think we are not?"
"Where's Dr. Ryan?" Marcus asked, eyeing the two men standing beside Morgenstern suspiciously.
"We had to put him under, he had a nervous breakdown. Nothing serious, he'll be up in a day or so."
"Don't bother lying, my son was listening at the door." Marcus added.
Those words caused Morgenstern's whole demeanor to change. "Well, in that case, I'm awfully sorry to have to do this. It must be terrible being victims of circumstance." He motioned for the two men to move forward with the syringes with the bright blue fluid already in their hands.
Marcus then acted. He slid the telescope out form his sleeve, and swung it hard against the first one's head. The man stumbled backward, crashing into Morgenstern, who looked genuinely surprised. Marcus then swung at the second man, feeling the adrenaline pumping through him. The second man hadn't even seen the first attack, and also felt the crack of the brass telescope connect with his head. The three men stumbled to the ground, Morgenstern climbed over the two men holding their heads in their hands, and jumped at Marcus, but Marcus had already moved to the side. Mrs. Lanway kicked Morgenstern in the stomach as he hurtled past her, and then kicked him again.
Marcus then grabbed her arm, and that of Evan's and dashed out of the room, and the doctor's office, leaving it and their son behind. He shoved them into their car, and quickly made for the open road. Anywhere other than there. It was only then that he started to cry.
Morgenstern rose to his feet, swearing to himself. He looked to Harris and Simpson, neither was hurt badly, and both were already getting to their feet. He shook his head in disbelief. How could he have let them get away like that? How could he have let that little kid to listen in on his conversation?
"Should we go after them?" Simpson asked.
"No, we'll get them later."
"What about the kid?"
"Get him ready for flight, and let's get out of here. I don't need them calling the cops on us."
The three returned to the examination room, and the two men helped Jacob Lanway up to his feet, although he wasn't much help. They slipped his clothes back on, while Morgenstern began to put his things away. It was when he was doing this that he noticed that his phone was not in his briefcase. He thought to himself for a minute, where had he left it, oh yes, over by the door. He walked over to where he had put it, but saw quite readily, that it was not there. Wondering where it could have gone, he turned to the other two and asked, "Where's my phone?"
"You placed it by the door."
"It's not here."
"We didn't touch it." Harris replied, and Simpson nodded.
"Well then where could it...." with a sudden start Morgenstern remembered that there second son was supposed to have been listening in by the door. Could he not have also reached in and grabbed his phone? What good would it do him? It would only make tracking them easier. However, the thought that he had slunk off with his phone greatly offended his sensibilities.
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