Re: Zero Level: Additional Adventures

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Herr D

This Island’s YOUR Land: Chapter 1

A twitching man in scrubs sat alone at a table in the interrogation room. His frown was twitching and his closed eyelids fluttered. The bottle of water in front of him was unopened. The piece of paper in front of him was covered with unreadable scrawls, an uncapped pen on top of it. Behind the one-way glass, two suited men with steady hands sat on stools sipping coffee. [pic]
The one with no gray at his temples said, “Well, Jones? He seems to be done.”
Agent Jones walked into the interrogation room and stood until the door clicked shut. He sat down across from the twitching man in scrubs. “Sorry for the wait. Is this your statement, Dr. . . . “
“Wooks.” The twitching man’s eyes popped open. He blinked repeatedly.
“Wooks. Sorry. Herbert Memorial Hospital. Right. You know, I think I just figured out why I’ve been distrustful of you. You don’t seem to be in a hurry to get back to your patients. Every doctor I’ve ever met in the middle of his shift always was.”
Dr. Wooks blinked harder. “Do I look like I’m in any condition to treat patients right now?”
Agent Jones smiled, “Good point. Lucky my training enables me to override first impressions.”
Dr. Wooks frowned, “What?”
“I meet people all the time. Anything that catches my eye might be a good reason to get someone medical care, ask them questions, arrest them, lie to them, or even kill them. I have to be flexible enough a thinker to not rely on the past even if the past was less than a second ago.”
Dr. Wooks visibly relaxed. “I get it. People try to fool you. You might’ve thought I wasn’t even a real doctor, I guess.”
“No, people DO fool me. I just don’t stay fooled long enough to get killed or fail a mission. It’s been my experience that nothing is exactly as simple as it looks, people are never just who they seem, and the stories I hear are never going to be completely accurate or even complete.”
Dr. Wooks frowned. “Like?”
Agent Jones slouched a little, loosened his tie. He looked down at the page on the table. “Like your statement. You have the stereotypical unreadable handwriting of a doctor. When did your writing get so bad?”
“College, I guess. No one can write every word in a lecture as fast as it’s spoken. Lazy handwriting follows hurried handwriting. Then sign off on a few hundred forms a day?”
“Makes sense,” Jones squinted at the page, picked it up, “Is that a ‘G,’ doc?” He pointed.
Wooks leaned forward. “Yes.”
“When this says, ‘Going first through littlest blue emergency room–“
“Gang fight triage interrupted by emergency page for psych eval.”
Agent Jones held the page an inch from his eyes for a moment. He spun it like a card onto the table. “We’ll have you type it.” He reached out, rapped on the one-way glass, and did the old charades signal for ‘movie.’ “Do you understand this is being recorded, Dr. Wooks?”
Wooks’ eyebrows went up. “I assumed it already was.”
Jones shrugged, “Okay, so you were called away from triage. That’s not common, I guess.”
“Never happened before. At first it made me mad. More might’ve died because of it.”
“More what, gang members?”
“The ambulances brought everyone together. There wasn’t time to sort them. They just cut them free, cleared airways, and transported them.”
“That’s the first thing I don’t understand. What were they caught in?”
“A kind of septic gelatin. I don’t really know. Some gang called the Sewer Bats spray it during rumbles from their shoulders.”
“They pee Jello from their shoulders?” [pic]
“I don’t think it’s urine, Agent–“
“Agent Jones. I think it’s sort of a reverse immune system. Anything contagious they multiply and spray through large shoulder horns like some snakes spray from their fangs or skunks spray from their tail glands. It gels quickly and tangles and sticks to people. It infects cuts rather badly and can cause suffocation, but it does keep some people from bleeding out and prevents injury aggravation by immobilizing others. You should probably circulate the treatment we discovered.”
“There was something about putting white blood cells in the . . . stuff?”
“Yes. Apparently the secretions can cause microorganisms to mimic white blood cells, turning the whole tangled mess into an antibiotic bandage. Lots of peoples’ lives could be saved with the samples we–“
“Dr. Wooks, we handed that off to the CDC. They’ll look at it. I need to understand about Richard O’Brien.”
“What’s to understand? He’s not insane, not guilty, and no longer a patient. I should obtain releases before revealing anything about his care in detail with you.”
Jones smiled. He turned to the one-way mirror and made a ‘go-ahead’ motion. A projection appeared on the ceiling, projected through the one-way mirror. Wooks watched as a small Caucasian man covered in dried blood signed a form and turned to face someone beside the camera. He said:

“She explained that she appeared at that point in the old storeroom because she found a ‘dead end.’ The gray thing she carried hadn’t a DROP of blood on it. She said that it’s a dend-rit-ic pho-ton-ic converter. She said that means she points it at someone, and then, anyone they look at she can ‘jump’ to them? When she’s in someone’s brain who deserves capital punishment by the standards of America, or when she thinks it’s close enough, she says she springs, full-size, out of their head, exploding their skull. She said a full analysis of their actions can take fifteen minutes ’cause she has to weed out dreams and vivid wishes and stuff. She calls herself Athena Springs ’cause the Greek goddess Athena jumped out of someone’s head.
What? No. That was an hour ago. I’ve got this odd headache, but I’m scared to take anything ever since she disappeared with that thing pointed at me. I think I annoyed her when I asked her what happened to her foot. So . . . are you the doctor that volunteers at the prison? Just asking. No–my headache just left!”

Wooks looked at Jones. “Where did you get this tape?”
“We impounded it. It’s evidence in an ongoing investigation. Can you confirm that you were the one he was speaking to?”
Wooks rolled his eyes. “You already know I was.”
“Without going into specifics of O’Brien’s care, then, why don’t you tell me about whatever wrongdoing you can?”
“I don’t deserve a malpractice suit. The police didn’t tell me anything except that they found him sitting in a pool of blood in the back of a restaurant he worked at.”
“But no body.”
“They didn’t mention one, no.”
“What kind of eye contact did he make?”
“He avoided it. Some people just don’t look at other peoples’ eyes.”
Jones’ eyes flicked up to Wooks’ eyes. “Because he reads lips, right?”
Wooks’ eyes widened. “Um–“
Jones nodded, “You’re right. You shouldn’t tell me the answer to that. He didn’t appear to have any trouble hearing, so I couldn’t think of any reason for that. You checked his hearing on an earlier part of the tape but didn’t note hearing loss on the chart we impounded.”
Wooks frowned, reddening, “Can you show me a warrant for having his chart?”
Jones smiled, “Confiscation order. And technically, no, I can’t. You and O’Brien are persons of interest in a matter of national security. You can demand that your office show you a copy when you get back there, but you will not be permitted to tell them anything you haven’t already. You will be signing non-disclosure forms before you are allowed to leave. I think you’ll find the paperwork in order, doc.”
“What do you want?”
“I need to know how many people you’ve told.”
“Told what?”
“What you suspect about O’Brien and Athena Springs. What you suspect about the prison deaths.”
“I wrote it all down in my journal. I hid it. If you let me go, I’ll turn it over to you.”
“In your handwriting? It might be safe. Hhhhhh. Yes, we’ll need you turn that in. We’ll give you a mailer and if you send it in a timely fashion we’ll tear out what we have to and send you the rest back without bothering you again. Assuming we can decipher it. Did you tell anyone else?”
“I hinted at it to a consulting psychiatrist.”
“O’Brien had another shrink?”
“Psychiatrist. And no, mine.”
“We’ll need his name, later. Go on.”
“I believe what O’Brien believes. I believe I carried this woman in my brain somehow to the prison, where she killed several men. She was probably the motivation for the prison break. I carried that woman like a germ to contaminate others. That killed them. On top of that, I recommended O’Brien for a psych hold. I was wrong.”
Jones frowned. “Well, you reversed his commitment at least. Recommended that he not be given any more medications. I think we can kill any malpractice suits connected to this. O’Brien and yourself will be given free therapy on this subject should you need it. What kind of side effects will O’Brien suffer? You’ve already admitted he shouldn’t have been taking whatever you gave him. I’m pretty sure that speaking specifically to me about wrongful treatment for the patient’s good we can pretend didn’t happen.”
Wooks frowned, “I’d rather tell his next doctor.”
“We won’t allow that. We can, however, pretend we drew the conclusions ourselves. We employ shrinks too.”
Wooks frowned deeper, “Psychiatrists. Withdrawal should be over by now. He wasn’t on the meds long enough for full effect. He could have night sweats, night terrors, crave carbs? An anti-anxiety program would be too much rather than enough. I mean really, a week? He might do more with yoga or cutting his caffeine for awhile.”
Jones smiled, “Glad to hear that. You’re the first ER doctor I’ve ever heard of that’s also a PSYCHIATRIST.”
Wooks grimaced, “I’ve been recommending more cross-training between psychologists and trauma physicians for years, but the hospital only calls me in for ER duty when the roster’s running low. The advantages are very–“
Jones waved a hand, cutting off the doctor’s sentence. “Doc? I’ll be happy to read that opinion later, if you include it in your typed statement. I’ll give it some thought then. Right now I need to know about your headaches.”
“I haven’t noticed any. Why is that important?”
“Did you get one between making that film with O’Brien and visiting the prison the following Tuesday?”
Jones pulled a post-it note out of a pocket. “Dizziness, nausea, vision trouble, forgetfulness?”
“No. Not until Wednesday.”
“I never have any of those unless I’m hung over, and I didn’t get drunk recently except for that Tuesday night when I heard about the prison murders.”
“You NEVER get headaches?”
“Not since I started the aspirin regimen last year. Heart disease runs in my family.”
Jones nodded. “Someone will be around with those forms shortly. Then we’ll drop you off where we picked you up. Unless somewhere else is better. Just so you know, our guy checked out O’Brien already, says he reads lips to deal with attention problems. I would’ve thought he was trying to hide hearing loss.” He grinned at Wooks.
He walked out and back around to his stool and coffee. “Adams? He’s a schmuck. I doubt he knows how easy it would be for an NSA agent to verify his schedule a week in advance. He doesn’t even realize he probably carried her out, too. With the aspirin thing he wouldn’t have known.”
“So we have her inhabiting an ER doctor who habitually checks the eyes of patients.”
“Yeah, we’ve pulled the records, but we’ll never catch up to her this way. Is she at least hitting targets that fit the profile?”
“Every one of them violent multiple felons. All on death row. Of course, she missed Dr. Helgrun AND The Handler. CIA got The Handler. She may have gotten some of Helgrun’s clones.”
Jones shook his head. “Bad luck, jumping into a guy who doesn’t make eye contact. Didn’t we arrange a recall code?”
“How on earth would we do that? The only way to make her untraceable was to make her unreachable. We can hardly track a single electrical impulse in a human brain even if we know which brain it is–our neurologist just explained that to me this morning. Unless we WANT to leak Helgrun’s suspected whereabouts to the press, we have no way of even guessing she’s found out. And then she’ll have no way to reach the island till it’s too late. Looks like all we can do is be ready to pick her up. You all right Jones?”
“Yeah, I just never pictured this as part of my work here.”
Adams grinned. “Well Jones, what would you like to do for your part of the NSA cleanup?”
Jones shook his head. “At least let’s save a little taxpayer money. I’ll see if I can talk Wooks into doing O’Brien’s therapy and solving the other mystery.”
Adams blinked, then nodded. “You mean why she didn’t kill Mr. E.”
Jones nodded. “He killed seventy-some people that we know of. He’s so dangerous, no one wanted to break him out. Not even the crazy ones.” He frowned, looking at Mr. E’s picture.