Chapter Seven – Dysautonomia
Your heart knows things that your mind can't explain.
Part I – Tachyarrhythmia
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” Lord Byron.
“You make my heart sing,” Joel rolled over to face Mark.
He propped his head up with his right arm and just looked at the boy lying there next to him. He sighed and smiled. Mark too had a huge smile and was almost laughing when he replied, “Wild thing!”
“But I wanna know for sure,” Joel was laughing now.
“Then come on and hold me tight,” Mark grabbed him, burying his head in Joel's chest and smothering the sound of his laughter.
After some while the laughter subsided, Mark lifted his head up from Joel's chest and was rewarded with a kiss. A delicate kiss that turned into a deep passionate wrestling of tongues.
“I love you,” Joel couldn't quite believe that he spoke those words. It was as if they escaped his mouth before he had time to think. His emotions held sway and he could no longer contain his thoughts. He was exposed like never before, and he had no idea why or how, it just happened.
Mark’s eyes glistened with the tears that were creeping from the corners of his eyes, that were about to burst into an uncontrollable flood. Joel's hand brushed through the boy's hair sending a shock through Mark's body.
The tears fell from his eyes. What he felt, simply overpowered his senses.
Joel held him tight, worried that he had said or done the wrong thing. Maybe it’s too much, too soon? But that was how he felt. Never did he imagine falling in love with a boy, but he was sure. Sure as the rain that never ceased falling, sure as the dark gloom that never lifted, certain. For the first time. The very first time, he just knew. But he was concerned at Mark's reaction.
“What's wrong?” He ventured to ask ever so softly.
“Nothing,” Mark uttered in between sobs.
“Then I don't understand. Why are you crying?”
Mark lifted his head to look up at Joel.
Through tear stained eyes, with a smile hovering on his lips, he replied, “Because I love you too.”
Henry had arrived late last night and went immediately to find Kado. The two disappeared into some part of the building the boys hadn't visited. Actually, since they had arrived here, they were more or less confined to an area that consisted of some larger rooms, a sort of canteen and kitchen area, plus living quarters.
Mount Columbus, which was the name of the facility as well as the actual mountain that it was perched upon, was a maze of corridors and rooms on different levels. That much was evident from the escape plan on the wall which showed the exits. Kado had allocated their rooms, two bedrooms joined together by a third little room.
Joel and Mark were in one bedroom, Grif and Jack in the other. Mark's brother Steve was apparently occupied elsewhere, although Kado had given them no specific details about where or what he was doing, just that he would join them in the morning.
“Here is the final report from Mishimotta on the HNO4.” Henry handed over the papers.
“So I'm guessing it’s not good?” Kado looked at Henry, studying his face for clues, but the man was a master at concealing his game – he could have been a formidable poker player.
“No it’s not good. You need to read it.” Henry turned to leave.
“I'll see you later then,” Kado called after him.
Henry just waved an arm and was gone. Kado, report in hand went to his room so as not to be disturbed. He was not happy about the way things were going, but once started down this route it was practically impossible to get out. Henry held all the cards!
HNO4 was a modern version of genetic drug therapy that went back into ancient history. The first venture into the field was over a hundred years ago with a drug labelled SV40, a simian virus found in monkeys and humans. The effect it produced on infected green monkey cells was to develop an unusual number of vacuoles. Put simply the same principal was at the route of HNO4, the mechanism was to trap the virus in a sort of empty space, the vacuoles, that normally contained water. This would isolate the particles that were harmful, the pollution particles floating in the air that everyone was breathing and which were becoming increasingly important.
Kado was no scientist, his grasp of all this was limited, but he was not stupid, and the principal was easy enough to grasp. Capture and isolate the pollution that would eventually destroy everybody. That would be a huge breakthrough and the prize would be a huge amount of money.
He read the whole report, it took some time, then he pondered the conclusion, which played in his head: The unforeseen side effect of HNO4 is an adverse reaction on the memory function and a possible degeneration of the nervous system. The worse case scenario is death. All experimental trials should be ceased immediately.
If this was a dead end then the only way out of present circumstances was Project Weatherman, if it worked. Given that the quasi-vaccine that might have counteracted the increasing air pollution was not viable. Death as a side effect is definitely not viable, then the number one priority was Madison and his project to capture the rain in the clouds and control where it fell.
That solution to the problem would guarantee energy supplies and, hopefully, lock the air pollution into the water in the clouds, but would it? Kado doubted that Clement Madison knew anything about the danger present in the air pollution. Everyone knew the air was polluted, but continual rain gave a false impression that everything gets washed. Obviously not true or there would not be so many children suffering allergies and breathing problems.
Kado knew that for the next step, to find Professor Madison, he needed Joel. He might also need Joel's mother and his brother Charlie. The more leverage he had the better. Henry had not yet said anything about X-Corp, but no doubt he would. What he found difficult to get his thoughts straight on in all this, was what X-Corp wanted with the professor and the project, when they could just let him go ahead and it would – if it worked – solve everything.
Something more was going on here, that much was certain.
“I don't feel right,” Grif told Jack.
“What do you mean?” They had slept together, but that wasn't the first time he'd had sex with Grif.
“I don't understand.”
“I mean... I sort of don't feel well, not a hundred per cent. Something doesn't feel right...”
Those where the last words he spoke. Grif's head kind of twisted sideways and his body sort of stopped moving. Jack panicked.
He never got out of bed so quickly in his life, he jumped up, and rushed out of the bedroom, across the hall and barged in on Joel and Mark.
“You gotta come. NOW!”
Joel turned away from Mark and stared at Jack. It took a few seconds to register that something was wrong. Then he was out of bed and following Jack back to the other room. Mark was behind him.
He looked at Grif lying on the bed and a weird sensation passed through his body, a shiver ran along his spine. He bent over Grif, tried shaking him. His body felt heavy and unresponsive. He put his ear over Grif's mouth, he wanted to see if he was breathing.
If he was though, it was very faint.
“GO GET KADO!” He shouted, almost screamed. Suddenly overcome with a sense of urgency. Those thoughts about making sure someone can breathe, getting help quickly, rushed through his mind.
What should he do?
Jack went rushing out of the room to find Kado. Mark just stood looking at Joel and at Grif lying there motionless.
It seemed like ages before Jack was back with Kado.
Joel stood up, relieved to let Kado take over. He watched the big guy handle Grif, check his pulse.
Why didn't I think of that? He asked himself.
“Do you know where the medical room is?”
“Yeah, I do,” Mark spoke up.
“Okay, go there and get a trolley and grab the med kit. The red bag, white cross.”
Mark rushed off.
“Joel go to the intercom and call in a medical emergency... Room C3.”
Seconds later they all heard the message over the speaker system.
Again it seemed to Joel to take a long time, but Mark was back with the trolley and med kit, followed by three members of the Mount Columbus staff.
They were all around the bed; Joel, Mark and Jack, stood back to give them room. They watched as Grif was lifted onto the stretcher and wheeled away. Kado had given him an injection.
So he must be alive, Joel thought.
The same idea crossed Jack's mind, maybe it looked worse than it was.
Mark felt shocked. He jumped at Joel’s touch, physically moved half a pace.
“Woah! You okay,” Joel squeezed his arm.
“Uh... yeah... yeah, I guess so.”
“What happened?” Joel looked at Jack.
“I don't know. We were talking. He said he didn't feel right.” Jack was staring at the empty bed with the ruffled sheet hanging half over the side, touching the floor. “Yeah, he said he didn't feel well. Then he sort of collapsed on the bed. I mean he was lying there and then it was like, bang. Like you switch the light off. That's when I came and got you.”
“Get him on the table,” Kado told the guys that had answered the emergency call and accompanied Grif to the medi-room.
Pretty soon Kado had him wired up and started running the usual tests. He placed an oxygen mask over Grif's face and set up the monitor. It was just as he had finished all this, that Dr Thomas, Mount Columbus Head of Team and a qualified medical doctor, joined them.
“So what have we got?” Dr Thomas asked Kado. At the same time he looked over at the monitor and noted the fast heartbeat and low blood oxygen level.
Hypoxia. Dr Thomas new immediately, but what brought it on?
“He collapsed this morning, ten, fifteen minutes ago, time to get him here.”
“A side effect?” Dr Thomas knew about the trials of HNO4.
“Quite probably, but it’s never happened like this before.”
“Like this? You mean there have been other side effects?”
“Memory loss, but that was temporary. As far as we know.” Kado felt annoyed by this questioning. He sensed that the good doctor was not altogether a great fan of the drug trials.
“Well we can only monitor him and see what happens. Did the boy suffer memory loss?”
“No, I don't think so.”
“And there have been no other reported side effects. With this lad or anyone else?”
Dr Thomas gave instructions to one of the medical staff, they would monitor Grif closely and see how things went. There really was not much else to do. Drug trials are always unknown territory.