I Was: Ch. 5: Calm after the Storm.
The voice sounded familiar, deep but feminine. I liked it, wanted it to tell me things. Secrets dark and erotic. I must have smiled because the next voice I recognized at once.
“He heard you, he smiled. Why did he smile?” It is the voice of my wife Suzie.
I will my eyes to open, the lids are heavy. I am heavy. I feel as if everything inside my skin is weighed down. Inside I’m fully awake yet have no desire to wake up my body to interact with anyone or anything.
The tiny slits I’m able to coax my eyelids into providing let in light that seems to burn through straight to my cerebral cortex. Hot electricity burns like an over-amped fuse up the optic-nerve into the center of my head.
I’m able to force my eyes fully open yet I cannot see. A white haze fills the hospital room. There are several darker areas that hover over and near me, ‘people,’ I guess.
A third deeper voice, “August.” That one belongs to my father-in-law Reynold Johnston.
“Auggie, it’s Dr. Johnston. Can you speak son?”
Opening my mouth I try to talk, but my mouth is dry. Actually dry would have been a step up, it feels gritty and strangely coated. As if my tongue were made of thick leathery sandpaper.
I shake my head trying to clear my vision. The fog begins to lift and I can make out Dr. Johnston’s features near me looking closely at my face but I still can’t really see him clearly.
Bald, bespeckled, short salt and pepper goatee, it is definitely him. Close behind I recognize Suzie’s petite silhouette and another… ‘Woman? – I think.
I close my eyes and shake my head again, I try to reach up to rub them but find short restraints are holding my arms tight to my sides.
“Unhook him,” I hear my father in law order.
I squeeze my eyelids tightly and blink hard several times while rolling my eyes in their sockets to try to get my sight back. By the time my arms had been released and I am finally able to raise them, my vision has almost fully returned.
The third woman is Inspector Byck; she stands on my right, still holding the strap she removed from my wrist. She smiles; I smile back and immediately regret it.
“Auggie!” Suzie from my left holding the other strap.
I turn my head and see Dr. Johnston holding a small metal tube with a spray top.
He says as he holds the device near my mouth, “hold on son, you’ve been poisoned. This will help you speak.”
He held the aerosol near my mouth and lightly sprayed my lips. It felt wonderful, wet and cool.
Unnecessarily he said, “open,” with a nod towards my mouth. Two short shots and the thick interior of my mouth dissipates.
“More,” I manage to say and open for another shot.
A few more spritzes and I can roughly speak again.
“Thank you Doc. Hello Suzie.” I say with a smile towards my wife of more than a decade.
Turning to my right, “Inspector Byck.” Then back to Johnston, “Poisoned? When, where?”
I remember meeting with the arena’s head of security, knew I had gone somewhere and talked to somebody about the concert.
“You don’t remember do you? Byck asked.
“I know I saw you and wasn’t done with what I met you about, but nothing else. What happened, who poisoned me?” I asked to all three people in the room. It was clear to them that I didn’t know who knew what.
The Inspector replied, “you met with, and apparently killed Muscle’s head of security. Other than that we hoped you could tell us.”
“No,” I said not believing the story.
“What about the poison?” I asked.
The Dr. replied, “you were affected by a reclamation solution. It was a very strong dose mixed with what appeared to be home-made alcohol.”
“You killed Colonel Loddi and you were found unconscious sitting at his desk with a half empty bottle of Glenlivet.”Byck added.
‘That last part sounds like something I’d do,’ I thought.
“Daddy, when can he come home?” Suzie asked her father.
I noticed that she was giving the inspector a sharp look. Coupled with her body language I got the message she was really saying, ‘he’s my man back off.’
“Soon my dear,” he said softly, “tonight. Let’s give him time to rest and get some strength back. With his history with the various chemicals he’s been exposed to during the war and on his job, he’s susceptible to intense reactions to seemingly low levels of the juice.”
Suzie grabbed my arm, “I told you that job would kill you, please quit now.”
Touching her shoulder lightly her father said, “now’s not the time dear, he must rest.”
“But Daddy, he can’t keep doing this to me,” she protested.
‘Doing this too her?’ I thought. That’s odd; I’m the one that would be dead.
“Auggie,” she continued, daddy said he’d get you a job. A nice job. One that will keep you home, we’ll be able to go to parties and I won’t be alone.”
I’ve heard this before; she wants me to take a position in her father’s company. Head of security for Johnston Industries the world’s foremost authority on, and supplier of, Prior reclamation and maintenance products may sound like a good gig to some. But to me it sounds like a drag on my freedom. I’d just be another accessory to her lifestyle. Not something I signed on for when I married her. Hell, I thought I was going to die when I made that decision, I never thought I’d make it back from the jungle. Nam2 ate people alive. And dead for that matter.
“Susan Marie,” he said.
‘Uh-oh, she’s in trouble now,’ I thought. Reynold only used her full name when he was putting his foot down.
“But he’s mine!” She protested shooting Byck another less than subtle look.
For her part, the Inspector didn’t react to this seemingly disconnected comment. “Leave him be, he has to rest,” the Dr. interrupted.
As he gently led his daughter away from me and opened the thick white door for her, he added, “Wait outside dear, he’ll get some sleep and we’ll have him home by supper time.”
Suzie reluctantly nodded and walked out without another word. She did however manage to slip in a final piercing glare at Byck who once again did not visibly react.
The Dr. closed the door but did not release the handle. Looking across the room he said, “Inspector, the same goes for you. I understand you need to speak with Auggie but he’s been through a lot. You have 5 minutes with him.”
With a nod towards me, he opened the door and left.
The instant it closed with a soft , she said, “Reagent O’Neill do you know what happened?”
I shook my head, “No, I honestly don’t remember anything after leaving your office to go…” It occurred to me that I didn’t know where I went. I remember getting to Inspector Byck’s office but nothing after saying goodbye and checking out her ass. “Sorry, nothing I’m afraid,” and I genuinely was.
“Well then let me fill you in a bit on what we do know.” She sat on the edge of the large articulated hospital bed.
“When you didn’t return I went down to the trailer to look for you.”
I must have looked puzzled because she then said, “the mobile security trailer for the band you came to check out? …”
“Muscle,” I interrupted.
“Yes, that’s right.” She affirmed. “You went to talk to their chief of security Theo Loddi. When we got there, the trailer was deserted, all their guards were gone, the doors were locked, and we had to break them down. We smashed through the inner office door we found Colonel Loddi dead, decapitated. Both of his thumbs were cut off, and one of them appeared to have had the skin peeled off.” She paused, “anything yet?”
“No idea what you’re talking about” I said slowly shaking my head.
She continued, “in the corner of the room was an empty closet with a vidscreen showing a Muscle video. A live show recorded from the POV of the stage. There were leather and chain straps attached to the inside of the closet that looked like they were installed to hold someone inside when the door was closed. None of this rings a bell at all does it?” She seemed genuinely concerned.
She wasn’t half as concerned as I was. “Nothing yet, go on.” I said.
“For a moment we thought we would be able to get some clues about what happened because we found recordings of their cameras; audio and video.”
I sat up, “well what did they show?” I said hopefully. “There must be a record of what happened?”
“Well that’s the thing Reagent O’Neill,” she said shaking her head, “almost all of the recorded vid was erased. There were only two clips left, both of you.”
I nodded for her to continue. “And?”
“The first clip is short; it’s of you speaking to Loddi. You’re asking for a bride.”
“No,” I said. “Look Inspector, I’m clean, I never took a payoff. Fucking ever!” The sudden burst of adrenalin shot into my head and split my brain in half. Spikes of pain shot into my temples and I slumped back onto the pillow, hands holding my skull as if I were trying to hold it together.
“It’s OK Reagent, I for one want to believe you but the next part of the recording, and the marks on your neck make that hard without your help. “She looked concerned but that might just have been her training as an interrogator.
‘Was she trying to trip me up? Catch me in a lie?’ I thought.
“What does the vid show?” I asked.
“When the static cleared up there is no audio but you appear to have the advantage over Loddi. He’s seated in a chair with you behind him. You step away from him as if you are going to release him.” She stopped, eyes wide, trying to get me to fill in the blank.
I just shook my head and shrugged. “What,… and what happened next?” I asked already fearing the answer from she had told me.
“You chopped his head off Reagent; you stepped back, clapped that razor wire weapon of yours back together and killed him in cold blood. You honestly want me to believe you had a reason for that? You have to work with me. Why did you do it?” She asked accusingly.
“I don’t know, really I don’t know.” I said quietly. I wanted to scream my protest but the fear of a repeat of the dual temple spikes quieted me.
“Show me the vid,” I said. “Maybe that would help jog something. And please.” I added before she could speak, “call me Auggie.”
“Ok Auggie,” she said slowly, “I really shouldn’t but if it will help, OK.”
She flipped her hand over to project the vid from her wrist communicator onto her palm. “I’ll show you the part with no audio…”
I stopped her, “no, both, show me everything you have.” She balked at my request. “Please, I’m a good man, a good cop, I had reason even if I don’t remember it right now.”
She nodded, “alright, here’s the part that shows you bragging that you own the city.”
She tapped her finger on the projection on her palm and then turned her hand so that I could see the playback against her hand.
‘Wow she has big fingers,’ I thought. ‘She could do some damage with that hand,’ popped into my head.
I watched and listened as it played back, it is exactly much the way she described it. I said I could get him whatever he needed. Saw him standing behind his desk, take something out and hold it up.
“Bad magician,” slipped from my lips.
“What?” She closed her palm to pause the playback. “Bad what?”
“Magician, I replied. “But I have no idea why.” I added quickly, anticipating her next question. I was as puzzled as she was.
“Well it’s something.” She said as she raised her fingers to resume the scene.
He walked back to a bar behind me; we talked about how we might be able make a deal. He fixed a couple drinks at what appeared to be a full wet bar.
‘This is a trailer?’ I thought, ‘how could I forget all this?’ I was worried for my own sanity.
He placed the glasses on the bar, reached into his jacket pocket and just as he began walking back towards me the video went gray with static.
“So Reagent” she said as she turned to face me, “other than ‘magician,’ you don’t recall any of this?” Her tone was stern, almost accusational.
“Bad magician,” I said. “Nothing else came to mind. And please, call me Auggie. Reagent sounds too official. I’m not feeling very ‘official’ at the moment. I can’t remember anything.”
‘Except the nasty thoughts I had about what you’re hiding under that business suit.’ I wanted to add.
I did however notice it was a different outfit than the one I had met her in. This was dark blue, almost like a PD dress uniform blue. The other had been an off-white pinstripe. ‘Odd,’ I thought, ‘that I remember.’
“Let’s watch the part with no audio” she said as she prepared the next playback.
She turned on the bed again to show me the video.
As she held her palm open and turns for me again, her body presses against mine. She has a smell, no a fragrance that excites me. The catheter pinches as I feel a stirring under my hospital gown.
“Now there’s no audio and we only have this one view from behind. We aren’t able to read your lips or those of the deceased.”
She seemed to emphisise the word ‘deceased.’ The stirring beneath the covers was also suddenly deceased.
Again I watch as if it were someone else standing on her thick, yet somehow delicate, fingers. The chief was now seated in the chair I had been in the first vid. He seemed to be anxious; his hands only stopped moving occasionally as we appeared to speak. He turned and I saw blood on his face and enormous chest. I noticed a red smear on my head and reach up to feel the back of my skull and not feeling a bandage or stiches surmise it was his blood somehow on me in the video.
As I bring my hand forward, I absentmindedly look at it, half expecting it to be covered in blood. I do not however, expect to see a dark black stripe running diagonally across the middle three fingertips.
Byck had closed her fingers again to watch me. I compare my left hand to my right and see the mirror image of the dark line. Puzzled I look up at her.
“You think that’s bad?” She said. “You should see your neck.”
Quickly I reach up and touch my throat, it stings to touch it. It is tender from one side across to the other. The soreness as I breathed and swallowed I had attributed to having a breathing tube in my airway. I didn’t know if I had one inserted or not, just assumed from the soreness I had. Now I wasn’t so sure.
“Go on,” I said, “let it play.
As she opened her palm, I watch myself step back and then suddenly clap my hands together to make the spooler do its job; ‘get to the circus’ came to mind.
As I watch my image fall to its’ knees, her fingers are again bathed in a gray buzz of static.
“Anything more?” She asked?” Concerned Inspector had returned.
“Circus,” I reply seemingly out of the blue. “I have to get to the circus. I don’t know why or what it means. I’m sorry.”
She stood, clearly agitated.
“Look Augg… Agent O’Neill.” She started.
‘Uh-oh, now mommy’s mad,’ I thought. ‘She’s using my full name.’
“I can’t help if you don’t try.” She continued, “first a magician, a bad one at that, and now a circus. I want to help you but you have to try.” She seems frustrated.
I shared her emotion, “I’m sorry but I don’t know. I have to find this circus, I don’t know what circus or why. But if I can find it and maybe find a bad magician, he might have some answers.”
“That’s ridiculous,” she replies, clearly not buying any of this.
Thankfully the door opens and Dr. Johnston appears backlit by corridor’s bright lighting.
“Time’s up Inspector,” he orders.
“I need five more minutes,” she replies. Her voice firm from years of telling lawyers to ‘go scratch’ while she interrogated a suspect.
“He’s my patient and if I say he needs rest that means you’re out inspector.” That’s my father-in-law. He doesn’t take any shit from anyone. You don’t run one of the most powerful companies on this fucked up planet without being a tough son of a bitch.
Before she can fight back I interrupt, “that’s OK doc, and she’s trying to help. Two minutes, I promise and I’ll rest so I can go home.”
Giving me a stern frown as he walks over to the bed, “I’ll take the decision away from all of us.”
He pulls a nasal inhaler out of his lab coat pocket. The rounded ‘U’ shaped device is used to administer medicine into a patient’s bloodstream. Since the link between a human’s skin and Prior life was discovered, every attempt to prevent puncturing the outer layer of a person is made. The nasal inhaler works by administering the medicine through the tiny blood vessels in the nasal cavity.
“There’s a sedative and anti-biotic in this nasal,” he says as he uncovers the dual spray ports. “You’ll be asleep in your requested two minutes.”
My nostrils flare in a Pavlovian response to him holding it up to my nose. I like nasal sedatives; it’s all I have to fight the constant war going on inside my head.
As I snort from the device, tears run down my cheeks. I immediately feel lightheaded and warm.
A wave of goosebumps travel from my coccyx up my spine engulfing my head and giving me a feeling of being embraced in a safe hug.
The Dr. Watches as my eyes roll back in the sockets, “Maybe less than two minutes Inspector. Then you say goodbye.” Johnston says before leaving us alone.
My mind is adrift inside my head, I am floating weightless, wingless, painless; all urges, all thoughts are released.
“Auggie,” I hear faintly. Opening my eyes, I realize I’m not aware I had even closed them.
I look into an angel’s face, a warrior angel. A Valkyrie to fight for my soul.
“Sharon.” I say softly.
“You remember my first name, that’s hopeful.” I hear in the distance. She touches my hand as she leans in close to me, as if to prevent someone from overhearing us.
“I’ll tell you why I believe you, even though there’s a lot of evidence that you did twist if not outright snap some laws.”
I can only grin like an idiot and think about what those beautiful hands would feel like wrapped around my more sensitive areas. Well, just one area in particular.
Although somewhat disconnected with reality, I can hear and comprehend what she has to say.
“First, you have some pretty significant ligature marks on your neck and fingers. Although there was no sign of a struggle, before the decapitation that is, you were obviously in a fight with Loddi. And for some reason you decided if you let him go, your life would be in danger.”
I nodded. I understood but had nothing to add. It sounded like something I would do.
“Next,” she continued her list, “was the audio of you seemingly asking for a bribe. You may be a tough cop, but you’re a terrible actor. Anyone with law enforcement experience could tell you were bluffing. Maybe that’s why he attacked you. Unless you regain your memory or the missing pieces of vid show up to prove otherwise, that’s what I’m going with.”
Again I just smiled and nodded. ‘Sounds plausible to me’ I thought. ‘Now give some sugar!’ I laughed a little. She gave me a stern look.
“Sorry,” I said softly. “Thank you for helping, please go on.”
She pursed her lips, shook her head and continued. “Lastly a common friend of ours stopped by about an hour before you woke up.”
This brought me back down to earth a little but I was quickly getting very sleepy. I didn’t have much time left with the conscious population.
“Sargent Nick XXX.” She paused.
“Nikko?” I said as my eyes started to flutter.
She nodded. “Yes, he said you’d call him that. He vouched for you, said that you weren’t the kind of guy to solicit payoffs and murder people in cold blood.”
“Good ‘ol Nikkooo.” I was drifting off.
“Auggie, there’s one more thing. “She moved her hand to my thigh and shook me to keep me awake.
The catheter once again bit me as her strong hand seemingly palmed my entire upper leg.
“The band was all there in the other trailer, the big one with the penis lettering.”
I had no idea what she was talking about but hearing her say ‘penis’, really hurt and did manage to wake me up quite a bit.
“They were all there…,” she didn’t seem to notice the painful growth under the thin yellow hospital blanket. Or maybe she did because she squeezed a little harder to keep my attention.
She completed her thought, “…all there except for Throb the lead singer. He and all the security crew and roadies were gone. Just the other musicians were in the other trailer.”
Strong hand, stirring manhood, tube up into my bladder, none of it mattered, the sedative my father-in-law gave me finally won. The last thing I heard my female Adonis say was,
“…they were all dead. They appear to have eaten by Priors.”
New Chapter in I Was… on I Was: Ch 5: ‘Calm after the… Part Two of Chapter… on I Was: Ch. 4.2 ‘MUSCLE… New chapter in… on I Was:3 Hello Ladies