Failing Upward Ch. 09

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Close Your Eyes and I’ll Kiss You…

I woke from a horrible dream.

Or was this the dream? The room scored my eyes– hot bright pin pricks bounced off the stark white walls, stabbing through my eyelids. The light cast a long shadow, swabbing my brain. My eyes refused to focus; my arms refused to move.

I couldn’t turn my head.

Every breath burned. I couldn’t clear my throat– my mouth was so damn dry.


All I wanted was a peaceful dream. All I received were phantasms.


I’d been fading in and out. Waking to nothing. Seeing little, knowing less. My last clear memory was of Sid… of Trent. My mind was muddled between nightmares. One waking and one sleeping.

I woke once thinking I was back in the hospital bed after the car accident. I heard Bernice joking– but it was just an echo in time.

The bed was just as hard and unforgiving as the one I’d been in weeks before except now my backside was sore and raw from days and hours locked in the same prone position. No windows in this cubical– I recalled the sunny ones facing east, and how upset I was when the sun woke me. Now I’d throw up those blinds, and kiss the windows. This was a sterile room with no happy flowered curtains or cushy recliners. It did look like a hospital room. Maybe even was a hospital room– I wasn’t sure. I was hooked up like a vicious dog– an IV in each arm, one with blood going out, another with fluids coming in. Then there was the fucking decatheter. I hated those fucking things. At least I was out cold when they put it in…

I was too weak to raise my head. Too weak to say much but a few syllables– not that there was anyone to speak to most times.

A pretty blonde woman, a nurse, came in and out. Nothing like Bernice. She was slim and professional. Did her job, then left. No talking, she came in, took vitals.

Still, her hands were sure and kind. Sometimes I’d wake and see a sad look in her eyes. I’d turn away.

She came in alone most times. Sometimes she’d bring in an attendant.

Or she followed in Shackleton. With Trent.

I heard them come in a few times, buzzing and buzzing, and I didn’t understand, and I wanted to understand. What was happening to me? And Shackleton and Trent– they sounded like that mosquito beating at my window. I couldn’t make sense.

Me? Spinning and falling. They were draining me of life and keeping my brain from firing. I heard them argue… about me.

Enough for today. He’ll never wake up. How much blood was enough?

I wanted to know the same.


How much time later, I wasn’t sure. Seemed liked days, could have been hours– Shackleton came in again with Trent. They tried to wake me. My eyes rejected me. First I couldn’t open them, then I wouldn’t open them. I instinctively recoiled when Shackleton touched me. Hate. That was what I felt. Hate oozing out of him. Hate and lust.

Questions. More questions. I remained mute, faking a dead, benumbed silence.

“Can you move objects with your mind?”

“Can you influence people– can you change things?”

Then Shackleton’s sour breath whispered next to my ear, “I know you hear me.”

He licked my cheek, but I refused to flinch. I feigned sleep as his hand slid down my thigh. Every muscle in my body wanted to recoil, but I fought it– fought it with every speck of will I could grab deep in my guts.

Trent. I thought I’d seen something good inside him. He had to know that just a touch from that sick bastard tortured me.

But Trent said nothing.


I woke again alone in the room with confused thoughts, wondering where I was; why I was. Then I remembered: I was a brittle twig snapping under Shackleton’s feet.

He walked down the hill, over and over. My brain was merciless– replaying the whole last few minutes I had with Sid. The shooting, the blood.

I hoped Sid was safe. And Lynn. And Alan.

If I had tears, I would have cried.

I heard the door open, and she came in– the kind nurse. She was surprised that I looked at her. Her eyes shifted down, unable to look at me, unable to connect. I physically hurt from her cast-down blue gaze. Although I didn’t blame her for looking away, I wondered how many she’d taken care of like me– how many discarded souls lay in this bed before.

“Good afternoon,” she said, clearing her throat.

Afternoon. Morning. Evening. Time didn’t matter. Day? I didn’t know what day. I would have laughed if I still had a sense of humor.

She clinically checked my IVs, nodding her head, punching each bit of information into her electronic notebook. Setting it aside, she lifted up the itchy sheet. Then I saw why I couldn’t move my hands. They were strapped to the bed. She pretended not to care when she touched my hand, but she did; I felt it. A corner of hope pooled inside me– someone in these walls gave a shit about what happened to me. She felt something.

She took my blood pressure then Casibom she lifted the sheet, and it bunched at my waist. The cool of room hit me, and she pressed the cold stethoscope to my chest. I shivered.

“Take a deep breath… now let it out,” she instructed, pulling down the sheet further. Fuck. I didn’t even rate a shitty hospital gown. She modestly covered me up again.

She ducked into the bathroom, measuring my fluids. I could hear her dump out the urine in the toilet then flush.

She washed her hands and came back, taking my temp.

“Would you like a sip of water?” she asked after she punched in more data.

I nodded– God, would I.

She helped raise my head; her hand cradling on the back of my neck. I took one hard gulp. My throat clenched.

“Slowly,” she coaxed, and I swallowed twice more.

“How long have I been here?” I managed to ask.

“Almost two weeks.”

The words stuck in my head like darts. Two weeks in and out of nothing. Two weeks flat on this bed, spinning from one tangled nightmare to another. Two weeks.

She gave me a few more sips. My throat thanked her– I actually smiled.

Then my stomach gurgled.

“Want something to eat?” she asked.

Food becomes Nirvana to you when your only nourishment comes one drop at a time from clear plastic bag. God, I needed to get my stomach lining off my backbone.

“Yes, I would, but…” I closed my eyes. How had my life become so fucked up? I was afraid to eat. He was waiting for me. What would happen as soon as Shackleton knew I was coherent? Now that I was drinking and eating…

This was some kind of fucking mind game– otherwise, why restrain me? I was too weak to move. I didn’t even want to think about why I was naked.

“I’ll get you something bland.”

She left.

I almost called after her and asked her not to leave. The room was cold, and I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. Sudden violent tremors possessed my body. I tried to still my shaking, but my body refused to listen. I wasn’t sure how much blood they’d siphoned. I reasoned the chill was probably physiological. Better thinking I was racked with cold from thin blood than shaking with fear wondering what Shackleton would do to me.

When she came back, I was still shivering. She wrapped me in scratchy warm blankets and fed me nasty oatmeal without any brown sugar. It tasted like heaven. She scraped some off with her spoon that I’d dribbled on my chin.

“That’s enough,” I said, shivering again. “Thanks.”

I felt like a one-year-old being spoon-fed. Damn.

“What’s your name?” I managed. Might as well make small talk. Better than thinking.

She hesitated. “Angela– Angela Bowes.”

“So, ” I asked, “how long am I in for?” Bad question. But I needed to see her reaction.

I didn’t like it.

Her brows furrowed and nose wrinkled a hair. She touched my hand– I saw her thoughts: You’re not ever leaving.

I thought, what a stupid question, you fool. No one like me leaves this place.

I stared at the wall behind her. White glossy paint on stucco. Nothing on the walls. Not even a chart. Plain.

Then I met her eyes.

“Why are you here?”

She twirled her hair silently for a moment, deciding if she should answer me, then she tipped her head. A small confirmation.

“I owe the Community. At least I owe Fredrick Rogers my life and my family’s life. I came here to pay the debt.”

“That’s why you work here as a nurse?”

“No, I could work anywhere for the Community in any capacity. But I am a nurse. I chose this.”

“But why? I m-mean–” my teeth chattered, “you’re a good person, why would you want to be part of this?”

“What if I wasn’t here with you today? There would be some one else instead– someone who either might not care or someone cruel.”

I guessed, forcing herself to watch people converted to vending machines was a testament to the type of soul she was. Empathetic. Honest. Kind. She did care. She’d tell me. As much as I didn’t want to hear the truth, I had to know.

“Could you be straight with me then? Tell me what to expect?”

“I was told, as soon as you were awake to give you your first injection…”


“Yes, I have it here,” she patted the front pocket of her smock. “It’s the serum– he’s already used it on himself, but he wants it injected into you also.”

“You mean Shackleton?” I asked, and she nodded in return. “Why?”

“Probably to make you stronger, so they can draw more blood– make more serum.” She hesitated.


“There’s so much I don’t know. Usually we just use serum we have stored. This was made from what was drawn from you. Dr. Shackleton’s orders. I don’t know why that was necessary– I only know that you’re not the same as the others. They’re interested in you.”

“Does he know I’m awake yet?”

“No, I haven’t told him. But I’ll have to soon.”

Her voice quaked, betraying her disdain for Shackleton. She knew he was dangerous. Casibom Giriş No sense putting her at risk, too.

“Give me the serum.”

She reached in and pulled out the syringe; I fixed my eyes on the needle emptying into my IV.

As it leaked in, a warmth spread up through my arm to my heart, and then in red hot ribbons the serum coursed through the rest of my body. I tasted the roses in the back of my throat, and my cock hardened. A stiff dick and a decatheter– not on my list of turn ons. It pulled. My eyelids were heavy and my heart, my head wanted Sid. I whispered his name.

I felt Angela checking my pulse again.

I was dizzy– the lights exploded in my head just like my first days in the garden. Just like then, I lost consciousness and dreamed…

I was back in Sid’s apartment– our first night together. Sid’s chicken casserole clattered from my hands to the table. Vanilla candles burning, Sid had me pressed down on the dining room table, digging my backside into its edge as his cock ground delightfully into mine. He sucked on my tongue trapped between his teeth. I groaned. Instead of pulling back this time, he reached for my jeans, unbuttoning them and sliding his hand around my cock, stroking me slowly. I buckled beneath him as his hand milked me, and I whimpered into his mouth. I let him push me flat onto the table. He released my tongue.

I had another chance. I told him now. This time, I whispered, “I love you” into his ear.

Then suddenly we were in the garden, my jeans thrown aside in the dirt, and Sid’s cock was inching inside me, expanding me. His hand moving urgently around my length, swelling me–

I knew this was just a dream, but it felt so real– so good. Sid felt real– his musky precome and sweat spilling through my pores. He drove into me harder. I felt myself flushing. As he thrust into me deeper, he came. I called his name over and over, telling him how much I loved him, weeping into his neck. Maybe he could hear me, maybe he could feel me in his dreams. Please, I wanted that– to be back with him.

Then I heard a knocking, and I felt a cold jolt. One of those sudden lurches, bringing me from a dead sleep to wide awake, leaving me sick and abandoned.

I opened my eyes, and there he was, Shackleton, standing next to my bed– moving the covers off me. His face and body healed– no longer scarred on the outside, but his inside was a teaming mass of depraved infection.

His eyes rested on my cock, still hard from my dream and the serum. I slunk back down into the unforgiving mattress.

“Get the fuck away from me,” I choked as Shackleton reached out his hand to paw at me. Another hand snatched his arm, yanking it away.


“That’s enough,” he said.

Angela was on the other side of the bed, and she pulled the sheet and blanket back up under my chin. I felt like kissing her.

“It’s not enough. We’ve got to make him talk– find out how he does it.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant. Does what? Heal others? Move objects?

“What’s the matter?” I said. “Isn’t the super-serum you make doin’ it for you asshole?”

It happened so fast, Trent couldn’t stop him. He hit me hard in the mouth. I spat my blood back at him. Trent grabbed him, slamming him into the bathroom door.

“Trent, you’re going to regret ever fucking touching me,” he hissed. “And you…” he said to me, “you will never see your precious boyfriend again. The Community will let me do to you what ever I see fit. If you were smart, you’d be nice to me.”

I took what be nice meant was that I should let him fuck me. I’d rather be dead.

He slammed out the door. Angela shifted her weight from side to side at the foot of the bed, and Trent watched after him, gripping my mattress.

“Nice guy,” I said.

“If he comes in here without me, call me right away,” Trent told Angela, and she nodded. Just how fast could he get to my room? I hoped pretty fucking fast.

“How’s your mouth?” he asked.

“I’ve been hit a lot harder. Coward. Hits me when I’m tied up.” I pulled at the restraints. “You couldn’t do something about these, could you? It’s nice that you want to come in and save me, but don’t you think I’d have a better chance if I could at least try to fight back?”

I pulled against the straps on my wrists again. Trent’s mouth twitched, and he scratched his cheek.

“I’d like to, but I can’t. They don’t want you getting up and out of here.”

“Like I’m in any condition to just walk out. And I’m so fucking dangerous. It’s not like I’m Jackie Chan, and I gonna kick ass escaping. How would you like it being tied to a bed while a psychotic pervert ogles your privates?”

“I’ll see to it he doesn’t get in here.”

“Like you protected me a moment ago– or before,” I said. “I’m reassured… Shit.”

“What would you prefer? Let Shackleton kill Sid? He intended on taking you without my help that day. I didn’t know until that morning he had the Community’s backing. Then I had no choice. I had to do it.”

“And Casibom Yeni Giriş Sid is unharmed? He’s going to stay safe?” I asked.

Trent shot me those stone eyes and answered, “Yes, he’s safe.”

“Touch my hand,” I said. “Prove it to me.” He hesitated a moment, then his hand rested on mine. I thought of Sid. I ate the grief, letting it fill my empty stomach– keeping it hidden down there. No way I was going to let him know how bad I hurt.

“He’s going to stay safe. Swear,” I said.

He blinked.

“Swear,” I repeated.

“I swear.”

I closed my eyes. He’d keep his word. Sid would stay safe. I’d like him to swear he’d keep me safe, but that wasn’t something he could promise and keep. He read my thoughts exactly.

“The Community wants Shackleton’s help, but they won’t condone him beating or molesting you. I’m here to make sure he doesn’t harm you. They need you in one piece. The problem is, the serum they made from you isn’t working the way they thought it would. They thought it would mimic your abilities. Instead, it works the same as our other serum– no different.”

“So, they need to find out how I do it? How do they intend to do that?” My head ached so much my teeth hurt.

“Not sure. But they’ve got experts with theories– and they want more than theories. They want to know how you heal others and move objects. Some of the Community think you’re a dangerous person. That’s another reason for those restraints. There are some who’ve had a theory all along about your abilities. One person it particular was sure the serum won’t work. Now they’re starting to listen to him instead of Shackleton.”

I closed my eyes. God, I was having difficulty following Trent’s explanations.

“I don’t feel dangerous,” I said, then I lost consciousness.


I heard voices– Shackleton’s, Trent’s, and some voices I didn’t know. One person sounded familiar. My mind was shaking the mist so I couldn’t quite place who it was.

I could pretend to be out cold still, but I didn’t see a purpose– so I opened my eyes.

He stood beside Trent, leaning– left leg crossed over the right. He nodded and smiled at me, reciting this:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand And Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour

“Dr. Deal,” I said, “I didn’t know you fancied poetry.”

Attention all on me now.

“That poem is what you’re all about my boy,” Deal grinned. “Seeing the universe in the simplest things. All things–all sciences. Your parents were bioastronomers. They weren’t innocents– they knew who, and what you were.”

“And what am I?”

“More dangerous than an H-bomb. Kind as a kitten. Naive as a two-year-old.”

“That’s not very flattering,” I remarked.

“I think it is flattering, very flattering,” he responded, sitting on the edge of my bed.

“Bioastromony was just a hobby of theirs– not a career. Kind of like Sid’s parents delving into crystals.”

“You say that like it’s blasphemy.”

“Yeah,” I continued, “it is. A bunch of New Age hocus pocus– just a bunch of sciences all rolled into one. They searched for intelligent life outside in the universe. I don’t believe in it. Extraterrestrial life! More New Age crap.”

“No, they were serious scientists.”

“They were my parents. My father was a family doctor, for Christ’s sake. I knew just how serious they were about their hobby. So, you have me here, tied to a bed– why? And for what? Because my adopted parents were Carl Sagan wanna-be’s? Or maybe I’m an alien life form and don’t know it. Seriously, what do you think I am? What do you think I’ll do? Close my eyes and make the Universe disappear?” I asked.

Alarm crept into couple of the stiff white shirts’ faces. They stepped back.


“Wes, you don’t know just how close you came to the truth,” Deal said.

I laughed.

“Oh my God, The truth is out there. What is this? An X-Files convention?”

“Wes, what do you think happens when you heal yourself?”

“I don’t know. I’m no scientist.”

“I think you do know. I think you’ve known pretty much how it all works from the beginning, you just don’t want to admit it to yourself.”

I thought he was giving me a whole lot more credit than he should. I had no clue.

“I found heaven right under my nose. Mom and Dad used to joke about bioastronomy. Know what I think? Universe? I don’t need no stinkin’ Universe. I have a rose. Eureka! The answer is there. Look, Mica’s stuck right in my wrist, little thorns! Oh yeah, and I bet William Blake’s related to me, too.”

“Well, you’re part right,” he said.

“I knew I was related to Bill.”

“The rose is important, but it’s not the Universe– not even close.” He scooted closer to me on the bed and put his hand over mine. “And you’re an alien.”

“You’re cracked. I was right about you– working at a nudist colony has over-exposed your brain.”

“Tell me what it’s like when you heal,” he said.

“Why the fuck would I tell you anything? If what I have is so damn dangerous, I sure as shit don’t want any psychotic having the power.” I stared directly at Shackleton.

He sneered at my comment, puffing up as he stepped next to my bed.

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