Do or Die


bella_icon.gif mortimer_icon.gif

Scene Title Do or Die
Synopsis Bella arrives with a pharmakon for Mortimer. If it does not kill him, it will make him stronger. Or so the theory goes.
Date June 15, 2010

Staten Island Hospital

Mortimer's quarters.

The time has finally come. Do or die

More, perhaps, than Bella is willing to let Mortimer know.

Bella has been working with the blank-eyed concentration of the medicated, though this is all her own brain chemistry. She isn't even drinking coffee or tea. It's pure eyes-ahead determination, a monomania that springs forth from the alchemy of two foreseen futures and a snowballing anxiety about the stability of her entire situation. She must pay her way, she knows, and only hard work and a dose of luck will be coin sufficient.

So this should work.

Bella buzzes Mortimer from the intercom at his bedside that morning, informing him that he would not be receiving breakfast, that an empty stomach was required for the oral administration of the retrovirus she had her brightest and best lab techs cook up, as per her specifications. Fresh from the refrigerator, the suspended viral loads are little dark pills braced in plastic, three in total. Bella cuts one of them free with a pair of scissors, deposits it in her coat pocket, and descends to Mortimer's room. She knocks three times, like always.

Do or die. With much hope for do.

Mortimer opens the door, wearing a pair of jeans and scratching his head from a nap. This time he's been playing with a Rubik's cube, definitely teetering on the edge of boredom. "Oh, hey, Bella. You know, a funny thing happened the other day, I didn't think it was important or anything. But I kind of fell asleep suddenly and I shared a dream with Jack, from the same perspective." He had a flash, but without television it's clear he wouldn't know what everyone's been talking about. "Usually our shared dreams are different, but that was… strange. We both had the same perspective."

Ah yes. That. Bella is not going to lie directly. Lies of omission are a much better than actual fabrication. She nods, giving Mortimer a 'don't I know it' look. "There were city-wide spells of unconsciousness, with visions had all around," she says, "They're still trying to piece together what it all means. Quite possibly another Evolved-related event. Which the government will doubtless use as a pretext for tighter regulation. Since that's been working so well…" Bella's anti-authoritarian lip service is coming out strong at the moment. Easy to mock the devil when you're at his right hand.

The redhead moves into Mortimer's bathroom, filling the water glass and bringing it to his bedside stand. She then retrieves the viral pill and lifts it up into Mortimer's field of vision. "Both of you, pay attention," she says, "This is serious business. This retrovirus was constructed using a splice of two viruses that both possessed, in their individual instances, non-trivial mortality rate. In short, this may kill you. Obviously we will do everything we can to prevent your death - that should go without saying. But what doesn't go without saying is the very real danger taking this will expose you to. Also worth mentioning is the fact we'll likely have to move you to a clean room and put you on immuno-suppressants so your own immune system doesn't kill you trying to fight the virus as it spreads."

"So what you're saying is that you're going to give me a virus that may kill me, and then suppress my immune system." Mortimer says this in a way that suggests this sounding like a terrible idea, however… "In whatever that dream we had was, with the blackout, we were building something and having a hallucination. Not sure what, but it was mechanical, like when we had our ability…"

Bella arches her brow as Mortimer explains the content of his vision. She knows full well the very real precognitive source of what he saw. And he said he has his ability back. This bodes, very, very well, though she refuses to do more than make of it a joke. "Some of the preliminary theories, after gathering evidence, is that the visions were precognitive events. If that's true… then this procedure may be destined to succeed…" Her smile is a touch bemused. Even knowing what she knows, she refuses to let envisioned possible futures be grounds for serious medical decisions.

"If it look as if the virus will kill you on its own, without the immune response, we'll flood you with anti-virals. But doing so before the process is complete will have unpredictable results," Bella says, tone quite sober. This isn't a joke, not that Mortimer is taking it as one - she wants him to take the plunge, but she wants him to know how deep the water is before he leaps, no matter what visions may suggest he'll come up for air safe and sound. "Knowing that…" she offers the pill, still held in plastic, "Do I have your informed consent for the procedure?"

Mortimer sits back on the bed, arms crossed, looking rather thoughtful. There's a lot to consider, none of which are the possible precognitive properties of the vision. "Well, we don't have much of a choice here. As long as you promise to get the medication that my mother is on. He needs the ability for his reasons, and we both want it so we can repair this arm before it fails completely one day…"

Bella nods, "This medication, could you describe it?" she says, "I'll see what I can do, but we'll have to consider the potential interaction between the suppressants and what it is your mother took."

"I won't need the medication until I get my ability back, so I might need restraining depending on how things go… I don't know how I'll react to getting my ability, mentally. And I'm not sure what the medication is, I just remember her mentioning it on a video years ago." Mortimer watches the pill in anticipation, taking a deep breath. "You'll have to talk to her. She works at NASA as an engineer."

Bella smiles, a little wry, "I'm afraid that's not much to go on. We'll try and contact her as soon as we can… but what should we tell her?"

"Tell her you need to know what medication she uses for medical purposes, because you have someone with a similar ability. She's registered." Mortimer reaches out to place a hand on her hip, looking up at her with a serious gaze. "In case I die… could we… y'know, one more time before I take this stuff?"

Bella's own hand finds Mortimer's, fingers sliding between his as she smiles, sweetly… but apologetically. "This is neither the time nor the place," she says, "I'm sorry. When this is all said and done, when you're alive and well and no longer my patient, please… feel free to look me up." She draws his hand from her hip and clasps it in both of hers. "Until then, I believe you have a date with a potentially fatal illness."

"Alright, I'll hold you to that." Mortimer smiles and finally relaxes, placing his hands on the sides of the bed. "I'm ready when you are. Nervous, but ready…" Then he just opens his mouth, waiting for the pill.

Bella arches a brow, but tears the plastic open and extracts the glistening viral payload. She sets it on Mortimer's tongue, then lifts the glass of water into her hands, and to his lips. If he wants to be tended to, fine. Let there be sugar around this bitter pill.

Mortimer downs the water and the pill, then slowly pulls back, suddenly looking inquisitive. "I suddenly had a thought, a bit late of course, but… what if when I get better, I become the carrier for a virus that affects other and not me?"

"You'll be contained and under observation the entire time," Bella explains, "And we'll take routine blood samples to check your viral levels. We won't unleash you on the world until we're positive the virus has run its course," a quick smile, "We try to be a little less mad with our mad science here. At least I try."

"So what now?" Mortimer stands and looks around the room, holding his stomach in an examining gesture. "I'm a little nervous, so I'd rather get where ever I need to be before the getting sick part starts."

"Some attendants will be down to help you to your new environs," Bella says, "Where there will be, Jack will be happy to know, a television and DVD player, along with a not-inconsiderable library of films. Plus you can request anything we don't have. It will be white, sterile, and I'm afraid you won't be able to get visits from anyone who isn't there on the clock," so no more rendezvous with Ms. Lin, "And you will likely start feeling very sick within the next eight hours. But, when this is over, I have considerable confidence that we will achieve results."

Mortimer sits back down when he doesn't have to go anywhere right this moment, leaning forward with his elbows on his thighs. "Alright, one more question then… how long? Are we talking twenty-four hour flu, or month long virus?"

"Projections suggest," Bella says, "With safe levels of immune suppression taken into account, that the virus should work its course within three days." And each day will be worse than the last. But she doesn't say this straight out. No need to add to his stress level. Stress, in large enough amounts, becomes a complicating factor on its own.

"Alright, well…" Mortimer flops backward, letting his arms spread across the bed. "Nothing left to do now except wait and see."

Bella steps back towards the door. It's time to go. "Take half an hour to get ready," she says, "Then they'll come and get you. I'll be visiting you regularly, don't worry. I will see you through this. You have my word."

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