Metastasis, Part III


aman_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif

Scene Title Metastasis, Part III
Synopsis I am the self-consumer of my woes
Date November 8, 2020

It’s dark.

That’s the first thing Isaac Faulkner notices when he opens his eyes. It isn’t the dark of blindness, that much he’s certain, but the dark of night. With the blinds drawn tight on his bedroom windows in the climate-controlled comfort of his spare bedroom in Aman’s townhouse, Isaac is sheltered into a secure cave of his own making. Unlike Plato’s allegorical cave, there are no shadows cast here. Just darkness. He feels like he’s been drinking, head swimming.

Waking up like this is disorienting. Isaac finds himself sitting on the side of his bed, head in his hands, brow slicked with sweat. He feels feverish, though he knows the sweat came because of a nightmare that woke him up. But the more he tries to grasp at the memory of it, the more that it slips through his fingers. As Isaac sits in his room, there is just the silence of Aman’s condo to greet him. The windows and walls here are new enough and soundproofed enough that street noise from outside doesn’t permeate indoors.

Nearby, Isaac’s phone screen lights up, drawing all focus in the room, inadvertently showing him the time and date. The notification that lit up his screen is superfluous.

Your operating system has been successfully updated to v3.4.6

It’s the date and time that matter. Perhaps that’s why his chest feels so tight.

Aman’s Home
Northern Roosevelt Island, NYCSZ

November 8th
3:33 am

Nothing good ever happened on November 8th. Not in a long time.

A few days ago, Isaac recalls that someone had suggested that the 8th could've made a good stand in for the 5th in that old rhyme; here and now, Isaac is inclined to agree. Remember, remember, the 8th of November has a ring to it like a death knell, though it's one that he distinctly does not appreciate at the moment.

Not after a nightmare like the one he'd just had; he can't remember it, but he knows it was bad.

There's a momentary sense of deja vu at that, but it slips away even more quickly than the nightmare had. Great. Deja vu and nightmares, at 3 am — the dark midnight of the soul.

Isaac closes his eyes for a moment, focusing on his breathing, trying to get a grip. Deep breaths. Get some oxygen. Deep breath in… slow breath out. Breathing is the first step to everything. He waits a few moments longer — trying to get himself together — then carefully picks up his phone and stands. A glass of water sounds good about now.

When Isaac stands, his vision swims and his head throbs. Knees become weak, and for a moment it feels like he’s going to topple over. Thankfully he has the reflexes to catch himself on the wall, but it’s an abrupt and violent motion that jostles him. The whole room twists and turns, spins slowly, and when he looks around it feels as though for a moment his vision has blurred.

Reflexively blinking to clear his eyes, Faulkner sees something that isn’t there. His bedroom feels larger, looks larger, extending toward the bathroom three times as long as it should be. There are rows of unoccupied tables filling that space, overhead lamps turned off, everything is sterile and metal and lit by a few neon lights in the ceiling. It looks like a hospital.

Okay. Okay. His attempts to get himself together have clearly failed, because this is not anything even remotely resembling having it together. This is, in fact, probably the opposite of that. Cool. Cool. Cool. Yeah, this is fine.

He wonders if this counts as delusions-slash-hallucinations or out of place sensations. Either way, he's getting close to filling out the DoE's entire checklist in one go. Isaac, you overachiever, you. No wonder the ladies love you so…

He lets out a slow breath. This is not fine, and he is, in fact, terrified to the point that he's trying to bullshit himself. Not good. But the fact that he's in an unforeseen situation just means that he needs to stay on his toes and roll with it as best he can. That's what parkour is all about… and parkour isn't just about doing sick kickflips or walljumps — it's a point of view, a way of life. No obstacles, only stepping stones.

Okay. He's pretty sure he's actually still at Aman's, just… not seeing it. Time to do some sightseeing. He raises an arm, keeping it out in front of him as he shuffles through the room — that way he'll have some warning before he blindly shuffles into a wall — and keeps his eyes open for any details that might clue him in as to what he's seeing.

Or a mirror. That'd be good too.

Isaac hits something, a night stand or something else low. It digs into his thigh enough to cause him to stumble away. In that same moment the strange overlay he was experiencing folds away like an optical illusion, as if everything about it was one-dimensional and he’d turned his head just so as to not be able to see it. Lurching, Isaac is brought crashing back into the reality of his spare room, tumbling toward the wall after his collision with a hand out to softly catch himself.

His head swims, vertigo takes hold and makes it feel like the whole house is spinning upside down. Every time Isaac looks in any direction a dull miragine throbs at the back of his skull and blurring trails cause motion to have after-images burned into his retinas. His heart races, palms sweat, and he wonders if this is a symptom of a stroke.

Isaac grimaces, eyes squeezing shut as the hospital view rotates out of existence in a way that makes his stomach lurch. He opens his eyes again… and almost immediately regrets it.

Something is wrong. Something is badly wrong.

The thought of stroke that pops into Isaac's brain is enough to send his heart rate ratcheting even higher. Surely that's not it, though. It can't be. It can't.

Panting, gasping, he drops down to his knees, slumping forward and squeezing his eyes shut, forcing nightmare images of himself as a drooling invalid from his mind, focusing on the darkness and on his breathing. In… out. In… out. A handful of breaths to try and get himself under control. Then a handful more to try to think.

Whatever this is, it's bad. Going to the hospital is a risk, considering the cocktail party at Raytech… but he's also feeling awful right now, and, more importantly, he's feeling progressively worse at an alarming rate, which suggests that this rabbit hole of pain and misery might go down quite a bit further. That is… concerning. Very concerning. Some distant part of Isaac's brain, one that isn't feeling like it's getting juiced, wonders if that's just a rationalization… but even if it is, it occurs to him that if he waits much longer he might not be able to call for help, and that awful thought decides him.

"Aman," he croaks. Then, taking a short, sharp breath, he tries again. "AMAN!"

The first call doesn't seem to result in anything, but the second is followed by the sounds of someone trying to untangle themself abruptly from their sheets. Feet hit the ground more than once as Aman blindly stamps the ground looking for the foot switch to the lamp near the bed. "Isaac?" comes his call in return. "What's wrong?"

The gap between the carpet and the bedroom door suddenly illuminates, a weak pulse of light in the dark accompanied by the sound of shifting around.

An icepick sensation drives behind Isaac’s right eye, leaves him with a throbbing sensation of a migraine and floods the right side of his vision with a blue-black blindspot that momentarily covers Aman. The vertigo starts to subside, but Isaac feels a full-body tingle, a sensation of numbness that prickles his fingers, makes it hard to catch his breath. It’s hard to tell what is a panic attack and what is a symptom of whatever he’s experiencing.

“Er schläft.” Isaac hears as an auditory hallucination, so close to his right ear as to feel like the deep-voiced man that said it was right next to him.

Isaac lets out a low groan from the floor, wincing a bit at even the dull light from the hallway. He's working up a response to Aman when the sudden stab of pain in his right eye forestalls speech, drawing a pained groan from him. His eyes squeeze shut again… then, after a moment, he forces them open again, head turning towards Aman as he tries to power through the waves of misery stabbing him in the brain. It's like a migraine, but the numbness and tingling in the rest of his body… that's not normal. Not at all. It's like he's not getting enough circulation, or like his whole damn body's falling asleep. Excluding his brain, of course, which instead is being stuffed into a Cuisinart by migraines. For a moment, he thinks there's something there — some connection in there — but right now thinking is proving difficult.

And he finds himself with something else to be concerned with when hears someone speaking German two inches from his ear.

Faulkner lets out a strangled gasp and flops over, rolling to try to face whoever it was who spoke, but even as bad as his vision is right now, he can see that there's no one there. But… that voice had spoken in German, he's almost sure, and the last time he'd heard someone speaking German had been… the meeting. The abductors.

Faulkner's fevered brain wonders if there's another version of him out there right now that's sleepwalking around a hospital right now, with a deep-voiced German man there peering at him. He's aware of how bizarre that sounds, but right now he believes it. He'll think about that later, though, whenever his brain is no longer trying to crawl out of his skull and his blood has stopped trying to congeal into pudding or whatever the hell is happening to him right now.

"Er schläft," Faulkner repeats — he wants someone else to hear that, in case he doesn't make it something happens. He turns, looking towards the light and trying to find Aman — his vision being as futzed up as it does him no favors, and it takes him a moment. "Not feeling good. Help. Hospital."

The baseball bat Aman had grabbed rather than putting on a shirt is dropped to the carpet after he realizes there's no one out here attacking Isaac, and yet something is afflicting him all the same. Enough that he's begun speaking in tongues.

"I'm—?" he echoes back in confusion. The fuck had he even just said? Your schleeft?

Elsewhere, skin-close, the alarm Aman feels rouses someone else. Thankfully, there's no pull to bring him toward something calmer, leaving him to freely stumble back to his room to grab his phone. While he's dialing he has to swipe away a notification nonetheless, a frustrated brush of dismissal accompanying it. No, this is not fine, but later. He's grateful, if nothing else, there's better service in the Safe Zone than there used to be.

As soon as the dispatcher finishes their intro, he's off. "Hi, yes— I need an ambulance sent to 1455 West Road on Roosevelt Island. My roommate's fallen and appears to be having some sort of attack. He's not a drug user." Floating in and out of sight, he kneels by Isaac's side, looking him over. Facial droop? He places a hand on his face, trying to stretch open his eye to get a look at his pupils. After that, he tucks his hand under the side of Isaac's chin, seeking his pulse while he sandwiches his phone to his face with his shoulder. "I don't know what happened. I just woke up because he was yelling for help."

Aman shifts the receiver away from his mouth to tell Isaac calmly, "Dude, I need you to take deep breaths. I got you, I'm calling an ambulance. Just take a few deep breaths for me, all right?"

Deep breaths are all Isaac can manage, and as he’s talking to Aman his eyes roll back in his head and he begins to convulse, jaw clenched and eyelids fluttering. A seizure.

«Please stay on the line. Can you tell me how long ago this happened?»

The voice on the other end of the phone remains calm, placid, unaware of the minutiae of drama playing out in front of Aman’s very eyes.

But help was on the way…

…hopefully not too late.

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