Mito, Medical Kidnap Files #1, p.12P.D. Workman
MRS. FOEGEL FINISHED UP the daily log while Gabriel lay in bed, again wrung out and exhausted. “I don’t think you threw up as much tonight. That’s an improvement.”
Gabriel’s stomach felt like he would never be able to keep down another bite. Even though it was empty now, it hurt, aching like it was being stretched like a balloon, nearly at breaking point. He rubbed it tenderly.
“The Benadryl seems to have taken the rash down,” Heather went on. Her positive outlook was not improving Gabriel’s mood. He still felt just as crappy. He had thrown up less because he had hardly been able to choke anything down. Benadryl had improved the rash, but they still wanted him to keep taking the meds in spite of the allergic reaction, and he knew that the Benadryl was going to make him feel hung over in the morning. It always did. It would sap his energy for days, and he couldn’t afford to be any weaker.
“Night,” Gabriel told Heather, closing his eyes and turning away from her.
Heather stood there for a minute before turning the light off and heading out the door.
Gabriel had been restless for a long time before he finally woke up. He had been dreaming, tossing and turning, and sweating into his sheets. When he managed to pull himself from unconsciousness, he sat up, reaching for his legs. The muscles were pulled taut with excruciating pain, like the worst charlie horse ever in every muscle of his legs.
He rubbed them, groaning aloud. Was it another side effect of the drugs? Or just his screwed-up body deciding to add variety to his existence by replacing hypotonia with hypertonia for a change? Gabriel dug his thumbs in, trying to rub the cramps away, but the muscles tightened further under his touch, making him cry out in pain.
“What the hell—?”
The lamp went on and Collin squinted across the room at him. For once, he’d remembered not to turn the overhead light on and had gone to bed without waking Gabriel up. Gabriel was disoriented, unsure what time of night or morning it was.
“What’s the matter with you?” Collin demanded.
“Got leg cramps,” Gabriel forced out, barely able to speak.
“Leg cramps?” Collin repeated. “Go back to sleep!”
“No! It hurts. It hurts!”
“Quit being such a baby!”
Gabriel cried out again, gripping his legs, his breath coming in gasps. Everything around him got blurry, and for a minute everything whirled, and he thought Collin would get his wish and Gabriel would just pass out. But the vertigo passed, and everything was sharp and crystal clear. Gabriel swore, determined that Collin should understand that these were no ordinary muscle cramps. “Get them! Help me!”
Collin didn’t move, looking at him. Gabriel half-expected that he would just turn off the lamp and go back to sleep again.
Collin blew out an exasperated breath and climbed out of bed. He left the room, and Gabriel could hear him walking down the hall and waking the Foegels up. Heather was the first one to come into the room. “What is it, Gabriel? What’s wrong?”
“My legs! Feel them!” Gabriel continued to try to rub the cramps away.
Heather touched Gabriel’s rigid calf tentatively. She looked at his face, her brows drawing down. “What’s going on? You just woke up with them cramped like this?” She rubbed his calf, trying to soothe him.
“It hurts! You need to get me something for the pain. Take me to the hospital! Please!”
Heather bit her lip. “I’m not supposed to give you any painkillers. They specifically said…”
Gabriel started to sob. “Please…”
“Why don’t we try some heat?” Matt suggested from the doorway. “Heating pads, hot towels, see if that will relieve the cramps.”
“Take me to the hospital,” Gabriel begged.
“Let’s try some heat,” Heather agreed.
“I guess I’ll be sleeping on the couch,” Collin growled. He pulled the top blanket and his pillow off of his bed. Heather turned her head to watch him stalk out.
Gabriel lay back down, crying. Hopeless. He could hear Matt running water and getting things out of the hallway linen closet. Heather continued to rub Gabriel’s legs gently, but her touch was light and had little effect.
“Hang in there, Gabe. It’ll be okay. It will pass. Muscle cramps don’t usually last long.”
In a few minutes, Matt returned with heating pads and crawled around Gabriel to reach the plug-in behind his bed. He laid them over Gabriel’s legs and turned them on. “Get those started warming. I’ll have hot towels in a few minutes.”
It seemed like hours passed while Gabriel tried to ‘hang in there’ as the Foegels massaged his muscles and applied heat, trying to keep him comfortable. Eventually, the pain started to ease, and Gabriel was so exhausted from fighting the pain, from the muscles demanding all of his energy, that he fell into a troubled sleep.
Though he wanted to sleep late, tired from the long, restless night, Gabriel wasn’t able to get back to sleep. His head was thick, pounding with pain, and his rash was starting to itch again. His legs, hypotonic once more, felt like something dead. He felt anxious about getting them moving and making sure that they would still work.
Gabriel managed to get out of bed and down the hall to the kitchen.
“Up already?” Heather observed, turning around from the coffee maker to watch him sit down at the table. “I thought that you would sleep in.” Her hair was a little mussed, and she was still in her bathrobe. Luce was sitting at the table playing with her food. Collin was working on a huge bowl of oatmeal and didn’t look at Gabriel as he sat down. No sign of the baby or Josiah, though Gabriel had heard Josiah’s voice earlier as he had tried to make his body go back to sleep.
“Couldn’t sleep in. Can you get me a Benadryl?”
“Still got that rash? Let me have a look.”
Gabriel didn’t move. Heather came over with a fresh mug of coffee and moved Gabriel’s collar around to have a look at the rash. “I think it’s better today.”
Gabriel grunted, not agreeing or disagreeing.
She got him a Benadryl and put it in front of him. “What can I get you for breakfast?”
“You have to have a good breakfast before you take your pills.”
“Then I throw up more!”
“They said that eating and drinking lots of water would help.”
“We need to follow the protocol that the clinic has given us. And that includes eating before taking the pills.”
Gabriel shook his head.
“Gabriel… you need to cooperate. If you don’t eat, they’ll just put you back in hospital again. They’ll put you on a nasal gastric tube and feed you that way. You can’t stop eating, and you can’t go off the protocol.”
Gabriel looked at her in disbelief.
“I’m sorry,” Heather said, shaking her head. “I don’t want it to go that far. So please eat breakfast. What can I get for you?”
Gabriel rested his head in his hand. “Toast.”
“Okay, but that’s not enough. A couple pieces, maybe some juice and some fruit…?”
“Toast,” Gabriel repeated. “And I need a Tylenol.”
She was already on her way back to the counter to put some bread in the toaster. She stopped and looked back at Gabriel. “I told you last night; we’re not allowed to give you any painkillers.”
“Why? Because of the protocol?”
“No… because of your medical history. Let’s just leave it at that. I can get you ice for your head. Is it your head?”
She didn’t pursue it. After Heather had given Gabriel his breakfast and his pills, she ran her fingers through her mussy hair. “I’m going to go take a shower. Collin, will you please put Luce on the bus for me? It should be here in ten minutes. I have to take Josiah to school for an interview.”
Collin grunted. Heather apparently took it as a ‘yes’
Collin looked up after scraping his bowl clean. “Hope you had a good sleep,” he sneered at Gabriel.
“Sorry for waking you up,” Gabriel said, his voice low.
Collin got up from the table, leaving his dirty bowl behind, and walked around the table toward Luce. He punched Gabriel in the shoulder as he walked by, with such force that Gabriel nearly fell out of his chair. The bigger boy continued to walk by. He went over to Luce, who was still playing with her food, eating a bite only occasionally.
“Come on, Luce. Time for school now,” he told her.
Luce paid him not even a flicker of attention. Collin grabbed her arm and pulled her roughly off of her chair. Luce made a squeal of protest and reached for the food remaining on her plate. Collin jerked her farther away from the table.
“Hey, take it easy,” Gabriel protested. “You’re a lot bigger than her.”
Luce tried to free herself from Collin’s grip, and when she couldn’t pull away, tried to bite him. Collin released her arm and grabbed her hair, twisting and jerking it back. Luce flailed. Collin continued to drag her toward the door by the hair.
“Collin!” Gabriel protested, following a step or two.
Collin turned and looked at him. “You wanna be next? You don’t weigh much more than she does.”
Gabriel froze where he was, gulping. He looked toward the bathroom where the shower was running. Too late to get Heather.
“Keep your mouth shut,” Collin warned. “I know where you sleep.”
Collin let go of Luce at the door. She didn’t move to get farther away from him. She didn’t put on her coat or shoes or pick up her pink backpack.
“Get ready for the bus,” Collin ordered.
Luce still didn’t move. Collin reached over and pinched her arm, twisting the skin sharply. Luce cried out and pulled away. He pinched her again. “Get ready for the bus.”
“Leave her alone!”
“You heard Heather tell me to get her on the bus. That’s what I’m doing.”
“Quit hurting her.”
Collin looked at Gabriel and pinched Luce again, holding on until she howled. When Collin let go, she bent over and started to put on her shoes. “You see?” Collin pointed out. “She knows what she’s supposed to be doing. You just have to persuade her. Get her attention.”
Gabriel stood there watching as Luce put on her shoes, then her coat, and took her backpack from Collin when he held it out to her. Collin opened the door and held Luce’s hand to walk her to the curb, where they waited for the yellow school bus. Gabriel could see them through the front window. Luce climbed onto the bus and it pulled out.
“How are you feeling?” Heather asked as she got Josiah ready for school.
“Okay,” Gabriel said with a shrug.
She gave him a big smile. “You see? You are adjusting to the medications! That’s good news. I bet you’re relieved about that.”
Gabriel nodded. But there was a tightness in his chest, and he knew why. He hadn’t taken the pills. Since Heather wasn’t around to make sure that he took them, he had simply washed them down the drain. He couldn’t face another morning of throwing up, itching from the rash, nosebleeds, and the possibility of another night with unbearable leg cramps. He felt guilty for not taking them and for lying to Heather about it. He hadn’t told her that he had taken them, but he knew it was still a lie, even if he said nothing. He had also found a bottle of Tylenol in the cabinet above the sink, and he took a couple of those.
“I’m going to go lie down…”
“Sure. Catch up on some of the sleep that you missed last night,” Heather agreed. “I have to go to Josiah’s school, so you’ll have a couple of hours with the house to yourself. Enjoy it!”
Gabriel went and lay down on his bed while Heather finished getting ready and left the house, calling out to him before she left the house to let him know that she was going. But he found himself lying in bed unable to find sleep. He wanted to go back to sleep, but his body and his brain wouldn’t let him.
He had to get out of the research study. Gabriel had gotten out of taking the pills once, but he wasn’t going to be able to keep pretending to take them. The Foegels would catch on before long. And he imagined that when they repeated the tests at the clinic, they would know that something was wrong too. They might even have some kind of radiation tag in the pills so that they would be able to tell the levels in his system.
Gabriel shook off the thoughts. That was crazy. It was like something that Renata would say. Radiation tags. He wondered briefly whether her paranoia was a side effect of her treatment at the clinic, or whether it was her mito. She had claimed to have been in psych very young, though. If that were true, then it wasn’t the experimental meds.
With everyone gone, he had the house to himself. And that gave him his first opportunity to phone Keisha and talk to her without being monitored. As soon as he realized that, Gabriel got out of bed and went back to the kitchen. While he hadn’t seen anyone use the landline in the kitchen, he had seen where the phone was. Gabriel sat at the writing desk and picked up the receiver. He started to dial Keisha’s cell phone number, then stopped. He pressed the hang-up switch and released it, realizing that there was no dial tone. He pressed and released the switch several times. But it was no use; there was no tone.
Gabriel put down the phone and covered his face. He had only seen the Foegels use their individual cell phones, and they had both taken their phones with them. They didn’t want him to be able to communicate with his mother. They’d left him without any means of communication, even if there were an emergency.
Mito, Medical Kidnap Files #1 by P.D. Workman / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4.8 out of 5 / Based on19 votes