First 2 Chapters of Consilience
Green Eyes on Ice (Redux)
48°16'05.5"N 116°29'54.8"W January 10, 2014
The penthouse view had it all. With a spin of the chair, the boats on Elliot Bay, the blinking lights of the Space Needle and the hazy mirage of Mount Baker were all in your face visible. The postcard collection went beyond the simple sense of sight. Maybe it was the full moon. Maybe it was because Baker showed itself only 37 days of the year. More likely it was just his “sterile, analytical brain” getting a little sentimental and deep all alone at midnight 500 feet above the streets. Maybe he didn’t care. “I’m a scientist, damn it!” The young man in the chair laughed out loud.
Leaning back into the soft leather of the captain’s seat Bellamy twirled, this time counter-clockwise. He closed his eyes trying to envision where the spin would stop. He pushed the strands of stringy blond hair away from his eyes before gazing out over the computer screen that ribboned in an arc across the room. Following the contour of the black marble tabletop the screen ran a good twenty feet and stood 5 feet high. The chair he sat in floated on a counter-balanced pulley system. Attached to a recessed rail in the floor that followed the contour of the table-top, the chair was some sort of Rube Goldberg/Nordic Track workout station.
He opened his eyes to a view of the bay spread out before him in a vibrant, dynamic flow of moonlight, nautical lights and water…not a bad combination, Elliot Bay again…friends partying on some rich guy’s yacht down there and here I am stuck with guard duty. Bellamy toggled the joystick on the armrest. With a barely audible hum the chair glided along the length of the rail. The screen flashed by in a kaleidoscoped blur.
Yeah, fourth year cardiovascular-surgical resident…just a glorified damn peeping Tom…scientist my ass! “Sector eight, populate…sat com two nine five.” Bellamy barked the command with a little of the left-over attitude bleeding through from his last thought. The ambient lighting in the room dimmed and from the middle section of the table-top a 10ft.x10ft. beam of light morphed into a detailed map free-floating in space in front of the penthouse glass. He still felt a little of that first-time thrill even though he was a week removed. One by one red dots popped up across the screen each with a number pulsating just above. Fifty-four in all.
Ah…about time for my sweet Evangeline…. “Fingerprint zoom...fifty-four….max mag”. The screen honed in on one of the dots at the end of the command. 47°13'21.7"N 120°59'36.0"W 47.222691, -120.993337 Roslyn, Washington flashed across the top of the screen. The Brick again? Looks like she’s a minute or two late. Bellamy looked at the digital clock on the wall that read 0006. She’d visited this same bar every night around midnight. She’d left at closing time with a different guy each night.
“Evangeline” had evolved due to a Longfellow moment that had triggered some literary neuronal synapse the instant he saw her face a week ago…Evangeline it had to be. She had been his first comprehensive BMS tracer entry from scratch. He’d become enthralled and obsessed after their face to face in the lab. The isotope tracer injection had taken 15 minutes and then she was gone. No name, no background, he knew her only by the BMS genetic and hematologic data and the isotope tracking code…#54. Vital signs, basal metabolic rate, cerebellar activity along with blood values were all available at his fingertips. He’d already gotten to know her pretty intimately…scientifically speaking.
Using a combination of infrared and enhanced electro-magnetic imaging exclusive to the Ciel-2 satellite at his disposal, Bellamy enhanced the figure getting out of the light blue 57’ Chevy pick-up. Adjusting for the mercury vapor light that bathed the unpaved parking lot in a soft green glow, he clicked in close enough to read the label on the cap that sat perched sideways atop the head of his target. Arc'teryx Beta…going a little yuppie extreme now huh…? Who we trying to impress now? The thick shock of platinum blonde hair that exploded from underneath the cap picked up the green overhead gas light creating a surreal, comic-book aura. The hair and the piles of plowed snow glowed against the surrounding darkened buildings. Bellamy marveled at the diversity of identities he’d already run across in this short time of getting to know Evangeline. From country gothic-cowboy to extreme jock prep-granola, Evangeline had covered the board during her first week of vampire life. Checking her reflection in the driver-side window she tilted the cap a little to the left before unbuttoning another two buttons on faded red plaid flannel shirt.
Refusing to feed his obsession, Bellamy closed the feed on #54. The map with the red dots appeared. He scanned the screen and shook his head. Gonna take a while. He’d been trying to get up to speed on the 54 of my own little vampires as he called them. The sheer volume of data on each was overwhelming even to a data junkie such as himself. Correlating blood values, brain wave patterns along with behavioral algorithms were areas outside his expertise. Most of his off time this last week he’d spent second guessing his career choice. The reality of his bank account always made it all seem o.k. Bellamy would never forget the smile on Treaal’s face when he had finally signed the contract. "Give it a week or two to see the big picture…gotta be patient…just remember why you joined us."
“Foreverlightless believes we can, and should, improve the human condition through the use of advanced technologies. One of the core concepts here at Foreverlightless, that mirrors the very heart and soul of transhumanist thinking is life extension: the notion that through genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cloning, and other emerging technologies, eternal life is possible.”
Treaal’s words that had opened the lecture a week prior to him quitting his residency and signing on with Foreverlightless still lingered. These few words and what he saw next had completely refashioned and retooled his very existence. Standing in the middle of a mind-blowing holographic presentation featuring genetic engineering mixed with never- before-seen technology, he knew the world would never be the same. The phrase “eternal life” had jarred Bellamy. He’d never heard anybody throw it out there so absolute, so matter-of-factly, so causally since Sunday school classes at St. Theresa’s. Treaal continued. Bellamy tried to keep up while still digesting what he’d heard the sentence before.
“We, as transhumanists are all interested in the ever-increasing number of technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities beyond what humans are naturally capable of. Areas such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), for example, which speeds up reaction times and learning speed by running a very weak electric current through your brain, has already been used by the US military. Just think of the possibilities….in the right hands…our hands.”
The back-of-the-neck tingling had nothing to do with his blood alcohol level at that point. That secret little niche, buried deep, that scared him, now had a platform. Treaal had paused at that point. Squirming in the cushy theatre chair, Bellamy had met the Dr.’s gaze which had settled on him. He refused to blink despite the eyes and silence.
“And just to wet your appetites, on the more extreme side, dealing with the concepts of mind uploading (yes, to a computer), and what really happens when we achieve that technological singularity, you know, when we finally craft a computer with greater-than-human intelligence? We here at Foreverlightless have and will continue to create our own reality, our own perfect world that we all deserve. You…you and you…” Treaal had pointed to different audience members, ending with him, “you select few can be a part of this.”
Bellamy had received the invitation to the lecture via registered mail from Foreverlightless for “a night of drinking, dancing and evolutionary intellectual growth.” There had been a contract ready to sign...500k sign-on bonus for starters. He’d heard of Foreverlightless “the vampire club” but only after an exhaustive search did he really “get” Foreverlightless. The list of endorsees and participants was so impressive that he couldn’t refuse. It was baseball camp with Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth.
The alcohol and dancing had been phenomenal. Foreverlightless “the bar” was beyond anything he’d experienced. The lecture had taken place in a plush theater somewhere below the club. Treaal’s multimedia presentation made mechanical hearts and open heart surgery mundane and boring. Finally, something that pushed the envelope…something outside the box.
The night had ended with the redhead who had competed for his attention with a bevy of androgynous powder-faced girls. Where else do they fight over a skinny nerd with greasy hair and thick glasses? The imprint of that night was still vivid and fresh. Now here he was, in Seattle, night watchman and nanny for 54 red dots whose well-being and future rested in his hands, or so he’d been told.
Bellamy now began his quick survey of the board by checking in on each of his charges beginning with #1. With a mid-air flourish of his hand he tapped the pulsating dot at the top of the screen, way up north and all alone. Calling on the satellite patrolling that sector he hoped the results of his search would be different this time. 60°17'06.3"N 134°43'26.3"W flashed across the screen as the satellite imagery focused into a green and gray clarity. Massive spruce trees surrounding a cobblestone circle of pavement came into sharp focus. The craggy mountain and what appeared to be a large cobblestone courtyard looked awkwardly out of place...deserving the likes of some medieval palace or foggy gothic castle.
Panning back his birds-eye view Bellamy marveled again at the desolate beauty of the Yukon. All the data showed life signs of a healthy young male somewhere in the middle of those mountains and trees. As usual there were no indications to support any actual presence.
What about #1 anyway? Bellamy was never able to get a straight answer from any of his colleagues or superiors when it came to anything about #1. Even #1’s date of origin was in question. Bellamy had allowed a mystical status to develop and evolve around this “ghost vampire of the trees and stone.” He envisioned some shrouded super-hero defying all convention and odds…making up and operating outside of the rules. Perhaps #1 had no beginning and always was, maybe even responsible for the being and existence of the others. Bellamy shrugged his shoulders before rebuking his overactive imagination. There I go again…debating nobody about…who really cares. He found himself there quite often.
Leaving the cobblestones and trees for another time he prepared his quick survey data dump for 1/12/16. 0021, January 13…he was running a little late. Just as the final step before data acquisition finalized, the entire bank of screens blinked once then went dark leaving the penthouse awash in only the blue glow of the city below. Bellamy leaned forward in his chair, his right arm still stretched out ready to initiate his next virtual command, a conductor sans baton cueing strings for the last passage. The interactive holographic screen had gone stone cold dead.
OK…think…you idiot. What did you do wrong now? Before he could lower his arm the screens flashed back into existence.
48°16'05.5"N 116°29'54.8"W scrolled across the top of the display and the database spreadsheet disappeared and gave way to a pale blue background with two pulsating red dots dead center. The dots overlaid one another. The numbers “7” and “8” popped up with a corresponding deluge of numerical and written data scrolling and filling the screen within seconds… life threatening incident... fatality 98% probability …. imminent intervention required…acquiring visual satellite contact. The flashing message reminded him of some stupid video game he’d played not that long ago. Within 10 seconds Bellamy could start to make out the features of the landscape that the satellite was so efficiently constructing for him. The full moon light only enhanced the definition and clarity of the imagery as it filled the screen with a silvery-blue collage of snow, stars and ice. As the digital zoom honed in on the target Bellamy felt the beginnings of that visceral adrenaline rush spreading from his core. He’d experienced it a couple of times before…both times while elbow deep in an open chest code in the CCU. Both lucky bastards made it…because of me…that soggy, twitching heart in my hands as I squeezed back life… The code that lasted over an hour had seemed like seconds. The realization of the power he possessed and what more was possible had been instantly addictive and obsessive.
There had been many lower level alerts dealing with variances in vital signs and brain wave data, especially on these two subjects. The alerts had nearly exclusively occurred when they were together as they were tonight. Extreme sports and extreme sex always seemed to be the common denominator. The BMS software had gradually learned and adapted to these variances but these two always seemed to push the limits with something new.
The image before Bellamy had now fully zoomed and sharpened. The crystal expanse of ice against a moonlit black sky filled the screen…no signs of the life that the computer insisted was there. #8 was in extremis according to all indicators. Heart rate 30, body temp 34C, BIS readings showing comatose numbers and falling fast. #7 showed elevated numbers across the board.
Bellamy leaned in towards the screen straining to identify anything that supported the data. Using the limited controls available he toggled the view over to a darkened area marring the silvery ice sheet that stretched across what he now knew to be a lake. A break in the ice exposing the dark water beneath was the flaw interrupting the perfect surface. A strait-line gash scarring the frozen lake with its origin shoreward more than hinted to Bellamy of what had transpired. Both under the ice…in the water…along with the vehicle.
Five large chunks of ice floated atop the dark water giving no hint to what lie beneath. For some reason Bellamy could not take his eyes off the bobbing ice. By now the recovery algorithm had been initiated. In theory he knew what this meant. In reality he had no idea. The team would mobilize, equipment assembled, chopper deployed, history to be made…whatever. Bellamy remained fixated, barely breathing staring at the slosh of water surrounded by ice.
The water exploding between the two largest bergs had Bellamy slamming his head against the soft leather of the chair back. The limp form of a woman shot out of the water and onto the ice propelled by some unseen force. Bellamy knew it was a woman by the clump of long black hair that sprayed a graceful arc of water and the pale pink breast that lay exposed under the torn green blouse clinging to her shoulders. The flaccid body slid across the ice and came to a stop just as another form emerged from the black hole, one hand reaching high, the other clawing at the frozen broken edge for a saving handhold.
There we are my little vampires…what fine mess have you gotten into this time? Bellamy smiled, his faith in science and technology restored with this dramatic appearance of #’s 7 and 8. He watched as the figure in the water struggled to pull himself onto the ice. He felt no sympathy as he witnessed the anguish etched across the face of the young man as he willed his frozen body parts up out of the water. He felt only a twinge of what he thought to be curiosity at the fluorescent green eyes staring moonward as the young man cradled the young woman’s head to his chest. Bellamy watched in utter fascination as the young man began the ritual of resuscitation that seemed so simple and familiar.
This will never do…you’ve let her go way too long…she’s already acidotic…you’ve got to warm her…she already bradycardic…agonal…you’re both screwed…you’re not much better off than her you dumbass…you’ll be laying right beside her in a minute or two! Bellamy watched as the chest compressions and mouth to mouth became more furious and futile.
“We leave in two minutes…remember where you left your flight suit?” The voice snapped him from his voyeuristic reverie. It came through his earpiece and exploded mid-brain. “I’m right outside ready to go.” The navigation lights from the modified Eurocopter X3 lit up the penthouse courtyard as it appeared out of nowhere and hovered just above the glass of the penthouse roof and Bellamy’s head.
“That you Kato? Thought you had the night off…living it up on the boat with the rest.”
“Took call for Jackie boy…just my luck. This should be fun though. Looks like we might get the full meal deal with this one. Ready for the ride of your life my friend?”
Peter Katozski was the one Foreverlightless West staff Bellamy had actually met since arriving in Seattle two weeks ago. He’d been the one to show him around that first day. Loud and gregarious, Katozski seemed the perfect sidekick even though Bellamy had the sense there was a whole lot more to “Kato” than met the causal eye. Approaching a flabby 300 pounds, Katozski was one of four pilots stationed in Seattle. Aside from being an experienced medic and EMT, he had completed two tours in the Middle East which is where most of his legendary status as a pilot originated from. As he liked to remind most anyone, “he was larger than life”.
“I just got clearance from the powers back home…get your shit together and get out here. Gotta grab some provisions.” Katozski was nowhere to be seen. His voice was now coming from the helmet under Bellamy’s arm
The chopper was now settled down next to the pool. The blade downwash blew two of the poolside café umbrellas up against the Plexiglas. Trying to remember the protocol, Bellamy took one last glance at the frozen lake on the screen before dismounting from his chair. He stripped off his jeans and kicked off his shoes on his way towards the door to the roof. His flight suit hung next to the others in little anteroom next to the door. Grabbing the boots and helmet he hoped were his, Bellamy stepped out into the chilly January air.
The cabin door was open on the light blue helicopter and Bellamy pulled himself up into the cabin just like he had on his one and only practice flight a week ago.
Quickly surveying the inside of the cabin Bellamy felt confident that everything was as he had left it just hours ago. Each shift began with the pre-flight check of equipment, drugs and supplies.
“Maybe we use Kitra this time. You good to go with it?” The voice in Bellamy’s helmet was loud and clear with no trace of the engine noise.
Katozski threw an assortment of snacks into the console between the two seats and pulled himself into the pilot’s seat with difficulty. The grin on his face through the full beard was there as usual.
“Never know when you’ll go down. Wouldn’t want to think about having to eat you unless I had to.” Katozski laughed as he strapped himself in and started throwing switches. The engine came to full life launching the two yellow umbrellas out into the Seattle night air. Maybe they’d find some Starbuck’s to make their home. Bellamy watched as the yellow disappeared below the building’s horizon.
“Really….root beer and Cheetos…can you sink any lower? Got your insulin on you I hope.”
Katozski winked and patted the breast pocket of his flight suit. The abrupt purely vertical ascent had Bellamy grabbing for something to hold onto. Scrambling into the copilot’s seat he strapped in just as the nose dipped and horizontal flight began.
“We’ll be on ice in about 35 minutes, crossing the Columbia three times…straight line 277.2 miles…do the math.” Kato pointed to the digital speedometer as it passed 500kph. “Holy control tower Robin, the Batcopter was never this fast…even with my lard-ass in tow.” Katozski had already busted out the chips and reached for the soda.
Bellamy settled into his seat and pulled down the screen affixed to the console above him. With one touch the icy lake appeared. It was now 32 minutes after midnight. The satellite imagery had turned a little grainy-gray but Bellamy could still make out the two images on the ice…one kneeling over the other…two red dots superimposed. Resuscitation was obviously still in progress although Bellamy noticed the fervor and urgency seemed be waxing. Poor guy’s half frozen himself… he can hardly move. Bellamy noted the stiff, robotic attempt at meaningful movement from #7…muscles and nerves doing their own thing. He switched to the lifesign screen. #8 had no visible lifesigns, not even a hint, and #7’s were deteriorating rapidly.
“Hey, you think this is rescue or recovery? Looks like things are moving the wrong way pretty fast. Can’t reperfuse a deadhead, even Kitra has its’ limits.” Bellamy went through the algorithms he would likely face within the next hour. He could recite them in his sleep.
Katozski looked over and shrugged his shoulders as he reached for the root beer. “How simplyexciting, can’t wait. We’ll be there before you know it. Ready for your first Frankenstein moment Doctor?”
Bellamy returned the shrug and nodded. With one last glance at the data screen he swiped to the drama on the lake, not quite sure what he was hoping to see. He’d just as soon start from scratch, especially with the hypothermia factored in. Might as well go big for my first one.
Bellamy tapped the side of Katozski’s helmet “How many of these have you been on?”
“First one out west. Been on a few back home. Mostly drug related… Nothing cold water like this. Might be our first crack at the big one…you know…back from nothing …Genesis moment stuff. Can’t live forever if we can’t master that first little spark now can we? Nihil fit ex nihilo…as my good friend Parmenides once said…nothing ever comes from nothing”. The sarcasm was apparent.
The city lights had vanished to the rear and the overhead glow from the full moon had taken full control of the sky. Flying at 300 feet seemed a little low to Bellamy. He followed the streaking shadow of their craft as it erratically flowed across the bright white of snowfields then disappeared into the trees. They were approaching the Cascades. He felt the abrupt climb in the pit of his stomach. Before he knew it they had leveled off at 4000 feet, a good thousand feet above the treetops.
“Just a simple question. Don’t go philosophy 101 on me. ” Bellamy should have expected the commentary. Peter enjoyed conversation…loved the sound of his own voice.
“Just a simple answer…each time was different…I’m sure this one will be too. Maybe Treaal hits the jackpot with this one. Pressure’s on big guy.” Katozski laughed as he reached over and rubbed the top of Bellamy’s helmet. “Looks like our hero has had it.” He pointed to the now active screen.
The nightscape was back with every shade of black and white and a couple of drops of green. The young woman’s body lay alone, green eyes staring moonward. The backside of a figure walking away was briefly visible in the screenshot before exiting stage right. Bellamy toggled his view to follow #7. Expecting to see someone half dead and spent, he was surprised.
The figure of the young man could now be seen sprinting across the frozen lake, seemingly none the worse for wear and quite alive. “Nothing like a little ice water tonic to revive the soul…where the hell is he going?” Bellamy mumbled to himself as he turned back to the body. Lifesigns were absent. Off to the left, towards the shore Bellamy caught the hint of movement. What appeared to be two large black dogs hesitantly emerged from the tree-line shadows. Bellamy zoomed in on the shadowy forms pacing towards the body on the ice. Flashes of gristle and gore in his mind replaced the serene beauty of the body lying in state when Bellamy realized what he saw.
“Nothing but a carcass by the time we get there…wolves will see to that.” The wolves stopped and looked up just as the picture on the screen degraded and disappeared.
“Satellite coverage gone for now, we’ll be there before the next one overlaps.” Katozski scanned the data scrolling across one of the displays above him. “We’re blind for the next 22 minutes.”
Bellamy unstrapped his seatbelt and crawled through to the body of the cabin. Within a minute or two he had transformed the space into what appeared to be a well-appointed surgical suite. The white ceramic stretcher in the center had emerged from the fuselage through floor and locked into place as the final touch. Bellamy leaned in towards a small display screen and keyed in a number sequence that opened a small metal box affixed to the underside of the stretcher. Taking a deep breath Bellamy slowly opened the box.
Slightly smaller than a 4-slice toaster, Kitra weighed 3.5 kg. Comprised of ceramic and titanium alloys, both developed by Foreverlightless, Kitra was the embodiment of everything Foreverlightless was and hoped to become. There existed nothing like it in the world. A drastically modified form of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), Kitra redefined cardio-pulmonary bypass in ways only a very few even knew about. Bellamy remembered the days he spent in the labs under Foreverlightless getting to know Kitra…intimately…each and every circuit, pump and valve. He had dissected, disassembled and reassembled the device countless times. Each time with a little more reverence and awe at the engineering and physiologic brilliance evidenced in each and every facet of the machine.
“Time to prime…it’s prime time. We still on time…to prime?” Bellamy looked over at Katozski who rolled his eyes and nodded. Pushing his entire right hand against the 6x9 inch display screen Bellamy waited for the familiar glow of the finger-print scanner. The priming sequence screen lit up and with a barely audible whir the machine came to life.
“We’re wicked fast…tail wind gave us 28 minutes. There’s Pend’ Orielle River…takes us right to the lake. Hope the wolves are the only ones on scene…so far nothing on the scanner.” Katozski adjusted flight to a more northerly attitude away from the river which glowed a fluorescent molten white 500 feet below. The moon seemed to have the river to herself with only the occasional twinkle of a light sporadically marring the shoreline on both sides. Within 30 seconds Bellamy visualized the river widening into the lake with the town of Sandpoint on their left.
“We’ll hit the deck after we clear the bridge.” Katozski pointed ahead to the expanse of bridge that stretched two miles north to south. “1251…damn, we made good time.”
The steep dive had Bellamy’s stomach in his throat even though he knew it was coming. The glow of red dot # 8 was just ahead according to the flight screen. Just feet of the frozen lake the helicopter maintained its speed in excess of 300mph. Bellamy had no time to notice the train bridge that flashed by a few feet below.
“I think I see her, get ready for a grab and go.…gotta stay wheels up…can’t trust the ice.” Kotozski pointed to a dark patch a hundred feet from the shore. Somehow their speed of flight had been reduced from over 400 feet per second to nearly a standstill within a second or two. Bellamy clipped into the safety harness and moved towards the door that was already open. The blast of icy air cut across his exposed cheeks and took his breath. “Jump when I say.”
Bellamy looked down from the chopper door. Flat white…could be a foot or a mile from the ice…no way to tell.
“Trust me buddy…you can step off with your eyes closed…I’ve got you that close. Go ahead…step off bro.” Katozski laughed and pointed out the door. “Go.”
The step was anticlimactic. At least I’m still on the ice. Bellamy glanced over into the black water that had a thin glaze of ice on its surface. Head down, he walked clear of the blade wash towards the body. He noticed an object protruding from the ice a couple of feet from the edge of the hole. Some sort of pipe punched through the ice? What the hell happened here? What the hell am I doing here?
The green eyes were undeniable. Bellamy took the glove from his right hand and knelt beside the body. Pulling back the frozen brown hair plastered to her neck, Bellamy felt for a carotid pulse he knew wasn’t there. The powder white skin was still soft and smooth but felt colder than anything he’d ever felt. The body was stiff in his arms as he picked her up like a small child, cradling her head to his chest…green eyes staring into his. He stood there for what seemed a second or two, oblivious to the engine roar and bitter cold. Across the ice to the east the blinking of a light caught Bellamy’s eye. It came from a peninsula of land outlined plainly against the nightsky. Bellamy could make out the silhouette of a house perched on the very tip of land. The light blinked from a darkened upstairs window. The light seemed extra bright.
“Hey…wonder boy, let’s get going, we’ve got a plane to catch!” Katozski’s voice broke the moment. “Load her up, let’s go!
Prying his eyes from the blinking light, Bellamy sprinted the 50 feet to the chopper. Katozski was at the door to greet him. “I was just coming to get you! You O.K.? Senior moment?”
Bellamy looked at the vacant pilot’s seat then at Katozski.
“Yeah, that’s right…now let’s go!”
Katozski took the body from Bellamy and laid it roughly on the stretcher before reclaiming his seat. Bellamy had just time enough to grab the side of the table before they were truly airborne again.
Katozski pointed towards the shoreline to the two wolves sitting calmly, noses to the moon, obviously howling. “They were heading your way the minute you hit the ice. Didn’t want to freak you out…”
Bellamy looked across the cabin through the window of the banking helicopter trying to digest the snapshot moment he’d never forget. Peering across the vacant green eyes into the incandescent moonlight, framed perfectly through the Plexiglas were the two howling wolves sitting next to the broken ice with the window light blinking in the distance, that night on the lake.
The low flow alarm flashed across Kitra’s screen. Anything less than 4 liter per minute won’t do. At least the MAP (mean arterial pressure) is 62. Bellamy dialed up the flow and checked the parameters again. He still had trouble throwing out most of what he’d learned and adapting to Kitra’s magic. Keeping cells and organs perfused was Kitra’s forte even though she didn’t do it the conventional way.
By the time the chopper had reached Felts Field on the outskirts of Spokane Bellamy had already cannulated the patient and initiated BMS resuscitation with Kitra. Having all the intimate data allowed for a customized procedure with the exact sizing of catheters and equipment already a given. The single carotid artery cannulation had gone well. The catheter fit the vessel perfectly. Such a perfectly beautiful neck! There were still no lifesigns aside from Kitra’s flow which in theory was not only doing the job of both of heart and lungs but also the kidneys.
The transfer to the Gulfstream G550 from the chopper went as well for all Bellamy knew. Within a minute the jet was airborne heading east in excess of 600mph. Katozski had left without a good-bye. Bellamy was alone with Green Eyes. Bellamy pushed the stool to the head of the table and sat down next to the empty green eyes. He taped each shut after applying ophthalmic lubricant. Pulling at the small white buttons on the blouse that clung twisted around the torso he began undressing his patient. Body temperature was already near normal thanks to the blood-warming touch of Kitra. Bellamy covered the naked body with a blanket nonetheless. Accessing one of the injection ports of the carotid catheter Bellamy administered BMS2 the narcotic sedative/paralytic cocktail that ensured muscle and brain rest these first 12 hours. Bellamy was quite sure this was unnecessary…flat EEG, fixed, dilated pupils, isoelectric EKG…the list grew as he looked at the lab values flashing across the screen.
Lactic acidosis, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), white count already climbing… cellular death, multi-system organ failure. Bellamy shook his head as he digested the data.
“Any data to support a complete BMS regen? Any signs of viability?” The robotic voice popped inside of Bellamy’s helmet. Bellamy knew sooner than later he’d be talking to Treaal. They hadn’t spoken since the brief contract signing meeting
“I think things are too far gone…even with the hypothermia. The acidosis isn’t correcting for some reason. Thought we’d have more of a window…she went fast. No positive markers present.” Bellamy replied knowing his assessment was correct.
“Just keep Kitra pumping and we’ll see how things are when you get to the lab.” Treaal sounded irritated. “I just pulled 8’s profile. She’s a very atypical specimen…lots of variables. Just keep the flows above 4. We’ll be ready for the full BMS exchange if anything changes inflight.”
“Any suggestions….tips… from what you can see? Any signs of #7?” Bellamy’s question went unanswered. Treaal had already signed off or didn’t give a damn. Bellamy looked out through the cabin window into a dark, moonless void. He grabbed the rail of the stretcher as a blast of turbulence shook the cabin.
“We’re in some weather….should have us up into the smooth and flat in a minute.” The pilot spoke for the first time. Bellamy nodded and gave a half-hearted thumbs-up.
Reaching down, he roughly pulled the tape off the now swollen right eyelid. Pupil fixed… dilated….still green though. Bellamy traced the curve of the pale cheek with his index finger from the outside corner of the one open eye down to the angle of the jaw. Closing his eyes he let his fingertips glide across the smooth neck searching for what he knew had to be there. Ah… there it is…strong….regular…surely more than adequate. Opening his eyes Bellamy stared at the pulsating neck and tried to visualize the carotid artery throbbing beneath. He clinically worked his way backwards from the throbbing delicate white tissue to his old friend the Krebs cycle “where all real life takes place”. His physiology professor Ed Jenks had drilled the formula into his head and it had always done him well in figuring out the end goal of treatment and how to get there. Everything’s here, all the ingredients…should be getting at least some sort of sign…at least a little cardiac activity…some sort of correction…gotta be at least the damn hint of a spark. He recalled the “miracle saves” he’d been part of both in the operating room and CICU. This should be a gimme!
Bellamy left his place beside the green eyes and settled into a window seat. The pilot had found good air above the clouds at 30,000 ft. The new moonlight flooded through the tiny window. For no good reason at all, Bellamy reached over and hit the three light switches to his left. The lifeless, sterile fluorescence surrendered to the undulating dance of the full moon that cut through the occasional wisp of a cloud or some lost vaporous mist. The snapchat moment found Bellamy wondering, empty and quite lost himself. Suddenly overwhelmingly exhausted beyond thought or action he closed his eyes and succumbed to the narcotic light that enveloped him.
Bellamy awoke between ear pops. Usually they both popped together but not this time. 7:12am EST. His phone was nearly dead. Two messages blinking…both from Katozski. The skyscrapers just below eye level surprised him. Ears usually pop sooner.
“We’ll be in the hanger in 2 minutes. You ready to go?” The pilot glanced back and Bellamy gave a thumbs-up.
“Where we landing?”
“Newark Liberty…closer to home…we’ve got our dedicated runway always open you know.” Bellamy just nodded as the plane banked sharply and dipped closer to the antennae that sprouted from the rooftops. Bellamy lurched out of the window seat and knelt beside the head of the stretcher. Everything was as he’d left it about an hour earlier. He had dreamlessly slept in one hour installments most of the flight. Every hour some unseen finger had tapped him awake to check on his patient. With nothing changed and Kitra doing her thing he’d returned to the window seat and sleep each time…dead to the world and everything else. Glancing at the data screen Bellamy reaffirmed what he already knew. Zero life signs, flat EEG and EKG, blood pH 6.58, each and every marker showing multi-organ failure. All this despite Kitra…the flow was still there.
Gently pulling off the paper tape from over both eyes Bellamy pulled up the swollen, cyanotic upper eyelids. The slime of ointment and body fluids had caked the long brown lashes into a matted mess so he wiped both eyes clean with the back of his hand. The death-stare that hadn’t changed since the ice. The green eyes were still mesmerizing. Locked somewhere behind the haze there has to be something worth saving. Bellamy allowed a fleeting glimmer of hope. The absence of pupillary response disappointed him profoundly even though he’d expected nothing more and knew better.
Hey dumb-ass, don’t you know science can’t make room for miracles!
Bellamy hastily re-taped the eyes and ran through one last systems check of Kitra. The hard bank left and abrupt drop in altitude preceded the less than smooth landing by 5 seconds. Without slowing close to taxiing speed the plane worked its way through a maze of hangers and parked aircraft towards a massive light blue hanger sitting off to the side all alone.
Within seconds the entire front of the hanger had opened wide to accept KLB 101 and its cargo. Bellamy watched as the giant door slid back down just as the plane’s tail cleared the threshold. The only light came from the strobe of the jet’s running lights.
The plane door opened letting in more of the half-lit shadows of what Bellamy thought to be aircraft of all types and sizes surrounding them. Glancing down at his patient he hoped things were ready for transport.
“Time to move. Time is brain…cells dying. Isn’t that what you all say?” The pilot was at Bellamy’s side and had the stretcher unlatched and rolling before he could respond. “There’s your taxi to the club.”
The helicopter that seemed identical to the one Bellamy had boarded in Seattle was airborne a minute later, skimming just above the rooftop antennae and snowy penthouse courtyards of the towers below. The birds’ eye view of familiar water and parks was a first for Bellamy. He tried to picture the course from the airport to the club in Lower Manhattan.
“First time to the city…Green Eyes?” Bellamy reached down and tilted his patient’s head to the side towards the window. The neck was stiffer than he thought it would be. Reaching under the right shoulder, he tipped the body on its side and jammed a pillow behind the back before untaping and prying open the slippery eyelids. Leaning down till his lips felt the few wisps of brown hair that weren’t matted he whispered, “wouldn’t want you to miss any part of my first epic fail.” His disgust bled through the whisper that was meant to remain unspoken.
Bellamy noticed that they were now over water and following the shoreline north. What appeared to be a marina nestled in a small inlet caught Bellamy’s attention. He’d only heard about Foreverlightless Harbor. Slowing considerably they flew over the moored yachts and powerboats low enough to read the arched wrought-iron sign at the marina’s water entrance. Foreverlightless Harbor…where night outshines the sun. The pilot guided the helicopter over a band of snow-covered trees behind the last row of boats. A small clearing surrounded by trees lay exposed below. In the center of the clearing a small dark structure stood against the white. Within seconds the helicopter was hovering directly over the s.
“Ready?” The pilot looked back at Bellamy who was staring down at the metal roof of the little gazebo-like structure. As Bellamy watched, the ground around the structure, now blown clear and clean of snow and debris, transformed itself into a metallic circular landing pad. The building, roof and all had sunken into the center and disappeared leaving a circular dark void. The landing was barely noticeable. Bellamy didn’t notice that the pilot had unbuckled and was heading back to where he was.
“You ready? Hey, wake up asshole…let’s go!” Bellamy felt himself being lifted like a rag-doll to his feet and placed at the head of the stretcher. “Don’t move and hold on.”
Gloved hands, twice the size of his placed Bellamy’s shaking hands on the crossbar at the head of the stretcher. With a whoosh the floor and stretcher separated from the aircraft’s fuselage. Bellamy felt rather than heard the click that attached the stretcher to whatever platform was beneath. With a death-grip on the crossbar he watched as the helicopter rose straight up a good 50 feet before dipping its nose and leaving him all alone in the cold morning air. Wonder what else they forgot to brief me on!
Only later would he appreciate the beauty of that moment surrounded by trees, fading nightlight and the occasional snowflake, there in his little lifeboat on a sea of pure white. Looking down at the staring green eyes he wondered if she had ever imagined such an ending…such a spectacle…such a finale to nowhere…nothing. He tugged the blanket that the wind had blown down around her knees back over her naked body
Bellamy hardly noticed the beginning of movement. It just seemed that the extra bright star, the one low on the horizon that had caught his eye, began to climb its way further up into the twilit sky, defying logic and natural law. He realized he was sinking only when the speed of movement increased, which it did rapidly. By the time the ground had reached his eye level it felt as if he was in freefall. The circular patch off starry sky light above shrunk then suddenly disappeared. A misty red glow allowed Bellamy to see that the platform was descending rapidly down a vertical chute. The ride was controlled, silent and smooth and over in five seconds. The deceleration and landing were the same. A sudden flood of white light forced his eyes shut. Bellamy took a deep breath and swallowed as the wave of nausea subsided.
“Make a wish doctor. You’re one of just a handful that’s made that little trip through the well while still breathing.” The voice came from directly behind Bellamy and very close. “Ready to pass the baton?”
Bellamy relaxed his death grip on the stretcher and turned around, squinting through the light. “Good to be home Dr. Treaal. Hope it’s worth our while.”
The glare of the overhead lights off Treaal’s bald head had Bellamy squinting again. He vaguely recognized the two young females flanking Treaal from the party of a couple weeks ago. He hoped he’d been a gentleman but couldn’t remember.
“Feeling a bit underdressed here.” Bellamy glanced down at his flight suit and the blanket barely covering his patient. Judging by the formal evening wear of the threesome he knew his arrival was nothing more than an interruption. He had expected a more “clinical” reception. Maybe even a hero’s welcome versus crashing a party.
“Feel free to join us. Your job here is done…things are settled. Good job.” Reaching down, without even a glance Treaal toggled the two switches that were never meant to be touched and turned of Kitra. He then motioned towards the stainless steel door at the end of the dimly lit long sterile hallway. The two young women each took a step back, joined hands and sauntered towards Bellamy. The tall redhead in the pure white Brunelli gown approached him, her vibrant blue eyes locked on his. Reaching up and behind Bellamy’s neck she drew his face in close to hers with one hand as the other gently loosened his grip from the stretcher’s cold steel. Her partner took the foot and before Bellamy could protest, comment or resist they were rolling down the hall towards the distant door. The rhythmic clacking of their steps reverberated obnoxious and loud. That, along with the whispering and occasional giggle cheapened what Bellamy thought should be at least a brief moment of reverie.
“What do you mean ‘done here’? Where the hell are they taking her?” Bellamy could feel the red across his neck. Treaal looked at him and smiled as he took Bellamy’s arm and led him in the opposite direction.
“We’ve analyzed each and every detail of last night. You followed the algorithms perfectly …even during your little nap. Kitra performed flawlessly….time intervals well within limits…just wasn’t meant to be.” Treaal shook his head. “Things went from rescue/recovery/reanimate to harvest mode just about the about the time you two flew over Old Faithful…just something about #8 that kept her out of our reach. Intangibles, variables…whatever, I always had a hunch but could never nail down what it was about her.” Treaal’s frustration was apparent. Bellamy knew the feeling. How dare anything or anybody defy our perfect science?
“Lot of nerve…declining our invitation to the dance like this. Never felt we completely had her though…she was one stubborn little bitch. Even with first-hand, eyes-on evidence she was a hard-sell.”
Treaal opened the last door at the end of the hall. Bellamy hadn’t noticed all the doors they’d passed till he stopped and looked back down the hallway….at least 20 doors, all on the left side. The one-room suite was “minimalist opulent” if Bellamy had to describe it in two words or less. The far wall was comprised entirely of a single picture window. Bellamy walked towards the window that displayed the expanse of Central Park from just above tree level.
“Is that Wollman Rink?” Bellamy put his nose to the window and looked down at the street below. Off in the distance the glide of the skaters animated the white ice that interrupted the trees and towers. To the left, a light mist rising off The Pond evaporated into a blue sky. A twinge of homesickness hit Bellamy.
“Not a bad real-time Fifth Avenue view from 200 feet down is it?” Treaal joined Bellamy at the window. Tapping the pane with his fingertips, he looked at Bellamy. “Remember, you can’t go home again. Might as well embrace your new life.” The window flickered and faded to a new palette. The boats on Elliot Bay, the Space Needle and the hazy mirage of Mt. Baker now filled the window. The digital clock on the Washington Trust Bank read 4:48A.M. and somebody had found and replaced the two yellow umbrellas by the pool.
Bellamy wondered if Treaal knew of his worship of Thomas Wolfe. “Not sure I’ve done anything that “George Webberesque”. Bellamy laughed as he surveyed the new penthouse view.
“You’ll see what I mean about ‘going home’ soon enough. By the way, this is a duplicate of your system in Seattle. Tracking, analysis, intervention…your home office away from home. Get some sleep. We’ll debrief before you leave in a couple of days. And by the way, the bar’s always open if you need a little stir of your own. Treaal pointed to a metallic column protruding from the floor the middle of the room. He turned and walked towards the door.
“She’s down the hall in the freezer by the way. Last thing she saw coming I’m sure. Speaking of Wolfe… “she had to see it a thousand times to see it once”…stubborn little bitch.”
Treaal closed the door leaving Bellamy to wonder what about Green Eyes so bothered the Doctor. Lightly tapping the light that topped the on-screen Space Needle, Bellamy collapsed onto the bed just as the window-scape went black leaving him finally alone with nowhere to go but asleep. No place like home…..
ICE, ICE baby
It was 4:30 pm the third day, Sunday. He’d slept away the last 18 hours of Saturday thanks to his double shot of BMS special #38…a blend of Cobain and Jack Kerouac. Probably the wrong combination for my personality type was the conclusion Bellamy came to after he awoke. The dreams had been vivid but he didn’t remember a thing. He felt remarkably refreshed with the overwhelming urge to write a haiku about nothing. He’d neither seen nor heard from Treaal. The briefings from the R&D team had taken only a couple of hours with most of the focus on software updates for Kitra and new data on the total plasma exchange (BMS-X) protocol. The remaining free time Bellamy had spent at his work station catching up from his time missed. All things were as they should be except for the obvious. Things are really quite boring considering. Bellamy dreaded the return to Seattle. What’s worse than an anticlimax to a failure? Nothing. He’d hoped for a little more from Dr. Treaal. Why no debriefing…no closure…no “what next”?
Growing tired of the hustle and bustle of real time life in the major cities of the world, Bellamy had finally settled on a windowscape that he stuck with…a mountain’s-eye view of large expanse of water bordered by majestic cliffs, snowy trees and strands of rocky beaches. Unlike the others, this view had no location tag and the only hints were the distant boats and a plume or two of smoke. With only an occasional bird darting across the window the scene gave Bellamy what he needed…a tranquil, low-stim background that was easy on the eyes and brain. The wind, waves and wildlife filled the room via the surround-sound technology that was embedded somewhere. Bellamy had yet to find the source. Lake Lucerne or Geneva he thought. He wondered at the technology it took to produce all this. Much more than a good camera or two.
Checking one last time before his return to Seattle Bellamy pulled up the data screen on his laptop. There was nothing out of place with his “remaining 52”. All present and accounted for. #54 Evangeline was holed up with her latest hero in a snow cave somewhere in Olympic National Park and the rest of his “little vampires” were doing the things they always did. #1, still present but vital signs in absentia as usual… #7 now with no signal at all. The tracer for # 8 was still active and showed her to be right where she was…40°43'53.4"N 74°00'39.7"W… deep freeze down the hall with the location beacon still pulsing.
Pulling on the black t-shirt he’d found with the jeans he already had on Bellamy slurped down the last of his coffee before closing the laptop. Food’s been great ….but what’s with the coffee? He smiled at himself in the full length mirror beside the bed. The thought of being classified as a Seattle coffee snob somehow embarrassed the New Yorker in him.
“Taxi leaves in 45 minutes. Looks like you’re ready to go. No need for a coat. Leave your flight suit. Take the laptop…I’ll call you for a debrief inflight.” Bellamy turned expecting Dr. Treaal to be standing at the door but realized otherwise. The background sounds of city traffic of honking and voices emanated from all around the room. The jerk doesn’t even have time for a face to face?
“Sure…guess that’ll be fine. Thought we might go over things with the team but…I guess that’ll be fine.” He’d hoped for a more scientific closure and some technical feedback from the master himself.
“Not much to go over…I’ll call you before you land.” Bellamy sensed impatience in Treaal’s voice. The sound of wind and birds returned to match the lake in the window. The low battery alarm beeping from the laptop seemed an inappropriate interruption.
Bellamy glanced one more time at the collage of red dots before powering down. “Later, my little vampires, catch you all on the flip side.” He spoke as if they were all in the room as he picked the laptop off the unmade bed.
He would always wonder how he noticed it at all. Maybe because it had been alone and on the other side of the map. Maybe it was just the casual chance glance. Whatever it was that drew his attention to the right side of the screen at that particular moment would be responsible for changing his life and the world as he knew it forever. Looking back years later at the sequence of events, the intricate timing, the flawless structure of how things unfolded, he would wonder at the force responsible. The science of it all would be lost on him. It made no sense, with all the variables, all the players exercising free will. Karma meets chance and luck on the corner of kismet…it was meant to be.
The twinkled blinking of the 53 dots was rhythmic and flowing…a steady undulating throb of red light across the screen. Each dot blinked independently which created a wave effect that flowed. The light to the right, his Green Eyes now, on ice, blinked alone separated by more than 2000 miles from the others. Bellamy only noticed the red of #8 when after three shortened blinks, the blinking stopped, becoming a steady glow a bit brighter than the others.
The digital radioisotope tracer BMS was the only thing Bellamy’s 53 subjects had in common… this vampire blood…this new elixir of life….this Foreverlightless miracle. There was no room for anomalies or differences when it came to the properties and capabilities of this “injected tonic”. It was no respecter of persons, it played no favorites…it would remain and stubbornly persist forever, even when the host was “gone”. This has got to be an interface problem, a software glitch. Bellamy stared at the steady glowing dot that represented his Green Eyes, a mere 346 feet from him. Must be what happened with #7 except his is totally gone. Bellamy made sure there was still no #7. It had disappeared shortly before the chopper’s arrival on the lake.
Before thinking too much about it, Bellamy grabbed the computer and walked, then ran towards the door. He was unable to define the reason for his excitement and urgency and it felt good. Maybe there’s something else going on here…that’s why Treaal keeps blowing me off…got to check it out anyhow. Bellamy wasn’t the conspiracy theory type but he wasn’t the type to play the naive fool either. Turning left out his door he headed for the silver metal door at the end of the hall. The slap of his bare feet on the polished gray cement floor echoed off the walls as he slowed to a brisk walk. He glanced down briefly at the open laptop. The GPS showed him to be167 ft. from his target. He broke into a run again with the sense of urgency still strong.
Taking a deep breath Bellamy pushed open the door at the end of the hall and entered the dark room. Groping his was along the wall he felt for a light switch and found it. The sterile florescent light from above flooded the large room in a wave of blue white. The room was bare except for the familiar ceramic flight stretcher occupying the center of the white tiled floor. It was empty. Kitra was still attached to the frame, dark and silent with nothing to do.
Only when he removed his hand from the wall did Bellamy realize he was shaking uncontrollably. The room was cold but not as cold as the floor on his bare feet. Placing the laptop on the stretcher he consulted the screen again. 10 feet 4 inches to the right… the red dot was glowing even brighter. Only then did Bellamy notice the metal panels on the far wall, each with a large silver handle. He’d been in a few morgues before and he’d seen death. Bellamy knew he’d found Green Eyes’ crypt.
He chose the only panel with a blinking green light. Not shaking at all, he pulled open the door knowing exactly what he would find. He expected the rush of cold air from the freezer and didn’t even hesitate in pulling on the handle of the metal drawer. With the glassy-metallic clink of ball-bearings against cold steel the drawer slid out from the depths of the dark deep freeze into the light.
The eyes were still green and the face as beautiful as ever even with the gooey eyes and matted hair. Naked except for a white towel across the hips, the corpse laid, frozen pale, blue-pink against the silver tray. Reaching down Bellamy touched the blue lips before closing each eyelid and holding them shut.
Yeah... techies you got some work to do on this one…no reason for this transmission anomaly.
Bellamy looked over at the laptop just as Green Eyes’ red dot throbbed and glowed extra bright before fading away totally. With his hand still over the eyes Bellamy remained fixated on the screen wondering what the hell had just happened, if anything at all.
It was only a second or two later that he felt it. That barely perceptible twinge of a flutter that very well could have been his own over-stimulated nervous system triggering the sensation or spasm across his fingers…whatever…Bellamy jerked his hand from over the cold eyes and stepped back.
Later he would know why it had started with her eyes. Later he would try, to no avail to put it all into words, poetic, scientific and otherwise. Later he would grapple with the equations of Einstein, Hawkings and Newton struggling to explain it neatly, if at all.
Moving back to the body Bellamy reached again to the closed eyelids this time pulling open each upper lid with his index fingers. Brushing against the long matted lashes he noticed the hint of a flutter in the right eye when he inadvertently touched the glazed, milky cornea. Can’t be…still cold and frozen…brain’s been dead 3 days…we’re talking corneal reflex, afferent sensory cranial nerve V… blink reflex, efferent motor cranial nerve VII…impossible …gotta have a brain stem first!
With shaky, cold fingers Bellamy palpated the white neck. He noticed the tiny silk sutures where his vascular access had been. No pulse…not even the hint. Reaching for the laptop, Bellamy opened the lifesign flowsheet hoping to get a BIS reading of brain activity. No data at all for #8…she’s still offline.
Reaching down tentatively Bellamy again opened each eye. There was no resistance or reaction. Smiling, he instantly doubted his own sanity as he gazed down into the vacant, doll-eyed stare.
“Wish I knew your story Green Eyes.” Bellamy’s words echoed awkwardly off the tiled walls and around the empty room. Now aware of what this all must look like to the casual observer, he glanced around hoping he was still alone. The return glimpse back down to the eyes was the snapchat instant he’d relive unceasingly for the rest of his life.
A swirl of ruby red, blossomed and flowed, the tiniest of tornados in the midst of the snow-globe, cloudy green eyes. Infusing and wisping its way into, around and behind till the white of both sclera had disappeared, the red was unlike any color Bellamy had ever seen. He blinked and rubbed his own eyes before taking a breath and swallowing the bile that had made it to his mouth.
The green was first to return, vibrant and vivid, airbrushed from the pupil outward. The red was now gone and the once bloodshot jaundiced sclerae were now pure and bright. For no good reason Shakespeare’s “window to the soul” line popped into Bellamy’s head as he stared, fixated on the apparition unfolding before him. Unblinking, but now bright and clear the green eyes returned his stare.
Working its way from around the eyes the transformation of colors seeped its way out to the nose, chin and cheeks. Mottled white gave way to pigment and pink. Bellamy watched as darker shades of pink overpowered the cyano-blue lips leaving them full and soft.
This is a reperfusion moment here people!
He remembered vividly the dramatic changes in oxygen-starved skin, tissue and organs when “good blood” finally did its thing. Most often a re-plumbed or new heart, mechanical or donor was the answer. There’s got to be pump action…flow… for this…all this to be happening! And what about her blood? We never got to the exchange… this is crazy! He felt again for a pulse on the now warm pale pink neck. Nothing.
Without the power or will to move, Bellamy stood transfixed, dumbstruck. There’s no reason for any of this… must be illusion or delusion! I’m a scientist dammit! Whatever…whoever’s responsible for this obviously doesn’t give a damn for the science I know! He watched as the relentless pink diffused and spread, filling the arterioles and capillaries of the vascular tree with its new color. From the center out, head to toe… front to back, pink nailbeds, rosy cheeks, skin…supple, elastic and soft. Bellamy thought it had taken a minute or so…since the eye thing. Leaning down he ran his hands from head to toe feeling the new warmth despite the cold air and nakedness.
“Our love…our love is unto death. Lucian…Lucian…is that you?”
The hoarsely whispered words were formed and breathed out in one exhaled breath. Bellamy felt the warm puff as it wafted from the newly pinked lips across the hairs of his arm. The subtle, moist movement of the full lips was undeniable evidence as to the source. Unable to turn, his cold feet too numb to move, he groped towards the stretcher before stumbling backwards and falling to floor. With his eyes glued to the green eyes he scrambled to his feet. Only then did he notice the towel in his hand. For some reason a twinge of guilt and shame passed through him as he replaced the small towel back over the waist of the body. Never once, not even for a blink did he look away from the eyes. With only the fresh, new green eyes a hint of something extraordinary, they too remained unblinking, still staring at the ceiling.
Reaching again for the same spot on the neck Bellamy probed the soft skin for what he knew had to be there. Nothing. With his gaze locked to the green eyes he pressed harder until he felt the throb of his own rapid pulse against the silent skin. With one last desperate push he viciously squeezed the delicate tissue between his fingers. Nothing like a little noxious stimuli to waken the senses. Bellamy hoped for a wince, withdrawl or grimace that would justify his deed. Nothing.
“I sing…I sing of the Love that is perfected by Death…of the Love that dies not in the tomb.” The voice was louder and stronger and this time he’d seen the lips move with each syllable. Each word was pure and sweet, melodic and precise.
Overcome by an intense and overwhelming presence that that he would later identify as good old-fashioned panic, Bellamy jerked his hand away. With the absence of any body movement or facial expression the green eyes were now tracking and focusing on him. There’s no viable response or algorithm for this! His utter lack of understanding and control of the moment blew him away. I’m a scientist dammit!
Fumbling for the laptop, he broke his gaze from the green eyes only long enough to refresh the last screen. Now is for shit sure time to use it! Bellamy’s wooden fingers keyed in the 9 character sequence that comprised what he called his “panic button”…his “code blue switch”, the one he never envisioned using.
Wondering what he had just initiated Bellamy again returned to the green…this time merely a humbled spectator. A palpable electric aura in the room was impossible to ignore or deny. The sensory overload left Bellamy dazed.
Unwilling to touch the body Bellamy focused on the delicate neck that he had just probed and pinched. Not even the trace of a throb…thought for sure I’d leave a bruise…still motionless, apneic… pulseless.
The silver metal door swung open silently. Bellamy turned only when the flood of new light and echoed footsteps interrupted his viewing. It had been 30 seconds since he’d called his “code”. Redhead blue-eyes Brunelli looked quite different in the royal blue surgical scrub attire. Bellamy smiled as the confusion and disbelief flooded from the blue eyes trying to assimilate the scene before them. Must look a little fishy, Bellamy thought. Throwing up his hands, Bellamy stopped her in her tracks.
“Get Dr. Treaal here now… don’t ask…just do it!” He pointed towards the door. Blue-eyes glanced again at the body before sprinting back out. Bellamy heard voices and more footsteps before the door swung shut. Team’s already here!
Treaal was the first through the door. He wore the same blue scrubs. A binocular microscope eye-piece apparatus sat, slightly above his eyes, just below the black surgical cap that covered most of the bald head.
“Better be pretty damn-well off-the-chart doctor.” Treaal peeled off the surgical gloves and tossed them against the near wall. Even with a mask covering most of the face Bellamy could see the total dumbfounded amazement take hold when Treaal got close enough to see the body…pink, unfrozen and clear-eyed.
“What have you done…what’s all this about?” There was a slight quaver and strain in Treaal’s voice. “When did we get reperfusion and who the hell gave the ok for the total BMS exchange?”
“None of that has happened…she talked to me…without any of that. That’s why I called. She spoke.” Bellamy walked towards Treaal who had stopped in the middle of the room by the stretcher. Treaal just stood there and slowly gazed around the room.
“Come on.” Bellamy grabbed Treaal by the arm and pulled him to the open freezer drawer. Treaal resisted as he continued a trance-like scan of the room.
“What’s the reading on the static e. in the room…feels like we could light a city with the ambient ionic charge in here. Check the readings Gaia. Grab the monitors too…ultrasound, BIS, cardiac…we’re blind here without our tracer active.”
Blue-eyed Gaia disappeared and reappeared almost instantly pushing a cart that most likely contained or had attached to it all Treaal had asked for and more. Treaal seemed to have recovered from the initial presentation. He shrugged free of Bellamy’s grasp and approached the body. Grabbing the limp arms he raised them then let them fall. Each fell freely, striking the face and neck area of their owner. Palpating the neck with one hand, Treaal shut and opened the eyelids with the other.
“You still got a little of last night’s tonic going…there’s no way anything neuro happened here.
Have you ever hallucinated with any other of our blends? Looks like you got the wrong brew for your type. Maybe a little sleep deprivation…stress reaction…post traumatic? What were you even doing down here anyway? Did you mess with any settings on the freezer?” Treaal spoke without looking at Bellamy and didn’t wait for answers. Bellamy stood speechless as wires and probes were attached and inserted. Monitor screens came to life before he could offer a reply.
“I was clean…am clean. I saw and heard it clean.” Even to himself he sounded defensive and weak. “I watched the signal go out…I was here. I was here when all this happened.” Bellamy stroked the pink warm arm that laid across the green eyes. “It started in her eyes.”
Treaal ignored Bellamy’s reply. By now he had accessed the carotid artery using the old entry site. The flat pressure waveform matched the BIS and EKG waveforms telling everybody what they already knew.
“Don’t think this can even be classified as fluid, let alone blood.” Treaal held up the syringe full of dark red-black material that he had just aspirated from the distal catheter port. It looked like partially clotted motor oil to Bellamy. Treaal squirted a bit of the sludge into one of the metal basins before handing the syringe to Blue Eyes
“We need to run this for our markers and all the other usual things.” Treaal turned to Bellamy. “When’s the last time you’ve done an echocardiogram Doc?”
“Trans-thoracic or trans-esophageal? Like it really matters.” Bellamy laughed at the notion of performing a flow/function study on a non-beating heart. Then again…
“Something happened here and I need to know what and why. Here, let’s take a look.” Treaal grabbed an object from off the cart. Unlike the conventional transducer probe hardwired to a console the glove-like device Treaal picked up was much smaller and wireless.
“The fingers create and direct the Doppler field…much more efficient and precise. Nothing like it in the real world. We digitalize the sound waves. We end up with a return echo a one hundred fold more accurate and clear. You won’t believe the colors and clarity.” Dr. Treaal was obviously proud of his machine. He flexed the fingers on his gloved hand before moving it to a spot just below Green Eye’s left breast.
“As a man thinketh in his heart….so is he.” Treaal laughed after his out-of-the-blue proverbialized statement. His remark had a certain sacrilege to it though Bellamy couldn’t figure out why. The colors began to blossom and spread with familiar anatomy filling in the screen as Treaal deftly positioned and maneuvered his gloved fingers across and along the graceful curve of the bare chest. How many times had Bellamy studied and calculated the “inner workings” of a human heart? This “data from inside” dictated most everything that happened next medically or surgically speaking.
“So much for the thinking. I’m looking at the inside of a dead heart…and….I’m thinking she’s dead. Left ventricle…full of whatever that is we just sampled…akinetic, quiet. Not even a hint of venous blue…no color at all. Looks like her core is just as dead. What’s with the periphery though? Gotta be a no brainer that we’re missing.” Treaal took the glove off and handed it ceremoniously to Bellamy. “Get a feel with this Doctor…log some flight time… I think it’ll fit.” Treaal stepped back making room for Bellamy at the head of the table.
The glove fit well and within seconds Bellamy had figured out the essentials. He marveled at the ability to direct the ultrasonic sound waves with just the slightest pressure of his fingertips. Feedback and reconstruction were simultaneous. The implications for diagnosis and treatment of actual patients were huge.
“So, why haven’t we seen this at least in trials? You telling me that Phillips or Siemens wouldn’t pick this up? They got the clout and bucks to get this to market in no time. You know this is a game-changer.” The physician in Bellamy now and then elbowed past the pure scientist.
Treaal smiled and nodded. “Maybe someday…when I need the money...or the glory.”
The sequenced exam Bellamy had been repeating was the standard in ultrasonic imaging. Following the natural flow of circulation in the cardio-pulmonic cycle, the exam was structured to determine flow, oxygenation, shunting and ultimately cardiac function. Venous and arterial flows showed blue and red respectively. Even with no flow or oxygenation Treaal’s new machine was able to produce high resolution imagery close to MRI and CT quality. Bellamy found himself lost in this new technology.
“Left atrium…hey…go back to the left atrium.” Treaal’s voice interrupted Bellamy’s repetitive exam practice. “Catch the pulmonary veins too…here…let me at it!” Treaal had been silent and detached after relinquishing the glove a minute or two earlier. Bellamy forgot he was even in the room. Elbowing Bellamy aside he held out his hand.
“The glove…give me the damn glove!” The urgency in Treaal’s voice escalated with each word. Bellamy held his right arm out, speechless as the glove was stripped from his hand. The monitor went black as tissue contact was lost during the exchange.
“There…right there!” Treaal’s voice was now forced and shrill. His hand was back on the silent, still chest. The image reappeared. Bellamy stared at the screen, squinting hard to focus. What he saw convinced him that Treaal was suffering the same nauseous buzz he had experienced but a few minutes earlier.
The two narrow, trickling lines of bright red, which Bellamy thought were only a couple of cells thick were the points that Treaal zeroed in on. How he’d seen them at all Bellamy would never figure out. The steady stream originated from the pulmonary veins which were clearly visible emptying into the left atrium. With no visible pulmonary activity there was no reason for this oxygenated blood to exist, let alone stream into the left atrium. The red flow increased until it occupied the entire lumen of the veins. Speechless, both men of science watched as the chamber of the left atrium filled to a bright red.
The sound of exhalation and the real time internal view of the first heartbeat would be forever and repeatedly replayed and relived by all those present. With no visible chest wall movement, the rush of air exiting Green Eyes’ mouth and nose blew harshly across the faces of both doctors. With Treaal’s trembling gloved fingers desperately struggling to keep the proper pressure, placement and orientation, the onscreen image burst red as the left atrium ejected and filled the left ventricle. With one heroic spasm the left ventricle erupted, filling the aorta with an instant head to toe infusion of vibrant red. Arteries, arterioles and capillary beds filled red as the tiniest of branches perfused blooming out the perfect vascular tree.
The flat lines of all the monitors jolted, jarred and flickered to life as cardiac circuitry and hemodynamics established themselves out of some non or pre-existent realm.
Normal sinus rhythm 73/minute, normal mean carotid pressure…assuring organ perfusion and cerebral flow, BIS (Bispectral index) 62 and rising steadily, pulse oximetry 98% with matching perfusion pleth, esophageal core temp 36.5º C. Bellamy struggled to digest the flood of unfathomable new data. He struggled to keep it all squared up and proper alongside the science he so worshiped and believed in.
Her first complete breath was deep and sure, followed with the flutter of eyelids that turned into a blink…then, the green eyes remained opened and focused. With a glance at each of the onlookers, Green Eyes attempted to process this first moment in her new world. Reaching a gracefully muscled arm towards the glove that pressed against her chest, the person behind the eyes spoke.
“I’m so cold. Can I have a blanket…where’s Lucian?” The voice was clear with only a trace of hoarseness. “Can I have a drink…a drink of water?” Her hand pushed aside Treaal’s gloved hand and reached for the towel draped over her waist. Pulling the small surgical towel up across her bare chest and shoulders she closed her eyes and smiled. “Better.”
The black glove fell to the floor as Treaal’s hand went limp at his side. The discordant honking and beeping of the digital alarms drowned out his wheezy gasp as he grabbed the edge of the stretcher, struggling to stay upright. His two young protégés stood motionless.
“Here, give her your jacket….and shut off those damn alarms.” Bellamy covered the naked body after Gaia reluctantly handed her lab coat to him. The monitor software had finally figured out there was really no reason for alarming and a blessed, abrupt silence filled the room.
“What are you doing…who are you…where is my Lucian?” The voice had more than an edge of agitation to it, the words accusatory and defiant. Throwing the lab coat aside Green Eyes pushed herself to a sitting position after swinging both legs over the side of the table. Without a hint of modesty, her nakedness front and center, Bellamy thought he’d never seen anything so mesmerizingly beautiful. Grabbing the wires dangling from the chest and head electrodes she ripped them from her skin.
“Take it easy…here…let me help…I’ll get that out for you.” Bellamy spoke quietly as he slowly moved towards the stretcher. Green Eyes had a death grip on the vascular catheter that sprouted from her neck. Bellamy envisioned the bloodbath if she pulled it. The few soft words allowed the brief instant of distraction needed. In unison the three rushed and tackled her back down to table. With much difficulty Bellamy forced both hands free of the catheter. Thank God it was sutured in! he thought as he inspected the insertion site. Damn she’s strong!
“Who are we…what are we doing?” Who are you and what the hell are you doing?” Treaal had placed himself at the head and was trying to restrain the writhing upper body. With his face inches from Green Eyes face he shouted the words. Bellamy totally comprehended Treaal’s questions beyond the obvious. This was all out of Treaal’s control. He’d been ambushed and humiliated. How dare she question him.
For a moment the struggling stopped. “Kael…I’m Kael…what have you done with my Lucian?” The green eyes had softened and focused on Treaal, the voice was controlled and calm. The kicking and thrashing commenced before Treaal could answer.
Pulling a 10cc syringe from his breast pocket, Treaal shoved his forearm across the pale pink neck below him diving it down into the cold metal table. With his other hand he grabbed one of the dangling catheter ports. A slight clockwise turn of the syringe accessed the port and with one steady push of his thumb he injected the entire 10cc of milky liquid.
“You’re going to sleep Green Eyes…say hello to Lucian in your dreams.” Treaal withdrew his arm from across the neck allowing another breath. “Didn’t really want to choke her out, she doesn’t look like the tap-out type. I figured the dosage for 55 kilos and a level 5 metabolism. We’ll refigure her maintenance dosage when we get new data.” Treaal handed the empty syringe to Bellamy and walked towards the door. “You two follow me, we got things to talk about.”
The drug worked instantly. The bright red face flushed and faded to the beautiful pink again as blood flow returned. Bellamy watched the green eyes disappear behind the flickering eyelids. Replacing the monitor wires and electrodes, Bellamy saw that all the lifesigns had returned to normal other than a BIS reading of 61.
“Aren’t you worried about her respiratory status? We can’t just leave her.” Gaia moved to the head and gently pulled up on Green Eyes jaw. “With a BIS that low her airway’s unprotected…she’ll aspirate for sure.”
“Not your worry…she’ll be fine. Here…cover her up with this.” Treaal threw a light blanket he’d pulled from off the bottom of the equipment cart towards Gaia and kept walking.
Excerpt from Chapter 3
With an ever moving backdrop of soft clouds, green-needled branches and a butterfly or two, the crime scene stared VB in the face from a distance of 18 inches. He actually had to step back with his shoulders pressed hard against the safety railing to fully appreciate the image. Bridging the 5 feet between the two tree trunks were the human arms of two, each protruding as if a short, stout snag limb from a hole in each of the two trunks. The two tree trunks, other than where the two arms exited, were intact without a blemish. The flesh and tissue of each arm and hand was waxen and bloodless. The arms were joined, hand to hand, by the middle finger of each, fingers connected somehow…someway….one the gracefully muscled left arm of a young female, the other the heavily muscled right arm and hand of a young man. The arm of the male exited at a slightly higher level of the tree trunk on his side with the resultant descending reach reminding VB of Michelangelo’s Sistine Creation fresco, except here the fingers touched, and here…..well….here neither was God or Adam. It was a full 10 seconds before VB uttered a word or ventured a breath. Down below, the data collection and photo taking proceeded along with the usual dark forensic humor
“Get me a pair of gloves….gotta check the fingers…the fingers….let me see their damn fingers! VB’s explosive outburst silenced the chatter below. They all stopped to glance up, at least momentarily. Branson produced a pair of latex gloves from his vest pocket and was about to offer some sort of advice before the non-verbal body slam of VB’s in-your-face glare changed his mind. Reaching out slowly, trying to control a shake and tremor he wasn’t much used to, VB moved the stiffly joined hands so as to better inspect the site of fusion…the point of marriage.
The middle finger of each hand had been severed cleanly at the distal phalanx. By some invisible process or means, the two fingers were joined tightly together, becoming each the other’s where flesh and bone met. VB’s stomach barely survived the first clammy wave of nausea that swept over him as he began to attempt the reality developing before him.
“It’s Fingers….somehow it’s him….some way he’s out….he got me all the way out here…she’s alone…” VB’s whisper was strained, barely audible. His first thought was of Kelly.