He just focused on breathing. He sat up and coughed twice. He immediately doubled over in pain and thought "shit, I think I broke something." He tried sitting up again and pain instantly shot up from his chest again. "Yeah, I broke something," he muttered and endured it as he and slowly got up. He was covered in scratches and bruises and holding his chest found that he had broken his wrist also. He got up to his feet and holding his chest with the other hand stumbled across the grass towards the road.
An embankment was the only thing between him and someone to get him to a hospital and he tried to climb it. After a couple of tries found it to be too steep to get up so he went along the edge hoping it would get less steep the farther he went.
He is a journalist. For the last couple of nights he had been working tirelessly on a report due for today and quite frankly, it was assigned some time ago. I'll never procrastinate again, he thought claiming he would change his ways from now on. He had fallen asleep at the wheel for only a few seconds but that's all it takes for a car to drift off the road completely.
He finally reached level ground and dragged himself up to the side of the road. He was feeling light-headed and a bit dizzy and suddenly he collapsed at the side of the road unconscious.
Another man saw him lying on the shoulder and hurriedly pulled over and got out. He checked the man's pulse; he was still alive. This other man put the unconscious form into the backseat and raced towards the nearest hospital.
He came to and found himself on a hospital bed. "What happened?" he asked feeling confused.
"This man here," she pointed at him, "just saved your life," a nurse cheerily replied. "You had a massive stroke," she continued, "and your lucky to still be alive."
"Yeah," the man suddenly chimed in, "I didn't think the ambulance would make it in time so I brought you here myself. Say what's your name?"
"My name? Oh, it's uh, Troy. Troy Cordell."
"Nice to meet ya Troy. Say, do you have any relation to Matt Cordell?"
"What?" Troy asked confused.
"Nothing," the man replied. "Just a joke. By the way my name is Mark if you're wondering. I'll see ya tomorrow." Mark closed the door behind him with the nurse following.
Troy looked out of the window of his little room and noticed it was nighttime. How long have I been out? he wonders. He felt the bandages on his head and pondered just how much work they did on him. "The nurse was right," he thought, "I'm pretty lucky to still be alive." With that reassuring thought in his head he fell asleep.
The next morning he woke up to find breakfast sitting in front of him and the nurse looking down at him. "So, how are we doing this morning?" she asked.
"The doctor will be with you shortly, she said before leaving."
"Not very sociable," he thought. He looked down at his breakfast again. It was orange juice and cornflakes. "Great," he snorted before eating.
He finished up and waited. Soon enough the doctor came along with the nurse who carried the tray back to where it came from. "Hi, I'm Dr. Bronson, and how are we feeling today?"
"Pretty good," Troy replied.
"Okay just let me do a check up on you." Troy felt safe with the doctor as he checked the vital signs along with several other tests including an EEG.
"Everything appears to be normal but just to make sure we'll have to do a CT scan. As your nurse may have explained to you, you suffered a head injury, specifically an epidermal hematoma or the bleeding between the brain and the skull and if you are lucky there should be no significant damage to the brain which is why we should do a CT scan. You got that?"
"Most of it," Troy answered.
"Good," Dr. Bronson smiled as he got up out of the chair as he gestured Troy to follow him.
As he was being led from the room he saw on the door a sign that said "no visitors" and his girlfriend Christine looking at him from behind double doors down the hall. She looked relieved as he waved at her.
He eventually came into a large room with several scanners inside. He was told to lie in one and stay still. "It won't take long," the doctor said as he and the technician left. It took about 4 minutes which seemed to take forever. When they were done, they came back in and told him that he should get the results within 2 days. "But until then," Dr. Bronson said, "you should go home and get some rest and if you feel any discomfort from your wrist or ribs, take this."
The doctor passed some medication to Troy who passed it back saying "no thank you, I don't need it."
The doctor looked surprised for a second but he just replied with "okay, time to go."
"Can you call me a cab?" Troy asked.
"Ask the receptionist." With that reply, he effectively discharged Troy from the hospital.
"They told me you had an accident. What happened?" Christine asked as they exited the hospital.
"I was out for a few seconds and I flew off the road and into a ditch."
"Well, don't work yourself to death then." They continued to talk as they sat on the curb waiting for the cab to come. As they were waiting however, a truck rolled up in front of them and the door opened.
"I told you I would be back," Mark said smiling. "Oh, and who's this?"
"This is my girlfriend, Christine."
"Nice to meet you, Christine." He held out his hand. She shook it.
"You're the one who brought him in?" "Yes I did." She suddenly started to cry as she fell into his arms. "I...I can't thank you enough" was all she managed to say. When she was ready, he motioned them into the truck and off they went.
"So where do you folks live?" Mark asked.
"We live... at 1216 Dunbar Avenue," Christine replied still wiping away tears.
"Sounds like a nice place."
"Prepare to be surprised," Troy replied. Mark crinkled up a smile for the rest of the way.
Troy noticed several scratches and bruises on Mark's face and asked what happened. "Well," Mark started, "I was in the pub mindin' my own business when some drunk idiot staggers over toward me and starts ranting about how much he hates me and all that. Predictably, he takes a shot at me and a fight ensues. He got in a few good shots but I knocked him out with one solid hit between the eyes. That's twice it's happened to me there still, I like it there."
They traveled in silence for a little while when Christine asked "Where do you live?"
"Little cabin in the backwoods. I just like the solitude is all," Mark said.
"And what do you do?" she continued.
"I create fencing materials under a contract," Mark replied.
"Really?" she asked.
"Yup, and you?"
"Oh, I don't work. Troy is the one with the income."
"I uh... work for a magazine as one of the many column writers."
"Which magazine?" Mark asked.
"The Wire," Troy replied.
"Oh." All three kept talking to each other until Christine and Troy got home. "It is nice," Mark said.
"I told you so!" Christine said. They then said their goodbyes where both got a good night's sleep but they were unaware that outside, someone was watching them.
A week went by and the two made plans to go fishing together on a lake near Mark's cabin. They got the gear to go and out onto the lake they went. Almost immediately Troy got something. It was his first time fishing and he liked it; he found it relaxing. He reeled it in and excitedly said "look, my first catch!"
To which Mark replied "heh, not bad." Troy put it in the boat and they continued fishing.
"So, uh... what did you do this past week?" Troy asked.
"Not a whole lot. Basically continuing to fulfill a contract, going hunting, getting a TV and watching said machine. I also like to draw sometimes."
"That does sound rather uneventful. What do you draw?"
"Whatever comes to my head most times and other times I draw scenery."
"Cool," Troy replied.
"Had any dreams lately?"
"Not that I remember," Troy said thinking hard.
"Neither do I, really."
They were now in the middle of the lake and suddenly Mark blacked out. Troy started rowing back to shore to get help when Mark became conscious. "Mark! Troy shouted looking concerned, are you alright? Should we go to the hospital?"
"No! I mean no, I think I'll be fine," Mark replied.
"Yes!" Mark was starting to become a bit agitated. That was the end of the day for fishing but it was only in the late afternoon. They stored their catch and went out to lunch.
At a steakhouse, Troy ordered a phili-steak sandwich while Mark got something else. Mark grimaced, "you actually like that?"
"Yeah, what's wrong with it?"
"Nothing, nothing," Mark answered.
"Good. Wait... THAT is what you got?! Holy shit! It's like half the fucking cow man!"
"Well, I'm starving."
Troy abruptly asked "Why do you always have your hood up? I mean that every time I see you, you always have your hood up. So, why?"
"I'm cold," Mark replied.
"Really? Your outside most of the day so I assume you should be used to it by now, and it's really warm in here anyway."
"Well, I'm still cold."
"Alright, whatever you say," Troy said not wanting to get into an argument.
They continued to eat and when Mark was almost done eating which was long after Troy finished, Troy asked if he had watched any cooking shows. "Um, I've only had the TV for two days and only just got cable today. I've barely watched anything so far let alone some kind of "cooking show"."
"What was with that blackout anyway?"
"Nothing, stop asking," Mark replied. They finished eating and went home.
Mark was aware of someone observing him from afar while he was driving back home and so he stayed on the road for a while. Mark was a bit creeped out by this and after awhile, he sensed that the person had left. He went into the forest and on his way into the cabin he thought he saw something move within the trees. He moved as silently as he could up the steps and through the door. Suddenly someone appeared in front of him. Mark, shocked, recognized the person and whispered "Dad?"
That next week Troy decided to invite Mark over to his house. Mark looked happy to see him when Troy opened the door. "Well, come in! How have you been?"
"Pretty good," Mark replied.
"Who's that?" a voice said before appearing a moment later as Christine. "Oh, Hey Mark. How're you doing?"
"I'm doing well thank you," Mark replied.
"We're doing good as well. So do you want to see what's on?"
"Sure." They all sat down and started watching TV. Flicking from channel to channel, Troy showed Mark The Food Channel and to his surprise, Mark liked it, he liked it a lot. He also favored other channels like The Fight Network and SPACE. Afterwards Mark and Troy decided to play a little bit of chess, They didn't feel like board games and Mark thought video games rot the brain.
Christine got up to cook dinner and soon they were all having it. During supper, she asks Mark "why do you still have your hood up?"
"Cause I'm cold" he replies.
"Really, why do you have your hood up?"
"I like it up."
"No, really," she said rather forcefully.
"Okay, I'll show you," he said begrudgingly. He took down his hood and on the back of his head was a big scar.
"What happened?" Troy asked.
"Had a mountain biking accident and I smashed the back of my head off a rock. A big, bloody gash was the result and I thought it looked disfiguring."
"Oh," Christine said, "I hope your being honest. It's just that I don't like liars is all. Wanna stay overnight?"
"Sure," he replied.
It was early morning when Troy heard strange noises coming from the driveway. The bedroom's window overlooked the street as well as the driveway where Christine's car was parked as well as Mark's truck. Mark apparently was fixing the engine or so it looked. But at 5 am? He came out and confronted Mark. Mark slammed down the hood as Troy came out and asked "what the hell are you doing at this hour?"
"Installing some new engine parts," Mark answered as he lit up a smoke.
"I didn't know you smoked!"
"Only when I'm alone or when I think I am alone."
"Well, finish up and get back to bed, I don't wanna be woken up again." He thought he had seen a glow from the engine compartment but dismissed it as a symptom of not getting enough sleep for this night.
When Troy got up in the morning he found that Mark was gone and wondered why he would leave so early without saying goodbye or something like that. He rushed to Christine's car and trying to remember how to get to Mark's cabin, drove off. He eventually found his way into the forest near the cabin but he saw smoke off in the distance and went to check it out. He found Mark standing in front of a giant, fiery pile of stuff in which he was going back to the cabin to burn more when Troy stopped him or tried to anyway. He tried to reason with him but he suddenly found himself under attack from Mark as someone stepped in from behind the fire. It was Dr. Bronson! He ordered Mark to knock out Troy and that's exactly what happened.
Troy woke up finding himself unable to move or speak. He was looking at the ground on a table of some sort and he could not see anything else. "Don't worry," Bronson laughed, "this won't hurt a bit." Troy heard a click in which a small buzzing noise followed. He heard his footsteps calmly walk towards him. The Doctor started explaining what he was doing. "I enjoy controlling others," he started, "but sometimes they resist. So, I decided to take drastic measures to prevent that from happening. I replace the human brain with an electronic chip and wire system which listens only to me. I then store the organic brain and extract everything of worth. Afterwards, I leave it to rot." Troy's last thought was "you're a madman!" before the tool started cutting into him. Deeper it went then it started to move as Doctor Bronson injected him with Acebutolol and used a thick layer of gauze to lower blood pressure and slow the bleeding. He wanted the brain in mint condition as he got a jar ready.
Suddenly, Troy heard footsteps rushing towards him. A thud followed and someone yelled. Christine! he thought. A brawl followed as he heard yelps of pain, thuds, thunks, screams, moans and groans. Dr. Bronson sicced Mark on her and the brawl got a little farther away. The buzzing sound started again but Troy could now feel pain in the back of his head. He found he could move a little and in a sudden surge of adrenaline he rolled over and shot his arm up to block the bone saw from coming. His strength was fast fading and it was closing in so he rolled out of the way. In the other's struggle from what he could see, Mark was winning. Troy desperately tried to crawl away but Dr. Bronson stood on his ankle to prevent him from doing so. The doctor struck down repeatedly with the saw's spinning blades as Troy dodged them. He felt himself getting stronger every second. Whatever was paralyzing him was wearing off. He got up from Dr. Bronson's foot and pushed him backward.
Troy ran off to help Christine and fight off Mark. The doctor, with a mask of frustration, chased after him. Mark was choking Christine when Troy came and kicked him between the legs. It didn't phase him. He then punched him in the back of the head and to his horror, it shattered like an eggshell. He was especially horrified to find that Bronson was right. Just then Bronson tackled Troy from the side and knocked him to the ground. He again attacked Troy, this time with a scalpel, and tried to stab him in the chest. Troy blocked him but he was pressing down inching further toward Troy. Troy hit the doctor in the head several times out of desperation and ripped the scalpel out of his hand. He looked over as Dr. Bronson ordered Mark to kill Troy and saw that Christine was unconscious. Mark rushed him as Troy absent-mindedly stuck his knife out and stabbed him. Mark continued to fight and Troy saw that the only way to stop Mark was to kill him.
Dr. Bronson carried Christine over onto the table as Troy and Mark were fighting. He stabbed Mark in the face about 30-40 times before finally dispatching him. He muttered "I'm sorry buddy, but I had to do it." before walking up to the doctor as he was about to use the bone saw and stabbed him in the back. He fell forward and his face landed on the still spinning blades of the bone saw before bouncing off the table and landing on his back, pushing the scalpel deeper in while the saw was tearing apart his face. He carried Christine to the car and drove directly to the hospital.
The next day the doctors there said he would be alright but Christine would take some time but she would be better in a couple of days. Suddenly he realized that he had to bury the bodies! He asked when he could be discharged. They said it wouldn't be for a couple of more hours; he could wait. When the time came, he went to Christine's room and kissed her on the forehead before going. He got in the car and went to the house to get a pick and shovel.
He then went to Mark's nearby shed and dug a deep grave for the body because Bronson's had disappeared. He didn't know what happened to it. "C'est la vie," he thought. Though he was an agnostic, Troy said a short prayer for Mark, and put the body in. He then noticed the truck. "Good, it's still here," he thought. He decided to check it out and clean it. He put it's contents into the grave. When he opened the hood though, there was something glowing. Guess it was real after all. He dug deep to find what was causing the glow and was shocked to find a brain there, in a dome hooked up to countless tubes and wires. He wondered if this was Mark's brain and if it was still alive. He decided to start the vehicle and see what would happen.
Almost immediately he heard "Troy? Is that you?"
He answered "yeah, and this is?" He was just making sure.
"Who do you think I am?"
"Mark," Troy replied.
"Actually, it's Jack. My real name is Jack." Troy noticed that his voice was coming in from the radio.
"I thought I killed you, I truly thought I killed you. Hell, you should be dead right now! Why did you lie to me about everything?"
"Well I'm not dead and I had to lie. If he couldn't get to me directly, he'd get me through the people I knew."
"Well to tell you the truth, I may have killed him."
"May?" Jack replied.
"I can't find his body."
"Then he's still alive, somewhere out there... you forgot to bury the body," Jack said.
"Listen," Troy said, "I'll take the car back then I'll come for you okay?"
"How are you going to get here?"
"By walking of course."
"Duh, of course. Burn the shed down before you leave and make sure the table won't be seen," Jack requested. Troy rolled the table from the shed into the cabin and put it in a downstairs compartment and locked the doors. He found some gasoline and a couple of matches and set the shed alight. They both watched for a couple of minutes.
Then Troy walked to the car and before leaving said "I'll come back!". Then he drove off.