Chapter 28: Damien
I watch him sleeping on the floor. His hands are bound. He’s curled into a ball, trying to keep warm. I shut off the heat. Assholes like him don’t need it. I hold a cold bucket of water in my hand. I look over to the chair placed in the center of the room, thinking on what I’m about to do. I lift the bucket and toss the water over his head and body causing him to startle awake at the sharp chill of the cold wetness.
“Good morning sunshine,” I say simply.
He looks up at me, clear annoyance on his face.
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
I chuckle as I toss the bucket across the room. I walk over to him, taking him by the arm and lifting him to his feet.
“That story would take all day,” I say as I escort him to the chair, forcing him to sit down with a hard shove of my hand into his shoulder.
I take another chair and place it in front of him, taking a seat myself.
“This the part where you torture me?” He asks.
“Thomas Blaze, is it?” I respond, ignoring his own question.
“You killed my brother,”
“He came back to life, didn’t he?”
“Not the point,”
“Well I did plan on him staying dead I guess,”
“Cain thinks you can help her,”
“Do what? That woman is out of her mind,”
“So you know her?” I ask, raising a curious eyebrow.
“I know of her. Her little side projects. No doubt this mess was her fault,”
“Why does she think you can help?”
“I told you already, I don’t know,” He answers, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.
“If I were you, I’d figure that answer out,” I pull a pistol from my holster and rest it on my thigh “Because if you don’t,” I cock the hammer “I’m going to take this little guy. I’m going to set the mean end on your kneecap and we’ll both find out what happens to it when it goes bang. And if I start doing that…I don’t care what you have to say afterwards. I’ll proceed to empty this entire clip into your body until I run out of bullets. I’ll make sure the last one goes in that pretty face of yours. So,” I take hold of his hand bindings, jerking him forward, and placing the barrel of the gun in the spot I spoke of “I’m going to count to three. Figure it out. One,”
“Now hold on a second let’s not—”
“Just calm down a second!” He looks down, noticing my finger start to squeeze the trigger.
“Wait! Wait! Just tell me what’s wrong with him, okay!”
A satisfied smile forms on my lips “Now we’re getting somewhere,” I say as I plop back down into my chair.
“My brother is currently suffering from some form of virus contracted from one of those things wandering around in the dark,”
“Shouldn’t he be one of them then?”
I shake my pistol at him “See, you’re asking all the important questions right now. Something tells me you’re going to be a great help here,”
“So, he’s not changing, yet he’s still infected? The reason Cain thinks I can help is because I used to study and develop vaccines for extraterrestrial viruses and diseases,”
“So you’re perfect to help her with this?”
“Ironically enough, yes. But what he did? I couldn’t begin to tell what kind of disease causes that. He ripped a fucking guy in half with his bare hands,”
“Wild shit happens on the Zeus, Doctor. Like it or not, you’re in this with us now. Stand up,” I say as I lift myself out of my chair.
Thomas follows. I grab his bindings, using my knife to remove them.
“You’re just going to trust me? Like that?”
I shrug “I don’t have to trust you to know that you’ll help,”
“Oh yeah? How do you figure?”
“Well…your options are pretty slim. Either you help cure him, earn our trust, and we potentially find a way off this hellhole. Or…you refuse and I throw out in the hallways to defend yourself with your bare hands,”
Thomas gives a few pondering nods “Fair point,”
“So I can count on you then?” I say, looking him in the eyes.
He stares at me, most likely seeing the desperation on my face.
“Fine. I like living. And I am…or was…a doctor,” He answers, accepting the responsibility.
I smile satisfactorily “Good. Follow me. Brace yourself though, not everyone is going to be so practical about this,” I say as we both head for the door.
The door opens to a group of worried faces as I step out in to the larger common area of the security center.
Dante almost leaps from his chair as he sees Thomas step out from behind me.
“Damien, what the fuck is this?” He demands as his hand slides towards his pistol grip.
I put a hand up “Calm down flyboy. The evil genius over there was right. We need him,”
Dante turns toward Lauren, silently asking for confirmation. Lauren stares at him, giving a timid shrug, attempting to soften truth she’s doling out.
Dante turns back, clearly frustrated. “Well talk. What makes you so special?” He says, directing the question towards Thomas.
Thomas stands a little straighter, adjusting his clothing nervously.
“The fact that I’m a doctor wasn’t a lie. I just…can’t practice anymore,”
“I don’t care about your life story. Get to the point,” Dante barks aggressively.
Thomas clears his throat “Fine. I’m a Xenopathologist. My job before all of this was studying the diseases of other worlds that could possibly transfer to human hosts. And by studying those diseases to also help develop a vaccine,”
I notice Dante’s gaze turns towards Lauren as she steps closer to his side.
“And you’re telling me you can’t do this yourself? With everything you know?” He asks her.
Lauren sighs “I appreciate your confidence in me, Dante. But whatever is going on inside Ethan is out of my expertise. At least when I’m attempting to treat it myself. This infection is far worse than anything I could have possibly done with what was found in the pod,”
“Wait a moment…” Thomas cuts in “This wasn’t you? You didn’t create this?”
“Wish I could take the credit, but no, Blaze. This came wrapped up in a neat little package all by itself,”
“Well that’s great,” He says as he places his hands on his hips, shaking his head.
“What’s the problem?” I ask.
“Blaze is upset because I know nothing about the infection. Not in its original form anyway,”
“It means we’re starting with a blank slate. Which severely complicates things. I have to build a knowledge base on the infection before I can even begin to treat it,” Thomas says, elaborating on Lauren’s explanation.
“Meaning what?” I prod further.
“Meaning, I need samples. Live samples. I need to see what it does in the bloodstream. I need to see where its centrally located. I need to know what causes the mutations. It’s a laundry list of items that are required to build a solid case to identify and treat it. We may not even have time to get the information we need before he…” Thomas stops himself.
“Don’t worry, Doc. We’ll get what you need. You need a live version of one of those things, we’ll figure out how to get you one,”
“Not gonna cut it. I need one from your brother. For some reason it’s interacting with him differently. I need an isolated sample from him,”
“What are we waiting for then?” Ethan says, causing the group to look towards his direction.
He leans against his door frame, sweat dripping from every pour of his face and exposed torso. Elena stands from her chair and rushes to his side. She speaks so quietly to him I can’t hear as she holds his face in her hands. She catches him as he nearly collapses. She disappears in the doorway for a moment before exiting the room and shutting Ethan’s door.
She looks in our direction “That’s not an option right now,” She states plainly.
“It’s been a long day for everyone…I suggest we all just…take a breather. Get some rest. I’ll keep an eye on Ethan,” Dante expresses, exhaustion speaking through his voice.
“No, you won’t,” Elena states in resolution.
Dante sighs and rolls his eyes “Okay, Elena will keep an eye on Ethan. Put that douchebag back where he came from,” Dante says as he starts for his quarters, Lauren close behind.
I look at Thomas and shrug “You heard him,”
“I know, I know,”
I sit up in a startled fashion. Tears run from my eyes, a cold sweat rests on my body like morning dew. My bottom lip quivers as I attempt to hold back another fit of crying that so desperately wants to come out.
I hammer a fist into the wall, taking a deep breathe to hold back my sorrow. I stare at my hands, my memory flashes back to the blood that soaked them. I clench them so hard they tremble as another wave of sadness washes over me.
I stare at the pistol next to my bed. I robotically lift it from the small nightstand, check the ammo count, and pull the slide back, racking a round in to the chamber.
A thought claws at the back of my mind. It drags itself to the forefront until it’s all I can think about.
Put the gun to your head. Pull the trigger. Everyone would be so much better without you.
My breathing quickens as I lift the pistol to my temple and cock the hammer in one smooth motion. I can’t hold back the tears anymore as my thoughts race, telling me all the reasons why this is the best thing for everyone.
My hand shakes as it grips the gun, trying so hard to break the wall that allows me to just pull the trigger and let it be done. I tighten my eyes shut, squeezing out more tears. I finally let out a scream in a final struggle to just let go.
I toss the gun to the opposite end of the bed and scramble backwards until my back touches the wall. Clarity returns to me as I ponder to myself what the hell I was doing.
I draw my knees into my chest, trying to find security in the cold dark of the room.
I hear a light knocking at my door.
“Damien…is everything okay in there? I though I heard yelling,” Elena’s muffled voice resonates through.
“Ye—yeah. Everything is okay,” I respond unconvincingly back.
“Can I…come in?” She requests.
“Um…just a second,” I say as I leap out of bed.
I turn on the light, then use a towel to wipe the sweat and tears from my face. I grab a shirt and put it on before taking a seat at the end of my bed.
I clear my throat “Come…come in,” I say as I see the gun last minute and cover it up quickly with my blanket.
The door glides open and she steps in, concern in her eyes.
“Are you sure you’re alright? You sound a bit less broody than normal,”
“How’s Ethan?” I respond, avoiding her inquiry.
Elena takes my chair and slides it closer to where I am, taking a seat once she’s satisfied with the placement.
“He’s…okay, I guess. He’s been muttering a lot in his sleep. And it seems like he’s in a constant state of sweating. He’s been writhing around a lot too,”
“We’re going to get him better. I think with Thomas around we have a solid chance of that,”
“I’m a little surprised you have so much faith in him. Not too long ago you would’ve have spaced him on the spot after what he did,”
I cross my arms “Ethan getting cured is more important,”
“Okay, now you’re really starting to freak me out. Are you sure you don’t have a fever?” She says, jokingly placing a hand to my forehead to check for fever.
I notice her eyes catch something.
“Why is your gun in your bed like that?” She queries.
“Looks almost like you were…” Her words trail off.
She studies my face “You look like you’ve been crying,” She says, prompting me to turn my head away.
“So that screaming, was you?”
“Look, can we not do this? I don’t need the pity and sympathy, okay?”
I notice her study me for a time as I try to avoid eye contact. Without saying more Elena simply embraces me. My eyes well up again as I feel the warmth of her hug. I feel a relief as the solidarity of her understanding my thoughts and feelings show through in her simple act.
I drop the dead weight of my arms and wrap them around Elena, holding her tighter as the tears start to fall. It’s as if the flood gates of all the pain I feel inside crack and break. For the first time since everything happened, the crying finally brings me relief. The pressure in my chest starts to alleviate as my mind decompresses. She pulls back as the waves of sorrow subside, placing her hands on my face.
“It’s going to be okay. We’re all going to get through this. I know what you’re feeling comes from a different place what we’re dealing with now. But we need you, Damien. Ethan most of all. What I know about you is that you’re one of the strongest people Ethan knows. He looks up to you. Don’t let your thoughts beat you on this one. If I can do it, so can you,”
I finally meet her gaze “Why are you being so nice to me?”
“Because I understand what you’re feeling. It might be the one thing we have in common. But at least it’s something. I spent a life time letting a group of people teach me how not to feel these things because I was so afraid of it. Ethan put a crack in that wall. And before long I had to face it just like you are now. If I can prevent you from facing it alone, I will,”
Her words pierce me in a place that lowers my guard.
I place a hand on her shoulder “I guess we’ll have to hold each other up then,” I say with a somber smile.
She smiles back “It’s a deal,”
“You should probably get back to Ethan now,”
She nods “You’re right. You’ll be okay?”
“No worries. I’ll let you know if I’m not,”
Elena stands from the chair and exits the room, the door shutting behind her. I stare at the floor, taking a deep breathe, allowing my body to decompress the rest of the way.
I didn’t expect that kind of conversation with her but…I think it’s something I’ve needed. Even if I’ve never asked for help like this before.
I stand up and walk over to my sink, staring into the mirror. I take stock of what I’ve become. My hair has grown long and disheveled. I did so to avoid having to look at the reminders Peter gave me. Reminders of the pain he inflicted. And what escaping from him cost me.
I take a pair of scissors from the countertop and start cutting. Every lock that falls into the sink is a small weight lifted.
Feeling ten pounds lighter with a relief I haven’t felt in some time I finally allow myself to look in the mirror. I see the scars left behind. The cut from cheek to ear. The small places where things don’t quite look the same from Peter’s pummeling.
But I’m finally able to see myself behind the scars and the damage. I’m still angry. There’s still a grenade in my chest.
But for now…the pin is going to stay in place. At least until we find a way to help Ethan and get off this god forsaken station.