The man sat there with an aghast look on his face. He could not believe what was happening. He struggled to keep himself on his feet and stepped back a little before finding his chair and slumping on it.
Was this some sort of a cruel joke? Destiny?
The memories of the day flooded over him. How could he forget the fateful day when he had seen his home burn to crisp.
As usual, he had been returning home after a late-night shift at the hospital and was just about to cross the road when something resembling a fireball landed on his small shack. Well, it did not just land, but went right through the roof and set the whole place ablaze before he could even scream. Similar fireballs dropped all over the neighborhood as if a nuclear war had broken out.
Worried screams reverberated through the night air as those who were awake ran helter-skelter. The peaceful and tranquil night had soon transformed into a night of destruction and death.
He had been carrying a brand new toy for his son in one hand and a pizza for his wife in the other to celebrate his payday. Both things had slipped out of his hands, the toy clanking on the pavement and breaking into two while the pizza springing out of its square box as it hit the ground. However, he could not care less.
He had been so stunned that he had momentarily forgotten how to use his limbs. A woman ran past him, her clothes on fire, screaming her lungs out. And that is when he found his voice.
He had dashed through the maze of people running around, getting thrown off his track more than once. By the time he got to his front yard, there was nothing left to save.
A lone tear escaped his eye at the memory that haunted him to this day. Not a single day had gone by when he did not cursed himself for not trying hard enough to save his family. He regretted wasting those precious few minutes in shock when he should have been there with his loved ones.
Of course, it would not have been possible. The fireball had taken less than a minute to devour his wooden hut like cinder. However, the guilt had gnawed at him nonetheless.
And now, his son was standing in front of him. He was alive!!
The man shifted his gaze from the huge screen in front of him, where his son’s vitals were displayed, to the small boy looking at him awkwardly.
The man leaped forward and lifted Jonas in his arms before embracing him. “You’re okay… you’re okay. God, I missed you so much, honey.”
Jonas did not like people touching him, let alone hugging him, and here was this doctor, who had just lifted him like a baby. Jonas scrunched up his nose in contempt.
“Maybe the doctor is only happy that I’m not ill,” little Jonas thought and asked in a small voice to confirm his doubt, “Am I okay? Mom was worried.”
Mary, she’s alive…
His wife’s beautiful face flashed before him. The man looked at his little kid once again before he put him back on the floor as he quickly turned off the screen of the large machine.
He looked around hastily to make sure that nobody was around. His son was an anomaly and this time he was going to do everything he could to protect his family.
“Is your mom here, too?”
The man looked around cautiously. It was a good thing that none of the other personnel had been loitering in the passageways that led to his almost-transparent office.
“Yes, I… I came with her,” Jonas answered, not quite sure as to why the doctor was acting so weird all of a sudden.
Jonas fidgeted in his pockets and nervously looked around, trying to find a way out of the seemingly large cabin. He was an awkward little kid who did not like people’s gazes boring into him.
“Can I leave? Mom must be waiting for me,” the little boy asked and peered at the small tag attached to the man’s white coat that said “Dr. Walt Branson”.
It was weird that the man shared his last name. Little did he know that they had a lot more in common than their last names. When he got no answer, Jonas took a seat on the examination bed. He watched Dr. Branson hurriedly punch in a few buttons on the large screen.
The screen in front of him went blank and he gently approached the bed to talk to the little kid.
The boy nodded.
“See this?” Dr. Walt showed him a small vial containing an opaque liquid. Jonas’ eyes peered into the vial as he saw specks of yellow in that nearly colorless liquid.
“Your form says that you have trouble falling asleep as you… dream of things? Well, this should help you get rid of those dreams. I’ll inject this. It will only cause you slight pain, but it will be alright, okay?”
Jonas nodded wordlessly again. He just wanted to get out of that room and rush back to his mom. It was only his mom’s warnings of following the doctor’s orders that kept him from bolting out of the main door.
He shut his eyes and looked away as Dr. Walt pulled out a syringe and transferred the liquid into it before injecting it into Jonas’ arm.
Before the little kid knew, his eyes turned heavy. He could not keep them open anymore and fell asleep at once.
Dr. Walt quickly put him on a stretcher and covered him with a spare bed sheet before rushing out through the backdoor leading to the lift.
One of the nurses rushed to help him, but he shook his head, indicating that he would take the patient alone. The nurse did not mind as it was common for the doctor to personally monitor someone with a sickly disease or ailment before they were deemed ‘unfit’ to live further.
Dr. Walt was responsible for making sure of this before the patient was sent to undergo an experiment that would result in their death while their remaining life was put to ‘good’ use.
The long corridor stretched for almost a few meters before the stretcher stopped outside a glass door that was labeled ‘High Risk.’ Dr. Walt flashed his ID in front of a camera outside the door, which opened instantly after scanning his credentials.
He then quickly took Jonas inside a large room that was filled with a lot of advanced machinery. He rushed to a large chair located at the far corner of the room and placed Jonas on the chair. The boy was still unconscious. There was a small helmet attached to a myriad of cables and wires that connected to a small machine beside it.
Taking out a kerchief from his pocket, Dr. Walt wiped the sweat off his forehead before placing the helmet on Jonas’ head. He needed to make sure that the earlier results were not wrong. He had to be absolutely sure.
So, he switched on the machine that buzzed and whirred as a lot of buttons glowed in a neon light that was carried through the wires to Jonas’ head. The sudden surge of power coursed through Jonas’ body, which was shaking due to the shock as he cried out in pain.
Dr. Walt kept his eyes on the watch. If the kid survived another minute of that agony, his assumptions would stand vindicated. A mixture of excitement and anxiety ran through the doctor’s mind as he tried to drown out the fear rising through the pits of his stomach.
30 seconds… 20 seconds… 10 seconds…
His face began to shrink with worry as Jonas continued to scream his lungs out. Thinking that he had taken his experiment too far, Dr. Walt was about to switch off the machine when something unexpected happened.
Something tugged at his lab coat, so he looked down to see a little hand clutching it with all its might. With wide eyes, he saw the corners of his coat catch fire as his jaw dropped to the ground.
Not just the coat, but Jonas’s entire hand and the doctor’s body were on fire. He was burning inside out.
Yet, Jonas was smiling at him…
…now that you’re here
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