Authors: Laurence Dahners
a Hyllis family story #2
Laurence E Dahners
Copyright 2014 Laurence E Dahners
Though this book
“stand alone” it will be
easier to understand if read as part of the series including
“Telekinetic (a Hyllis family story #1)”
I have minimized repetition of explanations that would be redundant to the earlier books in order to provide a better reading experience for those of you who are reading the series.
This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
Table of Contents
Creating viral shells containing the telekinetic DNA caused a couple of significant delays in Dr. Ameil’s research, but Russ told Ameil that the delays were due to a faulty reagent. He also had to stay late a couple of nights to do some work down in the lab where they routinely created viral vectors. He wondered to himself why he was putting in so much effort on something he couldn’t imagine actually trying…
Russ had his telekinetic DNA in its viral vector and all ready to go. He really should stop this… whatever it was. A frivolous mental exercise. An obsession for which he only had a partial solution. After all, the only way to adequately test the DNA would be to administer it to a human. The only human who could adequately evaluate the effects of the DNA was himself. He’d already broken all kinds of rules, breaking one more wouldn’t be the end of the world, but what if something about this DNA made the test subject sick…?
He didn’t really want to be the test subject.
Then Charles River sent the lab 101 mice instead of the ordered 100 for Ameil’s next experiment. It wasn’t an uncommon mistake; Russ figured the guys who filled the orders just didn’t count
that carefully when they were putting the mice in the shipping containers. Russ realized he could just give mouse #101
virus and claim that he just put the mouse in as an “extra” in group C of Ameil’s study. Then he would say that mouse 101 died prematurely and it wouldn’t even foul up Ameil’s research.
Mouse 101 turned out not to be a very good mouse anyway, almost immediately getting sick and losing weight. Russ was frustrated; deciding that he would have to find another mouse to test the safety of the viral vector. He took the mouse down to sacrifice it. He had intended to kill it early anyway since it needed to be excluded from Ameil’s work. As he picked it up to put it in the CO2 chamber, he took one last look at it. For a moment he wondered if it could be sick
of the DNA insertion rather than just coincidentally. Could he have made an error in one of the steps intended to be sure that there was no viral DNA in the viral shells?
Maybe the DNA I inserted combined with the viral DNA in some kind of…
The sick mouse sneezed…
The worldwide “super flu” pandemic has been traced back to a ‘case zero.’ Case zero was a Russell Phillips who worked as a research tech at the University of Pittsburgh. Although the laboratory where Phillips worked did use viral vectors for DNA insertion, Phillips apparently did not work in that part of the lab. It seems unlikely that anyone will ever determine whether Phillips might have associated with someone who actually did use viral vectors because the exceedingly high mortality of the super flu has resulted in the death of every last person who worked in that lab. Even the hospital at the University of Pittsburgh where Phillips first sought treatment is now an empty shell.
It seems a moot point as this efficient viral killer has spread extremely rapidly and, no matter where it blossoms, it seems to kill approximately 95% of its victims. Somehow the virus got loose in the CDC and decimated the scientists there before they even began working on a means to control it. Medical facilities around the world have collapsed as physicians and researchers die or flee for their own lives.
Experts predict that about half of any survivors of the virus will be killed by the collapse of civilization. If indeed the world’s population of 7 billion is reduced to 175,000,000, a population density not seen since about 1000 A.D., it seems unlikely that anyone will be interested in exactly who killed us all. They’ll just be trying to survive the end of civilization as we know it. Presumably, someday, if and when civilization reestablishes itself, someone may be interested in these words.
As I write this I’ve developed a headache and I’ve started to cough…
That night, as the Hyllises got ready for bed, Tarc helped Daussie move her stuff out of his room and back into hers. They didn’t talk much, but what they did have to say to each other was pleasant.
That had never happened before!
Tarc found it bizarre that such a horrible series of events could have been the spark that made him realize just how important his family was to him, even the sister he’d always thought he despised. Near midnight, as he turned to leave her room he had a thought and looked back at her, “Dauss? Where’s the sun?”
She pointed right at it, almost straight down through the floor.
Back in his room Tarc lay in his bed staring at the ceiling. He desperately wanted to go wake up his mother and father to tell them that Daussie also knew where the sun was. On the other hand, he supposed that they wouldn’t be very pleased to be awakened,
if it turned out that sensing the position of the sun didn’t necessarily mean that Daussie had any other talent. Certainly, there was no great need to know about her talent, even if she had it, before morning.
As he tossed and turned, he began to worry.
What if Daussie’s talent is much stronger than mine?
He pictured her with a talent strong enough to pick men up and throw them across the room. Reassuring, in the sense that his sister could now protect herself from unwanted attention. Embarrassing though, in the sense that he’d been so proud of how much stronger his own talent was than his parents’. In the face of the kind of invincible power he suddenly pictured his sister wielding, his own ability to guide arrows or knives seemed meager.
Or, what if she could
tell where the sun was? During the process of trying to evaluate the presence or absence of other talent, she was sure to realize something must be going on. As their mother had pointed out to Tarc many times, Daussie would be absolutely crushed if she had no talent. Daussie desperately wanted to be a healer, but if she was relegated to nothing more than any ordinary person could be taught…
Of course, Tarc had noticed on several occasions that Daussie already seemed to know more about medicine than he did. Now he lay, worrying that Daussie would take over the role Eva had had in Tarc’s life. She would be the person who knew what to do for patients, while Tarc acted as no more than her dumb brother with the talent to push or pull on structures inside the body as she directed…
As Daussie climbed the stairs, she mused over the sudden metamorphosis that had occurred in her relationship with her brother. The abrupt change from despised antagonist, to beloved rescuer seemed to be difficult to accept. She knocked on Tarc’s door, saying, “Get up Lazybones. The work ain’t gonna do itself.” She turned and started back down the stairs, thinking that it seemed surprising that she never had to go back because Tarc failed to get out of bed. Somehow, in the past she had always thought of Tarc as lazy and held the expectation that he would probably roll over and go back to sleep—even though it had never happened.
Back downstairs she thought to herself that the people of the town must’ve slept in themselves on this day after their liberation. No one had arrived for breakfast yet which gave her plenty of time to catch up with her chores. No rushing about
morning. At least not yet.
Daum finished mopping the floor, feeling pretty irritated. Normally he mopped the floor at the end of the night so it would be clean and dry by morning. However, the last of Eva’s patients, struck by arrows in the square the day before, hadn’t left until late. Actually, two of them were still upstairs in the guest rooms. By the time Daum had helped Eva get them up there and into beds, he’d felt exhausted from the long and trying day. He hadn’t wanted to go back down and do the mopping.
Now the dried blood on the floor was making the mopping significantly more difficult and he wished he’d done it the night before.
Tarc came down the stairs looking befuddled like he usually did in the morning. Daum shook his head,
It’s okay for the boy to look confused in the mornings after what he did the past few days! It’s too bad that this town’s people will never know that
the one who saved them.
Tarc normally went directly out to the outhouse or to the kitchen to start his chores, but this time he came to Daum. “Dad, last night Daussie knew where the sun was.”
Daum’s eyes slowly widened as his brain processed the message. “
asked her where the sun was?”
Tarc nodded with a grin, “And she pointed right down at it.”
Daum closed his eyes, “You’re not
to ask until kids turn fifteen!”
Tarc shrugged, “Girls mature faster than boys.”
Daum grunted, “Well, that’s true, but still…”
“Sorry,” Tarc said, not sounding sorry at all, “but what do you think it means? It means she has talent right?”
“Usually. Well, always, as far as I know.” He smiled at his son. “I hope she can sense the insides of things. She really wants to be a healer as opposed to,” he reached out and ruffled Tarc’s hair, “some people who have a huge talent, but not much interest.”
“I’m interested! I’m interested… just not as interested as Mom or Daussie. Especially since Mom wants me to learn all kinds of things that seem really unimportant. Especially in view of the fact there’s nothing we can
about those diseases!”
Daum barked a laugh, “So, you want to go into brewing beer and tending bar like your old man?”
Tarc shrugged, “I guess.” He shifted uncomfortably, “I gotta pee. When are we gonna tell Daussie about talent?” He started shuffling towards the door.
Daum said, “I’d like to talk to your mom about it first.
go shooting off
mouth again, okay?”
“Okay,” Tarc said as he disappeared out the door.
Daum gazed after his son, a bemused expression on his face. He glanced around the big room, a little uneasy about its empty state.
Probably everyone is just staying home after the ruckus yesterday. Time with family. Avoiding any lingering problems. Enjoying the calm after the storm.
He turned and headed for the kitchen to talk to Eva.
Eva glanced up and smiled as Daum entered the kitchen. “Hey husband, got an order for me?”
Daum shook his head, “Looks like they’re givin’ us the day off. I’m thinking that after all the recent ugliness, they’re wanting to spend some time with their families.”
Eva’s eyes widened a little in slight alarm. “Really?! We don’t have
Despite his own apprehension about the empty dining room, Daum smiled at her. “Now, now, how many times have we wished for a slow day to relax and take it easy? You finally get one and you’re
“Dammit Daum! I’ve already cooked up a bunch of stuff. We’re not only going to be without income today, we’re still going to have expenses!”
Daum gave a little laugh, then stepped over and put an arm around her shoulders. “Try to relax. There are always going to be days where we don’t do well. Stop cooking now, and this will be a nice relaxing day where we only lose a little bit of money. Think of it as a vacation.” He leaned his head against hers, “Besides, I’ve got some news.”
“Good news, I hope. After the past few days I could sure use some!”
Daum leaned back so he can watch Eva’s face. “Tarc says Daussie knows where the sun is.”
Consternation flashed over Eva’s face, “But, but…”
“I know, I know. It’s too early to ask her. Unfortunately, we didn’t tell Tarc that!”
“I, I… told him not to tell Daussie about talents!”
Daum grinned and gave a little shrug, “Yeah, but did you tell him that he couldn’t ask her where the sun was?”
Eva closed her eyes resignedly. “No, I guess I didn’t. Dammit!”
Daum shrugged. “Maybe it didn’t do any harm. Tarc points out that girls mature faster than boys. Maybe they come into their talent sooner? I know we were told not to ask about it until a child turned fifteen, but nobody ever said why,” his brow furrowed, “did they?”
Eva got a distant look as she considered her memories, “No, I guess they didn’t. I just always had the feeling that if you asked about it too early it caused trouble. I don’t know if that’s true though. Certainly no one said what the problem would be.”
“So, shall we check her out to see whether she can do anything?”
Eva worriedly chewed her lip, “I guess,” she said uncertainly.
After using the outhouse, Tarc stopped by the well and filled a couple of pails of water. When he entered the tavern he was surprised to realize that there weren’t any customers. He blinked, and wondered how he could have missed the glaring fact that there hadn’t been any customers when he first came through and talked to his father.
The door to the kitchen opened and Daum backed into the big room carrying a couple of plates. Steam rose from the plates, suggesting that they were laden with food. Tarc glanced around again, thinking he must have missed the customers the plates were for, but the room remained empty. Daum set the two plates down on the table closest to the kitchen. The one where Eva normally examined her patients. The kitchen door opened again, and Eva, followed by Daussie, came into the room, each of them carrying a plate as well.
Tarc glanced uncertainly at them several times as he carried the buckets of water to the bar.
Daum called out to him, “Just set the buckets down by the bar, Tarc. We’re having a family breakfast together, since it seems like that’s what all our customers must be doing this morning.”
With a sense of awe, Tarc set the buckets down and headed over to sit next to his father. His plate was laden with sausage, eggs, fried potatoes, some sliced apple, and toasted bread slathered with butter. Wide-eyed he glanced around at his family. Normally they ate pretty well, since they owned the tavern and often had some leftover food, but
The rest of the family grinned back at him, and they all fell to eating. The sense of a feast of celebration after their escape from the horrors of the past few days filled the room. Soon they were having a cathartic discussion of the events just past. Their conversation ranged from cheerfully amused, to deep revulsion. His family had not heard about the murder of Joe and rape of Denny Smith, something that left everyone depressed and wondering what they could do to help the young woman. Tarc also found himself telling them about his dismay and horror when deputy Jarvis’ young wife found her husband’s head in the back of their wagon. As he spoke of it, he realized he wasn’t even sure she had even been aware that he’d saved her from impending rape by Krait’s two men.
As they all became stuffed and stopped eating, conversation turned to how they were going to deal with the men who’d been injured by arrows the day before. Eva said, “I guess I need to take some food up to the two men who are staying in our rooms.”
Daussie said, “I can do that,” a simple statement that surprised Tarc in view of Daussie’s chronic reluctance to volunteer for anything. He gazed at her, wondering whether all the transformation he saw in her was due to an actual change on her part, or whether some of it might be due to his revised perception of her since the crisis just past.
Eva looked at Daussie, considering, then said, “Let’s take it up together. We should consider whether they are really ready to eat or not after their injuries. It should be a good learning experience for you.”
They looked like they were about to get up from the table, but Daum cleared his throat. “So, Daussie, Tarc tells me you know where the sun is?”
Daussie looked perplexedly at her father a moment. “Of course I do,” she said, expressing by her tone a belief that everyone knew where it was.
Tarc remembered how, when Daum had asked him that, he had the feeling that
knew where the sun was and could feel where other warm objects were if they were nearby. He’d given it some thought since, and realized that he hadn’t always had that ability. His belief was that the ability to sense those things had come on so slowly that he hadn’t known it was happening.
Daum was grinning at Daussie. Now he lifted his chin questioningly, “Where is it?”
Daussie simply pointed to where Tarc himself could feel the sun rising. East, through the bar and the wall behind it, a little bit above the eastern horizon.
Daum winked at Tarc, then turned back to Daussie. “Close your eyes.” When Daussie had done so, he asked, “How many lamps are still lit here in the big room?”
“Four, and one behind the bar.” A furrow had appeared in her brow. She opened her eyes and glanced around the room to see whether she was correct about the lamps. Then she turned her eyes to look consideringly at her father. “Most people wouldn’t know without looking, would they?” she asked somewhat wonderingly.
“Nope,” Daum said with a grin, “they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t know where the stove was either. They wouldn’t be able to tell without looking that there were only three other people in this room with them.”
Daussie’s eyes widened, Tarc thought with surprise as she realized for the first time herself that she could sense those things.
Daum held out his closed fist, “What’s in my hand?”
Daussie stared at his fist with a puzzled look, but a second later her eyes widened again. “A copper!” she breathed, looking absolutely astonished. Her eyes flashed to her mother, “That’s… that’s, how you know… what’s wrong inside of people! Isn’t it?!”
Slowly, Eva nodded.
Daussie threw her arms around her mother, so excited she practically writhed. “Oh! I can’t wait to try this on our next patient!” She leaned back and studied her mother for a second. “I can feel the structures inside your head! This is amazing!” She closed her eyes, then they flashed open, “I can feel the structures inside myself too! I‘ve got to compare myself to the anatomy atlas!” Her eyes animatedly went around to look at everyone else at the table, her delight evident. Her eyes stopped on Tarc, considering, then they shot back to her mother. “Tarc could already do this, couldn’t he? That’s why you’ve been having him take care of patients instead of me!”
Eva gave a kind of ambivalent shrug, half acknowledging the truth of what Daussie had said, but making it evident, at least to Tarc, that it wasn’t the whole story.
Daussie didn’t see the ambivalence however. She gave a little shriek of delight as she threw her arms around her mother, “Oh, this is, is… so
Daum put the copper down on the table. Tarc watched the copper, expecting it to move but it didn’t. Tarc looked up at his parents. They were both staring at the copper. To his astonishment they looked somewhat apprehensive. At first he wondered why, then he realized that they were worried Daussie wouldn’t be able to move it. The moment of truth had come and they feared that she would be appallingly disappointed if she couldn’t do what Tarc could do. With some surprise, he realized that he would also be let down if Daussie couldn’t move it. The days when he would have lorded his superior abilities over her truly were gone.
Daum took a deep breath, focused his eyes on the copper and a second later Tarc saw it move a couple inches across the table. Tarc glanced at Daussie to take in her reaction and realized she’d turned her focus back on her mother and hadn’t even seen the copper move. Tarc looked at Eva as well and saw that Eva was also recognizing that Daussie hadn’t seen the copper move. Eva said, “Maybe we shouldn’t yet?”