Chapter Three: Group Meeting

"Welcome," Dr. Benson greeted them as the driver and a couple of staff members from the Center retrieved the suitcases. "First off, do any of you need to freshen up before we begin?"

Bryce was relieved to see he wasn't the only one as Paul also nodded.

Once they had returned, Dr. Benson continued.

"We'll have our first group and get to know one another," he said, kindly. "Then we'll tell you which rooms you'll be in. After that, we'll have lunch."

The teens followed Dr. Benson into the cafeteria. There were four round tables leaning against the wall along with a number of chairs. Several chairs had been drawn into a circle in the middle of the room.

Bryce and Winston rolled their wheelchairs over to the circle while the others sat in the seats that had been provided.

Dr. Benson looked at the door for a moment, then smiled as a woman in her mid thirties stepped into the room.

"Everyone, this is Nurse Eve Taylor," Dr. Benson introduced her.

"I hope to make your stay here as comfortable as possible," Nurse Taylor said. "But don't think that means I'm going to go easy on you. Those of you who will be engaging in physical therapy will soon find out that I am not going to let you fail. Each of you has it in himself or herself to succeed. And I am going to help you do just that."

"I don't think you'll be making me walk anytime soon, Nurse," Paul remarked caustically.

"Walk? Perhaps not. But by the time I'm through, you won't even be thinking of sitting in a corner and feeling sorry for yourself."

"Wasn't planning on it," Paul told her.

"No, but there will be times when it will be tempting." Nurse Taylor said.

"Okay, then," Dr. Benson said. "Let's each tell the rest a little about ourselves. I know you were once in school together as kids. But consider this the reunion that was taken away from you. Here's your chance to tell everyone what you've been up to and also to say how your recent ordeal has affected you." He turned to Paul. "Since you've already begun, why don't you first remind us your name and then tell us how this has affected you."

"My name is Paul Williams," Paul said. "And the only thing I'm willing to say right now is that ever since that day I've been having some pretty freaky dreams."

"That's perfectly normal," Dr. Benson told him. "We'll help you deal with those. What about what you were doing before the event?"

"I was head of R&D at Network 89," Paul said.

"I was at RadTV," John said. "Also head of R&D."

"We're all heads of Research and Development from the major Networks," Bryce said, matter-of-factly. "That's the reason we were targeted."

"Which Network holds your leash?" John asked.

"Network 23," Bryce said. "I also work as a member of Edison Carter's news team."

"Very nice," Winston remarked. "Working with Edison Carter is very prestigious."

"That's hardly the case when you're working behind the scenes," Bryce said. "Though I have met a few interesting people."

"And what about you, dear?" Nurse Taylor asked Susan.

Susan clutched her pillow as she spoke in her soft and slurred voice. "I worked… work… for CricketVision," she tried to say. It wasn't very understandable, however, and she pounded the pillow in frustration.

Jenny put a soothing hand on her shoulder, "it's okay, Sue," she said. "I understand what you're saying." She looked up. "Susan works for CricketVision."

"You're very good at picking up her words," Bryce mentioned.

"My grandmother had a stroke when I was little," Jenny explained. "I learned how to listen because I love her."

"What about you?" Nurse Taylor asked Lisa.

"My name is Lisa Bayer," Lisa said, timidly.

"Which Network do you work for?" Dr. Benson asked.

Lisa's face went beet red out of embarrassment. "I'd rather not say."

"Bad ratings?" Bryce inquired.

"Channel 69?" John asked, slyly.

Lisa looked mortified while Bryce just looked confused.

"There is no Channel 69," he remarked.

"Remind me to have a talk with you sometime, Bryce," John said in a stage whisper.

"Don't corrupt Bryce!" Jenny scolded.

"He's already been corrupted," Winston said. "We all have. Every single one of us has lost their innocence. Maybe not in a sex way. But we've all experienced some form of psychological torture."

"That's what you're all here to deal with," Dr. Benson said. "Now, here is how the rooming situation is going to go. Jenny, I was going to room you with Bryce. However I think Susan will benefit greatly if she is with you, so Bryce I'm going to room you with Lisa instead. John, you'll be with Winston. And Paul you'll be rooming with Dr. Richard Lawrence. There are private kitchens in each apartment. However, on Sundays we have a mandatory brunch and gathering. It's not a church service, let me emphasize that. We gather on Sundays to discuss how we are doing over brunch in a casual and non-threatening environment. Now, go ahead and head up to your apartments. When you're done, feel free to either relax in your apartment or visit the recreation hall on the second floor."

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