Chapter 14

Dr. Wilkins entered Bryce's room at the asylum. Bryce was still comatose, the heart monitor beeped steadily in the background, all but ignored by Dr. Wilkins and Dr. Meyer who was busy with the IV fluid drip that hung beside the bed.

"How's the treatment we discussed?" She asked, shooting a contemptuous look at the boy in the bed.

"Just adding the second dose," he replied as he added the contents of the syringe to Bryce's IV. "15 c.c.'s of belladonna extract."

"And the effects so far?"

"He's in the early stages of hemispheric brain dysfunction. At this point,if he were to wake up he will experience periods of disorientation. Confusion. He won't be confused all the time, but they will occur at irregular intervals, interfering with daily routine, work, and so on."

"Go on. What comes next?" Dr. Wilkins inquired.

"Loss of fine motor control," Dr. Meyer told her. "Further hemispheric brain dysfunction. Blindness. For the first three days, those effects can be reversed with pilocarpine. After that, however, the damage will be permanent."

"There's still a danger of rescue," Dr. Wilkins said, worriedly. "You can't speed up the process."

"No," Dr. Meyer told her. "The dosage I'm giving him now would be easily assessed as an accidental overdose caused by a fault in his chart."

"Of course," Dr. Wilkins said, nodding in agreement. "Would you excuse me, I have a phone call to make."

"Due to technical difficulties…" the TV screen announced in the Board Room at Network 23, "the Edison Carter show will not be shown tonight. In it's place, we bring you an encore presentation of I Go Pogo."

"G-g-great,"Max Headroom interrupted. "2 hours of men jumping on sticks."

"Actually," Ashwell corrected him, "it's about a possum."

"A possum jumping around on a stick," Max's sarcasm reached new highs. "Brilliant! Even better!"

"Why isn't Edison Carter on air?" Lauren asked. "I thought we had tonight's show in hand?"

"That's something I'm about to find out," Cheviot said, tapping in the vu-phone number for the Control room.

"Sir," Janie Crane said, answering the phone.

"Get. Me. Murray."

"Murray and the Edison Carter team left here about forty minutes ago, sir," Janie told him.

"Left? Less than a hour before a broadcast?" Cheviot was very displeased.

"I didn't hear what they were saying very clearly," Janie admitted. "But the gist of it is that Bryce was in very serious danger and they were going to try and rescue him."

"Well, they'd better hurry," Cheviot said watching as the cartoon possum danced to the gravelly voice of Walt Kelly. "We can't do two nights of Pogo in a row."

"Dr. Benson," Edison said on the vu-phone at Blank Bruno's apartment. "Why didn't you tell me that Bryce was taken to the hospital?"

"Patient privacy," Dr. Benson replied, simply.

"So you don't know that Bryce wasn't taken to the medical center."

"Of course he was," Dr. Benson argued. "I signed the release forms for the medical center myself."

"Nevertheless, he was taken to the asylum," Edison said. "The one that Dr. Wilkins, your colleague, works at."

"That's three we've lost, then," Dr. Benson said, not seeing Jenny who wasn't in the visual range of Bruno's vu-phone. "Bryce is in a coma, Jenny is missing, and we had one die in their sleep."

"Who?" Edison asked.

"I'm sorry, I can't give out that information."

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