04: More Medical and Psychological Experiments

Normalcy is Harder Than it Looks

04:  More Medical and Psychological Experiments

 

When we got to the hospital, we gathered outside before heading in. Ryan was happy to see us, as was Edward, the neurologist.

“Glad you could make it, Alex. We’ve got a lot to get to today. We also have a lot to talk about, but we can do that as we do other things. I’ve got you scheduled for something fairly soon, but I think we can manage your MRI if we don’t waste too much time.”

“You realize that you will probably want to check the girls as well, since we have different abilities that should be looked into,” I suggested.

“Yeah, Allison mentioned that, so we’ve made plans for it. Uh,” he hesitated, glancing at Kitty and Chalise. “Just how much do they know about what’s going on?” he asked under his breath.

Not bothering to lower my voice, I answered him. “Ryan, they saw me kill a woman by passing my hand in front of her face. Any pretense I had of being normal was blown long before then. We’ve finally discussed it with them and they are fully on board and informed now.”

“Good,” he replied. “I just hope you can inform me of what’s going on as well. I’ve been dying to finally learn your story.”

“Ryan, I hate to break it to you, but I’m keeping you in the dark for your own good. Since you are in the public eye, I wanted you to have a certain level of deniability. If news of what we’re doing ever leaks out, I want you to be able to deny knowing exactly what I was doing or how I managed to do it. I hope you understand, it isn’t that we don’t trust you, but if this ever leaks out you are going to be the one on the hot seat.”

“I understand. While I’m disappointed I won’t get to know the full story, it makes sense. Now let’s hurry up, as I said, we have a lot of things to accomplish,” and with that he led us off. We went straight for the Radiology department, which held the various testing devices, each held in its own room.

Entering one clearly marked “MRI” he announced, “This is the device you were looking for. It’s more expensive than the cheaper PET scanner, but it gives highly detailed images of specific parts of the brain, as well as showing specific activities within the brain. It charges the water molecules in the brain, allowing us to record the motion of electrons. That will show what areas of the brain are active when you are doing your stuff.”

“That’s what we’re looking for, since we’re interested in finding where our abilities are located so we can guess at what might be causing them,” I told him.

Ryan handed me a flimsy blue robe, I noticed he’d done away with the ever present assistant this time. I started to glance around looking for a changing room, but Kitty lightly elbowed me.

“Don’t worry, handsome, I’m sure the two doctors won’t be disturbed, and everyone else has already seen the goods, except possibly Becky, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind seeing it.” Both she and Chalise thought this was humorous.

“Allison, do you know where we are going to be checking?” Ryan asked. “You managed to provide a fairly detailed location for Gail, but you said you had problems seeing the same thing with Alex.”

“Yeah, about all I can see in Alex is a blinding glare from the amount of energy he constantly produces.”

“Hmm,” Ryan replied. “I might have an idea.” He walked over and grabbed me by the arm. I was in the process of loosening my jeans so I followed him out, bare-chested and with my belt unfastened. We walked into the hall with both Allison and Rebecca following behind. In the hallway Ryan looked around, not really seeing what he was looking for.

“Damn, I was really looking for a simple wood door, but I guess we don’t use those much anymore except in the private offices,” he said, before leading me off to a nearby women’s room.

Opening the door he called out, “Hello in there, anyone in there at the moment? We’ve got a young man who’s going to be visiting.” Not hearing any squealing, he held the door open for me to enter. Once I did he closed the door on me.

“If the metal door provides too much interference, then we’ll head over to my office and see if a wooden door is better,” he said. I kept the door slightly open so I could hear what was going on.

“You know, I should have thought of that myself,” Allison replied. “Actually, it seems to work pretty well. It blocks out most of the glare, although it also hides much of the detail I’m looking at. Here, Chalise, stand in front of me. The biggest glow comes from right here.”

“I brought my model that you used before. Can you pinpoint it more precisely?” Edward Padilla, the neurologist asked.

“Sure, it’s right about here,” she answered.

“Ah, it’s not in a sulcus like it was in the rest of you, but it may be located in a fissure. It’s too bad we can’t take the model apart to see specific areas. None of the standard models show the specific region we’re interested in. Could you point it out on a live scan?” Edward asked.

“Well, I’ll be doing it from memory, since the scan is unlikely to have the energy signature I’m basing it on, but I think I’ve got a decent idea where it is. But you’re right, it’s near a small gap in the surrounding tissue, although it’s really hard to differentiate.”

“Is it OK if I come out now?” I asked, started to develop a chill from the air conditioning against my exposed skin. Chalise pushed the door open for me, so I finally came out.

“Well, we have a general idea of where to look,” Ryan told me as we moved back into the room where the test was to be conducted.

I was once more the official lab rat. I was stripped, dressed in a gown with a serious draft in the back, and after listening to and signing a document telling me all the ways this could hurt me, I was slowly drawn into the heart of the large machine in a claustrophobia inducing little plastic chamber.

“We’re going to start with a baseline now,” Ryan announced over the speaker while they were clustered on the other side of glass wall protecting them from this infernal machine. It started groaning with a worrisome ‘Clank, Clank’ as I tried to calm my escalating panic. It wasn’t really too bad, I didn’t have any real fear of enclosed places, but I could certainly think of many other places that I would rather have been right then.

“OK, now try talking to me,” Allison called out.

So, should I try sending you sexy pictures of how nice you look naked, so I can distract myself, or should I simply broadcast my feelings of claustrophobia?

Please, you were scary enough when you were sending feelings of anger at Mike the other day,’ Allison told me. ‘You actually weren’t as bad when you were attacked by Brandon, I guess because you were more cautious than angry then.’ I could tell she was trying to distract me.

I’m doing OK, but I’d better do the thinking for us, otherwise they’re likely to miss the brain activity they are looking for.’ So I started alternating sending pictures of all my girls with repeating the Gettysburg Address. That went on for a little while.

I heard some mumbling in the back.

They want to know precisely what you are sending, so they can differentiate between the areas dealing with words and those involved in processing memories or pictures,’ Allison told me. Several more minutes passed before they were happy with what they had.

“OK, we think we might have the area located,” Ryan informed me.

“Let’s try conversing with the girls at home,” Allison said. “And this time, listen for a while, then speak to them so we can see if different areas of the brain are used.” So I started to ask them for an update on what was happening at the house. Seems they were all quite busy, as there really was a lot of work to be done. Cate was a stickler for details when it came to setting up her ‘laboratory’. I informed them I was repeating everything they said back to them just so the doctors would have something to study, and they said they understood.

“Now try sending me some memories of what Kitty and Chalise look like naked,” Allison teased. I growled into the intercom for effect and did as she asked.

“That’s good. Let’s try talking to Patricia in New Orleans now. Ryan’s interested in seeing if you use the same facility to speak long distance,” Brooke said this time. So I briefly chatted with her about how her training sessions were going. She was enthused, telling me that she was making great progress, but she was more interested in hearing all the details of the weekend and how I was getting along with Kitty and Chalise. I had to admit, that was a more interesting topic.

“All right, I think we’ve got about all this is going to tell us,” Ryan announced. “We’re pulling you out now.” The clunking stopped and then a smooth whirring sound started as the bed I was laying on started to slide back out.

Once I was clear and could sit up, both Kitty and Chalise were there waiting for me. Chalise held my shirt for me while Kitty peeled the hospital gown off of me, effectively blocking me from anyone who might be watching.

“What could you figure out?” I asked as I walked into the observation area, carrying my pants over my arm, dressed only in my shirt and undershirt. Luckily my shirt front covered anything embarrassing.

“Well, it’s hard to interpret,” Ryan said, still staring at the screens he was studying along with Edward. “It’s fairly unusual. We could isolate the area you’re using, and it’s definitely not traditional. And by that we mean that it all appears to be new growth. It looks like you’ve grown new brain tissue that extends into fissures in your brain.”

“That was likely the result of his applying energy to his brain,” Becky suggested.

“Yeah, I guess that would make more sense than anything else. However, the tissue isn’t uniform. Whereas the brain is kind of spongy, it has a constant consistency. However, this new area we observed seems to have gaps in it, so it’s hard to tell if it’s the same or not.”

“It wouldn’t be considered cancerous, would it?” Chalise asked, making me wonder what might have happened if a doctor had observed it before we’d learned what I was capable of.

“No, I don’t think anyone would consider it an unnatural growth. Unusual, certainly, but it appears to be actual brain tissue, only it’s not consistent. It’s like it grew too fast, or maybe it tried to cover too great a distance too quickly,” Edward guessed.

“So somehow he managed to grow new brain tissue to foster these new abilities,” Becky concluded. “But that means he’d need to modify his brain before he gained his other abilities. This just adds more questions. What part of the brain allows for instant brain surgery? Do you have any idea what the area you are looking at might control?”

“Well, the area we’re discussing is in a similar area to the one you identified in your female subject,” Ryan told us. “So I’m guessing that it’s associated with communication and telepathy. However, close to it there’s also a section that appears to have a gap in it. It literally looks like someone took a tiny melon baller, and scooped out a little piece of his brain. What’s more, it seems to be empty. It doesn’t seem to have filled up with any cerebral fluid like other areas of the brain would have.

“We have no idea how you could have lost a segment of brain tissue without losing some associated functioning. But there’d be no way of knowing what the tissue might have previously held. Maybe memories, maybe functioning, or maybe your brain just adjusted to it.”

“How big of an area is it?” Becky asked.

“Oh, not terribly big, but it’s like a really tiny ball, almost perfectly round,” Edward told us. “That makes us wonder about the holes in the new tissue he managed to grow in his fissure.”

“So, do you think maybe this gap in his brain might be where the energy is entering him from?” Allison asked.

“Well,” replied Ryan, laughing quietly, “that’s a little beyond our expertise. We’ll have to leave that up to the young scientists like Becky here. All we know is we’d normally be concerned if we observed any of these signs in a normal patient. But somehow I think it’s safe to say that Alex has managed to do something amazing while also managing to avoid crippling himself.”

“So what’s next?” I asked.

“Now they examine me next, then probably Brooke after that,” Allison told me.

“Yeah, that’s what we planned,” Ryan said. “It would also be nice to examine Rebecca, since you mentioned she seems to have some of your abilities but not all. Maybe if we examined her we could figure out a test to identify the differences between you,” he suggested.

Both Kitty and Chalise were pressing up against me, leaning into me as they listened to this discussion, their eyes darting from one speaker to the next.

“Wow,” Kitty whispered to me. “I guess we’ve figured out what we’ll need to study now. It looks like you’ll need an in-house neurologist.”

“Yeah,” Chalise replied, “though I’m a little nervous about applying, because I’m guessing our biggest assignment would be to examine your brain after you die, to try to figure what’s happening inside your brain.” She shivered slightly at the thought.

So we spent a while examining Allison’s, Brooke’s, and finally Rebecca’s brain. During all this time Ryan’s pager kept going off but he mostly ignored it, simply glancing down occasionally to see if he needed to interrupt what he was doing.

“Well,” Ryan concluded after it was all said and done. “We’ve definitely isolated where some of their abilities are located, although we can’t figure out why some of you have these visions and the others doesn’t. There doesn’t appear to be anything in the area of the brain that normally handles optical signaling. I know it’s not actually a part of the eye, but given how the girls respond as if it was, I had assumed it would occupy the same segment of the brain.

“We’ve found where this energy seems to be coming into your brains. It’s right where Allison first pinpointed it. They’ve formed new brain tissue where it normally wouldn’t grow, though in a different location than Alex has his. Once again, like his, there are gaps in the material you’ve grown there, and at least one that seems to be missing any of the fluid that permeates the brain and helps to ensure it maintains its internal consistency.”

“We don’t know how much this will tell us, but it at least gives you some information to focus your future research on,” Edward told Becky.

“So, who wants to become the neurologist that has to do Alex’s autopsy, and which one wants to dedicate herself to scheduling his multiple sexual liaisons,” Kitty asked Chalise.

Chalise laughed though. “I think the second job is already taken, Cate seems to have that one firmly in hand.”

“Well now that we have all this, we’d better get out of here,” Ryan gently informed us, trying to ignore the comments about our incestuous relationship. “There are a few cases that need access to the machinery in here, since we’ve been in here for a while. Edward and I will review the scans in more detail later just to see if we missed anything, but I think we’ve gotten most of the important parts.

“Now, Alex,” he said, as he guided us out into the hall. “I’ve got an interesting proposition for you. Our next stop is to do a little preliminary test, but I’m pretty sure of the results already. I’ve been talking to a preeminent heart surgeon in Chicago. I’ve told him that we have a new way of significantly reducing scarring from surgery. However, he wants to see a sample before he commits to performing a surgery here rather than in Chicago.” At this point he handed me a little mister bottle.

“Use this when you go into the surgical ward, I want you to pretend to spray liquid onto the patient’s surgical incisions. That will lead the assembled doctors and nurses to think it’s a new medicine the local university has developed. I’ve told him it has an extremely short lifespan and that it’s very unstable, so it can’t be transported long distances, so if he wants to test it he’ll have to come here.”

I hefted the little stainless steel bottle in my hands. I could easily do what I needed while holding it. I’d need to be careful though, as the steel would probably interfere with my energy the same way the latex gloves did.

As he was talking, we took the elevator to what turned out to be the maternity ward. I wondered what was going on when he drew me aside and Ryan, Allison and I scrubbed in and put on masks. Everyone else put on gloves, although I, of course, didn’t.

“This is a similar procedure, although it’s less severe,” Ryan continued explaining. “But you’ll be doing similar cosmetic repair. This will give him an idea of the effect you can have on his heart patients.”

Finishing our prep work, we entered a small operating room where a very pregnant patient lay waiting, apparently under anesthesia, with a small operating crew around her.

“Good morning, gentlemen and ladies,” Ryan said in greeting. “This is the researcher that is going to help with the testing. I think you’ve met Allison before. We’re ready to get started if you are.” I then had to stand there waiting patiently, while I watched a young doctor slice open a pregnant woman and extract her baby. I didn’t know whether to be excited or sick to my stomach. They hadn’t quite prepared me for this, so I’m not sure how they expected me to respond. But I steeled myself, telling myself I had to stay strong because I had an important role to play. Besides, if watching a cesarean operation unnerved me, I’d certainly never make it through heart surgery. But then, I guess that was the point of this.

Once they lifted the baby out, the doctor checked her. They then handed him or her off to another doctor. I was interested in seeing what would happen, but I remembered this was where I was needed. The first doctor proceeded to sew her up. As he finished I got to work, squirting what I was informed was an alcohol based distilled water over her ‘bikini cut’, while passing my hands along the lines of the incision. I knew it was likely to increase her bleeding, but the wound was properly sutured so I didn’t worry about it. However, I made sure to keep the energy very superficial.

The baby started screaming part way through my procedure, but I couldn’t look. Actually the worst part of the entire thing was when they removed the placenta. Ugh! At least the blood was opaque and quickly vacuumed up, but the placenta couldn’t be hidden. In all, the whole procedure didn’t take much time at all. As soon as I was done I was rushed out by Allison, where we scrubbed off and I was escorted to a waiting room where everyone was waiting for me. We told them what happened, producing some appropriate oohs and aahs from the girls. Ryan joined us shortly afterward.

“They’ll monitor her afterward, just to let me know how she heals compared to a normal incision. They’ll also take pictures to send to the Cardiac surgeon. You’ll need to be available on Tuesday afternoon, Alex, so I’ll contact your school to arrange for you to get out early. I’ll simply tell them it’s a follow up on your attack, so they shouldn’t suspect anything. You did well in there. It looked natural, although there were a few questions as to why you weren’t wearing gloves. Now they’ll think anything you accomplish is because of the new ‘miracle drug’, and won’t actually associate it with you.”

“You know, you could have let me know what I was walking into,” I complained. “I’m sure it would have spoiled things if I’d passed out or thrown up in there.”

“There is that,” Ryan replied, smiling at me. “I told everyone beforehand that you were a research nerd that had never seen an operation before, so they were expecting you to react badly. But I wanted to see how you handled yourself. Cardiac surgery is hard to observe, as there is a LOT of blood and it’s fairly gruesome. I’ll send you home with a couple of DVDs so you can watch and get used to what you’ll be seeing, but if you can maintain your composure, you’ll be able to observe what very few individuals get to see, an actual beating human heart.”

“Plus,” Allison added, “just like now, you’ll be covered in a gown and face mask, meaning no one will be able to easily identify you.”

“OK, if that’s how we start the day, I know you have something even worse planned for me now,” I told him. He simply nodded and walked out, expecting us to follow him. He led us back to the elevators and we went to the regular examination rooms.

“OK, several things. First of all, the guy with the broken arm finally came back in while you’ve been gone. We were right. He healed up in record time. We did an X-ray on him, and the fracture seems to have healed stronger than it normally does. There was a little overgrowth, but nothing too serious.

“That also means you might want to try doing something for Jennifer, since she suffered from a very bad bone fracture. Unfortunately, her arm is in a cast now. I don’t know if you can work through a cast or not, and it will remain until her arm is largely healed, so if you can’t, then you won’t be able to help her much. But I’d like if you could see if you could help her.

“Next, we’re going to examine two random patients complaining of back pains. I told them we have a new treatment for them, so I want you to do the same thing with the spray bottle, though you won’t have the benefit of the mask this time. I’m anxious to see how they respond to it. It’s hardly earth shattering, but it should give us more of an idea as to the uses this ability of yours can be put to.”

With that he led me into the first examination room, accompanied only by Allison. The man sat there on the examination table looking very uncomfortable. He visibly grimaced when he moved slightly as we entered. Ryan introduced us, merely referring to me as a “lab guy from the University”, not bothering to mention which university.

He examined the guy, seeing nothing specific to indicate any particular physical problem. Allison looked at him as well and couldn’t see any damaged tissue either. So I proceeded to spray the painful areas he’d detailed to us. The guy immediately sighed heavily, and then he flexed his back.

“Wow, man, that’s something. You’ve managed to make it feel a thousand times better. You’ve got to give me a prescription for some of that stuff,” the man said, clearly happy with the results.

“Sorry, but it’s only a test sample and can only be applied according to strict testing protocols,” Ryan told him. Ryan then proceeded to examine him again, and he seemed to be suffering from significantly less pain. Ryan then told him to see the nurse on the way out when he paid his bill, about possible follow-up treatments and then we left.

We then entered the next exam room and saw another older man, a little heavier, also suffering from back pain. He winced when he shook Ryan’s hand. Ryan once again introduced me as a University geek, effectively dismissing me so the guy wouldn’t pay me much attention. It seemed to work, since the guy was already distracted as it was.

Ryan again examined the patient, and then had me do my thing while I pretended to apply a spray to his back. I got about half way through and the man winced. As I finished he groaned and his knee partially gave way and he fell against the table.

“Are you all right, Mr. Logan?” Ryan asked.

“God, it’s … blinding … pain,” he groaned. Ryan helped him onto the table where he proceeded to examine him. I stood well back, out of the way.

I can’t see anything wrong,’ Allison told me.

I wouldn’t think you would. This is why it’s dangerous doing this. We need some way of knowing when it’s safe and when it isn’t,’ I told her.

Ryan called a nurse in and ordered some strong painkiller for the patient. Soon they wheeled in a gurney and set him up on it. He was clearly in no shape to leave. Ryan motioned for us to leave as the nurse was administering the drugs.

“Well, that sure didn’t work,” he told us.

“No kidding. Are you going to get in trouble for using drugs not approved for human testing?” I asked.

“No, the guy signed a waiver, and there’s no evidence he was exposed to anything other than both of our words. He could cause me trouble for unethical treatment, but I’ll just claim I was trying a placebo variant. But unless you did some serious damage to him, I doubt he’ll register a complaint. He just wants some relief.”

I nodded that I understood. Everyone clustered around us and Ryan explained what happened. No one said anything because there really wasn’t anything to say. I guess so far I was one for three. One for, one against and one unknown. It wasn’t the best of odds.

Ryan didn’t let us obsess over it, though.

“I’ve got one more thing for you to try with a variety of patients,” he said as he led us off to yet another floor. “Actually Allison gave me the idea when she was telling me what she was looking to do.”

He didn’t say much more until we exited the elevator on a floor marked as housing the “Psychology Department”.

“Allison said she was going to study both medicine and psychology, so I figured we’d see what you could do with some of the more common psychological problems,” Ryan told us as we walked up to a thin older doctor.

“This is Avers Peterson. He’s the head of the Psychology department here,” he said, before introducing us around.

“So, you’re the mysterious Alex we keep hearing about,” he said as he shook my hand. I glanced at Ryan and he put his hands up.

“Hey, I didn’t tell him anything,” he said in self defense.

“No, he didn’t,” Avers said. “However everyone in the hospital has been talking about you. Everyone tries to keep it low key, but they all know something is going on. I don’t believe they talk about it outside of the hospital, Dr. Moore sent out a memo and had a few talks about respecting privacy, yada, yada, yada.”

“So how do you know who I am, then?” I asked, not quite buying it yet.

“Ryan came up and started talking about taking a ‘fresh look at treating psychology cases’. As soon as he said it I asked him if he was referring to you. He blushed and told me not to let the information get out, but never denied it. He told me this past week to be here today, which is odd since I’m usually on the golf course at this time, so I figured he must have something lined up.”

“OK, I can deal with that, but let’s just keep this between us, and why don’t you refer to me as ‘Jack’, an intern,” I suggested.

“OK, Jack, how do we explain your ‘laying on of hands’,” he asked. I groaned. “Hey, there’s a fair amount of information about you floating around. Several people have observed you in action.”

So Avers led us into a small waiting room with several patients sitting around. Allison and Brooke both perked up as we entered, so I figured they must have seen something to pique their curiosities but I didn’t bother asking yet. I figured they’d tell me if and when I should know.

“Stephanie,” Avers said, speaking to a very pretty but somewhat dowdy looking young woman, “if you’re ready, we have a few people interested in speaking with you. Do you have any problem being seen by so many people, if so we can limit who’s—” She vaguely waved his complaint away.

“No, it’s fine. I really don’t care,” she sighed. She put the magazine she was reading down and got up, following us into a small examination room.

“Stephanie is suffering from a long term case of severe depression which doesn’t respond to any of the various antidepressants available,” Avers informed us. “We were about to try her on electroshock therapy when this opportunity came up. She’s heard a lot of negatives things about EST, but frankly, right now she’s pretty desperate.”

I noticed that everyone was waiting for me, but I had no clue as to what to try.

Well, Allison, this is your ballgame, what do you suggest?’ I asked her.

Actually, Alex, this is fascinating. Each of the women he had outside shows a beautiful kaleidoscope of emotions that I’m going to have to learn how to interpret. I need to spend several hours talking to her, trying to figure out which emotions go with which different thing I see in her aura. But for now I’m at a loss as to what to treat.’

Depression is supposed to be the result of a lack of serotonin in the brain, either that or an inability to properly use it,’ Brooke said, perhaps guessing what I was already asking Allison. ‘Unfortunately, there’s no way to directly affect that in the brain. Serotonin is produced on a cellular level in the midline of the brainstem. There’s no central serotonin gland in the brain for you to stimulate.’

So I assume there are no low-energy spots in her brain that I can tap into?’ I asked them both. They both just shook their heads.

“So, is someone going to do or say something?” Stephanie asked us, looking at everyone staring at her in silence.

Alex, let’s try something that Cate keeps saying, just give her a hug,’ Allison suggested.

Huh? How’s that supposed to do anything?’ I asked.

Don’t stall, just do it,’ she insisted. So, feeling very nervous and conspicuous, I simply walked up to her.

“Pardon me, but I just want to … well…, uh, can I give you a hug?”

She glanced doubtfully at Avers, who I couldn’t see but could imagine his possible reactions. Finally she just shrugged and gave me a light squeeze.

More full body, Alex, envelope her and hold her. Like you usually do with Cate,’ Allison insisted.

So I held her against me and enveloped her in my arms. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, or how it was supposed to help her, so I simply whispered in Stephanie’s ear, “Relax, just let yourself forget about your problems.”

After some initial hesitation she eventually let herself relax against me. We stood there silently, me simply holding her and both of us wondering what this was supposed to be doing.

“Uh…,” Stephanie eventually said, growing increasingly ill at ease.

How long am I supposed to keep this up?’ I asked Allison.

I have no idea. Cate says just a few seconds is usually enough, but in this case I’d give it a bit more time. It probably won’t have any effect, but it’s about our only alternative.’ So I simply whispered, “Just a few more minutes” in Stephanie’s ear and kept holding her, trying to imagine it was Cate in case it would make some sort of difference.

Finally, after a few more minutes, I stepped back and looked at her hesitantly. She looked at me oddly, then glanced at everyone staring at her, blushing a little. Then she got an odd expression and she tilted her head a little inquisitively.

“You know, as strange as it sounds, I feel a little bit better. I don’t feel the overwhelming dread and hopelessness I usually have.”

“Your aura looks a bit different,” Allison said, forgetting about our trying to not reveal too much information. “Can you tell us which feelings or emotions have changed?”

“Uh, well, I feel less hopeless. I still feel depressed, but it no longer seems quite so overwhelming. I feel comfortable, and, uh … I feel a little less inclined to slit my wrists tonight.”

The way Stephanie said that just broke my heart, so I impulsively stepped up again and held her again.

“Try not to succumb to it. You are important to us, and we want you get better and become productive again. We can get past this.” She said nothing in response but simply held me much as I held her, apparently hoping to absorb whatever I was unintentionally giving her.

Finally Allison herself cleared her throat, so I backed up and Stephanie actually smiled slightly at me.

“Well, I’ve got no idea what I did or how well it will work, but I hope it has some effect,” I told her.

“You know, as strange as it sounds, I think it helped. Is there some way I could get, uh, a follow-up treatment, if I ever feel suicidal in the future?” she asked hopefully.

“Sure, I think Allison here will want to talk with you to try to get some additional information from you, so we’ll be in contact. Just get in touch with her and she can always reach me,” I told her.

“Well, score one for unusual treatments that no one else thought of,” Avers said.

“I wouldn’t say that, my boyfriend and family all tried the same thing, but it never did anything, and they eventually got tired of being so helpless in their ability to help me. I don’t know what’s different about you but….”

“Don’t worry about it,” I hurried to tell her. “As long as it works, at least for a little while, it gives us more time to figure out something more significant we can do,” I told her.

“Well, I guess we’d better see about our other patients,” Avers suggested. As we started to move towards the door Stephanie rushed up and hugged me one last time.

“Thanks, I appreciate it. You don’t know how hopeless I’ve been feeling, and it never seemed to get better. Just knowing something so simple can help so much makes a world of difference.”

“OK, but just don’t tell anyone about me. If anyone asks, just tell them that Avers has a new treatment that is working,” I suggested, hoping she’d take my comments seriously.

“Sure, whatever you want. Just as long as I can feel this good occasionally, it will probably be enough to keep me going,” she said. “Plus, I was really dreading having them fry my brain for no good reason.”

When we walked back into the waiting room I immediately noticed there were a few more people there. I noticed because there was an orderly and someone else standing there looking expectantly at me.

Where’s Cate when we need her?’ I asked Allison. ‘Brooke, why don’t you talk to these two newcomers and explain to them what we know about the Watchers. Tell them they aren’t alone and that they have an important role to serve, then tell them that Cate will contact them tomorrow and discuss the issues with them.’

Yes, sir, Boss,’ she happily responded as she set off while the rest of us walked back to the waiting chairs. The remaining guy and gal watched Stephanie and her improved mood hopefully.

“Kimberly, if you’re ready we can examine you now,” Avers told a cute blond who wore a lot of custom jewelry and who bore a few really attractive tattoos. She got up, again dropping the magazine she’d been reading, and followed Avers to the examination room.

Once we were safely in the room he began his diagnosis. “Kimberly has Bipolar disorder, she’s currently in the manic upswing phase. However, she’s an artist and isn’t anxious for us to treat it, since she values these manic periods so much. However she also knows that the manic phase is a precursor to the subsequent depressive phase.”

“So, should I try what I did the last time?” I asked the assembled crew.

“I think this is different, essentially it’s the opposite of the previous case,” Allison suggested, not bothering to hide the conversation this time, since I’d openly asked for input. “I think you’ll have to do the opposite of what you did before. You’ll need to draw your solace away from her. I don’t know whether you were feeding Stephanie with energy before, or were somehow draining out her sadness, but now you’ve got to reverse it and remove some of Kimberly’s excessive energy.”

“Gee, doc,” I teased, “that sounds simple, but I have no idea what I did before and it doesn’t sound like you do either. Do I drain energy from her, or feed it into her? What does hugging someone do, feed or drain? Either way, I have no idea how to do that, so doing the opposite isn’t much of an option.”

“Well, we’ve seen that you can’t direct the energy by thinking about it, so trying to tell the energy to do something won’t help,” Becky observed form the corner.

“I think I’d just try what you did before, but either try to absorb her excess enthusiasm, or do the opposite of what you do for Cate,” Allison suggested.

“What do I do for Cate?” I asked her, while Kimberly looked on in confusion. “All I’ve ever done is comfort her when she complains about anything. I’ve never done anything other than that. Even if I unintentionally did something, I have no clue what it might have been.”

“Well, there aren’t any other options,” Kitty said from the corner. “I think you’ll have to try one.”

Shrugging, I approached Kimberly. “Pardon me, but I’ll need to hug you for a few minutes,” I tried to explain to her.

“Hey, everyone here seems to think you’re the one with all the answers, so I guess I should listen to you. Either you know more than you profess, or you are very good at convincing people. For a couple of respected conservative doctors to agree to let you try something you don’t even know how to do speaks volumes.” And with that she opened her arms and welcomed my hug.

I enveloped her and simply tried to comfort her, but after a minute I tried to see if maybe I could absorb some of her excess enthusiasm. I hoped optimism would have some effect, but I didn’t see how it could. However, as I stood there holding her, enjoying this therapy technique as I held her shapely body against my own, I figured the ultimate solution to the problem was the same as I’d applied to Stephanie. She was trying to avoid the onset of depression, so treating her as I did Stephanie made sense, and, if it didn’t work, then I could always hug her after she got depressed. Still, I was hoping for a cure rather than having to keep hugging these girls every couple of days or weeks.

As I was hugging her I got a bit of a surprise when she started to grind against me. She whispered, “I’d say your treatment is having an effect. Now, instead of thinking creatively or dreading depression, I’m thinking about doing you on the table here.” I blushed, but kept holding her, although I tried to minimize my reaction to her rubbing her crotch against my erection.

“Uh, if the treatment is about done, I think I may want my boyfriend back, if you don’t mind,” Kitty said, from behind me.

“Yeah, I agree, it’s one thing sharing him with others we know, but we don’t need his patients humping him in front of us. So if you’re feeling better….” Chalise stated, none too delicately.

I released her, but watched her reaction before backing up.

“Oops, busted,” she replied, smiling at me with a little twinkle in her eyes. “I tend to be a bit impulsive when I’m on a manic streak; it’s what allows me to be so creative. It normally helps in my work as an artist, but it sometimes causes me problems socially.” She backed up, holding my left hand as she did.

“I’m not sure what effect it’s had yet, I guess I’ll have to wait for a couple of weeks and see if I crash, but I enjoyed the therapy.” She then turned to Kitty and Chalise, who suddenly appeared on either side of me, holding me protectively. “I’m sorry if I overstepped my boundaries. I’ll tell you what though, if you want, I’ll try to make up for it by doing a portrait of you three,” she offered.

I glanced at Kitty and Chalise to see how they interpreted this gesture. Chalise seemed to consider it but Kitty seemed like she was about to strike out.

“I think it’s best if we just keep this somewhat professional,” I told her, asking myself just how professional it was for a high school kid with several girlfriends to be hugging an attractive woman in a doctor’s office.

Kimberly nodded sagely. “Understood,” she said simply. “I’ll let the good doctor know how I respond, and whether I have a relapse in another week or two as I usually do. In the meantime, is there some way that I can get in contact with any of you, just to make amends, you understand?” she asked.

I grimaced, imagining how she might be planning to make amends. “You can contact Allison here at the hospital. She works here as a student. She knows how to reach us.”

“I can imagine,” Kimberly said in a suggestive manner. “It looks like she may be one of the other girlfriends that you are apparently living with. I’m sorry if I caused a problem before, but you can see why I thought there might be an opening for me.”

“You’ll have to forgive Kimberly,” Avers told us. “When she reaches this stage, she’s sometimes a bit ‘unrestrained’ in her approach.”

“All right, I think we should finish up then. There’s nothing else to be gained by dawdling here,” I announced as I led Kitty and Chalise out.

Going back into the waiting room I saw Brooke talking to both of the new girls, seemingly quite involved in their discussion. The last guy waiting there looked up anxiously at me. Without waiting for protocol, I simply stopped and waved him in. He stood up quickly and headed towards us. I stood aside as Kimberly stepped around us as I signaled to Ryan and Avers that we’d be remaining. Kimberly stopped and spoke to Kitty for a moment, so I moved aside to let them hash it out while I got situated in the exam room.

The new guy entered and didn’t even bother to look at or address either Avers or Ryan, despite his probably being familiar with both of them. Chalise remained with Kitty as they listened to Kimberly, so I didn’t wait for them. I glanced at Avers, letting him know I was ready for his diagnosis.

“This is Ricky Atkins, like many young men he came down with schizophrenia when he was in college. He’s managed to complete his college degree despite the obvious difficulties, but now that he’s out on his own he’s been having trouble following his treatment. He’s gone off of his medication several times and has been hearing voices that continually plague him. We no longer think we can rely on him taking his medicines reliably, so we’re hoping for an alternative treatment that will allow him to function normally in society.”

I think…,’ Allison started to say but I held my hand up, silencing her.

“So tell me, why are you not taking your medicines?” I asked him, really curious.

“The antipsychotics really screw up your personality,” he told me, not paying attention to anyone else in the room. “It leaves me feeling like I’m living my life under a wet blanket. I can’t feel my emotions any more, I can’t respond to things that happen to me, and I can’t think straight most of the time.”

“That’s a common complaint,” Avers informed us from the corner. “They are the most non-compliant drugs on the market. We offered to prescribe him Risperdol, which is newer and has a few less obvious side effects, but it’s quite expensive.”

“Thanks, I get the idea. So you don’t think you can keep taking the medicine, even if it means you might become a danger to yourself or others?” I asked him.

“No, I know it’s terrible, but…,” he responded as his voice drifted off, as if he’d lost track of what he was saying.

“All right, Allison, what do you see?”

“Again, I don’t have enough experience with these types of conditions to be able to make a recommendation. Though, there’s a particular dim spot right, wait a moment, Ryan, did you think to bring the model of the brain that we’ve been using?”

“No, sorry, I left it with Edward,” Ryan apologized.

“Well, it’s right here and here, about 2 inches inside going in at this angle,” Allison explained in as much detail as she could manage.

“You can actually see inside his brain?” Avers asked, clearly intrigued.

“I told you he’s not going to answer you. It’s better for everyone involved if we don’t know the details. Just sit back and let him do his magic,” Ryan advised his fellow doctor. Avers took his advice and stepped back.

“You think you can do something for me? This isn’t just another thing my mind is telling me, you are really telling me this?” Ricky asked, unsure of his own senses.

“Frankly, I don’t have a clue what I can accomplish or what I can’t. This is all new to me and I have no idea what it is that I’m supposedly doing, but I’ve had a few successes. Now just stand still, this won’t hurt and hopefully it may help. Of course there’s a very good chance it won’t do a thing, but….” I said, not bothering to finish the statement since I could tell he was having trouble following my arguments anyway.

I put my hand at the points that Allison told me and she watched me as I tried to do as she’d asked. I guess I was successful as she didn’t try to stop me. She told me when to stop. I stepped back and watched Ricky to see if there was any change. He didn’t respond in any way so I finally had to ask.

“Can you feel any changes?” I asked.

“What, you mean the voices? I don’t know. They don’t talk continuously. They’ll sometimes start and stop at odd times,” Ricky said, only to pause for a few moments. “I’ll only know if they stop for a while,” he finished.

“Well, how are you feeling, are your thoughts any clearer? Is there anything else that will—”

“Most of the symptoms are from the drugs, they build in your system for weeks and they stay there for weeks afterwards. The only actual effects from the schizophrenia are the voices and some confusion,” he told us.

“He’s right,” Avers told us. “We’ll try to track him, although whether he’s reliable enough to make it for follow-ups is anyone’s guess. He made it today, and that’s saying something. But he’s been off his meds for a while and he’s hearing his voices more and more now.”

“Well, I guess that’s my lot in life. I help one, several are up in the air, and I hurt another couple. Frankly, I think I like reaching out to women who walk up to me more, because the results are a bit more definite,” I told them all.

“Well, anyway, I hope you’ll come in for your check-ups over the next couple of days, as I’m anxious to know whether what I did had any effect or not. But in either case, I’m finished here.” I turned and faced Ryan.

“Now if we’re finished with all your cases, I’ve got a friend I’ve been avoiding for some time that I really need to see.” When he shook his head and motioned to the door I made my exit, everyone falling in behind me. Kitty and Chalise had finished talking to Kimberly, so they fell in behind me as well. No one said anything as we made our way to the cancer ward.

Apparently Ryan was following along as well, since he directed us to a different room. When we entered, Jennifer was sitting in a chair talking to a couple of other cancer patients. When she saw us she jumped up and ran to me, giving me a big hug, her cast awkwardly hitting me in the side. She then backed up and apologized to both Kitty and Chalise.

“Oh, I’m sorry if I’ve stepped over the line,” she said, pulling back to give both girls a hug as well. “I heard about your big day. I’m so glad for you both. You have to tell me all about it. Being so far out of the loop I don’t hear all the important details.” I figured she may have been cooped up here for a little too long, since she was so enthused about the nuances of my life.

Kitty and Chalise told her it was fine, and told her they’d give her the details in a moment.

“And don’t worry about showing Alex your affection. There’s an exception for any of Alex’s Seers,” Kitty informed her.

“So why aren’t you in your room?” I asked. Jennifer put her hands on her hips and looked at me in exasperation.

“Alex, if you were to stop by occasionally you’d know a little more about me. I don’t live in the hospital, you know. I only come here for my occasional chemotherapy. I go home to my house where I sit all alone and deal with what’s happening to me. The only reason why I’m here is because Dr. Moore told me you’d be here today. I’ve been visiting with the other patients staying here, since I’ve formed a lot of friendships while I’ve been here. Plus, I’ve been helping Dr. Moore figure out how well everyone is responding to their treatments, since I can see the results better than their tests can measure.”

“You live on your own?” I asked.

“Yeah, I had a life before I got cancer. My parents stop by occasionally, but I live on my own. No boyfriend because not many guys want to get involved with someone who’s sick. Like everything else, I’d been waiting to develop relationships. However, I’m changing my plans now. Allison and Shani have told me no one will object if I start coming by your house to get more involved with everyone. Of course the ultimate choice is yours, but I’m getting a little tired of your being uncomfortable talking to me just because I have cancer. I may not have long, but I plan on making the most of my remaining time. Ryan can’t tell me how long it’ll take for these things I’m watching wandering through my body to become full blown cancers, so I figure I’ve got a decent amount of time. I plan on using it to help you in any way that I can.”

“Whew, that’s a lot of information all at once,” I told her, trying to absorb all she’d just told me. “So you plan on coming home with us?”

“Yeah, I want to start getting to know my sisters. I know I can’t keep up with everyone else, but I can help in the background. You won’t have to worry about me too much, aside from that silly accident with the hospital’s food cart, I normally don’t break. But I’ve got to get all the details of your new girlfriends’ adventure, and I want to meet the rest of my sisters. But before we go, Susan here has been having some problems with her kidney. Allison told me about what you did with Mary, so I thought you could help her out. It doesn’t affect her cancer or bones, so you don’t have to worry about what happened to me, but could you take a look at her for me?”

“Man, I can tell you’re still feeling pretty good, because you’re full of energy. All right, lead on and then we’ll take you home to meet the parents.”

She was pleased, obviously. I helped her friend Susan. It only took a few minutes and the results were immediate, unlike the rest of my cases today, so that made me feel much better. Soon we were leaving the hospital, promising Ryan we’d be back for his meeting on Tuesday. Jennifer followed us home in her car. While we were driving, (both Kitty and Chalise decided to ride with her so they could talk about me in private). I warned her about what was happening at home and that she might want to avoid the activity. However she told me not to worry. She could help organize things away from all the heavy lifting, and she would make sure she wouldn’t get hurt.

Everyone was pleased to finally meet Jennifer once we got home. There was still a lot of activity, so Kitty and Chalise joined their families in their efforts to finish everything up. Jennifer ended up talking with my parents and Cate about me. Brooke also took time to tell Cate about the two new Watchers we had at the hospital. Cate took her role in explaining things very seriously, so I was sure they’d get the full description of their new abilities quite soon.

Jennifer also hit it off with Brooke’s kids. Josh wanted to know why she was wearing a handkerchief on her head, so she had to take the time to explain what she had, what it meant, and all the ramifications of it. He seemed to follow it, but once again his younger sister, Suzy, seemed to follow complicated thoughts better than he did.

I tried to see what I could do with Jennifer’s broken bones through her cast while she continued talking to everyone, however I have no clue whether it did any good or not, since none of the girls could see through the cast. Personally, I doubt it had any effect, but casts are designed to be pretty porous, so you never know.

I told Allison she should take Jennifer back to the hospital with her to have Ryan modify her cast. I figured if he could simply put a small hole in it over the worst of the breaks, it should still support the arm but also allow us to both see and treat her injury. She thought that was an excellent idea and would make sure it was done.

It didn’t take too much more time to finish up with everything. Everyone decided to celebrate what they accomplished by having a huge pizza and beer dinner out in the back yard. The neighbors even came over and got involved with it, giving them all a chance to ask the questions they’d been dying to ask for so long. It seems my parents had been avoiding having company since they didn’t know how to explain everyone living in the house now. I assumed the girls would know what to say and what not to, so I didn’t worry about that.

After dinner everyone dispersed, including Kitty and Chalise. My girls invited Jennifer to stay. She looked at me to see if I’d approve, so I told her she was welcomed, which pleased everyone. When I asked if that added another one to my already busy schedule, she laughingly told me that she’d be too weak for any but the most gentle of sex. I blushed when the girls all told her that that was my specialty. However, as it was I ended up sleeping with Allison and Brooke. Rebecca said she’d wait, since it was so important that I make my way through the Seers so they could gain the additional abilities I’d granted Shani with. Both girls were anxiously waiting to see both what intercourse with me would be like, as well as experience their new abilities.

Rebecca and Jennifer kept Josh and Suzy entertained when the rest of us went to bed. Cate was still indisposed, although she insisted on being present. I made love with Brooke first, figuring she’d had less chances with me than Allison had. I tried my best to make it beautiful for her, but again, it didn’t seem to matter what I planned, as they both tended to go off like rockets. Brooke screamed when she came, Jennifer telling me that Josh woke up worried about his mom and that they had to calm him, although Suzy wasn’t worried about her mother since Brooke was with me.

As soon as she recovered, Brooke proceeded to mentally talk to everyone, testing her new independence from me. Her new abilities seemed to work perfectly. She was so excited with it it was hard to get her interested in our own activities, but she eventually came around, telling Allison she’d love both the act and the results.

Cate was busy helping out, arranging things and holding things in position. She didn’t seem to mind being left out, and having her period didn’t prevent her from playing with herself while she watched us. Allison didn’t take long, either. However, she held on as she shuddered through several orgasms, finally almost passing out when I finally came. Once again it seemed that everyone with me achieved a near simultaneous orgasm, so I guess I was actually influencing them.

I know they both saw stars, and I did too, but it wasn’t quite as pronounced as it had been with Shani. I figured I’d have to discuss it with Cate later, but I thought it was from my body making adjustments to my brain and that I’d get used to it in time, so that I wouldn’t feel like I was passing out each time I had sex. Still, I suspect it would continue to be like that for each of my girls.

Both Brooke and Allison agreed that the full body contact made a significant difference. Allison told me that oral sex just didn’t achieve the same effect as having me lay on top of them. She said she could understand what Cate got from cuddling up with me, even when she didn’t get involved with the action.

“You know, Alex, I don’t even think getting into a 69 would be the same thing,” Allison tried to explain to me. “For some reason your energy seems to be directional, because I get the feeling you need to be facing me for me to get the full effect of your energy radiating along my flesh. Or maybe it’s that I need your head next to mine when we kiss. Either way, I won’t complain if you want to go down on me in the future, but I’d much rather have you lay on top of me and masturbate than receive oral sex, since the physical contact makes such a big difference.”

Cate immediately decided we needed to do some further experimentation to see if that was true or not.

 

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