I Cried to Dream Again
"Hold the shit still!" The rasping voice hissed to his companions and they held onto John Lawless for dear life. Bracing him against the floor, arse upwards. "I only need a couple o' seconds here." The voice hesitated and John Lawless felt the sharp pin prick of a needle entering his left buttock. "See, done. As ordered." The rasping voice broke into an equally as rasping laugh. "I'd say sweet dreams but I'd be lying." And on that note the men let him go and ran for the door.
John Lawless found the vial and syringe lying where they had been dropped. He too headed for the door, leaving them behind him, but as he moved he began to sway, to loose touch with his legs. His brain said one thing his legs obviously heard another. So he turned back and tried to pick up the vial and syringe. On the third pass he snagged them.
Reading the label had him sweating. He'd heard enough about this shit to know he'd never use it himself. He had the vague idea that he hadn't been given enough to either kill him out or to even just knock him out. He also knew that he would be in for a very rough time. John looked about him, checking for a phone. There wasn't one. He reached for the door, swaying like a long term drunk. He noticed that the walls were moving, rearranging themselves.
It was starting.
Memories he had long pushed out of his conscious mind, or at least thought he had, came rushing in to be recognised. Odd little snippets from all the vague, clandestine conversations that had made up the majority of the last two years of his life. They began to play out all around him. Identifying who said what when and separating it from the here and now was hard. The drug in his system making it all seem so very real.
Lawless finally made it out of the building and onto the brightly lit noon day streets. People swerved round him, not wanting to touch the drunk punk in their path. He tried to talk to them, to ask for help. But his mouth wouldn't make the words come out right. He tried showing the vial and syringe to a friendly looking woman. She looked at the drugged up yob and ran the other way.
Taking his bearings as best he could, he headed for the nearest Accident and Emergency unit. He had two prayers, that he was heading the right way, and that he was on the street, not in the zoo.
"Come on Johnny, we don't want to be late. These guys are big league, bigger than you and me put together." Terry Bowers swayed and twisted in a breeze that wasn't there.
"Who? Where?" He managed, in his head. His guttural grunts and snarls went unnoticed, or at least uncommented on as he staggered, slowly, towards help.
"Jeez, you really were outto' it last night weren't ya?" Terry giggled. "The big time dealers that want ta' talk business with us is who!" Terry giggled again, his ghostly form twisting back to face him. "We're meeting them in the zoo. Got a thing for birds, an' I don't mean the tall, shapely higher mammal types that you an' me would go for.." He laughed again, fading from view.
"Terry? Where you go? Terry? They drugged me!" He staggered on towards the spot Terry had faded from. Rambling incoherently.
Elsewhere in the city a policeman sat by a bedside and waited for either death or a recovery. He didn't care which. At least it was indoor duty with air conditioning and all the tea he could drink. Hot and cold running nurses popping in and out to check up on his charge. The shapeless lump in the bed, his meal ticket to the easy life of dating and fun. Not that the poor bastard in the bed was having much fun. But with the amount of drugs pumped into the poor sod, if he did croak the poor sod'd probably take a week to notice.
The door behind him opened and his senior officer entered. Luckily he had actually been looking at the shit in the bed when Sergeant Bruford came in. He looked concerned, attentive to duty. He looked good, that was all that mattered.
That he thought he had fooled Bruford was a cause for the Sergeant to slowly shake his head. Thinking it a comment on their victim he stood and turned to report.
"No change, sir!" He snapped the words off, as if each of them were poisonous to him.
"You go get your break, I'll sit with him a while. Maybe a familiar voice would help." He shrugged, no more confident of the man's recovery that the constable. The other officer acknowledged his order and vanished as if the hounds of hell were after him, heading for the staff canteen.
Bruford picked up the man's notes and read them. Taking in what he could understand of them, shaking his head in sympathy.
"Christ, Bowers, they sure did a number on you!" He put the chart back and whistled at the cocktail of drugs they had pumped into the young man, trying to save him from what? Ten years in the same prison with the same prisoners and wardens that had put him there in the first place. "Ketamine, nasty stuff." He looked at the chart again, something was bugging him, if only he knew what it was.
As he staggered on towards the hospital and sanctuary, Johnny found Terry had returned. He was slightly less wavery this time, more focused.
"So, how you here then?" Terry asked him.
"What?" Johnny asked, unsure what Terry meant.
"How come you are here in Auckland, bro, you not being a native of these here parts?" Then Johnny could place the conversation. The one he had had with Terry on their trip to the zoo to meet the big contacts.
"I just am. I drifted here. More people, more money ta' make from them, aye?" He looked to Terry for confirmation. That was what he remembered happening.
"You tell me ... " Terry broke off and gasped in apparent pain. Johnny didn't remember that happening. As he reached for the apparition before him the image faded to once more be a lamp post. He patted it mindlessly. "Terry?" He asked the cold metal, wondering what it had done with the younger man.
Bruford had finally remembered what was wrong. He had seen enough medical records in his life. Victims, criminals, friends and family; all manner of records for all manner of injuries. That included a working knowledge of the dangerous levels for certain drugs. The type that could be, and frequently were, abused. Some fool had prescribed far too big a dose of Ketamine. Trapped in his powerless body, Terry Bowers was no doubt experiencing the worst trip of his entire life.
He hit the panic button and waited.
On the bed the inert lump that had been Terry Bowers moved at the sound of the buzzer going off by the door to his room. Bruford stood beside him and reached for his nearest hand, reassuring the young man, he hoped.
"'S okay, Terry, you're not alone, you'll be right, you'll see." As a nurse and Doctor ran in he abandoned the young man to his own demons for a moment or two as he pointed out the note that had caused him concern. He fully intended to go back to Terry Bowers' bedside, but he was pushed to one side as the Doctor and nurse tried to assess the damage done, the extent of their liability if the patients family decided to sue.
Hurried orders for more drugs were scribbled out, questioned and written in exact, clear script. Something to counteract the hallucinations that wracked the young man's mind.
Johnny staggered forward, abandoning the lamppost when it refused to tell him where Terry had gone. He followed the zoo keeper instead. He recognised the man, he had spent a lot of time talking to Terry and him that day at the zoo. He remembered that day clearly now. Terry had insisted they went early.
"Gotta get yer monies worth, aye?" Terry asked as he walked beside him, smiling.
"Suppose." He replied just as he had all those months ago.
"No suppose about it, Johnny boy." Terry grinned, just like he had then. Open, friendly, brotherly, trustingly.
That had been his job. Get this young man to trust him. No one had told him he'd have to spend a fun day at the zoo with him. Enjoying his enthusiasm for the place. Looking at as many of the animals as they could. Listening to Terry's hair brained schemes to set them all free.
"Can you imagine what it's like to live in a cage?" He turned to hold Johnny immobile with that clear, pale blue gaze? "Can you? Existing in a cage you can't get out of?" Terry surprised Johnny. That hadn't been in there conversation that day. Had it? Hadn't they discussed setting the birds free?
"Set them free? The birds, the beasts, everything?" Johnny suggested, trying to get his dreams to bear more resemblance to reality - or was it the other way around?
"And what about me Johnny? Who's gonna' set me free?" Terry turned and looked over the shallow lake that the wading birds wandered about in. Looking for frogs and fish and whatever else they stabbed with there sharp, dangerous beaks. Together they watched the colony of Australian Egrets wading around like a group of pasty white assassins, armed wit their little stilettos held out before them.
Oddly enough Johnny could see cars almost mowing the birds down.
"Can you see cars in there?" He asked Terry.
"Cars? In a bird enclosure?" Terry looked at Johnny, sympathy in his eyes. "You're seeing things." He turned back to the birds and faded from view again. As he did so the birds noticed and fluttered their wings, clipped, unable to fly.
Johnny felt such sympathy for them, exotic emigres, unwilling to be there, unable to go home.
Like him. Sent there to do a job, then cast aside with nowhere to go. No direction to follow. No future other than passing his own little cage, wading through his own little lake, searching for minnows in the shallows of his mind.
"Terry?" He called out, looking for his... His what? Friend? Terry had thought so. Had loved him like a brother. Do brother's turn on each other like he had Terry?
Terry came back and the image he showed to the birds frightened them, fluttering wildly they staggered off to the other side of the lake. As they did so the lake vanished. The younger man finally turned to look at Johnny, blood flowing freely from the wounds on his face, wounds Johnny had put there.
"What do you want now, pizza delivery man?" Terry's voice was harsh. It had never been harsh with him, never, until that last day. When Johnny had beat him to within an inch of his life.
The Doctor watched the machines as they monitored everything they could possibly monitor. Brain activity was still far too high. He remembered why he had become a Doctor, long before he had had to become an accountant, a liability lawyer and all the other unmedical hats he had to wear. He cared about people, and this young man was trapped in a body he couldn't move, suffering visions and sounds no one could even guess at.
"How is he?" He finally remembered the policeman and turned to look at the man.
"Not good officer. Can you imagine being trapped in a box with your worst nightmare?" The Doctor turned back to Terry. He read the name on the wrist tag on his patient's left wrist. "Terry, fight, you're not alone. We're here to help you." He stroked the young man's arm. Hoping he didn't emerge as some hideously deranged creature from whatever horror laden cauldron of nightmares that was trapped in there with young Terry.
Bruford might be less intuitive than some men, but he was more empathic than many. He could imagine all sorts of horrors. Unfortunately they were all based firmly in reality. He moved around to the other side of the bed and reached out to touch Terry. Remembering what it felt like to pull a gun on him. To make him stand there, blood freely running down his face, fear and loathing in his eyes. To look at him with nothing but hate in his eyes, face and heart.
How could he comfort him now?
"Terry, you have to fight it, come back Terry." His voice cracked. He could say no more. Instead he looked up at the Doctor and let him see his own shortcomings in his steady glance. "Doctor, I am one of those worst nightmares inside him." He whispered.
"Then what the fuck are you doing here?" The Doctor turned from the policeman back to his patient. "It's all right Terry, I won't let him harm you. Not a finger." And he reached over and removed Bruford's hand from Terry's right arm.
Dave Bruford let him.
Johnny looked at the bloodied Terry and tried to make him change.
"I don't like this trip. I don't like this part of it all. Can't we go back to the zoo?" He staggered towards the bleeding apparition anyway. Reaching for him, watching the ghost of Terry past skip out of his grasp once more.
"Oh no, Pizza man, y'kin never go back. Didn't nob'dy teach ya that?" Terry shook his head and little globules of blood flew off his tattered face. The rip marks where fingers had dug into the flesh and pulled.
"I never did that!" Johnny managed to say.
"Did what? Did what Johnny?" Terry asked, slowing his dancing steps, but still keeping out his reach.
"You're hurt, an' I never did that." Johnny wiped suddenly wet eyes on his shirt sleeve. A gaudy Hawaiian shirt. More reminiscent of something Terry would wear.
"Didn't you?" Terry asked, walking away again. "Who put me in my cage then?" And Terry faded once more, but his voice remained. "You coming into my cage?" Then that too faded.
Johnny looked up as the sign above him swam into and out of the visions in his head. All the armoured vans and dirty taxi's floated about depositing Terrys. Lots and lots of Terrys.
"Aren't you coming in then?" A new Terry asked, as he formed out of nothing.
"Where do you come from?" Johnny asked. He didn't mind looking at this Terry. He was whole he was healthy. Then he saw the scars, the sightless eyes staring ahead of them.
"It's a dark cage, you coming in? You might get the light working. Can't see a bloody thing in this cage." And Terry faded out again, drifting forwards, dragging Johnny with him.
"Terry!" Johnny pleaded for the vision to come back, both Terry and Terry's vision.
"One more step." Terry advised, appearing again, leading him. Laying a cold hand on Johnny's over heated flesh.
"You're so cold. Why are you so cold?" Johnny asked, leaning into the almost there touch he could almost feel for real.
"Dunno!" Terry admitted. "If this was Ghostbusters I'd be covered in ectoplasm." He smiled. "Never did like green slime." And he pushed Johnny onwards, fading again as he did so.
The Doctor watched the monitors return to a steady, if elevated, state. He had been so certain the young man had been about to go into a cardiac arrest, then he had calmed, his heart beating fast, but steady.
"Terry, you're not alone. We're all here to help you." He glared at Bruford, daring the policeman to say anything.
Bruford remained silent.
In Terry's head the struggle, whatever it was, went on.
"Did you put him in here then? Is this your handy work?" The Doctor asked as he swept his free hand over the broken body that had once been the hyperactive frame of Terry Bowers.
"No, his fellow cage dwellers did this. His wardens did this. And unless he lives and talks we can't do a thing about it." Bruford reached out once more, this time the Doctor didn't glare him into retreating.
"Why?" The Doctor asked.
"Because he said no. I think." Bruford couldn't look at the Doctor, too busy watching Terry's eyes dash too and fro in their lidded sockets.
Johnny heard a noise, he saw almost nothing, just a far away pin prick of light. He moved until the noise was behind him. Then he realised, it was automatic doors closing.
He staggered towards the glimmer of colour and shape before him.
"Terry, where am I?" He pleaded to the air around him. "Where are we?"
"In my prison." Terry replied, forming from the unfocused mists before him. "This way and you too can be in my personal hell." Terry walked shoulder to shoulder with him. Staggering his every step as he did. "Lift your hand Johnny. Lift the hand with the stuff."
Johnny did as he was told, no longer able to make his body move under his own command. He dumped the vial and syringe before the shocked nurse. Then he collapsed, just as Terry's voice said he could.
"Relax now Johnny." Terry's voiced faded from his mind's range.
"Ketamine poisoning." A voice from nowhere said. Just as the man collapsed.
In Terry's room the phone rang. The nurse answered it, listened, ah-ha'd a few times and turned to the Doctor.
"It's A and E, they say they've got a man, he staggered in. He's been poisoned, Ketamine poisoning." She handed the phone over and took the Doctor's place. She said nothing as the Doctor conversed with the people on the other end of the phone. Finally he agreed to come down and double check the new patient's treatment. His having just dealt with such a case seemingly made him the expert in this kind of poisoning. Though he did wonder why they needed him of all the Doctor's in the place.
He excused himself, and left.
As she leaned over to make sure her patient was comfortable she thought she heard him mumble something. She glanced up at the policeman, seeing agreement in his face.
"What did you say, Terry?" He asked. Reaching out once more to touch his charge, to offer comfort.
Terry rolled his head from side to side. Mumbling, groaning, finally coherent enough to be heard.
"Free the birds Johnny, it's their dream. Let them dream again!" And as they watched a single tear ran down Terry Bowers' cheek.
Continued in Unjust Cause