Atonement

The sequel to the short story "Coming Home," some time has passed since the incident between Simon and the doctor which resulted in their deaths. If you haven't read the first story "Coming Home" I suggest reading it first to clear up any confusion about the beginning. The aim was to answer questions left in the short story; please comment, and enjoy.

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4. Angels and Demons

 

     As the weeks went by, Dr. Duquesne continued to examine Edward’s behavior and how he adapted to being in the outside world. The remainder of October passed without incident and soon half of November had come and gone and Edward began to feel a sense of trust with Dr. Duquesne, yet somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that to fully trust a man who carried out the experiments of a deranged doctor would mean certain death. He knew that when the doctor was away he was at the institute carrying out the sick intentions of Dr. Murdoch as his job description enforced him to. Edward cringed at the thought of what Dr. Duquesne was doing.

            “Alright let’s see here,” Dr. Duquesne whispered quietly to himself as he examined the notes, and records of Dr. Murdoch’s experiments which Miss Tenmore had just recently returned to the filing cabinet seeing as though the authorities would not be coming back. “Well that is interesting, using electrical nodes attached to the temporal lobes of the skull and the chest approximately where the heart should be; continuing to pass about 15,000 volts through the child’s body. Dr. Murdoch you are insane by all means of the word.” As Dr. Duquesne put away the file on Edward he had been reading he begrudgingly opened the case file that he was expected to do today. As he examined the notes Miss Tenmore came through the door with a gurney carrying an incapacitated youth.

            “I think you sedated him a bit too much Miss Tenmore, he looks practically dead,” Dr. Duquesne noted examining the child.

            “Well I figured the operation you are going to conduct constituted a heavier sedative doctor, please forgive me,” Miss Tenmore replied with a bout of fear in her voice.

            “No no, you are correct in your assumption, but perhaps you are not aware of the precise measuring that must be done; too little sedative and the patient will feel everything, whereas conversely too much could put the patient into a coma or worse yet kill them. I do not need my young patients dying on the table,” the doctor finished. Seeing as she was of no more use Miss Tenmore retreated from the room and scurried down the hall to the office. Heaving the child onto the steel slab Dr. Duquesne felt as though he was being gutted like a fresh caught salmon ready for consumption, doing this hideous task wrenched at his psyche but he needed to complete the research left behind by Murdoch. He readied the scalpel and the antiseptic, and began to cut into the breathing child’s chest cavity. “Oh I am sorry that I have to do this to you little one, but it must be done. I promise your contribution to science will not go unnoted,” he whispered to the unconscious child as if to justify his actions. Time passed at a devastatingly slow pace as the doctor continued his gruesome work taking notations as he went. It had taken him two hours to get this far, he found cutting into the skin to be not that bad but when he had to peel back the skin to expose the muscle underneath, that was unnerving. Dr. Duquesne began to poke around the muscle looking for any signs of mutation brought on by the chemicals that Dr. Murdoch had pumped into the child for weeks as part of his experiment to see whether or not a combination of specific medications could cure mental ailments and improve the behavior of the child. The child had indeed over time become more apt to listen to instruction, but that was because the poor boy was intoxicated out of his feeble, shattered little mind. The child had become fatally ill as well since as it turned out the mixed medications reacted with the body to the extent that as Dr. Duquesne had now noted; ‘The medications seem to have appeared to reacted with the body tissue causing the muscle and skin to deteriorate and tear causing internal hemorrhaging and unless a cure could be found soon the boy did not have long to be had in this world.’

Meanwhile back at the townhouse Edward had awoken to another day of free living. He no longer felt weak or sickly, his once ghastly body now looked a bit more normal of a boy his age and more importantly he felt something he hadn't felt in a while; the feeling of being alive. He looked out from the window in his room at the sea as he wrote in the journal the doctor or Edgar as Edward now knew him as had given him on Halloween. In it Edward wrote down observations of life, his personal thoughts and recently his acquired taste for poetry. Though Edward was an amateur at best as he saw himself he none the less enjoyed writing. Though Edward was content with his new life he still found himself at times crying quietly in anguish and a hidden pain that had haunted him since he arrived at the institute and even more once Simon had escaped and died, while he had been captured and pretty much tortured.

            “Damn, what is this intense pain that racks my insides!?” Edward suddenly gasped as he coughed up deep crimson spatters of life. “Blood, how could this be happening!?” Edward collapsed on the floor as a sudden streak of sweat ran down his brow. Edward gasped for breath as he coughed and gagged on his own blood. ‘Is this how Simon felt as he died? Am I destined to die too? I’m not ready to die,’ Edward thought to himself as began to go numb and black out. Finally after what seemed like an eternity he gagged once more and managed a desperate scream for help. As blackness enraptured him Edward could only think one thing; ‘Help me.’

Edward found himself lying on the darkened floor of a room in pitch black. As he sat up he began to become aware of his surroundings; there was two chairs, one was empty and the other had a person sitting in it. Edward managed to stand up and walk over to the person. It was dead silent here and the only sound breaking the silence was Edward’s footsteps as he walked towards as he got closer it became obvious it was a kid about his age. The seated child had his head slumped low so as not to show his face, his sleeve on one side was stained a deep crimson and his hair blond but made dirty by what appeared to be dried sea salt and small bouts of sea weed shreds.

            “Hello there, could you tell me where I am?’ Edward asked politely. The figure said nothing, and only the breathing of the unknown child became audible though it was low and quiet. Edward stepped closer to the child, as he did so something screamed at the back of his mind that he shouldn't be here and he shouldn't touch the other kid but he pressed on. Finally he was almost face to face with the mystery kid. Edward began to stretch out his arm so he could force the kid to look at him when suddenly the other seemed to become aware of Edward and with a loud raspy gasp snapped his head up looking Edward dead in the eyes. Edward screamed and in a panicked leap backwards fell down, but he found himself not able to break eye contact with the other kid who it was no obvious was not of the living world. His eyes were deeply sunken and appeared from afar to be empty black, soulless sockets. The dead boy as it seemed to Edward got up and slowly began to move towards Edward striking complete panic into him. As Edward tried to crawl backwards to flee from the ghastly specter, the child spoke.

            “Don’t be afraid of me,” the dead boy called to Edward with a quiet raspy whisper that seemed to embody death itself. “Don’t be afraid of me Edward,” continued to call the specter getting closer and closer to Edward.

            “How the hell do you know my name?” Edward spat back fully gripped by fear. Finding courage he managed to spring to his feet, wheel around and sprint in the opposite direction. As he looked back he saw the dead boy fading into the darkness. Turning to face front he slammed into and got locked in the stare of the dead boy he had just left behind.

            “You can’t out run death Edward, no matter how hard you try,” whispered the specter into Edward’s ears, before grabbing him by the arms tightly so he couldn't run away again. “I’m hurt Ed, have you really forgotten me already? That would be a cruel slap in the face you know,” the specter continued to speak in his raspy tone. Suddenly the realization clicked in Edward’s mind; he was dead and then the ghostly kid holding him was Simon.

            “Christ almighty is that you Simon?” Edward asked quaking from fear. At that moment the blackness faded away to reveal a room dressed with mahogany paneling, with two large stained glass windows tinted with a slight rosy hue. Sitting in a nearby chair Edward watched as the black sockets on the ghost child were replaced by Simon’s normal eye color which was in life was a blue almost light purple color. Simon smiled at his friend and sat in another chair.

            “That’s nice that you haven’t forgotten me Ed. It’s been quite saddening since I died and was laid to rest. Though my papers were finalized and I am now free to be in heaven with my family, it is lonely without my good friend with me,” Simon spoke quietly in his now normal voice as he patted Edward on the back.

            “So Simon, I guess this means I’m dead right? That figures I suppose. It was inevitable and I knew I was dead when I collapsed and coughed up blood in my room, poor Dr. Duquesne will be depressed when he learns of my death,” Edward solemnly replied.

Simon laughed a bit before replying, “Actually that’s why I’m here, he asked me if I would protect you two so that’s why I’m here, holding your spirit back from crossing over, right now you are on the way to ‘Mercy Regional Hospital,’ Dr. Duquesne’s personal assistant heard your cry for help and called for help. I’m holding you until the doctors find the tear inside you and patch you up then I’ll let you go.”

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