Phase 2

Madie had promptly quit her waitress job. She remained awestruck for three hours. She had brought a dead man back to life. He remained unconscious on her lab table/hospital bed while she paced near the computer station. She knew her theories would work, but she was still coming to terms with the reality that she had completed her experiment. Seven long years. Five at the facility in Washington and two in her own little lab she built after being fired. After seven years, she had done what everyone thought was impossible. Only a few had even attempted what she had. To her knowledge, she was the first to succeed.

She felt unsure about what to do next for the first time in her memory, so she went into autopilot and began checking the reanimated man’s vitals every fifteen minutes. She searched her desk to find the few pages that the coroner gave her.

  • Name: Adam Robert Monteller
  • Birth: 23 April, 1974
  • City of Birth: Harrisburg, Illinois
  • Deceased: 16 September, 2006
  • Location Pronounced Deceased: Necaise, Mississippi
  • Cause of death: Automobile Accident
  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6′ 2″
  • Weight: 224 (12 hours posthumously)
  • Marital Status: Never Married
  • Next of Kin: None

And at the very end it read:

  • Remains to be cremated per city ordinance

The entire world believed Adam Robert Monteller had died and was cremated as directed by local legislature regarding unclaimed persons. That is, if anyone was even looking to know that information.

In reality, Adam had been brought back from death in the basement of a house leased to one Marcy Reynolds, the alias Madie had created in case any persons clad in black suits came looking for her. She assumed she would have been added to the national watch-list upon leaving her well-funded and well-guarded laboratory environment. She was surprised they never came looking for her when she used her real name. She was very careful to maintain a visage of normalcy. She even acquired a job a local university teaching biology for the first year after being forced out.

Now she had accomplished her life’s work. A dead man was no longer dead. She jot down a few notes and checked on Adam. The anesthesia wore off after a few hours and he came to. He groaned, and Madie rolled her chair over to him ready to interact. She also had a dose of anesthesia ready should she need it.


He groaned and his head lolled from side to side. He was still feeling the drugs.

“Adam? Can you hear me?”

Another groan, but he was able to direct his attention toward her. His eyes were slowly adjusting. She gave him time.

“Where….where am I?”

Madie smiled. “You are in a recovery room. You had a bad accident. Do you remember anything about it?”

“I…I can’t…”

“It’s okay. It may take some time. You are still feeling the effects of the anesthesia. Do you think you can drink some water?”

She rolled over and grabbed the bottle of water from the fridge unit by her desk. She cracked it open and held it to his lips. He groaned in pain and she forced him back into the bed. He was able to take two sips before the pain caused his consciousness to slip.

“Careful,” she said, “We don’t want to open the incision. You must be in a great deal of pain. I will give you some medicine to help you rest.”

She reached for the anesthetic, realized her mistake, then quickly gave him a dose of morphine instead. He drifted into a deep sleep within a few minutes.

Madie hung her head. “Idiot,” she muttered to herself. She had pushed the original dose of anesthesia in a temporary moment of panic when first started regaining consciousness. Now she would have to wait almost twenty-four hours before she could begin Phase 2.

She lived a few blocks from a local hospital where she knew the local ER doctor from her days back in medical school. Her name was Rachel. She was brilliant and could have been a top-class surgeon if she had the desire, but she insisted she was happy helping those who needed help in a crisis. She had almost become a pediatrician.

Madie strolled into the sparsely populated waiting room and asked for Rachel. A few minutes later Rachel came out and greeted her.

“Madie. Good to see you again. Let’s go back to my office.”

Madie followed her through the hallway of evenly spaced rooms and back to a small closet of an office. Rachel shut the door behind them.

“I hope those supplies I gave you helped your friend.”

“They did. I was hoping that I might get just a few more things. I promise it will be the last of it.”

Rachel gave her a side-eyed glance. “You know I could get in a lot of trouble for what I gave you already, right?”

“I know, and I appreciate everything you’ve done.”

Rachel sighed. “What more would you need?”

“Just an IV kit with a spare bag, and some Vicodin if you have some.”

“I can give you the IV, but Hydrocodone will have to do for the pain. You friend got pretty banged up, huh? You should have brought him in to see me.”

“It’s…complicated. He isn’t necessarily in good standing with the law.”

“What did he do?”

“Well…” Madie shrugged.

“You know what? Never mind. If I don’t know, then I can’t lie of the authorities come knocking on my door. You’re more than capable to care for anyone. We could actually use your help around here. Need a job?”

“Maybe after a while. I appreciate the assistance. And the discretion.”

“No problem. You know me. I just want to help people get back on their feet.”

“And you will be doing that for sure. Thank you so much.”

The saline solution helped accelerate the removal of the anesthesia. Madie waited a few extra hours to ensure that there would be no chance of the drug in Adam’s system before she opened a refrigerated drawer and lifted two syringes from it. One held a blue solution, the other a dark purple. She pushed them both simultaneously. The blue into the injection port of the IV and the dark purple into the injection port of the dialysis machine she had Adam hooked up to ensure any toxins were removed from his blood.

The concoction was designed to reverse any damage dealt to the body while it had been deceased and promote healing at quicker rate than would be considered normal. A separate solution remained in the drawer that she hoped wouldn’t be needed. She would only be able to make that decision after she could talk to him for a length of time. Time enough to determine if his brain was functioning correctly.

She reviewed the readout from the EEG machine. So far there hadn’t been any unusual activity.

Madie waited an entire day before beginning her conversations. Even though Adam was barely able to keep a string of thoughts together, she decided she may need to push him to determine if her third solution was needed. She considered using it anyway since it was theoretically designed to repair synaptic connections. The potential harm or cause of side-effects of using the solution unnecessarily was low, but she didn’t want to add any risks to her already successful reanimation.

Adam woke from what seemed to be a peaceful sleep. Madie gave him some water and asked if he was ready for some questions. He perked up, ready for the challenge, so she began.

“Your name is Adam Robert Monteller, correct?” She glanced up from her clipboard. His eyes looked unfocused and she thought maybe he hadn’t heard her. Then a frown formed on his face.

“No,” he said.

My Own Monster

Obtaining a body was much easier than Madie thought it would have been. A few thousand dollars to a coroner and she was loading the corpse of a thirty-two-year-old male in the back of an ice truck. His end was somewhat sad, but Madie didn’t care much about that. All she cared about was that she got the body. It was slated for cremation. Whoever received the urn would never know that the pile of ash within it was not who, or what, they thought it was.

It was important that she get a fresh corpse. This guy wasn’t even dead for a full forty-eight hours, and he was kept in a controlled environment that slowed the cell decomposition. Now, after unloading him from the truck, he was now in her own environmentally controlled lab that would keep his body in prime condition for her experiments.

The first step was to hook him up. She cut the large “Y” pattern of stitches on his chest and opened his rib-cage so she could get to his heart. She hooked up four leads, one into each chamber, then she attached the eight pints of A- blood she also bought from the coroner to the machine. She ran two more leads to the dead man’s lungs. She flipped a switch and the heart-lung machine hummed to life. It began pumping blood and oxygen into the corpse’s body. This was the first, crucial step. She had to stop the autolysis. Bodies begin to decay as soon as they die. Providing fresh blood and oxygen would help remove the toxins that began the decomposition process. She hoped the body was fresh enough that what little damage had already occurred could be reversed.

With the body hooked up, she now had to wait. She wanted to begin tests right away, and was itching to inject the first serum now, but a glimpse at the clock showed that it was already four in the morning. She let logic win out against her eagerness. It would be best to let the body acclimate before starting any tests.

Madie kicked off her shoes when she got home from working a temporary waitress job. She was exhausted, physically, but her excitement triumphed and she hurried down the stairs to her patient. She entered the sealed lab she built in her basement to find her corpse looking a little more alive. The cold pallor had been replaced with a warmer hue. He could easily have been mistaken for an actual patient in the middle of an open-heart surgery.

She checked the machine, replaced two pints of blood with newer ones, and removed a bag of black bio-matter that had been separated from the bloodstream. Then she turned her attention to the dead man. He was cute. She surprised herself when the thought crossed her mind. She turned and opened a refrigerated drawer. Inside were three syringes.

They were all concoctions of her own design. Created after years of research and testing on small animals. She insisted on human testing. After the third denial, and a stern warning, she was insistent enough that they fired her. She was careful not to leave any notes behind when she left, and was thankful to still have friends in the field that helped her get the materials she needed to continue her research in secret.

Madie picked up the first syringe. She inserted the needle into the injection port connected to the blood supply line and pushed the serum into the bloodstream. She watched it dissolve into the blood. An excitement ran through her. She stood stiffly, waiting for something to happen. When nothing changed, she sighed and sat down in the desk chair by the computer. Science was never instantaneous. Her calculations put the first stage’s completion at four hours after injection. She knew the math was correct, but of course she also hoped for an unexpected triumph.

“Now we wait,” she said to the empty room. She woke the computer and began running scenarios. She checked on the body every twenty minutes.

Four hours passed and her alarm sounded. She left the computer station and checked the body thoroughly before pushing the second injection. Again, she waited with a tinge of excitement. Again, her logic won out and she sat back at the computer, triple checking her calculations for stage two based on the real data of stage one. The time only adjusted my three minutes and fourteen seconds. Now she only had to wait just under sixteen hours.

Madie woke to her alarm. She wiped sleep away from her eyes as she slowly gained full consciousness. She silenced the annoying beep and glanced over at the body. Stage two was complete. She examined him again. He was warm to the touch. The heart was twitching, not beating, but moving. She ran a few tests and was relieved to find everything was exactly as it should be. She pushed the final injection.

The third stage was expected to take forty-five minutes for completion. Madie did not set an alarm because she knew she would hover anxiously the entire time. Her eyes only left the body to check the machine. Then it happened. At the forty-third minute mark, the heart beat. Then it beat again. It began a steady rhythm. Madie carefully removed the leads and watched in pure euphoria as the dead man’s heart began pumping blood on its own.

Then something happened that she was not prepared for. The body groaned. The man, dead for nearly four days, was waking up. She hurriedly prepared an anesthetic. His eyes opened, focused, then looked at her. She could not stop smiling.


“Shh,” Madie stopped him, “you were in a bad accident. You are in surgery now. I’m going to give a little more anesthetic.”

His eyes lulled and he went under. She unhooked him from the machine. He was able to breathe on his own. She carefully sewed him up. He was alive. She couldn’t believe it. Her research predicted it was possible, but she still couldn’t believe she’d achieved it. All she had to do now was nurse him back to health. After she calmed down that is. Then she could begin Phase 2.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone

I was certain it was a dream. Everything was blocky, monochromatic, and nothing seemed in focus. I entered a cave to find carefully stacked pixels forming the vague image of an old man. He gifted me a sword and offered no instruction, but I knew what I had to do. I scoured the world, defeated monsters, and eventually achieved my fate. She was safe, which meant I could rest.

I believed I would wake to familiar surroundings, but I was wrong. Instead I woke to a woman’s voice calling for help. My body was slightly recognizable, the landscapes more defined, but again I was tasked with a heavy burden. Weeks passed without rest until I completed my task. I had saved a kingdom, and my reward was another nightmare.

My eyes opened to the insistent nagging of a fairy who had found her way into my home. She bid me to follow her where I learned once again I was fated to save a world in danger. Something in me wanted to forego this responsibility, but my nature prevailed.

My travels revealed my fate to be the eternal struggle between three forces. The evil strength of a monster, the wisdom of a goddess, and myself. Each part woven together into the fabric of destiny. My eyes opened time and time again to complete a task that tested the limits of my strength. I would never know peace.

Through each resurrection I realized I was not alone. She was always with me. The goddess who took up arms beside me to battle the demon. I do not know how many lives I have lived, nor which memories are real, but knowing I will always find her when I wake up is enough. For her, I will never stop fighting.

Designed to Pursue

Androids have lived side-by-side with humans for nearly six centuries. Olivia was an Omnis Lacrima model. Officially registered as OL-174. She was supposedly the first generation to have suppressed emotional output. She and over five-hundred others were created and employed by the Kourou Constabulary. In the four-hundred years since her construction, humanity spread across the galaxy exploring and settling new planets. These events set a precedent for an interplanetary cooperative, which unified all peoples, flesh and fabricated alike, under one galactic law thus eliminating the need for independent law enforcement.

Olivia worked as an enforcer for the Cooperative of Interplanetary Alliances, commonly called the Cooperative, for two-hundred years before retiring to a planet located in the Perseus Arm called Fryst. Its frozen landscapes resulted in few human colonies. Criminals often thought it was a good place to hide, which is why Olivia set up shop as a bounty hunter. It was an easy way to make a living. Her mechanical body could withstand the extreme temperatures. The only trouble she had was finding parts should she need a replacement, but she kept a stockroom full of anything she might need.

She was sitting at the small table, her left hand disassembled, when a call came in. She tapped the screen and a man’s face filled it. He had a short beard, tan skin, and a scar across his forehead. The notes informed her that this man, Kayden, was last seen pursued by authorities near Hestus and may have fled to Fryst. The bounty was sixty-thousand credits. The kicker was that he needed to be captured alive.

“Not bad,” Olivia muttered, “What did you do to deserve such attention?”

She scrolled through the information. There wasn’t much that stated why he was such a desired target. A few major thefts, but nothing to warrant such a bounty. Olivia wondered what the Cooperative was keeping to itself, but then decided it didn’t matter. They would pay her the full sixty once she turned him in.

She reassembled her left hand and tested its responsiveness by gripping a baton. The middle finger was still not closing tightly, but it would do for now. She grabbed her thick coat and set off toward town to see if she could find any news about a newcomer with a scar on his forehead.

Three hours at the local tavern proved beneficial. Humans always seemed to lose control of their tongues with alcohol. A few guided questions and subtle head turns prompted a local merchant to recall having seen Kayden in his shop just yesterday. Olivia started visiting each hotel in the area beginning with the least amiable. Her third stop proved fruitful.

She walked in and approached the ragged man behind the front desk.

“Hi,” she said.

“A room will be two-hundred credits a day,” he replied.

She smiled and tapped on her communicator. She pulled up the picture of Kayden. “Have you seen this man?”

The ragged man looked at the picture. Olivia knew Kayden had at least stopped by if he wasn’t upstairs at that moment. It was a tell she picked up easily. A slight widening of the eyes.

“Never seen him. Two-hundred a day. Want a room?”

“Would you tell me where he is for five-hundred?”

She knew this type. He would tell her anything for the right price. He looked her over as if his mind wasn’t already made up.

“Let’s see the credits first.”

She pulled out five chips and laid them across the counter. The ragged man reached for them, but Olivia shield the chips with her hand.

“They’re yours once you tell me where he is.”

“He’s out.” The man’s eyes kept searching through her fingers for the credits.

“So he has a room here?”

“Yeah,” he said, nodding up the stairs while his eyes remained fixed, “Three fifteen.”

He reached for her hand, but she leaned in to stop him. “Last question. Where is he now?”

“Don’t know. He’s got the room through the week.”

She smiled and lifted her hand from the counter. The man nabbed the credits and examined them while Olivia walked upstairs to wait for her mark.

After several hours, she heard the key slid across the reader outside. The door slid open and a few moments later the lights came on to reveal Kayden exactly as he looked in the photo except for a larger beard. As soon as he noticed her sitting in the corner, he bolted.

But she was faster. Before he made it to the stairs, she had a strong grip around the back of his neck.

“Kayden. So nice to see you,” she said.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“I don’t want anything from you, but the Cooperative does. So much that they are going to pay me sixty-thousand creds as soon as I hand you over.”

“I can pay you more than that.”

She looked at their surroundings. “I doubt that. Even if you could, I don’t accept stolen creds.”

She walked him down the stairs and out the front door. The entire time she had him lifted six inches from the floor. As they made it into the street, her hand became unresponsive and she dropped him onto the snow-covered street.

He ran while she examined her left hand. The motor functions had failed. It simply hung limp before her. She sighed as she thought of the repairs it would need.

Then she looked up to see Kayden a few hundred meters down the street. A grinned spread across her perfect synthetic lips. She liked a good chase. She crouched, then launched herself in his direction. She could max out at eighty miles-per-hour in good conditions. She took it easy in the snow. Kayden was still burdened with his heavy coat and humans could never run well in the snow.

She caught up to him in a few seconds and kicked the lower part of his right leg. His bones cracked upon impact and he went down screaming. With her right hand, she lifted him and tossed his soft body over her left shoulder. She made her way to the only Cooperative station in town. The entire walk there, she weighed the pros and cons of which parts she would need to fix or replace her left hand. Sixty-thousand credits would be more than enough to buy her the finest parts.

Weary Years

Jackson Reed sat on his front porch with a bottle of beer in one hand. The air was a little sticky but the weather was nice as the sun retreated behind the hills. The light was fading slowly. Slow enough that the eyes could adjust with it. Jackson had just completed his fourteen-hour shift. His jeans were caked with dirt, plaster, dust, and more dirt. He’d stripped off his shirt and let his sweat dry in the evening breeze.

Sixty-seven days. Jackson had finished sixty-seven fourteen hour shifts in a row. Tomorrow would be number sixty-eight. He’d fallen into the routine of coming home, grabbing a beer, and sitting on the porch until the sunlight disappeared. Then he would crawl inside, rise off in the shower, and go to bed. His wife, Claire, had let him keep the habit because she knew he needed the time to unwind. He worked hard. He was a high school drop-out that worked various construction jobs throughout the city. He was grateful for what work he could get. He just hated that all his work could afford was a small, rundown two-bedroom house barely big enough for his family. Claire stayed home because childcare cost more than what she would make at a full-time job. He started picking up secondary shifts to change things.

Claire would stay up with the kids until it was their time for bed, then she would tip-toe in and curl up beside him. She tried not to wake him, but he never slept deeply regardless of how exhausted he felt. Every night, after he let her settle into bed, he would turn over and wrap his arms around her. Then he would sleep the handful of hours he could before 4am came around and he would wake to the sound of his phone buzzing on the wooden dresser. He’d crawl out of bed and get ready for work. Before he left, he’d kiss Claire gently on the cheek, then sneak a glance at his kids. They would be sprawled across the two twin beds that nearly filled their room. He’d quietly shut their door and head out.

A year passed and his routine never budged except for two small changes. Claire began greeting him at the door with his two beers, and she would join him the twenty minutes it took her to drink her tea. At first they didn’t say much, but after a few weeks they began talking openly. Usually Claire would give Jackson updates about what was happening with the kids. Reminders about events coming up that she hoped he could attend. If he could get time away from work.

“Next week is Hayden’s birthday,” she said. She waited for his reply. He gave none. “It would be nice if you could stop by,” she continued.

“When is it?” he asked.


“I’ll try my best. We’re starting a new build tomorrow out past ninth street.”

“It’d mean a lot to him if you showed up when all of his friends are around.”

She went inside. Jackson finished his second beer and turned in. The next day he spent his half-hour lunch looking at a nearby sporting store where he picked out a used glove. He left work early at six forty-five, hit the tail-end of rush hour, and made it home at seven-thirty. His two beers were waiting for him on the porch.

A note on the door read: Took the boys out for ice-cream. Jackson sat down and cracked open a beer. He finished both and waited until his eyelids became too heavy to fight.

Two more years passed. Claire would only join him occasionally. When she would, she bugged him to go to Hayden or Kyle’s ball game. After several attempts he finally made one. He caught the final two inning of Hayden’s game and was able to see Hayden bat one time.

Another year passes. The talks on the porch are less frequent and are mostly fights. Doubt creeps in as Jackson realizes their situation hasn’t changed in the three years he’s been working without a single day off. The only break he gets is a shorter, eight-hour shift, on Sundays.

All he ever wanted was to move Claire and the boys into a real house, but unexpected expenses keep cutting that dream out from under him. First they needed a new air conditioner unit. Then a hot-water heater. Then his truck was totaled. Hayden got braces. Kyle would need them in a few years.

That year, Jackson took the overnight shifts. The pay was better and he only worked twelve hours a day. He would come home at six in the morning, sit on the porch, and drink two beers. Claire would join him with her coffee. He would wait until the boys went to school, then he would clean up and head to bed.

He would wake up to find Claire cooking dinner and the boys watching something on the television. He would join them and ask them about their day. Sometimes he’d even go outside to play catch with them as the sun retreated behind the hills. Then he would go to work.

Ten years pass and Jackson no longer recognizes his reflection. His body has grown used to the constant exhaustion. He is only thirty-four years old, but his weathered skin makes him appear at least a decade older. Hayden is about to start his first year at the local college. They still live in the same run-down house, and Jackson sits outside on the porch every morning at six. His wife Claire would join him from time to time with her coffee.

One day, after the boys had left, he looked over and caught her staring at him. She had a silly grin on her face.

Normally he would have simply asked What?, but he surprised himself when he said, “I wish I could see myself through your eyes.”

“If you did, most of the time you would see an annoying ass.” She sat back and grinned.

“But…you’d also see someone who is more than a husband, or a father. You’d see a man who gives everything he has for the people he loves, and he keeps trying to give more when he has nothing left in the tank. I’m afraid he’ll give everything away until there is nothing left of him. You don’t know how often all we wanted was for you to be here with us.”

He started to say something but she cut him off.

“I know you Jackson. I know every little thought in your head. You’re thinking right now ‘But someone had to work, to pay the bills, to provide‘ and you’d be right. You’ve done all those things and continue to do them. And the boys know how hard you work. They understand now why you were gone so much when they were younger. That’s why they still appreciate what little time they get with you. They look up to you. Even though Hayden is going to move out next week, he’ll come home often, and I know it will be to see you more than to see me. It’s true. You’re their dad.”

Claire stood up. “Now, when you finish that beer, come find me in the bedroom.” She went inside the small house and left a trail of clothing leading to their room.

Jackson sat on the porch and took a sip of his beer. As Claire was talking, the constant exhaustion had dissipated into something else, and he found himself tearing up. He knew she could see it, and he knew she left before he lost control of it. He let the tears flow once he was alone. He made no sound as they dripped onto his dirt covered jeans.

Then he composed himself, finished his beer, and went inside to enjoy some time with his wife.