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.

“Adam?”

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.

“Wh-”

“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.

Tabula Rasa – Friend or Foe

The light was too bright and his eyes needed time to adjust. Asher sat up. A breeze cooled his sweat-soaked body. He felt naked and was able to confirm this once his eyes had acclimated. All he could see around him was dirt gradually rising in all directions. He was sitting in a crater, and he had no memory of how he got there or which planet he may now be stuck on.

Asher stood up and walked to the edge of the crater. He looked across the horizon hoping to see a town or somewhere he could get some clothes. Despite the dry heat, he was growing cold as the breeze gave no signs of stopping. All he found was more dirt. Seeing as there was really nothing else he could do, he started walking. The sweat he had woken with had dried and taken his warmth with it. The sun felt nice and the breeze grew bearable once it no longer had moisture to wick away from his body.

He walked for a few hours before a set of buildings interrupted the dead-even horizon. A few hours more and he was walking through its streets looking for a clothing or thrift store. Pedestrians watched him. Stared at him as he casually made his way through their town. Some even crossed the street to avoid him. None ever said a word. At least not to him. They murmured to each other, and he did see a few open their phones and make a call. He presumed at least one of those calls were to the local authorities and hoped that he would be able to acquire clothing before they arrived.

His hopes were realized when he found a donation center. He walked in and walked to the men’s section. He sifted through a rack of athletic shorts before finding a pair to his liking. He pulled them on then searched for a shirt. A few minutes later he walked out of the store wearing a hoodie, sporting a nearly new pair of tennis shoes, and feeling much better about his situation. Even as several soldiers with riot gear surrounded him.

“Halt.” The word came from an older gentleman who stepped between two of the riot shields. He had a white mustache, pristine uniform, and was in great shape for a man Asher guessed to be over sixty. The man’s badge read Greene.

“State your business,” Greene demanded.

“Look,” Asher said, raising his hands, “I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here.”

“State your business for returning to Proxima,” Greene repeated.

“Ah, so that’s where I am.” He smiled politely which drew a quizzical look from Greene. “I’ll happily leave once I figure out how I got here.”

“Colonel.” A female’s voice rang out. Asher followed Greene’s gaze to find a woman floating twenty feet above them. “Have your men stand down. I’ll take things from here.”

“I will leave him to you, Sparrow,” Greene said. The soldiers dispersed on his command.

Asher kept his eyes on the woman as she floated down a dozen feet. She wore a cape and hid her eyes behind a black bird-like mask.

“Leave Proxima at once,” she said, still floating above him.

“I was just saying to Greene here that I’ll leave. I just want to know how I got here.”

Sparrow started, then recomposed herself. “I am this planet’s designated hero. I will remove you by force if you do not comply.”

“I just need to know-”

He was unable to finish his sentence as, in less than one second, Sparrow appeared in front of him, grabbed him by his hoodie, and threw him into the air.

Asher’s instincts kicked in. He slowed his momentum and came to a halt near the outer atmosphere. He looked down to see Sparrow climbing to meet him. She was fast, but he saw her attack coming. He let her overextend then grabbed her arm and flung her away. She adjusted her trajectory into an arc that brought her quickly back to him.

He blocked her initial swing with his left arm. Her second he stopped with his right hand grabbing her wrist and twisting her around until he had her in an arm lock.

“Why are you fighting me?” he asked.

“Don’t play ignorant,” she said through a clenched jaw, “the Order is already tracking you Cinis. If you kill me, you’ll guarantee your own end.”

“You’ve made a mistake. I don’t even know who you’re talking about. If you agree to calm down, I’ll let you go. Okay?” He waited until she relaxed. Then he let her go. She drifted away then turned toward him.

“Why are you here?” she asked.

“I woke up in a crater with no memory of how I got here.”

“Amnesia?” she said, more to herself than to him, “No. That wouldn’t change a personality like this. Who are you?”

“Asher.”

She tapped her forearm and a hologram appeared in front of her. She searched his name.

“What’s your hero name?”

“Don’t have one. I think.”

“But you are enhanced. Obviously. And you have experience. Last name?”

He shrugged.

She floated toward him and scanned his features. The hologram blinked red before producing an image. She held it next to his face and studied him closely. He could see the image as well and the name Cinis next to it.

“You aren’t him. Are you?”

“Nope.”

“Will you come with me?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not really.”

Asher sighed. “Where are we going?”

“The Council of Heroes should know how to handle this situation. There hasn’t been any unregistered heroes in centuries.” She tapped her forearm and the hologram disappeared. “Come on.”

“Can you guarantee my safety?” he asked, knowing it to be a rhetorical question. He did not feel in danger. If anything, he felt more than capable to take on even an army of heroes.

“I can, but only until we are before the Council. From there, I cannot interfere with their decision.”

He liked her answer. He would go with her to find out what the Council would allow him to be. He would be whatever he wanted anyway, but perhaps he could gleam some answers from them about how he ended up in this universe.

Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This is another short one at 178 pages. It was first published in 2013 and is a reflection of childhood. A man revisits his childhood town for a funeral and finds he is drawn to the pond at the end of the road that a childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock, once claimed was an ocean.

Most of the book recounts certain events of his childhood and his interactions with Lettie, the youngest of her family that is still able to see the world as it is. Something ordinary humans no longer see. Our main character gets pulled into this ancient world while trying to stay within his own. It all starts when he sees the aftermath of a man’s suicide which seems to spark a series of fantastical events that are frightening, mystifying, and uniquely magical.

I would not consider this a children’s book. I’d say it’s more for those who have grown up and forgotten the elusive magic of childhood. The good and bad. The frightening imagination. The wonder. The exploratory drive to know more about the world. This book is a look through that lens. It is also a reminder that the lens fogs over with our day-to-day adult responsibilities, and we need clean it every so often so as not to forget what it means to be alive.

If you have not read Neil Gaiman, this is a good book to start with. If you have read Neil, then you’ve probably already read this book. If not, then you’ll know if you’ll like it. He is great at what he does, which is make you believe the magic he spins within each sentence. I’ve recommended his books before and I will probably continue to recommend them as I read them. This book, however, is one that I think can be returned to with each time reading like new. The words won’t change, but our lens will, as it does with each passing year.

Happy Reading.