Thursday, November 12, 2009

OM2: Not Quite Ordinary Chapter 1: Last Chance

OM2: Not Quite Ordinary

by Paul Diaz

Chapter 1: Last Chance

At one of the city’s expensive hotels the doorman opens the door for a blind man. “Good Morning Mister Anderson” the old man greets him. “Hello Henry would you like a donut?” the blind man offered. “Oh no thank you sir, I am on the clock” Henry replied. “Oh come on Henry, take one. I insist” the blind man said so the doorman opened the box and took a piece of donut. “Thank you very much sir, can I assist you to the elevator?” Henry asked.

“Oh no I can manage. See you tomorrow then Henry” the blind said as he swayed his walking stick and walked towards the elevator. At the top floor the elevator doors open, the blind man takes off his dark shades and folds his walking stick and takes out his card key. Once inside the suite the man sets his shades on the desk and was surprised to see someone in the living room.

“Frank it seems Arnold trained you well in acting blind” Nathan said. “Dad! Where have you been all this time?” he asked. “Oh donuts! Give here quick and I am starving” his father told him. Frank sits down on the couch and hands over the box and watched as his father munched on one piece.

“Oh by the way this guy you are playing with online is quite good I should say” Nathan said. “Did you lose?” Frank asked and his father laughed. “Where do you think did you get your intelligence from?” Nathan grinned. “From you?” Frank asked and his father suddenly stopped chewing and took a deep breath. “Partly, but most from your mom” he softly said.

Frank moved the donuts closer to his father and sat back, “We have all the time now, I am not letting you walk away. Tell me everything, I want to know why you and mom left me” he said. Nathan looked at his son and nodded his head, he stood up and sat down beside Frank.

Twenty Nine Years Ago

Inside a hospital office a couple were holding hands looking worried as they await the return of the doctor. A minute later Doctor James Carter enters, he sits on his chair and pouts. “Francesca and Nathan, I already warned you before and here we are again” the doctor said.

“Maybe this time it will be different” Nathan counters. “Different? Your wife already gave birth to two babies and on both accounts they didn’t survive an hour. The babies survived only inside Francesca’s womb but once out of the womb they cannot survive. We still cannot explain this but the babies were acting like parasites, that is why Francesca was so weak and remember the last time she almost died” James explained.

“As a friend I would advise you to abort this baby immediately, its for your own safety Francesca” the doctor added. “Maybe this time it will be different” Francesca said as she started to sob. James sat back and took a deep breath, “Indeed it may be different but we cannot take the risk. Your first two pregnancies were the same and we could not do anything about it. I just don’t want seeing you two get depressed again. You two are the greatest minds that I ever known, the country could not afford losing one of you. I am sorry for saying that but that is just the way it is if you continue this pregnancy Francesca, you might die” James told her.

“Greatest minds? Is that all we are? We are ordinary people too, we do have dreams like everyone. I am so happy with Nathan, I cannot ask for more but I would like to be a mom too and I am sure Nathan would like to be a father. We would like to have a complete family, the one with children” Francesca stated as tears flowed down her cheeks. Nathan hugged her and wiped the tears from her face and looked at James. “Is there something we can do to make this work?” he asked.

“From a medical point of view I am afraid there is nothing we can do. As a friend, you still can have a family, you can adopt” James told them and the couple bowed their heads. “But I too would like to see an offspring from the two greatest minds, so if you choose to go on with the pregnancy then I will support you all the way on one condition” the doctor added and the two looked at him.

“I have to keep constant monitor of your health Francesca, and if I see that you are already at great risk I have to abort the baby immediately” James said and the couple looked at each other. “James you see to it that my wife stays healthy, let us worry about the baby” Nathan suddenly said. “What are you saying Nathan?” Francesca asked.

“We are like what he said the greatest minds, well to be honest it’s you and I am just riding your wave but I think you can help our baby” Nathan explained and Francesca and James were dumbfounded. “We have nine months before the baby comes out, we have nine months to find a solution if ever he turns out to be like our first two children” Nathan said and Francesca’s face brightened. “But that would take all of our time and in a few months just like the first two I would be very weak” Francesca said.

“When you become weak I will do all the work, just lend me your brain. We resign from work so we can focus and I know it will be expensive so we solicit funds, it’s going to be a big project that help all weak babies survive” Nathan explained and James could not relate with what he was saying. “You don’t expect me to resign from work too” the doctor stated and the couple laughed. “Oh no James, just make sure my wife stays healthy and we will do our best to make baby Francis live” Nathan said.

“Francis? We still don’t know if it’s a boy” Francesca said. “I know it’s going to be a boy, I can feel it” her husband replied. “There is a convention this weekend, we have to be there and tell the world about our project, SAVE FRANKY” Francesca said as her face glowed with determination.

Saturday arrived and the local convention center was full of well known scientists from all over the world. Being known worldwide Francesca Miller was allowed to speak and present her project even if she was not on the program list. On the podium she glances at her husband and smiles, adjusts the microphone and greets everyone.

“Good day, everyone dreams of having a complete family. Finding the perfect husband to spend your whole life with and then having children who you both will raise. I have found my perfect husband; we have been together five years now. Three years ago we were unfortunate to lose our first child, she didn’t not live long, she was with us for only an hour. Two years ago we lost our second child, again we were only given one hour to be with him. So many dreams of ours were shattered, we got depressed but we moved on”

“I was not able to hold my two children, I was not able to feed them, we were not given the chance to a family. This time I am again pregnant, we fear that it would be the same again. I know there are lots of families out there suffering the same fate, their babies being born to weak to live. A lot of couples not getting the chance to even hold their baby, not given the chance to watch them grow, send them to school, watch them graduate and even not given the chance to make us proud”

“Save Franky, yes we decided to name our unborn child Francis. It sounds selfish I know. Our project would involve of creating a formula, a serum, a cure for those babies that are born too weak to survive. To be able to give them a chance to live, to be able to make their parents happy” Francesca continued as she started to read the technical details of their project.

For thirty minutes Francesca tried to convince everyone, as a good sign everyone was listening intently. “In closing, I may sound selfish but please do save Franky” she said as stepped down of the podium.

One week passed and the couple was relaxing by their sofa reading all the electronic mail that they received. “Again, all messages of support, some about moral issues and still no solid backing” Nathan said. “Maybe I sounded too selfish, maybe I made a mistake with my speech” Francesca replied. “You did well, maybe it’s just the recession and companies are just afraid of taking risks” her husband explained.

Minutes later there was a knock on their door, Nathan went to see who it was and he was surprised to see a middle aged man surrounded by bodyguards. “Is this the Miller residence?” the man asked. “Yes, I am Nathan Miller” he replied. “Good day, I am Charles Devon, I can help you save Franky” the middle aged man said.

Inside the living room the couple sat and across them was Charles. “I know you have not heard about me but I am interested, we are interested in your project” Charles said. “We? What company?” Francesca asked. “Oh that is not important, we would like to fund your project. We have a laboratory nearby complete with everything that you will be needing. We do have able scientists that can support you and we will compensate you well” Charles told them.

“Pay us?” Nathan asked. “Oh yes, consider you two working for me if you agree. I heard you two resigned from the government so I am willing to pay you double what you were receiving” Charles stated. “Double? Isn’t that too much? I mean you are already helping us out with this project them you still want to pay us?” Nathan clarified. Charles took a deep breath and looked at the two, “Well of course you would have to give us the rights to this serum” he said.

“You see to be honest you only thought of this project because of your selfish needs, oh don’t get me wrong if I were in your shoes I would do the same. I am a businessman, it’s all about the money. I know a good business venture when I see one, so I have to keep many details discreet, you know the pharmaceutical business is…let’s say a difficult business. If you are successful then we would be the first company to bring out this serum and the returns would be millions. Call me greedy but that is just how it is” Charles explained.

“Okay then tell me what company you belong to, I am sure knowing the name won’t hurt” Nathan asked and Charles laughed. “Okay I have to be honest. We don’t have a company, we are independent. We do have a state of the art laboratory, and yes we do experiments. We do have successful experiments, and we sell them to the highest bidder. The drug companies do pay trust me, it saves them time, all they have to do is pay us and the drug is theirs. Instant income, it’s a win-win situation. In short we are just a bunch of greedy businessmen and I hope you don’t mind” Charles told them.

“Fine with us, so when can we start?” Francesca asked and Charles grinned. “We can start immediately” the man answered.

Two hours later at a secluded facility located at the outskirts of the city. Nathan and Francesca were escorted by Charles and a few men as they entered the building. “As you can see from the outside this building is just a normal residential house, but let’s all go down” Charles said as the three entered an elevator.

Two floors down the couple was surprised to see a state of the art working laboratory with a few people dressed in white busy working. “All these people are loyal to us, they have a vow of secrecy. They are all at your disposal. But we have a special laboratory for the two of you so please follow me” Charles told them as they begin to walk around.

Inside a special laboratory the three entered, there was one woman inside waiting for them. “So this is your workplace, and this is Elaine Gregory, she will be your assistant. She graduated top of her class and her credentials are inside the folder on top of your desk” Charles said. “Oh my I can’t believe it, Nathan and Francesca Miller!” Elaine enthusiastically said as she moved closer to shake their hands.

“I know this place is far from your home so you may stay at the house upstairs if you wish. Time is gold so let me leave the three of you, if there is anything you need you can tell Elaine so she can get them” Charles told them as he bade them goodbye. Francesca held her husband’s hand and smiled, “Now its all in our hands” she whispered. “I believe in you, I know you will be able to find a cure” Nathan tells her as he kissed her on the forehead.

“Ah, sorry to interrupt but I heard about the project and I was wondering if we are going to start from scratch or do you have a working project that we are going to modify?” Elaine asked and the two looked at her. “What are you trying to say?” Francesca asked. “Oh sorry but you know there were rumors that the top scientists were working of a strengthening serum of sorts for soldiers, or something like that” Elaine said and the two looked at each other.

“It never worked” Francesca replied. “So it’s true then?” Elaine asked. “I think we should not be talking about state secrets here” Nathan interjected. “It’s okay Nathan, I think we can trust her. Elaine, you remind me of me when I was young. I was curious about many things, so yes its true but it never worked. We never succeeded, in short we are not God” Francesca told her. “But what we are trying to do now is somewhat similar right?” the young woman asked. “Somewhat, I think we should get started. Elaine I would need you to gather all data about meds in line with the heart and lungs, oh make sure they are for children” the elder woman instructed.

“I can do that, I still can’t believe I am working with the two of you. I promise you can trust and depend on me” Elaine said as she quickly exits the room. “But you are going to use that serum right?” Nathan whispered. “We have no choice, it doesn’t work but we are going to modify it” his wife said. “I understand, we don’t have much time and we can’t start from scratch, I know we are going to succeed my love” Nathan whispered as he hugged his wife.

Three months later Elaine rushes to the laboratory a small box. “Its here! They only had two weak mice on the pet store” she said. Francesca stands up holding her bulging stomach, “Let me do it, you just relax and sit down” Nathan said. Elaine takes out one mouse and Nathan injects the serum. “Okay, hand me the other one so we can test this other serum” he tells his assistant.

The three sit down and observe the mice as Elaine looks at Francesca’s stomach. “Three months and its that big? I think its going to be healthy” she commented. Nathan puts his hand on top of the stomach and smiles. “I sure hope so” he said. “Oh my God!!!” Francesca shouts and Nathan stands up. “What? Did I press too hard?” he asked. “No! Look at the mice!!!” she yelled.

The two weak mice were walking around the table and Nathan starts jumping in glee. Francesca runs towards the camera and refocuses on the two mice. “Fill up the log, make sure they don’t jump off the table!” Francesca instructed as Nathan joyfully started singing. “Check their vitals quickly!!!” the lady scientist said and Elaine followed her.

Ten minutes later one of the mice starts getting weaker and the three begin to panic. “What serum did he take?” Francesca asked. “The first one, but the other one is still strong” Nathan replied. Twenty minutes later the two mice died and Francesca sighed. “Three months and we can only extend their life by thirty minutes” she whispered.

“Cheer up my love, at least we do know our serum works. We still have time to modify it and make it work” Nathan consoles her. “Thirty minutes is already big madam, and I know you will be able to perfect it. So don’t feel down, we start working and check where we went wrong” Elaine encouraged them and Francesca smiled. “You really remind me about me and you are right. Okay serum number two, give me a list of the two serums, they work but there is still something missing” Francesca added and again they begin to work.

Five months later Francesca was already confined at the hospital for any moment now she would be giving birth. Nathan was busy on the phone talking to Elaine who was at the laboratory testing the new serum. “Nathan!!! Call James!!!” Francesca shouted. “Elaine bring the serum here immediately!!!” Nathan said as he ran out the room to get the doctor.

Minutes later Nathan was allowed inside the operating room, “How is the baby?” he immediately asked. James shook his head and patted his friend’s shoulder. “Just like the first two, I am sorry” the doctor replied. Nathan rushed to the side of his wife as the nurse handed them baby Franky. “I know the first two you were not able to hold them” the nurse whispered as Francesca held the baby and started crying.

“Franky hang on, okay? Elaine will be right over any moment” Nathan said as he held the baby’s hand. The two didn’t waste any moment with their son, even in tears they both held Franky tight as they waited for Elaine or his time to pass. “Let me just connect this to check on his stats” James said as he attached wired to the baby’s chest. “Hey this one is a fighter, look he is gripping my thumb tightly” Nathan whispered and Francesca smiled.

An hour later the baby gets weaker and medical staff quickly attends to him. “Francesca you have to let go of the baby so we can attend to him” James tell her. “If he dies I want him to die in my arms!” she yelled. “We won’t let him die, so please let go of the baby” the doctor reiterated. “Come on Francesca, let them help us” Nathan said as Elaine enters the operating room. “Elaine! Where is the serum, give it to the doctor quick!” Francesca shouted.

“Elaine?” Nathan said and the young lady shook her head. “The test subjects didn’t make it. Two hours” Elaine said and Francesca felt weak and started crying. “Two hours more with Frank?” she asked and looked at her husband. “Look at Franky, he is still holding tight to my thumb, he is fighting” Nathan told her as she released her child to the doctor’s care. “James, please do everything you can to let my son live I beg you” Nathan pleaded.

Francesca was brought back to her room to recover; beside her was Nathan who was still in tears. “If only we had more time” Francesca said as she gripped her husband’s hands. Elaine was nearby silent as she just watched the two and felt sorry.

James enters the room and the couple looks at him. “If it’s bad news don’t bother saying it” Nathan told him. “Well Franky is fighting for his life” James tells them. “What do you mean?” Nathan asked. “He is still alive, he is on life support” the doctor explained and Francesca suddenly smiled.

“Nathan, Franky bought us time, go fix the serum. I know you can do it” Francesca said. Nathan stood up and held her wife’s hand, “I have to be here too to watch over you” he told her. “I will be fine, James is here. We cannot waste time Nathan, so go. Elaine please do help him” Francesca said.

“James, how long does Franky have?” Nathan asked. “I really can’t say, it’s a day to day basis. Even if he is on life support he is still a baby and we cannot tell up to when his body can survive” the doctor replied. Nathan shook his head and looked at his wife, he held her hand tightly and closed his eyes.

“Nathan, please go. Save Franky”