Author’s note: This is a book wrote a few years ago that I am now attempting to edit and polish for publication, a process that I love and hate at the same time. It starts out a bit slow; I wanted to build a little bit of back story before I got into the madness. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (and a lot more than I enjoy editing!)
Victoria was waiting with the rest of the team in the hallway outside the gym while the announcer was hyping up the crowd. She adjusted her uniform one last unnecessary time and took a deep breath as the voice over the loudspeaker continued.
The basketball team trotted by on their way to the locker room for halftime and Derek paused in front of her, “Hey V, keep ‘em fired up for us!”
“We’ll try not to make the second half too boring by comparison Derek.” Victoria gave him an impish smile, “But you’re good competition if you score another twenty four points.”
“I’ll take that as a challenge then.”
“DEREK quit flirting and get your ASS in here!” The coach was leaning out of the locker room.
“Yeah Coach.” He turned and winked at Victoria, “I’ll see you after the game K?”
“Now put your hands together and raise your voices for our very own three time State Champion cheer team Torrent!” As usual the applause was deafening as they ran out to center court, immediately breaking into the new routine they had been working on.
She concentrated on moving through the steps, making sure to line herself up with the springboard then without warning broke into the climax. The triple back handspring to springboard was easy, but the slow backflip to land on Ashley and Jamie’s shoulders wouldn’t have been possible without Grace behind to steady her if she needed it.
The roar of the crowd increased even louder, but the routine wasn’t done yet. “Now V!” With Grace’s shout, Victoria stepped off the shoulders of the other two girls and bounced lightly from the ground into the cupped hands of Grace and Carrie who flung her high into the air. She timed the landing as her body spun through the air.
“She’s too high!” Carrie’s voice barely reached Grace over the roar of the crowd.
“Don’t second guess yourself, just catch her damn it!” The spiraling body of their friend came to land between them for a perfect basket catch but the sweat on Carrie’s hands broke their forearm clasp. Victoria slammed into the floor with a resounding crash and the entire gym fell silent.
“Vicky are you OK? Oh God, oh GOD I’m so sorry!” Carrie was on her knees next to where a stunned Victoria lay still trying to get her eyes to focus.
“Don’t call me Vicky damn it, I hate that nickname.” She tried to rise and pain shot down her neck and back, “Damn that hurts, I think I sprained my back or something.” Paramedics were approaching and waving the rest of the team back.
“Do you have any pain?” The rather good looking EMT who was checking her vision asked. Victoria tried to nod and agony exploded along her spine. Unconsciousness took her by surprise.
“Get me a stretcher and a spine pad RIGHT NOW!” The other two emergency personnel ran back to the ambulance and in short order Victoria’s limp form was loaded onto the stretcher and carefully carried out of the gym.
“Oh God, oh God what did we do?” Carrie was borderline hysterical.
“It’s OK Carrie, she’s taken falls before. I’m sure it’s just a concussion or something. It’s not our fault; we did our best to catch her.” Grace put her arm around Carrie’s shoulders, “Besides she had the presence of mind to bitch at you for calling her Vicky. She can’t be that bad off.”
The room was clean and sterile, just the way it was supposed to be. Behind a tidy desk sat a young man in a lab coat that had obviously been ironed that morning. His pen, pointer, screwdriver, pliers and pencil were standing straight up in the pocket protector nestled in the left breast pocket. Even the grimace on his face seemed like it had been scribed using precise instruments. By contrast the middle aged balding man standing in front of the desk yelling at him was anything but organized. His argument was the only concise part of his bearing.
“Listen to me Eugene, this type of affliction has many legitimately accepted treatments. There is no need to resort to risky, untested procedures! I’ve told you before that I don’t give a shit about whatever grants you’ve gotten from the Department of Defense or anyone else; this is a hospital, not an experimental robotics lab!” His face was red the way it always was when he was going on a tirade.
Looking straight into the older man’s enraged face Eugene responded calmly, “Fredrick, I thought you
believed in actually healing people. All the treatments that we know of right now might save her life but she’d be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life even in the best case scenario with conventional medicine.”
The thought of confining such a young and active person to such a life was unthinkable to him, “She’s only eighteen for chrissakes, I’ve just solved the hardware issues and the new OS is performing far beyond our expectations. This could revolutionize the treatment for Meningeal Lymphomatosis and you know it. Look, all I’m asking is that we present the option to her.”
Frederick stopped pacing, “I don’t mind if you present the option, just as long as you are crystal clear about the risk.”
“Right back at you; it is my firm belief that modern cancer treatment is at least as risky as what I’m proposing if not more so and has far less benefit.” Eugene said, “Especially at her age.”
“You’ve never tested this on anything larger than a rat!” Fredrick lost his cool again, “There’s no way they’ll be interested.”
“That’s completely false.” Eugene replied, still keeping his voice calm, although it was obviously an effort. “Hundreds have benefited from this technology in one way or another. Just my Neurosynth fluid alone has allowed advanced prosthetic regenerations for a dozen people in the amputee recovery ward in this very facility.”
“I think you’re risking your medical license with this and I know you are in danger of losing the respect of your peers.” Grabbing a clipboard with a sheaf of scribbled notes from a chair he turned and stalked from the room.
“I’m only risking their respect and my license if it doesn’t work you old relic.” Eugene pushed his glasses more firmly onto the bridge of his nose. “And I know this will work. The funding I’ve recently gotten from The Institute for Scientific Cancer Research combined with my DOD funding was enough for me to build a test model.” He smiled to himself, “She’s going to make me famous, and I’m going to save her life.”