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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 3

Larry walked into the room taking in the scene. Todd looked ready to collapse and Larry found himself fit to be tied. Todd had to be the most stubborn man alive. When he had released him, it had been on the condition that he take it easy and get plenty of rest. From the looks of Todd, he had been doing the exact opposite. “So what part of, go home and take it easy, did you ‘not’ understand. You look like hell, Todd.”

“Thanks, Larry. That really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.” Todd said, then gasped suddenly when Larry began examining his hand.

“What happened?”

Todd looked over at Ray and back to Larry, “Nothing, just don’t know my own strength. I gripped the bottle too tightly and it broke. Must have been a faulty bottle.” He prayed Ray would keep quiet about the hand not cooperating earlier.

“Well, it doesn’t look like you cut it deep enough to damage it permanently. Todd, try and move your fingers.”

Todd watched as his fingers flexed and moved without any of the stiffening and lack of control from earlier. He breathed a little easier.

“Movement appears unaffected, I’ll numb it, then stitch it up. Seriously, Todd, you’re supposed to be resting. The brain injury was nothing to scoff at, and it, on top of your previous surgeries wreaked havoc on your system. I know you’re not going to like this but humor me. Let me check you out while you’re here.” Larry had noted the looks passing between Todd and Ray and it had hit him that Todd could see. “When were you going to tell me your sight had returned.”

Todd was uncomfortable, he hadn’t intended to keep it a secret. “It’s not quite what you think. In fact, I guess you could say it’s some type of miracle.”  Todd blinked and tried to block the light as Larry went to check his eyes. It was too bright and his head still felt like it had imploded.

Larry frowned at Todd’s reaction, “What else aren’t you telling me?”  Larry looked over at Ray.

Before Ray could say anything, Todd spoke up. “It’s nothing I’ve just got a migraine, it flared up shortly before we got here.”

“You should have told me that first thing. I’ll turn the light level down, but I need to look in your eyes, Todd. “ Larry dimmed his light and again looked into Todd’s eyes. Even at the lower level, Todd stilled winced when the light hit his eyes. Larry noticed that Todd’s pupils were slow to respond. Larry wrote a few things down on Todd’s paperwork. “If these headaches get worse Todd, we’re going to have to get you in for another scan. Now tell me about this miracle.” Larry sat down with Todd’s hand on a tray and went to work stitching the wound closed.

“It’s the implants, Larry. I still have some sort of connection to them. I accidentally handled one not long after getting home from Seattle and my vision cleared up.” Todd looked at Larry trying to see if he believed him. “Through some experimentation, I discovered that if I had contact with the smaller of the two implants and the bigger one remained close by, I could see.”

Todd saw skepticism on both faces so he took off the ring. Immediately his vision became a blur of blobs and colors. “Larry, as of right now, all I can see is a blob of white sitting in front of me and a blue and gray blob in the vicinity Ray was standing a moment ago. Ray if you would like to examine the ring, you’ll see the implant embedded in it.” Todd held out his hand in Ray’s direction.

Ray moved forward to take the ring from Todd’s hand, but as he started to pick it up, a tiny burst of electricity between Todd’s palm and the ring almost caused him to drop it. “What the hell was that?”

“I wish I knew.” Todd looked over trying to figure out where Ray had gone, he hadn’t realized that Larry had told the nurse to dim the lights. The darker room made finding Ray harder.

Larry had been finishing his final stitches and listening. In the darker room, he too had seen the small burst of electricity. Now he watched as Todd struggled to find out where Ray had walked to. “Todd look at me.” Todd’s eyes swung in the general direction where Larry was sitting, but it was clear that Todd could no longer focus. Larry again pulled out his flashlight and looked into Todd’s eyes but this time there was no reaction. The pupils failed to respond to the light at all. “I’ll be damned. Ray let me see the ring.” Ray proceeded to bring the ring and together, he and Larry looked it over.

There it was, a small delicate piece of machinery in the ring. Larry recognized it as the implant that Michael had taken out during the second surgery because he had seen the video of the procedures. It was the implant that had almost killed Todd. “This is fascinating, but I still don’t understand the connection. There’s nothing in you that could be connected to it any longer.”

Larry waited for some sort of response, but the silence was deafening. Then it hit him. “Todd, do you think there might still be something left inside your head?”

Todd flexed his fingers on the hand that Larry had just stitched up. No sense keeping it from Larry, he already knew the outcome. “I don’t think it, I know it.”

“I don’t understand, how could you know something like that? Nothing was found when we went in to repair the damage the bullet made. Why do you believe there are more pieces?"

Todd was still flexing his fingers when they started trembling. Todd reached with his good hand to stop the trembling, but Larry had already seen the movement. Before Todd could pull the hand away from any inspection. Larry had grabbed it.

“Hold it, Todd, how long has this been happening?” Larry began to study the trembling when the hand clenched suddenly. “Todd open your hand.”

“I can’t. I know what you’re going to say next. You think the damage from the bullet is causing this, but I can tell you it’s not from the bullet.” Todd’s hand unexpectedly opened and the trembling ceased.

“You should let me be the judge of that. Any kind of unusual muscle contractions should be checked into. This is what happened earlier that caused the broken bottle, isn’t it?” Before Larry could ask any more Todd had grabbed his hand away.

Todd had had enough of Larry’s probing. He wanted to get home to Blair, this was all beginning to come at him too fast. Holding out his hand, he said,”Could I have my ring back?" Ray handed him the ring and Todd put it on.

His vision cleared and he looked at Larry. “You believe this spasm was caused by brain damage, but I can tell you with a certainty that it was caused by the remaining implants. I know this because I already lived through a third surgery to remove them. It happened right here in this hospital. Right after I testified against Carlo and Kipling.” Todd saw Larry’s eyes widen in shock. “That’s crazy, isn’t it? Maybe, but several things have already come true. You’ll get your scan Larry, then maybe you’ll believe me. I’ve got to get out of here. Ray, let’s go.” Todd didn’t wait for any answer from Ray or Larry, instead, he walked deliberately out of the ER and headed for Ray’s car.

Once there, he leaned wearily against it. How much more of this was he supposed to endure? Why were certain things from his dream beginning to come true? Were they really parts of a dream? He looked up as he heard Ray’s footsteps. “I have to find a way to stop this Ray. It’s too unsettling. Something isn’t right, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

“Todd, get in.” Ray unlocked the door and when they were both sitting he turned to Todd. “I understand your concern and I agree there’s something going on, but it’s way too early to jump to conclusions. One thing is certain. You need to get some sleep.”

“That’s just it, I can’t.  Ray, I used to be able to sleep as long as I was with Blair, but now even that’s been taken away.”  Todd closed his eyes, leaning back in the seat and pushing his hair back. With his palms pushing at his temples trying to keep the pain from becoming too intense he continued. “I can’t get those last minutes out of my head. I had gone there to negotiate with him, thinking I could get him to just leave town and not bother his daughters any longer.”

“Had gone to see who, Todd?”

“Blair’s father.  It was scary how similar our fathers were.  The man had raped Blair’s mom in a mental hospital.  I just wanted to keep him away from Blair and her sister.   But he outsmarted me.   He had them and he took them away.  I remember getting free and trying to get away to go find them when John told me to look out but it was too late.  My last thought was knowing I wouldn’t see her again as the bullets tore into me and I fell.” Todd could see it all unfolding again. The scene never changed.

Ray listened quietly. Todd really believed the events he was recounting. “Todd, why do you think the dream is real.”

“Because it doesn’t feel like a dream, it feels like memories. If it isn’t real, how do you explain the ring and the implants? In that so called dream, Jake dies. Do you think I want that to happen but I’m afraid it’s going to? I’m not sure if I should try and warn him and Tea. How can I? I don’t know the exact day it’s going to take place, but I know how he’s going to get it.” Todd looked over at Ray, he had known that little piece of information was a doozy and Ray ‘s expression said it all. “You don’t have to say anything. I can see your face. You do think I’ve lost it.” he started to laugh it was all so absurd. Heck, he was sure he had lost it.

Todd didn’t even feel the sting in his arm. He was so distraught he never even realized Ray had given him the shot. Ray waited as it quickly took effect and Todd slumped unconscious in the seat. Larry and the orderlies had a gurney waiting and they transferred Todd to it, wheeling him back into emergency. Ray took out his phone and called Blair.

After making sure she was on her way, Ray went in to check on his friend. Right after Todd had left the ER, he and Larry had agreed they had to find a way to get Todd to sleep and the easiest was to sedate him. Ray had been waiting for the right moment when Todd had begun his tale. He hadn’t wanted to do it that way, but if he or Larry had suggested it, Todd would have balked. Todd’s health was the bigger concern and Ray would face Todd’s anger after they had him on more secure ground.

Larry came toward him and he watched Todd being wheeled down the hall. “Where’s he going?” asked Ray.

“I’ve sent him down to get scanned. We need to see what’s going on in his head. There are any number of things that could cause the tremors and muscle spasms. I’m concerned for his health but his mental state is even more alarming. We’ll keep him sedated and give his body and mind a chance to recuperate. Did he tell you how long he had been without sleep?”

“I’m guessing he hasn’t gotten more than a few hours sleep since you sent him home from the hospital,” replied Ray. “He’s convinced if he sleeps, he’ll wake back up in his dream. Just what did he say when he awoke from the coma?”

“He kept wondering about a man named Gregor and I remember he thought he was in Savannah. It took us quite a while to convince him he was here in Llanview. So you think he’s been avoiding sleep because of the dream.”

“He pretty much told me that. Larry, he’s not sure if this reality is real. The ring we just saw, was in his dream first, and you were right there when he told you there are still implants in his brain. Just before I gave him the shot, he told me that Jake Boudreau was going to die, because he died in the dream. Can you tell me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there aren’t any more implants.”

Larry frowned, “I can’t say for sure. But it’s more likely that there is a correlation between Todd’s tremors and spasms and the damage done to his brain by the bullet. The brain damage could also be affecting his perceptions right now. The scan will probably bear me out. You don’t honestly believe Todd’s seeing the future. I mean Jake’s been doing fine since his operation.”

“I guess we’ll just have to wait. Todd’s pretty convinced, and if anything else happens that matches with his dream, I’m not sure we’ll be able to find an explanation.” Ray noticed Blair hurrying towards him. He quickly spoke to ease her fears. “Blair, he’s fine but both Larry and I felt he needed to get some rest. You should have told me he wasn’t sleeping.”

“Ray, I know I should have said something but he’s done this before. When he’s anxious about something he won’t sleep. How did you get him to agree to the rest?”

“We didn’t, I sedated him but he was unaware I did it. Blair, has he talked to you about this dream of his? It appears to be paramount to anything else.”

“We talked about it when he first woke up but not since. I remember he was upset when he awoke and said something about a man named Gregor and about losing me. But he’s said nothing since then. I told you on the phone how he’s been shutting himself away in his office at home and he hasn’t told me what that’s about. Larry, where is he? You said you just sedated him. How long did you plan to keep him asleep?”

"Blair, I ordered another cat scan because he’s experiencing some problems and I want to make sure nothing new has shown up since his surgery. He’s down there now. I want him to sleep out the night so we’ll keep him under long enough for his body to recover some. I’m going to go check out those scans, perhaps you and Ray would like to come along.” Larry headed down the hall followed by Blair and Ray.

Once outside the room, Larry entered and Blair went to sit down. Ray sat down next to her. Blair was fidgeting with her purse and glancing constantly at the door. “He needed this sleep, Blair.”

She looked at Ray and pushed her hair out of her face. “I know Ray, but he’s going to be so mad. He always looks at things from a strange perspective. I know you were trying to help but he’s going to feel you betrayed his trust. Trust doesn’t come easy for him. I hope you’ll be able to make him understand why you did it.”

“I’m very aware of his trust issues, but I have to believe that he’ll be able to see the rationality behind my action when he wakes up more refreshed and able to cope with this world.” Even as he said the words to reassure Blair, Ray began doubting them himself. All he had managed to do was stave off a physical crisis. Todd’s mental state was another thing altogether. Todd’s belief in his sanity relied on Ray being able to prove to him that the dream was just a dream. Yet every time something from that dream appeared in this reality, Todd’s belief was further shaken. Ray was worried because he had a feeling deep down that other parts of Todd’s dream were going to come true. Larry came out with the scans and by the look on his face, it wasn’t good. “How bad is it Larry?”

“It’s not good. He was right Ray, there are fragments from the implant still inside. The part of his brain injured from the bullet is healing, but you can make out foreign objects scattered in a section of his brain that affects motor function. I’m about to go call Michael, Blair you can go with Todd to his room, but I’m going to order an EEG to see what’s happening while he’s sleeping.” Larry looked over at Ray, “That sedative should have put him completely out, but it’s not working. I think he’s dreaming.

Blair and Ray sat with Todd while they hooked up the EEG machine. One of the EEG technicians came in and began taking readings. After several minutes he gathered his papers and took them to be read by the sleep doctor. Ray noticed Larry outside the door talking to the sleep doctor so he excused himself and went to chat with them. While they were discussing their findings, Michael arrived. After a few words, Michael joined Blair by Todd’s bed. He explained the need for more surgery and assured Blair that it wasn’t a life threatening situation so they would hold off until Todd was made aware of it.

Larry turned to Ray, “Todd definitely has a problem. He shouldn’t be dreaming, but his beta waves are off the chart and the alpha waves are registering like he’s awake. If what you said was true, he could be reliving that dream of his as we speak. “

Ray paled at what that could mean for Todd. He had wanted a dreamless sleep for Todd and he might have just dropped Todd into his worse nightmare. He had to find a way to circumvent the dream. Blair might be his only hope since she was the one Todd was so fearful of losing. He walked back into Todd‘s room and sat down next to Blair. “I need you to talk to him. Larry and I just wanted to get him some sleep, it was supposed to be dream free but his mind has other ideas. He’s dreaming and it more than likely the very dream he‘s been trying to avoid. In that dream, he loses you. Blair you‘ve got to bring him out of that dream. “

“Ray, if you knew he was afraid of dreaming, how did you let this happen?” Blair stood up and went to Todd she grabbed his hand. “Todd, it’s alright I’ve not gone anywhere. Listen to me. I’m real, baby.” she whispered in his ear but he seemed oblivious to her.

Todd was beginning to get clearly agitated by what was happening in his dream, and the readings were all over the chart. Larry came back into the room and ordered a second dose of sedative. and the EEG readings finally leveled out, indicating he had been truly knocked out. Blair saw a tear drop down his cheek and she prayed he would wake up alright. Angry she turned to Larry and Ray. “What were you thinking.” Directing her anger at Ray, “You know why he wasn’t sleeping. Didn’t you tell Larry? When you decided to knock him out, didn’t it occur to you, he might dream. What does all this mean for Todd? What is it about that dream that has both of you worried.” Blair was furious, Todd had trusted Ray to help him. She knew she was a little over the top but Ray was truly worried about the dream and they both were keeping her in the dark.

Larry spoke up first. “Blair we didn’t expect him to dream, he shouldn’t have been able to. I can’t explain how Todd managed it, his mind just refused to shut down. The extra medication seems to have done the trick and he should now sleep without any more dreams.” Larry checked the EEG once more to keep tabs on his brain activity. “Blair, we chose to put him under because he wasn’t being rational. The lack of sleep was clearly affecting his perceptions of what was going on around him and honestly I’ll admit I thought the things he was telling us were off the wall.”

“Things he was telling you? What are you talking about?” Blair looked at them waiting for an explanation.

“Blair, Todd claimed he knew what the ring and watch looked like before you gave it to him today.” said Ray.

“But that’s impossible, I never even showed him my designs. Did he say where he had seen them? “ asked Blair.

“Yes he saw them when you gave them to him a couple days after Christian shot him.” replied Ray.

Blair looked confused, “But he was in a coma for almost two months. I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me.”

“Blair, he saw your ring and watch in his dream. Not only that but he told us about the implants too. He knew they were there because he said he already had them removed once. We were worried he was becoming delusional because of the lack of sleep. Now we’re not sure what to make of it. I can tell you this much, he’s not delusional but he’s still close to losing it. Every time something else comes true from his dream, Todd slips deeper into his irrational fear that this reality is a fake reality.”

Blair looked over at Todd sleeping. “Will getting the sleep help him Ray, or just delay what’s going on.”

“I don’t know Blair but I can assure you, I’m going to do everything I can to stop him from falling apart.”

She had spent the night at his bedside, afraid of leaving him for fear he would wake up alone. Ray had informed her about the ending of Todd’s dream and she was determined to be the first thing he saw when he awoke. She had heard from Bo that the raids against Hesser and Kipling had gone as planned and both men were now in custody. Kipling’s Lab had been quite a find, numerous other implants and case files were located, including files on Todd, Jake, and Christian. They were still going to need testimony from both Jake and Todd to tie up the case, but Bo was certain Hesser and Kipling were going away for a long time. Blair prayed Todd would be able to testify. He deserved his chance to see Hesser go down.

Todd began to stir and Blair moved closer looking down on him. She had insisted he keep his ring so that when he awoke he would be able to see her. “Hey sleepyhead, it’s about time you woke up. You just dropped out on Ray in the middle of a conversation. Ray told me to apologize for him. He never realized how boring he was until you fell asleep on him.” She looked into his eyes and saw recognition and breathed a sigh of relief.

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