Marc was startled awake by a hand clamping over his mouth and the high-pitched sting of a hypo in his shoulder. A voice hissed in his ear, "Just lay still and let this shit do it's work. If you wake up again you'll be...".
The needle's payload was fast acting and he was out again before the voice finished it's barely whispered command. He did the only thing he could do.
It is four days earlier. He is on his back, strapped to a gurney, in an operating theater. There is a rash of different sensors attached to his body, monitoring everything from his heart and respiration rates to his blood sugar and adrenaline levels. The stream of biological data being collected undeniably shows Marc Buckman to be a very sick man. If Marc were able to talk he would wholeheartedly agree. He has a fever burning around a hundred and five and his lungs are slowly but surely filling with mucus.
He is drowning in himself.
His body shudders with violent chills. He is what Dr. Mike likes to call "one fucked monkey". He rolls his eyes, the only moving parts he has that seem to work, to the left and right trying to find Dr. Mike. Instead he hears Dr. Ed begin to softly slur behind him.
"Subject Number 319. Buckman, Marc A. Subject is in the final stage of infection resulting from exposure to influenza strain H3N2. Body temperature reading is one hundred and four point seven. Respiration is labored and shallow. Lung capacity is at seventy three percent, and dropping, as the lungs fill more and more rapidly with H3N2 associated fluids. H3N2 has proven resistant, in the subject, to all known treatment methods. H3N2 at this stage has a one hundred percent fatality rate. Subject prognosis is death within the next six to twenty four hours."
Marc hears these words but they hold no meaning for him. He knows he is going to die. He is starting to look forward to it. Death has to be better than this shit. He has been on fire for nearly a week and his head aches like a rotten tooth. There is a tube running down his throat and into his lungs that keeps him, for a little while longer, from drowning in his own phlegm. If not for the immobilizing agent Dr. Ed has been shooting into him since they inserted the tube, Marc would gladly yank it out and toss it to a fan in the audience. He would lay there and flop like a fish as his body struggled to inhale the oxygen needed to survive...
...and suddenly he is flopping within his restraints, as his body convulses and his monitors flat-line. He feels his heart stop in his chest and silently screams in his head as oblivion rushes in to...
Marc sat bolt upright in the back of the converted Ford Econoline Van, hurtling east down U.S. Route 40. He was gasping for air, trying to give voice to the shriek that had followed him up from the depth of his dream. From the depth of his memory. He looked around wildly until his eyes found Campion and he leveled a shaking, accusatory finger at the man.
"You!", he bellowed. "You almost let me die!!!"
Campion laughed humorlessly and took a long pull from what appeared to be a bottle of Budweiser. "No almost about it Bucky. I did let you die. It was the only way to save you."