Chapter 1- Changing
It had been 3 weeks since Denny Creed and his girlfriend, Violet, had so much as gone anywhere that wasn’t located within the hospital that they had spent day in and day out in. Finally being outside after all that time was like being reborn and Denny smiled for the first time in weeks. His doctor had finally become happy enough with the progress of the broken ribs healing and so had allowed him to start becoming accustomed to being in a wheelchair.
They had reopened the school after closing it several weeks before and Kyle, Stan, Kenny, and Ivy, having been discharged from the hospital weeks before, described the atmosphere there as being one in an advanced state of shock.
“I thought we would be bombarded with questions about what had happened but nobody said a word.”, Kyle had said. “I think the teachers told everybody to keep their mouths shut.”
Denny and Violet, meanwhile, were recovering at home. They both were in a newer atmospheres than they were used to (Denny in a new room and Violet in a new house altogether). They were both doing really well and getting ready to have their bandages removed. This also meant the next leg of their recovery, which was physical therapy. On the night before the first day back to school, them, along with Kyle and the others, gathered in Denny’s room to plan things out.
“Are you guys sure this is a good idea, so soon?”, asked Stan, nervously, as Denny announced the plan to the room at large.
“You know, I’m surprised at you, Stan. I didn’t expect you to be so touchy about it.”, said Kenny, eyebrow raised.
“Why wait any longer? Besides it’s getting boring being stuck at home all day.”, said Violet.
“Don’t you have to take the special ed bus to get there?”, asked Kyle.
“I think Mom said there’s a van with a lift to pick us up since we aren’t actually special ed.”, said Denny.
“That’s good.”, said Violet. “Honestly, I would’ve been a little nervous if it had gone the other way.”
“It’s all right. Those guys don’t bite. I’ve rode with them before in Arizona.”, said Denny.
“Really? When was that?”, asked Ivy, having just arrived at the house..
“The first few years of school, actually. My mom was so touchy about me doing anything that put me at risk of a blow to the head.”, explained Denny. “But now, we’re dealing with a totally different thing. We’re still sticking to the buddy thing at school, right?”
“Yeah, Mom already talked to Victoria about it.”, said Kyle. “They want the fourth graders in the gym for an assembly during homeroom tomorrow.”
“Because of us?”, asked Violet. “Can’t they just do it in Garrison’s class?”
“This is my mom we’re talking about here.”, Kyle reminded her.
“True that.”, said Violet.
Violet’s phone rang in her pocket and she picked it up. After talking for a minute she hung up and was about to pack up and head home.
“sh*t, dinner’s done so I gotta go.”, she said.
“Ok, we’ll see you at school tomorrow then.” said Denny, as he kissed her and she waved to the others.
“I better get going too, before Dad gets drunk again.”, said Stan, getting up with Kenny and Ivy.
“An assembly? Is that really necessary?”, asked Denny, as Kyle got up to close the door after Kenny stepped out.
Kyle shrugged as he sat back down. “That’s what I heard. I wouldn’t be too worried about it. It’s not like Cartman’s around anymore to screw everything up.”
“Thank god for that.”, said Denny. “Whatever did happen with Ivy when she got discharged? She didn’t go back there, did she?”
“I guess one of her other cousins moved here before we got out and she went and moved in over with them.”, explained Kyle. “I would’ve been scared for her if she did go back to Cartman’s.”
“True that.”, said Denny, copying Violet. “I just hope Liane Cartman isn’t planning some sort of revenge plot or something.”
“I used to wake up late at night and couldn’t sleep for hours thinking about that, in between you and that f*cking coma.”, said Kyle seriously.
There was a knock on the door and Sheila poked her head in, breaking the uncomfortable silence.
“Hey you two, dinner’s ready. What are you kids talking about?”, she asked, curiously.
“Just realizing how precious our friends and family are once again.”, said Denny, as Kyle stood up quietly. “You ok, dude?”
Kyle jumped like he was breaking out of a doze. “Huh? What the hell just…?”
“Is there something wrong, Kyle?”, asked Sheila at once. Her hand went out at once toward his forehead, which went backward when she hit it.
“Mom, what the hell? I’m fine!”, protested Kyle, trying to duck under her hand.
“Then what the f*ck just happened?”, asked Denny, in a don’t-fuck-around voice. “You looked like you were in a trance or hypnosis.”
“I was just thinking so hard about that thing you said. That one little sentence wakes me up at night too.”
The case was closed. The emotional trauma from three weeks ago had clearly left it’s loud and clear message for everybody listening, Watch Your Ass.
Denny led the way out to the dining room, Kyle pushing him from behind. Sheila followed quietly behind, she opened her mouth a couple times, waited, and closed it again.
They sat through a mostly quiet dinner. Gerald showed up from work about halfway through, greeted everybody, and had already picked up his fork, going on about his day when Sheila kicked him from under the table.
“And then the phone rang and… Ow! What’d you do that for?”
Sheila jerked her head at the boys and mouthed, “Show some respect!”.
“What are you talking about?”, asked Gerald, not getting the message.
Sheila jerked her head at the boys again, this time popping her neck because he was pissing her off. “Give them some quiet! They need it!”, she mouthed.
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”, said Gerald, shrugging.
Sheila kicked Gerald again, only harder. She got up, mouthed something that might’ve been “motherf*cker!”, and walked over to Gerald, grabbed him by the collar, and growled, “Get in here, you blithering idiot!”, shoving him into the kitchen.
“What the hell is wrong with you? I just got home and you’re already bruising me!”, whined Gerald.
“That’s because you’re a moron who doesn’t understand simple-to-understand lip reading and head jerking!”, whispered Sheila, loudly, so as to avoid yelling which she ached to do.
“So then explain it to me! You don’t have to beat me up!”, whispered Gerald, indignantly.
“In case you didn’t realize, our sons are trying to have peace together! They’re in serious need of compassion!” said Sheila.
“Oh!”, exclaimed Gerald, getting the point at last. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize!”
“I think we need to have another talk with them tonight. I’m not sure if they should go to school tomorrow with this hanging over their heads.”, said Sheila, finally calming down now that Gerald stopped being an idiot.
“Yeah, all right.”, said Gerald, uncomfortably. “Let’s let them make the choice about school though. I don’t want to interfere with what they choose to do.”
Kyle came into the kitchen, carrying his and Denny’s empty plates. He looked around at his parents, stuck the plates into the sink and began to walk away without a word.
“Kyle? Are you boys all right?”, asked Sheila, gently.
“Huh? Yeah, we’re fine. We’re just going to go back to Denny’s room for a while.”, said Kyle.
“All right. We want to talk to you boys an hour before bedtime. Just to catch up.”, said Sheila.
“All right. We’ll be in Denny’s room when you’re ready for us.”, said Kyle.
“Kyle? I’m sorry for my intrusion when I got home.”, said Gerald, gently.
Sheila sighed as Kyle walked out. “This has been so tough on them.”
Denny and Kyle went back to Denny’s room, not talking much. This was not something they wanted to have happen the night before Denny went back to school. He remembered only too well of being in almost exactly the same place a month ago and it had not had any time to sink in.
Eventually, Denny picked up the stereo remote and turned on some alternative, which helped, if only a little bit, when he was feeling down.
“How are you feeling over there?”, he asked his brother.
Kyle seemed to be deeply lost in thought with his head in his arms.
“I feel a little better. That music usually helps.”, said Kyle. “I know this is pointless to ask but you aren’t still going to school tomorrow, are you?”
“I’m not sure yet.” said Denny. He decided this was not the time to be a coward. “I’m a little scared to go back there because of what happened after school that day.”
Kyle turned and gave Denny a much needed hug. “Hey, you don’t have to be ashamed of that. I know it must be really hard on you and I’m here for you when you need it, same with Violet, and Stan, and the others.”
“Thanks.” said Denny, gratefully and letting the tears fall.
The boys fell silent again and listened to Awolnation on the radio.
An hour later, Sheila knocked gently on the door and looked in.
“Hi boys, are you doing all right?”, she asked kindly.
“Yeah, just a little depressed.”, said Kyle, heavily. He looked at Denny, who was awake despite crying himself to sleep moments before.
“Oh my,”, whispered Sheila. “Are you boys ready to talk or do you need more time alone?”
Denny spoke up in a steady voice. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
“All right, let’s go.”, said Kyle standing up, as Denny turned off the stereo.
As they left the room and turned the corner into the living room, they discovered that Gerald was already sitting on the couch, waiting for them. He had changed out of his work clothes and was wearing a somber expression. The tv had already been shut off.
“Please sit down and make yourselves comfortable.”, said Sheila, gently. “The reason we asked you boys out here is that we feel we need to talk with you again about the events over the last month and the emotional damage it has caused.”
“Your Mom has filled me in on what you’ve been feeling tonight and we want you boys to know that we will always be here for you, when you need to talk.” said Gerald. “I know the bond the two of you have with each other can’t be replaced by anything else but your parents are also here.”
“Is there anything you boys have on your mind, that you would like to talk to us about?”, asked Sheila. “We were thinking if you boys want to postpone going to school tomorrow then you are most welcome to do so.”
“We were talking about that too.”, said Denny, quietly. “I’m not totally sure if I want to do it. I was telling Kyle that I’m a little scared to go back there since it’s where we were before that sh*t started.”
“You are perfectly within your right to feel that way.”, said Gerald. “More has happened in the last month than what happens with most people in a lifetime.”
“I told Denny about how I sometimes lie awake at night and can’t sleep for hours because I’m thinking about what happened and what could have happened.”, said Kyle.
“It’s shock from what happened.”, said Gerald. “I don’t know how long it will be there. It won’t go away overnight but with any luck, it will get better.”
“I think we’ll get you boys excused from school tomorrow and we’ll just spend the day together, give you some time to recover.”, said Sheila.
Denny looked at Kyle. “Maybe they’re right, dude. What’s the betting that if we go tomorrow the same thing won’t happen and we end up in some kind of limbo?”
“Yeah, all right. But what are you going to tell the school?”, asked Kyle.
“Don’t worry about that.”, said Sheila. “I’ll tell them you guys aren’t feeling well and that we’re keeping you home.”
“We’ll all get through this.”, said Gerald. “We always get through it and we’ll all be in it together, including your friends.”
The parents each give both boys a warm hug and sat back down.
“How are you boys feeling otherwise? Is there anything else you want to get off your chests?”, asked Sheila.
“I don’t know about Kyle but I’m wiped out, I know that. You want to crash with me tonight, dude?”
“Sure, but first maybe some ice cream? That always cheers me up a little bit.”, said Kyle.
“What kind do you want?”, asked Sheila. “I got mint chocolate chip and regular.”
“I’ll have mint chip.”, said Denny.
“Me too.”, said Kyle.
Everybody ate their ice cream in mostly silence once again, but the mood was lighter. Denny headed back to his room to change as Kyle did the same, then Kyle went back downstairs. He pulled out the air mattress and got everything ready as the parents came in to tuck the boys in. Denny turned his radio back on and turned it down, something he had got accustomed to doing every night, as it helped him to relax.
“I should start doing that.”, said Kyle thoughtfully. “Maybe I won’t wake up so much. What kind of music is it?”
“Alternative rock.”, said Denny. “They play pop sometimes too but it‘s good stuff. I started listening to it when Mom got sick and it made life a little more tolerable.”
The parents didn’t say anything about the music but instead tucked the boys in, give them one last hug, bade them good night, and closed the door.
As the room went mostly dark, Denny went over in his mind all they had talked about and his own thoughts about everything. The price of going through everything they had seen and done was so hard to put up with sometimes. He looked over where Kyle was, his eyes were reflected in the light from the radio but he seemed to be half asleep nevertheless. Denny closed his eyes and concentrated on the song that was playing on the radio, this time a song called “Changing” and one of his favorites, as he drifted off to sleep.
Changing? That’s what things were doing all right. But Gerald was right. They would all have to take it a day at a time.
*End of chapter 1*
Chapter 2- In This Together
Denny was woken up the next morning by the sound of his phone ringing. His reached over and grabbed it, looking over at the clock, seeing it was 8 o’clock in the morning. He suddenly remembered that he was supposed to meet up with Violet for school, and slapping his forehead, reached and answered the phone.
“Denny? What happened? Is everything all right?!”, she asked at once.
“Oh hey, I forgot all about school. My parents are keeping me home one more day. Kyle as well.”, he said sleepily.
“But, what’s wrong? And don’t say nothing either.”, she demanded.
“I’ll tell you later. It’s kind of complicated to explain in a hurry but let’s just say we need to have the day off.”, said Denny.
“Ok, well, do you want me to tell my mom to let me spend the day with you too?”, she asked.
“If you want to. I’m sure Kyle wouldn’t mind.”. He thought about what his parents said last night. “We are all in this together after all”, he said to himself.
“Then I’ll just have my mom call the school and tell them I need one more day to wait.”, said Violet.
“And I’ll let my mom know you’ll be hanging out with us. I hope you like alternative rock.”, said Denny.
“Love it. Ok then, I’ll see you all soon.”
Denny hung up the phone and set it back on his desk as Kyle opened his eyes slowly and sat up.
“Hey dude, you sleep all right?”, greeted Denny.
“Oh, hey Denny. Yeah, that music really helped.”, said Kyle, sleepily “Who was that on the phone?”
“Violet.”, said Denny. “I forgot all about her starting school with me. She’s going to be hanging out with us too. That cool with you?”
“Sure. I haven’t really hung out with her without the others.”. He thought for a moment, “Oh sh*t, Stan’s going to be calling wondering where I am too.”
“Well , just tell him that we had a situation and need time off.”, said Denny. “Do you want to go back to sleep or stay awake with me and wait for Violet?”
“Let’s listen to music after we get washed up.”, said Kyle.
They got up and Kyle helped Denny into his wheelchair. They went out and took turns getting washed up, deciding while they were out to go ahead and grab breakfast. Making it out to the kitchen, they found Sheila sitting at the table, drinking coffee. She looked up as they entered and got up to give them both a hug. She seemed to be waiting for some kind of sign that they would say something.
“Good morning! How did you boys sleep last night?”, she asked brightly.
“Not too bad.”, yawned Denny. “Violet called and she wants to hang out with us too.”
“That sounds just fine.”, said Sheila. “I already called the school so you’re excused. Is there anything you boys would like to do? Do you want to hang out at home or go somewhere special?”
“Hmm, I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to see where the day takes us.”, said Kyle.
Kyle took out a couple of bowls, poured both him and Denny some cereal, then brought them to the table. Sheila looked over at Denny, then at Kyle. Their expressions were hard to read.
“So how are you boys feeling this morning?”, she asked. “I didn’t expect you up for at least another hour.”
“I woke up when Violet called me. I didn’t even think to let her know we weren’t going to school.”, explained Denny. “We just went straight to bed last night.”
“You boys like that music, don’t you? The stuff you were listening to last night?”, she asked.
“Yep, I was telling Kyle I started listening to it when my mom first got sick. It made life a little more tolerable.”, explained Denny.
“I see.”, said Sheila. “Well, it’s good that you found something you really enjoy.”
Silence fell yet again, broken only by the sound of the doorbell ringing. Kyle got up to go answer the door and a moment later, Violet rolled in, her own wheelchair in gear. She cruised over to where Denny was and planted a kiss on his cheek. This caused him to go a little red in the face, being that this was in front of Sheila. She, however, seemed not to notice.
“Hello dear, how are you this morning?”, she asked, kindly.
“I’m better now that I know you’re guys are all right.”, said Violet, as was her nature for as long as they had known each other. “I got worried when I didn’t see you at the bus stop.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. We were so stressed last night and I didn’t think to tell you we weren’t going to school.”, said Denny.
“Well, come in and make yourself at home.”, said Sheila. “Do you want something to eat or drink?”
“I think I’m good for right now.”, said Violet. “Can you guys fill me in on what’s been going on?”
Sheila heaved a sigh and got up. “I guess I should leave you kids alone.”, she said.
Kyle began to explain what happened last night, shooting side glances at Denny. Despite feeling he couldn’t be reminded of that again, he was doing all right. When Kyle finished, Violet had her hands over her mouth and looked frightened.
“Jesus christ, are you f*cking serious this really went on?”, she asked, timidly.
“It sure did.”, said Denny, quietly. “That’s why we decided not to go to school today. It’s almost exactly how it all went down a month ago.”
“What do you…? Oh, wait a second….?”. Her expression changed from confusion to sick. “Oh my god, I remember what you’re talking about.”, she moaned.
The boys finished breakfast in silence. Kyle mentioned something about going upstairs to get dressed about a half hour later, leaving Denny and Violet in the kitchen alone. She, like Sheila, opened her mouth to speak several times but nothing came out.
“Denny? Are you all right?”, she finally managed to let out. “If you need some time to yourself, I understand.”
“I’m fine. Hey, what do you want to do today? My mom said we can hang out here or go somewhere.”, said Denny, deliberately changing the subject.
“What about the mall? I haven’t been to the South Park mall yet, but we’ll get busted for not going to school, won’t we?”, asked Violet, getting the point.
“Nah, I don’t think so. I used to see kids that looked of school age at the mall in the middle of the day too.”, said Denny. “I’m up for it. I haven’t been there yet either.”
“It still galls me that there actually is a mall in South Park with all these small towns that don’t have one.”, laughed Violet.
“Ha ha, right? Amazing how that works out, isn’t it?”, asked Denny.
Kyle came downstairs about 10 minutes later, fully dressed but still wearing a somber expression. He still seemed to be subdued but as he reentered the kitchen, he was surprised that the gloomy atmosphere he left with had changed. This seemed to lighten his mood.
“Damn, there’s so many good songs on the radio. I couldn’t walk away until the commercials came on.”, he said.
“Told you, dude. That gets me through the night.”, said Denny.
“So, what are you guys talking about?”, asked Kyle, curiously.
“What about going to the mall today? We still haven’t been there yet.”, said Violet.
“That sounds good to me.”, said Kyle. “I was thinking about that myself.”
“Stan never called to check on us?”. asked Denny. “I’m surprised at that.”
“Right? What’s up with him lately?”, asked Kyle.
“Is this normal for him?”, asked Violet.
“Not at all.”, said Kyle. “Normally he doesn’t waste any time trying to figure out where I am if I’m not in school.”
“Maybe he’s jealous of you, dude?”, suggested Violet to Denny.
“Stan? He doesn’t strike me as the type that would have jealousy.”, said Denny.
“Sometimes it’s hard to tell what he’s feeling.”, said Kyle. “I probably know him better than anyone else and even I say that.”
Sheila slowly poked her head through the kitchen door and, like Kyle, was startled to find the atmosphere having changed. She slowly began to pull away from the wall, pretending she wasn’t there but Denny caught her out of the corner of his eye and looked over.
“I see you over there. “, he said loudly, making her jump badly and almost fall over.
Sheila came out of her hiding place, taking a few deep breaths. Her face was bright red and she looked like she was cursing herself.
“Right.”, she said after a few moments. “It looks like we got through the worst, then? Excellent! So have you kids decided what you want to do today?”
“Well, we’ve talked about it and decided on the mall.”, said Denny.
“That sounds just fine.”, said Sheila. “And no, you won’t get in trouble for not being in school, I’ll make sure of that.”
“Just how long have you been listening to us?”, asked Denny suspiciously, raising an eyebrow.
“All right, I’m sorry. I noticed the tone of your voices seemed different so I went to check.”, said Sheila.
“Mom, jesus christ.” muttered Kyle, doing a *nosebridgepinch*.
“Does everyone around here do that expression or what?”, noted Violet, humored.
The room went eerily quiet for a few seconds, then erupted in laughter. Laughter that would suggest lunatics if anyone happened to come by at that moment. The events from last night were, at least for the time being, forgotten.
As the mall didn’t open until 10, that still left them with about an hour left, they decided to hang out in Denny’s room and listen to music. This is exactly what Gerald had told them last night, Denny knew that at that moment more than ever.
Kyle’s phone rang in his pocket at around 9:30, just after Denny had finished getting dressed. Everybody’s first thought was that it would be Stan or Ivy, calling to find out what happened to them. It turned out to be Ivy but she wasn’t only wondering where the three of them were, her and Kenny had been the only ones to show up for school that morning.
“Turn the music down.”, he said urgently, as Denny did so. He went back to the phone “Now run that by me again.”
“You guys haven’t seen Stan today, have you?”, asked Ivy. “I haven’t seen him since last night and I was starting to get worried when I didn’t see you guys here either.”
“I haven’t seen him either.”, said Kyle. “We decided to take the day off from school. Violet is here as well, so that’s why we aren’t there.”
“That worries me even more that nobody’s seen him.”, said Ivy. “Well I gotta go but let me know if he comes around.”
“Will do.”, said Kyle, hanging up the phone. He turned and looked at the other two with an uneasy expression.
“What’s up?”, asked Denny. “You don’t look so good all of a sudden.”
“Ivy said her and Kenny are the only ones that showed up at school. Nobody has seen Stan at all today.”, said Kyle, slowly.
He opened his phone back up and dialed Stan’s number, waiting for an answer. There was none, not a good sign. Kyle began to pace around the room for several minutes, trying not to panic. Maybe Stan got sick overnight and was probably resting? Kyle hoped to god it was only something as simple as that.
“Hey, calm yourself down. Don’t make yourself panic if it’s not necessary.”, said Denny, worried but trying to be the level-headed one here this time.
“We’re going to the mall, remember? Don’t let that get in the way of our plans.”, said Violet.
“That’s right, I forgot all about that.”, said Kyle, pushing Stan’s absence out of his mind for the sake of the good day they promised themselves they would have.
They were all ready and loaded in the car half an hour later, the back a little crowded because of the extra wheelchair, and they were off. The roads were pretty empty for being late in the morning. The mall would probably be crowded with just old people.
When they reached the center of town, however, the traffic went down to one lane, and closer examination revealed red lights farther up.
“What’s going on up there?”, asked Denny, from the back seat.
“Looks like maybe an accident?”, suggested Kyle.
So it was. It looked like three cars were involved and one was possibly turning and was rear-ended and the other guy rear-ended that car. The middle one seemed to be the worst damaged, being hit twice and sandwiched. The traffic moved on and the accident was put out of their minds.
“That was pretty wicked.”, commented Violet.
“Yeah it was.”, agreed Denny. “So where do you guys want to go first? I want to look at mp3s.”
“Why not an ipod?”, asked Kyle.
“Eh, too expensive. Besides, mp3s are every bit as good and I loved the one I used to have. It had a radio.”, said Denny, shrugging.
“That’s cool. Yeah, I guess you’re right.”, said Kyle.
“You think our music is good on our stereos? It’s even better loud on headphones.”, said Denny.
“You’ll have to give me some song suggestions.”, said Kyle, thinking.
“Oh, I can do that.”, laughed Denny.
“Is there a Spencer’s in this mall?”, asked Violet, excitedly. “I love going there.”
“I think so.”, said Kyle. “I don’t think we’ve ever been in there.”
“You’ll love it.” said Denny. “Hey, we can stock up on incense too.”
“What are those?”, asked Kyle, clearly confused.
“These little sticks you burn and they give off a nice scent. There’s all kinds of them. Spencer’s has the best.”, said Denny.
“Did you say “burn” them?”, asked Sheila, nervously.
“It’s all right. They also have incense burners that catch the ash that burns off.”, Denny reassured her.
They reached the mall at a quarter to 11. As they pulled up to the curb and unloaded, they headed inside toward Spencer’s. They would be picked up at 2 o’clock, which gave them plenty of time to look around.
They headed inside the store and made right for the posters. Kyle followed behind them with his eyes and mouth wide open. Denny and Violet turned and laughed to each other, knowing his mind must being going haywire right now. After the posters, they went to pick out incense and look at all the mystical stuff, including a chess set, complete with dragon pieces, and a small water fountain. When they were done looking around, they went to pay for their stuff and headed toward the exit, Kyle still gazing open-mouthed at the other merch.
“What’s wrong, Kyle? You’ve never seen anything like that before?”, Denny teased. Him and Violet burst out laughing again.
“Hell no, dude. They let people buy that kind of stuff?”.
“Of course not.”, said Violet. “You have to be 18 to buy that stuff.”
“But what is it?”
Denny laughed, “You’ll get over it. It’s always a shock the first time.”
“Where do they have the mp3s?”, asked Violet.
“Probably Radioshack. Let’s go there next.” said Denny.
Inside Radioshack, they looked around at these and other kinds of electronics. They found what they were looking for and decided to get lunch. Denny looked at his watch and discovered they had about an hour and a half left to go.
They had cheeseburgers and milkshakes for lunch, talking and laughing. Even long after they were done eating, they just stayed where they were. When they were ready to look around some more, they headed over to look at video games. They found some neat looking first person shooters and action games. By the time they were done, they were starting to get bored of the mall and after getting sodas, they went toward the exit and sat on the bench.
“Well, that was a fun time.”, said Kyle. “Thanks for enjoying it with me.”
“No problem, dude. You know I’m glad to be a part of it.”, said Denny.
“Me too.”, said Violet.
“It beats the sh*t out of going to school.”, thought Kyle out loud. The others muttered in agreement.
Sheila came by to pick them up, right on schedule. They all loaded up and the car pulled away from the curb. It was a little busier on the road now than earlier, since some people were getting off of work.
“So, did you kids have fun?”, asked Sheila, brightly.
“We sure did!”, chorused the kids.
“That’s great!”, said Sheila, clapping her hand together.
As they went through the center of town, there was nothing blocking the traffic now. As that accident had been cleared now, they had not remembered it even being there.
There was still nothing to suggest anything unusual as they made their way back home. As Sheila pulled into the driveway, they were all eager to get into the house to unwrap all they had bought. Denny was talking Kyle through how to use his mp3, Violet watching amusingly. It seemed Kyle was technologically deaf, judging by the look of stubborn patience on Denny’s face.
“Ok, we’re home.” he said at last. “Let’s get on the computer and I can show you there.”
“Heh, sorry about that.”, said Kyle, red in the face. “I forgot to tell you I know hardly anything about that kind of stuff.”
“Don’t worry about it.”, said Denny, quickly. “At least you know how to use a computer.”
When they all unloaded, they headed straight for the computer, which was slow as hell as it started up. The patience wasn’t so easy to contain this time and it wasn’t long before Kyle began to hit it.
“Whoa, chill out dude.”, said Denny, pulling him back. “It pisses me off too but that’s not going to do any good. Open your stuff while you’re waiting so it’s ready.”
“Oh sh*t, I forgot all about that.”, said Kyle, grabbing a pair of scissors.
It was ready to go not a moment later. Kyle pulled up the internet and media player but not before snatching up the mouse roughly, as if to say “sh*t!”.
“Ok, so what do we do first?”, he asked after a second.
“What’s it say in the instructions?”, asked Denny, rolling his eyes.
“”Install driver software””, read Kyle.
“And you know what that means, don’t you?”, asked Denny, letting Kyle figure it out on his own but rolling his eyes again nonetheless.
“Yeah…”, said Kyle slowly. “Hey, wait a second, you made me look like a jackass on purpose, didn’t you?!”
Denny and Violet burst out laughing. “Damn dude, you’re really on a roll right now aren’t you?”
“Funny”, said Kyle, sarcastically. “Ok, now what about songs?”
“That part will be a piece of cake too, at least for me.”, said Denny, turning his head from side to side and popping his neck.
“What were those songs from yesterday?” asked Kyle.
“You want me to just do the song searching while you get the other stuff open?”, asked Denny, feeling guilty.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”, said Kyle, moving over.
The play list was full in no time and there was even some older songs he liked on there. Violet even suggested some good ones and they spent a good time hearing them all. It wasn’t until around 3:30 that they paid attention to anything else when Kyle’s phone rang.
“Hold on you guys, I’m going to take this.”, he said, opening the phone.
On the other end he expected to finally have heard something about Stan, even though he had forgotten about it until that moment.
However, it wasn’t Stan. It was Ivy, her voice urgent, and she seemed to be upset. Kyle’s mind came crashing back to earth in cruel fashion.
“Ivy? What is it? Are you all right?”, he asked, suddenly scared.
Denny and Violet looked over at him. Denny tried to ask what was going on but Kyle shook his head and waved his hand vigorously.
“Kyle, holy sh*t! I just found out! I didn’t want to be the one to tell you but you couldn’t not know! I mean, he knows you better than anybody but f*ck!”
“All right, calm down! Calm down! What is making you go batshit?”, yelled Kyle, feeling about to be that way himself.
Ivy began sobbing. Kyle tried several attempts to calm her down but it was several minutes before he could get anything out of her.
“Please don’t hate me for wanting to keep this from you.”, she took a few deep breaths, “It’s about Stan. Something’s happened to him. Something bad.”
Kyle’s stomach seemed to dissolve and his face turned pale. Denny saw this and motioned for Violet to help him get Kyle to the bed. Then he pulled out his own phone to signal his mom to come to the room. Sheila came running in seconds later, ready for action, just in time for Kyle to receive the worst news yet.
“H-how bad?”, he asked, weakly.
“S-Stan was involved in a c-car accident. The car he was in was smashed in between two other cars. It happened around 10:30 this morning.”
*End of chapter 2*
Chapter 3- Make It Stop
“Kyle? Are you still there? Kyle?! Kyle!!!”.
But the last thing Kyle heard before becoming deaf to the world were the words “accident” and “Stan”. He wasn’t quite all the way down when he went suddenly limp, so that Sheila had to move fast to catch him.
“What was that?! What’s going on, Kyle?! KYLE!”, came the sound of Ivy still trying to get an answer out of Kyle.
Denny picked up the phone and holding it six inches from his ear, told her he was coming on the line. She shut up and waited.
“Now what the f*ck is going on?!”, she demanded.
“You first. I heard you going all batshit but what for?”, he asked.
Ivy began sobbing again and slowly, she told Denny what had happened. Denny’s stomach lurched as he received the news but managed not to get sick. He gulped and looked over at Kyle’s limp body. His face was deadly white and he was still out.
“Your turn, what happened to Kyle?!”, she demanded.
“Well, if you must know, he didn’t take that news too well. He’s fainted.”, said Denny, eyes shut for the reaction.
“Oh god.”, she moaned.
“I knew it! I knew something was going to… Why? Why now?”, asked Denny, frustrated.
“Hey dude, calm down! You’re scaring me!”, yelled Violet.
“The day was going so well but now… I knew it! I f*cking knew it!”
“Whoa dude, chill out!”, said Ivy, sounding scared.
That wasn’t going to be too easy, with Stan in the hospital in presumably bad shape and now Kyle also not looking too good. Denny didn’t know what to do or which direction to go first. He reached over and touched Kyle’s face, shocked to see that it was sweaty and clammy. He looked at Sheila, who had a worried expression.
“Mom! We have to get to the hospital right now!”, yelled Denny, getting her in gear.
Violet, who had grabbed the phone from Denny when he lost it, was just hanging up when Denny shouted. She helped Denny get out to the car, with some difficulty, as Sheila carried Kyle and stuck him in the backseat.
They reached the hospital in 15 minutes, bursting into the emergency room and shouting for help. A nurse came out running with a stretcher and Sheila laid him down on it.
“You kids find Stan and I’ll take Kyle from here!”, she shouted, running to the back with the nurse.
Denny looked on helplessly as they wheeled Kyle away then he turned around with Violet and headed to the receptionist’s desk.
“Can I help you?”, she asked, kindly.
“Yes, our friend was brought in here this morning and we would like to see him.”, said Denny, numbly.
“That is, if he’s still here.”, said Violet, quickly.
“No problem, I can check that right here. What’s you’re friend’s first and last name?”, she asked.
“Marsh. Stan Marsh.”, said Denny.
There was a few moments’ silence as the receptionist typed the name into the computer and waited for it to give a response.
“Yes, he actually got moved upstairs a few hours ago. I can call a nurse to take you to see him, if you’d like?”, she asked, kindly.
Denny’s stomach knotted. “Uh , he’s not in the ICU, is he?”, he asked, dreading the answer.
“I’m afraid so. The injuries are pretty severe. It took them quite a while to pull him out of that car.”, she said, sadly.
“I don’t like the sound of “pulled” him out.”, said Violet, uneasy.
“They will explain it to you.”, said the receptionist, dialing an extension. Denny strongly suspected she had changed the subject on purpose.
Denny started to shake nervously. After only a month away from the place, they were going back to the third floor ICU. He didn’t know if he could do it. Violet took his hand gently.
“Calm yourself down.”, she whispered in his ear.
“I remember all the time we were here, hooked up to those machines. I can’t bear to see all that sh*t again.”, said Denny.
“I know it’s tough but we have to be the tough ones right now.”, said Violet, soothingly. “Just remember, it’s him in our place now.”
The nurse came down to get them a few minutes later, she looked familiar. This seemed to make things a little more believable. They took the all too familiar journey up to the third floor and to the ICU, looking at each other with different signs of fear.
Denny had a sudden mad thought that they were going to room 13, the exact same place he and the others had been when they were here last time. This thought didn’t calm his nerves in the least bit. He had all these other thoughts as well, between his permanent fear of room 13, between being worried sick about Kyle, to his fear of seeing how bad of shape Stan was bound to be in, yet he had to see Stan for himself to really be able to take in what was going on. However, nothing could’ve possibly prepared them for the condition they would find him in. Denny stopped dead in the doorway as soon as Stan came into view, Violet nearly running into him, as he covered his face and looked away.
There was a sudden movement behind them and Ivy came running over, her red hair flying high behind her. She seemed to be struggling to turn and run the other way.
“Hey guys. It’s awful, isn’t it?, she asked, sadly.
“True that”, said Violet, shaking her head. “What the hell did he do to deserve this?”
“God must want us dead if he keeps screwing with us.”, said Denny, darkly.
“Oh now, don’t go saying sh*t like that.”, said Violet. “Come on now, let’s go in there and let him know we’re here, even if he can’t hear us.”
They slowly and cautiously began to inch their way into the room. Stan was hooked up to several machines including a ventilator hooked up to a tube that was down his throat and a mouthpiece covering it. There were cuts and bruises everywhere they could see, and there looked to be several broken bones. It looked like his chances of recovering were slim.
“Is this…? Was this how I looked when we first got brought in?!”, asked Denny, weakly. This was the scariest thing he had ever seen and the image of Stan exactly as he was, wouldn’t fade from his mind anytime soon.
“Now you see what we’ve been talking about.”, said Violet. She looked like she was going to pass out. “Oh my god, it’s even worse seeing it all over again.”
Ivy, who hadn’t said a word since they met up with her outside, was the first to slowly walk over to Stan’s bedside, head bowed. Carefully, she reached a hand out and touched Stan’s battered face, hoping for a sign that he was still in there. Violet looked at Denny, wanting to join Ivy but wanted him by her side too. It was several minutes before Denny found any feeling in his limbs and slowly, he nodded.
The severity of everything was even harder to take in the closer they got. Violet was the first to reach out and grab Stan’s hand, tears rolling down her face. Denny was still in an advanced shock and couldn’t bear to look at what lay in front of them. It wasn’t until his phone rang that he moved at all/ It would be Sheila, asking of Stan’s condition and giving them word about Kyle’s. Denny became alert at once.
“How’s Kyle?”, he asked in an almost demanding tone.
“He’s going to be just fine. He’s just in shock.”, said Sheila.
“Well, don’t let him come up here until they say he’s up to it.”, said Denny, looking down at his feet.
“Oh my, how bad is he?”, asked Sheila, sounding worried.
“Let me put it this way, now I understand how you guys must’ve felt when you saw me when we first came here.”, said Denny. He was starting to become familiar with what was going on and the tears began to fall. “I’ve had so many nightmares of seeing this and now it’s right in front of me.””
“Try to calm yourself down. I’ll be up there soon and we’ll go see Kyle soon too.”, said Sheila.
“I don’t know if I can see Stan like this much longer. Are they keeping Kyle overnight?”, Denny was desperate for something good to happen.
“That’s what they said.”, said Sheila.
“We should bring him his music. He’s going to need it.”, said Denny.
“Good idea. I can go pick it up before I go up there.”
“I want to come with you so I can make sure everything still saved.”, said Denny, at once.
“All right, I’ll be there soon.”
Denny hung up the phone, tears still falling and finally plucked up the courage to go to Stan’s bedside with the others. Violet put her hand on his shoulder encouragingly as he looked up and what he saw made him jump badly. He looked like he wanted to take a big step backward but willed himself to reach out and grab Stan’s hand as well.
“Stan, dude, I’m so sorry this is happening to you.”, he whispered. “If you can hear me, you’ve got to hang on. We can’t bear to lose you…”, he couldn’t say anymore.
One of the nurses came in to check on everything. For a moment, she merely stood there surveying the grim scene and it wasn’t until Violet noticed her that she spoke.
“I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It must be even worse at your age, seeing it.”, she said, sadly.
“You don’t know the half of it.”, said Ivy, darkly. “Did they say what happened to him?”
“He came into the ER with numerous cuts and abrasions, a broken spine and pelvis, broken left leg, and head trauma. He fell into a coma at the scene.”
“Jesus christ”, said Denny, now very scared. At closer examination, he could see Stan was positioned very carefully, so he couldn‘t be moved. “Is he likely to live from this, let alone come out of that coma?”
“We still aren’t sure what to expect yet. He’s being kept a close watch on but at this point we don’t have many answers yet.”, said the nurse.
The kids all exchanged horrified looks and came together, breaking down. The nurse looked on sadly, then went on to check Stan’s vitals and whatnot before silently moving on her way. There was no way Kyle could possibly see this. Denny was so scared to imagine what might happen if he did. The shock was bad enough to see happen but he knew it could turn a lot worse.
Sheila showed up in Stan’s hospital room a little while later. The kids were still together, now just watching the slow, shallow movement that Stan’s chest was doing, if that could be called breathing. Like the others, she stopped dead when she looked in and saw him. She edged her way in, holding her hand over her chest.
“Oh my god, this is horrible.”, she said, weakly.
Denny looked up but turned away almost immediately, now not really wanting to move from where he was. Sheila quietly went to join the kids, failing to hide the sharp intakes of breath from her own observation of Stan’s mangled body.
“What were the injuries? Did they…?”, she broke off , Denny shaking his head vigorously but not taking an eye off Stan.
“Oh my, I’m so sorry.”, she muttered, quickly.
“Yeah”, he mumbled.
“Um, well, Kyle is doing much better. He was a little dehydrated from sweating so badly and has been given some moderate anti-anxiety medicine. He isn’t really aware of anything else.”, said Sheila, after a few minutes.
“We still need to get his mp3. Make sure he stays chilled out.”, said Denny, flatly, eyes still down.
“I was getting ready to head home to grab a couple things. You said you wanted to come?”
“Yeah, I did.”, said Denny, suddenly remembering that he had indeed said that.
“You’re leaving?”, asked Violet, sounding upset.
“I’m going to make sure Kyle has at least that one thing and that it’s ready to go. I’ll come right back up here when I do what I gotta do, all right?”, Denny told her, meeting her eyes.
“Of course. I mean, you guys have one of the closest relationships I’ve ever seen.”, said Violet, smiling.
“I won’t bail on you guys, I promise.”, said Denny, soothingly.
He kissed Violet, then turned and gave Ivy a comforting hug. She smiled weakly.
“Thanks. I really needed that.”, said Ivy.
“Don’t let Stan go anywhere. I’ll be right back.”, said Denny, tearing his eyes away from Stan and allowing Sheila to wheel him out of the room.
Neither of them said a word as they boarded the elevator and went back out to the car. Denny, indeed, felt as if he may never speak again. An equally quiet ride home later, Denny went for the computer room again while Sheila went upstairs to get some things for Kyle. He was relieved to find that everything was as they had left it. He went to go see how much they actually got done, then packed everything up , turned off the computer, got what he needed, and went back to wait for Sheila.
“Is that everything you need from here?”, asked Sheila, when she came downstairs.
“Yeah, I’m bringing mine too so I can stay with him.”, said Denny.
“What do you mean you’re…?, she began.
“Do you really think I’m going to leave him there alone at a time like this?”, he asked, as if she was crazy.
“Yes, of course.”, said Sheila. “Do you want to get something to eat on the way back there? You haven’t eaten since earlier.””
“No, I’ll eat later.”, said Denny, flatly.
She sighed. “All right then, let’s get going.”
15 minutes later, they were back at the hospital, going toward the D wing of the building and parking in the garage. They entered and took the elevator to the second floor, into the tele unit. Kyle’s hospital room was a lot smaller than Stan’s room with not much room to move around. Upon seeing Kyle, looking like he was on a heavy dose of medicine, Denny urged Sheila move him closer and threw his arms around his brother.
“Kyle! You had me so scared! I’m so glad you’re all right!”, cried Denny, breaking down again.
“Be careful, he’s not completely in his right mind right now.”, warned a nurse, having just walked in for a check up.
“Oh hey Denny, where have you been?”, asked Kyle, in a slow and dull voice, making Denny’s heart sink.
“How are you feeling?’, he asked, trying to hide the shock he felt at that moment.
“Oh, not too bad actually. What’s up? You look like terrible.”
“Oh nothing, I was just worried about you, that’s all.”, said Denny, his mind hoping Kyle wouldn’t stray any closer to dangerous territory.
“I’ll be all right.”, he assured Denny. “What happened? There’s like this blank period where I don’t remember anything.”
Denny looked at Sheila, wondering what to say. He decided on only part of the truth, but nowhere near why it happened.
“Well, you fainted and we brought you here to get checked out. We wanted to make sure it was nothing serious.”, said Denny.
“Oh”, said Kyle. “Do they know why that happened?”
“Not yet but let’s not worry about that right now. You just lay back and relax. I brought your mp3 so you can listen to music and I‘m going to stay the night here with you so you don‘t get lonely.”, said Denny.
“Oh, thanks a lot dude. I can sleep easier tonight.”, said Kyle, smiling. “You’re staying with me? Really? That makes me feel so much better!”
“Take it easy, Kyle. The doctor said you need plenty of rest.”, said Sheila sternly.
“Hey, where’s Ivy? Did she forget I’m here or something?”, asked Kyle, suddenly.
“Why don’t you tell her to come over here, Denny?”, she hissed in Denny’s ear “Tell her not to say anything about Stan.”
“Ok, I’ll go do that right now, Kyle.”, said Denny, pulling out his phone and heading toward the hallway.
Denny’s heart sank as he reached the hallway. Kyle was getting closer to asking about Stan. He wondered how long they could possibly hide it from him. He opened the phone and dialed Ivy’s number, waiting for an answer.
“Hey, I need you to come down here. Kyle’s asking for you but don’t go anywhere near talking about Stan. Just keep him happy and I should tell you that he’s pretty tripped out right now, so watch what you say to him.”
“Ok, I’ll be down there in a minute. Are you coming back up here? So Violet isn’t alone?”, asked Ivy.
“Yeah, tell her I’m coming back as soon as you get here so Kyle doesn’t freak out or anything.”, said Denny.
“Ok, I’ll tell her and I’ll be down there soon. What’s the room number?”
“D241”, said Denny. “I’ll go tell him you’re coming.”
He hung up the phone and went back into the room. Kyle was watching curiously, he was still pretty drugged up, a good sign.
“I called Ivy and she’ll be here in a minute, then I’m going to go do something real quick.”, Denny informed Kyle.
Kyle smiled dully at Denny. It looked like he hadn’t taken in a word. Denny’s heart sank farther in his chest. There was a knock on the door and Kyle’s doctor came into the room, carrying his clipboard and looking over at Kyle with concern.
“Hello everybody, how are we doing?”. he asked.
“We’re hanging in there. Just still a little worried about Kyle.”, said Sheila.
“Well, from what the tests show, he had a mild panic attack. He gave himself a little fright that caused this to happen but he’ll be just fine. We’ll keep him on anti-anxiety meds and taper those off slowly overnight and I think he should be good to go tomorrow. I can see by your reaction that you’re a little shocked to see him so shot up on these drugs but trust me, it’s only so he can recover without a problem.”
“Oh thank god.”, said Denny.
“Not to worry, young man.”, said the doctor. “Now, are there any questions for me?”
“Uh.. there is one thing.”, said Denny. “Can I talk to you alone?”
“Of course.”, said the doctor, stepping outside with him.
“I know why he had that panic attack.”, said Denny. “Our friend was involved in an accident this morning and he’s not doing so good but I don’t know how to break the news to Kyle. I mean, I don’t want him to have a heart attack from stress or anything.”
“Hmm, wow. Do you know how bad it is?”, asked the doctor, thinking hard.
“I don’t know if Stan is going to make it. I saw him myself and it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.”, said Denny, uncomfortably.
“I think we’d better save that news for tomorrow morning.”, said the doctor. “Let’s just focus on getting him through the night. If he asks any questions, just deflect the subject. He probably won’t pursue the subject anymore while he’s on his meds.”
“Ok well, I’m going to stay the night and keep an eye on him. If I’m with him, there shouldn’t be any problems.”, said Denny.
“That sounds perfect.”, said the doctor.
He shook Denny’s hand and took his leave. Denny turned and headed back to the room. Was it going to be that easy to deflect Kyle from asking about Stan and make sure he didn’t get any farther on the subject? Kyle, himself, was looking at the stuff they had brought him with far more interest than he normally would have.
Ivy arrived about a minute later and like Denny, she was unaware of just how out of it Kyle really was. She seemed to have a harder time hiding what she just got through seeing but Kyle seemed not to notice. Denny reminded Kyle that he was going to take care of something and that he would be back then he motioned for Sheila to help him out.
“Come on, I don’t want to leave Violet alone upstairs.”, he told her when they reached the outside.
“What did the doctor say?”, asked Sheila.
“Save the news about Stan for tomorrow and if he gets on the subject before then, deflect him from it.”, said Denny. “I have no idea how we’re going to tell him. I’m not looking forward to it.”
They boarded the elevator up to the third floor once again and it was one easy turn into the ICU. When they reached Stan’s room, they found Violet still at his bedside and looking like she wanted to faint. She looked up when they entered and looked deeply relieved, throwing her arms around Denny’s neck tightly.
“Thank god you’re back. It was so scary being here alone. If he would’ve died, I would’ve killed myself.”, she said in a shaky voice.
“Chill out, dude. I told you I’d be back.”, said Denny, returning the hug. “Did anything happen while I was gone?”
“Nope”, said Violet, sadly. “That would’ve been a miracle but even if he did wake up, he’d be in way too much pain to stand it.”
Denny turned to Stan’s comatose body, flinching slightly once again. It was even worse looking everything over a second time. He reached out again and held Stan’s hand.
“I don’t know how the f*ck I’m going to break the news to Kyle. I keep going through that in my mind and it seems impossible every time.”
“He’s not asking any questions, is he?”, asked Violet.
“Not yet but it’s only a matter of time. He’s pretty out of it right now. I can’t say that I like it very much.”, said Denny.
“I don’t blame you for that.”, said Violet. “At least he isn’t still unconscious though.”
“There hasn’t been any doctors in here yet?’, asked Denny. “I would’ve thought somebody would be in here to at least make some attempt at setting his spine.”
No sooner had he said this, that the doctor came in at last. It was hard to tell what he was thinking from his look of professionalism. Denny’s heart began to race. Maybe something good would come out of all of this.
“Hello everybody.”, he said. “You see what we’ve got on our hands here today. There’s not much time so I’ll get straight to it. As you may or may not be aware, Mr. Marsh here was involved in a serious three car crash this morning and has sustained serious, life-threatening injuries. These include broken spine, pelvis, left leg, head trauma, and numerous cuts and bruises. Now first things first, this is going to require some heavy reconstruction, beginning with his spine, which is going to take careful handy work. Next, I would like to focus on the pelvis. If he does indeed recover, he will need to learn to walk again, as well as many other things. Then we will take care of his leg. The head trauma means he has sustained brain damage, though to what extent we aren’t sure yet.
Now, as far as the coma is concerned, we will need to carefully monitor him day and night. He is currently on a ventilator, meaning he is not breathing on his own. I know this is a lot to take in but in times like this, we all need to hope for the best. You’ll be pleased to know that the parents, though also in the accident, are recovering and should be just fine. Are there any questions?”
“When are you guys going to get Stan into surgery?”, said Denny, in an almost, but unintentional, demanding tone.
“He is scheduled to go in this evening and this surgery is going to be the most difficult. As it’s the spine we’re dealing with here, the surgery is expected to be at least 4 hours, probably more.”, said the doctor, to more sharp intakes of breath.
“My brother is downstairs but can you guys keep me posted on Stan’s condition if I’m not here? He’s one of my best friends.”, said Denny, desperately.
“That should be just fine. If you just leave a contact phone number, we can do that.”, said the doctor. “It’s not going to be an easy journey but we’ll do everything we can to get through this.”
As the doctor left to get ready for Stan’s surgery, two nurses in grey scrubs came in and got him ready to be transported to the OR. Both Denny and Violet became more scared for him than ever, refusing to let Stan go. Finally releasing their tight grips only after Sheila gently pulled them away. They resigned by each hugging him and watching as he disappeared into the hallway.
*End of chapter 3*
Chapter 4- Brotherly Love
For the first few moments after Stan was taken to surgery, Denny and Violet could only stare between where he was and where he had gone. Only after they were sure this was really happening did they finally get back in gear and go back to Kyle. When they arrived, they found him and Ivy playing a card game. It looked as though Ivy was intentionally letting him win, to keep him from asking any questions.
“Ah, damn it, I should’ve seen that coming.”, said Ivy, sounding fairly convincing.
“Ha, I told you I was good.”, said Kyle.
Ivy looked over at Denny and Violet and gave them a thumbs up. She seemed thoroughly amused, as though he was a little brother and not her boyfriend. After one particularly bad hand, she mentioned something about taking a quick break and went to get an update from Denny.
“What’s the latest?”, she asked.
In a low voice, he quickly told Ivy what Stan’s doctor had said. This time, she took the news without giving anything away but couldn’t hide the fear from learning how intense the surgery was going to be.
“4 hours? That’s insane!”, she exclaimed.
“Yep, 4 hours, maybe more. They were taking him in before we came back down here.”, said Denny.
“I wish I could’ve seen him one last time before they did that.”, said Ivy, upset.
“We can go see him tomorrow morning. It’s 5 right now and if the surgery will be at least 4 hours, it will be about 10 before he gets back upstairs.”, said Denny.
Ivy went back to Kyle, a little more distracted. Kyle, himself, was falling asleep, so she packed up the cards and resigned to watching him.
Later, much later, Denny was reclined on the couch and listening to his mp3. Gerald had shown up to see Kyle around 7 but everybody had gone home a while ago, leaving him and Denny to themselves. Kyle had been asleep most of the time but Denny didn’t mind keeping him company. There had been no word yet on Stan’s condition, whether a good thing or not, there was no telling.
Kyle woke up around 11:30, as Denny had just found a song to listen to. The lights were off except in the hallway. For a while, Kyle just laid in his bed staring at Denny, wondering if he was still awake. Then he seemed to decide he would find out.
“Hey, you’re still awake?”, he called out softly.
“Yeah. You know how it is, I always stay up late.”, said Denny.
“What are you listening to?”, asked Kyle.
“It’s Cage the Elephant. We heard it earlier.”, said Denny.
“I think I remember. So, how did you get Mom to let you stay here with me? When I tried to do that, she wouldn’t let me.”
“Well, I just told her straight what I wanted and made sure she knew I wasn’t f*cking around.”, said Denny, shrugging.
“So there is a way to get through to her.”, said Kyle, thoughtfully.
“Well yeah, you just have to follow through with it and not get scared you’ll get into trouble. You’re old enough to start making your own choices.”, said Denny. “When I told her I wasn’t leaving you here alone, she backed off and said ok.”
“Thanks again for doing that. It’s so much better with company.”, said Kyle, smiling.
“You know I’m more than willing to do anything for you.”, said Denny, smiling back, then he took Kyle’s hand and squeezed it.
Denny’s phone rang on the table. His first thought was that it would be Ivy, checking on Kyle. He looked at the phone and saw that it wasn’t any number he recognized, so likely the call about Stan.
“Hold on a second, dude. I need to take this call.”, he said to Kyle. He went out into the hall and answered the phone.
“Hello, this is Diane, calling from the hospital. Sorry for waking you up. Is this Denny?”, said the voice on the other end.
“Yes, speaking!”, said Denny. “Is this about Stan?”
“Yes, we have an update on his condition. Now Denny, are you sitting down?”
“Yeah, what’s going on? Is he worse?”, asked Denny.
“Your friend Stan has made it out of surgery a few moments ago. The surgery took longer than expected because of the extent of the injuries. At one point, we did almost lose him but were able to bring him back. He is now recovering in the ICU.”
Denny’s heart jumped in his throat, as though missing a step going downstairs. He hoped he had heard the nurse wrong.
“Hold on a second, what do you mean you almost lost him?! Like he almost died?!”, he asked in a demanding tone.
“I’m afraid so. He lost a lot of blood first from the accident then the surgery. He has been given a blood transfusion. His heart had stopped at one point but as I said we were able to get it going again.”
“Jesus christ, is this sh*t going to end? I… but…”, Denny didn’t know what to say.
“I understand how you must be feeling right now. We will do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“Ok, well I need to be getting back so my brother doesn’t psych himself out but if anything changes, let me know.”, he said, hanging up the phone. It was a few moments before he could stop himself from panicking and go back to the room without giving it away.
“Hey, who was that?”, asked Kyle, curiously.
“That? It was Violet checking up on us.”, Denny lied. He waited but Kyle seemed satisfied.
“Oh, that was nice of her.”, he said.
“Yeah. So, how are you feeling? You look much better.”, said Denny.
“I feel much better.”, Kyle agreed. He closed his eyes and stretched put on his pillow. “You know, there’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you but I’ve never had the nerve.”
“What’s that? You don’t have to be scared of doing so.”, said Denny.
“What’s it like?”, asked Kyle. He looked at his brother nervously, like he was expecting a bad reaction.
“What do you mean? What’s what like?”, asked Denny.
“What’s it like when you were in that coma a month ago? What did that feel like?”
“It was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. I seriously thought I was dead when I was in purgatory. It’s one of those things your mind constantly wanders on because there’s so much curiosity about it.”
“Well, did you feel anything like your soul was leaving your body? I’ve heard about that happening to some people.”, said Kyle, mouth now open in interest.
“I don’t seem to remember anything like that. My mom described it as my bored mind getting a chance to make sure it can still do what it’s supposed to.”, said Denny, suddenly remembering.
“That’s a good way to describe it.”, said Kyle, nodding. “She sounded like she really knew her stuff.”
“Yeah, she sure did.,” said Denny, looking at his feet.
“You really miss her, don’t you?”
“Yeah”, said Denny. “At the same time, if she wouldn’t have got sick then I might not have ever come here and we might not have met each other.”
“That would’ve sucked. Things have changed so much since you came here.”
“Nothing was anywhere near like reliving those memories.”, Denny decided to get back on track.
“Oh f*ck yeah.”, said Kyle. “When you told us about that, I thought that was the coolest thing ever.”
“Some of them were cool to see, a little amusing, but that one from the night I left still gives me nightmares.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that would be enough to give anyone those, but for someone like you who’s had so much more happen, how the hell do you deal with all that and not end up in an insane asylum? Then everything we’ve dealt with up until now?!” He looked terrified at the thought.
Denny laughed. “Violet has asked me the same question endless times and I honestly can’t tell you how that’s worked out like it has. I guess it’s just my nature. I’m a fighter and always have been.”
“You know, this is the deepest conversation I’ve ever had with someone.”, said Kyle.
“Really?”, said Denny. “You know what’s good for keeping those going besides the good music? A black light . Kicking back in a room with only a black light on and music, makes it so you don‘t give a f*ck about much else.”
“So that’s why you got one of those. I wasn’t getting what the point of that was.”
“That’s right. That’s another thing I did back home.”
“See what I mean? Things around here have changed. Someone that likes to do things different and doesn’t give a sh*t what people think. Everybody knows not to mess with you so they have to put up with it.”
“Really? They don’t like when someone decides to take their own direction with their style of life?” This was the most retarded thing Denny ever heard.
“Well, not when there’s a fad going around. I got beat up at school because I was uncomfortable following a metro sexual fad that all the guys in school were doing.”, said Kyle, shuddering at the thought.
“Are you f*cking kidding me?!”, said Denny, suddenly pissed off. “Oh f*ck no, never again! I don‘t give a f*ck!. If they don‘t like it, they can kiss my ass!”
“Whoa, settle down, dude. I didn’t mean to piss you off, I was just showing you what I was talking about.”, said Kyle, quickly.
Denny blinked a few times. Dude, that was weird. Where did that burst of anger come from?
“Are you feeling all right?”, asked Kyle.
“Ahem, um, yeah. I don’t know what that was all about.”
“Hmm, well I’m sure they won’t do that again. Hey, what time is it? I’m about ready to crash again.”
Denny looked at his phone and was shocked to learn that it was just after 2 in the morning.
“Holy sh*t and how long have we been talking?”
“2 ½ hours. Really doesn’t seem that long, does it?”
“f*cking right about that. That was definitely worth staying awake for. Let’s do it again tomorrow.”
“Anytime bro. Sleep well.”
Denny stretched out, smiling and closed his eyes. It felt good that he could make Kyle’s night in the hospital a memorable one.
Denny woke up the next morning with a particularly unsettling feeling hanging around his head. He had been dreading the inevitable ever since yesterday and had made up his mind that as much as he didn’t like seeing Kyle all shot up with drugs, it would probably be the best way for him to receive the news about Stan.
He sat up and stretched out again, looking at his phone and seeing that it was about 10 o’clock. Standing up quietly, he walked over to the hallway and called Violet.
“Hey you, how are you doing this morning?”, he asked when she answered.
“Oh, hey Denny. I’m hanging in there. I was up most of the night worried about you guys. How was your night?”
“It was a pretty good night for the most part. Me and Kyle had a nice little conversation.”, said Denny, remembering it.
“Yeah, what about?”, asked Violet.
“He was asking me about my experiences from when I was in a coma.”, said Denny.
“Ah, so one of those conversations very few would ever get to have with you?”
“That’s right.”, said Denny. “Then he told me about how judgmental people can get around here with someone different.”
“What did they say about Stan? Anything?”, asked Violet.
Denny became nervous once again. Quietly, he decided to tell her what he had been told.
“Whoa, wait a minute. Back up, what do you mean they almost lost him? That’s why he was in surgery for 7 hours?”
“Yep”, said Denny. “I haven’t got anymore word on anything else going on with him yet but I want to go see him soon.”
“Have you figured out how Kyle is going to be told?”, asked Violet.
“I actually want them to give him some more of those meds when we go to let him know. I’m sure they’ve already thought of that though. I really hope he doesn’t psych himself out.”
“Well, maybe it will all be ok. I’ll be up there soon.”
“All right, see you then.”
Denny hung up the phone and went quietly back into Kyle’s room. He looked over at the lump in the bed that was Kyle, wondering if he might be dreaming and what about. Denny, himself, had begun to remember what he had said about his own experiences in times like this. He couldn’t stand watching someone he cared about in that position. He headed for the couch again and pulled out his mp3, knowing he had to get himself out of this mood.
Lucky for him, he felt better after only a few minutes and when the nurse came in to give Kyle his meds, Kyle, himself, was finally beginning to wake up. At first he seemed a little disoriented , looking around and surveying his surroundings with confusion on his face, then he looked and saw Denny and relaxed.
“Oh hey Denny, I was starting to think I was the only one here.”, said Kyle.
“Nah, I wouldn’t have left without you knowing. How do you feel this morning?”
“That was quite a night last night.”, said Kyle. “That’s the best night in the hospital I’ve ever had.”
“Kyle, I am giving you your meds now.”, said the nurse. “Some iv fluids, insulin, and more anti-anxiety meds. You may feel a little woozy from these but please trust the doctor’s judgment about wanting you to have them.”
“Oh, well I guess if he wants me to have them…”
“Don’t worry, dude. It’ll be just fine. I’m not going anywhere.”, said Denny.
“What was I like when I had those yesterday?”, asked Kyle.
“Oh, it wasn’t anything to worry about. You were just really chilled out is all.”
The drugs started to take effect after about a half hour. Kyle could be seen looking a lot like he was yesterday. Denny had decided to keep him talking until they were ready to take him upstairs.
“Hey, how are those meds making you feel?”, he asked.
“I’m feeling pretty good actually. What would make me need to keep taking these?”
“Oh you know, just so you don’t get stressed out. We don’t want you having another panic attack, do we?”
Coward, he’ll find out soon anyway.
“I can’t think of anything that would make me stress out.”, said Kyle, shrugging.
“I can’t either but who wants to take chances? Did you have any dreams while you were asleep?”, asked Denny.
“Hmm, I might have. How long were you up before me?”
“About an hour. I was just hanging out listening to music the whole time.”, said Denny. “Violet will be here soon too.”
Sure enough, Violet arrived at the hospital about 20 minutes later. After greeting both of them, she parked her wheelchair next to Denny.
“So, how was your night last night?”, she asked Kyle.
“We had fun last night, didn’t we Denny?”
“That’s right.”, said Denny, nodding. “Kyle woke up around 11:30 and we were up until after 2. Seemed like no time at all.”
“Wow, I’ve never had that long of a conversation before.”, said Violet, impressed.
Sheila called to see if they were up about noon, telling Denny not to change the pace with Kyle until she got there. It was becoming too much to bear and he wanted to make sure Stan was still alive but did as he was told. Ivy arrived not long after, looking as though she had run there.
“I overslept! The f*cking alarm clock never went off!”, she ranted.
“That’s ok. What matters is that we’re all here.”, said Denny “Guys, meeting over here for a second?”
The three of them moved to a corner of the room. It was time to act.
“Now that we’re all here, we all need to watch Kyle. We’re all going to bring him to see Stan together and any sign he’s not going to make it, get him out of there and get help, got it?”
“Got it!”, said the other two.
“Good. All right, let’s do it.”
Denny went over to where Kyle was in his bed, relaxing. Denny looked nervously at the other two, moved his head from side to side and spoke out.
“Um, there’s something we need to show you but I have to explain myself first.”
Kyle sat up and looked over at Denny, looking confused.
“What’s up? Just tell me what’s going on.”
“Well”, he cleared his throat. “You know how yesterday we were all wondering why we hadn’t heard anything about Stan?”
“Yeah… Hey, wait a second. That’s why I had that panic attack, wasn’t it? Didn’t something bad happen to Stan?”
Denny sighed heavily. “Yeah, it did. He got messed up pretty bad but we wanted you to recover first before we told you. I’m so sorry, dude.”
“Oh my god. But he’s still alive isn’t he? He hasn’t…?”, Kyle was already turning pale again.
“No, he’s still alive but he doesn’t look like Stan.”
“We were going to take you to see him, the three of us together. That is, if that’s what you want.”
“Yes, yes, of course.”, said Kyle, weakly.
“Ok, let’s get the nurse to bring you a chair.”, said Denny gently, as he signaled the nurse.
There was a very uncomfortable silence as Kyle was helped into his wheelchair and on the way to the ICU, Denny was hoping with all he had that Kyle would hold out.
*End of chapter 4*
Chapter 5- What now?
Kyle’s trip upstairs wasn’t fun. Indeed, there were moments when it looked as though he might not hold out. He had to stop for several minutes more than once on the way over there, hand over his chest.
“You ok, dude? We can turn back if you need to.”, said Denny, looking at him with utmost concern.
“I think I’ll be all right.”, said Kyle.
“Well, let us know if you’re not going to make it.”, warned Denny.
When they reached the pod where the ICU was located, Kyle began to hyperventilate but still insisted on continuing. He began to sweat and looked just like when Ivy called back at the house yesterday. Denny got the attention of a nurse and motioned her to check Kyle out.
The nurse took one look at Kyle and said, “Let’s get him into bed and calm him down.”
“Hey, what’re you…?”
“Kyle, we need to get you into bed, now.”, said Denny.
“But… what about…?”
“We can’t do that right now. You need to calm yourself down. Are you feeling all right?”
“Kind of dizzy and my chest hurts.”. Kyle was also pale once again. Denny looked from Violet to Ivy, both with shock on their faces.
“Goddamnit! I knew something was… f*ck!”
“What’re you…?”, began Violet.
“I knew we were taking a risk bringing him up here! Look what’s happening!”, exclaimed Denny, pointing at Kyle.
Kyle was brought into a spare room and lifted into the bed. The nurse called for somebody to page the doctor. Kyle was looking worse by the moment, wheezing and hand over his chest. The nurse put an O2 mask over his mouth.
“Holy sh*t!”, yelled Ivy.
“Get them out of here!”, said the nurse.
The three of them were urged out of the room and the door was shut with the curtains drawn. They couldn’t see any of what was happening.
“Are you f*cking kidding me? I didn’t expect this to blow up in my face like this!”, said Denny.
“Hey, none of us expected this to happen, don’t blame yourself.”, said Violet, trying to chill him out.
“I knew we shouldn’t have tried to do this so soon! Damn it!”
“Denny! Calm down!”, said Ivy. “I know it’s frustrating as f*ck but that’s not helping!”
Denny closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, trying to stop himself from panicking.. He was already out of mind enough with worry about Kyle and especially with Stan., and after all that had already happened, this was too much.
“Ok, I think I’m all right.”, said Denny, after a few moments.
“That’s good, just calm down. We can’t do much else at the moment.”, said Violet.
“So now what?”, asked Ivy. “Do we stay here and wait for them to tell us something or go see Stan before something happens to him?”
The other two looked at each other uncomfortably, completely forgetting about telling Ivy what Stan had gone through the previous night. They silently agreed to keep their mouths shut, so as not to stress her out too.
“You guys can go on ahead and see Stan and I’ll stay here.”, said Denny.
“Are you sure about that?”, asked Ivy. “There’s not much else we can do right now.”
“I know but if something happens to Kyle, I want to be the first to know.”
So Violet and Ivy had no choice but to go o without him. He had agreed he would see Stan when one of them came back.. As they turned the corner, a tech headed for Kyle’s room with an EKG machine.
Oh f*ck, don’t tell me they’re looking for what I think they are
Denny tried to stop the tech on his way out to find out what was going on but without any news.
“You’ll have to wait for the doctor. What I can tell you is that your brother is stabilized but shaken up.”
Well that’s just great. He’s got this to remember now.
Denny called for an update from Violet about 10 minutes later. She still decided, like him, that they were going to keep quiet about the stuff from last night.
“I did tell her that Stan’s surgery took 7 hours, just not that they almost lost him.”
“Um, is she anywhere near you listening to this?”, asked Denny, cautiously.
“Oh don’t worry, I’m outside right now. What going on up there?”
“Nothing really.”, said Denny. “I have a hunch as to what might’ve happened. They brought in an EKG machine a little while ago.”
“You gotta be sh*tting me?”, said Violet. “What’d the doctor say?”
“I haven’t seen any doctors over here yet. Nobody’s let me in yet either.”
“It still seems a little early. Let’s give it some more time.”
“What’d they say about Stan? Anything?”
“Not really, just that we can’t be within a certain distance from him for fear of anybody moving him. He’s already wrapped up stiff as a board, what the f*ck?”
“It doesn’t make a difference. Anything moving him even a millimeter could f*ck something up. It’s a broken spine, remember?”, said Denny, patiently.
“Well yeah, that makes sense. He looks like he’s been through pure hell.”
“At least he pulled through. I hate to think how much worse this all could’ve been if he had died..”
“True that.”, said Violet, darkly. ”Well, let me know what they say and vice versa.”
“Got it“:, said Denny, hanging up the phone.
Fortunately, Denny didn’t have to wait very long for the doctor to show up. At first, he didn’t look up when Denny started bombarding him with questions but when he became impossible to ignore, he had the usual unreadable expression on his face, this was starting to piss Denny off.
“Denny, please, I know you want to hear what’s going on but I need you to give me a few minutes and I’ll fill you in.”, he said, a little impatiently.
So Denny backed away and let the doctor go into the room. There was a few minutes’ wait time while the doctor gave Sheila the result of the tests they had done. He tried to press his ear against the door to listen in but the thickness of it made it impossible to hear anything. Looking at his watch, he saw that it was only 12:30, and this made him nuts.
After a few more minutes, the door was open at last, and the nurse poked her head outside and mentioned for Denny that he was finally allowed to come in. He stood up immediately and made a beeline straight for Kyle, who looked like whatever happened had done even more to him than the panic attack, leaving him even more weakened. Denny went over to Kyle and hugged him hard, shaking uncontrollably. Kyle seemed to be back on a heavy dose of meds (even more now) and was once again very disoriented.
“Hey Denny, what’s going on? I remember my chest hurt then not much else.”, said Kyle.
“Hey, don’t you worry about a thing like that. I just want you to settle down and not give me a panic attack too.”, said Denny. He turned to the doctor with his arms crossed and a piercing stare. “So, what are we dealing with now? You said you would tell me.”
The doctor sighed. “Yes I did. Are you where you plan on staying for a while so you don’t hurt yourself? Ok then, I’m sure judging by your guarding of Kyle’s room (he nodded warmly) that you saw I ordered a preliminary EKG-?”
“That doesn’t mean what I think it does, does it? He’s way too young for that to happen.”, Denny cut in quickly.
“With all the stress that’s been involved as of late, it triggered a small myocardial infarction. It’s very uncommon but not unheard of.”
“Wait, he had a heart attack? But he’s 9 years old! How the hell is that even possible?!”, asked Denny. This was getting crazier by the minute.
“Like I said, in some rare cases this can happen. This was not caused by any flaws in his cholesterol or diet, it was his heart being under too much stress. What do you suppose may have been to blame? I think you can answer that better than your mother can.”, said the doctor, looking at Sheila and nodding at her.
“Remember what I told you about our friend yesterday? Uh...”, he looked at Kyle, wondering how much to say in front of him. Kyle seemed to be all right. The drugs were doing a good job.
“Yes, I recall what you were saying and that would certainly explain it. When did this all start?”
“That’s the reason he was first brought in.”, said Denny. “We were going to go to school yesterday but we’ve had a lot of post traumatic stress from stuff that happened to us a month ago, and it hit us the night before. We decided to stay home and our friend called us and said she hadn’t seen Stan all day. We found out that afternoon what had happened and since then, it’s been one continuous limbo.”
“Ah, I see.”, said the doctor. “He seems to be taking this harder than you are. Can you tell me what happened when Kyle started to become symptomatic just before the heart attack started?”
“We decided to come clean with him and let him know what was going on with Stan then bring him up here to visit him. He seemed like he was ready and I had told my friends before we came here that if he didn’t look like he was going to make it, turn back. We kept checking on him, asking if he needed to go back, and he said he was fine so we moved on. He started to hyperventilate when we got to the ICU so I got a nurse and then this sh*t happened.”
“It’s a very good thing you acted so quickly and calmly or there’s a chance this could’ve all been much worse.”, said the doctor. “Now Denny, I’m sure I’m right in guessing that you don’t have any plans of leaving Kyle’s side, correct? That’s good because I need you to be alert and keep a close eye on him. If anything seems out of the ordinary, anything at all, let the nurse know right away. Don’t say or do anything that could cause his heart rate to rise.”
“Ok, I can do that. I’ll tell Violet and Ivy too. I brought music for him to listen to last night and we had a nice long talk as well. I think that really helped.”, said Denny.
“That’s exactly what he needs is someone that can provide him with being able to keep his mind off of what made him end up here in the first place.”, said the doctor. “I think that’s all unless there are anymore questions? No? Ok then, I’ll see you all later.”
As the doctor took his leave, Denny turned back to Kyle and hugged him again, still shaken up over what had occurred. It would be even harder now to do much else, even though he felt a pang of guilt at not going to see Stan yet. Just as the thought occurred to him, his phone rang in his pocket. It was Ivy, checking up on them.
“Denny? Did you hear from the doctor yet?”, she asked, at once.
“Yeah, Kyle’s stable and mellowed out again. The doctor just left a moment ago.”, said Denny. He quickly updated Ivy on what the doctor had said, including the warning not to make Kyle’s heart rate go up. Ivy’s reaction to the news was pretty much the same as his own.
“You’re not serious?! A f*cking heart attack?! How the hell is that possible?!”, she asked.
“That’s what I said. The doctor told us that it was from too much stress after yesterday.”, said Denny.
“But this doesn’t make any goddamn sense!”, said Ivy.
“I know but chill out before you come down here.”, warned Denny. “What’s the word on Stan?”
“There hasn’t been any change in the coma, no signs of anything but they’re going to watch him for a while longer before he goes back to surgery. I heard there were complications last night.”
“Is that really a good idea, taking him back there? He just had surgery on his spine and they really should wait for that, even given the minute chance he wakes up before then.”
“That’s what I said.”, said Ivy. “They’d have to keep him in a coma while everything heals otherwise he could be paralyzed or even killed.”
“That’s probably what they’ll do. They don’t want to risk that happening.”, said Denny.
“Yeah, probably.”, said Ivy. “When are you coming up here?”
“I’m not sure yet.”, said Denny. “The doctor just barely left so I have to have some time to digest everything.”
“Ok, then I’ll just stick around up here for a little while.”, said Ivy.
“All right, well, I’m gonna get going and keep an eye on Kyle but let me know if anything changes.”
“”K, I’ll talk to you soon.”
Denny went back into the room to find Kyle watching the doorway, waiting for him. It took him a little longer to recover from the phone call this time, leaving Kyle with a concerned expression.
“Who keeps calling you?”, he asked.
“That was Ivy, checking up on you.”, said Denny.
“Aw, isn’t that nice Kyle? You have such good friends.”, Sheila chimed in.
“Where is she anyway? I remember she was here earlier before I blacked out.”, said Kyle.
“She went to go do something real quick but she’ll be back up here soon.”, said Denny.
“Oh, she sure seems to be busy.”, thought Kyle out loud.
“Don’t worry dude, you’re still a top priority to us.”, Denny assured him.
“Ok, good.”, said Kyle. “You want to play cards or something? I’m getting so bored of being here.”
“Sure”, said Denny. “You’re so fortunate to have us here. I had to rely on the volunteers to play cards with when I was in the hospital back home.”
Sheila went to grab the cards as Denny lowered the bedside table. Kyle didn’t seem nearly as bad as Denny had thought he would be under the circumstances and it was an encouraging sign.
Denny and Kyle had decided on playing 5 card draw. Kyle didn’t understand it very well but Denny didn’t mind teaching him the basics, including making more wild cards than would’ve normally been used.
“Are you sure this isn’t gambling?”, asked Sheila. “I don’t want you boys getting into that.”
“You mean like when you and dad went gambling at that casino?”, asked Kyle, suspiciously.
“All right, you caught me.”, said Sheila, turning red.
“Oh really?”, said Denny, raising an eyebrow. “That’s one of the last things I expected you to ever do.”
“Yes, I have gambled before but please don’t get into doing that yourself.”, said Sheila, sighing heavily.
“I don’t plan on doing that.”, said Denny. “Casinos are more like charities but involve giving money unwillingly and not for a good reason.”
“Yeah.”, Kyle agreed. “Besides we’re not using money.”
“Well then, I’m very grateful for that.”, said Sheila. “I wish I never tried gambling. Sometimes, I wonder what your father isn’t telling me about that.”
“I don’t know if Mom was ever a gambler or not but if she was, she was pretty good about it.”, said Denny.
There was a noise outside and Ivy appeared in the doorway. She appeared to be eating a sandwich and looked enormously relieved to see Kyle sitting up in bed, playing cards.
“Hey, Ivy.”, greeted Kyle. He pointed to the sandwich. “Is that what you’ve been doing this whole time?”
“No, I had to go home really quick then I got something to eat on the way back up here.”, said Ivy. “You scare me like that one more time and I’ll kick your ass. So, how are you feeling? “
Kyle thought for a moment then decided to be honest. "Wel, my chest still kind of hurts from whatever happened and I'm still a little weak.", he said. "Hey, by the way, what did happen?"
"Kyle, you shouldn't worry yourself with such things.", warned Sheila.
"I'm not worried I just want to know what happened that landed me where I am.", said Kyle.
Sheila sighed, "Very well. Go ahead and tell him, Denny." Kyle shot a grateful look at his older brother.
"All right, but you need to swear to me that if I tell you, that you won't have another one of either, because this is not something that's easy to swallow.", Denny warned.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?", asked Ivy, in a slightly worried voice.
"Well, it might be better to tell him while he's on these drugs so it's harder for him to get too stressed out.", Denny pointed out.
"That's true.", said Ivy.
"Yeah", said Denny. "So, do I have your word that you won't have either one, Kyle?"
"Yeah, but another one of what?", asked Kyle.
Denny took a deep breath. "Ok, here goes, do you remember anything I told you before you went into distress?"
Kyle racked his brains for a momentt. "Hmm, I remember us talking last night, Violet came by earlier this morning..."
"Anything else?", asked Denny, more nervous than before they came down here earlier.
Kyle thought for a moment longer. "Hey, yeah, Ivy came by (Ivy shuffled her feet nervously) and then you came over to me and said you wanted to show me something but had to explain first. Then you said that call from Ivy yesterday was about Stan being in a car accident or something and that he got messed up pretty bad. Then I had a panic attack and then you guys were going to take me to see him earlier and that's when I went into distress, right?"
"Very good", said Denny, nodding. "Now that you have that part out of the way *throat clear*, we brought you as far as the nurse's station on this pod and you started having those symptoms, so i got the nurse and she brought you in here as you started getting worse. They got us out of here and brought an EKG machine in. You made yourself so stressed that you had a small heart attack. Lucky Ivy and I didn't have one oursrlves, worried about you."
"Wow", said Kyle, in awe. "I had no idea. Dude, you totally saved my life. I can't thank you enough."
Denny's face turned red in embarassment. "Ah come on dude, don't you think that's a bit of an exaggeration? I mean, Ivy and Violet were there with me, so it was them as much as me."
"Yeah, but you were the one who told us straight, then kepr checking him, THEN got the attention of the nurse when he went into distress.", Ivy pointed out.
"Yeah, but I just did what anybody would've done.", said Denny. "Wouldn't you have done the same thing?"
"If it was me, especially in this situation, I probably would've froze and not known what the f*ck to do.", said Ivy.
"Are you just saying that or are you serious?", asked Denny.
"I swear that's what would've happened if it would've been me in your place.", said Ivy.
"Ah. Well, thanks.", said Denny, a little surprised.
"Hey,where's Violet?", asked Kyle to Ivy.
"She's over with Stan.", said Ivy. "Oh, by the way, Kenny finally showed up, that's why I decided to come down here and check on everything."
"Took him long enough.", said Denny.
"Oh, and I probably should tell you, he's not in a very good mood. I'll let him tell you what happened.", she added.
"I'll head over there right now.", said Denny, undoing the brakes on his wheelchair.
"Am I going there too?", asked Kyle
"We'll take you to see Stan but not yet. You just relax right now and not worry about that.", said Denny.
The trip to Stan's room was a short one, as they had already made it most of the way there with Kyle before he started having those chest pains. Denny looked at his watch to check the time again and saw that they had been playing cards all the way through 2 o'clock and into 2:30. He had no idea what kind of condition Stan was likely to be in when he got there. Hearing of what Stan had been going through over the last 24 hours still shook Denny up badly. He knocked on the door when he got to the room to let Violet and Kenny he was there, and his nervousness must've shown on his face because when the others looked up, their expressions became those of concern.
"What's wrong with you?, You look terrible." asked Violet.
"Holy sh*t, it looks even worse than I imagined.", said Denny, looking at Stan, knowing what was going on was very real. This thought didn't help in the least.
"Yeah, I know exactly how you feel.", said Violet. She reached over and hugged him.
"When you guys told me what was going on, I never expected this.", said Denny, scared at the sight of Stan being wrapped up and not being able to move.
"How's Kyle doing?", asking Kenny, speaking out of the corner.
"He's stable.", said Denny. "Ivy's with him right now, I think playing cards."
"Oh, well, that's good. I should go see him soon.", said Kenny.
"Yeah", said Denny, still more distracted at what lay in front of them. "So, what's the latest on this end?"
"Well, I asked a nurse since the doctor doesn't seem to be coming anytime soon but it's nothing different than we already know.", said Violet./
"But his heart hasn't stopped again or anything, has it?", asked Denny.
"No, thank god for that. It would've scared me so bad.", said Violet, shuddering at the thought.
"I hate to see him like this.", said Kenny, shaking his head. "Life support is not a fate anyone deserves to be codemned to."
"But what if he does wake up eventually?", asked Violet.
"That won't be for a while even if he does it on his own.", said Kenny. "His injuries are too severe to risk letting him move around before they can have time to heal."
"So what's up with you? What took you so long to get down here?", Denny asked Kenny.
Kenny started looking downcast, then stood up and began to pace around the room.
"You really want to know? It was ridiculous.", said Kenny.
"What happened? Did you want to go for a walk or anything?", asked Denny.
"Yeah, I think that would be a good idea.", said Kenny. "Do you want to come with us, Violet?"
"Coming", said Violet, putting her chair in gear. She took one last look at Stan and told him, "Don't go anywhere, we'll be right back."
Denny's first instinct was to go outside and walk around the hospital campus. He hated seeing his friends in the very place he himself was in time and time again and hospitals were not his favorite place in the world to be. It felt good to be outside after 24 hours of spending time at this place. They were silent for a few moments until Denny decided to see what was bothering Kenny.
"So, what happened to you yesterday?", he asked.
Kenny heaved a deep sigh. "My dad is what happened yesterday. He accused me of stealing his playboys again and I knew it wasn't me but he didn't believe it."
"He grounded you?"
"I kind of wish he did, with all the sh*t he made me do, but my parents don't ground me. He made me do all these chores around the house to pay for it. I had to do the dishes, clean my room, wash the car, clean the bathroom, help my mom make dinner, all with my dad breathing down my neck the whole time so I couldn't slack off. No break in between either. Oh, and he did find them but he was already drunk so he forgot why he was making me do all that sh*t, so he just made me finish everything. Drunk assh*le."
"Wow, that's a bunch of bullsh*t.", said Denny.
"Yeah, so I get up this morning and he's all trying to be nice to me, like he wanted me to forgive him or something. I just flipped him off and left without saying anything.", said Kenny.
"He's not going to kick your ass for that, is he?", asked Violet.
"He'll probably already be too drunk to remember it when I get home.", said Kenny, not looking surprised at all.
"That sucks, dude.", said Denny
"Yeah,either my parents are drunk or fighting or usually both.", said Kenny."In front of f*cking 3 kids, dude! I mean, jesus christ, are you f*cking kidding me?!"
"Hey man, I wish there was something I could do.", said Denny, reaching out and putting his right hand on Kenny's shoulder.
"That goes for me as well.", said Violet, kissing him.
"Thanks, you guys. That really means a lot to me.", said Kenny, wiping away a tear. He thought for a moment, "You know, that was not the reaction I was expecting at all."
"Really? So, you expected to be ripped on?", asked Denny, eyebrow raised.
"That's exactly what I expected.", said Kenny. "Being exposed to Cartman for as long as I was, you could always count on him to make his opinion loud and clear. Never kept his goddamn mouth shut."
"I'm so glad I only had to put up with him for a few hours.", said Denny, shaking his head..
"Yeah", said Kenny, "So, tell me what happened to Kyle. I was there when we found out about Stan but I don't have many details about Kyle."
So Denny spent the next few minutes explaining to Kenny what had been going on the last 24 hours. Kenny, himself, seemed to be taking the news easier than the others had. When it was all out, they were silent for a while. Light snow began to fall after a few moments.
As he opened his eyes, he found himself looking straight up at bright flourescent lights and in the worst pain he could ever remember.
"What the hell happened to me?"
*End of chapter 5*
Thank you for this fantastic fanfic its my favorite
BEST CHARACTERS IN SOUTH PARK
Chapter 6-So Near Yet So Far Away
With utmost difficulty, Stan was finally able to sit up into a better position on the hospital bed. He could feel the precence of several foreign objects either on or attached to him, including an iv in his left arm, a blood pressure cuff on his right, most of his torso was wrapped tightly in a cast covered in thick bandages, and there was a breathing tube all the way down his throat, attached to a ventilator.
He tried to recall the last thing he could remember before he went to sleep but could only remember bits and pieces, which weren't a whole lot of help. The only things he could remember were getting ready for school the last time he was awake and being in the car and verbally abused by Shelley as usual, the rest of any recollection of that morning was long gone.
"Where the hell am I and how did I get here?", he tried to yell out loud to nobody in particular, except the tube in his throat made it almost impossible to utter a sound. "Goddamnit! This isn't necessary!", his mind shouted.
He ripped the tube out of his throat, yet with some difficulty as he had no clue on how to do it the right way. After much coughing and gagging, it was eventually out and surely that would be enough to attract some attention...
"I think we should go see Kyle now.", Kenny spoke out from Denny's right side.
The trio had been hanging out in the hospital courtyard for the better part of the last half hour. Denny was sitting forward and leaning back in his wheelchair, eyes closed, while Violet was just watching their surroundings. Denny's eyes opened and he looked in Kenny's direction.
"I feel kind of guilty for leaving him for so long and Ivy being there alone."
"I feel guilty for it being so long since he wound up here and not seeing him yet.", said Kenny, his expression turning somber.
They made sure they had everything, then began the trip back to Kyle's room. Denny looked at his watch again and was shocked to learn that it was half past four, they had been out and about for nearly the last two hours.
"Come on you guys, Kyle's going to wonder where the f*ck we are.", said Denny.
Reaching the elevator, they were stuck waiting longer than usual, as both elevators happened to be on the seventh floor and stopped at least twice on the way to the lobby. When, at last, the nearest elevator finally showed up, Denny pummeled the number 3 button and the doors slid shut.
Fifteen minutes. It had been fifteen f*cking minutes and still nobody came in to see what the noises he was making were. Were they juat ignoring him, were they not nearby, or was there some other, and likely frightnening, possibility? After fifteen more minutes and nothing, he got sick of waiting and began disconnecting himself from his iv and blood pressure cuff.
After everything was off, Stan propprd himself up in bed and swung his feet over the edge with immense difficulty.It was a few moments before he figured out how to stand but doing so resulted in even worse pain than before and he was sent crashing to the ground. As carefully as he could, he eventually found the best way to be able to walk and made his way to the hallway.
Outside of the room, the first thing he noticed is that the ICU seemed to be more busier than expected but as he made his way onward, still no one paid the slightest bit of attention to him. Stan's confusion deepened, until a voice spoke out to his left, making him jump.
"They can't hear or see you.", said the voice. "I went through the same thing myself, months ago."
Sran turned to where the voice was, and saw a boy of about his age standing there. He had short silver-blonde hair and bright green eyes, wearing a simple grey hospital gown. The boy was surveying Stan with interest.
"Will somebody tell me what the f*ck is going on already?", asked Stan, impatiently.
"I think if you go back to the room you were in and look carefully, you may find the answer to your own question.", said the boy.
Stan stood staring at the boy for a minute, wondering whether to trust him or not, then seemed to make up his mind, turning back toward his room and doing what he had been told. The silver-haired boy was waiting for him outside the door and urged him onward.
A few quick sweeps of the room revealed nothing that would explain anything, but, as he turned around and was about to head back outside, the bed he had been in had caught his eye and he turned back around.
Lying there, in the very bed that he, himself, had just been in moments ago, was a figure that was obviously in a coma, hooked up to a ventilator, and had an iv and blood pressire cuff in or on either arm. No f*cking way it could be or could it...?
Stan forced himself to turn around and leave this gruesome scene. Waiting for him, outside the room, once again, was the silver-haired boy.
"Did you find that answer to what you asked me?", he, asked. "I know it must've been hard to look at."
"There's no f*cking way it could be possible.", said Stan, setting himself on a one-track mind. "Hey, what's your name, by the way, kid?"
"It's been a long time since I've had any kind of human contact, so I'm not too sure about that anymore.", said the boy. "But I seem to remember being called Jake, at least at one point."
"Well look, Jake, you'll forgive me for not believing that any of this is even possible"., said Stan, his skeptical nature showing itself. "If anything, it's all some kind of crazy dream."
Jake shook his head patiently "Stan, I assure you, you are not dreaming.", he said. "It will take time but you will eventually figure that out."
Stan wasn't listening anymore. "I hate to be rude, dude, but I have to figure out what my friends think is so important that they weren't there when I woke up.", he said, stubborn as always.
Jake wasn't about to give up, even as Stan headed toward the direction of the elevator. He followed closely behind.
Within easy sight of the elevator, the doors had suddenly slid open, and the occupants began to move out, and it was Denny, Violet, and Kenny, no less, that got out, not heading his direction, but straight ahead. At closer observation, Stan noticed that Kyle wasn't with them, and some of the annoyance he had been feeling seconds before, had vanished.
Was Kyle okay?, he found himself thinking instantly. Suddenly, Stan found himself caring less and less about being alone while waking up, and decided to follow the others, trying to get their attention. His first few attempts at yelling to them were futile, as he forgot that he had a tube in his throat moments ago, and his voice was still weak from it. Picking up the pace as best as he could, he tried again.
"You guys! Look over here!", he croaked, in his still, gravely voice.
There was no response from anyone. They turned the corner and he had to wait, then picked up the pace and called out again, voice a little stronger this time.
"Denny! Can't you guys hear me?"
motherf*cker! This sh*t is getting me nowhere!
He picked up the pace wrecklessly until he was right behind Denny, so that he could tap hm on the shoulder while calling out to him. Two birds, one stone.
"Hey Denny, it's me, Stan! Where are you guys going, and where's Kyle?" Stan reached out to tap him on the shoulder and got the shock of his life.
As he reached his hand out to tap Denny's shoulder, he first believed his mind was tricking him, when the hand went straight through the shoulder without making any contact at all.
What the hell?
He tried again but only the same thing happened, then again, and again. After the third time, Denny shivered but merely shrugged it off and moved on.
What the f*ck is going on here? I can't believe my eyes!
Stan was literally on the edge of insanity, until a familiar voice spoke out from next to him.
"Do you believe what I'm saying now?". Stan looked behind him and found Jake watching him from behind.
"Dude, what the f*ck?" was the first thing Stan could say.
"I was trying to tell you that you can't be seen or heard.", said Jake, trying not to sound scolding.
"Jake!", he was never more glad to see the kid. "But why? Why can't I be seen or heard?"
"You obviously have a long way to go before you can understand any of what's happening to you.", said Jake. "Think about what you saw before you came over here. I know you don't want to, but only acceptance will bring any understanding."
"You mean I'm d-dead?", Stan asked, in a weak voice.
"Not quite.", said Jake. "At least not if you choose to be. You're on life support, like I was, and you're a ghost, trying to figure out if you still feel any reason to live. That's something you, yourself, have to decide."
Stan stood, with his mouth wide open, thinking about what he had just heard. He still desperately wanted to cling on to the dream possibility, but knew it was pointless. If he really just experienced what he did, then that could only leave one logical explanation.
Stan felt the answer to his earlier questions hit him like he was just hit in the chest by a bull, leaving him feeling winded.
"I know what you're feeling. I went through the same thing 9 months ago.", said Jake, with a look of genuine concern, as though he could read Stan's mind.
"But how? How could this happen? How is it even possible?"
"Try to calm yourself down.", said Jake, soothingly. "I know it must be more shocking than you could've imagined but I promise it isn't as bad as it seems."
"But what if i never wake up?", asked Stan, hysterically.
"You can stick by me. I can show you all the ropes.", said Jake. "Besides, it's not all that bad. You get used to it."
Stan's curiousity suddenly got the better of him. "Hey dude, what did happen to you, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I got hit by a semi and was killed right away.", said Jake. "The bastard wasn't even paying attention. There's a crosswalk where I was crossing the street, almost was all the way through, then suddenly I was wiped out. My soul was stuck here for 6 weeks because my parents wanted to keep me on life support all that time but when they did finally decide to pull the plug, I was already here for so long that I decided to stay behind."
The elevator stopped at last on the third floor and Denny, Violet, and Kenny got out, making their way back toward the room where Kyle had been staying. There was nothing to suggest that anything was different from earlier. Denny felt a pang of guilt for not visiting Stan for very long earlier but he thought maybe Kyle would be ready soon so he could come too,
Turning the corner, he suddenly felt a cold shiver run down his spine, but the others didn't seem to notice. Inside Kyle's room, both Ivy and Kyle seemed to be falling asleep. They broke out of their doze when the others entered the room.
"Were you guys visiting Stan this whole time?", Ivy asked, looking at her watch.
"Not exactly, we did go over that way but then we needed some fresh air and started walking around outside for a while.", said Denny.
"How is he doing?", asked Kyle.
"Nothing different that we know of.", said Kenny, shaking his head.
"I was thinking, if you're ready of course, that we might head back over there soon, and we'll try again, bringing you with.", said Denny.
"Ok, I'm up for that.", said Kyle.
"Ok, well, do you remeber we I told you earlier? How he doesn't look like the Stan you know?"
"Just keep that in mind. If you don't feel right, tell me right away.", said Denny.
"Ok, I will.", Kyle assured him.
"Then I'll go get the nurse and see if you're allowed to do that yet.", said Denny, heading for the hallway, when the nurse actually walked in.
"How is everything?", she asked.
"Am I allowed to go see Stan now?", asked Kyle, at once.
"I'll have to ask the doctor about that.", said the nurse. She looked at her watch, "In fact, he's due to stop by momentarily."
Right on cue, he appeared at her side, a second later. He cleared his throat to let her know she was blocking the doorway, but she was in a talk with the kids about what had happened to Stan.
"Ahem, excuse me, nurse, but I can't answer anybody's questions if I can't get in the room."
The nurse jumped at his voice and leapt out of the way at once, looking embarassed.
"Thank you.", said the doctor, nodding his head to her. He turned to the kids, "Good evening, everybody. How are you all doing?"
"Good", chorused the group of five.
"That's good!", said the doctor. "Now, the latest... wait, where's your mom?"
"She's not here but don't worry about it, she wants you to call her after you talk to us.", said Kyle.
"Oh, well, anyway, Kyle latest blood work looks good. He should stay overnight, just for observation. You will also be happy to know that I stopped by your friend, Mr. Marsh's parents' rooms and both are recovering well."
"That's a relief.", said Denny. "Hey, we were wondering if Kyle would be able to give it another try, going to see Stan."
The doctor didn't answer right away. Finally, he said, "Well, what do you think, Kyle? Do you think you're ready and can handle it?"
"I'm better prepared than last time. Denny told me earlier.", said Kyle.
"Well, all right.", said the doctor. "I'm still having you accompanied by a nurse and you're getting a tiny bit of Valium. We don't want anymore accidents."
"Is that likely?", asked Kyle.
"It's better if we keep it from happening so we don't find out.", explained the doctor.
"Oh, good point.", said Kyle.
"So, I'll have the nurse get you ready to go while I go call your mom and update her. Denny will be the one looking out for you, so make sure to follow what he says."
"Ok, I will"., said Kyle. "He's my brither, I love and trust him."
"That's good to hear.", said the doctor. "Now, anything else before I take off? No? Good, I'll see you all tomorrow. Look out for Kyle."
The doctor took his leave, as the nurse went to get the Valium. When she came back, a few minutes later, they had everything ready to go. Kyle was in the wheelchair and all set, with Ivy behind it, sterring, and they were off.
Stan had been silent for the last few minutea, unsure of what to say after learning of Jake's gruesome fate. His suspiscions about Jake were confirmed, that he was indeed a ghost, which could only mean that, he, himself was one as well.
"Holy sh*t, dude.", he said, in hushed tones. "That really happened to you?"
"Yeah, it sure did.", said Jake.
"That's insane.", said Stan. "What were your parents like?"
"Don't go holding this against me, but I guess you could call them rich. Mom is a Receptionist at a doctor's office and Dad manages at an upscale restaurant in Denver. They always taught me to be an influence on people."
"I have no reason to judge you about that.", said Stan.
"Well, that's a relief.", said Jake. "I used to get ripped on for that at school but I've never been much of a fighter, so there wasn't a lot I could do about it. It was common knowledge that snitches got the sh*t beaten out of them in that school."
"Wow, that sucks. There should be a limit.", said Stan.
"Yeah", said Jake, thinking. "So, enough about me, tell me about you. What do your parents do for a living?"
"Well, my Dad's a Geologist and my Mom is at Receptionist at the rhinhoplasty clinic.", explained Stan.
"The what?", asked Jake, shrugging.
"Rhinoplasty is a fancy name for a nose job.", explained Stan. "My teacher once had one of those. He's one f*cked up excuse for a human being, but then you have to understand the place I come from."
"Where are you from?", asked Jake, suddenly realizing he didn't ask where Stan was from.
"South Park, the hell that has frozen over.", said Stan.
"Oh, I've heard of that place. You're still alive, so I guess it's not all bad."
"You'd have to stay there for a while to know what we deal with. We've dealt with zombies, mutant clones of thankgiving turkeys and me, and even Barbara Streisand becoming Mecha Streisand."
"Whoa, wait a second, a mutant clone of yourself?"
"Yeah, there's a crazy ass genetic engineer who lives up on the hill and he's the one who created it. We had a science fair project we had to do and Kyle had asked Garrison if it was possible to cross-breed an elephant and a pig. So we went over there and the crazy bastard took a blood sample from me without asking me or anything. At first, I thought I could use it to kick my sister's ass but that didn't work and he ended up destroying everything. In the end, he got shot in the head and that was the end of that."
"Wow, so, did everybody think it was you doing all that?", asked Jake.
"Yeah, but Shelley ended up saving my ass, I'll give her that. I think she only did that so she could continue to torment me and beat me up.", said Stan, looking down.
"Who's Kyle? Your brother?"
"I wish.", said Stan. "I'd sure as hell would rather have Kyle for a brother than Shelley for a sister. Kyle is my best friend. I've known him longer than any of my other friends. You'll recognize him by the green hat and orange jacket. There's Denny, his brother, and another really good friend. I met him before the other three did and he's a really amazing person. He's the one in the navy jacket and doesn't have a hat. Kenny is the one in the parka and he's in a difficult living situation but we still like him. Violet is the blue haired one in the grey t-shirt and Denny's girlfriend, and Ivy is the one in the red jacket and Kyle's girlfriend."
"Do you have a girlfriend?", asked Jake.
"Yeah, her name is Wendy."
"But she's not in your group?"
"No, she's in her own group of friends. Violet and Ivy have always hung out with us. They don't exactly fit in anywhere else."
"Sounds like a solid group of friends.", said Jake, nodding in approval/
"They're one of a kind.", Stan agreed. "What about-"
Stan suddenly broke off. He was still looking where the others had gone when they suddenly reappeared and Kyle was with them. Stan leapt up at once, as quick as the injuries he sustained would allow. He struggled with the urge to try calling out to them again, forgetting he couldn't be seen or heard.
"I know what you're thinking, Stan.", said Jake, from next to him. "It won't do any good trying to get their attention."
"Dude, you don't understand. When terrorists took over our imagination, I got sucked into it and Kyle could hear me inside his head.", insisted Stan.
"So, you're suggesting it could work the same way now.", Jake thought out loud. "You know, that might just work. Try it."
Stan looked at Jake in surprise but Jake's straight face and curious expression did not change, he was serious.
"Don't worry, I'm not trying to make you look like an idiot or anything. I really want to see if this works."
Suddenly more confident, Stan turned back to where the others were headed. Instead of heading back to the elevator, they seemed to be going back where he had been before he woke up.
"Kyle! Kyle, can you hear me?". No answer and no indication that Kyle had heard him. He decided to wait until they got closer to where he was and tried again.
Kyle signaled Ivy to stop and listened hard. He swore he had just heard a voice and one he could swear on his life that he recognized.
"You ok, dude?", asked Denny.
"Did you hear something? I think I just heard a voice.", said Kyle.
"That's me, Kyle!", called Stan, excited. "I knew you would be able to hear me!"
"There it is again!", said Kyle.
"Hey, I think I did hear something.", said Denny. "What the hell is it?"
"Well, I'll be damned. It did work.", said Jake, amazed, from next to Stan.
"There's another one!", exclaimed Kenny.
"I don't recognize that one.", said Ivy, also listening in.
"Over here!", called Stan.
Kyle cocked his head to the side, then seemed to decide he hadn't yet cracked and motioned for Ivy to follow where Stan's voice was coming from. All gazed open-mouthed and followed.
"Why couldn't you hear me before?", he aaked, voice cracking in excitment.
"Uh, Stan? Dude, is that you?", asked Denny, looking around uncertainly.
"Yeah, it's me.", said Stan.
"Thank god. I thought I was hearing voices in my head when we got up here.", sighed Denny in relief, still not knowing where Stan's voice was coming from.
"Why didn't you say anything?", asked Violet.
"Like I said, I thought I was hearing things..", said Denny.
"Well, didn't you feel me tap you on the shoulder?", asked Stan.
"Is that what that was?", asked Denny. "It felt like ice water was being poured down my shoulder and my back. That's why i shivered."
"That medicine must really be f*cking with me right now.", said Kyle. "I can't believe this is really happening."
"Stan thought the same thing when he first awoke but it's actually really happening.", explained Jake.
"Dude, who is that?", asked Kyle.
"I know you probably can't see him but this is Jake and I met him when I woke up. He's been helping me understand what's going on.", explained Stan.
"Hey, wait. It's not that easy to see but I think I can see you.", said Denny. "Damn, Stan. without your hat on, you look the same as me."
"Heh, yeah. Hey, at least you can see me.", said Stan, excitedly.
"I can see you too!", exclaimed Kyle suddenly, squinting but definitely seeing something. "Is Jake the one with silver blonde hair?"
"Yeah, that's me.", said Jake, waving a hand where Kyle was looking.
"Holy sh*t, I can't believe it.", said Kyle.
"So you're acrually dead?", asked Kenny.
"Yeah", said Jake. "But I chose to stay behind, which is uncommon, but I was afraid of being brought back to life again. I already had to deal with the consequences of that once."
"You stayed behind?", asked Kenny. "I didn't know you could do that. Well, I was never dead long enough for it to matter anyway."
"But how come I can still feel pain and you can't?", asked Stan to Jake.
"You're still a mortal.", said Jake, simply. "I know what you might be thinking and yes, I thought I wouldn't be able to feel pain either when I was a ghost on life support. I was dead for like 20 minutes when I was hit by that semi, my soul floating up to the clouds, but when the EMTs got there and zapped me back to life, I instantly started to drop back toward the earth. Pain beyond pain, let me tell you, nothing could've possibly prepared me for it. That landing would've broken every bone in my body if I was in it."
"But you didn't wake up?", asked Denny.
"Nope, I was brain dead."
"Damn, dude. That's insane.", said Kyle, awe-struck.
"Yeah, waiting to die was the most agonizing thing I've ever had to do.", said Jake.
"That's how I felt a few years ago when i caught some kind of muscular disease and stem cells were probably the only thing that could'vr helped. Only problem is they had tacked a ban on stem cell research.", said Kenny.
"Just like whem my kidneys were shutting down.", said Kyle. "I was in so much pain and just didn't want to do anything."
"Hell yeah dude." said Stan. "That was pretty scary. How selfish can somebody get? I f*cking had to trick Cartman into thinking I took his kidney out of him so he would go to the hospital and ask them to put the fake one back in, He thought he was giving them permission to do that but he was actually signing himself away unwillingly.", he told Jake with, some satisfaction.
"sh*t", said Jake, under his breath. "So you guys have been through it all together?"
"Yeah", said Stan. "But we got nothing on Denny."
"Why? What happened to you?, asked Jake to Denny.
Denny thought long and hard before answering. Beginning to pace around, he started from the beginning. Jake opened his mouth to speak several times but closed it again.When finally it was all out, Jake's mouth was left wide open.
"Holy sh*t" said Jake, his mouth dry. "I can't imagine anything, NOTHING like that."
"Yeah, I get that a lot.", said Denny.
"Doesn't that give you nightmares?, asked Jake.
"I think about it all the time, especially late at night when I'm alone in my room.", said Denny.
"So you guys were hostages? How the f*ck did you make it out of that?, asked Jake.
"The guy let us go but we still had to haul ass to get out of there. It seemed like we were all out danger until I noticed that Violet was still in range of the blast so I hurried to go get her. There just wasn't enough time. I got there and was starting to head back the other way when the blast went off.We both got blindsided, me getting the worst of it. The medics thought I was D.O.A when they got there but it was just a coma.", explained Denny.
"sh*t", said Jake, again. "I feel terrible about all that. How long were you out of it?"
"18 hours.", said Denny."I saw some memories from childhood , including when I left home, something that still haunts me to this day."
"How long ago did that happen?", asked Jake.
"It's been about a month and a half.", said Denny. "I saw Mom in purgatory when I first got knocked out but other than that, yeah, I haven't seen her for a month and a half."
Kyle had been dozing in his lap the last 5 minutes, suddenly jerking awake and scaring the sh*t out of Ivy.
"Hey, can we get something to drink and head back?", asked Kyle. "I'm ready for bed."
They all got up from where they were and began to make their way over to the end of the hallway where Stan and Jake went back toward Stan's room and the others headed for Kyle's. Once back, Denny called the nurse for a pitcher of water. Ivy and Violet both kisseed the boys and set off for home together.
"So, what do you think of Jake?", asked Kyle, as he stretched out on his bed.
"He seems all right.", said Denny. "I had no idea you can choose to stay behind."
"Neither did I.", said Kyle. "Sure I don't ever want to have to leave my family behind but the last thing I'd want to do is frighten them."
"Same here." said Denny, turning on the radio and adjusting the volume. "Would you really want to stay behind anyway? Stay here forever and never get to see what comes next? At least the death part was quick and painless."
"True", said Kyle, "When I die, I'd rather not suffer."
"Well, that's not happeneing for a long time so it's nothing to worry about."
"When the hell am I going to get out of here? I've had enough of the hospital to last me a lifetime.", asked Kyle.
"I know how that feels.", said Denny. "I don't know about tomorrow though because they still might want you to get more of your strength back first."
"Damnit! Well, at least I'm not here alone or that would make it even worse."
"Definitely.", said Denny. "Are you still drugged up or back to normal?"
"I feel back to normal now.", said Kyle. "I don't really think I need them anymore now, do you?"
"I would say you're good, as long as something else doesn't happen.", said Denny.
"Oh hell no.", said Kyle. "If one more thing happens, it'll kill me."
"You better hope not.", said Denny.
Kyle stretched and let out a big yawn. "Ah well, I'm ready to hit it."
"It's been a long day.", Denny agreed. "Well, nighty night/"
Kyle rolled over on his side and within a minute, was out. Denny put his headphones on and closed his eyes.
*End of chapter 6*
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