http://www.southparkstudios.com/fans/bb ... hp?t=22946
So you kind of already know what's going to happen, although to be honest it doesn't really spoil anything. I've given the first chapter a few refinements over the past few days. This is my first attempt at novelized drama (well not really) so if anyone has any suggestions or advice, I'd be more than happy to apply the changes retroactively.
Updated for grammar!
Chapter 1 - A Broken Heart
Kyle took several quick paces to his left and paused to catch his breath. The cold dry mid-autumn air filling his lungs caused his chest to ache slightly, but he didn’t mind, for there was no other way he would rather be spending his Sunday afternoon. He shifted his weight onto his hockey stick and carefully mapped out his next move in his head. Timing was going to be of the essence.
“I’m open! Pass it to me!” Kenny called out.
“No,” Kyle muttered, his jaw set in determination. “I’ve got this one.”
“Oh please,” taunted Cartman. “Nobody has ever gotten anything past me!”
“Yeah, that was before we invested in a regulation size hockey net,” Kyle retorted. “You’re going to have to do more than just park your ass in front of it this time!”
Cartman began to shift nervously. Kyle went into a quick sprint towards the exposed right half of the net, causing Cartman to sidle over in an attempt to compensate. Too late. Kyle swung a backhanded shot into the upper left corner of the hockey net, just as Cartman dove in the opposite direction.
“Aw damnit!” Cartman griped, punching the ground in frustration before picking himself up off the pavement. “I hate these new rules! Up yours Kyle! This is all your goddamn fault!”
“Hey, it’s not my fault you’re too slow and out of shape to keep up!” Kyle shot back.
Cartman clenched his fists. “Don’t take that tone with me, Kyle, I’ll kick your ass.”
“Cool it, you two,” said Stan, stepping in to intervene. “Wow, dude, that’s like the second goal you’ve scored so far.”
“Thanks,” Kyle said, holding his hand over his chest and taking several deep breaths. “But everyone knows you’re the one who always ends up carrying the team.”
“Want to keep going?” asked Kenny. “My parents usually couldn’t care less when I get home.”
Stan looked up and around for a moment. “Ah, it’s getting kind of dark. We’d better have everything picked up before it gets too late.”
Kyle nodded. “Yeah, all right. I’ll see you guys at the bus stop tomorrow then.”
“Tomorrow?” Cartman asked, somewhat surprised. “Tomorrow is Monday already?”
“What day did you think it was?” Kyle asked. “Today’s Sunday, so tomorrow is…”
“Aw crap!” said Cartman, sounding a little desperate. “I’d better get started on my homework!” Cartman started to turn to leave.
“Wait a minute,” Kyle called out after him. “Are you saying you waited until the last minute to even start your assignments?”
Cartman stopped and glared back at him. “Well that’s easy for you to say Kyle. Everyone knows you’re the teacher’s pet! It probably only takes you a few minutes of studying to pull off your straight A’s,” Cartman said with a hint of jealousy in his voice.
“I work my ass off to get straight A’s!” Kyle argued. “I suggest you do the same!”
Cartman scoffed. “Screw you! You can’t tell me what to do.” With that, Cartman turned his back and plodded his way home.
Stan sighed. “You had to push it. Why does everything have to turn into a fight between you two?” he asked as he folded up the hockey net. Kenny stood by and shrugged.
“I’m not the one who started it,” said Kyle.
“Don’t let him get to you,” said Kenny reassuringly. “You two are supposed to be friends remember.”
“Well he rarely acts like it,” Kyle grumbled, starting off towards home. “Ah, forget him. Later, guys.”
“Later,” said Stan and Kenny in unison.
Kyle continued walking down the block alone, dragging his street hockey stick behind him. His heart was still racing, he figured due to all the running around he just did with his friends. It was something that he had noticed occurring more frequently, though not so much as to draw his attention most of the time. Besides he could always reassure himself in knowing that he was in better shape than most kids his age, being able to excel at just about every sport to the same extent as Stan.
It wasn’t until Kyle reached the walkway leading up towards the front door of his home that he saw something unusual. It was as if the air surrounding him had turned the same shade of gray as the snow on the ground, washing out all other colors as far as he could see. A sensation of numb tingling had spread through his limbs and into his fingertips; the sound of his hockey stick coming loose from his grip and clattering to the ground was no more distinct than any other background noise. Kyle soon became aware of nothing more than the nauseous feeling of his head swimming in a sea of static, barely managing to get his hands out in front before the ground rushed up to greet him.
As abruptly as it had come, it was gone. Kyle was up to one knee back in a familiar setting, shaking the cobwebs out of his head. He took a quick glance around, hoping nobody had noticed him in such a compromising position. “Damn, must have pushed myself too hard today,” he thought aloud. “Maybe I should just take it easy for the rest of the evening.”
Kyle scooped up his hockey stick and opened the door to let himself inside, the whole experience rapidly fading like a distant memory. He could scarcely imagine that the feeling he went through just a few moments ago had actually occurred.
The next day started like any other. Same routine meeting at the bus stop, same boring bus ride to school, punctuated on occasion by an overtly cheerful narrative comment from the eccentric new bus driver. Only there was something strangely amiss on this particular day.
Stan, Kenny, and Cartman were already seated in class, trying their hardest to block out Ms. Garrison’s history lecture on presidential sex scandals. Stan was certain that the others had also noticed the prominently empty seat, although no one had bothered to say anything about it up to that point. Why were Kenny and Cartman giving him the silent treatment?
“Hey you guys,” Cartman whispered, finally breaking the silence. “Did you see Nightline last night?”
Of all the things running through Stan’s mind, Nightline was the last thing he was interested in talking about. “Dude shut up!” he whispered back. “You don’t watch that show.”
“Yeah I do, I’m totally cool,” said Cartman.
Kenny slapped his forehead. “Aw geez, I completely forgot it was on!” he mumbled.
Ms. Garrison cut in. “Am I keeping you boys from something important with today’s lesson?” she asked sternly.
“Well actually,” said Stan, “I was kind of wondering why Kyle isn’t in school today. You didn’t call his name or anything when you took attendance.”
Ms. Garrison put her hands on her hips. “I don’t usually call a student’s name if I already know they’re out sick. What would the point be in that? Now if we could please get back to the subject at hand.” She turned back towards the chalkboard and continued the lecture where she had left off. “So you see children, Clinton’s predecessor, the first president Bush, cheated on his first wife but not on Barbara, whom he met later. In fact our country has a long history of presidents getting some on the side, going all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, whose most notable achievement was knocking up his slaves and fathering a line of illegitimate descendants…”
“Kyle’s out sick?” Stan wondered aloud.
“He’s faking it I’m sure,” scoffed Cartman. “Heh. Either that or he finally came down with advanced stage AIDS. He could be in the hospital right now stuck up with tubes and hoses for all we know.”
“For that last time, that’s not funny,” Stan snapped at him. “Why the hell do you say things like that anyway?”
“Be careful what you wish for,” Kenny muttered. “You just might get it one day.”
Cartman’s casual expression did not change. “Yeah that would be awesome.”
There was a knock at the classroom door, followed by Principal Victoria letting herself in. “Excuse me,” she interrupted. “Stan Marsh and Kenny McCormick, I want to see you in my office right away.”
“What? Us?” Stan asked. “We didn’t do anything!”
“Yeah!” Kenny added.
“Can’t it wait?” asked an indignant Ms. Garrison.
“No I’m afraid it’s fairly important,” replied Principal Victoria.
Cartman started cracking up. “Ha, ha. You guys are in trouble, you guys are in trouble,” he sang. “I so wish I could be there to see the looks on your faces when you get what’s coming to you.” Stan and Kenny glared at him irately.
“Please come with me,” said Principal Victoria insistently. “I’ll explain everything when we get there.”
Stan and Kenny hopped out of their seats and hesitantly followed the principal, having only to put up with a parting, “Later losers!” from Cartman. Principal Victoria did not say a word on the walk through the unusually empty hallways to her office.
“What’s going on, are we in trouble?” Kenny asked Stan.
Upon their arrival at the principal’s office, Stan and Kenny discovered that Mr. Mackey was already there waiting for them. Principal Victoria motioned for them to take a seat.
“Aw crap!” Kenny exclaimed slapping his hand on his forehead. “Now we’re in for it!”
“No,” said Principal Victoria, “It’s nothing of the sort.”
“Oh, well that’s a relief,” Kenny sighed.
“Wait. If it’s not about us then who…” Stan started.
Meanwhile in the 4th grade classroom Cartman was bobbing up and down with his hand raised. “Ms. Garrison?”
“Yes Eric, what is it?”
“Can I go to the bathroom?”
“All right,” said Ms. Garrison, “But be quick about it.”
Stan began to feel increasingly nervous, although he wasn’t sure why. A faint recollection of having been in this same exact position before was crawling up from the depths of his memories, but he was unable to place it.
“It’s about your friend, Kyle,” said Mr. Mackey. “He was admitted to the hospital earlier this morning.”
“What for?” asked Stan.
“We don’t know exactly,” said Principal Victoria. “All we were told is that something happened shortly after he woke up.”
“Something like what?” asked Stan, sounding increasingly distraught. “Is he hurt?”
“Like I said,” Principal Victoria continued, “We don’t know. It could be serious or it could be nothing.”
“In any event,” said Mr. Mackey, “We’ve called your parents to come pick you up and take you to the hospital to see him, m’kay? We figured it would be nice if he had his best friends by his side.”
Kenny nudged Stan. “I guess that explains why Cartman wasn’t invited, huh?”
Stan did not respond, although his disquieted expression said it all.
Kyle awoke in a somewhat unfamiliar setting, to the plain glow of white fluorescent overhead lights and the sterile smell of filtered air and antiseptic cleaners. He felt the presence of several foreign objects on him, including an oxygen tube in his nose, a pressure clasp on his left index finger, and some tightly wrapped tape over a numb spot on his right arm. His head ached tremendously, the throbbing almost enough to drown out the faint beeping of the monitoring equipment in the background. The last thing he remembered was getting dressed for school before breakfast time.
<i>“What the hell?”</i> Kyle thought to himself. His first instinct was to attempt to sit up, and then perhaps rip off the tape that was causing him slight discomfort.
“Don’t touch that,” Dr. Gouache admonished him. “We’re not ready to remove the IV yet. Please just try to lie still.”
“Oh it’s good to see you’re finally awake bubbe,” Sheila chimed in. “We were so worried!”
“What happened?” asked Kyle weakly, in a gravelly voice that sounded nothing like his own.
“You fell and bumped your head,” said Ike, who was standing next to Sheila.
“Yes,” said the doctor, “From what we can tell you had another fainting spell.”
“Is dad here?” asked Kyle.
“He had already left for work,” said Sheila, “But I let him know as soon as I could. I didn’t want to alarm him, so I told him not to worry. I also called the school so they could let your friends know where you are. They should be arriving shortly.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” said Kyle, even though he was thankful she did.
“By the way, we are going to have to run some more tests to determine the exact cause,” added Dr. Gouache. “I know you have a history of diabetes, so we’re looking into that right now.”
The doors swung open, and in came Stan and Kenny having just arrived from school. Stan immediately rushed over to Kyle and threw his arms around him. “Kyle! You have no idea how…”
“Ow, ow! That’s too hard!” Kyle protested.
“Sorry,” said Stan, backing off. “What’s going on here anyway?”
Sheila took Ike by the hand and began leading him out of the room. “I guess I should leave you boys alone.” The doors shut behind them.
“I think I passed out again and hit my head,” said Kyle. “But I don’t remember any of it.”
“Again?” Stan sounded surprised. “You mean this happened before? You never said anything.”
“Is he going to be okay?” asked Kenny.
The stoic expression on the doctor’s face was hard to read. “Boys can I speak with you outside for a minute?” Kyle did not like the sound of this, but wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“Uh, yeah sure,” said Stan hesitantly. He and Kenny followed Dr. Gouache outside into a nearby waiting room. Finally he asked, “Is it his kidneys again? Don’t tell me his body is rejecting Cartman’s donated kidney.”
Dr. Gouache shook his head. “It’s not the kidney. In fact it’s the only thing that hasn’t well—“ He bit his lip. “Listen I’m going to be blunt with you, because there’s no other way to say it. It does not look very good for your friend Kyle. We ran a preliminary echocardiogram shortly after he arrived, and found that his heart is abnormally enlarged.”
“Enlarged?” asked Kenny. “But isn’t bigger better?”
“Not in the case of the heart,” replied Dr. Gouache. “When the heart grows to that size it means that it’s trying to compensate for something. However that makes it less efficient. We’re not sure at this point what would cause this to happen, but heart disease is one of the potential complications of diabetes.”
“How could this happen?” Stan choked out. “He was just fine yesterday!”
“Unfortunately this is something that has been going on for a very long time,” said Dr. Gouache. “It wouldn’t have happened overnight, and it’s usually not something we notice until the first symptoms show up.”
That and the fact that Kyle had never mentioned anything about this previously, Stan thought to himself. “But wait, isn’t there anything you can do? Can’t you fix it with an operation?”
“There is a chance,” said Dr. Gouache, “However the procedure was only developed within the past decade and there’s no guarantee that it will work. We usually use it as a last resort for people with a congenital defect that causes similar abnormal enlargement. It’s not something I’m willing to take the chance with at this time, considering the risk involved.”
Stan’s eyes began to tear up. “Well, I think it’s worth it if it could save my friend’s life!”
Dr. Gouache placed a finger up to his lips. “Not so loud or he’ll hear you.”
“You mean, you haven’t told Kyle yet?” asked Stan, drying his face on his jacket sleeve.
Dr. Gouache shook his head again. “In situations like this, sometimes patients need all the encouragement they can get. It might sound better coming from his friends, but it’s up to you how or if to break it to him.”
Kyle picked his head up slightly as Stan and Kenny reentered his room. Stan was trying unsuccessfully to hide the fact that he’d been crying.
“What did the doctor tell you?” asked Kyle.
Stan forced a smile. “The doctor said,” he paused for breath, “You’re going to be all right.”
Kyle smiled back. “You know something Stan? You’re a terrible liar.”
Without saying another word Stan carefully put his arms around Kyle and began sobbing deeply. Kyle reached up as far as the tubes in his arm would let him and held his friend close. Kenny simply stood by and patted Stan on the shoulder.
The moment was rudely interrupted by shouts coming from outside the room. “Hey you can’t go in there!” Sheila yelled. But it was too late.
The doors slammed open and in burst the last person Kyle wanted to see. “Oh man, I just had to see it with my own eyes!” Cartman taunted. “Ha, ha, this is too good to be true!”
Kenny was the first to look up. “Hey who invited you?”
“Cartman!” Stan shouted. “What the hell are you doing here? This doesn’t concern you!”
“I’d say it has everything to do with me,” Cartman retorted. “I happened to overhear the little talk the principal had with you, so I had my mom drive me right over.”
Stan felt himself getting angrier, almost causing him to forget the anguish he felt just a few moments ago. “You were spying on us?”
Cartman ignored him and darted closer to get a better look at Kyle. “Now who’s in bad shape huh? Look at you all sick in bed and sh*t, and me in perfect physical condition!”
“That’s over the line, now get out!” said Stan, approaching Cartman with his fists clenched.
Kyle, who was in no shape to argue, held up his hand. “It’s okay Stan. He’s not worth it.”
Cartman mockingly cupped a hand to his ear. “What’s that Kyle? Are you jealous? All those fatass jokes over the years and you’re the one who ends up like this! How ironic, or should I say appropriate.”
That was the last straw. Stan grabbed Cartman by the collar with both hands, and to everyone’s amazement slammed him up against the wall. Cartman’s feet looked as though they were dangling about an inch off the ground. “I’ve heard just about enough crap from you!” Stan growled through clenched teeth. “Don’t you even care that your friend could die and you’ll never see him again?” The words slipped out before it dawned on Stan that Kyle was still in the same room. <i>“So much for approaching the subject delicately,”</i> he thought.
Cartman however calmly swatted Stan’s hands away from him. “Of course I care,” he said, sounding not the least bit concerned. “Can’t you tell how much I care?” His voice had the same sardonic tone in it as before.
Stan turned his back towards Cartman. “Then just leave. Before I do something else I’m going to regret. Kenny was right, you have no ability to feel for anyone other than yourself.”
“I know you’re in denial,” Kenny piped up. “You can’t hide it, no matter how hard you try.”
Cartman took a few moments to ponder what he had just heard. It wasn’t long before he cracked another grin. “Ha! That’s the best one I’ve heard all day! Ha, ha, ha, ha! Whoo, yeah.” Cartman pushed his way back through the doors, his mirthless laughter echoing down the hospital corridors in his wake. “Ha, ha, ha!”
“Goddamn what an assh*le,” said Stan. “It’s like he’s got nothing better to do.”
However Kyle could not afford to let Cartman upset him this time. “I’m just sorry my mom and my little brother had to hear all that,” he said before letting out a wheezing cough.
“Dude you sound pretty bad,” said Stan.
“I know,” said Kyle, “But at least my head feels a little better since Cartman left.”
Cartman boarded the elevator to the hospital lobby, having finally stopped laughing to himself every few seconds. The image of Kyle lying weak and helpless in the hospital bed was something he simply could not take his mind off of. What were the others thinking? Cartman knew how he felt about Kyle, and that damn well wasn’t going to change any time soon. This was the moment he had always dreamed of… Or was it? The doors slid shut. He was now alone, with only the droning music in the background to keep him company. Nobody would ever have to see. A single stifled tear trickled down the side of his cheek and fell to the cold metal floor below.
End of Chapter 1
Jimmy made corn into crack? THEN HELL YES, I CARE![/center]
Total_Beefcake wrote:Aw, poor Kyle. I think this fanfic is pretty great so far. The way you write-you stay in character with all of them. I like the storyline a lot. You forget a bit of puncuation, but it still looks good. I can't wait to read the next one.
Damn, where did I forget the punctuation? I ran it through the grammar checker as I went, and proofread it several times.
Wait I think I found it. I was originally going to have unspoken thoughts in italics, but I forgot to carry that over, and it's inconsistent with another sentence. Editing...
I know this is only a side bit, but I like Garrison's lecture on Presidential history, too.
I'm about midway through chapter 2 right now.
Chapter 2 - Cartman's Crusade
Kenny checked his watch. “It’s getting late,” he said.
Stan sat gazing out the hospital window. The sun was setting over the mountains outside of South Park, painting the skies in bright shades of orange and red as it went. Stan did not want to leave, not at a time like this. He held Kyle’s right hand in his own, watching as the last glimmer of sunlight disappeared over the horizon. Finally he spoke, “I don’t want to leave him, Kenny.” He lowered his voice to below a whisper, “And I don’t want him to leave me.”
Kyle shifted his head to meet Stan’s eyes, although it took every ounce of strength he had to do so. “Stan,” he whispered, “It’s okay, you don’t have to stay.”
“Tomorrow is a school day,” said Kenny to Stan. “And you haven’t eaten since breakfast.”
“But, I…” Stan’s eyes began to tear up again.
“Hey,” whispered Kyle. “You have to take care of yourself too you know.”
“Kyle, are you sure?”
Kyle managed a smile. “Don’t worry, I won’t go anywhere. I promise.”
Stan reluctantly began to get up. “Okay, but I’m coming right over first thing, as soon as school lets out! You’ll see.”
“I’ll be fine. I’m in good hands,” said Kyle in a weak, gravelly voice.
Dr. Gouache reentered the room, carrying with him a couple of empty vials. “Boys, why don’t you go on home?” he said to Stan and Kenny. “Your friend could use some time to rest.” He turned his attention to Kyle and prepped an alcohol swab. “All right, Mr. Broflovski, time for another blood test.”
“Whoa, wait,” Stan protested. “You have to do that again? Just how much blood are you going to take out this time? If anything, you should be putting it back in, not taking it out!”
“Not to worry,” said the doctor. “It’s just a small sample, so we can keep track of his condition and monitor his liver enzyme levels.”
Stan became a little suspicious. “You mean you still don’t know what’s wrong?”
Dr. Gouache shook his head. “No, unfortunately. The lab is going to need a few more hours before we have any results. But we can let you know as soon as we find out,“ he turned towards Kyle, “If it’s all right with you.”
Kyle nodded, wincing only slightly at the sharp pinch. “Of course. Stan’s my best friend.”
“Then we’ll call you the moment we know something,” said the doctor. “Right after we contact the immediate family.”
Stan backed out of the doorway, not wanting to take his eyes off Kyle. “You’d better,” he said.
Out in the hallway, Stan found Kenny fiddling with a nearby payphone. “Ready to go? Want me to call your parents to come get us?” Kenny offered.
“No,” said Stan, “I think I’d rather walk.”
“It’ll be evening by the time we get home.”
“I know, but I just feel like walking.”
Stan and Kenny rode the elevator down to the lobby. Stan exited the hospital first, and Kenny simply followed along. Neither one said a word as they made their way through the streets, under the dimming twilight skies.
Cartman leafed through the file folders in the largest drawer of the desk his mother used whenever she was paying bills. The information he was searching for just had to be there somewhere.
“Eric, sweetie,” Lianne called out from the doorway, “Are you looking for something?”
“No, nothing mehm,” said Cartman, giving her a dismissive wave. For now it was none of her business, as far as he was concerned.
“Very well. By the way Eric, I’m baking chocolate chip fudge brownies,” she said in her usual singsong voice. “They should be ready in half an hour.”
“Wow, really?” Cartman almost forgot what he was doing for a moment. “Uh, maybe later.”
“Then I’ll just leave them out in case you want some.” Lianne turned and left to go about what she had been doing.
Cartman knew his mother usually couldn't care less what he was up to, which suited him just fine. Besides, this wasn’t something he wanted anyone else to find out about just yet. If there was one thing he was good at, it was keeping his actions discreet until the last minute. Nevertheless, it still galled him that something that should be readily available was eluding him at that moment. “Damn, where could it be?” he muttered under his breath, as he shoved the drawer back in.
There was one more place he hadn’t looked yet. Cartman headed upstairs to his mother’s bedroom, and sure enough, found her wallet lying open atop the dresser. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d riffled through his mother’s wallet, although normally he only did so whenever he felt he needed an advance on his allowance. This time, though, he didn’t even touch the tens and twenties that were protruding from the billfold. What he was after would prove to be worth far more to him than a few measly dollars.
“Bingo.” Cartman pulled out what appeared to be a white laminated card, and took it with him into his room. It was exactly what he had been looking for. He sat down at his desk, pulled his phone towards him, took a deep breath, and dialed the number on the card. He knew it was going to be a long shot, but he had pulled off far more complicated deals in the past. The line started to ring, and Cartman donned the most professional business mindset he could muster. “Hello, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado? Yes, I have some questions about health coverage I was hoping you could answer.”
Kyle gazed longingly through the window at the outside world, under the starry night sky. If there was one thing Kyle hated, it was being cooped up. He had only been hospitalized for less than a day, and already he felt trapped inside his own decrepit body. True, he was in no condition to go anywhere, but there was nothing he wanted more than to get out and be with his friends. Except for Cartman, who as far as Kyle was concerned was no friend of his, especially after what that fat sh*t had said earlier. How the others could put up with him, Kyle had no idea.
Kyle tried to put the incident as far from his mind as possible, remembering his own words. "He’s not worth it." Kyle already had enough to worry about. He shifted uncomfortably in bed in a futile attempt to find a better position. Every inch of him ached. Above all, though, he felt a certain sense of guilt at the needless worry those closest to him, including Stan, were going through. If only there were a way he could somehow put Stan’s mind at ease, he thought, as he slowly drifted back out of consciousness.
Stan’s restless mind would not allow him to sleep. He simply lay there staring at the ceiling into the early morning hours. The uncertainty of the situation did not help in the least. Why had he not gotten any word from the hospital on his best friend’s condition?
Stan did not even notice when he finally passed out from sheer exhaustion, although the dreams were nothing short of vivid. A familiar voice called out to him from the darkness.
“Stan. Hey, Stan.”
“Kyle? What are you doing here?” Stan looked around, but was unable to make anything out. “Where are you?”
“Stan, listen. I don’t want you to worry.”
“Kyle, I…” Stan hesitated. “You know how it is. You’re my best friend, and I can’t help it if…”
“Do you really think it helps me, in any way, if you make yourself suffer over this?”
“No,” said Stan, “I suppose not.”
“You’ve always been there for me. That’s all I ask of you.”
“But will you always be there for me?” asked Stan.
The voice did not respond immediately. “Stan, I can’t stay.”
“No, Kyle, wait!” Stan reached out in desperation, towards the direction of Kyle’s voice. He attempted to run after his friend, but his legs felt sluggish and mired.
The voice became even more distant. “I have to go now.”
“Kyle! Don’t leave me!” Stan went into a lunge, but instead stumbled and fell face first onto the cold hard ground. The dark monochromatic surroundings steadily began to brighten, until Stan found himself back in the familiar setting of his room. His eyes shot open and he sat up in bed with a start. Stan felt even more exhausted than he did before. His heart would not stop racing, and it took him a few moments to stop himself from hyperventilating.
Stan glanced over at the clock on his nightstand. It was a quarter till five in the morning. As much as he would have liked to, there was no way he was going to be able to sleep through the rest of the night. The ringing of the phone on his desk interrupted his thoughts. Who could possibly be calling at this hour? The phone rang a second time. It soon occurred to him that this was the call he had been both anticipating and dreading ever since leaving the hospital last night. He hopped out of bed, rubbed his eyes, and picked up the receiver just as the phone rang for a third time. “Hello?” he said groggily.
“This is Dr. Gouache calling from the hospital. Sorry for waking you up.” His professional tone of voice was very difficult to read. “Is this Stanley Marsh?”
“Yes, speaking!” Stan was quickly jolted into a state of alertness. “Is this about Kyle? Is he going to be all right?”
The doctor sighed heavily. “Mr. Marsh, are you sitting down?”
It was later that morning when Kenny arrived at the bus stop, at around the same time he always had before. He had always been the last to get there, since the walk from his house on the poor side of town was the lengthiest. This time, however, things were unusually quiet. He waited a few minutes, checked his watch, looked around, and then wondered aloud, “Where is everybody?” Kyle’s absence he could understand. However, that didn’t explain where Stan and Cartman were. That is, unless something had come up. At this point Kenny felt himself caring less and less about what Cartman was up to this time. If Stan was also absent, it could only mean one thing.
“Why doesn’t anyone tell me these things?” Kenny said to himself as he took off in the direction of the hospital.
Stan still could not believe what he had been told. He had wasted little time getting back over to the hospital, where Gerald, Sheila, and Ike were standing by Kyle’s bedside. “Run that by me again,” he said to the doctor in an almost demanding tone.
“As I said,” Dr. Gouache explained calmly, “Things are not looking good for your friend, Kyle. It’s not just his heart that is failing, but also a number of other major organs. All the systems of the body rely on each other to function, you see. The cells in his liver are dying off, and the circulation to his extremities has dropped off significantly.”
“All this because of the diabetes?” Stan asked incredulously.
The doctor nodded. “In certain rare cases, this can happen. It’s as if his body is slowly shutting itself down.”
“But wait,” said Stan, frantically grasping at straws. “What about heart surgery? Won’t fixing the heart defect help him?”
Gerald spoke up, “It’s not something we can do at this point. Our insurance company said they wouldn’t pay for it if there were no guarantee that it will help him. We’re talking about a procedure that may cost into the hundreds of thousands, and even our family doesn’t have that much in savings.”
“Oh, Gerald!” cried Sheila, turning her face in towards Gerald’s shoulder as the tears rolled down her face.
“No…” Stan felt the hard lump in his throat and the sinking feeling in his chest become almost too intense to bear, although he imagined it was nothing compared to the physical agony Kyle must be going through.
Dr. Gouache cleared his throat. “With any kind of invasive surgery there’s always a considerable risk involved. In my professional opinion it could work both ways. However, even given the minute chance that it does, it may only prolong his life for another few years, or perhaps only months.”
Kenny appeared in the doorway, knocking politely on the open door before letting himself in. “Stan, I thought I’d find you here. I flew over as fast as I could. What’s going on?”
Stan looked up at Kyle, who was asleep at the moment despite the ruckus. His mind wrestled with the conundrum set before him. There was no way he could ever raise enough money to pay for Kyle’s surgery. Even if he did somehow, there was no way of knowing whether or not it would help. Even if it did help, what would it mean for Kyle’s quality of life? How would it change their relationship as friends if he could only ever see Kyle in the hospital from that point on? Stan forced himself to stop right there. What the hell was he thinking? There were too many contradictory questions, and too few answers.
“Again, with any kind of invasive surgery,” Dr. Gouache repeated, “There’s always a considerable risk involved…”
Stan was so lost in his thoughts that the words became a background murmur as the doctor filled Kenny in. It looked as though Kenny was taking it all in stride. Stan wondered how Kenny could remain so calm and collected after what he was hearing? Perhaps it was because Stan relied on Kyle more than anyone else. Or perhaps it was because Kenny knew firsthand that certain things are not always to be feared. After all, it had not been too long ago that his and Kyle’s positions had been reversed.
The sudden realization hit Stan like a bolt from the blue. The answer to all his problems may very well have been standing right before his eyes. “Wait!” he shouted. “That’s it!”
All faces in the room turned their attention towards Stan. “What?” Kenny asked. “What are you talking about?”
“Kenny, you can save him!” said Stan, sounding more certain than he had moments earlier. He darted over and grabbed Kenny by the shoulders with both hands. “Your powers over life and death; you can use them to save Kyle’s life, can’t you?”
The adults in the room were visibly perplexed by what they were hearing. The Broflovskis looked at Stan as though he had finally snapped. Kenny, however, patiently took a deep breath. “Stan, this is different,” he explained.
“But how? Why? You were able to bring back the fallen soldiers after the war with the forces of hell, weren’t you?”
“That was one thing,” said Kenny. “Those were unnatural causes. This, however…” he shook his head. “Kyle’s condition is genetic. This isn’t a disease he caught, it was one he was born with.”
“Damnit, Kenny!” Stan was quickly losing his patience, and Kenny’s apparent stubbornness wasn’t helping. “Look,” he snarled through gritted teeth, tightening his grip on Kenny’s shoulders. “Either you help him, right here right now—or you can go back wherever the hell you came from!”
Kenny knew this wasn’t the time to argue, especially not with Stan an emotional wreck, acting the way that he was. Kenny nodded slowly and quietly, and Stan finally relaxed his grip and shoved Kenny over towards the side of Kyle’s hospital bed. Kenny stood up on the nearby chair, removed his gloves to his pockets, and held his hands out over Kyle. Even after all he had accomplished in the past, this was going to be a long shot regardless.
“What’s Kenny doing?” Ike asked curiously, tugging on Stan’s jacket sleeve.
Kenny gave a wave of both hands in a simple gesture, causing a glowing stream of pure energy to cascade from his open palms into Kyle’s body. Everyone watched on in awe, unsure of what to make of what they were witnessing. The Broflovskis gasped audibly, and the file folder Dr. Gouache had been holding dropped to the floor. In spite of all this, Kenny looked as though he was struggling against an unseen force.
The energy stream abruptly trickled to a stop. Kenny frowned, concentrated for a few seconds, and repeated the gesture. This time it didn’t last nearly as long before the same thing happened as before. Kenny leaned on the bed railing, and shook his bowed head.
“Wait,” Stan cut in. “Why’d you stop?”
Kenny climbed down from the chair, his head still bowed in either shame or disappointment. “I don’t understand it either. It’s as if his body keeps resetting itself, getting weaker and weaker with each passing minute. I’m sorry.”
“Well, try it again!” Stan demanded.
“It won’t do any good,” Kenny replied. “At this point it would be like stringing him along on life support, and believe me, that’s not a fate anyone deserves to be condemned to.”
“God damnit!” Stan cried, stamping his foot. “Just… Just forget it then! My best friend is dying, and you’re absolutely worthless!” He turned his back on Kenny. “I can’t even look at you right now!”
Kenny was clearly stung by this remark. “Stan, I’m your friend too. You know I’ve always done whatever I could to…”
“I don’t want you, I want Kyle back!” Stan screamed, without even stopping to think about the harshness of the words he’d just spoken. “Nothing else matters!” He started to storm his way out of the room, but then paused momentarily as if trying in vain to compose himself. “No. No, it’s not you… I know exactly who is to blame for all this.” Stan’s clenched fists were shaking uncontrollably. “I’m going to make him pay for wishing this on Kyle!”
“Stan, wait!” Kenny called out after him. “You’re being irrational!” But Stan was in no mood to listen.
Stan had set himself into a one-track mind, so blinded by the rage welling up inside him that he completely lost track of time. It could have taken him anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour to arrive at his destination, but his temper had not subsided in the least. For now it was all he could do, to bury his grief with anger. Stan pounded furiously on the front door, which opened to a predictably surprised Liane Cartman.
“Why Stan,” she started. “Are you here to…”
“Where’s Cartman?” asked Stan in a firm but gruff voice.
“Eric’s still upstairs in his room,” said Liane. “He hasn’t come down all day.”
It was then that Stan realized perhaps he might have been a bit rash. “I-in his room?” he asked with a tone of uncertainty, the scowl on his face slightly fading. “Doing what? Is something wrong?”
“Oh, I’m not sure what he’s up to, but I think he’s been on the phone for quite some time.” Liane shrugged. “Whenever I try to make a call, he yells at me to get off his line.”
Stan did not say another word before quietly making his way upstairs. Something was definitely going on, and anything involving one of Cartman’s schemes would spell nothing but trouble. Stan found the door slightly cracked, and he nudged it open to find Cartman reclined in his desk seat, engaged in what sounded to be an intense negotiation. Crumpled sheets of paper littered the bedroom floor.
“Hey, Terry, it’s me again. We spoke earlier about the procedure? Uh huh.” Cartman paused to listen and jot down a few notes. “Well, of course I don’t know his social security number! I can give you his name, though. Last name Broflovski; first name Kyle. You will? Oh, thanks. Sure, I can wait.”
Stan continued to listen from outside the bedroom door. He was unsure what to make of what he was hearing.
“Really? It’s covered?” asked Cartman. “So with coverage, the patient’s out of pocket obligation comes to how much? Two thousand? Ah, Terry, you’re breaking my balls here, you’re breaking my balls.” He began tapping his pencil on the desk impatiently. “Look, we’re talking about giving a nine year old boy back the life he deserves.” Cartman nodded along. “Sure, I’ll speak to them if I have to. Sam’s office; got it. But before you transfer me, could you give me that phone number for future reference? All right, I’ll hold.”
Stan slowly began to inch his way in. He could not believe what he was hearing. He felt like kicking himself for having jumped to conclusions earlier.
Cartman twirled his pencil in his fingers, while he waited for someone to pick up. “Hello? Yes, Sam, listen, I just finished speaking with the people downstairs, and they said you might be able to help me out nyah. I think we can find a way to make this work for both of us. Uh huh.” Cartman began to listen intently. “So you’re saying it can be resubmitted, as in a second time? Can you give me an estimate? A hundred? Ooh, I gotta tell you, you’re breaking my balls here, Sam. Well look, I already explained the situation about a dozen times. Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all along!” Cartman waited for a moment, and then nodded. “You’re saying it’s completely covered? As in they’ll do it for free?” Cartman pumped his fist triumphantly, muttering, “Yes!” under his breath, before speaking up again. “Thank you for your time, you don’t know how much this means to me! I understand. Take care, Sam. Buh-bye.”
Cartman finally hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. He swiveled around in his chair to find Stan standing there in his doorway. “Whoa!” he shouted, placing his hand over his chest and sounding somewhat startled. “Stan, I, uh, didn’t hear you come in!”
“Cartman? This is what you’ve been doing this whole time?” asked Stan.
“Stan, this isn’t what it looks like! I swear!” Cartman turned slightly red with embarrassment. He hastily tried to shove his notes under another stack of paper, as Stan started to approach him.
“I didn’t know,” said Stan. “I had no idea—that you actually cared.”
“That I what?” asked Cartman, sounding as though he’d been caught completely off guard by Stan’s reaction.
“I mean every time I see you, the two of you are always fighting,” Stan went on, “And then there were those things you said yesterday, so I just assumed. I don’t know how else to say this Cartman. I’m sorry for judging you, and I’m sorry for losing my temper. I had no idea that, well, deep down… You really care about Kyle.”
Cartman gave Stan a thoroughly perplexed look for a second, but didn’t bother to stop Stan as he approached to give him a hug between friends. He was still unsure why Stan was acting so strangely, but then again he hadn’t planned on anyone finding out until the very last minute. Perhaps it was as simple as that Stan was feeling exceptionally needy and desperate through trying times. Cartman hesitantly wrapped his left arm around Stan’s shoulder, and patted him on the back reassuringly. It was, after all, the least he could do.
End of Chapter 2
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