Side Affects, Chapter Two

I woke up in a hospital bed. Renee was in a reclining chair, fast asleep. I tried to be quiet as I got up, but I still woke her. I had some sweat shorts and a T-shirt on, which had to be Renee’s work. She knows I truly hate hospital gowns. I heard her yawn, and then she told me to get out of the bed. As she climbed in, a nurse came in and asked if I would go next door to Mrs. Reynolds’ room. I looked back at Renee, but she just waved.

“Go on, it’s fine, just turn out the light, please?”

I did turn out the light as I left the room, but I think Renee was out before I even got to the door. I smiled and wondered how long she had been up before she finally fell asleep in the chair, because she isn’t normally able to sleep like that. I was also a bit concerned that she just didn’t ask for another bed that she could pull up next to mine. Was my wife afraid of me?

Well, Anna wasn’t. “Rob!” she cried, and ran over to me wearing two hospital gowns (one was reversed) as I came in through the door. She looked great, just a little red on one side of her face, probably from the rock-like pillows that the hospital was using. She gave me a big hug and a smile and told me to pull up a chair, as she sat back down in her bed.

As I did, I asked her, “How are you feeling? Did they figure out what was wrong?”

I did NOT mention what I did, partly because I thought that it might have been a dream.

Anna quickly put an end to any doubt.

“All they know is that there is something different in my blood. They don’t know how you could do whatever it was you did. I knew you went to church,” she said, with a wink of her eye, “but when did you start performing miracles?”

“It was a special,” I said. “You know, sixth Tuesday of the fourteenth month-very important. You were just lucky.” I sat up to look more important, but how can you look important in a T-shirt and shorts?

She has the most amazing giggle. It sounds almost like musical notes!

“So, “I asked, “Where’s your Hubby? I thought he would be here.”

“Um, no,” she said. “He kinda said some nasty things and left.”

I was puzzled. “What would he say nasty things about?”

“Well, he has this idea that I faked everything about last night, and he says that he knows I am in love with you.” She covered her head with a blanket.

Oh, what a load of crap. “Anna, they ran way too many tests on you. Besides, I saw you. Nobody could fake that. And what would make him think that you would be in love with me?”

Quietly, from under the blankets, she said, “Maybe because it’s true?”

They were going to have to scrape me off of the floor with a spatula. I’m very happily married, but when a gorgeous blonde tells you she loves you, it gets your attention.

“I’m sorry, Rob,” She almost whispered. “Are you mad at me?” She peeked over the blanket.

 I made sure I had a good control of myself and my emotions before I answered.

“No, Anna, I’m not angry, I’m flattered. I think maybe you’re just feeling a little emotional after last night or something, but…”

“I think I’ve been in love with you for most of my life, Robbie.” She hadn’t called me that since sixth grade, when I broke that stupid kid’s nose after he was picking on her. He and his friends had been pulling her by her long hair, knocking her down and laughing at her screams. After I got finished, there was crying, but now it wasn’t Anna doing it.

“You’ve always taken care of me, and I know that I was a real bitch back when we were kids. I think I was just a little afraid of you, like every one of the kids in our class. When you beat up those boys that hurt me, I thought that you had a crush on me, but you never followed me around, or tried to impress me like the other boys did. I thought that maybe you didn’t like me, and then in high school, I felt that I wasn’t good enough for you, Mr. Sports star. 

After graduation, when you went off to State College, I really thought Jeremy needed me. He had money, and he liked to treat me special back then. I’ll admit, when you came home to start your company and married Renee, I hated her with a passion. Renee is just too nice for anyone to hate for very long, though.” She smiled.”I love Renee, but I have been so very jealous of her.”

“I’m sorry, Anna.” I pulled the blanket down, and looked her straight in the eyes.”I did have a crush on you, and I had it for a long time. You were always the prettiest girl in school, and I was just a truck driver’s kid. You had your pick of the guys, and I didn’t think there was anything special about me.

“Oh, Robbie,” She said, with a sort of sad laugh. “It’s almost funny that we never talked to each other. Even worse, when we might have fixed everything after you found out Jeremy had hit me, you forgave him! It’s so like you. I don’t think anyone had ever scared Jeremy like that before! You have always been such a hero, and look! Here you are again, saving my butt.”

“I have always believed that you just have to keep your career options open,” I told her, which set her to giggling again. “I might be looking into the professional butt-saving business, strictly part time, of course.” I noticed that she winced as she laughed, and was starting to look flushed. I reached for her hand, and she smiled. She didn’t seem to notice that slight surge as we touched, so maybe it was my imagination.

“Wow, you feel so good! It’s like a cool summer breeze, on a hot day.  It just washes over me, and makes me feel so alive!” I watched without saying anything as she seemed to become completely aroused without anything more than a touch. She started to breathe a little heavier, and I’m not really sure she remembered I was there, until she suddenly let go of my hand and blushed.

“I’m sorry Rob!” She said. “I don’t know what happened to me! It just felt so good! Please, don’t be angry!”

“Angry?” The way she kept apologizing…I was starting to get a little suspicious. “I’m not angry Anna, if anything, I’m a little puzzled, but I’m also very happy I could make you feel so good!“

There was some commotion in the hallway, as they rushed someone into the next room.  We noticed that the Nurse rushed around, as if looking for something. When she popped her head into Anna’s room, she saw me and smiled.       

“Mister Heister, could we please see you in the next room? It is quite urgent.”

“I’ll be back, Anna. We really need to talk some more.”  I started out of the room, but even before I reached the door, Min’s associate, David came in, and smiled as he saw me. He looked…relieved?

I went to the next room. My heart dropped when I saw Min in a bed. Her skin was a dull red,but not as dark as Anna’s had been. She looked so tense, and seemed to be in a lot of pain. I hurried to her side and took her hand.

Once again, I felt the surge, almost as if electricity flowed between us. The red color faded, and she seemed to immediately relax. This time, I calmly held her hand as she became more and more aroused and I’m fairly sure that she reached an orgasm. She quickly recovered, and looked at me with a smile.

“That was simply amazing. Robin, did you know this would happen?” Her eyes seemed to look right through me.

“Well, it was kind of a theory, but yeah, I did kind of think it would.” I’ve never  been able to fib to her. “Anna just went through something similar, only she stopped when she got embarrassed.”

“That is unfortunate, as it’s quite pleasurable.” She looked around at the other Doctors and Nurses in the room. “I see we shall have to begin charging admission. David, did you see what happened?”

“Yes, ma’am, I did.” He smiled. “It was all by a simple touch. I found it quite amazing.”

Min still had not released my hand. “You say that Mrs. Reynolds just went through this again? Did she have the pain and the pigmentation again?”

“Not as much. I think I caught it before it could get bad for her.”

“So, we have an established pattern…It has been six hours or so…Robin, how do you feel? You passed out after the first time, and now it has been twice in a few minutes?”

“Yeah, but I feel great. Min, what the heck is going on?”

“I can’t really say, yet, but I would like you to stay here at the Hospital, and don’t touch anything or anyone, okay?”

“I won’t leave. “ I promised her. “I can’t for a while anyway. Renee is asleep, and she wakes up mean!”

Everyone laughed, but they have never tried to wake her up . . .

“David, I believe we need to fully quarantine these rooms, and we’ll need blood and skin samples from Robin, Renee, Anna and I. I also need to talk to you about a few other arrangements. Robin, you might want to relax. I have a suspicion that the three-no, four of us may be very busy in the next few days.”

“I was just thinking something along those lines. Do you think I could get another bed in my room? I’m not waking Renee, if I can help it.”

“That’s very considerate of you. “ David responded.

“Oh, Hell, no, I’m not that wonderful.” I said. “I’m just not stupid.”

There was another laugh. These people just don’t get it; I married a red headed midget tornado who needs her coffee and lots of sleep. All they ever saw was the cute and friendly video store manager. A few hours later, Renee and I were having a late brunch in our room, when a somber faced David came in.

“Hey, Doc, are you all right?” I asked. He was very pale.

“I’m sorry, I have some disturbing news, I’m afraid. A man called 911 from his daughter’s apartment. He discovered her body this morning when he stopped to drop off some clothing. The corpse was a distinct red color.”

“Oh no!” Renee buried her face in my shoulder and cried.

“So far, we have no evidence that she has any connection to you, besides the odd color of the skin. We are still awaiting details, and I will let you know if we learn anything.”

“Thanks, Doc. You know where we’ll be.” He gave me a weak smile and left the room.

I spent the next several hours trying to think where I might have come into contact with this girl, but there were too many possibilities. Renee was very upset, and spent most of her time in the room with Mindy and Anna, who had been moved in together. I knew that somehow, I was responsible for that girl’s death, and I felt far too guilty to be with anyone.

Min knew that she and Anna would be getting uncomfortable soon, so they invited me over to share some lunch with them ahead of time. The discomfort arrived a bit early, but as I was already in the room, it proved to be no real problem.  David videotaped me as I “treated” Min and Anna at the same time. There seemed to be no difference in their reactions or their recovery time, and I still wondered why Renee didn’t need to be “recharged”. David was quick to offer us a tentative explanation.

“We actually know very little, but I think you should have some idea of what we currently believe. Apparently, all of you have the same odd chemical in your blood, but in differing quantities. We believe that the chemical is a kind of virus, therefore we are calling it the Heister Viral Pheno-“

“Excuse me . . . could we find some other name, perhaps?” Renee asked. “Something that maybe doesn’t sound like I’m dying?”

 Anna nodded her head in agreement. “Since it comes from Rob, he should name it!”

“Fred.” Everyone looked at me, as I shrugged my shoulders. “I just said the first short name I could think of. We could call it Sparky, or-“

Min laughed. “No, I vote for ‘Fred’! I have a feeling we might have a need to keep this private, and ‘Fred’ is a good way to do that. Besides, it makes me smile, and humor is very important in modern medicine. All in favor?”

Four hands went up. David smiled. “I like it, too. Therefore, I henceforth dub thee ‘Fred’! But if you don’t mind, I’ll use the other name when I fill out my papers, okay? ”

We all had a good laugh, and then David continued.

“It seems that ‘Fred’ acts as a virus in the way it is spread, but it also displays some odd, almost hormonal behavior, as well as acting like a hallucinatory drug. It is a remarkably odd substance, and one of its strangest traits is the gender specificity.”

“So ‘Fred’ doesn’t like guys?” I said, smiling.

“There were two male interns that assisted you after you passed out, and then a male phlebotomist took a blood sample. Fortunately, ‘Fred’ apparently cannot tolerate something in the masculine system, and in all cases, the men displayed severe but short lived flu-like symptoms. Since their recovery, none of them have tested positive for any trace of ‘Fred’, or any other condition.”

“Whew!” I, for one, was very relieved. Min, Anna and Renee all laughed.

“Remember that all of this is only our current understanding. As we do further research, we will develop more ‘concrete’ information, but I felt that it was important to give you some sort of idea about what you are facing. From what I can see so far, Min and Anna have the lowest levels of ‘Fred’; Renee has substantially more, while Rob has far more than all of you. Anna and Min have appeared to go through a “withdrawal” phase, in which their levels of ‘Fred’ were replenished, apparently by simple physical contact. This “replenishment” has been noted to have a very pleasurable effect, similar to the effect of some drugs. Before we go any further, we have received some information from the coroner’s office that leads us to believe that the death of Jenny Davis was, indeed, a reaction to ‘Fred’.  She appears to have suffered from an extreme form of withdrawal.  The only connection we’ve found was that Jenny worked as a Pizza delivery girl-“

“Oh my God! Is that all? I killed that girl…” What a senseless loss! I felt sick. I probably had only touched her as I handed her the money. The thought was almost more than I could bear.

“Robin, you have to remember that it was not intentional in any way. “ Min reminded me quickly. She hugged me, and made sure I listened to her. “You didn’t know about any of this then, so there were no preventative measures you would have taken. Knowing you, that won’t remove the guilt you feel, but there was truly nothing you could have done.”

David continued with his theories. “We believe the reason that Renee has different symptoms than the other ladies is that she is more intimate with Rob, leading to a much greater exposure to ‘Fred’. This, of course, could be problematical.”

“Um, I hate to sound stupid, but what does this mean for me…in simple, easy to understand terms?” Anna asked.

“Anna?”I interrupted, “It looks like we are going to have to have sex, on a regular basis, maybe for the rest of our lives. Jeremy and my Pastor are not going to like this at all.”

Anna blushed, but I had a good idea what she was thinking. I was not sure how Renee was going to take it, though. I was surprised when Renee stood up, and walked over to Anna.

“Okay, honey, you can tell him now,” She said as she held Anna’s hand.               

I looked up, puzzled.

“I told him part of it, already.” Anna told her as she looked at me. “Rob knows that I love him.”

“Tell him the rest, hon.”

I was surprised at how relaxed Renee was, especially considering what Anna had just said.

 “Jeremy h-hits me, “Anna admitted. Her head was down, and she wrung her hands. “Renee and Min both know, and wouldn’t let me tell you. I told Renee this morning, and she said she would help me file the divorce papers. Min has asked me to get help before, when I came to the hospital after he beat me last time.”

“You had to see a Doctor, because Jeremy… beat you?” I asked, calmly. I felt a black rage coming over me. How could she not tell me? And then I realized how much I had always loved her, and it hurt to know she didn’t trust me enough to come to me. I looked over at her, and I think she knew what I was thinking, because she turned and put her head in her hands.

“Please, don’t be mad, Robbie,” She said, sadly. “I just couldn’t tell you. We were afraid you might do something you would regret. You could have been arrested and sent to jail, and we didn’t want that.” Anna was almost in tears as I walked up to her and hugged her and Renee.

“I’m sorry, Anna.” I turned and kissed Renee. “Thank you for being there for her.”

“He backhanded Anna, this morning, right here in the hospital.” Renee said, shaking in anger, as she looked up at me. “Min and I both saw him. That was why I was so upset this morning. When we heard that Jenny Davis had died, we knew how you would react. If we had told you about Jeremy’s behavior, I don’t know how we would have stopped you, but we knew we would have to. Our lives depend on you, and we love you so much! Besides, prison is just so…Yucky!”

I had to laugh at her choice of words, despite the severity of the situation.

 “Jeremy is not here, because we reported him to the police this morning,” Min told me. “The hospital has released videotape of the incident in response to an official inquiry. If he has not been arrested by now, he soon will be. You need to focus on things of greater importance than this man.”

Renee walked over to me and held my hand.

“All of those things we said on our wedding day, the vows we worked so hard to get right…you have to understand that the marriage we had is over.” Her words hit me like blows. I felt sick, and wanted to crawl off to my room, but Anna and Renee both rushed over and began to kiss me.

“Oh Robbie, that’s not what she meant!” Anna said, laughing.                                                                                                                                                       

Min added, “You are going to have to get used to being the husband of 3 women, now.”

Oh yeah, that should go over so well at church…

As I thought about it, though, I realized Min was right. I had no choice, if I refused, Min and Anna would die. Still, I had several misgivings about all of this, and I don’t think I was the only one with reservations about the arrangement.  I had noticed that Min did not join in when Anna and Renee were kissing me. I was afraid that, despite what she said, she might not be able to be comfortable with me, and I didn’t know how to address that. Anna and Renee both indicated that she should join us, but she refused.

“Actually, I’m very concerned with some other questions,” She said. “We know Robin is the origin, but can we spread the condition? Is it safe for us to leave the hospital? What other changes are happening in our bodies?”

“I believe I know some of the answers to most of those,” David revealed. “There have been several blood and skin samples taken today.  Only Rob has positive results in skin tests for ‘Fred’, and no traces of it show up in any of the women’s skin samples. This leads us to believe that no one but Rob can transmit the condition.

As to other changes, along with everything else, nothing is definite. I cannot even make a reasonable guess, as it is too soon. Remember, this is only the first day that we have known about this condition. One other odd thing we do know. In all cases, whether it is the women or the men, any other previously noted medical condition has apparently been eliminated. Sniffles, even asthma symptoms and a persistent skin rash have been observed to vanish, and no, I have no explanations.”

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I don't know what is up with my margins. Apparently, I'm doing something wrong, but I have no idea what to do about it! Suggestions are more than welcome! My Apologies for my ignorance!

Wren

Not At All...

...where I thought this was headed.

But inasmuch as everyone is attributing this to a virus, why do they assume the effects are permanent? Seems to me that unless death occurs too quickly or the virus disables the immune system, people recover after antibodies are formed, sometimes even within a couple of days (the "48-hour flu").

Sure, "Fred" is extremely dangerous if it's that contagious by touch and that lethal initially; quarantine is definitely in order for Rob. Hopefully ongoing testing can determine whether it can ever be lifted, and if so, when. But one can't automatically assume that these three women are attached to him for life.

Eric

It's his version

You have to remember, this is how Robin sees things. Robin is kind of a pessimist. He expects things to be bad, that way when it isn't, he is surprised. It's that "be prepared" thing (Yes, I'm the same way). He did say "maybe" though.
Could this fade away? It's possible. Will it? I ain't saying. Much more on the horizon, though. :)

Wren

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