The slick white ceiling reminded him of the walls in his lab. Staring at it made him angry. Something unexpected had happened and he desperately wanted to know what. The scientist in him was curious, but it scared the hell out of him. Somewhere between curiosity and fear, he knew he needed to understand so he could fight whatever came through the dimensional rift. He held no delusions about the kind of danger everyone in the building was in. Before the light had faded, he felt the presence of something malevolent on the other side. It called to him still, despite the rift being closed for days. He could hear it in the back of his mind, tempting him, asking him to open the rift once more. It promised him all manner of depraved rewards. He was not so proud to think that he could not be persuaded and the temptation scared him.
The slow hiss of the door sliding into the wall let Evan know that he was not alone. He refused to turn his head and look at whoever entered. He intended it to appear as an act of contempt and disdain, but it only made him look petulant.
“You’re healing nicely.” The voice was unfamiliar to Evan. The steady baritone reminded him of his father, which he supposed was by design, and the sound of it nearly made him weep; it was the first time anyone had spoken to him since he woke up in the room. Evan turned to look at the man standing beside his bed. The white lab coat was similar to his own except for the Caduceus stitched upon the collar. The tall, lean doctor with neatly combed hair immediately brought the image of a giraffe to Evan’s mind.
“Who are you,” Evan managed to ask. His throat was dry and still sore from the endless screaming he had done on his first day of confinement.
“My name is Wade,” the man said, “and I’m the doctor in charge of your recovery.” He looked over a data-slate, tapped the screen a couple of times then looked at Evan. “I think we can get you out of this room today.”
“That–.” Evan stopped to lick his lips and coax a little saliva into his mouth. “That would be wonderful.”
Wade pulled up a stool and sat beside Evan’s head. “Do you know who you are?” he asked.
“I am Doctor Evan Murray,” he said.
“Very good, Evan,” Wade said as he checked and tapped the screen of the data-slate. “Do you know where you are?”
“I don’t…” Evan let the words trail off. Something felt wrong, like a small pebble in the bottom of his shoe, but he could not put his finger on it. He tried to focus his thoughts but struggled to do so. “I’m not sure.”
“That’s to be expected,” Wade said. “You were transferred to Armstrong Memorial while you were out. There was some uncertainty as to what happened in the lab and there were some odd energy readings. The medical team at Darkside was unsure whether or not you needed to be quarantined, so we opted on the side of caution.”
“What happened to Aldric?” Evan asked before another thought entered his mind. He tried to sit upright but the straps across his chest held him down. “The energy grid! It needs to be reset! It might not be too late if we can-.”
“Calm down, Evan,” Wade said in the same, flat, droning voice. “Aldric is still at Darkside so his DNA can be used to maintain the flow of power.” He stood up and walked about the room, checking the various machines about the room before returning to his stool and entering something into the data-slate.
“How did…is he…is he okay?” Despite the threats his boss had made against him, Evan did not want to see the man dead. If the man was forced to stay on the light side of the moon for a while it would not hurt his feelings.
“He will live, but he is in a coma,” Wade said as he looked up from his data-slate. “The electrical strike he took should have killed him, and probably you as well, but he managed to survive it. The best medical minds on the moon are attending him, but I don’t know that he will ever wake up.” The doctor looked up from his data-slate and said, “And that is what we need to talk about before you get out of here.” He tapped the slate a couple of times then locked eyes with Evan. “Why did you try to kill Aldric?”
Evan’s mouth opened and his eyes went wide as he waited for Wade to laugh. Surely he was kidding, but the gaze of the doctor never wavered and Evan knew he was in trouble. “I didn’t kill him,” he shouted.
“No, but you tried,” Wade said as he tapped away at his data-slate. Evan stared at the device, irritated by the doctor’s incessant tapping.
“I did not. I swear it,” Evan said as he flexed, willing the restraints to break. “He attacked me. I just tried to get away.” He looked about, desperately hoping to see some means of escape.
“And why would Aldric attack you?” Wade asked. “You are his lead researcher, and from what I have been told, without you his latest project would be set back by months. As…eccentric…as Aldric may be, his need for rapid progress is legendary.”
Evan paused, thinking back to that day, and decided he was unwilling to share everything that happened. “I don’t know. He just went berserk and started throwing things across the lab. He must have hit the containment chamber. The alarm went off and everything exploded around me. The next thing I know, I am waking up here.”
“Was there anyone else in the lab to verify your story?” Wade asked.
“Other than Aldric, you mean?” Evan did his best to glare at the man, but being strapped down to a hospital bed made it far less intimidating than he intended. “Doctor Vo was there when Aldric arrived. He started yelling and she left.”
“So she wasn’t in the room when you attacked?” Wade stared intently at Evan.
“Damn it. I told you; I did not attack Evan. It was some sort of an accident.” Evan started shaking back and forth, trying to rock the bed and knock it over in the absurd hope that the restraints would come free in the process. “Let me out of this thing,” he shouted. “I didn’t try to kill anyone.”
“Calm down, Doctor Murray,” Wade said as he tapped his slate and a number of machines about the room hummed to life and began to move. “I’m not entirely convinced that you didn’t have something to do with this, but it is not my call.” He stepped away from the bed as the automated medical equipment circled about Evan’s bed until they had reached some silent accord where they each owned a piece of real-estate that would allow them to perform the function they had been designed for. “So, I’m just going to run you through a series of unnecessary, and highly uncomfortable, tests just to make sure it is safe to let you back into the world.” Only the security guard standing outside the hospital room door heard Evan’s muffled screams.