Publish Novellas 28 July 2021
EPISODE 6 – Cut Loose
Before cutting loose entirely, Dennis and Abigail explore ways to stay off the grid. Do they blend in with crowds or remain on backstreets?
“We need to blend in with a crowd of people,” Dennis suggests.
Willingly, Abigail asks, “Sure, where to?”
“I hear music from a nightclub. Let’s go there,” he proposes.
“Really, you want to go dancing, now?” she asks.
“If you’re up to it, but we really need to get off the streets. Besides, the club is open most of the night,” Dennis reasons.
“Well, let’s party then,” Abigail replies.
“We may have to nurse a drink to keep a table. Otherwise, we’ll need to dance all night,” Dennis advises.
“Won’t they scan our chips for drinks at the club?” Abigail asks.
“Yeah. Let’s just try to be evasive and, if possible, have a good time,” he says.
When they get inside, Abigail says, “Listen, they are playing your music!” She dances halfway through a song before becoming a tired wallflower. The music is too loud though, so they leave before getting a table.
The good times are short-lived. Dennis awakens in shock. In all his life, he has never slept three days on the streets. There has always been a roof over his head, food in his belly, and clean clothes on his back. The gravity of the subdermal microchip in his wrist had never fully dawned on him until becoming a fugitive.
He remembers how exciting it was to receive his implant when he was sixteen. His mother baked him a huge cake shaped like a microchip. They laughed about it being a megachip cake.
Now the same chip that brought him so much excitement is destroying his life. It is limiting his access to healthcare and betraying his whereabouts to the people who want him dead. If he extracts the chips, how will they pay bills or access any services? How will he take care of the woman who is now dependent on him?
All around him, food vending machines are easily accessible. But the minute he buys anything from them, they record his activity.
Now, he surveys the hustle and bustle of the 24-hour mall in which they sit. There is a need to keep moving. But not all the malls in the cities are open around the clock like this one. A man in uniform walks towards them and his heart skips a beat. He shakes Abigail’s head leaning on his shoulder.
“Abby… Abby, wake up!” She stirs and opens her beautiful brown eyes.
“What is it? Let me rest,” Abigail grumbles as she wipes a bit of drool from the corner of her mouth.
He nods in the direction of the officer and she sits upright.
“Does he know who we are?” she asks as they turn their backs to the officer.
“I don’t know. We need to move now before he finds out.”
“I’m really tired,” frail Abigail sighs.
“Sorry… but we do need to move,” he says as he grabs her upper arm and pulls her to her feet. Standing upright gives her vertigo and increases her heart rate.
Seeing her head rotate and eyes go back in her head, he asks, “Oh my god, what happened?”
“Just hold me up until I steady myself,” she says.
Dennis, overwhelmed by the situation, slides back down into the bench seat with her. He stares with compassion at his close friend who is so weak, but trying to keep up with him.
“We should find a way to reach Nick,” he suggests again.
Between breaths she says, “Nick can’t help us! Can’t you see?” Her voice conveys significant hunger and frustration. When the tears subside and her voice is clear enough, she continues, “We are on our own!”
“Yes, we are on our own,” he repeats, “but we have each other.”
“Come with me a short distance. I have an idea,” he says while gingerly helping her to her feet. He leads her away from the mall lobby.
Abigail sits on another bench while he walks through the mall and locates the personal grooming section. As he walks around, he tucks some razors, tweezers, disinfecting wipes, and some bandages under his shirt.
They enter the bathroom together. In there, he sterilizes the razor and tweezers. Then he proceeds to gently dig out the microchip from each of their wrists. He wraps the bandage around her wrist but the bleeding won’t stop.
“Keep pressure on it,” he says.
Abigail agrees, but cannot mask her fear.
Even though he doesn’t know how he will fulfill the promise, Dennis tells her, "Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.”
She smiles weakly with low expectations.
Nick has news. It isn’t all good, but he knows it is better than nothing. His friends are in danger and he needs to get to them and render as much help as he can.
With no cure, cardiologists and neurologists may combine individualized treatment for dysautonomia that often involves physical therapy, exercise therapy, and counseling for lifestyle changes that accompany the condition.
After hours of research, he concludes that there are limited options for the management of dysautonomia while on the run. Still’s disease, however, seems pretty manageable with medication to address symptoms.
He dials Dennis but the call keeps dropping. It is apparent that they ditched their phones and may have removed their microchips to avoid the authorities.
This worries Nick. What is their plan for sleeping, eating, and healthcare? As much as he feels like dashing off to search for them himself, patients fill his waiting room.
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