Hello! I hope everyone had a good Halloween. Welcome to the 8th installment of The Search for the Last Flower. There are only a few episodes left so I will not be posting one tomorrow, Sunday 11/02. I will post Part 9 on Monday 11/03 to allow some readers to catch up. Thank you for reading!
Six months later, Dr. Caleb Wilson and Dr. Andrew Smith introduced to the world a miracle elixir that would not only stave off aging, but also turn back the hands of time. The news went viral on the web, and the two men were in all the newspapers.
‘The Geniuses Behind the Cure for Aging,’ the headlines read.
The sound of champagne corks popping, chattering and loud music, gave Caleb a headache. He walked out onto the balcony of the fancy hotel and took a deep breath.
Moments later, Dr. Smith joined him on the balcony. “What are you doing out here?”
“I needed some air,” Caleb said.
“Look, I know parties aren’t your thing, but this is your party. You should be in there, shaking people’s hands––mingling.”
“Andrew, this is our party. I think you do enough socializing for the two of us. Besides, I’m mad at you––remember?”
“Come on, Caleb. When are you going to let it go?”
“You drank the elixir without giving me a chance to test it properly! What if––”
“What if what? Yes, I may have jumped the gun, but it’s over now. Testing the elixir on primates would have taken too long!”
“Yes, it would have taken a while, but what you did was dangerous and irresponsible!”
“But look at me!” Dr. Smith spun around. “I’m a sixty-two-year-old man, and I don’t look a day over thirty. I feel great, too!” Caleb scowled at him. “Come on, you know the elixir worked just like I thought it would. You should be happy. I haven’t felt this good in years, and I feel better every day–– I owe it all to you! Your anti-aging elixir works!” Dr. Smith grabbed Caleb, lifted him and spun him around.
“Alright, alright. Let go!” Caleb laughed and straightened his glasses. “Are you sure we did right by putting the product out on the market without further testing?”
“Yes, yes. You’ve done all the tests needed. You’ve practically drained me of blood with all your testing. I am fine and benefitting from the anti-aging elixir. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the rewards of your labor.
“Andrew, where are you?” Caleb said into his phone.
“I’m just a few minutes away. I’ve been feeling kind of sluggish, and it took me longer than usual to get ready,” Dr. Smith said in a hoarse voice.
“What’s wrong? You sound terrible. If you’re not feeling well, you could have told me. I would have understood.” Caleb sounded concerned.
“Nonsense, open the door. I’m parking the car as we speak.” Dr. Smith ended the call.
Caleb gasped when he greeted Dr. Smith at the door. “Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? You look like crap! Have you seen a doctor?”
“Aren’t you a doctor?”
“You know I’m not that kind of doctor,” Caleb said.
“It’s just a cold. No big deal.” Dr. Smith coughed.
“You’re pale and your eyes are bloodshot and cloudy. I could hardly see your blue irises. How’s your eyesight?”
My eyes are fine. I have a sore throat and a low-grade fever. That is all.”
“Nevertheless, let me draw some blood. I’ll get it analyzed right away.”
“What’s my blood going to tell you now that it hasn’t already told you?”
“I’m not sure, but obviously there’s something happening in your body.”
“Fine. Do you think we could have dinner first?”
“Of course,” Caleb said, embarrassed.
Caleb and Dr. Smith had dinner and watched a movie. Caleb observed Dr. Smith closely the entire time they were together. He drew his blood and drove the 30cc vial of blood to the lab to have it analyzed that night.
Caleb couldn’t sleep after seeing the results of his father’s blood tests. The next morning he called Dr. Smith with his findings.
Dr. Smith stared at himself in the mirror. He almost didn’t recognize the face he saw staring back. He looked worse than the night before, and he felt worse, too.
Overnight, red, painful lumps had grown all over his face. What was happening to him? He was fatigued, had body aches, dizziness, and he coughed, sneezed and continued to have a low-grade fever. He opened his mouth and examined his throat in the mirror. The back of his throat was white with pus. He grimaced with disgust.
He bent over the toilet and vomited what felt like sulfuric acid. He wailed in pain. When done, he grabbed a small towel and wiped his mouth. The towel was stained with his blood. He looked at his hands and arms, which were trembling uncontrollably––more red lumps. He was covered in these painful lesions. It seemed all manner of bacteria had invaded his body, but why––how? Dr. Smith’s knees faltered, and he collapsed. Too weak at the moment to stand, he curled up in a ball and cried like a child.
The phone rang. Dr. Smith took a deep breath and clambered to his feet. He tottered past the mirror and glanced at his reflection. He jolted and almost collapsed again, but he held onto the sink. He rose and braved another look. It had been less then an hour since he last looked at his reflection. The red lumps had become large bruise-like areas. The center of some of these areas had become black––dead tissue. The skin in some of these black areas had broken and now oozed a greenish-yellowish fluid. Dr. Smith howled.
The phone had long stopped ringing. He stood frozen, holding onto the sink, afraid to move. There was a thudding on the door. He tried to take a step, but his legs were wobbly, and he couldn’t let go of the sink long enough to move forward.
“Open the door, Andrew!” Caleb pounded on the door.
“I can’t––” Dr. Smith thought he had said, but only a hoarse, whistling sound emerged.
“Open the door, or I will break it down!” Caleb banged on the door a few more times and then began to ram it with his body until he was able to crash through it and into the house.
He ran from room to room looking for Dr. Smith. “Andrew, where are you?” His heart throbbed. When Caleb finally entered the master bathroom, he froze. He turned pale and stared at the doctor. He couldn’t find the words he so desperately needed to say.
Dr. Smith groaned and extended a weak, fragile arm toward him. This caused Caleb to run to him. He lifted his father and helped him to his bed.
“You’re not well, Andrew,” Caleb told him.
Dr. Smith forced a chuckle. “I’ve already figured that out for myself.” His voice was weak and raspy. “What is happening to me?”
Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.