The Towers' Syndrome – Chapter 1
Written by papayoya1 :: [Monday, 08 January 2018 14:14] Last updated by :: [Tuesday, 09 January 2018 23:43]
Sienna Towers is a biologist working on a classified project around the fragments of a comet. Her bright mind is only matched by her arrogance and lousy social skills, so when she wakes up from a three-month coma after passing out at work, she finds out that there have been some very interesting things happening to her while she was out. Sienna will soon start testing her improvements...
Lights, voices, and movement blended with each other. It felt as if she were looking the world through a kaleidoscope. Moving her limbs took such an astronomical effort that she gave up after the first inch of her right leg. Instead, she let whoever was taking care of her to place her in position.
The world was blurry, but Sienna could feel the glances of her co-workers fixed on her as she tried to make some sense of the situation. Something in the back of her mind was still active enough to think that passing out at work was the last thing she needed to improve her popularity in the lab.
Suddenly, someone dropped his keys in the back. Sienna heard the metallic clanking as loud and clear as if the rest of world had suddenly become silent and the sound was being amplified in a stereo. Then, the world’s chaos became painful. A myriad of thundering noises filled her head. It took her startled brain a couple of seconds to start distinguishing them: steps, breathing, scratching.
Sienna realized that her coworkers were whispering just then.
“Had to happen” someone said, not sounding too affected.
“Is being ugly a reason to get sick?” someone else whispered in a mocking tone.
The laughs that came right after were even more painful than the words themselves.
The screeching of the stretcher’s wheels was incredibly noticeable as the paramedics rolled her out of the lab. Conversations resumed, their volume increasing, overloading Sienna’s hurting brain.
The last thing she thought before blacking out was that not a single word she had heard reflected any concern about her wellbeing.
When Sienna opened her eyes again, it was way too bright. She was about to close them to protect her pupils, years of genetic preconditioning driving the reflex. She realized that she did not need to. Her eyes immediately adapted to the lighting, letting her see her surroundings with crystal clarity.
Sienna’s instincts told her that she should probably feel terrible. Only she didn’t. She tried to sit down and managed to do it easily, feeling stronger than ever. Cables and electrodes followed her as she rested her back on the pillows and looked at her very white and very surroundings.
The fluorescent lights were on, but most of the lighting came from a very bright sun getting in through a considerably large window. The landscape told her that she was on a high floor, but this did not mean too much in a city like Kingston. Lonely across the room stood a small table, the flowers in the single vase on it obviously dead. The chair to the left of her bed was empty. A quick glance to the right showed her a bedside table and her thick glasses
She reached for them out of instinct, putting them on like she did every morning. The world suddenly blurred.
“Fuck” she muttered, taking them off.
The door slammed open just then.
“She woke up!” a very startled nurse said. Out of everything that had happened since opening her eyes, the nurse’s expression was, by far, the thing that had concerned Sienna the most.
Two more nurses rushed in, their eyes opening wide while their jaws dropped. This was starting to scare Sienna a bit.
“Get Dr. Jacobs. Now!” the second nurse ordered the third, who did not waste time in rushing out of the room as fast as she had rushed in.
“Are you … alright?” the second nurse asked.
“I … I think so. Shouldn’t I be?” Sienna asked in her distinctive British accent.
“You… You’ve been in a coma for three months” the nurse said, making Sienna look just as shocked as she had been.
Dr. Jacobs invested a considerable amount of time to tell her that they had no clue about what had happened to her. She had already been in a coma by the time she had reached the hospital, and her condition had not changed one bit in the eighty-eight days she had been in intensive care.
Every reading, every analysis, every test had given them different results than the previous one. None of them conclusive. Her heart rate had oscillated from close to paralysis to over 200 more times than they could count. Hormonal levels in her blood had skyrocketed and disappeared in a matter of hours. Their latest equipment had pronounced her dead on at least half a dozen occasions. And here she was, alive and kicking and sitting down as if nothing had happened to her.
Dr. Jacobs did not sound stupid. Sienna could not prevent thinking that he was also handsome enough. The fact that he seemed to be looking at her with far keener eyes that most men had lately had probably nudged her to have a better feeling about him.
“What’s this?” Dr. Jacobs suddenly asked, stopping his attempt at medical explanation.
Sienna looked at the railing by her bed and saw it was deformed. She frowned slightly, having hoped that a hospital like this would have less damaged equipment.
“Sorry?” she asked.
“Never mind,” Dr. Jacobs said, going on with the explanation.
They did not clarify anything to her. She doubted he had anything clear in his head to start with. Before leaving, Dr. Jacobs asked the nurses to do some more tests. He needed to make some checks and would be back in a couple of hours.
Sienna’s head was filled with doubts as the room became empty again. She had been three months in a coma! And yet, she was feeling perfectly well. There had to be an explanation for that, of course, but the fact that Dr. Jacobs, who she had learned was the head of internal medicine at the hospital, did not seem to have a clue about what had happened to her was anything but comforting.
He had not said it openly, but Sienna was too smart and too well trained not to realize that everything the doctor was saying pointed in just one direction: weird illness. For all she knew, Sienna might be the first known patient of a new type of disease. They might even call it the Towers’ Syndrome, for all she knew.
Her head started spinning around the dreaded idea. She was feeling well now, but what if the Towers’ Syndrome was precisely that: be OK and when last you expect it, pass out and spend three months in a coma.
Her eyes set on the vase across the room as she thought that, noticing the Eclipse logo in the tag. She might soon be as dead as the flowers were, she thought with dismay.
Her train of thought was interrupted by the nurse, who got into the room again, carrying a cart with various pieces of equipment.
Looking at her with gloomy eyes, Sienna pointed at the vase and asked:
“They came via messenger, didn’t they?”
The nurse nodded.
“Did anyone come visit?” she then asked, pretty sure about her answer.
The nurse confirmed her thoughts by shaking her head.
Sienna struggled to contain a tear. She would not let anyone see her crying. She felt the world collapsing around her, though.
She could have died. She might still die. And no one gave a fuck. No family, no friends, no recent couples. That was her impact in the world.
Suddenly, her Cum Laude in Cambridge and her Ph.D. in Harvard felt meaningless. Suddenly, her years of hard work were worthless. If she had at least stayed researching at Harvard, she could have published. She could have left a legacy. Eclipse contracted with the government and observed strict confidentiality policies, so once HR closed her file, there would be nothing left of her to remember.
The anxiety at the thought of going unnoticed overwhelmed her while the nurse ran the tests Dr. Jacobs had asked. She was still in this state when the doctor came back.
The more he read in the results, the more astonished his face became.
Concerned, Sienna asked:
“Is it that bad?”
“Eh?” Jacobs reacted, taken by surprise. He composed himself quickly enough. “Bad? No, not at all” he then said. “It’s just …” he started. He then stopped.
“What?” Sienna asked, impatient.
“Too good” Jacobs finally said. She probably looked as shocked as she was, so the doctor went on: “heart rate is perfect, all the levels in your blood are fine … you check out just as if you had come out of working out at the gym, not a woman that has been eighty-eight days in a coma. Even muscle mass is remarkably good. You will not need too much rehab before you can go back to your usual workout routine.”
“Workout routine?” Sienna asked.
“Well, whatever you did to keep in shape” Dr. Jacobs replied.
The conversation with the doctor became uninteresting shortly after. It was apparent he did not know much more than the first time he had come and that the results of her tests, rather than helping, had confused her even more.
Sienna’s heart froze when it finally did.
“Not a single fucking message” she muttered.
Not a text, not an e-mail. Nothing. Twenty people had seen her passing out in the lab, and not one of them had invested a minute of their time to send her a message wishing her a good recovery. It made her blood boil.
She regretted the e-mail right after hitting the send button. Then she felt good about it and moved back to regret. It was addressed to her entire project team at Eclipse and read:
“I just wanted to let you know that I am awake. It is not as if this is going to make a difference to you, anyway. In my opinion, showing some basic courtesy is compatible with personal aversion. I do not like any of you, and I would still have found a minute to send you a message. Anyway, I will see you soon in the lab.”
Falling asleep was hard. After all, she had been sleeping for eighty-eight days. Sienna reflected again about how empty her life was when she caught herself catching up with project related e-mail. She would not know it for sure until she could access the files in the server, but judging by general e-mails, there had not been too much progress in the three months she had been out.
“What a surprise” she muttered.
Ray was smart enough. He had been the reason she had chosen Eclipse to start with. She had a considerably lower opinion about the rest of the team, and she had never been too shy about it.
“Seems someone is trying to impress me,” she said as he came closer and, surprisingly, the perfume did not become unbearable.
The look on his face did not match his choice of clothes and eau de cologne, though. Sienna feared the worst.
“Is it so bad?” she asked.
“No” Edward Jacobs replied, but his words were not cheerful. “Your results are good. Excellent”
“What’s the problem, then?”
“I am giving you the medical discharge” Dr. Jacobs then said.
She did not understand anything.
“I … I’m leaving?” she asked, sounding as surprised as she was. She then said: “Look, I’m feeling well… very well… but I’ve been three months in a coma. Are you sure I will be alright?”
“No,” Dr. Jacobs said bluntly.
There were a few seconds of silence. Then, the doctor said:
“There is an issue with your … insurance. I’ve been told to ask you to visit the hospital’s financial office before you leave.”
Sienna remained silent.
“Sorry” the doctor finally said. “I will see you in my office next week for a follow-up. The nurse will get you ready to leave, but you can stay until 12. Take your time.”
Saying that Sienna was shocked would have been an understatement. She was tempted to pay her frustration with the nurse a couple of times but managed to keep her bad temper at bay. The nurse had been professional since the first moment. Whatever was going on was not her fault.
It was hard to describe what she was seeing. Sienna knew it was her, she felt it was her, but she did not look like her. It was as if she had gone through plastic surgery. Heavy plastic surgery. And high quality one. Everything looked like her but better. Her nose, her cheekbones, her lips, her eyes … seeing them for the first time in a long time without glasses, they looked larger and bluer than ever.
“Oh fuck” Sienna muttered.
Then, another thought hit her.
“No wonder Dr. Jacobs was into me.”
She was perplexed. She was about to call the nurse, to have her fetch Dr. Jacobs, to have them provide some explanation for this when she realized that they would not have any. It was obvious Dr. Jacobs still did not understand what was going on with her, and the fact that he had not mentioned any relevant physical changes told her told Sienna that he had not noticed them. As far as she knew, he had always seen her in her new, “enhanced” figure.
Half an hour later she was still observing her naked figure in the mirror, pondering. Edward Jacobs seemed to be competent enough as a physician and, besides, he was good looking. But Sienna knew herself to be way superior in intellect. Bottom line: she would have better chances to find out about what had happened by herself than by enrolling other people’s help.
She got into the shower with that thought, adding the idea that it was at least suspicious that she was going through an incredible biological change while working in a classified biological project in a company that contracted with the DoD.
Her looks were even better once she stepped out of the shower, her long hair now having turned a healthier shade of gold, rather than her original dirty blonde.
In hindsight, Sienna should have anticipated the issue with her clothes. She would have focused on her enhanced bust, though, since she had not found out yet about the fact that she was close to 6 inches taller.
She had no other clothes to wear than the ones she had come in, so it was not as if she had too many options. Still, the conservative pants and top she had been wearing looked nothing but slutty on her now. Her calves showed below her too short and too tight pants, and her top, which had been loose before was now fighting to contain her massive breasts while showing her washboard flat tummy. Her toes poked through the front of her heeled sandals, but there was not too much she could do about that either.
Sienna had not been too popular with men lately, so she started by enjoying the constant looks she got while following the nurse through the aisles. It started getting annoying in the hospital’s finance office.
“I’m up here,” she said, bothered by the constant looks of the deputy director to her remarkable cleavage.
“Um … yes,” the man said in a plain tone, almost as if he had not noticed her words. He inspected his paperwork and then looked at her in the eye, not without taking a quick peek at her breasts again. “There is a matter we need to discuss, Miss Towers,” the bookish man said.
“I’m all ears,” Sienna said, eager to get done with the bureaucracy and start working on finding out about her changes.
“Our team could not diagnose you with any known illness. Following protocol, we recorded your symptoms and submitted a proposal for a new type of illness to the Center for Disease Control.”
Oh God, Sienna though. Her theory about the Towers Syndrome came back to mind. The glorified clerk went on:
“Until we get confirmation whether your symptoms and readings match a known illness or not, the protocol is to consider your case as a weird illness” the man went on.
Sienna was starting to fear the worse when she realized that the last person that was going to give her a diagnostic was the guy across the desk. He was there to talk about numbers. But… Sienna then started to fear the worse once more but in a completely different front.
“Your medical insurance specifically excludes weird illnesses. Your insurance company has already made it known to us that they have initially rejected the claim to charge the costs of your treatment to them. Under those circumstances, I’m required to tell you that the hospital will issue a bill to you for the cost of the treatment. The hospital is also able to give you thirty days to clear things out with your insurance company before payment is required.”
Sienna felt an invisible hand choking her. She knew what it was: her finances, present, and future. She had been eighty-eight days in intensive care. She was almost afraid to ask.
“How … much?”
“The bill will be for two million, three hundred forty-six thousand and twenty-four dollars” the man finally said.
It felt as if she had been hit by a bus. Her hands were clenched into tight fists. She barely noticed when she moved them up and ripped both armrests of the expensive-looking chair with ease.
There was a moment of silence as both the deputy director and she looked shocked, although for entirely different reasons. Sienna could not yet focus on what she had done. The only thing she could see in her mind was the figure at the end of the bill the damned guy across her has slid in her direction.
“This… must be a mistake” she finally said, the words hard to get out. “I’m sure that the insurance company has made a mistake.”
The finance deputy director was still startled and looking at the two armrests Sienna was unknowingly holding.
“I’m sure you’ll be able to clear things out with them directly, then.”
There were a few more seconds of silence, and Sienna realized about the armrests, dropping them right away.
“Have a good day Miss Towers” the man said.
She felt his eyes stopping at her cleavage again. It was the final straw. Getting mad, Sienna yelled:
“I said I’M UP HERE!”
Shock hit both of them again. Still, Sienna found some courage to stand up and head to the door.
“Good day, Mr. Smith,” she said, reading the nametag on the desk. “You should get some better office furniture, by the way.”