This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
The screaming coming from within Johnny Gage‘s hospital room almost made Roy DeSoto reconsider going in. He paused just outside, his hand on the door, listening to the assorted voices bouncing off the walls within. In the end, though, the bonds of friendship made him push the door open and walk inside. He almost immediately regretted it.
Johnny was writhing in his bed, the sheets tangled around his lanky frame. Dixie, Early and Brackett were positioned around the bed, trying to calm their patient down with quiet words even as they struggled to get a set of restraints around his flailing limbs. "Johnny, now cut that out," Dixie scolded as she pushed against her patient's left arm. "It took me ten minutes of rolling your veins to get that IV in, and I will not have you go and jerk it out."
"I don't get it," Brackett was saying to Early. "They swore ‘no side effects'. I've never seen a reaction like this!" His eyes widened as a leg came flying his way; the older doctor managed to grab it in mid-lunge and force it back down on the bed.
DeSoto couldn't quite make out what his partner was yelling about; he stood there for a moment or two, trying to take it all in, then shrugged to himself and went over to lend a hand.
Dixie glanced his way as she forced Johnny's left wrist down into a leather strap. "Don't wait for an invitation," she gasped as she struggled against her patient's wild lurches. "Wade right on in." DeSoto nodded and quickly wrapped the strap around the wrist and notched it together. He took a deep breath to prepare himself for the next skirmish--Dixie was heading for the left ankle--but Johnny abruptly ceased fighting. When everyone looked up, they found the crazed paramedic staring directly at DeSoto.
"Roy?" Johnny's voice was scratchy.
"Yeah, Johnny, it's me. It's okay," DeSoto replied, his voice soft and even. "What's got you bugged, man?" Beside him, Dixie and the doctors quickly finished applying the restraints.
"Roy, you gotta get us out of here," Johnny pleaded. "You gotta save us."
DeSoto frowned. "Who's ‘us', Johnny? What's the problem?"
"Don't let them get you!" Gage gasped, resuming his struggles, though the restraints kept it to a minimum. "They'll trap you just like they did us!" He stared wild-eyed at Dixie. "You won't get him, Pearl! You and your goons--you won't stick Roy on the Satellite! We'll keep him safe from you!"
Thoroughly confused now, DeSoto glanced over at Dixie. "Pearl?"
In reply, the nurse took him by the arm and led him out the door; Early and Brackett followed closely behind. "What is wrong with him?" DeSoto demanded. "He's acting like a nutcase!"
Brackett sighed and rubbed his temples. "My fault. I tried a new painkiller out on him and he's having a bad reaction. He'd been complaining about how much the burns were hurting, and I figured it'd be a good opportunity."
Early shook his head. "You get a chance to call Forrester Pharmaceuticals about this, Kel?"
"About an hour ago. I passed on the information and they said they'd get back to me."
DeSoto was quickly reaching his limits. "But what's all this about ‘getting out of here'? Who's Pearl?"
"Apparently I am," Dixie replied with a slight smile. "Kel, here, is someone called ‘Bobo', and Joe is none other than ‘the brain guy'. And that's not the best part. Apparently his IV pump is something called ‘Servo' and the fruit basket's name is ‘Crow'."
"You have got to be kidding," DeSoto said after a moment.
"Roy, if you've got some free time, we could really use a favor," Brackett said. "He recognizes you, calms down when you're present. I don't suppose you could stay there for a while and keep him quiet until the dose wears off and we can give him something else for the pain?"
"Uhhh...sure. No problem." DeSoto glanced warily at the door. "I guess."
"Great. We really appreciate it." Brackett slapped the paramedic's shoulder gratefully as DeSoto opened the door and went back inside. Johnny was lying still at the moment, but his eyes were still a slight shade of glazed manic and his chest was rising and falling more rapidly than Roy liked.
"Hey, John." DeSoto went over to the bed. "Feel better?"
"Yeah, now that they're gone..." He chuckled to himself. "You said it, Crow. That Crow, he's really a kidder, you know, Roy?"
DeSoto glanced over at the fruit basket. "Uhh, yeah. Funnier than Chet."
"Bobo is funnier than Chet," Johnny said with a snort. He seemed to be calming down rapidly now. "I'm kind of tired, Roy. All this fighting with Pearl and the brain guy...I'm worn out..."
"You get some rest," DeSoto assured him. "I'll stay right here and take care of things."
"That's great," Johnny said wearily. "Thanks, man."
"No problem." DeSoto looked around for something to read--nothing. He glanced over at the TV and thought it over; maybe some ‘idiot box' would put Johnny to sleep. Roy walked over to the set and reached up to switch it on.
At that moment Dixie came in. "Roy, I forgot to tell you that the TV...oh no!"
The instant the screen flickered into life, Johnny flew into a new round of spastic writhing. "NO! NO! MOVIE SIGN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
* in the not-too-distant future *
"Glad to see you're feeling better," Dr. Early said as he closed Johnny's chart and tucked it under his arm. "I'd say you should be out of here by the end of the week."
"When can he get back to 51?" Cap asked; he and the other firefighters from the station had come to pay a visit. Lopez and Stoker were passing cake around to everyone in the crowded room; Chet was standing near the fruit basket, trying to decide if he could get away with another quick steal. He'd already downed a banana and a peach and was now working his way toward the apples.
"Oh, I'd guess next Monday, if he feels up to it," Early said after a moment's consideration. "Would that be soon enough?"
"Not too soon for me," DeSoto mumbled; Brice had been driving him crazy.
Johnny shoved a forkful of cake--his second piece--into his mouth and looked up at Dixie. "I am so sorry about everything," he mumbled.
"It's no problem," she assured him, "and don't talk with your mouth full. Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"
"If anyone should apologize, it's me," Dr. Brackett said. "I shouldn't have administered that pain medication without checking it thoroughly first. For what it's worth, though, Forrester called back and thanked me for the data. They said they'd spread the word on possible side effects immediately."
"So...what exactly were you seeing?" Cap asked Johnny.
The paramedic frowned. "I don't know, now," he finally said. "It was like this weird dream. I was on some kind of spaceship..." He looked up at Dixie. "And you were there..." His gaze turned toward Brackett and Early. "And you were there, and you were there..."
"How about me?" Chet asked around a filched orange--the apples just didn't look ripe enough. "Was I there?"
"You?" Johnny thought about it. "No," he finally said. "You weren't there."
"Count your blessings, Chet," DeSoto grinned. "It sounded pretty weird. I mean, here he was, talking to the IV pump and the fruit basket, and they were talking back to him...and the whole thing with the TV...." He looked over at Johnny. "What was going on in your head?"
"Dunno," Gage said with a shrug. "Mystery to me."
"Well, if I were you, I'd really just sit back and relax," Dixie assured him. "And on that note, it's time for you all to get out of here and let my patient rest." She shooed them out gently but firmly, then fluffed Johnny's pillow and patted his head before leaving. Sighing, Johnny leaned back and closed his eyes.
"Okay," said the fruit basket. "They're gone."
"About time," the IV pump commented. "I thought that one guy was going to empty you out. Hey, Johnny, turn on the TV and let's see what's on..."