Kodek awoke in the hospital. He was alive. That was good – probably. He looked down and when his eyes were able to focus enough, he could see semi-transparent green-plastic end of the IV needle sticking out of his right forearm. He decided for the time being that that could be either good or bad – depending on who actually put it in there.
He wasn’t lying in the hospital bed because of the explosion Lizzie had set off at Brain’s lab – he didn’t know that, either, because technically, that hadn’t happened yet. It would happen, but not for a short while yet.
Kodek did have a vague memory of writing in his padded cell at Bedlam… He tried to focus his eyes and glance around his surrounding hospital room – No, not here, this isn’t Bedlam’s infirmary… Somewhere else… and recalled writing first in his diary, and as the weeks (Hours? Days? Years?) went by in his drug-induced state, he eventually graduated to some sort of horror fiction.
The Jack of Hearts.
Or perhaps some violent biographical non-fiction… He also remembered getting a moonlighting job at MetRag, it had something to do with The Corporation, but it was all fuzzy now.
And I think I wrote a screenplay…
He felt drugged again. Of course, being a writer now, he supposed that could’ve been self-induced this time.
No, he would’ve remembered that.
He glanced back down at the IV jutting from the flesh in his forearm, and this time he saw a pair of shoes… someone else’s shoes. A visitor. He looked up.
The Bear of Berlin grinned at him. Kodek suddenly had a bad flashback of hid friend as one of the doctors in that hell hole Bedlam… but, no… was he undercover? Maybe The Bear had actually helped him escape…
Things were becoming a little clearer now, and Kodek decided, for the moment, that that could also be good or bad.
“You’re awake,” Bear continued to grin. “Though we might’ve lost you.”
“You’ve been traveling, my friend,” Bear said, as if that explained everything. After a moment of judging the look on Kodek’s face, Bear decided it hadn’t explained everything. “Well,” Bear went on, “not traveling in the traditional sense, of course…:
Bear lifted the clear-plastic tube that was attached to the green plastic tip of the IV that was jutting out of Kodek’s wrist. A few minutes ago, Kodek had thought the length of tubing had been black… but now he saw it was actually a clear plastic, and the shit going inside him was black.
“It’s coming out of you,” Bear corrected, as if he’d read Kodek’s mind.
Out of me? What the hell was it doing IN me?
“Remember the documents?” Bear asked.
Four hours and eleven minutes later <<<BACK IN THE PAST<<<, they were back at Kodek’s hotel room in Berlin. Well, The Bear of Berlin and Kodek were there, they’d left Dietrich back at the Oktoberfest celebration, he wasn’t part of the business, anyway.
“So what did they tell you?” Bear asked, sitting at the foot of Kodek’s bed and picking up the envelope of pictures and documents that had been sitting where Bear was now, and which Kodek had hiked all the way over from San Francisco three days ago.
Or at least, he thought it was three days ago.
“Yeah, I remember them,” Kodek said, and was significantly surprised to find it wasn’t a lie. My brain must be clearing up now. He glanced back over to the rubber tubing ad saw that the black liquified inter-dimensional shit that was crawling out of his veins and being sucked up the tube had turned a lighter shade of grey. Sickly looking, actually.
“Do you remember stealing them from Derrikson?” Bear asked.
THE PAST>>> Back at the Morimoto Corp. television sound stage, Kodek glanced up in the direction Petersen was worrying at. It was Derrikson approaching, Morimoto Corp’s number one lawyer (soldier) and Kodek thought he knew why Petersen would be worried.
Derrikson looked absolutely pissed.
Derrikson barked: “Jesus Christ, what the fuck is all this goddamned shit over? I thought we’d put you in charge to handle all this shit! Why the fuck am I getting phone calls at two in the morning?!”
Kodek didn’t remember stealing the documents, but he did recall Derrikson being pretty damned irritable the last few times they’d crossed paths, and figured these hijacked documents likely had something to do with it all.
“What were on the documents?”
“They were the organ donor contract policy changes for the High Commission,” Bear significantly lowered his voice. It wasn’t quite a whisper, but… “I wouldn’t even be saying this if this was a Corporate Hospital. We’re lucky, it’s only Private Civilian Sector.
Kodek felt like was head was starting to swoon. “What the hell is going on?” he croaked, realizing he was getting dehydrated. His eyes darted around for a cup of water, and he realized the room he was in was completely sterile. Am I in some ICU unit?
“Biohazzard,” Bear answered.
“I really wish you’d quit doing that.”
“You really can’t recall them?”
“The documents? I wish I could, it would help me with the big picture.”
“No it wouldn’t,” Bear said flatly. “But those documents were important. The Morimoto Corp was trying to keep it all under wraps before they went into effect ten years from now.”
“Or fifteen. Of course, none of it matters right now, not with current legislation… but things will change. They’re already heading in that direction.”
“You’re being about as clear as mud right now,” Kodek informed his friend.
“The documents are contract amendments between the Moromoto Corp and their organ-recipient patients. Like I said, nothing that affects anything at this point in time… but they’re thinking about the future. And these contracts are like gold to them, within their investor relations. It’s like secure money.”
“What amendments?” Kodek wasn’t liking the feeling he was getting inside his guts. His eyes flicked over to the tube – now a sick milky grey-white. His tongue tasted bad.
“Basically, it would give the Morimoto Corporation full rights to repossess any donated and surgically implanted organs that were either purchased through the corporation or one of its hospitals – of if the surgery was performed by a surgeon under employment at Morimoto Corp – if the patient was unable to pay their bill in full ofter an undetermined period of time.”
“What? How would that be possible? That’s like science-fiction!” Kodek’s eyes flickered to the tube sticking out of his arm, and he swallowed his words. “Shit,” he muttered.
“It’s happening,” Bear said. “There was an underground movement that started with former employees of the Morimoto Corp, trying to blow the whistle on this before it gets started. But this thing is, the corporation knows no politician on the planet would sign off on corporate legislation like that. No way they would make that legal, because all capitalism aside, that would still be murder, right? The organ-recipient patients would forever be protected under the most basic human rights… So, that’s not the actual patent-corporation contact amendment, then.”
Kodek didn’t think his guts could sink further – he was wrong. “What was in the documents?”
“The new contracts to go into effect,” Bear said, “would basically have the patients sign themselves off as ‘legally dead’ prior to any transplant operation. The Corporation’s stance is simply that if the patient didn’t receive the transplant surgery, they would be dead.”
“If not for the corporation’s human organs. Their legal property.”
“Exactly. And digging a repossessed heart or liver out of a bad-credit patient couldn’t be murder, if they’re already legally dead by contract, right? In fact, Morimoto Corp’s stance on it is that it wouldn’t even be as bad as graveyard vandalism, as the unpaid-for oragans would be yanked prior to the bodies going into the ground. Of course, this wouldn’t apply to cosmetic surgeries, but…” Bear shrugged, “Digging up the organs for a contractual donor-recyling program is next on the agenda.”
“That’s just a whole other can of worms,” Kodek grieved sardonically.
“All capitalistic ventures are based on either the fear of dying or the obsession with having sex.”
“Do I even fit into all of this? Why would they have me working in the propaganda department? Why have me committed to Bedlam?”
“If you get somebody to repeat something for an extended period of time, they begin to look at this repeated task in a different light. And you did. But they had to do something with you while they searched for proof that you knew something.”
Kodek said nothing, but thought, the documents… Someone knew something about them besides him and bear, he was sure.
“You do remember what you did before all that, don’t you?”
“Of course.” Bear had mistaken his concentration for slight bewilderment – or a migraine. Which he did also have. He felt like rubbing his temples but one of his arms was having black time-travel slime sucked from his body.
“Was I an organ harvester?” Kodek asked.
“What do you think you were?”
A former hitman with bad flashbacks. Could all this be real?
“This stuff messes with your mind,” Bear tapped the plastic tube, irritating the spot where the thick needle was inserted into Kodek’s forearm. “Mindbender had initially discovered it, and Brain used the new technology for the Morimoto Corp to harvest an essentially endless supply of fresh human organs. That, and other things. But he got himself into trouble when–
>>>Meanwhile, over in the future at Brain’s laboratory>>>
KODEK: “You set a bomb? Why?”
LIZZIE: “Brains is trouble with The Corporation. Big trouble. It’s all official, I’ll explain later… Now COME ON, MAN!”
“–when he started to use the technology to hunt down his own murderer.”
“He was murdered?”
“Will be. At some point in time…” Bear was starting to trail off. “Years from now.”
“It’s all about survival,” Kodek said.
“Yes. Always. It’s a great motivator.”
“I guess it’s a good thing I left the documents with you in Berlin.”
“But you didn’t,” Bear told him. “In fact, those documents you has were extremely difficult to track down. I eventually found them taped to the bottom of the mattress of your cot in the cell at Bedlam Hospital.”
“I remember you there… So you were only there to find the documents?”
“No, at first I was there to cover you. Finding the documents was a side-mission that came up later, after Anna reported in about an assassin that had tried to climb up the drainpipe of the house on Christmas Eve-”
Suddenly, the hospital room door burst open.
“Cops,” Bear said, stepping back from the bed. “I’m afraid you’ll have to go.”
“Kodek Wainwright?” One of the homicide officers asked.
“You’re under arrest for the homicide of….”
The list of victims droned on. Kodek tuned out, his mind was buzzing. He looked over to the plastic tubing. It was all clear, now.