Title: This is Your Brain on Drugs
Author: Obi the Kid
Summary: Cal has a battle with his pain medication.
Note: Okay, as odd as this may seem, this story came from my dog, Riley (my 5lb Yorkie). Earlier this year she had dental surgery for cleaning and had 8 teeth removed. The pain drug they gave her before she went home made her really really loopy. She spent two hours running the same exact lap around the house until finally the drug started wearing off. Somehow that mutated into a Cal story that I decided to have a little fun with, putting Cal into a drug-induced state where he's a little bit out there.
Yeah, I was drugged and drugged good. I was out there. Way, way out there. Forget the Extra Strength Tylenol. Forget the Vicodin too. This was the really good stuff. Nik must have known my pain threshold at the moment was zilch, nada, nothing. Or he just wanted to knock me out. I was always a better patient when I was unconscious – voluntarily or not.
Bullet wounds in general cause pain. Worse can follow, but Nik would kill me if I died on him from a single slug to the shoulder. At least that's all I thought it was. Turns out it was two slugs in the shoulder and one in the leg. How the hell did that happen? Better yet, how did I let that happen?
I guess in the grand scheme of this screwed up world it didn't mean much at the moment. Nothing did really, except that the world was my rainbow.
What the hell?
Jesus, I was turning into a girl.
"Nik, what the hell did you give me? I feel…I feel…"
"Do not say groovy, or I will hit you. And keep still. You were shot three times, thankfully in all non death defying places. I know you're in pain though and I can't work with you squirming around. We had to go well beyond the over-the-counter medications, so be quiet and keep still. I gave you the strongest thing Robin could get."
Oh holy crap. The damn puck had had turned pharmacist. No telling what was in this stuff. I swear if I ended up lusting after that Roman-loving…no, no, no, no…get out of my head, out out out, damn it! But if…I swear if that that happens, I will personally Lorena Bobbit that part of him he loves so much. And then…ow!
"Ow, Nik! Jesus."
"Sorry. Evidently, the numbing agent hasn't kicked in yet." No, you think, genius? "Tell me when you can't feel this anymore." He poked my first shoulder wound with a scalpel. Yes, my brother owned his own series of high quality scalpels. If you're going to remove bullets from pain-in-the-ass little brothers who consistently get themselves into more trouble than they are sometimes worth, he'd tell me, you should do it correctly.
Poke, poke, poke. Eventually the poking stopped hurting.
"Okay, better. Just hurry up. Or don't. I should've ramped up on this drug yearrrrrs ago. Wow. Do you suppose I could fly up offa this ed? I am on a bed, aren't I? Feels like a cloud. A big white puffy cloud of dreams." I tried to get up. He pushed me back down.
Damn it! Or not. Despite my girly words, I'd started feeling a little…different. Not groovy. Sentimental? No. Pitying? Well, sorta. Hmm…there was a change this drug wasn't as wonderful as I first thought. My mind and my emotions were starting to bounce around and spit out into sentences that maybe did or didn't make much sense.
"Pain pain, go away, come again another day, hey Nik? When does it stop hurting?"
My blurry gray eyes followed the clear grays of my brother as he stopped his hands and gave me the most perplexing of glances as he said, "When the bullets come out, the wounds are treated and you heal." And yes, that was the most sensible answer one could have expected from not only Niko but from anyone else on the planet. Hell, even I could have come up with that answer. Unfortunately, my drugged up mind was thinking on a much bigger, broader and more emotional scale.
"Nah, I mean, when does it alllllllll stop hurting?"
Another awkward look. "As in life? It doesn't."
Well, that sucked. "Our lives are crap, Nik. You spend all your life looking out for your pain-in-the ass little brother, when it would be easier just to push him off a damn building."
"Pain-in-the-ass or not, and yes you are that, I do prefer to keep you alive as long as I am among the living."
"Yeah, about that…is this really living? I mean, chasing monsters and being monsters and playing Super-Ninja. Carrying around giant swords under your jacket isn't normal, Nik, and by the way, in case you haven't noticed, I have a far too close and much too personal relationship with my guns…no normal person should have that, right?"
"You are not normal, Cal. Neither of us are…and obviously I should not have given you the second pill."
"Yeah, no, yeah. Two pills? Two makes me feel all the warm and fuzzies and…really really strange and foggy. Strangely foggy? Foggily strange? Please stop me from talking. Why am I saying these things? This is your monster brain. This is your monster brain on drugs. Any questions? But seriously, Nik, maybe me and you should just strap ourselves into our 1978 Ford Pimpin' Tankmobile and take a short ride off a long pier…no wait, that's not right, we'd be driving forever, and in that car and…oh…a long ride off a short pier? Yeah, that's it. And screw this place. Let's blow this pop stand, brother!"
His hands began working again, but he kept responding by my babbling. "Not right now. We have a life and friends and a purpose."
"We got two friends, Nik. Two! Well, two and a half if you count Ish, but he scares me. Giant Viking angels with colossal chicken wings aren't normal either, but I do think that our friends would be able to go on without us. They're gonna have to someday since they'll live another bazillion years and we'll be lucky to last another five. And what's our purpose anyway? To prove that we can kill things? Save the world from Great Dane-sized spiders named Scruffy?" I lifted my head. He smacked it back down.
"My purpose right now is to keep you alive. Stay. Still. And Ishiah is neither a Viking, a chicken, nor an angel."
"Whatever he is, he's got really crazy-big fluffy wings, and he sheds and molts and well…that's not really all that important anymore, or was it ever? I'm ready, Nik."
"Ready for what?"
"Ready for everything to stop hurting. I'm tired of being a pain-in-the-ass. Tired of saying it. I'm tired of walking that line between human and monster. I mean, what's the benefit anymore? I can't travel. Well, I can sort of, briefly without my head exploding into a million pieces. I smell good though. No, that's not right either. I can smell good. I don't think anyone would think that I actually smell good, especially the wolves, but I can smell…Ow!"
I reached my free hand up to rub at my ear. I hadn't seen his hand move but it had and even with surgical gloves on – yes, we have those too and they're purple, oooh neat! – he can flick ears like no other. But I couldn't stop talking. I wanted to, I did. I thought. But I couldn't. At least now I knew why Nik always refused anything stronger than Tylenol and why he rarely gave me anything more than that. I swallowed hard and started talking again.
"Come on, Nik. You're tired too, aren't you? You look tired, more than ever. You should try some of these drugs. Top of the line shit, I tell ya. Can I have a drink? I need a drink. Something with one those little pink umbrella's in it or one those Shirley Temple things? Oh, god, make it stop. Maybe I'm actually transforming into a girl? Or a wuss. Either way…uh Nik, I don't think that area is numbed either. You've lost your touch, haven't you? So much for med school. Dr. Niko? Nope. Application, denied!"
His bloody, gloved hand wrapped around my prone wrist and he clenched his teeth. Niko never did that unless he was…yeah, he was. "Stop. Talking. Now." He was ticked. "I can't focus on removing these bullets without actual focus. Your babbling is preventing that. Talk to your inner self for a while."
"I am and I can't. It just keeps coming out. Nik, make it stop. You need to put on my medical chart, don't ever give me Dilau…dilute…d…"
"Dilaudid. It's a narcotic."
"Oh yeah, that's just what monster-boy needs. Narcotics. You didn't think this one through, did you, Brainiac?"
"I was taking my chances. You've never taken it before, but Robin advised that as a pain killer, it was excellent."
"How do you know I've never taken it before? Huh? Got a list of my drug history plugged into that anal-retentive brain of yours?"
"No need for a list, I just know."
He did. And I'd expected he did. Counted on that anal mind of his to remember what I could take; couldn't take and what would knock me for a loop. This one was knocking me for a loop. A loop-de-loop, and around we go, where Cal stops, nobody knows…oh, man, just kill me now.
"Wellllllll, don't give me anymore of that stuff. My inner monologue is transforming me into a girl…or maybe just an idiot. Yes, that sounds better. I insult less people that way. Are you done yet?"
"One of three."
"You've been digging into my flesh for hours now. Getting slow in your advancing age, Nik. Twenty-six won't be kind to you when you see it; if you see it. That way things are going lately, I may get us both killed tomorrow."
Scalpel #2 dug into bullet wound #2. I felt it, even though it was numbed.
"Not tomorrow, you'll be in bed all day, probably unconscious. And thankfully, unconscious and in bed is the one state of you that cannot get me killed. You felt that, didn't you?"
I nodded and he shot my shoulder up with another round of the numbie, numb, numbs.
I really was mutating into a full-fledged idiot. Yay me! Good thing I didn't have a weapon in my hand, I might end this loony tune feeling right now. I looked at my brother again, currently forehead-crinkled concentrated on bullet #2. Dig, dig, dig. Scrape, scrape, scrape. Another hole in my body, it was amazing my insides didn't just leak out all over the ground on a regular basis.
God, I wanted to close my eyes so badly and just whisk myself and my newly found feminine side to some tropical island beach far away with white sands and blue water and sultry sunsets…okay, this….this was getting out of hand. Me on a beach in the sun? I'd frighten small children with my paleness and my happy happy joy joy personality.
"Soooooo, ya finished yet? I can't have many more conversations with myself. It's a good thing I'm not verbalizing what my mind is babbling about, Nik. You'd send the guys with the butterfly nets after me in a silly second!"
"A silly second, huh? So, you're five again?"
"I didn't talk like that when I was five."
"You need me to repeat some of the things you said to me at that age?"
"The fact that you remember those things is enough that perhaps you should be the one committed. Or maybe we'll get committed together? Double trouble for the butterfly boys. We could share a padded room and wear matching white jackets. Go all Hannibal Lector-like, yeah? I mean, he's got nothing on the The Auphe Kid here, right? I could make his kills look like trips to Disney Land. Monster half likes to rip and tear and torture…"
"Shut up, Cal."
The scalpel was replaced by a long thin pen-knife that jabbed a tad bit too far into the wound, on purpose. I felt it and shut up. Well, I shut up about my genetic killing and mutilation abilities. I couldn't shut up completely, not with this drug on board.
"Hey, how'd I get shot anyway?"
I swear his face paled immediately when I asked the question. Or maybe it didn't. I really didn't know. No, I did know. I knew that complexion, it was definitely paled. Paled, was that right? Paler? Palest? Whatever. The next words from Pale-Face were edged with a tinge of guilt.
"You were protecting me and failed to see the human behind you."
I drove right around that guilty edge to focus on the real issue. "A human? I got shot by a friggin' human? Oh hell, no wonder I've mutated into a girl."
"You've mutated into an idiot. At least you had a couple minutes ago."
"Damn, Nik, calling me names and stuff. That's my job as little brother to call big brother names."
"Not really. You called yourself an idiot a few minutes ago. Focus, Cal."
Sure. No problem. I'll do just that. Right. Eventually I did manage to focus my mind for a brief second. Long enough to rewind my brain to what he'd said…and why I could see the guilt etched into the lines on his face.
"I got shot, Nik. It happens. We can't see everything that comes at us all the time. If I was protecting you, you needed the help, no matter what you might think. You're not super human, you know? Well, you are, but damn it, just cancel the trip to Guilt Land, okay? And go with me to Happy Land! Ponies and puppies and rainbows…and…and…I am so gonna hate myself after this Dilooidaad wears off."
"Dilaudid. And be relieved that it's only me hearing this, although I will not ever allow you to forget it. Trust on that one, little brother. Stay still. Almost finished with bullet #2."
"Bullet's shouldn't faze me, should they? I mean, I'll all that crap about something old and something new and something borrowed and something blue and damn it! Nik, can you shoot me please?"
"Someone else beat me to it."
"Yeah, well, they didn't finish the job and now I'm…this. What am I? What have I become? A complete moron, that's what. I am so gonna kill Goodfellow for this."
I zoned out for a time after that. I remember talking, but don't remember what I talked about. Probably for the best. By the time I resurfaced, Niko was saying something about bullet #3 – the one in my leg.
"Hit the muscle, but stitched up nicely. You'll be slow for a couple weeks though. Let's try and not tick anyone off during that time, all right?"
"So they don't try and make a buffet out of me?"
"Exactly. How's your head?"
"I think…better? I don't feel as groovy anymore."
"S'okay if I sleep for the next week?"
Niko left the bedside for a minute and returned with a couple of extra blankets. The sheets and comforter wouldn't keep me warm enough and he didn't want me waking up because I was shivering out of my socks. And speaking of, another pair was being pushed onto my already covered feet. Double socks. Always thinking ahead, that was my brother.
"Are they clean?" Me and my brilliant questions always knew how to add something stupid to the moment.
"I found them on your floor, under the bed, so I really have no idea. I didn't keel over dead when I touched them so, perhaps." Nik's gentle hands pulled all the sheets and blankets over me, careful to avoid any pressure in the three areas of pain. My mind was clearing from the drug-induced fog and I blinked heavily. Again my brother disappeared only to return seconds later with a chair.
"Gonna read me a bedtime story, Dad?"
"No, but you'll need to use the bathroom in a few hours and I'd rather not have you emptying your bladder onto my bed. Tell me when you need to go."
"You're no fun. You used to read me bedtime stories, now you're just worried about bed pee."
"Yeah, what was that one book you always read me? Something about an elephant and a town of tiny whacked-out Who people? I think I saw that on your bookshelf recently."
"You liked that one best, so I borrowed it from the library – when you were four."
My honest-as-the-day-is-long brother, stealing a book from the public library of all things. I bet that one lived on his subconscious for a time, hell, it probably still did. Not sure why he needed the book though, after a few read-throughs, he'd memorized the thing, but as a kid, you still need the pictures to make the story complete. And I know I had seen it on his shelf, maybe last week? I'd smiled when I picked it up and ran my finger over the beat up cover remembering simpler, but not simple days. Days and memories I'd always share with my brother.
I guess we'd just made more of those memories, with me off my rocker for several hours as he'd gone all Quincy, M.E. on me in practicing his bullet removal and stitching skills. And he was right, he'd never let me live this one down. Not a chance in hell.
"So," Niko said, "you want me to tell you the tale of Horton the elephant, huh?"
I yawned. "Nah. If I transformed into a wussy girl and my big brother read me a bedtime story all in one day, I'd never live that one down."
"Good. Go to sleep then."
A twitch in my mind wasn't ready to let go of the conscious world just yet though. Worse, it was thinking about elephants and tiny Who people. Horton may have heard a Who, but did Cal hear one too? Okay, obviously, the drug wasn't completely worn off. I turned my head on my pillow. No. Nik's pillow. I finally realized that I wasn't in my own room, but in his room. He'd have never been able to pull up a chair next to the side of my bed without being swallowed by a volcano of dirty clothes. My closing eyes found those of my brother as I said, "Maybe you should just read to me about monsters who can eat my face."
"How about I don't do that."
"The Who's down in Whoville, the tall and the small…"
My ear got flicked – gently – but flicked nevertheless.
"A Who is a Who, right? Does it matter if…"
"One more word and the next flick will knock you out."
No, he couldn't flick my ear that hard, could he?
"And yes, I can flick your ear that hard."
Add mind reader to one of his many talents. I shut my lips and I shut my eyes and pushed into a hard sleep. My dreams that night were just that – dreams - if a bit on the drug induced side. Filled with white fluffy clouds, rainbows, ponies and puppies; and not a single one of them got eaten, disemboweled or mutilated by anything fanged, bloodthirsty, or red-eyed evil. All in all, a pretty good night - lingering effects of drugs, be damned.