Thursday, Simtember 8, 2416 | Silverton Family Estate | Bay City, Califorsimia
Forty-five minutes later, the doorbell rang again. I nearly tripped over myself trying to get to the door first.
“Dr. Bachelor,” I heard Mamma gasp behind me. “What are you doing here?”
“Thanks for coming, Dr. B,” I said enthusiastically.
“What an unexpected pleasure!” Mamma said. “Are you making house calls now? Clark, this is Dr. Jocasta Bachelor. She’s Kass’s personal doctor and she was mine before we moved back East.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Clark shook the doctor’s hand.
“Thank you,” Dr. Bachelor smiled at my mother and stepfather, and then turned to me. “I came here as quickly as I could.”
“You called her?” Mamma looked at me in disbelief. “Kass,” she tugged on my arm and pulled me to the side slightly. “Doesn’t she need to be handling her own… well… daughter’s arrangements?”
“My… daughter…” Dr. Bachelor made an odd face. “Yes, well, Bella’s husband is handling things there, and Simis is there too. I’m working out funeral details from here… ” she looked off in the distance. “…and well, the world doesn’t end and I still need to work…”
“Uh…” I interrupted. “I saw her outside. I can show you the exact location if you’d like.”
“Yes, that’d be helpful,” Dr. Bachelor agreed.
“Kass, what’s going on?” Mamma eyed me sharply.
“There’s another one…” I tried not to sound so excited. “Another woman… outside in our yard. She needs Dr. B’s help.”
“Kass, is this about what I think it is about? We already called the police.”
“The police can’t help this lady, Mamma. Dr. B… let’s go out the back door. She’s still there, I think.”
“Absolutely not!” Mamma cried. “Kass, you’re still recovering from an accident. You can’t go outside.”
“Do you want me to go instead?” Clark spoke up.
I looked at him hopefully.
“I was out in the yard earlier. I’d know where to look. I’ll go,” he offered.
“Thank you,” I mouthed.
“Clark?” Mamma looked between him and I in bewilderment, but he and Dr. Bachelor had already started down the hallway.
A few minutes later, Clark came through the front door and headed toward the kitchen followed by Dr. Bachelor who was carrying the stranger.
“I’ll go get those supplies you wanted,” Clark said as he walked through the dining room.
“Llamas!” Mamma shouted. “Who is that?”
“Oh my!” I exclaimed, narrowing my eyes.
“Do you have a bedroom I can put her in?” Dr. Bachelor asked as the girl wiggled in her arm and smiled as if wasted.
Her skin was a sickly orange and yellow. Dark circles surrounded her eyes and her makeup was obviously poorly applied. She rolled her eyes back in her head and moaned. I couldn’t believe it. I knew who she was.
“Uh… yes!” I said excitedly. “There’s a spare bedroom, upstairs, around the landing, and on the far left.”
“Okay,” Dr. Bachelor grunted as she shifted her weight and walked forward.
“And Dr. B, her name is Shameka… Shameka Briody,” I said, following her.
“You know her?” Dr. Bachelor said, surprised.
“Yes… Shameka… do you hear me? Can you hear me?” I asked worriedly, leaning close.
She clawed through the air at me and snarled like an animal, her nails abnormally long and scraggly. I stepped back, startled.
“Kass, stay away from her!” Mamma shrieked. “Dr. Bachelor, you need to take this woman to a hospital.”
“No… no…nnnnoooo…” Shameka groaned. “Nnnnoooo hhhhooossspital.”
“Amy, will you please get my medical bag from my car?” Dr. Bachelor reached in her pocket and tossed my mother a set of keys. Seeing her absolutely frightened look, she added, “It’s perfectly safe out there. Your husband and I searched the whole yard just to make sure. And Kass is in no danger if she helps me.”
My mother stood paralyzed, holding the keys in her shaking hand.
“Mamma, it’s okay, just go get the bag and bring it upstairs,” I said softly.
“Okay,” she nodded numbly.
I followed Dr. Bachelor and Shameka, taking the stairs two at a time, ignoring the silent screaming pain in my side. At the top of the stairs, Dr. Bachelor looked at me and I directed her to the second spare bedroom on the floor. She laid the distressed girl on the bed and began rubbing her hands.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Looking for a vein…”
Mamma appeared shortly with the bag and Clark came in with the supplies Dr. Bachelor had requested. We stood dumbly, watching as the doctor tended to the delirious patient, taking her temperature and giving her several shots. The girl cried out in pain and Dr. Bachelor shooed us out. We waited downstairs.
Nearly an hour later, the house grew quiet. I figured Shameka may finally be asleep when Dr. Bachelor walked into the family room.
“She’s resting now and I think she’ll sleep through the night with what I’ve given her,” Dr. Bachelor crossed the room and sat down on the couch next to me. “Are you okay with her being here?”
“Is she okay?” Mamma exclaimed in surprise. “Is it safe? I think we should take her to a hospital. No doubt what kind of infectious disease she has and we might all be susceptible.”
“Yes, of course,” I answered, ignoring my mother’s panic.
“I’m glad you called me, Kass. You were right. She has all the signs of advanced stage EXCES.”
I glanced worriedly at Mamma, but she thankfully stayed silent.
“And she appears to be suffering from an infection, most likely from poorly administered care and medication. They put her on anti-psychotics whoever she had seen before me, and those are known to accelerate the deterioration of the mutated cells,” Dr. Bachelor continued.
“Oh llamas!” I gasped.
“What was she doing in our yard?” Mamma spoke up timidly.
“Patients of this type typically exhibit strange behavior and eating tendencies. We don’t fully understand why but they seem to crave massive amounts of vegetation, about four times the normal amount a Sim can digest in one sitting, which causes complications, of course,” Dr. Bachelor explained. “They often gain access to their food by raiding gardens similar to animals. We call this zoomimetic behavior, imitating an animal. This intense desire is driven by the advanced mutation of her cells and usually severe damage to her neural pathways.”
“Will she recognize or remember me?” I asked worriedly.
“I think she might. She’s not so far gone that she won’t respond to treatment, but I have to be honest, she’s in late stage EXCES so the likelihood of full recovery is slim to none. How do you know her?”
I covered my mouth in sad shock. “Um…” I swallowed hard. “I don’t really… I mean… I met her last summer. She’s my friend… uh…” I felt weird using the term friend. “…Gage Briody’s younger sister… how did this happen?”
Dr. Bachelor shook her head. “I can’t speculate. She might be able to tell us herself if she’s coherent and lucid later. It could be any number of things. She probably already had the disease when you met her, but possibly was unaware. Everyone’s DNA reacts differently and every case is unique.”
“Doctor, you can’t be serious,” Clark finally spoke up. “You really think it’s this… EXCES?”
” I took blood samples to test discreetly at my clinic just in case, but yes, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Dr. Bachelor nodded.
“But… I thought… it was… something else than the government originally thought it was, right?” Mamma asked quietly. “A trumped up cause that uninformed celebrities can throw money at and pretend to be heroes to the masses?” she suddenly flushed deeply. “Oh, Jocasta, I’m sorry… I wasn’t talking about your daughter.”
“It’s okay,” Dr. Bachelor sighed softly. “Most people think that my daughter’s charity was a joke.”
“I’m so sorry… I shouldn’t have said anything,” Mamma said, embarrassed.
“It was a lie invented by drug companies, right?” Clark said, trying to take the attention away from his wife’s error.
“It’s what the government would like you to believe. Someone up in Sim City decided that it would be best not to create mass hysteria regarding aliens living among us and experimenting with Sim DNA, but it’s happened, and is happening. There is a select branch of the government intelligence investigating, and they’ve recruited a few doctors from the medical community, but even amongst our peers, we’re black sheep. No one wants to go out on a limb for a unproved theory. And as far as the public is concerned, EXCES is little more than a myth,” Dr. Bachelor explained.
“It’s terrible!” I burst out. “People are dying from this disease and the government and people are just treating them like discarded trash.”
“How do we know you’re telling the truth?” Clark asked, and we all fell silent.
It was a fair question.
“Because I’ve seen too many people die from this disease that could’ve lived if pigheaded doctors hadn’t let their fears and mandates from the government get in the way. I’ve held victims in my arms when they’ve passed away, their entire being warped from the inside out. It’s an ugly, ugly reality and one we choose to ignore, even those who are supposed to be professionals. No one wants to risk real money, time and research to find out the truth.”
Clark seemed to accept this answer, nodding thoughtfully. Mamma was crying quietly, sniffling into a tissue.
“Kass?” Mamma looked up at me, her eyes filled with emotion. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you earlier.”
I sighed. I didn’t know what to say. I was still frustrated with my mother and stepfather, but I didn’t want to be angry at them.
“It’s okay,” I tried quietly.
“Amy? Kass? Clark?” Dr. Bachelor looked between us. “What has happened here and what I’m telling you has to stay in this room.”
“Understood,” Clark agreed.
“Yes, I won’t say anything,” Mamma said, bewildered, as if still trying to figure everything out.
“You already know my answer, of course,” I replied. “Can I see her?”
“I’d like her to rest for awhile, but I’m going to stay here tonight if you don’t mind to watch in case she wakes up and needs more medication or has another episode.”
An awkward silence hung limply between us. Dr. Bachelor stood to her feet.
“You should all get some rest.”
2.10 Part 2 Coming Soon!
- What will happen to Shameka?
- Will we learn the truth about why she was wandering around in the yard?
Learn more about EXCES – EXtra Cellular Exclusion Syndrome here.