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An Enemy Within — Chapter Forty Eight

17 Jan

Chapter 48

Even though a new day has dawned, Shannon still faces the same problems as she did yesterday. She is being falsely imprisoned in a private residence with the New World Power still looking to kill her. If anything, the situation has become worse over the past twenty-four hours or so because she is no longer under the protection of the authorities. She remembers talking to a friend of hers who was in the Marine Corps who said that “problem” is one of four words that should be removed from ones vocabulary. The other three are “worry,” “try,” and “hate.” What he was getting at is the principle which they represent, as well as the mindset they create. Otherwise, they are just a hindrance to forward progress.

But she’s having trouble applying this philosophy at the moment. There’s so much going on right now that she feels overwhelmed. She also doesn’t see too many options available to her at the moment, and none of them seem pleasant. She is trapped and no matter what she decides, Shannon would feel like she would receive the short end of the stick. She wonders how she got herself into this mess. A part of her mind thinks that now would be the time for her to be noble, that she should stand up and say “enough is enough.” But this is due to cultural training, and who’s to say what is noble or not? And being noble is a thing that is fine in principle but can be hard to put into practice. It’s more of an abstract idea than anything else. In this context, Shannon has to do what is best for her instead of living up to some cultural ideal. And only in reflection can her actions be determined if they are noble or not.

With modern society, nobility is seen as doing the right thing that is greater than oneself. But this is an artificial benchmark that developed over time with no pre-set list of principles or guiding rules. Historically, nobility pertained to a social class that was romanticized over time by people who were looking back upon it with fondness. It was part of a bygone era that people feel connected to. When people think of nobility, they think of knights and their code of conduct. But what they fail to realize is that knights were already apart of the Second Estate and the code that governed their actions pertained only to tournaments and social life among themselves, nothing more. In addition to this, culture pertained only to the upper class and could only be experienced by a refined person who was well off. Essentially, it was something only found with the aristocracy and had nothing to do with how a group of people interpreted the world around them. How noble is that?

But whatever the implications of future social judgments may be, Shannon needs to do something to take control of the situation. If she doesn’t, then everyone else will be making the decisions for her, and this is something that she doesn’t want to happen. She wants to be the one who is in control of her life. Arriving at this decision, Shannon just needs to figure out how to go about doing it. This starts with her getting out of her current predicament. Coming to this conclusion, Shannon makes her way to the bedroom door so that she can peer out into the hallway. Once she is able to look into the hallway, she sees that Alex is making his way up the stairs. Seeing this, Shannon quickly closes the door behind her, trying not to slam it as she does.

What next? What options are available to her? Should she grab something to try and knock Alex out? But what if that fails? Then what? And what about her injured arm and shoulder? She doesn’t think that they could handle the stress of an attack if she tried one. And besides, she still has feelings of friendship toward Alex, despite what he is currently doing to her. In addition to this, he is helping out the healing process. Though it won’t be pretty, the injuries will be healed that much faster. The only downside to the whole thing is the buildup of scar tissue in the injured areas, which will impair her overall range of movement. This could only be taken care of by physical therapy, something that she won’t be able to receive in her current situation. So Shannon decides that the best course of action for her to take is to go back to bed. Once she does, Alex knocks on the door and then comes walking in. From there, they exchange a few words followed by Alex using his ability. As he is using Laying of Hands, the woman comes back into the room with a hearty meal in hand.

When Alex finishes treating Shannon for the moment, it allows Shannon to start eating her meal to satisfy her increased appetite. Laying of Hands is a unique ability. Generally speaking, having an extraordinary ability will only cause the user to enter an energy intensive activity, which requires only the user to need to consume more calories. But with Laying of Hands, it also causes the recipient of the ability to enter an energy intensive activity as well due to the accelerated healing process it causes the patient to enter into. During the natural healing process, the body needs more fuel in order to fix itself and repair or rebuild damaged areas. Laying of Hands just causes this natural process to step it up a notch, which in turn causes the patient to need more calories and have a greater appetite.

On the tray in front of her, there is a mound of pancakes, a generous helping of scrambled eggs, and a good amount of bacon, some still greasy from the frying pan. In addition to this, there’s Log Cabin Lite syrup and a container of ketchup. Shannon coats the pancakes with syrup and essentially drowns the eggs in ketchup, making short work of her breakfast. Besides receiving Laying of Hands, a part of Shannon’s hunger could be a leftover from yesterday. Her adrenaline level was elevated because of what was going on around her. But now that the threat has past and she is fully rested, her body has returned to homeostasis and reminds Shannon of the importance of eating.

But despite this, Shannon probably consumed more food than was absolutely necessary. This is due to the fact that there is a signal delay between the stomach and the brain. This delay in communication could be due to human evolution. For most of human history, humanity didn’t have a ready supply of food available to them. It wasn’t until recently, about the past two hundred years or so, that food a plenty became easily available, at least to most of those in the developed world. This caused humanity to face periods of regular starvation in their daily lives. As a result, when humanity came across food surpluses, they would gorge themselves in order to develop fat reserves in preparation for future periods of starvation. And if there was a delay between the stomach and the brain for when the stomach became full, it would allow for more food to be consumed, similar to the feast and famine technique used by sharks. For those who possessed this trait, natural selection tended to favor those individuals over those who lacked it, giving them a greater chance of producing offspring.

But even though she ate more food than was necessary, because of the generous helpings the woman provided, Shannon wasn’t able to finish her meal. As Shannon was eating her breakfast, Alex and the woman took their leave, allowing Shannon to be alone with her thoughts. This allowed her to contemplate on how to get out of here; out of the house, out of the situation, and back to those who would be able to adequately protect her. Eventually, the woman returns to check in on Shannon. As she does, she takes the unfinished food away. When she looks at the unfinished food, the woman remembers the phrase, “There are people starving in China.” Whenever she hears this phrase, she thinks that it’s one of the silliest things she ever heard. She suspects that this phrase developed during the Great Depression in an attempt to prevent children from wasting their food, but she can’t be sure about the time period. But however, forcing children to eat something when they are already full is just as wasteful. If there are people starving in China, there’s nothing anyone can do about it after a meal was prepared for the family. It’s just stupid. And haven’t they heard of leftovers?

With the woman gone, Shannon quickly gets out of bed and makes her way to the door. Opening it up just a crack, she sees the woman heading down the stairs. From there, Shannon closes the door as quickly and quietly as possible and makes her way over to the window. Once there, she pulls back the shades and looks down at the street. From the window, she sees Alex making his way down the walkway followed by him getting into his car. He can’t stay behind for multiple reasons. First, he still has to earn a paycheck. Second, there’s the possibility that Alex has to talk to the police in order to get his story straight around what happened at the hospital. Finally, there wouldn’t be anything for him to do if he just stayed behind. He tends to get antsy if he doesn’t have anything to do. That’s one reason why Alex went into nursing; so that he’ll always be kept busy. Even if there is a lull in activity, he can always just do rounds.

This is her chance. Shannon figures that if she doesn’t seize the moment, it will slip through her fingers and it will be lost. So she decides to take it. From the window, Shannon makes her way to the door and cautiously opens it. Not seeing anyone, she starts making her way down the upstairs hallway, leaving the bedroom door open just in case she needs to hurry back. As she makes her way down the hallway, Shannon is concerned that there might be other people in the house besides the woman. She even passes by a table that has pictures on it. The pictures consist of children as well as the woman in the arms of a man, presumably her husband. The pictures of the children vary in age, but from what Shannon can tell, they all have grown up and have moved on with their lives. She’s hoping that none of them are still living in the house or have stopped by to visit for awhile. Fortunately, she hasn’t come across anyone by the time that she reached the top of the stairs. But that doesn’t mean that someone won’t come out of nowhere at an inopportune time and stop her.

Before Shannon heads down the stairs, she leans over the banister in an attempt to determine where the woman is. She hears what sounds like conversation coming from the front room next to the front door, accompanied by what sounds like canned laughter and applause. Shannon determines that the TV is on, but can’t tell if there’s anyone in the front room at the moment. She also hears what sounds like some activity going on in the kitchen. It’s most likely the woman cleaning up after Shannon’s breakfast.

As Shannon begins to move down the hallway toward the staircase, the woman comes walking down the entry hall from the kitchen toward the front room. Seeing her, Shannon quickly moves back behind the wall and prepares to reenter the bedroom if the case calls for it. But fortunately for Shannon, the woman doesn’t come up the stairs. Instead, she enters the front room. But before Shannon makes her move toward the staircase, she peers around the corner to make sure that the coast is clear. Seeing that it is, Shannon starts making her way down.

Not wanting to make any unnecessary noise and draw attention to herself, Shannon cautiously makes her way down the stairs, listening for any changes in noise from the front room. She also looks around to make sure that no one else comes out of an unforeseen area and surprises her. In addition to this, she’s checking out possible hiding spots for herself if the situation calls for her to move quickly and hide. Once Shannon makes it to the bottom of the stairs, she starts making her way to the front door. But before she does, Shannon peers into the front room to see if it’s safe for her to cross to the front door.

As she peers in, Shannon sees the woman sitting in a chair, watching TV, with her back to the entry hall. Shannon also sees that the woman is the only person in the front room. Determining that it is safe for her to cross, Shannon makes her way to the front door. As she does, one of the floorboards creaks under her weight. Hearing the sound, Shannon pulls back, removing her weight from the floorboard and hesitates. Not seeing any indication that the woman heard, Shannon cautiously continues forward, making sure that she doesn’t cause the floor to creak again. Safely making it to the door, Shannon unlocks it and exits, effectively succeeding in her bid to escape.

 

(c) 2011 Bradley P. Thomas

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1 Comment

Posted by on January 17, 2012 in An Enemy Within

 

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One response to “An Enemy Within — Chapter Forty Eight

  1. Tech Blog

    March 13, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Excellent article, thanks!

     

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