Original SWAT Kats Story

Tale of an Underdog

By DJ Clawson

  • 1 Chapter
  • 20,155 Words

A tale of how a young, homeless dawg (there’s a purpose to that spelling) gets himself mixed up in goverment conspiracies, aliens, and a highly addictive syrum that does some wierd things to him.

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Author's Notes:

This is it! The first piece of Underdog fanfiction on the internet, possibly at all!

This tale is to explain what the show, in nine years, never  got around to doing–where exactly Underdog came from. Since this story is *entirely* pre-show chronologically, there are no mentions of the name “Underdog,” so you’ll just have to figure out who he is (there’s no “ShoeShine Boy” either — I gave him a real name).

AUTHOR’S NOTE : This story does not take place in a universe completely consistent with the show, mainly because I haven’t seen more than 20 episodes.  Also, all the characters exist in the universe of SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (a cartoon show by Hanna Barbera currently airing on the Cartoon Network), but predate that show, so this is not a crossover. *However*, is does change a few things :

1. All humans are now “kats,” a form of anthropomorphic felines who walk around and act just like humans. The only real differences in the story that make them notable as such is the fact I will refer to their hands as “paws.”

2. All dogs are now “dawgs,” a form of anthropomorphic dogs *I* created in other SWAT Kat fan fiction to exist beside the kats. They do not exist in the SK show, where *everyone* is a kat. They *do* exist in my fan fiction. Dawgs are around 3 feet high fully grown, shorter than the 5 foot average of kats. Underdog (the spelling of his superhero nickname does not change to be remotely loyal to the show) is thereby just under 3 feet throughout, since dawgs reach full height at a very early age. The dawgs are not the dominant race, and are found mainly in Western Europe and the British Isles, but there are obviously scatterings of them in America.

3. All other animals retain their forms of the Underdog show. Even though this is a planet dominated by kats and maybe 10% dawgs, there are a few various other species scattered around who appear rarely.

Also, there is a mention of a Megakat City, which is the city the SWAT Kats protect in a later decade. The neighboring city is Faroe Lake (not according to the SK show–just me), and Underdog — during the show — protected mainly them from attacks.

The reason for all of this confusion by bringing the Underdog show over to the SWAT Kat universe is to open some doors for later Underdog/SWAT Kat fanfiction. You can see my fan fiction (along with others’) at my archive at <http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/8850/fanfic.htm>

Chapter 1

 

‘Lab Report – January 13th, 1981 – Dr. Daniel Roberts’

‘The tests have been otherwise inconclusive under the

microscope, and I feel Dr. Leitch has become unsatisfied

with the petri dish. He has made it my job to search now for

a proper test subject — a dawg, preferrably, since there

have been some bad reactions to certain kat DNA.’

 

When the assigment had come down on his shoulders, Roberts

had been a bit clueless as to where to begin. Lab rats

didn’t suddenly pop out of the woodwork when he advertised,

and even if they would, they’d want to know all kinds of

specifics — such as what they were taking, what would

happen to them, and how they would benifit mankind. There

was also often money involved — they wanted to be paid, or

wanted their loved ones to recieve great sums of money if

they perished.

Neither options were available, considering the

classification of the process. Leitch suggested someone who

wouldn’t be missed — a vagrant with no family –or someone

dying of a fatal disease anyway. But something had made

Roberts quisy when he thought of thrusting the needle into a

cancer patient, and he was forced to depend on finding the

former.

He was still uneasy, roaming the gutters and alleyways of

Washington, D.C. A high-tech, electrified club hidden in his

jacket would protect his person sufficiently, but that

didn’t really make him feel any better. But here he was, in

the gutters of the gutters, where he doubted one would pass

up an offer such as one he offered.

There were many dawgs amoung the poorer crowd, but most

were old and feeble, or pregnant–to weak for the

experiment. He passed over one who spit alochol over his

shoes when he took an extra second to gaze.

It was several hours later when he was ready to give up for

the day, finding his superior’s specifications rather

narrow. He was about to turn for home when he spotted the

small entrance of a building labeled crudely above the door,

“St. Peter’s Shelter.” The place, inside, wasn’t much better

than the streets he had just left. Possibly hundreds of

homeless were cramped in a series of a few rooms, curled up

on cots with ragged blankets and pillows if they were lucky

— more likely something else soft rolled up. One kat slept

with his head over a radio, apparently his only possession,

perhaps in fear of it being stolen. The air was abuzz with

the sounds of coughing and sneezing — after all, cold

season was in full bloom. There was probably a pastor there,

aiding who he could, but was racing around so their visitor

didn’t see him.

Roberts’ attention shifted to the bed beside him, where an

angry, wet cough came from beneath the blanket. He saw a

small paw come out and grab the end of the blanket, pulling

it closer down. Curious, the scientist slowly let his paw

out just so it touched the blanket, disturbing the owner.

The owner pulled himself out from under to see who the

intruder of his personal space was. Roberts gasped as the

huge head of a young dawg came out, dusty and sickly pale.

This poor thing could not have been above twelve years old.

He was of the beagle breed, known for those floppy black

ears and huge black nose, and he had a pale-gold tint to his

fur. He was wearing worn-down jeans and a patched T-shirt

that clearly hadn’t been washed in a while. He smelled a

bit, as Roberts imagined one would after hanging out too

long in such a place. The dawg was a sickly pale, and

coughed several times before responding to seeing the

well-to-do scientist above him.

“What the hell do you want?”

The words were said with the force and accustion of an

adult, but the pitch was still that of a child’s. It sent

Roberts back a few steps; he had never seen such hate

venting from someone under eighteen.

“I-I . . .,” he desperately tried to pull himself together.

“Is there somewhere you’d like to go? Maybe to get a hot

meal or a change of clothes?”

The dawg frowned harder, “I’m not interested in your

charities. So get the hell away and go bother someone else

trying to sleep.”

“No–I mean as payment. It would all be fair pay.”

The dawg was in the motion of turning back under the covers

when he stopped, curious, “Pay for what?”

“I’m with a scientific research group,” Roberts rushed to

explain. “We need a young dawg for some . . . research.

You’d get a place to sleep and fed three meals a day . . .”

“What kind of research?” he eyeballed his visiter

suspiciously.

“Drug therapy. You’d be exposed to some antibiotics,” That

was a lie, but the dawg wouldn’t know the difference.

“Unless, of course, you have prior engagements . . .?”

It was not meant as a question for answering — more of a

probing. Roberts doubted the dawg had any sort of job or

family, and the reply made him sure.

“What do they do to me?”

“Nothing lethal — we’ve already tested it out a few times

on other subjects. We just want to see the natural reaction

to some medicines.”

The dawg coughed, heavily, drawing a ragged breath instead

of getting the response he wanted to come out of his mouth.

“And it looks like you could use some medical attention,

while we’re at it.”

The dawg considered. A hot meal and a bath sounded inviting

enough, but as soon as Roberts had mentioned ‘scientific

research’ all that managed to go through the dawg’s head was

the image of himself running in some kind of gerbal wheel,

with the treat hanging right in front of him. A growl from

his stomach, however, hold him his system had already made

the decision for him.

“All right . . .,” he swung both is legs over the side of

the bed and stood shakily, not feeling incredibly steady. He

wrapped himself in the blanket, which Roberts realized was

probably the only sort of coat he had.

“What’s you name, kid?” the scientist began to help him to

the door, the dawg finding it hard to walk with his illness

crippling him. Roberts didn’t doubt know the kid could have

easily had the flu or some virus for quite a while without

anyone noticing.

“Jonathan.”

It was simply to get associated, really — they would look

up the kid’s files through his paw prints and have his

records within twenty-four hours after reaching the lab, but

the aquintance was nice.

Jonathan’s eyes widened as the transport car — a very

nice, but hidden from the outside limosine, to be exact —

pulled up in front of them, now several blocks from the

shelter. Roberts had to smile; the kid had probably not been

in such a car in his life.

“Fancy operation you got here,” the dawg remarked snidely,

climbing into the back seat.

“We do this for all our guests.”

“Test subject is hardly the word I’d use for guest,”

Jonathan was all ready beginning to fiddle with the various

objects and compartments within his grasp from the backseat,

like a kid in a candy store. ‘I’m along for the ride; I

might as well enjoy it.’ “Hey, you gotta microwave in here!”

Roberts removed a pack of instant soup he had purchased

earlier, poured it into one of the plastic cups from the

compartment on his side with a bottle of water thrown into

the mix, and placed it in the microwave, “It’s a long ride.

The least I can do is feed you.”

The soup was done within minutes, and the dawg practically

inhaled it, feeling relieved to have something in his

stomach. He remained silent while he wolfed down the

mouthfuls, attacking the cup like a starved pup — which was

precisely what he was. After several minutes, he finally put

aside the container, and turned back to Roberts.

“So this is what they hire you for — go get street scum to

be their genuia pigs?”

“‘They’ is a term that refers to me as well,” he correct.

“I’m a scientist. My superior just sent me because I’m more

experienced with children.”

“You’re a kiddie doc?”

“No . . . I just have kids.”

“Oh,” Jonathan watched curiously as Roberts took out his

wallet from his coat pocket, and held out several

wallet-size photographs for him to see. The dawg took them

in his own paws and held them very, very close to his face,

as if trying to get the pictures into focus and failing.

Roberts observed this, “Do you have vision problems?”

“‘s what my doc told me — a while ago. I think I was seven

when I still had a pair. My old family bought ’em, but I

outgrew up a year or so ago.”

“Your old family?”

“Foster,” he explained, hesitantly. “They wanted me to call

’em ‘mom’ and ‘dad’, too.” Giving up, he handed the pictures

back. His next impuse was too cough, which threw him into

another heavy coughing fit that took several minutes to

control.

“Relax,” Roberts helped him straighten out from his doubled

over position, setting him up with his back more supported

by the seat. “You’re in good paws now.”

The response was another cough, and then, “So why the hell

am I so dizzy?” His eyelids were beginning to drop.

“Relax,” he repeated. “You’re very sick, and it’s a long

ride. Just close your eyes and sleep.”

Jonathan nodded, “I thin’ I’ll do tha.” His mumbled voice

drifted off as he leaned over and closed his eyes, his head

supported by the limo’s door.

Roberts sighed tiredly, securing the blanket over the dawg

before turning back to his own folder of work. Sure, he felt

a little guilty for the sedative he’d slipped in the soup,

but it was necessary to insure Jonathan would still be

asleep when they arrived and was looked over by the

department heads as a worthy subject.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

‘Lab Report – January 15th, 1981 – Dr. Daniel Roberts’

‘The subject has been chosen and approved by the department

heads. Dr. Leitch seemed rather pleased that I had chosen

such a young boy, and while his records are still up for

review, it does not seem like there will be any conflicts

with the experiment in past history.’

 

Jonathan awoke — groggily — to a pleasantly warm, white

room. He coughed, then pushed away the blanket to give

himself some air.

His clothes had been replaced by a white cotton set of a

shirt and pants, and he’d forgotten what it was like to wear

a change to clothes — much less clean ones — so he found

it rather relieving. The room was simple — a bed, a desk,

and a small adjoining bathroom. One of the walls was lined

with a mirror, and it could not have occured to him that it

was one-way. On the desk was a tray filled with the most

inviting thing of all — food, which he couldn’t quite

remember when he’d had last outside of a soup kitchen in

heated form. He set upon it, gobbling up the bread and soup

before going for the chicken.

‘They’re bein’ so nice to me, you’d think they’ll torture

me next,’ he wondered mildly to himself. Not that he hadn’t

found the appearance of the scientist odd, but lucky

netherless. ‘Let ’em do what they want.’ His stomach

grumbled in agreeance, as he stuffed down the rest of the

chicken. ”s long as they keep feedin’ me.’

After dinner, of whatever meal it was supposed to be, he

noticed the shower stall in his bathroom was set up with

shampoo, and decided to treat himself. The only time he

really got a good shower was in the summer, at the beach,

but that all had closed down months ago. Jonathan remained

in there for quite a while, and finally heaved himself out

of the steady stream of hot water, feeling cleaner than he

had in a long time.

‘Hell, I might get used to this,’ he thought playfully,

drying his fur off.

He had just thrown his new clothes back on when the

scientists entered. First was an old, grey kat on the plump

side with large whiskers and a stern look on his face.

Behind him was the scientist he remembered, though he never

quite caught his name. Both were wearing lab coats and

carrying clipboards.

“Jonathan Weissman?”

He nodded, as if the question was to confirm his full name.

He leaned back on the bed now, with his back to the wall —

still feeling quite achy. In the rush of new pleasures he’d

forgotten he was sick.

The first continued, “Mr. Weissman . . . Jonathan, I’d like

to welcome you to the Pandora Project,” his voice wasn’t

cold, but without the particular warmth the dawg vaguely

remembered the other carrying. “I’m Dr. Leitch . . . and I

believe you’ve all ready met my assistant, Dr. Roberts.

You’ll meet the rest of the team in a little while.”

Roberts shot a glance at Jonathan, but nothing more. He was

a tan-fured kat with dark brown hair in maybe his early

thirties, much taller and simmer than Leitch.

“Before we explain what’s going to happen, I need to check

a few things from our records . . .,” Leitch adjusted his

glasses to he could read from his clipboard better.

“Jonathan, you are . . . ten years old now?”

The dawg nodded.

“And your parents are deceased? Since you were three?”

Another nod.

“How long have you been without a foster family?”

“Two years, I think.”

“Any sort of employment?”

“I shined some shoes–when I got hungry enough.”

Leitch made a note of all the responses, “And can you read?

Did you have any sort of formal schooling?”

“When I was with the foster family, yeah. I just can’t see

the words on the page.”

“Dr. Roberts mentioned that. You’re farsighted?”

He shrugged, “If it means you can’t see the little stuff —

sure.”

“When was the last time you had a pair of glasses?”

“Foster family — but I grew out of ’em about a year ago.”

“We’ll have to get you some. And this illness of yours . .

.,” Leitch bent down closer to him, not an easy task for

someone his age. “How long have had your cough?”

“I dunno. Maybe a month.”

“And the fever?”

“Does it look like I got a thermometer in my pocket?”

Jonathan rebuked, sounding tired and agitated.

Leitch frowned, and turned back to Roberts, whispering

close to him, “I want a complete medical inspection. Find

out what the kid has and cure it — we can’t start testing

until he’s perfectly healthy.”

“So we’ll be using him?” Roberts asked, in a softer voice.

“He’s fine — just as long as he’s not sick. It’s not like

he’s going to be missed anyway,” Leitch indicated the file

he had on his clipboard. “Dad died before he was born, and

the mom of cancer. He’s been in and out of foster homes

since he was three. No major loss to society, whatever

happens.”

Roberts glanced back at Jonathan, who was silent except for

an occastional cough, “I’ll see that he gets a full

inspection.”

“Right,” with that, the older scientist was satisfied, and

bade his good-byes. Roberts sighed and turned back to the

curious dawg.

“C’mon, kid — let’s get you better.” He gestured toward

the door, and it took a moment before Jonathan was able to

pick himself off the bed and follow.

 

 

Jonathan was repeatedly impressed by the facilities of the

laboratory. It was made up, mainly, by seemingly endless

white hallways with endless rows of doors leading to rooms

or possibly other hallways. A few were open, and he could

see into the rooms with white-coated scientists hunched over

microscopes or test tubes, taking notes and muttering to

each other in some kind of technical language the dawg was

oblivious to. A few glanced at him in his passing with Dr.

Roberts. He was, after all, an oddity — a homeless pup in a

sea of white coats and glasses. Nearly everyone was wearing

some sort of security pass cliped to their clothes or on a

ring around their neck. He himself had one, though he

couldn’t read the finer print on it without the glasses

they’d promised him, and he doubted he would understand it,

anyway.

“Hell of a place you got here,” he remarked to Roberts.

“Where am I, exactly?”

“Gen-Tech Laboratories.”

“Oh,” he said blankly. “No, *where* is it?”

“You’re in Maryland–very close to the district of

Columbia.”

“Slept a long time, didn’t I?”

“Yup,” Roberts stopped in front of a doorway to push a

series of buttons on the pad key. A moment later, there was

a minor beeping sound, and he pushed the door open. He led

the dawg through another hallway, and finally into another

room with a bed and a table full of doctor’s equipment. “Dr.

Bartol is going to take a look at you in a few minutes — so

just hop on the bed and wait.”

He did as commanded, still queezy and happy to be off his

feet, “Jeez — does everybody have a ‘doc’ in front of their

name here?”

Roberts shrugged, “Most of us *do* have doctorates — it’s

pretty much a requirement to work here.”

“So what am I supposed to call you guys? I was gonna just

call you ‘doc’ but there’s too many of you.”

He smiled, “Whatever’s comfortable. I’ll be back.” With

that, he left the room, obviously to talk to someone or get

something. Jonathan swung is legs back and forth over the

side patiently.

‘Might not be so bad after all,’ he mused to himself.

 

 

After what seemed like an extense examination, to Jonathan

at least, Dr. Bartol came to the conclusion that he had a

prolonged double-illness of broncitus and a minor strain of

the flu, and began medication immediately.

Most of Jonathan’s days were compiled — for the next few

weeks — of taking pills, getting his system used to three

meals a day, and study sessions. After he recieved a pair of

working glasses, Dr. Leitch wanted to know his intelligence

level in every subject. He read out loud and wrote

paragraphs on what he read, did dozens of addition and

subtraction problems, and even a few ‘mind games’ — as the

doctors put it — that he couldn’t seem to see the use for.

One involved trying to work his way through this maze on the

computer before this mouse did in a cage beside him.

“What the hell do I give a damn about how fast the mouse

can get through the damn maze and I can’t?” he demanded,

frustrated with the game.

“It measures your reaction time on the problem-solving

sections of your brain,” Dr. Roberts explained.

Jonathan shot him a look, and he just laughed.

Dr. Roberts was probably the doctor he saw the most. Though

Dr. Leitch was the head of the project, Roberts was

apparently assigned to keep a closer and more personal watch

on him. He was present for most of the medical examinations,

and the teacher for almost all of the study sessions.

Jonathan decided he liked him early on, since he seemed to

be the only one experienced with dealing with anyone under

eighteen and the most understanding. He tended to ask a lot

of questions about his kids — one four, the other two —

and his wife. Roberts made a note on his clipboard —

“facination with family.”

But the weeks passed, and no sooner had Jonathan gotten

adjusted to the atmosphere did his sicknesses disappate.

Roberts seemed a little hesitant whenever Leitch mentioned

beginning the ‘injections,’ but Jonathan couldn’t help but

notice the scientist was doing his best to hide it in front

of the dawg.

 

 

Chapter 3

 

‘Lab Report – January 29th, 1981 – Dr. Daniel Roberts.’

‘Dr. Leitch has recieved the clearance from the commitee to

go forward with the project — much to his expectance, for

he feels the subject has been ready for several days now.

The subject will now begin to be exposed to the syrum, which

Dr. Leitch and I have both had paws in setting up on a

pattern of size and concentration in fluid.’

 

It wasn’t like Jonathan hadn’t been warned. The original

agreement in the shelter mentioned the tests, and Roberts

had been hinting it for most of the time, but otherwise the

dawg had been told little or nothing about the actual

procedure. All he knew was he was testing ‘medicine.’

Heading to Jonathan’s room that morning, Roberts wondered

if he should have told him more — like what he was taking,

and why. Dr. Leitch’s commands required him to lie about the

syrum’s contents and their knowledge of its effects if the

question came up, which he was not fond of doing, but

Roberts now seriously doubted the dawg knew what the word

‘syrum’ meant.

“Jonathan?” he tapped on the door, and heard the faint

sounds of movement inside.

“Come in,” came the usual tone, and Roberts stepped inside.

Jonathan was sitting cross-legged on his bed, reading one of

the newer books that had been given to him. He was wide

awake — which probably had something to do with the fact

that he’d been told yesterday.

“Do you know what today is?” Roberts casually began to

clean up what was left of the breakfast, setting it all back

on the tray. His voice was still an attempted mask at

nervousness.

“Christmas?”

Roberts released a tense laugh, “Not quite. C’mon, kid —

you gotta show them your stuff.”

Jonathan shot him a skeptical look, and set his book aside.

Calmly and quietly, he followed him outside.

 

 

Dr. Leitch was still looking over the jar racks containing

various, diluted dosages of a yellow liquid. He rubbed his

eyes tiredly, going back over his notes to check and requeck

and measurements. He didn’t look up when he felt a shadow

hover over him in the already-darkened room.

“Good morning, Dr. Leitch.”

He finally looked up at the foreboding presence of a tall,

well-built kat. His fur was tan, and his hair a dark brown.

His pudge face was already beginning to show signs of

wrinkles. He was clocked in a large, blank trenchcoat.

“What do you want?” the scientist sounded annoyed.

The unnervingly-calm kat pulled a cigarrete out of a pocket

of his trenchcoat, and a lighter out of the other, “Only to

see that everything goes well.”

“It’ll be fine. I’ve had the first dosage measured out for

a week,” he reached for a syringe and a small bottle.

“It had better, Dr. Leitch. You know how much we want this

project to be a success,” ignoring the ‘thank you for not

smoking near the equipment’ sign, the kat lit up his

cigarette and inhaled deeply.

 

 

Jonathan began to feel his own stomach butterflies when

Roberts brought him to a section of the labs he had never

been in. In front of them was a heavy, metal door. Roberts

took both their ID cards and slid them into a slot. Seconds

later, the cards popped out, and the door opened with a

metallic ‘hiss.’

The dawg swallowed. He always worse his ID, but had never

had a reason to use it before. The door opened to a dark

lab, filled on the walls with desks and shelves brimming

with test tubes, microscopes, and other tools of science.

Dr. Leitch was hunched over the main desk, illuminated by a

small desk light. The only other light, this one much

brighter, was right over an examination table in the center

of the room. Aside from a few various lab technicians, the

only other notable figure was a kat in the corner he had

never seen before, smoking peacefully to himself.

“Who’s that guy?” he whispered to Roberts.

The scientist purposely didn’t seem to hear him, “Get up on

the table, Jonathan.”

Keeping a careful eye on the kat in the shadows, he

hesitantly climbed up on the table. It was slanted on a

fifty-five degree angle, roughly. As soon as he managed to

get up, two of the lab technicians began to strap him down,

securing him to the table.

“Is isn’t gonna *hurt*, is it?” He asked to Roberts, who

had chosen to remain beside him.

“Hopefully not,” The scientist didn’t want to lie, but he

could see the fear in the young boy’s eyes. “It’s just one

injecction.”

“Just one — injecction?!” His eyes widened further, as he

saw Dr. Leitch rise from his desk with a syringe in paw.

“You didn’t tell me there were gonna be *needles* — !”

“Now, Jonathan, relax — it’s just a prick — ”

The dawg began to squirm under his bonds, “Don’t you come

never me WITH THAT NEEDLE–!”

“*Jonathan* — ” Roberts grabbed one shoulder, pinning it

down, as technician rushed in on the other side.

“GET AWAY FROM ME — ” He continued to struggle, regardless

that Leitch was beside him.

“Jonathan,” Roberts used a softer voice now, trying to

comfort him as the dawg shut his eyes and continued

screaming his head off. Without hesitation, Leitch brought

the needle up to the fur and made the puncture in the skin

layer of his arm.

“NO! I WANT OUT — ”

With the needle in, Leitch tightened his grip with is thumb

over the end of the syringe.

“PLEASE NO — !”

The clear yellow liquid was driven home.

“NO . . .!” The end of Jonathan’s attempted sentence was

cut off by a moan, and a twist of facial features in sharp

confusion. His body began to convulse and he was sweating

bullets. “Ugh . . .”

The scientists all backed off now, waiting to see the

result of the syrum’s presence in his system. He continued

to convulse, thrashing around under his straps.

After several minutes, the shaking settled, and he rested

his back against the metal. Groaning softly, he twisted his

head to look up at Roberts, who doubted he could see him

with the glassy, drugged look in his eyes.

“Jonathan?” The scientist probed, quietly. “How many claws

am I holding up?” He help up two claws, which the dawg

stared at curiously.

Roberts’ voice was low and distilled to Jonathan, under the

effects of the syrum now. The light above him made

everything hazy, and his body had long-since gone rather

limp. He could sort of make out the words, something about

his

paw, but was unable to answer. Whatever he tried to say came

out in a gutteral sound far from comprehension.

“Can you hear me?”

At last, after a minute of failed attempts, he managed to

sputter out, “Hurts.”

“What hurts?”

He was beginning to slip back into control again, the

initial high of the syrum done with its climax, “Tingles.”

“Where?”

“Whole body,” he twisted, but only a little. “Hurts like

hell.”

“Can you feel any find of change? Aside from the pain?”

Leitch asked now, taking notes with his clipboard.

Jonathan looked at him skeptically, and Leitch backed off,

towards his desk. Roberts began to loosen the straps, with

the dawg much too weak to go anywhere.

“You’re not gonna do that again . . . are you?” Though the

speech was still partially slirred, Jonathan was definitely

recovering from the high.

“That depends on what we can learn from how you react to

it,” the scientist answered, not wanting to come out and say

‘yes, we’re going to do it every day.’ He was relieved that

Jonathan had survived somewhat well from the looks of it,

“Do you still feel the tingling?”

“Yeah . . . all over,” the dawg attempted to pull himself

off the table, but nearly collapsed on the floor in the

process.

Roberts caught him, “Easy.” He set the table back at a flat

angle, and helped him back up onto it in sitting position.

“I don’t think your legs are ready to hold you yet.”

“Can I have my glasses back now?”

Roberts nodded to a technician, who fetched the glasses

that had been set aside before the injecction. Jonathan took

them from him, and as he held them in his paws before

setting them back on the bridge of his snout, Roberts

noticed his paws were still shaking.

“How do you feel now?”

“You gonna keep askin’ that every five minutes? Still

tingles,” he retorted, obviously a little crabby over what

he’d been made to go through.

Dr. Leitch returned from his table, taking a good look at

the dawg in his shaken state before turning to Roberts, “I

want a medical examination and a blood sample. After *that*

get can go to bed,” the authorative tone broke down whatever

disapproving look was on Roberts’ face. “When he wakes up I

want a physical update and another blood sample.”

Jonathan made a face; he’d seen enough needles for one day,

but Roberts took his paw firmly, “C’mon, kid — you did

well.” With that he led him out of the room, and the kat in

the shadows was forgotten.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

‘Lab Report – Feburary 6th, 1981 – Dr. Daniel Roberts’

‘The subject has recieved a daily dosage of the syrum

according to schedule for the last week. During this period

of time he seems to have begun to become accostemed to the

injecction, because the more painful and apparent side

effects–such as convultions and haluccenagentic indicative

actions — have calmed down considerably with every dosage.’

‘Dr. Leitch has slowly been increasing the amounts

steadily, but under the advisory of myself and status

superior colleges he has slowed the accelaration so that we

may better observe the signs of change that are beginning to

appear.’

 

“‘Outside, even the-re-ogh’ — ”

“Through.”

” — ‘even through the shut window pane, the whirl’ — ”

“World.”

” — ‘world looked cold. Down in the street little eddites’

— yeah, that’s right, isn’t it? Eddies?” He looked up at

his tutor, who nodded approvingly, and he continued, “‘of

wind were worlding’ — ”

“Whirling.”

” — ‘were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and

the-re-ogh–through–the sun was shining — ”

Through the one-way mirror on the wall between Jonathan’s

room and an observation laboratory, Roberts and Leitch were

watching as the dawg attempted to read to his tutor. Both

scientists found it facinating as to how fast Jonathan was

beginning to pick things up.

“You really think the syrum is working? Or are we just the

first ones to try and educate him?” Roberts had to ask

skeptically.

“Absolutely,” Leitch jotted something down in his notepad

as Jonathan stumbled over the word ‘mustachio’d.’ “A

ten-year-old reading ‘1984’? And that isn’t the only

change.” He referred to his notes again, but Roberts’ eyes

remained glued on the inner room. “His t-RNA and m-RNA are

working overtime. His blood samples show he’s producing

proteins at a 40% rate above normal — even for a child.

There’s a tremendous build-up of muscle proteins near the

skin, indicating the growth of some kind of extra skin layer

that may prove to be — ”

“You still don’t think we’re moving too fast? He’s just a

boy, Dr. Leitch.”

“That’s the reason his system can take this kind of shock

— his young body is *used* to growth. We’re just

accelerating the process in different ways.”

“But mentally? It’s a lot to throw at him, isn’t it?”

“What are you worried about, Daniel? That we’re going to

turn him into a robot?”

Roberts sighed, but shook his head, “He’s just . . . not a

genius, Dr. Leitch.”

“Maybe he is — now, anyway,” Leitch made a note on his

clipboard. “Remind me to give him an IQ test.”

He sighed again, more heavily this time, and kept his eyes

glued to the tutoring session.

 

 

“Doc?” Jonathan used his pet name for Roberts, snapping the

scientist out of his reverie as he watched the dawg finish

up dinner. Everyone else was ‘doc *something*’ — he was

just doc. “What’s gonna to happen to me?”

“What?” His train of thought broken, it took Roberts a

moment to recover. “What do you mean?”

He played with the contents of the plate with his fork was

he spoke, “I mean . . . you know how I’m . . . *changing*.”

“How?”

“C’mon, Doc–everybody’s talking about it. Especially Doc

Leitch. I’m *different.*”

“What — do you mean how the speed of how you’re picking

things up is accelerating?”

The dawg nodded, “And other stuff . . . Doc Leitch was

babbling the other day about that IQ test thing, and how I

beat the mouse at the maze, and all this stuff about

proteins and most of the other stuff he says that I can’t

understand but I’m sure it’s about me. Is that syrum making

me smarter?”

Roberts inhaled, and shifted his weight around, “Yes — we

think so.”

“Why?”

“We don’t know.”

“Why not? I mean, you’re the ones taking all the notes — ”

He shook his head, “It’s not just that, Jonathan . . . your

body–not just your brain — is going through some . . .

changes . . . that we don’t really understand yet. That’s

why you have to have so many examinations and blood samples

and testing.”

“Oh,” His eyes widened. “When are you *gonna* know?”

“We have a basic idea . . .”

Jonathan looked as though he was waiting for an answer.

“Well . . . you’ll probably only get so much smarter, from

the way it looks in the progression rate. Your brain isn’t

really ready for it because you’re so young. Your body, on

the other paw, will probably continue to advance in ways we

haven’t been able to predict yet.”

“So *then* what’s gonna happen to me? After the

experiment?”

He was clearly talking about whether they were going to

throw him on the welcome mat of another homeless shelter or

not.

“We really haven’t thought too much about it yet. If the

effects prove to be permanate . . . you may stay here. You

would be schooled by a series of tutors, and then I suppose

would end up as a scientist. Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t wanna go back to the streets.”

“That’s understandable. Perhaps we’ll find you a — ”

“And I *don’t* wanna go to a foster home,” he rejected

instantly.

Roberts shrugged, “I suppose we could find someone to adopt

you more *permanately* . . .”

“Can I stay with you?”

The scientist was taken back greatly by this question, “Ahh

. . . I don’t think so.”

“Why not? The scientist could still look at me and stuff

because I’d be real close — ”

“No, no, no,” sadly, he slumped down on the bed beside him.

“As much as I’d love to have you . . . I don’t think my wife

would love it if I suddenly came home with a third kid.”

“So tell her *now*.”

“Jonathan . . . it’s just not that *simple.*”

“Why not?”

“Because . . .,” he sighed, slightly aggrevated, ” . . .

it’s not. It’s something you’ll understand when you’re

older.”

“Will I understand it if I keep taking the syrum?”

“No . . . Jonathan, some things only come with experience .

. . and that’s just something you don’t have yet.”

Jonathan groaned in unsatisfactory, and Roberts made a

gesture towards the sheets, “I think you’d better get some

sleep . . . we’re up past lights out all ready.”

The dawg climbed in under the covers, “Are they gonna raise

my dosage tomorrow?”

Roberts stopped by the door, now on his way out, surprised

that he cared about it, “Maybe . . . I haven’t spoken to Dr.

Leitch about it yet. Why?”

“Because if you raise it too fast, I’ll finish changing and

have to leave. I don’t wanna do that yet,” He rolled over on

his side. “G’night, Doc.”

“Goodnight, Jonathan,” Roberts shut the lights out, and

closed the door quietly behind him.

 

 

Chapter 5

 

‘Lab Report – Feburary 14th, 1981 – Dr. Daniel Roberts’

‘In the two weeks that the subject has been exposed to the

syrum, he has shown tremendous progress in all areas of

study, along with some more hidden physical changes

involving the toughing of his skin and formation of muscles

ahead of his age.’

‘I, along with many of my colleges, am concerned about his

mental health in the process. His IQ seems to be

accelerating expodentially, and has begun to effect his mood

and character. Some of us wonder whether this is dangerous

to a ten-year-old child, and today we will submit our

request to slow the raise in dosages to Dr. Leitch.’

 

“What the hell are you talking about!?”

Dr. Leitch was mad — no, specifically, frothing mad. One

could practically see the steam shooting from his ears.

Dr. Bartol backed off, but remained calm, “I was merely

making the suggestion — ”

” — that could destroy everything we’ve worked for!”

They were in the soundproof observation lab next to

Jonathan’s room. The dawg was reading quietly in his,

unaware of the calamic arguement occuring a few feet away.

Bartol continued, “If you’d let me finish — ”

“If it provides some decent explanation for your ludicrous

request, go ahead.”

The medical doctor sighed in frustration, “I think we’re

advancing too quickly. Jonathan is beginning to show signs

of mental maturity beyond his years — ”

“So why is that a bad thing?”

” — which simply isn’t healthy for a ten-year-old — or

anyone under eighteen, for that matter! All of the sudden he

has the eliquent speech of someone with a doctorate, he

reads philosophy books and can understand the underlying

themes in ‘1984,’ but inside he’s still emotionally a child.

Now, one of these days those emotions are going to catch up

with him and he’s not going to know how to handle it!”

“Oh, if you wanted to deal with morals you never should’ve

signed to this project, Bartol!” Leitch stormed about the

lab angrily. “We’re not babying a homeless kid by feeding

and clothing him for a month, then giving him two aspirin

and having him tell us how he feels in the morning! This is

research for scientific advancement!”

“You’re not advancing if your subject is driven crazy by

his own feelings!” He turned to Roberts, “Help me here!”

Roberts chose to remain calm, “I’ll back it. If you

continue at this rate, you risk an interior build-up of

suppressed emotions caused by mood swings from the syrum

that could result in mental breakdown. If we slow the

process, we might be able to avoid it, and maybe undo some

of the damage we’ve done.”

Dr. Leitch scrowled, but was silent, and was still

contemplating the matter when a knock came from the door,

“Come in.”

Jonathan, to their surprise, was there. In the rush of the

arguement they hadn’t noticed he’d left his own room.

“Jonathan! You’re supposed to be reading!” Roberts rushed

up to him, trying to kind of block him from entering the

room — or he might notice the one-way mirror on the wall.

“What are you doing here?”

“I heard the shouting and I wanted to see what it was

about.”

Leitch made a note, ‘Improved hearing,’ “We were just

having a . . . discussion.”

“Oh,” Jonathan looked at them as if they were queer. “Well,

could you keep it down? I am trying to read.”

“We didn’t know,” Roberts defended. “The room was supposed

to be soundproof.”

“It isn’t. So could you keep it down?”

“You can seriously hear us?” Leitch asked, curious.

“Yes, I can. What is the problem?”

He mumbled in response and continued to scribble something

on his clipboard.

“Jonathan,” Roberts began, inching him further out the

door. “I’m going to wake you up a little later tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“Because, we’ve decided some of the dosages have been a

little too . . . demanding . . . and we’re going to slow

down — and skip a dose tomorrow.” He didn’t glance back at

Leitch, who was probably seething.

“Really?” He didn’t say it with any sort of exciement or

letdown, just a kind of matter-of-fact tone.

“Yes. So go get some sleep, and don’t be alarmed if you

wake up on your own and it’s later than usual. We’ll try and

keep quiet,” He nearly pushed him out, leading him to his

room. “Good night.”

“Good night,” still looking at his quizzically, Jonathan

let himself in his room and shut out the door behind him.

 

 

When Roberts came in his room the following morning, he

could instantly tell something was wrong. Jonathan was

sitting up in bed, reading his latest book. He didn’t look

well at all.

“Are you feeling all right, Jonathan?” He sat down on the

bed beside him. Jonathan was sweating and had a pale tint to

his body. The scientist felt his forehead, and fever was

evident. “How long have you been awake?”

“Since eight,” Jonathan put down his book. “I didn’t feel

this way when I woke up, though. Only in the last hour or

so.” His eyes quivered and blinked, and Roberts noticed they

were slightly bloodshot. “Can I have my injecction now?”

“Not if you’re sick. Come on,” He helped him sit up with

his legs over the side.

“Get yourself dressed and meet me outside. Dr. Bartol needs

to take a look at you before we do anything.”

Jonathan nodded, and stiffly dressed himself. His movements

were awkward and seemed as though they were induced by pain.

‘I don’t understand how he could get this sick overnight,’

Roberts wondered as he led him down the hallway. ‘Maybe the

syrum was keeping him to some disease in the air so we

didn’t see the signs of infection until the syrum got a

chance to wear off . . .’

Jonathan, still wary, managed to make it to Dr. Bartol’s

examination table somehow, and the doctor preceeded with an

immediate inspection.

“Symptoms?” he asked, taking the dawg’s blood pressure and

finding it rather high.

“Chills and the fact that I’m shaking all over, mainly,”

his patient shivered. “My eyes burn, and my body aches like

hell.”

“No stuffy nose?” Bartol got in closer with a light. “It

can’t be the flu, then.” He jotted down something on a

notepad, then faced Roberts. “He didn’t get his dosage of

the syrum today, did he?”

“No.”

“When does he typically get it?”

“Eight o’clock.”

“Every day?”

“On the nose.”

Bartol nodded curiously, stroked his chin for several

minutes, then said at last, “I hate to admit it, but this

looks something like . . . withdrawl.”

“*What*?”

“You know. Lack of required substance to sustain the body.

The shakes, the chills,” he patted Jonathan’s shoulder. “And

these are probably only the early signs of it — it’s only

been two and a half hours.”

 

 

“I can’t believe we didn’t put addiction into consideration

earlier,” Leitch thought out loud, pacing in front of the

table where Jonathan sat. “Yet it seems so logical now . .

.”

“Can I have my injecction now?” The dawg, shivering and

tugging his body tightly now, spoke with a thin and reedy

voice. “*Please*.”

“Just a minute,” Despite Roberts’ look of impatient

toward’s Leitch’s refusal to grant to request, the head

scientist produced an empty syringe. “I want to take a blood

sample to see what’s happening inside his body.”

Jonathan willingly held out his arm, desperate now to

listen to anything if it meant getting his dosage. Leitch

drew the blood, slowly and carefully, and his scrutinizing

manner while setting the blood on a slide and observing it

under a microscope only made his subject’s anger rise.

“*Please*,” he begged again, now with a slightly colder

tone.

“Daniel — how long has it been since his last dosage?”

Roberts checked his watch, “Twenty-seven hours.”

“Interesting,” the scientist, still in no hurry, finally

retrieved a syringe with the next dosage prepared in it.

Relief washed over Jonathan’s face when he approached him,

but Leitch made no move to inject it. “It almost makes me

wonder — ”

“*Please*!” he pleaded. “Give it to me!” His breathing had

become heavy and uneven.

“Hold on just a minute–”

Jonathan could wait no longer. His paw struck out, grabbing

the paw of the scientist containing the syringe, “GIVE TO TO

ME–!”

Before anyone could react, Leitch gave out a sharp yell,

surprised by the strength of the fist that was crushing in

his own paw. He let go of the syringe, which dropped to the

floor with an audible *crash* and the soft sound of glass

shattering.

“No . . .,” Jonathan, with a horrified look on his face,

released Leitch’s paw and jumped on the table, kneeling

beside the puddle of yellow liquid. “*No*. . .”

Angrily, he turned to Leitch, “You have to make another

one–”

“Another dosage, yes,” he was still grasping his injured

paw. “It’ll take hours to mix up . . .”

“*No,*” the dawg said coldly. “You have to make one NOW!”

He lunged towards Leitch, obviously induced by his fever and

state of illness, but Roberts finally managed to slip out of

shock fast enough to grab him and hold him back, inches from

the other scientist. Jonathan trashed out and shouted under

his captor’s hold.

“Get the technicians!” he ordered to Leitch. He was having

problems holding the dawg back — he wondered where the

strange amont of strength was coming from, and attributed it

to those new muscles they hadn’t tested yet. Within minutes

the technicians arrived, one with a hypodermic needle he

immediately injected into Jonathan. The subject slumped

under Roberts’ grasp, feeling instantaniously the effects of

the sedative, and would have landed on the floor had another

tech not caught him. Still partially awake but unable to

move much, he was strapped down to the table while someone

attended to Leitch’s paw.

“Bloody beggar,” Leitch snorted as his paw was bandaged.

“He just wanted the syrum, Dr. Leitch,” Roberts said

calmly. “How long do you think it’ll take to make another

dosage?”

“Maybe an hour or so,” he practically spat out his words.

“And it was *you* who wanted to slow it down . . . so now we

proved we can’t. Are you satisfied?”

Roberts sighed, watching the dawg weakly struggle against

his restraints and give up. The sedative slowed his

movements, but it was easy to see he was still in pain.

The scientist patted him on the shoulder, “It’s going to be

all right . . . we’ll get you your syrum . . . just wait.”

Jonathan moaned softly, and Roberts couldn’t help but fee a

twinge of guilt for his position.

 

 

Chapter 6

 

‘Lab Report – Feburary 21st, 1981 – Dr. Daniel Roberts.’

‘Since the erratic behavior of the subject when he was

denied his regular injecction, we have made sure to have the

right amount of syrum on time. To date, he has had no futher

complications.’

 

Dr. Leitch was leaning over his notes, apparently trying to

compute something, when Roberts walked in. The older kat

looked up and noticed him.

“Daniel! How’s the subject?”

He shrugged, “Fine.”

“Good, good,” he referred to his notes again. “I’ve noticed

his intellectual pogression rate has begun to slow down

lately. Have you?”

“Maybe it’s too much on him. A ten-year-old can only get so

smart.”

Leitch clicked his tongue, “There you go, Daniel — always

worrying. Well, we’re down on dosages since that unfortunate

spill,” he rubbed his paw, still sprained and bandaged, “so

I’ll have to order up some more from the storage facilities.

It should get here before we run out.”

“That, actually, was what I came to ask about . . .,”

Roberts shifted his weight from foot to foot, and stared at

the ground before lifting his head. “He is an addict . . .

so what happens when we *do* run out? The storages only have

to much, and we can’t make more . . .”

“They have more than you imagine, Daniel. But even so . . .

I suppose we’ll begin a program sooner or later of dosage

decreases until he can live without it. But . . . we’ll

cross that bridge when we come to it, won’t we?”

 

 

Dr. Leitch was signing in a package a few days later when

he noticed something missing on the ‘in’ list. Curiously, he

checked and double-checked, but it wasn’t there.

“Excuse me,” He tapped on the shoulder of the delivery boy,

who was carrying in another box from his truck. “Isn’t there

something missing from this list?”

“Huh?” He glanced at it. “No, sir.”

“But there was a shipment from a storage facility in New

Mexico that was supposed to come today — yesterday,

actually. It’s already late.”

The delivery boy shrugged, “Can’t help you, sir. The mail’s

been on time lately. You may want to call the facility and

ask if they sent it.”

“I’ll do that — thanks.”

 

 

Leitch checked his answering machine as soon as he entered

his office, and frowned. No return calls so far for his

message left on the answering machine in New Mexico. The

package still hadn’t come, too, and they were down to their

last dosage.

He was about to turn around and go back to the laboratory

when he noticed smoke — cigarrete smoke, specfically —

something from behind his chair, which was wheeled so it

faced the window and had its tall back to the desk.

“Dr. Leitch . . .,” the occupant of his desk chair spun

around, and he recognized him immediately. “How is the

project? I’ve been reading up on Dr. Roberts’ reports and

finding them very interesting.”

He was, however, in no mood for small talk, “Where is the

next batch of syrum?”

The kat stood, puffing on his cigarrete. “That’s why I came

down — in case I had to be the one to deliver the bad

news.”

“Bad news?” he questioned impatiently. “Where is the

syrum?”

“Didn’t you hear?” he said nonchalantly. “There is no

more.”

“What *the hell* are you talking about?” his voice rose,

but only slightly. “I saw the whole storage two months ago.

There’s no other subjects. We’re not selling it to anyone,

are we?”

“Not exactly,” he remained calm, despite the nervousness

growing in Leitch as the scientist realized the situation.

“You see, our ‘donaters’ decided to play a little game with

us, apparently. The chemical was one that would

spontaniously deteriorate after a period of months of being

exposed to our air — that is, if not in the syrum form.”

“So all the chemicals in storage — ”

” — have all dissolved in the last fourty-eight hours.

There is no more, Dr. Leitch, aside from what you have in

this laboratory.”

The scientist stood for a minute, grappling with his words,

“B-But what about the subject — today was the last dosage

— ”

“Then it seems Mr. Weissman is in a predicament, isn’t he?”

He took another puff. “Normally, since he cannot be released

in fear that he might go to local authorities about what

happened hear, and we cannot put him up for the rest of his

life, he would be . . . taken care of. However, since your

findings conclude that without the syrum he would die within

a period of fourty-eight hours after his last dose . . .”

“You’re not going to kill him . . . you’re going to let him

kill himself,” Leitch couldn’t believe his own words as he

spoke.

“Precisely.”

“But . . . he would be in pain — ”

The kat put out his light in and set it on the marble

desktop, “Then I suppose you could hurry the process . . .

but that’s your decision.”

He made a movement towards the door, but the scientist

lurched out in front of him, “Wait — I have an assistant

who won’t take well to this.”

“Then I suggest you give him the day off tomorrow.”

The kat left silently, leaving Leitch to his own horrified

musings.

 

 

Jonathan began to sense something was wrong around

eight-thirty. He had been told previously that someone else

would come to get him in the morning because Roberts had

been given the day off, but they were supposed to be on

time. He paced his tiny room, anxiously.

Around nine he began to feel the first tinglings of

withdrawl, and started to wonder if he should go find out

for himself. The rule was he was not allowed around the

facilities without an adult, but he had the security pass

regardless, anyway. Putting on his glasses, he read the

words in block print over his photograph : “ALL SECURITY

ACCESS.” That mean he could go wherever he wanted, right?

At nine-thirty he had prepped himself enough to try it.

Leaving his room, he found little resistence with the door.

Outside, the hallways were a mess with technicians running

to and fro, and he had his second sense of add happenings.

Things looked more busied than usual — but luckily for him

to the point where no one seemed to notice he was walking

around alone.

The only place he had to use his pass, in fact, was of

course the entrance to the laboratory where he recieved his

injecctions. He slipped the card and punched in the set of

numbers he had seen Roberts use so many times. It opened,

thankfully, and he let himself in.

“Dr. Leitch?” Only his voice managed to knock the

apparently overworked Leitch out of his reverie over a file

cabinet.

“Jonathan!” He sounded surprised. “What are you doing

here?”

“Wasn’t I supposed to be here around an hour and a half

ago?”

“Ah, yes . . .,” Leitch frantically hurried around the

room, going through one shelf after another and opening

cabinet after cabinet.

‘How could he forget?’ “Can I have it now?”

“Ah . . . no.”

“*What*?”

The scientist momentarily stopped his rushing around,

inhaled deeply, and faced the dawg sadly, “I’m afraid I have

some bad news . . . There isn’t any more.”

“*WHAT*?” he said again, with greater disbelief. He studied

Leitch for moment, “You’re serious.”

“Perfectly. It seems our storage center has been

contaminated . . . and . . .”

“What’s going to happen to *me*?”

“Well . . . you’ll probably go into withdrawl . . .”

” . . . *and* . . .?”

The scientist grappled with the words, “And . . . you might

survive. We’ve never tested it . . . but . . .”

“I’ll probably die,” the dawg muttered, still partially

denying.

“Now, now . . .,” Leitch bent down to meet him eye level.

“We’re searching for more of the syrum. I think there’s

probably another dose somewhere in the facilities. I have

every team member on it — we’ll find you another dose.” He

patted him on the back, “You go . . . busy yourself and

we’ll call you when we find something or order up some

painkillers. Get your mind off it, okay?”

Jonathan smiled, almost mockingly, and exited silently.

 

 

Chapter 7

 

‘Lab Report – Feburary 23rd, 1981 – Dr. Archibold Leitch’

‘In Dr. Roberts’ absence, it has come to my authority to

make an emergency report.’

‘No more of the syrum has been located within the faculty

or any more of the chemicals in the storage facilities. The

subject has begun, in the last few hours, to go into

continously worse stages. He has complained severely of pain

beyond our medicine’s ability to sooth, and frequently goes

into goes into convulsions that make him almost violent. I

will hesitate no longer to continue with the suggested

solution by my superior.’

 

 

“Dr. Leitch?”

The kat looked up from his lab desk at the sound of him

name, seeing two technicians enter. Each had their paw

around one of Jonathan’s arms. He seemed to struggle weakly

against them, in a state of hallucenegenic agony. He noticed

Leitch with his bloodshot eyes, and relief washed over his

sickly pale face.

“Did you find the syrum?” He wiggled excitedly, but they

held him strong. “Please . . . give it to me . . .”

Stoicly the scientist responded, “Strap him down.”

“You *have it*?” The dawg practially shook with nervous

agitation as he allowed himself to be tied down. “Oh please,

*please* . . .” Had his glasses not been removed by a tech,

he might’ve noticed the large bottle Dr. Leitch lifted down

from the shelf was not the syrum. The skull beside the

red-lettered warning label on the bottle should have been

enough of an indicator of its contents.

Leitch nodded to the techs when Jonathan was secured, “You

can go.” Slowly and carefully, he found a clean syringe and

began to load the bottle’s contents into the tube as they

left.

“What is it, doctor?” Jonathan questioned. “I can take a

needle now–why do I have to be tied–” He stopped short

when he could see Leitch turn to face him, syringe in hand.

The contents were not of the yellow color of the syrum.

“*That’s* not the syrum . . . doctor, what’s going on?”

Leitch said nothing, and advanced towards him ever so

slowly.

“Doctor?” The dawg struggled to prompt himself up by his

elbows, but he was secured with his back to the table. “What

is that? You’re not going to put something in me that you

wouldn’t tell me about, *right*?”

“Jonathan,” the scientist began calmly, but the wavering in

his voice could be sensed as he checked the needle over, now

directly beside the table, “you realize what’s going to

happen . . . in the next twenty-four hours . . . if left

alone.”

“I want to know what’s in that needle, doc — ”

He swallowed, “Your body will probably begin to break down

. . . your vital organs will stop functioning . . . but

you’d probably be in a coma by then, because you can’t take

that kind of pain. At least . . . that’s what the charts

indicate . . . Your end if near, my boy . . .”

“*DOC* — ”

“And I want to make it make it easier . . .,” he lowered

the syringe in his shaking paw so the needle lined up with

the targetted arm. “I don’t want you to be in pain for

nothing . . . I know Roberts wouldn’t . . .” He exhaled,

intent on steadying himself for his black work. “I hope

you’ll forgive me . . . some day . . . ”

Jonathan’s eyes widened when he realized what he was

talking about, “DOC . . . DON’T COME NEAR ME . . .!”

Closing his eyes, Leitch drove the needle in, but did not

injecct the fluid.

“DOC . . . I DON’T WANT TO DIE — !”

His claw closed over and tightened on the needle’s trigger.

“NO — ,” Jonathan lurched around under his restraints,

feeling the fluid inside him. “*NO*!” The second shout was a

less pleading, more angered one. Without warning and with an

unforseen strength, he tore the straps out from the sides of

the table–freeing his limbs.

His first instinct was to knock Leitch away, sending the

scientist straight into the wall. Infuriated, he tore the

needle from his skin and hurled it across the room, letting

it smash against the wall and the remaining fluid to fall

onto Leitch’s head. Jonathan threw himself off the table,

landing unsteadily on two feet. He ran for the bottle on the

desk, and read its label with a voice wavering in pitch in

shock.

“Sodium . . .chlorite? . . . this is poison . . .” His

anger rose in his voice again, and he slammed the bottle

into Leitch, who was curled up against the wall now. “YOU

TRIED TO POISON ME — !”

“Now Jonathan, *please* . . . it was for the good — ”

“FOR THE GOOD!” His features red with hate, he grabbed the

scientist and threw him back across the room, his body

crashing into the table.

He had time to do little else, when the technicians stormed

in through the door. Acting purely on instincts, he ducked

out while the metal door was opened, slipping between the

two of them. Before they had a chance to realize as to what

was going on, he was gone.

“Don’t just stand there!” Leitch, partially recovering,

stood and leaned against the table. “*Find him*!”

 

 

It had not occured to Jonathan to find an escape route

previously, being he’d never given the matter much thought

and had rarely been beyond the hallways designated for his

passage in getting from one lab room to another. The place

was brimming with technicians at all hours, and he had no

idea as to the size of the complex or where it was located

on a map.

He practically flew by the technicians, most of them

unaware of his plight’s reason and the techs already in

pursuit. He turned down another hallway, then another . . .

same white walls, same side rooms. There was almost no way

to tell his direction.

Jonathan was beginning to feel as though he was slipping

ahead when he hit a dead end corridor. Spinning around, he

heard the sound of boots on the waxed floor, and to his

horror several soldiers, dressed in black and carrying uzis,

appeared in block of his exit.

“There he is!” one shouted, and their direction turned to

the trapped dawg.

‘What’s next? Ninja guards?’ At the movie reference his

mind brightened with an idea. Grabbling the nearby wheeled

cart full of bottles and various scientific instruments, he

mustered as his strength and hurled it in the direction of

the soldiers. It didn’t necessarily knock them all over like

a Jackie Chan movie, but it was enough of a momentary stun.

Seizing the moment, he hopped up on the cart as it crashed

through. When the cart came to a stop as it met the awaiting

reception, he lept off and landed on the other side of the

wall of soldiers.

‘I can’t believe that actually worked!’ He allowed only a

moment to enjoy his success, then took off in another run.

‘Come on, I need a way out . . . what room has windows?’ The

only one he could recall was the lab next to his, that he

had been in the doorway only once to try and quiet the noisy

scientists. ‘I know there *that* is, at least . . .’

Thankfully, the door was open — probably because of the

rushed state some technician left it in after hearing the

alarm siren first sound. The window, as his second stroke of

luck, wasn’t barred. Not hesitating, he picked up a lab

stool and hurled it through the glass.

The soldiers, now with Leitch, were at the door when he

managed to climb up onto the windowsill. He glanced out, and

grew dizzy when he noticed the three-story jump.

“SHOOT HIM!”

That was enough of an incentive. Taking a deep breath, he

closed his eyes and pushed forward. All he felt on his way

down was a sting in the back of his leg.

His land wasn’t so easy, but bearable in a bush that wasn’t

thorny. There was no time to lie there and contemplate why

he was magically still alive; he picked himself up and

turned away from the complex, heading for the woods

apparently surrounding the place. His leg stung horribly,

which he guessed was from a bullet wound, but he ignored it

as best as he could as Jonathan disappeared into the wooded

area.

Moments later, the soldiers bothered to stop firing.

“He’s gone, sir,” one of them announced to Leitch.

The scientist only shrugged, “Keep looking. I want a

full-scale search of the surrounding forest. He’ll be dead

in the next twenty-four hours — if he’s lucky to last that

long — but his body must be destroyed.”

“Yes, sir.”

 

 

Chapter 8

 

‘Lab Report – Feburary 23rd, 1981 – Dr. Archibold Leitch’

‘The subject has left the facility. His termination, by our

paws or his own, is enevidable.’

 

Jonathan didn’t stop running until the pain grew too much,

both in his leg and his entire body from the withdrawl, and

felt as though his limbs were going to fall off if he didn’t

rest. Halting by a small waterfall, he collapsed on the tiny

bank. He had heard nothing of soldiers for well over an

hour, and assumed himself to be momentarily safe.

Minutes passed before he could pull himself back up into

sitting position to take a look at his leg. He had indeed

been shot, but there was no exit wound on the front —

indicating the bullet could very well still be inside. He

tore off the lower half of his pant leg, which was soiled

anyway, and soaked it in the water before attempting to wrap

it around his leg as a makeshift bandage.

He was not able to decide which hurt worse — the sting in

his leg, or the withdrawl symptoms. His body still shook and

he was sweating despite the chill of late Feburary. He

prayed for some magical angel to come deliver the syrum, or

Dr. Roberts, or anyone else . . . just to stop the pain.

Leaning over the stream formed by the waterfall, he was

washing his face off when he felt the tears begin to creep

up under his eyelids. For an instant he swallowed and tried

to hold it back, afraid that if he let himself go he would

get more worked up and make everything worse — that or he

wouldn’t be able to stop. Finding it hard to catch his

breath from the oncoming sobs, however, he finally stopped

fighting the urge.

The release felt good, for both his body and soul. He was

alone and afraid, and after all, he himself had forgotten

his age in the mess of IQ tests and eliquent speech. The

emotions released were not only from the events of the past

few hours, but the last weeks as well. He was tired —

emotionally and physically — of needles, mental analysis,

tutoring, and testing. The rush of new experiences and

overly-mature information was simply too much for someone is

age, and he allowed his true feelings to be exposed.

He had no idea how long it was before he recovered. He had

no way of knowing anything, in fact, especially how long it

had been since his last injecction–which he wasn’t sure he

*wanted* to know. He slowly cleaned himself up, and began to

try and stand again. The pain was great in his leg, but he

had to try.

‘But where would I go?’ he reminded himself, and suddenly a

forgotten memory flashed in his mind — the wallet with the

Roberts’ family photos he had stared at so often contained

an address, which he had long-since memorized. ‘Now if only

I could find this town he lives near, I could ask directions

. . .’

With a newfound sense of determination, he slowly began the

long journey in the direction he guessed would lead him

home.

 

 

It was around two in the afternoon when Roberts got the

call. Susan was upstairs, putting Michael in for a nap, and

Emily was still at nursery school, so he was first to the

phone.

“*What*?”

His disbelief echoed through his kitchen. Susan appeared at

the bottom of the stairs instantly, reading the shocked

expression on his face.

“Honey — what is it?”

He immediately slammed down the phone on its cradle as soon

as he was done with the conversation, and went for the coat

closet, “I have to get to the lab. Jona — the subject

escaped.”

“The subject?”

Roberts threw his coat on, “A dawg we were exposing to a

medicative syrum. He jumped out a window and made a break

for it.”

“Why would he — ”

“I don’t know, Suzy,” he kissed her on the cheek, buttoning

the coat. “I just don’t know. Listen, if he comes here — ”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he has nowhere else to go and he might look up my

address. What can I say? He liked me. If he comes, I want

you to call *me* immediately, okay?”

She seemed a little surprised, but recovered quickly

enough, “What does he look like?”

“A dawg — beagle bread. Tan fur, big, floopy ears. Kind of

hard to miss in Maryland,” he waved, then hurried out the

door.

 

 

Susan had found it hard to take him seriously, and had even

forgotten mainly about the matter. She was about to go wake

Michael up from his nap, actually, when she heard a tapping

on the back screen door.

‘Must be one of those squirrels,’ she thought to herself,

and pulled back the screen. Her jaw dropped when she noticed

the form lying on her porch.

It was a dawg indeed. His clothes, probably originally

white and embroidered with the Gen-Tech logo on the breast,

were soiled beyond being salvaged. A torn piece of cloth

used as a bandage was soaked with blood dripping right

through it and down the leg. He moaned softly, trying to

pull himself into the house, but unable to stand.

“Oh my — you must be that — ,” she stopped at the word

‘test subject,’ thinking it too harsh. Her overall surprise

was his age; he could not have been much more than thirteen,

even though she had had little experience with dawgs — it

was obvious enough. His eyes lit up a bit in seeing her bend

down and scoop him up, somewhat successfully carrying him

inside and laying him down in a chair.

She was reaching for the phone when he paw struck out,

grabbing her sweater, “Please . . . no hosp’tal.”

“But you’re injured — ”

“No hosp’tal,” he repeated, his speech slurred by whatever

seemed to be causing his body to shake and prespire.

“*Please* . . . don’ wan’ them t’ fin me. . .”

“Why not?” Curious, she knelt down to his eye level as he

slumped helplessly in the chair.

“Leitch . . . th’ doc . . . try to kill me — he’s gonn’ do

it again . . . please.”

“You need help.”

“Call Doc . . . Rob’rts . . . he’ll ‘elp me,” he gestured

towards the phone again.

She bit her lip, then called her husband’s office number.

After several rings he picked up. Susan quickly assessed the

situation.

“He should be acting a little sick,” Roberts explained.

“He’s in withdrawl from the dosage he missed his morning —

“No, I mean he’s injured. Shot. In the leg. He won’t let me

call for an ambulance because he says he doesn’t want to

found. Something about Dr. Leitch trying to kill him.”

“*What*?” he turned around, noticing the suspected

scientist now entering the office. “Look, honey . . . I’m

coming home right now. Just fix up what you can and stop the

blood.”

“Danny — ”

“Bye,” he slammed down the phone, facing Leitch. “Doctor .

. . I need to get home. Emily is very sick.”

Leitch looked angered, but sighed and nodded, “We still

need you to help us find him.”

“I know,” he threw his coat back on. “Call me if you get

any updates.”

 

 

Susan did her best to untie the cloth bandage after hanging

up the phone and moving him to the couch. Jonathan grunted,

but didn’t otherwise complain. She cleaned it as best she

could, slowly and carefully, and he didn’t say a word the

whole time.

‘He’s taking it awfully well for someone his age,’ she

mused, gently applying a new bandage that would hopefully

stop the wound from bleeding again before Roberts got home.

“I don’t want to give you any medicine, because Daniel

might have his own prescription when he gets here. He’ll be

home soon,” She sat down in the chair beside him.

“‘s okay,” He closed his eyes. “Than’yu.”

She remained by his side for quite a while until Roberts

returned. During that period, Jonathan did not stir or speak

except for a few muttered garbles of sentence fragments, and

after a time she feared he was losing consciousness. Relieve

washed over her when her husband rushed in the door.

“Jonathan?” Not removing his coat, he bent down beside the

dawg and shook him. “Can you hear me?”

The only response was a minor motion of twisting in a

feverish sleep, and a few mumbled words. Roberts opened each

eye and inspected the pupils with a pen light. Sighing, he

looked up at Susan, “How long has he been like this?”

“He was awake when I found him, but you could barely

understand what he was saying. The last time he said

something clear was after I cleaned the leg –about fifteen

minutes ago.”

After finally slipping his coat off, Roberts pondered,

“This is a later stage of withdrawl. I’d guess he’ll slip

into a coma in the next hour or so. He won’t survive without

the syrum.”

“Of which there is no more, right? What about that little

sample in the canister you brought home a few weeks ago?”

His eyes lit up, “Oh my G-d . . . yes! It should be enough

to at least bring him back to consciousness.” He ran into

his study, reappearing a few minutes later with a syringe,

filled with a yellow liquid. “This *has* to work.”

He struck the needle into the dawg’s arm, and there was an

instant reaction of shaking and squirming. It was a few

minutes — barely — before Jonathan reopened his bloodshot

eyes.

“Doc–?” He smiled, as best he could, when he saw Roberts

holding up an emtpy syringe. “The syrum . . .!”

“Yes–but this is my only dosage. I brought it home once

for some outside testing and never brought it back. It

should put some more time on your clock. Now . . . let’s see

about some painkillers for that leg.”

He disappeared again into the study, returning with another

filled syringe. This one he plunged into the swollen muscle,

numbing it within a minute. Roberts cautiously removed the

bandage, using the penlight to get a better look at the

bullet wound.

“You might be able to get off without stitches, but first I

have to get the bullet out,” he reached for a box of medical

tools, and spend a good deal of time choosing the right one

— it was obvious he was not with the exact, proper

equipment for the makeshift surgery.

“Are you sure we shouldn’t take him to a hospital?” Susan

pleaded, but Jonathan moaned negatively, and the scientist

shrugged.

“I don’t think he’ll let us. He’ll have to explain later.

Now — ,” he turned back to his work. The dawg gritted his

teeth, feeling still a small amount of pain even after the

novacane injection, but Roberts was quick with his work.

“There we go,” he held up the bullet, formally of residence

in Jonathan’s leg. Gently he began to rebandage the leg.

“There should be a little more bleeding, but it’ll clot soon

enough.”

“Sorry about your couch,” Jonathan winced, noticing their

orange sofa was now a crimson shade of red. His clear and

unchildlike speech was beginning to return.

“It’s all right. Since that’s over with . . . what’s this

about Dr. Leitch?”

The dawg nodded, frowning at the memory, “He couldn’t find

any more syrum . . . and I guess he didn’t know you had a

dose at home. I guess he wanted to make the end easier for

me . . . so he was going to inject me with sodium chlorite.

Luckily, I realized it wasn’t the syrum in that needle in

time.”

Roberts’ mouth dropped at the retelling of the tale, and he

shook his head sadly, “I can’t understand why he would want

to do that . . .” He patted the dawg’s shoulder. “Listen . .

. you just relax. We’ll figure out what to do with you when

you get stronger.”

He was about to stand and leave when Jonathan grabbed his

sleeve, “Wait . . . do you hear something?”

Roberts picked up his ears, “No.”

“Sounds like somebody . . . in front of the house.”

The sound of the doorbell confirmed it. Susan ran to the

window, and her features paled when she looked out, “Daniel

. . . it’s soldiers from the lab — and Leitch.”

The scientist uttered a curse, “Can’t he ever trust me?” He

knelt back down when he saw Jonathan throw his legs over the

side of the couch. “Jonathan, no — you can’t put weight on

your leg yet.”

“I can’t stay here, can I?”

There was a heavy bang on the door, “Daniel! Open up the

door!”

Roberts glanced at the clueless Susan, than back at the

dawg, “C’mon . . . we can get you out the back. Suzy, you

answer the door and try to stall them.” Carefully, he helped

Jonathan ease painfully onto his feet. The dawg leaned

heavily on him until they made it to the back door, then

removed his supportive weight, refusing any more help.

“I’ll be okay,” he was having trouble settling the weight

on his injured limb, but he made it well enough. “Thanks for

the help, but I don’t want you to get shot, too.”

He turned away and proceeded out onto the porch, and then

the backyard. Roberts saw the dawg pick up speed when he

heard the sounds of gunshots in the distance, and the

scientist spun around to see Leitch’s soldiers advancing on

him in his hallway, guns drawn.

“You shouldn’t have done that, Daniel,” Leitch said coldly.

“You’re only stalling his end.”

“You tried to kill him!” he made an advancing move, put his

paws shot up as the gun barrels cocked closer in his

direction. “I’m just being humane!”

“There’s no time to be humane!” his superior shouted.

“He’ll be dead in a few hours and his body has to be

destroyed before word of this gets out! You know the rules!”

“Not a few hours,” he corrected. “I . . . found another

dose. One I brought home once and never brought back. He has

another day–there’s no reason to kill him yet.”

“And if he makes it to a town? And leaks this to the

press?” Leitch shook his head angrily. “A syrum that does

what it does to him? And how the ‘evil goverment’ is

searching to find and kill him? How would that look for

Gen-Tech? Or our government, much less!”

Roberts just lowered his eyes sadly, settling into a chair,

“He’s just a boy, Dr. Leitch.” He shot a look at Susan, who

looked rather confused. “Honey, I’ll explain this later.”

“That ‘boy’ successfully threw me across the room, then

broke out of a government restricted laboratory and is still

on the loose with ocer fifty soldiers on his tale. We don’t

even know the true extent of his powers — he’s only started

to show them in the last few hours,” Leitch explained. “If

other people knew what he could do–if *we* knew what he

could do — than a lot of people would want their paws on

this ‘boy.’”

“Just . . .,” he pleaded, ” . . . don’t hurt him. Please —

tell them to make it quick.”

“They will, they will,” Leitch assured, peering out the

back window into the outside edges of the wilderness. “I

doubt he has much of a fight left in him.”

 

 

Jonathan was helped with yet another stroke of luck; the

large pile of leaves beneath a tree truck he managed to

squeeze himself under was a sufficient hiding place. He

heard the sounds of soldiers above and all around him, but

they had yet to notice his safe haven. There he remained,

trying to ignore the pain returning in his leg and rest his

tired limbs, until darkfall.

Cautiously he began to pull himself out. The soldiers, for

all apearances, were gone. All that was left was a starry

sky twinkling down at him and the endless woods in all

directions.

It was long before he heard the sounds of footsteps in leaf

piles again, but they were distant. He instinctively made a

motion in the direction of the tree trunk again, but

something stopped him.

A force, unlike one he had ever felt before, overwhelmed

him. It prevented his escape, with his feet locked into the

ground. In terror he still heard the crinkling of boots grow

stronger, but he was helpless to do anything.

He wavered in stance but still could not run, and a wave of

naseua hit him like a rock. His body was filled with a

tingling sensation, much like when he had first been given

the syrum, and had he been able to look up he might have

noticed the skies seem to open up above him.

“THERE HE IS!”

He was immune now to reaction from the soldier’s shout.

Swallowing, he closed his eyes and waited for whatever end

was before him. Jonathan’s last feeling was that of

weightlessness, a relief from the pain in his leg, and then

he felt nothing at all.

 

 

Susan had begun to worry long ago, when they took her

husband to the lab–she was afraid for both his and

Jonathan’s life. But he returned in a later hour, with a

pale look on his face, and she knew what had become of the

poor dawg.

“Oh, honey . . .,” she embraced him instantly, feeling him

nearly lean on her for support.

“They didn’t get the body,” he said, his voice wavering to

hold back the tears–but there was a sense of success in it.

“Thank G-d they didn’t get *that* . . . someone might find

it and at least give him a proper burial.” It was a long

time before he pulled her away, “Where are the kids?”

“Emily’s in the den–she wanted to stay up and see you.

Michael went to bed a little while ago.”

He nodded, and without slipping off his coat, sauntered

into the den. Emily was sitting indian-style on the floor,

watching TV. Without warning, he came from behind and

scooped her up, holding her against his body tightly.

“Daddy!” she screamed in joy. “Mommy was worried–”

“I know, I know,” he assured, letting her stroke his chin

fur. “I’m okay. Listen, Emily . . . how would it sound . . .

if we were to get a new house?”

“Where?” she asked with the curiousity of a child at her

age of four.

“Far, far away . . . maybe somewhere warmer. It depends on

who wants to hire me.”

“What about the lab?”

He smiled, facing his wife as he still held Emily, “There’s

been some . . . trouble . . . between me and Dr. Leitch. So

now I don’t have to work with him anymore.”

“Oh,” she couldn’t understand — she wasn’t supposed to.

“G’night, Daddy.” Kissing him, she allowed him to release

her and she ran upstairs. It was a moment before Roberts was

able to look up to Susan’s stare — but fortunately, it was

soft instead of his feared furious.

“Daniel . . . you lost your job? You were assistant

director of the project — ”

“I know, I know . . .,” he sighed, collapsing on the den

chair. “Leitch just had some differing opinions on to how

Jonathan was supposed to be handled. It’s okay . . . I can

get another job. You remember the offer a few weeks ago?

From the company in Nebraska?”

She bent over, and kissed him on the cheek, “I have faith

in you, honey. I’m going to go to bed.” Susan turned for the

stairs, “You did the right thing, no matter what might have

happened to him in the end.”

‘I wish I convince myself of that,’ Roberts thought coldly,

and followed her up.

 

 

Chapter 9

 

‘Final Lab Report – Feburary 24th, 1981 – Dr. Daniel

Roberts’

‘The subject has been terminated.’

 

~It is odd,~ one contemplated to the other, ~what these

people do to their children.~

The second made a gesture in agreement, shifting color in

coordinance with its mood. They were watching the boy on the

table, still unconscious by all appearances. His entire body

was incased in a kind of tube, with no wires but many

flashing lights around the sides, indicating the use of

powered equipment.

~We should have never given it to them,~ the second made a

movement towards the table, looking over the lights’

patterns of flashing as if they were some kind of readout.

~But we cannot bandage that past.~

~Then at least we can still save this one’s future,~ it

floated and settled down on the other side, watching the

dawg’s light breathing.

 

 

The first sensation he was aware of, after his blacking out

in the woods, was warmth. Unlike he had ever experienced. He

could not even compare the first time he awoke in the lab

with this. He could almost *feel* the light around him,

though he was unable to open his eyes. It was soothing and

comforting, though there were no cotton sheets beneath him

from what he could tell. The ache was gone, thankfully in

his leg.

His first instinct, when he found he could not open his

eyes, was to attempt to move. He shifted in his position,

then discovered he could do little. He was pinned down at

the feet and secured with his head to the table.

‘Why can’t I open my eyes?’

He struggled for a moment, than gave up on movement. He

moaned softly, then was suddenly aware of a presence at his

side. No . . . two presences. Their aura was stronger than

anything he had ever felt before–it was like he could see

them without opening his eyes. They must have heard his moan

and realized he was waking up.

Jonathan strained, but at last was able to open his eyes.

There was no blinding white light–as he had come to expect

from the afterlife, so he assumed he wasn’t dead. The

background of the room was a distant mesh of colors; it

seemed like if he watched one area of the wall long enough,

the color would shift hues. It made his eyes burn, so he

decided to concentrate on other things.

He at last got to see what held him so. His head and feet

were both inserted in this tube-like machine, only whatever

glass that would be around the rest of his body was missing.

He was reasonably immobalized, pinned down to the

surprisingly-soft table beneath him. Everything was a hazy

white, so he could never make anything out as a clear shape.

Suddenly he noticed to blobs of color seem to jump out from

the wall–and he realized what he had merely assumed to be

part of the room were two beings he sensed. They took on no

definite shape as they drew closer, but remained hazy shapes

of an aqua-white color.

One of them must have seem him tense in fear, and it put

out what was probably its equivalent of a paw and brushed it

across his body in a wind-like swoop. A gentle sense of

comfort washed over him instantly, loosening his tightened

muscles. For the mmoment, he was able to relax in their

presence.

~Do not be afraid.~

That was the second thing to frighten him. There was no

sound in the room when it spoke, aside from the distant

whirring of machines and his own heavy breathing, but he

heard it echo in his head perfectly well. What was the word

for it? Telepathy?

Still very dizzy and weak, he tried to collect himself,

“W-Wha do yu . . .?”

~Want?~

Alarmed again, he wondered if it had read his mind, or just

guessed the end of the sentence.

~Do not try to speak. You are too weak. Just think it to

us.~

“I c-can’t — ”

~But you can!~

Swallowing hard, he decided to play along with whatever

they had in mind. ‘What do you want?’ He decided to repeat

the question.

~We want to help you.~

‘Why?’

~Your kin have wronged you.~

‘You can’t help me, unless you have enough syrum for the

rest of my life,’ sadly, he was reminded of his predicament.

‘I’ll need it in a few hours–‘

~It can be supplied.~

He was shocked at the sensation of having his own thought

interuppted, and the answer. ‘Where am I?’

The one “speaking” made a fluid motion, almost indicating a

smile, ~You would not understand if it was explained. Rest

now, and all will be taken care of.~

The “hand” passed over him again, and he felt another

comforting sensation — this one of the inviting darkness.

 

 

Chapter 10

 

Harold was just about to pull off the highway and head some

when he spotted a figure beside the road. Curious, he pulled

his truck over on a shoulder, coming up beside the short

figure — either a child or a dawg.

It turned out to be, from all appearances, both. The youth

stood silently beside him, obviously phased from some recent

events. He was cloaked in a white outfit, but barefoot and

wearing nothing to protect him from the breeze. He seemed to

shake and shiver as he waited.

“Need a lift, kid?” Harold wasn’t one to pick up

hitchhikers, especially on his way home from a long shipment

trip, but he felt guilty about letting someone so young

wander like that.

Nodding stiffy, the dawg climbed up through the open door

and into the seat beside him. He looked insecure.

“Something wrong, kid? You don’t look so good.”

He shook his head.

“Where you goin’?”

“I-I don’t know,” he answered at last.

“What’s your name?”

“Jonathan Weissman.”

“And what were you doing out there, Jonathan?”

He shrugged uncomfortable, “I-I don’t know.”

Harold gave him a queer look, but kept his eyes on the

road, “Well, unless you have someone in particular to go,

I’ll take you to my place and help you get things sorted

out, okay? Name’s Harry Lynch.”

Jonathan smiled, again stiffly, and they continued in

silence.

 

 

“Look at him eat!” Mary Lynch exclaimed. The couple were

sitting at the opposite end of the now-closed diner’s

counter, watching Jonathan swallow mouthful after mouthful

of scrambled eggs and anything else he could get his paws

on. “It seems like he hasn’t been fed in days!”

“Maybe he hasn’t,” Harold pondered. “Kid doesn’t seem to

have any home or family. I don’t know how long he was

wondering before I found him. All he has on him is those

clothes, a pair of glasses, a watch, and a wierd-lookin’

ring.”

“Harry . . .,” she said in all seriousness, “he acts like

he’s . . . *seen* something . . . or been through something.

Maybe that was what he was trying to get away from — ”

He shrugged, “What can we do? We’ll have to report him to

the foster agency and see if they can find any relatives.”

Mary frowned, unsatisfied, and walked over to Jonathan, who

had now finished his third plateful, “Poor boy . . . you

still hungry?”

“No, ma’am — thank you.”

Glancing down, she noticed something, “Jonathan — your

watch is off by two hours.”

“Huh?”

“Here,” she pulled up his sleeve, taking a better look at

it. “It’s six-thiry. Yours says four-thirty. And look . . .

the date’s off, too.” She brought her eyes in closer.

“Feburary 24th? What’s this?”

“Why? What’s the date?”

“March 10th, honey. You’re two weeks behind!”

His mind spun. ‘Two weeks?’ The last time he remembered

checking his watch it was eight o’clock, on the 23rd.

Somehow, two weeks had passed, but he had only lost eight

hours.

“Here you go,” she reset the watch, then set it back on his

wrist. “Now . . . do you have any relatives? Anywhere to

go?”

Sadly, he shook his head.

“Well, then — we’ll just hafta get you to a foster agency.

But if you ever want a meal, you come back to the diner,

okay?”

He smiled, gratefully.

 

 

Chapter 11

 

When the Lynches dropped him off at the foster center, he

discovered that not only had he lost eight hours somewhere,

but he had somehow crossed half the country. He was now in

Megakat City, California — entirely on an opposite side of

the country than Maryland.

It didn’t make any difference to him, really. After

skipping out of the center before they noticed him enough to

sign him up for a foster home, he returned to his only true

home — the streets. And as he soon discovered, the streets

were just as cold and unforgiving as those in Washington.

The only difference was in himself. He had changed,

undoubtably. That was why he refused to be sent to a foster

home — he didn’t want anyone catching one.

It had a lot to do with the ring, he guessed. That

‘magical’ ring “they” had supplied him with, to fight his

syrum addiction. Every twelve hours it produced a pill for

him out of seemingly nowhere, and every twenty-four he took

one.

He guessed the pill’s contents were different from the

syrum, because the effects were . . . different. Some of the

effects he had begun to experience in the laboratory were

now . . . amplified. It was hard to tell if he was any

smarter without the tutors and the constant exposure to new

knowledge, but there were *other* things. His strength

increased, though his muscles didn’t appear to from the

outside — he still looked ten, though he quickly hit a

growth spurt and in a few months had attained a height

closer to that of a grown dawg.

And the flying. It had been by chance, when he was being

chased by a few cops for peddling in the nice area, and he

made a jump — and simply didn’t come down until he felt the

need to. It was an amazing experience, but he shared it with

no one.

‘If the scientists knew I could do this . . .’ he smiled,

but it quickly turned into a shiver fo fear.

So he kept it all to himself, making a living by peddling

and occasionally going over to the Lynch’s diner when he got

hungry enough. The shelters were just as bad as those in

Washington, but they were there. He had no complaint; it was

better than being totured by goverment scientists.

 

 

Then, one day, he’d made the mistake of walking in on a

shoot-out between two local gangs. He was too deep in the

line of fire when he realized what was going on, and

immediately hit the ground, fearing for his life.

He experienced several stinging feelings whiz across his

back, but nothing mroe than that. Jonathan waited several

minutes for the gunfire to stop, then got back up.

He had gotten up to early. One of the remaining gang

members turned and without thinking, fired on him. He

stumbled back, feeling the same stinging feeling, but never

the bullets pierce his skin. When he dared to open his eyes,

he noticed the bullets lying on the ground in front of him.

Almost as if they had *bounced* off him . . .

The gangster, unbelieving and staring at him like he was

some kind of demon, screamed and ran.

 

 

There was only one conclusion; he was bullet-proof. The

pills had given his skin a thickness that prevented harm.

For days he pondered what he should do with his newfound

powers. He felt that he had some kind of gift, but why

*shouldn’t* he keep it all to himself? He didn’t owe

anything to society; all they’d ever given him was pain and

lonliness. But his attitude changed when he overheard a

conversation between two kids about his age, looking over a

comics stand.

“Hey, gimme that!” they were apparently fighting over the

new issue of ‘Superkat.’ “I wanna read it first!”

“I payed for half of it!”

“Then you can read the back first!”

“Boys, boys!” the newstand kat appeared in the front. “What

is the arguement about?”

“I wanna read it first!”

“*I* found it.”

“I would’ve if you hadn’t tripped me on the way over!”

“Boys!” he shouted again. “What is the big deal about this

comic?”

Their eyes wided, “Oh, Superkat’s just so cool — ”

“He’s the coolest superhero there is!”

“He can fly and — ”

” — bullets just bounce of him — ”

Jonathan perked up, facinated and a bit humbled by their

admirility of this character so like himself.

” — and he fights crime!”

“Isn’t he so *cool*?”

“I wish I could fight crime like him!”

“I wish I had super powers like him!”

‘Fight crime? What an amusing notion?’ He picked up his own

copy, glancing at the cheezy drawing of the kat in spandex.

‘Spandex? Who would wear something *that* tight?’ Amused, he

bought it with the only money he had, and spent most of the

afternoon reading it.

The comic was wild and entertaining, but it sparked a

curiousity in the back of his head . . . about how far he

could go with his powers. Glancing down, he stared carefully

at the ring that meant everything to him. There was a symbol

on it, porbably of signifigance in the written language of

it’s donators, but it was much like the “u” in the English language.

A smile spread across his face, and an idea began to form .. .

The End

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