The checkup

By

 Brian P. Baldwin

 

 

“Yeah!” shouted Jason Chan as he stepped back from the monitor and electron microscope. He clapped his hands together in a sort of self-congratulatory high five. “That’s what I’m talking about!”

Jenny Sims was sitting at a work bench just behind Jason and rushed over to his side. “What happened?”

He stepped to the side giving her more room at the monitor and said, “Just take a look at this. It speaks for itself.”

Jenny stepped in front of the screen and looked closely at the main screen and one of the open windows with a shot from the microscope. She took a quick view of the data within before looking over at a very excited Jason. “Does this mean what I-,” and she was interrupted by Jason nodding his head vigorously, “are you sure about this?”

“It’s right there Jenny,” he paused to clap his hands and then pointed at the monitor. “I’ve checked and recalibrated all of it. There is no doubt about it, they are accurate.” He paused again to make sure she was looking at him when he added, “And active!”

She was trying to take it all in, but her face was contorted like someone trying to decide if they liked the taste of something new. She shot another quick glance at the screen and excited said, “Active? Really!”

Jenny couldn’t stop staring at the screen. She felt like taking her eyes off it for a second might make it disappear. “Jason, this is incredible. You did it!” she said pointing at the screen.

Jason couldn’t help but grin at her and said, “It’s a big start, I’ll grant you that but-.”

“But what? This is fantastic and it’s happening right in front of us.” She spun her head around at him for clarification asking, “This is going on right now, right?”

Jason was lost in a moment of watching his micro machines hard at work then snapped back into the now. “Oh yeah, this is real time, but there’s a long way to go yet.”

“Holy shit! I can’t believe you did it. This is it.”

“Not really, but like I said, it’s a good start.”

They stood there for what seemed like an eternity watching the microscopic robots doing working away making repairs by reforming the structure while some of the other bots became part of the new structure.

Jenny watched intensely and asked, “Is that something new?”

“Wow! Good eye,” said Jason grinning with pride. “Instead of just fixing existing structure, they are fusing the repair material with the existing at a molecular level. New and old become one. The new repaired and improved.”

“This is going to change everything.”

“We still have to get passed the control barrier.”

 “Let’s go,” said Jenny as she slipped out of her seat.

“This calls for a celebration. I’m taking you out for dinner.”

At that moment, Jason realized he’d worked right through lunch and that feeling in his stomach was more than just excitement. “There’s a lot more to go yet, but I’m so hungry, I wouldn’t even know how to argue that one. Where?”

“Surf Road Crab Shack baby!”

Jason jumped out of his chair and grabbed his jacket saying, “Let’s roll.”

As they walked through the courtyard, Jason wen into great detail as to what he would be ordering when they to there. Jenny paid very close attention to it all partly out of hunger but also because it was Jason.

A tall slender figure stepped around a corner splitting them apart and almost knocking Jason to the ground.

Scrambling to pick up his books and help Jason from falling over, the figure said, “Oh, I’m sorry. Are you OK?”

Jenny helped Jason get back up, “I’ve got you.”

Teetering on his heels Jason grabbed onto her arm for support and pulled himself up. “I don’t know what I’d do without you,” he said.

“You’d probably land on your ass a lot more.”

“Huh, looks like Jenny to the rescue,” said the figure.

“Is that you Ken?” said Jenny sounding happy.

“It’s me all right. Clumsy old Ken,” he said trying to hold onto his books and notes.

“I haven’t seen you for a while,” said Jenny.

Ken stepped into some better light and scratched at his head. “Yeah, I’ve got a heavy course load right now. Dental isn’t quite as heavy as medicine, but it keeps me hopping.”

Jason shared a knowing glare with Jenny.

“You look like you’re in a big hurry,” said Jenny.

Jason finished straightening himself out and said, “I don’t think I could survive running into you everyday.”

They laughed for a moment then Ken asked, “Where are you two off to?”

Jenny put her arm on Jason’s shoulder saying, “I’m taking this genius out for supper at the Crab Shack.”

“Wow. What’s the occasion?”

“Oh, I don’t know. How about the greatest discovery in the last 20 or 30 years,” said Jenny still resting her arm on Jason like he belonged to her.

Ken perked up focusing on Jason who said, “That might be a bit overstated.”

“What!” cried Jenny.

 “There’s still a lot of work to do,” Jason replied to Jenny, “but I’d call today a breakthrough or at the very least a good start to one”

Ken perked up even more wanting to know as much as he could about their research. “What have you got on the go Jason?”

Jason took his time formulating an answer and even had to hold a cautionary hand out to Jenny to stop her from jumping in. “I’m still working on micro bio mechanisms. I’m not ready to announce any sort of focus right now.”

Jenny gave him a puzzled look , but got the idea to play things down.

Ken realized he wasn’t going to get any more information from them and said, “It was good running into you two, and I hope you have a good time tonight.”

“Thanks Ken and I hope next time we don’t actually run into each other quite so hard.”

Jenny waved as he left. Once Ken was out of range she said, “What was that about? Today was a lot more than that.”

Jason turned to her while putting his hands around her trim fit waist and said, “You’ve got a lot to learn about big time research projects my dear. You don’t stay in this game by letting others know your hand.”

“I guess,” said Jenny with an obvious pout, “I didn’t think that there would be any harm in talking to someone from Dentistry about it.”

“Yeah, well you never know. Let’s get going.”

After crossing the main campus quad, they made the long track to what Jason described as the tertiary Faculty Parking facility, which in reality was a stretch of local road just off the campus and far enough away from the campus police ticketing squad. He led the way to his aging 2001 Volkswagen Jetta stopping at the passenger door opening it. He knew it wasn’t much of a car but it was his. At least it was unique in the sense that no one could tell what color it was now, or used to be. Was it red with worn off sections of paint, or could it be some off white style with an abundance of rust. At least it kept them all guessing and that’s the way Jason liked it.

With his opening the passenger door, Jenny moved to get in asking, “Don’t you lock it?”

“Nope.”

“Aren’t you worried someone will steal it?“

“Worried? More like hoping. Its value goes up and down depending on how much gas is in it and the current price at the pump.”

She watched him carefully climb in ahead of her and said, “And here I thought you were being chivalrous.”

He paused with half of his body in the car and said, “Nope. Other door is busted. If I can ever get the window down, I’m going to start getting in and out NASCAR style. At least people will think there’s a reason it looks like this.”

Jenny looked at him with a wink saying, “I don’t watch much car racing, but I’ve seen the crashes on the news. If that’s the look you’re going for then I’d say mission accomplished.”

“Do you want to walk?” He shouted to her from the driver’s seat. She answered by jumping into the car and closing the door.

After a short drive up the costal hi way they arrived at the Crab Shack Diner. As they walked across the parking lot, they had to stop and allow a very large dark colored pickup truck go past them. It went by very slowly almost as thought it was studying them. It had heavy tinted windows all around making Jason think it would only be a matter of time before they got pulled over by the highway patrol It was going so slow he had the chance to study everything about it except who might be inside.

Jenny thought it looked downright spooky. To her it was like some sort of monster on four wheels and it had a growel to go with it as she heard its engine rumble with subdued power. She didn’t know why, but this machine gave her the creeps. It seemed like there was a reason to be afraid of it, but she could not come to what it might be. And then it was gone.

Their dinner was great and the both professed it to be the best they’d had there. Jason tried to figure out what was it about this time that made it so memorable and then he thought it could be all about the company you keep. He’d eaten here many times and a number of times with Jenny, so what made this time special.

As a scientist, he was used to searching for answers and this didn’t seem to be any different. Sometimes the answers were right in front of your face, and this was one of those times. It was her. Jenny was different this time or was she. He had to come to grips with the idea he might be the different here. Could it just be that he was looking at her differently now. The only problem he faced was if sh felt in a similar way. Could it be that she now looked at him in a different way and he was just picking up on it. How could he find out?

When Jason returned from the restroom he found Jenny had picked up the tab for their meal. He was impressed, but felt a bit guilty about it. It had been some time since he’d been to The Shack, so he made a pig of himself. When he mentioned it to Jenny she set him back a bit by saying, “Hey its OK. Maybe you’re on a date and you don’t even know it.”

Jason drove in silence which for him was completely out of character. Jenny had given him a lot more to chew on than crab shells. This was uncharted territory for him, and not only did he not know where he was heading, he didn’t even know how to start. It had him confused and it was all he could think about, which is why he didn’t notice the set of headlights coming up behind them very fast and deliberate.

“Are you OK?” said Jenny trying to feel him out. “It’s just that you are not usually this quiet. Did I do something wrong?”

Jason had to think about it for a moment knowing he didn’t want to make anything worse or blow an opportunity. “Well, since you are bringing it up, there is something I’d like to talk to you about.”

“About me?”

“No, more about us.”

Jenny couldn’t hide her being thrilled about it and said, “Us,” followed by a loud dry gulp.

Before he could reply to her they were struck from behind and they both screamed out. Jason struggled to gain control of his car to keep them on the road. He thought hey were in accident, but the second hit told him this was no accident. Jason managed to hang on and centre the care back on the road when the large truck hit them on more of an angle forcing them into the ditch. As his car left the road he reached out for Jenny and their world turned upside down.

When the rolling stopped they were both held suspended by their seatbelts. Jason heard some talking the distance and he could see the beams of flashlights cutting through the dust and falling onto the car. He turned to Jenny saying, “Just hang on, help is here.”

A pry bar was forced into the door on Jason’s side and pressure was applied until the door sprang open. Jason looked up but was blind by a flashlight almost shoved into his face. “Thank God you guys are here,” he said unable to see the other person. “I don’t think we are beat up too bad.” He tried to shield his eyes from the light while the rescuer ignored him. Before he could say anything else, he heard a hissing sound followed by an aerosol mist spraying into his face. When he realized what it was, he was too late to prevent the sedation from reaching deep into his lungs followed by darkness.

 

It was bright at first. So bright it hurt. He had to close his eyes it was the only way to stop the pain. He realized he was going to have to fight through it, his survival instincts were kicking in. While fighting with the bright light he became acutely aware that his throat was sore. He was painfully dry and tried to swallow and thought no, make that on fire. As a child, he had an uncle that used to a trick with a lit cigarette taking the entire thing into his mouth only to have it reappear with a bunch of smoke. He just always assumed the old guy had a high tolerance for pain. Why did he think of this now, but then he tried to swallow again and it came back through his fog.

It hurt so bad it made him want to clutch at his throat, and why wasn’t he? Still in a fog, he had to remind himself that he couldn’t move his arm. He couldn’t move the other one or his legs for that matter. He was worried for a moment and once he realized he was restrained, he felt foolish; of course he couldn’t move them. The fog cleared a little more, and now he wondered why he was restrained. What was going on? He had to force his eyes open no matter how much it hurt. He needed to find out what was going on here.

Again the light was so bright so strong it was a struggle but he forced himself to get used to it. He began to realize this bright light was very familiar but he wasn’t sure from where. The super clean bright white light must be a medical one. Was he in an operating room? Was this like one of those horrific stories where the patient is sedated but can feel everything going on. It felt like his chest was getting tighter or like there was an enormous heavy weight upon it. Was it his imagination he thought, or was there less air in the room now. His breathing picked up pace. But he struggled to regain control knowing he needed to stay on top of it.

His head was restrained, but not very well. He managed to get a little bit of wiggle room and the more he moved, the looser it got. Now he was able to move his head slightly from side to side. It wasn’t a lot of mobility but it did get him out of the direct light and that was enough to let his eyes adjust. Now things were starting to come into focus. He wasn’t in a hospital, it wasn’t even an emergency clinic. This was a dental chair he was strapped to.

“Finally” said a voice from the back of the room. “I was starting to worry that we gave you too much.”

That voice, thought Jason, I know that voice but there was something else about it making it difficult for him to pin down. He decided to stay quiet and let the man give him more to work with.

“I have to admit, that crappy VW of yours was a lot harder to push off the road than I expected.”

Jason lost his patience and said, “Who are you? What the hell do you want with me?”

“It’s not you I’m interested in,” said the voice as it came closer. “All I care about is your work,” and he ended by stopping right above Jason.

Jason looked up at the semi-smiling face more shocked now than angry.

“That’s right,” he said broadening his grin, “It’s me Ken Watson. Good old Ken and I stress the old part.”

“Ken?” He said back in disbelief. Jason wished his arms were free so he could rub his eyes. “What happened to you?”

Ken paused for a moment to look at his reflection in some stainless steel implement and said “I got old Jason. I just got old.”

“But how?”

“You know Jason, for a genius you’re kind of slow sometimes.” Ken paused to pull the stool over and sit down beside him and said, “I got older the usual way, but don’t worry about that It’s not something that’s going to happen to you.”

Jason didn’t understand any of it. He shook his head hoping to reset his brain and reality.

“I know what you’re thinking,” said Ken as he fiddled with some dental instruments. “You don’t understand what’s going on here and that’s fine it doesn’t matter.”

“Look, whoever you are, I don’t have any money.”

“Huh, no shit! I told you Ive seen your car. I don’t want your money.”

“Then what!”

Ken grabbed hold of the chair and spun Jason around until they were face to face “I want my money Jason. I want the money you cheated me out of.”

“I’ve never cheated anyone in my life,” pleaded Jason. “I don’t even know you.”

“I don’t expect you to fully understand this, but you do know me and I definitely know you.”

Jason’s head started spinning and he wondered if all this was a side effect from anesthetic or something like that. He closed his eyes wondering if he opened them again things would be back to normal.

“Jason!” Shouted Ken with his face just inches above him.

His eyes shot open and he fixed his rare on Kens face surrendering to the idea it was really him. Concentrating on his feature, Jason looked hard at the man’s face searching for signs of prosthetics of other makeup to make him appear older. Everything looked so real and it was getting harder to deny it. As though he was reading the mind of his captor, Ken grabbed at his own nose to twist it as a demonstration of its authenticity.

“You are not dream and I am real.”

“What’s all this about? Why am I here?”

“We Jason are here because of you. You ruined my life and the lives of everyone I know and care about.”

“I didn’t do anything. I don’t know who you’re talking about”

“Oh, you did Jason,” said Ken as he started to walk around him. “You did it today Jason. Without the slightest regard to anyone, you changed everything.”

Jason struggled against the restraints in protest and said, “Look Ken, if that is you, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. If this is some sort of prank, it’s gone on too long and it isn’t funny.”

Ken stopped suddenly and whirled around at him and grabbed Jason’s throat. “Finally something we can agree on. There’s nothing funny about having your life ruined.”

Jason struggled to speak while being choked and stammered out, “But…I didn’t-“

“Not yet,” said Ken as he released his grip from Jason’s throat and pulled his arm away in a large arcing motion. “You haven’t done it all yet, but today is the start.”

“Start of what? I don’t even know you!”

“I didn’t know it at the time, but when I bumped into you earlier tonight, it was the beginning of events set in motion to bring us to this one.

He didn’t know why, but for some reason he had forgotten about the restraints holding him now. He wanted to know more and did his best to follow the man with his eyes.

“Today was the day you made the biggest breakthrough of your career. From this point on, you’d find the final keys to completing all the aspects of Nano control.”

“How the hell do you know about today? No one knows that.”

“Yet Jason. Yet. You really need to pay attention here. You know who I am and you know I look older. Can’t you put all of this together?”

Jason leaned his head back as far as he could and closed his eyes wondering if the pain in his head was the remnants of being gassed or if he had hit his head in the accident. “Look, I’m not sure if I’m thinking right.” For a moment he forgot his situation and tried to get up.

“You’re woozy, you’re tired, and lacking energy. I’m not going to explain any more of this to you.” He leaned in closer to Jason’s face saying, “I don’t have a lot of time here, in this time. That also means I don’t have time to explain how time travel works.”

Jason gritted his teeth saying, “Bullshit! That’s not possible.”

Ken pulled his head away from him while delivering a solid smack to the back of Jason’s head. “How can you be so smart and still not catch on. But, I’m getting off track here and I need something from you.”

Jason held back his anger in favor of finding out what this guy wanted and his eyes widened when he asked, “What is it you want?”

Ken pushed his chair rolling away from Jason and said, “It’s not a want. Like I said, it’s something I need. I need you to give me your passwords for the network so I can access all of your research material.”

“I can’t do that,” he shot back. “That’s crazy!”

“No it’s not. I could just kill you, but someone else would continue your work. I can’t take that chance.”

“Kill me! Holly shit, is this a joke because it isn’t funny.”

“No it isn’t and you can do a lot to end it by giving me what I need.”

“I give up my passwords and then we go our separate ways?”

Ken spun around in his chair playfully saying, “No. I’m going to kill you. I have to, otherwise you could just go back to your lab and we would be right back where we started.”

Jason could hardly believe what he was hearing. It wasn’t so much the words as it was the nonchalant way he spoke about his demise. It sounded so perverse, he had to know where it was coming from he needed to know why. “I don’t understand this Ken, if that is you. What have I done?”

Ken turned back to his captive and sighed like it was boring him and then in a very dry monotonous tone delivered a speech he had practiced for years saying, “It is because of you Jason. You have ruined and will ruin everything for me and my family. You single handedly this very day, have set in motion the end of my world.”

Jason tried to take it all in but it made even less sense now. Is it really Ken in some great make-up, he thought, or just an old guy hired to look like him. He knew that either way he was now in trouble. He decided to play dumb, which wasn’t hard considering none of it made any sense.

“You see Jason,” said Ken as he wheeled his chair closer. “My father, like his father was a dentist, in fact my dad was a well-known dental surgeon.” He paused along enough to flash his perfect teeth at him. “And you know I was just finishing my dental training the last time we spoke.”

Jason didn’t know what to do, but he didn’t want him to stop and gave him a limited head nod.

“So there I was finishing my training and almost at the head of my class at the same time, you bring about the most amazing development in Nano technology. All of a sudden, my father, my brother, and oh, did I mention my sister was a couple of years behind me. All of us are replaced by your little soulless micro robots.”

Jason was stunned and said, “Holy shit!”

“Exactly, but like I said, they are an unholy abomination.”

“You’re insane!”

“I knew you would see it that way, but it works in my favor wither way.”

“You need help. You really are crazy.”

“I know and that’s where you come in. I need those passwords and then I can stop what you’ve done and will do. You think I’m crazy then you know I can do anything.”

Jason could tell this guy he was calling old Ken now, was starting to lose a bit of his cool edge. He decided to push him a little and said, “There’s no way I’m giving you my passwords. And if you kill me you still won’t get them.”

Ken got a much wilder look in his eyes and said, “I don’t think you have gauged just how much this means to me.”

Jason took a deep breath and said, “You can’t scare me.”

Ken got up and took a few steps towards the door and stopped to slowly turn back to him. “I don’t have to scare you,” he said and pointed back to the hallway. “I’ve got Jenny in the other room set up similar to you. I’m going to wheel here in here and park her just in front of you so you can watch me start pulling her teeth out one at a time.”

“No!”

“And let’s hope that by the time I get to the fourth tooth, I’ll be able to hear you give in over her screaming.”

“You can’t!”

“I took a look at them and you could be right. She has some nice ones and real good gums. I might have to chisel a couple of them out of the jaw bone.”

“OK, OK! You win. I’ll give it to you. Please don’t hurt her.”

Ken came closer looking smugger than before. “I knew you would see it my way Jason.” Without looking behind him, he snapped his fingers to signal someone. “Just to make sure we understand each other, before you give the passwords, I’m going to pop out a couple of her front teeth so you can begin to appreciate just how much this menus to me.”

“Oh shit no! You don’t have to do that,” he pleaded. “I believe you. Please don’t!”

Ken was enjoying this moment far more than he deserved and now for more dramatic effect he leaned in close to Jason’s face. “It doesn’t-“

Old Ken’s eyes shot open wide as he screamed sending a violent stream of spittle into Jason’s face. Jason contorted purely from the sheer volume of saliva pouring out over his eyes and mouth, but also from the horror and agony in Kens scream and face. His tormentor slumped down to the floor like the world had been pulled right out from hinder his feet. Even with his eyes pushed to the very edge of their sockets, Jason could only make out his captor was flailing on the ground in excruciating pain. When he shifted his gaze back up, he’d found the reason seeing Jenny standing above him holding a small but heavy fire extinguisher.

“You all right Boss?” she asked with a smile of relief and set to freeing his head.

“Thank God you’re OK!”

“Uh yeah, you too.” she said and started working on some of the other straps.

Jason was free enough to sit up and took a look at old Ken down on the floor in obvious agony. Jenny had used the extinguisher to shatter his knee from the outside. Wow, thought Jason, there’s not enough Nantes in the world to fix that.

Jenny spotted old Ken trying to reach for something in his pocket, perhaps a phone, but she didn’t want to take any chances and used the extinguisher to deliver a bone crunching blow to his hand. Jason’s shoulders shrugged up almost covering he ears to protect him from the sound.

“Ah! You bitch!” screamed old Ken pulling his hand back to protect it with the other.

“I’ll show you who the bitch is! She shouted back and kicked his shattered knee.

Old ken went back to screaming and trying to nurse his injuries giving Jenny chance to finish freeing Jason.

Jason sat up and started massaging his limbs that had gone to sleep on him. “I’m so glad you’re OK. There’s no way I was getting out of this.”

I was so worried about you Jason. I thought the worst, but then I heard this asshole and his plans for me.”

“Ah, how-,” stammered old ken going into shock from the pain. “How did you-.”

“Get free. Is that what you’re asking,” said Jenny with a sneer and almost spitting on him. “Double jointed! Mother fucker!” and this time she did spit on him just before smashing him in the face with the extinguisher, breaking his jaw and a number of teeth. Luckily for old Ken, she knocked him unconscious at the same time.

Jason turned away from the mess she left on the floor, but he couldn’t blame her for doing it. If anything she beat him to it. “Wow, I hope I never get on your bad side.”

She spun about to face him as the adrenalin was starting wear off. A tear was forming her eye and she said, “A good way to get on my good side would be to kiss me right now.”

Jason smile saying, Yes mam, I don’t want to be in trouble.” He grabbed her shoulders and moved in for it.

Jenny held up her hand in front of her and said, “I’m not looking for a kiss your sister moment. Kiss me like I deserve it.”

She closed her eyes and Jason moved in delivering a very soft and tender kiss to her cheek before sliding his mouth over to hers where he proceeded to explore every bit of it with his tongue. She accepted his effort showing her gratitude by clasping onto his butt cheeks with both hands and kneading them like dough. There was an audible smack when their lips finally separated.

“Wow science boy,” she said wrapping her arms about his neck. “I think I can feel a couple million little robots coursing through me veins after that one.”

“Me too,” he replied and pulled her in close to hug her desperately while they both took a moment to share some tears.

Holding hands they walked out of the exam room. Jason looked back at the crumpled heap at the base of the chair saying, “Do you think he was telling the truth? I mean, if it was makeup, it would have come off right?”

Jenny made them pause for a moment and said, “Well yeah, I guess so. I mean at least the real Ken is over in the other exam room with enough local anesthetic to keep him numb from the waist down for a week.”

Just when he thought his eyes were as wide open as possible they stretched a little more at the sight of Ken on the floor of the other room with his hands bound behind him with great strips of dental dam. If things had not been so serious, it might have even been funny.

“Time travel?” said Jason looking at regular Ken and then back in the direction of old Ken. “You think it’s possible?”

Jenny shrugged saying, “I don’t know. Look what you did today. I didn’t think we’d get to this stage for years, if ever.”

“OK, then what do we do? Call the police?”

“How about the time police then?”

Jason looked over at regular Ken and said, “No. But how about time cops?”

“Oh, Wow. Do you remember ‘Time Cop,’ with JCVD.”

“Of course.”

Jenny gave him a devilish look saying, “Same matter can’t occupy the same space.”

“OK I’m in, but I hope the movie was wrong because I’m not sure I could handle any more gore tonight.”

 

 

 

The End



Submitted: November 22, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Brian P Baldwin. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Celtic-Scribe63

Dentists, sadists who get paid a lot of money to fuel their obsessions with drilling holes in peoples' teeth, lol
A nice mix of sci fi, mystery thriller and your inimitable humor.

Fri, November 22nd, 2019 10:36am

Facebook Comments

More Science Fiction Short Stories

Other Content by Brian P Baldwin

Book / Science Fiction

Short Story / Science Fiction

Short Story / Science Fiction