I read the play version of Daniel Keyes’ FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON when I was in eighth grade. It has stayed with me for decades, a haunting symbol for both the overwhelming possibilities of the human intellect and the overwhelming impossibilities faced by a profoundly challenged human mind. I’ve started and stopped this novel a half a dozen times in eleven years. I want to bring the original idea into the present millennium. To read RECONSTRUCTION from beginning to here, click on the label to the right and scroll four pages back until you get to the bottom.
The cop put his hand on his gun and started to draw.
CJ Hastings said, “You can’t shoot anyone in a hospital!”
“I can shoot anyone…” the cop began.
The other one, an older man, put his hand on the younger man’s shoulder and said, “I think it would be a really bad idea, Jonterrius, to start shooting patients and families in hospitals.”
“But that doctor said…”
“You mean Dr. Chazhukaran?” CJ asked.
The older cop frowned. “That was the name he gave.”
“He just tried to kidnap my sister ‘cause he thinks she’s his personal experiment.”
CJ’s mom stepped in and said, “My daughter is under his treatment with an experimental drug, but the side-effects have been so bad – her falling into a coma is only the last straw for her – that she called him and told him she wanted to opt out of the program. He got very angry and sent some of his graduate students to harass my daughter into staying in the program.”
The cop scowled even more and reached for his gun. “What kind of treatment?”
Mom didn’t say anything so CJ said, “You probably don’t want to know as much as I didn’t want to know but found out anyway.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
CJ shrugged and said, “You really wanna know?”
CJ took a deep breath and said, “You asked for it: my sister has really, really, really bad periods, you know. Like she bleeds all over everything like she got stabbed or something? But that’s not the worst, see, she has really, really bad PMS – like she doubles over screaming when she get cramps and then practically like takes knives after us just before her period starts. And like, she goes crazy and has even –you know, like wrote stuff on the walls with, you know…”
The officer wrinkled his nose and started to say, “That’s enough, kid…”
Warming up to his story, CJ continued, “But see, like that ain’t the worst. She has to use like a new pad like every fifteen minutes, and lately it’s started to get really, really, really bad and she and mom had to like send me out for like six boxes of pads…”
CJ shut up as the cops stepped back. CJ raised his hand, and the cop nodded to him cautiously. “The experiment was to make it so she’s like, you know, a normal human when she has her period.”
Behind the two cops, one woman cop said to another in a low voice, “I could use some of that medication.”
Following his mom, CJ hurried into the hospital room. Mai Li was sitting up, staring at the door as they walked in. She didn’t say anything until the door closed behind them. Then she snorted. “Nice save, Kid.”
“Thanks,” CJ said.
She looked away then turned back to them. “Listen, I think something’s gone wrong with the nanomachines. You have to contact Dr. Chazhukaran and let him know…”
“He just tried to have you kidnapped!” CJ exclaimed.
“He what?” Mai Li asked, looking at her mother.
“You collapse in the basement at the foot of the stairs. I called 911 and when the ambulance arrived, the people hurried down the stairs. I didn’t question them. Then a second ambulance came and Dr. Chazhukaran tried to take you to the U. The real paramedics intervened and you came here…”
She pursed her lips then said, “I need to talk to him. I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on, but I need his help to see if I can stop it.”
“What’s happening?” asked CJ.
“The nanomach…” Mai Li’s eyes rolled back into her head at the same moment the hospital room door was shoved open from outside. CJ’s hands went up and he shoved back.
Someone outside cursed then Dr. Chazhukaran’s voice carried through the door, “Everyone stand back! She’s extremely contagious and I’m afraid the kid and his mom are dead already!"