Eduardo Rios sat behind the desk in his office, one hand gripped tightly around the handle of his coffee mug, staring in disbelief at the holoscreen mounted on the wall. All the news channels were showing Eufrasio’s mansion, but the LA1 news drone had the best shot; it had somehow gotten past the EMP screen that the police had deployed, and taken a video of the ice wall that ran across the grounds – they had even zoomed in on the name that had been inscribed across its surface.
All he could think of was video games at first. He’d never played them; never had the time, nor the money, to indulge when he was a child. His son, seeing the name twenty minutes earlier at the breakfast table, was the one who had made the connection. He knew weird shit went down in this world, stuff that most people just closed their eyes to, but he’d never heard of video game characters coming to life.
“So who the fuck did this?” He looked up at Adassa Salvana. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, as always, her short spiky black hair, orange-brown eyes, and elfin features giving her an almost cute appearance. People who made that mistake once usually didn’t get a chance to make it again… and right now she looked pissed off.
“It’s odd, Eduardo. The cameras didn’t actually get a good shot on most of them, but we did get this…” She ran a hand across the holopad in her hands, and the screen showing the news flashed to a captured camera image of a young man standing over the unconscious body of Vera.
“Do we know who he is?”
“Oh yes… cabron has a police record a mile long, and we have his currently registered address.”
“So what the fuck-”
“-am I still doing here? I got the boys assembled, and we’re just about to roll out, boss.”
“Okay, what’s up? This better me an emergency. I was just on my way home.” Doctor Benjamin Walker announced as he strode into the patient’s room. He glanced at the chart on the door, just to make sure he had the name right; everything else he remembered, but the names… that was for the psych consultants to worry about. He was just here to patch them up when they did something really stupid. “Now what’s wrong with Mr. Peterson?”
“Sorry, Doctor Walker!” The young latina nurse squeaked at him, “But he won’t wake up. He was having nightmares, like usual, and I was coming in to check on him… when all of a sudden he just… stopped.”
Mr. Peterson, or rather Colonel Peterson (retired), had been admitted to hospital eighteen years ago with severe symptoms of PTSD. Despite numerous different therapies, including the use of a powered healer, they had never gone away; they had been forced to resort to very old fashioned methods just to keep him from slipping even further away from the real world.
Benjamin wasn’t too concerned at first. He was on a very high dose of a whole number of drugs, but – annoyed that he couldn’t be annoyed at being called back – the nurse had done the right thing in this case. In eighteen years, the nightmares never just ‘stopped’.
He brought online a number of different screens, and they showed a number of worrying factors: first of all, his neural activity was spiking; he had been sweating quite profusely, but that was no surprise in the case of such serious night terrors, but even now – when his body looked relaxed – his heart beat was racing; lastly, his temperature seemed to be up – and was continuing its upward trend.
Benjamin had just finished giving orders for particular drugs, not to mention ice packs, when a portly male nurse burst into the room. He’d been sitting at the ward desk when the doctor had come in, “Doctor! There’s another one!”