By the middle of December Ansem and Rebecca had eloped and moved into Ansem’s house. Rebecca wanted to level both houses and build one big one on both properties, but Ansem would not let her. They would leave it like it was, so it would always be the same as when they first met and fell in love. Rebecca saw a side of him that she first admired now change to resentment.
Christmas was on its way, Ansem and Rebecca spent many nights at the malls. They would walk through the stores and Ansem would offer to buy her anything, but Rebecca would not take the offer. She refused to be a trophy wife that gets everything she asks for. She wanted to work for her wealth, not marry into riches. Rebecca was a doctor, and even though she could retire tomorrow with the money Ansem had, she would work for as long as she could. It was her responsibility as someone who could help people that could not help themselves.
They were decorating their Christmas tree when Ansem first sneezed. He dropped the garland as he covered his mouth and sneezed again.
“Oh, honey,” Rebecca grabbed him, “are you getting sick?”
It was no surprise when Ansem got really excited. He could not wait he exclaimed as he ran down to the basement, “Now I can try my supplement firsthand!”
Ansem came back up from the basement with the original bottle of pills that was brought back from the factories after being deconstructed, replicated, and reconstructed. There were sixty-six little white pills inside the bottle. He took one out and popped it in his mouth, swallowing it without water. He looked over at Rebecca who was standing uneasy behind him.
“You take one a day for a week. The cold is gone by day two and never returns as long as you complete the regiment.”
Ansem and Rebecca continued finishing the decorations on the Christmas tree in their living room. Ansem put the angel on the tip-top and turned the lights on. The tree lit up the corner and the window perfectly. They stood before it together and held each other warmly.
That night Ansem continued to cough and sneeze and hack up phlegm. Midway through the night he got up and ran to the bathroom. He threw up bile and blood into the toilet. Ansem flushed it without showing or telling Rebecca. He went downstairs to the kitchen to call the research reps at the manufacturing plants and ask them about side effects. They told him the same thing that was written on the bottle, “Side-effects include: nausea, fever, and fatigue.”
They also told him it could possibly cause stroke, intestinal bleeding, and liver failure. Ansem had no idea it was so dangerous. Even though he had kept it from greedy corporation hands, it had still become twisted and processed. All humanity was sucked out of the pill. They were not honest with Ansem. The private manufacturing company he made the deal with never told him about any side-effects when they examined his formulas. But that’s just it, Ansem thought, this could not be his formula, when they reconstructed they must have replaced one of the chemicals with a cheaper product so they could pocket the dividend.
Ansem got off the phone and threw it against the wall. It slammed the vertical flat and shattered into tiny plastic pieces all over the kitchen. He went back upstairs but collapsed on the staircase. His airy voice called out for Rebecca as he slipped his grip and slid down the stairs. Rebecca came out of the bedroom and caught her husband. Together they got him back to bed.
The next day was no better. Ansem stayed in bed as his fever grew worse and the nausea subsided. Rebecca stayed by his side. When the time came he asked for his next pill. She was reluctant to give it to him at first. But finally, Rebecca gave in and issued his next round of supplement with plenty of water. Maybe that was the problem…and just as he suspected it was written on the bottle, ’Take with water’. Ansem fell asleep and prayed to God that he would feel better when he woke up. The road to recovery meant all his invested millions would not be in vain.
Ansem woke up and did not feel any better. He was unaware of how much time had gone by. His body was bruised with internal bleeding and he could not move without being in extreme pain. Ansem was terrified that he might have a stroke or liver failure. He already had four out of six side-effects; getting the other two would kill him. Rebecca had no idea what to do. He never told her about the side-effects. She simply thought the supplement was not working and his cold was getting worse.
On the third day he demanded to take another pill, even though they were convinced it was killing him. Rebecca gave her beloved the pill for a third time. By that night the fever was back and ten times worse. There was little hope that this supplement would make him better.
On the fourth day Ansem made Rebecca promise she would let him take the full regiment of pills. Just like a vaccine you had to get worse before you got better. Maybe, just maybe, Ansem thought in his diluted state, the supplement was giving him every virus and infection it protected against all at once so it could cure him forever. It was just a matter of time.
On the fifth day Rebecca could not sleep, not only were her husband’s vitals rapidly declining before her very eyes, but their marital bed now repulsed her. Soaked in sweat and dried blood she couldn’t get him out even if she tried, he was bruised all over now from the intestinal bleeding, any sudden movement might rupture an organ at this point. Rebecca brought up some tea with his next pill, but he did not drink it. He stayed awake long enough to swallow the pill dry.
On the sixth day Ansem lost consciousness. When she opened his eyes to check them they were green with jaundice. His liver was failing. Rebecca kept her promise though, and crushed the pill into a cup of water, dripping it down her fingers and into his mouth.
On the seventh day after she gave Ansem the final dosage of the supplement, Rebecca spent almost the entire night holding her cellphone in her hand, contemplating whether or not to call the paramedics. If she got Ansem to the hospital it might save his life, if he made it all the way there in one piece that is. But there was something else to worry about…If she did manage to get him to the hospital and they ran tests on him they would find the supplement in his blood, it would undoubtedly be traced all the way back to the shipping companies and both Ansem and Rebecca would be arrested. So those were her two choices… do nothing and let Ansem either die or, more unlikely, pull through or call for help and spend the rest of her life behind bars.
On the eighth day Ansem Weathers died, the same day his pills were shipped out to the general public, Rebecca’s last Christmas. The room was dark and quiet, night lurking outside the window. He lay still with his arm hanging off the bed. His wife, Rebecca, at his side, head in his lifeless hand. She was crying for him. His heart had stopped beating. She could feel it. Pulse was everything. She had been constantly monitoring his, and as Ansem grew weaker, she had to concentrate more and more on finding it.
Now it was gone, along with everything she cared about…Part of her wanted to wait there forever for him to return to her; but there was no getting around it…Ansem was gone, and as his doctor she pronounced him dead at 8:22 PM.
A heartbeat, latent and subtle crawled through the vibrations of their defiled marital bed. She wanted to believe he was back so bad. Rebecca continued to cry into his hand, this world was small and comforting right now. As long as she didn’t have to leave his embrace, she never had to deal with his death.
Rebecca did not feel the shift on the bed. She was grief stricken and distracted. It was not until Ansem’s pulse came back that she responded. This was not just her imagination; she could feel it, cheek to palm. His heartbeat was perpetually slower but gradually getting stronger. She had to stop crying now. Rebecca got a hold of herself; she had to be reminded of who she was before Ansem’s love, a woman first and a doctor second. Wife or not, those two will never change. She opened her eyes and begged God for the chance that her husband, Ansem was not dead.
The pale green bloodshot eyes of death lured over Rebecca as she looked up at her dear Ansem. He was sitting up, dazed, like he was alive for the first time.
A moaning hunger bellowed out of him.
His breath smelled terrible. Rebecca saw her husband, but just a shell. It terrified her. Ansem moved his hands over Rebecca’s head, combing through her dirty blonde hair to her shoulders. At first he was soft and glided gently down her arms. She resisted his cold embrace.
He dragged his dirty rotten nails down to her wrist and took a hold of her. Ansem Weathers was no more and when Rebecca looked deep into his soulless eyes she realized this, but it was too late… Screams and thrashing about…
Fight for your life Doctor Pratt or you won’t make it through the night
to be concluded...