"Dave, let me give you a ride home. I promise I'll drive safe, and slower, this time," said Lone from inside her car as he stood on the curb. She added under her breath,"Slow, just like a little old-lady driver."
She bit her lip, she was trying to get him back into a good mood, bring back a little of the day's previous cheer.
"I'll just take a cab. Thanks for everything, it was a great day, Zoe. The most fun I've had in ages," he added, forcing a smile onto his face.
Zoe sighed, gave Dave a smile with her goodbye then zoomed away.
"Slower. Yeah, right." He muttered.
Then he twisted his mouth into a grimace. The encounter with blonde-Jenny and friends had completely soured Dave's mood.
He flagged down a cab and and hopped in, giving the driver his address. Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back and tried to get some sleep on the way home.
After paying the cabby, Dave started his slow walk to the apartment. He'd tried to get some rest on the drive back, but his system was all revved up from the excitement of the day. And his anger at that bitc--blonde's behavior. Her and her trashy friends.
Glancing at Ms. Clementine's still closed shop front as he walked past, Dave felt an urge to check up on the nosey but kindly older lady.
His knock on the door was answered by a young girl close to Dave's age. The girl's face was drawn and a bit haggard. Sad looking.
She blinked and looked at the well-dressed handsome young man standing at the door in confusion. The girl politely asked how she could help him.
"My name is Dave, I'm one of Ms. Clementine's neighbors. I didn't see her open the shop today, is everything alright?"
"Well, no. Grandma is sick. But it's so nice of you to check on her," she looked even sadder, "Unfortunately, I don't think she will be able to open the shop again."
"Would it be possible for me to see her?" asked Dave.
The girl thought it was a little strange. But then she heard her grandmother's weak voice asking if that was Dave at the door and to bring him back to see her if it was. She answered in the affirmative as she ushered him in.
Dave nodded with a solemn smile to the middle-aged couples sitting around Clementine's bed.
The old lady smiled weakly up at Dave, "Oooh. I was right. I said you would look so much better if you just took a little care of yourself and..."
She was interrupted by a fit of phlegmy, hacking coughs before she could finish her thought.
One of the middle-aged women went paler than before on her face. She cried out in a panicked voice, "Ma! Please, don't try to talk, you're just going to make it worse."
"What is her condition? Why isn't she in the hospital?"
The calmer looking of the men answered him, "She has a chronic lung disease, and she took a turn for the worse last week."
"Why didn't she go to a hospital? She can get better care there," said Dave.
The man sighed before he answered and all five of her family members looked frustrated and guilty, "It's simple. The hospital fees are too high, we can't afford it. We would do anything to help my wife's mother. But, even all together we just don't have the resources. We can't even get a loan for better healthcare for her." He added bitterly, "It's just not a sound investment that would be paid back."
Dave glared, then picked up his phone and dialed a three digit number.
"Nine-one-one. What is your emergency?" the person on the other side of the call answered.
"I need an ambulance as soon as possible," said Dave, giving the operator the address and name of the family.
"Young man, what do you think you are doing? I told you we can't afford the costs of better care, let alone an ambulance and hospital!"
"You don't need to pay a thing. Ms. Clementine took care of me when I was in need. It is my turn to help her now," said Dave as he finished his call.
"Dave! There's no need to do this, I've already got one foot in the grave. I don't know where you got money, but it's just a waste to spend it on me. Save it and use it on yourself and a pretty girl."
"Don't say that again Ms. Clementine!" He admonished her in a stern voice. They all proceeded to wait in a tense silence for the ambulance to arrive. But there was something new on the family's faces. Hope.
When the ambulance arrived and the paramedics knocked at the door, Dave walked along the gurney and watched them load Ms. Clementine into the ambulance and drive away to one of New York's best hospitals.
"I am grateful to you, young man. But, really, why are you doing this?" asked Clementine's daughter.
"Like I said before, Ms Clementine was always there for me when I was in need. It's only right that I help her now. That's all," he answered.
They piled into one of the family cars, and followed the ambulance back into The City.
When the staff rolled Ms Clementine's gurney into the admitting area, Dave and the three family members followed behind her.
At the reception Dave requested and filled the admitting form, using his own bank account and signing for all the fees and charges that might be accrued for any and all procedures and treatments.
Ms. Clementine's daughter started crying, which started the granddaughter crying, and even the son-in-law kept clearing his throat, looking away and wiping at his eyes. They all thanked him for helping them in their dire need and then thanked God for sending Dave to them.
The young girl kept looking at Dave through her tears with a heart-wrenching gratitude as he filled the forms.
He was starting to get uncomfortable with all the attention and gratitude. He should have done this anonymously. But honestly he had started to panic when he saw Ms. Clementine in that state, shrunken and ill. And when she started coughing he lost it.
A doctor who was passing by happened to see and hear the commotion in admissions. At first he was only idly curious about what was happening, then his gaze was caught by the unsightly scars on the writing hand of the man filling out the forms.
"Young man, why haven't you taken care of the injuries to your hand? You should get that taken care of soon or the scars will continue to tighten and bind the tendons and you will lose more and more function!"
Dave had been concentrating on the long and convoluted bureaucratic hospital forms and was almost finished when he was startled by the doctor's voice. He looked up at the doctor open mouthed, then down at his hands.
'Well, I'm here anyway. The worst thing about doing it will be filling out another set of these forms.'
"Do you have Conquest Gaming capsules here?" Dave asked the Doctor. He needed to do something, it was a long shot but he wouldn't know if he didn't ask.
"We do, but they are for patients… not for public use."
"Yes, we have some capsules here for patients who are missing limbs or who don't have the ability to move and sometimes ones who have lost their sight see or maybe even their hearing. Conquest gives them a chance to walk again or even see. The capsule is one of the most sophisticated pieces of medical technology on the planet. That is really what they were for originally, medical care."
"Okay. If you only have capsules for the patients then you've got yourselves a new patient. Me. But, I need to check my Conquest account first," Dave said firmly.
"Follow me. You're lucky I have a couple minutes. Plus I'm the one who will be fixing those hands of yours, so let's do this," said the doctor. He walked briskly down the hallway and stopped at a door that was marked VR-Therapy.
They entered together and the doctor spoke with the nurse at the monitoring station. Dave walked over to the first empty capsule and lay down in it to access the game.
When the scanner recognized Dave's brain imprint it granted him immediate access to his account and he found himself back in the Underworld.
Dave dialed a number from within the game and Perfect Shot answered.
"Hey, you ready? I'll send you the video right now. Shoot me your email addy," Dave.
"Alright!" said Perfect Shot.
Dave copied the link to the video from the game and sent it to the email address that Perfect Shot sent to him, and waited for receipt confirmation.
Seconds later Dave felt his phone vibrate, signaling he had a new message.
Dave logged out and immediately checked the message on his phone.
It was from his bank, informing him his account had been active. He had a new balance after receiving a deposit. A deposit of $1,000,000. Dave smiled.
"That should be enough. For now," he said out loud.
"What did you say? And that's all you needed with the VR capsule?" the doctor was taken aback.
"I just needed to do something. Now, where do I get my hands fixed?"
"That would be the nano and microsurgical wing, my kingdom! Follow me, young man," he said and led Dave to one of the higher floors.
Finally, he would be able to get rid of the unsightly and painful scars, and more importantly regain full use of his hands. Then after that, maybe, he could get on with life, live a more normal one.
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