The slow, steady beeping from the monitors that sat by his bed roused Eddie from his sleep. His eyelids fluttered open slowly, and he struggled to focus his eyes. Now that he was fully awake, his senses sharpened, granting him a much wider field of view. To the left and right were two beds, holding Maddie and her mother respectively.
He tried to rise, but found himself unable to move his limbs.
From a speaker near the door, a voice blurted, “Hello there! You’re being held still for your safety, if you’ll just relax, the doctor will be in to see you momentarily.”
Sure enough, the door opened just a few seconds later, and a late-middle aged man entered, followed by his father, who didn’t seem to look any worse for the wear from the mauling he had received.
“I’m Doctor Herrera, and old friend of your father. The four of you seem to have had quite the scrape,” he inspected a tablet, and tapped its screen a few times.
“Son. I’m so sorry,” His father interrupted, “I tried to keep you safe. I guess I failed.”
Eddie pulled himself upright like a marionette using his mind, “Is Mads OK? I saw her…”
The doctor swiped his tablet, scanning the contents, “She’s received some head trauma, as well as a broken arm and leg. She’ll have a full recovery in a moment. She’ll wake when the treatment is complete.
“What?” Eddie blurted, a look of confusion clouded his face.
“Well, son, this is a special doctor, he normally treats …special patients,” His father said, cautiously.
“Let me release the paralysis,” Dr. Herrera said, swiping back and tapping his screen, “Please refrain from using your powers for now.”
Suddenly, Eddie had full control of his body again, and swooned, but caught himself. He saw that Maddie had begun to stir, while on the other side, her mother lay still, inside an open meshed enclosure containing small machines that raced around on the wires, and casting invisible beams of energy over her wounds.
“It’s too much. I see too much.” Eddie groaned, rubbing the heels of his palms into his eye sockets.
The doctor tapped his tablet. “Please bring a sleep mask please.” Directing his attention back to Eddie, he nodded, “For now, please keep your eyes closed.”
Eddie nodded, and closed his eyes.
“I can still see!”
“Is it as intense?” The doctor asked.
The door opened, and a cart was wheeled in by a short bald man, “Masks, sir.”
“Thank you, that will be all,” The doctor’s eyes scanned through the various masks, and lit on one. “This will do.”
He slipped the mask over Eddie’s eyes, and tightened it down lightly using its velcro straps, “Too tight?”
“No. It’s fine, thanks” Eddie’s shoulders slumped slightly, but perked up again, “Mads is awake.”
A groan from the bed next to him confirmed this.
“Yeah, Yeah. I’m awake. Unhook me from alla’ this.” She flailed weakly.
The doctor removed the probes and deflated the sheath that held her leg in position as it healed, before removing it.
“You should be fine now. Try to take a few steps.”
Maddie swung her legs over the edge of the bed, and eased herself off gingerly. Her eyes widened, “I’m healed!”
The doctor smiled, “Be more careful in future. Don’t waste my hard work.”
Maddie caught a glimpse of her mother, on the other side of the room and rushed to her side.
“Mom! What did they do to you?”
The doctor cleared his throat, “She’s had extensive damage to her face and hands. Give her another day, and you’ll never know she was hurt. We’re keeping her asleep until then, so there’s no complications with treatment.”
“Mads, I’m so glad you’re OK.” Eddie said, choking up, “You were thrown into the room like a rag doll.”
Maddie frowned, but quickly covered it with a grin, “I got too cocky, lesson learned, but more importantly….” She stared at his father intently.
Jake sighed, “Whelp. I knew this day was coming.”
Eddie stared at him through his mask, “You knew I had powers?”
His father looked embarrased, “No. Well, yes. But no.”
Eddie cocked his head, “One more time, but this time, go with one answer.”
“Ah, well. The powers are hereditary, and either you have them from the beginning, or puberty activates them.”
“Does mom know?”
He looked alarmed, “Gosh no. She’d flip her lid. And it’s gonna stay that way, you got me?”
Maddie held up an arm, “But I know, and my parents too.”
The doctor too this moment to interject, “That can be fixed. We used to have to ‘fix’ memories all the time, back in the day.”
Jake nodded, “So, that’s what brings us to this point in the conversation.”
“Not sure I’m liking your tone, Dad.” Eddie crossed his arms.
“I don’t like it either, but Sue and Ned are my best friends, and knowing this could be dangerous. More to the point, do I really want Ned to be haunted with the memory of his wife being tortured in front of him? It’s has him broken. I’ve been trying to talk him down for hours, and I’ll be honest. It ain’t going well.”
“What about me?” Maddie asked.
“Every hero needs someone to confide in. If you want, you can remember, but it’s a heavy responsibility.”
“I trust her. Always have.” Eddie said, reaching out towards her.
Maddie took his hand and squeezed it tightly, “Make them forget. Can you give them a good night out instead? Something sweet?”
Jake smiled, “Sure. We can do that.”
“OK you two, Eddie needs to have some more treatment soon, but if you two want to stretch your legs a bit while we clean up here…” The doctor said, opening the door and beckoning Maddie’s father who had been waiting outside on an old couch covered in clear plastic.
The loud clunk of the vending machine dispelled the silence, he reached into the slot and pulled out the ice-cold beverage. He rolled it against his face, it’s coldness soothing to the touch. He popped the tab and took a deep swig.
“Well, Eddie. Our lives just changed in a weird way.” Maddie said, staring down at her own cola as she sat.
“It doesn’t feel real to me yet. Not really.”
“You mean despite the fact that you can see perfectly clearly when you’re wearing a light-blocking mask?”
He chuckled half-heartedly, “Yeah, despite that.”
“Well you’re a super hero now!”
“I dunno. I don’t feel very super.”
She scooted closer to him a bit, and kissed him on the cheek, making him turn a deep crimson.
“Well you are. Trust me.”
“Uh, thanks.” He took another deep pull on his drink to buy him time while he thought of something cool to say.
“You need a super hero name,” She said, rubbing her head thoughtfully.
“Do I?” He asked.
“You do. I got it!” She exclaimed, standing, “You will be called UnstEddie.”
He grinned, “I like it.”