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Acrophobia

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He wakes up gradually. What time is it? Too early, that´s for sure. Maybe he can just pretend he doesn´t have to go to the office for a couple of more minutes.

He wants to change position so he can fall back asleep, when he realizes he can´t move, or not very much. This isn´t OK, he searches his memory to find out what happened. He realizes that he can´t move because he is restrained. His eyes snap open and he finds himself in a sort of box or a coffin, he is not sure. He struggles against the bindings.

‘Well, welcome Mister Macgyver, or can I call you Angus?’

Mac turns towards the male voice. He glares at the man.

‘What do you want from me? Where am I?’

The man standing next to the box is older, he is gray and Mac estimates him in his early sixties. He is well dressed and well groomed.

‘Let me first introduces myself, my name is doctor Andover. My specialty is curing people of their phobias.’

‘What does that have to do with me?’ Mac asks.

‘Well Mister Macgyver, I was told you have a phobia.’

Mac swallows and uses his best poker face, ‘everybody has a fear of something, even you as a doctor.’

‘True, true, but your fear of heights is irrational, making it a phobia, acrophobia to be precise.’

‘Researchers studied that a fear of heights is an instinct found in many mammals. It is a cautiousness, helpful for survival.’

‘You are not disappointing me, Mister Macgyver. You are well versed, intelligent and therefor a good subject to test the adaptions I made to my invention.’

‘Where are we?’

‘In my clinic. Your Oversight expressed his concerns about your phobia. He fears it could jeopardize missions and asked me to help you cure our acrophobia.’

Mac is taken aback for a moment by the mention of Oversight. There is no way his father would do this to him. Would he? But hell, this is not about what Oversight wants, but what he wants.

‘I don´t need nor do I want your help.’

‘Yes, your Oversight or should I say, your father, warned me that you would say that, so he signed the consent forms while you were admitted.’

Mac knows he has to stall, he needs to find a way out of here and he can only do that if he buys himself time.

‘As one scientist to another, as a curtesy, tell me how your program works.’

‘As a man of science, I understand your need to understand the mechanics, so I will indulge you. The machine will induce hallucinations, so you can work through your fears.’

‘I think I will pass, thank you very much.’

Mac starts to struggle, but he is just too well-restrained. The doctor closes the see-through lid and Mac´s breathing picks up.

 

Mac´s heart rate skyrockets when he finds himself sitting high on a ledge of the roof of a twenty something story building. His feet are dangling over the side. He can feel himself shaking, his heart racing like it wants to escape his chest. The feeling of being paralyzed is all consuming. His breathing is getting irregular and his head spins. He knows he has to calm himself down, and he tries focusing on his breathing , forcing himself to inhale through his mouth and exhaling through his nose.

After a couple of deep breaths, he feels calmer and he forces his brain to come up with a way to get to safety. Just as he stands up, precariously balancing on the narrow edge, a strong wind picks up. Mac´s panic grips him and he freezes, he wants to scream , but the panic chokes him off and he can´t produce any sound. Dark spots are narrowing his vision and his brain can only produce one thought… Jack.

Just as he thinks he is going to pass out, strong arms engulf him from behind and pull him to safety.

Jack…

 

* *  *

This time Macgyver ´s hearing is the first sense to come back online.

‘A contributing factor is a dysfunction in maintaining balance. The human balance system integrates proprioceptive vestibular and nearly visual cues to reckon position and motion. As height increases, visual cues recede and balance becomes poorer even in normal people. However, most people respond by shifting to more reliance on the proprioceptive and vestibular branches of the equilibrium system. You, Mister Macgyver, however, continue to over-rely on visual signals whether because of an inadequate vestibular function or incorrect strategy, we will find out soon.’

Please, the good doctor loves to hear his own voice or what. His brain is too fuzzy to pay much attention. Mac just lets himself drift away.

Mac blinks open his eyes again, everything is out of focus. What happened?

He searches his memory and suddenly it all comes rushing back. He gasps.

‘It´s OK Angus, we will get you fixed.’

‘Fixed?’

‘We made good progress, so we will continue with our fourth session.’

Mac´s brain races, forth session? When did that happen? Why can´t he remember the previous sessions? He has to stop this maniac.

‘Wait, I don´t feel so well, can we take a break for a moment?’

‘Feeling off is to be suspected, it is the benzodiazepines, it’s perfectly normal and no need for concern. I am monitoring your vitals and everything is within normal parameters.’

The doctor grips the lid and pulls it forward. Mac can feel the adrenaline releasing into his systems and he struggles.

‘Wait, I…’

‘Relax Angus, we are going to get to the root of your fear. You are doing well.’

The lid closes and Mac´s breathing picks up like he is running the hundred meter dash.

 

Mac stands at the top of a staircase with what looks like a thousand stairs. When he looks down, he has a moment of vertigo, but he cowboys up and takes a deep breath. He studies his surroundings, but he is standing in some hall without any doors or windows. The only way to go is down. No problem, he has never had a fear of going down stairs. He is just about to start going down, when a hand is put on his shoulder, he turns around and smiles.

‘Jack, I am glad…’

Before he can finish his sentence, Jack pushes him and there is this terrifying moment of weightlessness before he falls.

 

‘Mac!’

‘Mac! Come on dude. Wake up!’

Mac startles at the sound of the voice. He recognizes it as Jack´s. Didn´t Jack just push him down the stairs? Wait, where is he? Wasn´t he standing on top of the stairs. But it feels like he is laying down on something soft. Why doesn´t anything make sense?

‘Mac, you’re safe now, Bozer and Riley took doctor Andover in custody. I need you to wake up brother.’

Doctor Andover! Mac snaps opens his eyes, closing them again against the bright overhead lights.

‘Jack?’

‘Yes bud, you OK?’

Is he?

‘Sure, I… get me out of this thing.’

‘Sure thing.’

Mac is trying to catch his breath and coming to terms with everything that is happening. Once Jack opens the box, Mac wants to jump out, but his muscles aren´t obeying him.

‘Hold your horses, bud, it is probably the drugs that quack injected you with. Here, let me help you!’

Jack lifts Macgyver out of the box and carries him to the SUV outside. Riley wraps him in a soft blanket and Mac lets himself be comforted by the softness. Another team exits the building with doctor Andover and get in a car behind them.

‘Don´t look at them Mac, you’re safe with us. Matty is taking care of an exfil. You relax.’

Jack gets behind the wheel and they are off. Once on the main road, Riley and Bozer and taking about their weekend plans and Mac lets the vibrations of the car and their voices doze him to sleep.

 

He is standing on the edge of the roof and is surrounded. There is nowhere to go. In front of him stands doctor Andover. He is stepping closer and Mac is desperately looking for a way out, but he can´t see any. Suddenly doctor Andover stands in front of him and before he can do or say anything, the doctor pushes him of the ledge. He screams.

‘Mac? Wake up! It is just a nightmare. Come on, wake up!’

Mac´s heart is racing while he tries to untangle himself from whatever is restraining him.

‘Mac calms down, it´s a blanket. Open your eyes!’

Hands are holding him and he opens his eyes, gulping in air.

‘That´s it, slow breaths. It was just a nightmare.’

Mac looks around and he can see he is still inside the SUV. They are parked on the tarmac of some airport next to the Phoenix jet.

‘Here, let me help you on board.’

It takes Jack, Bozer and the co-pilot to maneuver Mac inside but eventually, he is stretched out on the couch. Jack puts his jacket over Mac and he inhales the familiar scent of gun oil and Jack´s cologne.

He is safe…

 

He has this strange wobbly sensation. When he opens his eyes, he is standing on the tip of a crane…