Humming was the first thing that intruded into John’s consciousness, waking John from a vicious nightmare. Something classical by the sounds of it. That probably meant Virgil. As pleasant as it usually was to listen to Virgil hum away while he worked, right now it was stabbing right in the back of his brain.
“ Virg ? Do you mind knocking it off? I’ve got a pounder of a headache.”
For a wonder it did and John was at peace again, until one of his eyelids was prised open and a light shone painfully at his unprotected pupil.
“Hey” he yelled, pulling back, hands up to...... he tried to lift his hands to his face but couldn’t. He tugged: once, twice, three times but there was no movement. Peeling his eyes open, squinting at the light of the room, John found himself strapped onto one of the island’s medbeds . Strapped. Wrists and ankles firmly cuffed to the frame.
“Virgil?” John asked, as it was indeed the pilot of Thunderbird Two who was present, standing with arms crossed and a concerned expression. And a black eye. “What gives?”
“You actually back with us now?”
“Back from where?”
“Hmmmm” Virgil frowned. "You seem more sensible and coherent but I’ll do a blood test just to be sure.”
“ Sure of what? Virgil? You’re starting to scare me now.”
Armed with syringe and needle Virgil gave a swipe of disinfectant on the inside of Johns’ arm. He hesitated. “Just let me do this first, ok?”
John nodded his permission and Virgil took a blood sample with his usual deftness. It was over in a matter of moments.
“Now you’ve got my blood you vampire, mind telling me what the hell is going on.”
Virgil looked at him quizzically and spoke slowly. “Do you remember you and Alan making repairs to that satellite – the one doing various experiments on the affects of zero-G.”
He did, though memory was so faded it felt several months ago despite it being very recent. He sat up as far as he was able.
“Yeah,” he replied. “They had a range of plants and fungi in there and we replaced a few circuits in their automatic positioning telemetry so they could stay in orbit a bit longer.”
“Well Brains thinks you were both exposed to something up there – a spore or something.”
John’s concerned spiked- “Where’s Alan?”
“He’s fine, he’s out on the beach. We noticed his symptoms first, and was able to give him the treatment straight away. Obviously it took longer to get to you.”
“What..... What symptoms?”
Virgil eyed him carefully. “Paranoia, delusions, hallucinations leading to full psychosis. Plus a range of physical symptoms. Ring any bells?”
John was dumbfounded as his dreams took on new meaning. “I thought there were intruders on Five. The Hood or someone. And EOS had turned against me. I was going to wipe her and shove everyone else out an air lock.” John was horrified “That was you, wasn’t it?”
Virgil ran a hand through his hair. “Sure was. We got up there as quickly as possible but you were in the middle of a full blown panic attack when we did, and our arrival triggered something.”
John felt a little sick as he remembered the fear and confusion and the certainty that someone was out to get him. Something else came back and he winced, filled with guilt. “I hurt Gordon didn’t I? And I guess gave you that black eye.”
“Yeah. You sure are scrappy when you want to be. Had to get the treatment that Brains cooked up into you quick though.” Virgil shifted uncomfortably “So sorry about that. This eye came later though, when we got you back here. You were yelling that you were being kidnapped, hence these.” He gestured to the restraints.
“Sorry you had to witness that.” John said softly. He had some holes in his memory, but everything he did recall was troubling and unsettled his stomach. Virgil just shrugged.
“Sorry you had to go through it. At least your blood pressure is back to normal now, EOS thought you might burst something.”
John lay back with a groan “And I was ripping apart the station wasn’t I – I'm going to have a lot of apologies to make.”
Virgil patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry too much about it, she’ll understand. Anyway, I better get this blood sample analysed, check all those spores are gone from your blood stream” and he moved to leave the room.
“Err Virg.” John said, jingling the cuffs. “I think you’ve forgotten something.”
“Nope.” Said Virgil with a satisfied tone.
“See, either you are still under the effects of the blood poisoning, in which case you need to be restrained for your own safety and everyone else’s - ”
“But I’m not!” John protested.
“-or, you are recovering from a very serious and strenuous episode for which you need at least 24 hours of complete bed rest.”
“Are you serious? I’m fine.” Bed rest! Whoever had time for bed rest? There was too much to do, too many people to save to take more than the minimum time needed.
“Maybe.” Virgil said “But you could have had a heart attack and I know you: you can’t just sit and rest – I’d have to disable to disable the space elevator or you'll be back upstairs in a flash, and working from Dad’s desk otherwise. So, the only way to make sure you get the rest you need is these.” He tapped the cuffs.
John narrowed his eyes. “Just you wait. I know all and see all. I will get you back for this.”
Virgil just laughed. “Maybe, but I’m very much in favour with a certain AI at the moment. Something to do with subduing an idiot brother who couldn’t recognise his own family. So I’ll compromise. Twelve hours. Assuming your bloods are clear. Get some rest now.”
“Virgil, don’t you dare! Virgil”
But the click of the door was the only reply.