Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man - Part II

Today’s youth deployed sarcasm so freely that it was unclear whether Emily’s understanding of magic actually surpassed Theo’s understanding of medical science, so the witch wasn’t sure if she should be offended. It was probably a safe bet to assume Emily would take every opportunity to challenge or provoke Theo, but with Juden laid out on the bed as he was, Theo thought it best to let the matter slide. Besides, it wasn’t as if Theo didn’t - on the exceedingly rare occasion - go out of her way to antagonize the ant-friendly pint-sized royalty wannabe. And if Niko was here he’d have sighed in exasperation and pointed out that too many words had been used already. Niko hated talking. He didn’t even like to talk fast. He just wanted to run, all the time. And eat. Eat? “Oh no,” Theo mumbled as she began searching her pockets for the baggie of cheerios. “Here, hold this,” she told Emily as she handed her a notepad phone case and kept rummaging.

Emily took the phone case, opened it and was surprised to see it was hers. ‘Well, at least I have it back,’ she thought silently, putting it in her pocket.

Alas, Theo’s snack search came up empty; she’d forgotten to pack anything for Niko. “Well, he’ll just have to grab something on the run.” She brushed her hands off and got back to the matter of Juden Hilt. “He’s on machines, so they obviously want him alive; whoever they are. But he’s stashed up here in a storage room so they don’t want him to be looked after like normal. So they - whoever they are - must want to hide him or provide him with unapproved medical treatment. Or subject him to experimental procedures? But you say none of this stuff they have him hooked up to looks strange? Just regular hospital stuff?”

“Well yeah, that cable there hooks to the little sticky pads on his chest to monitor heart rate with that machine. He’s got an IV in his left arm and I’m pretty sure the tubes going into his face help him with either breathing or nutrition. I’ve been in my fair share of hospitals over the past few months; never found anything until now though. There doesn’t seem to be anything weird on him.” Emily walked over to the other side of the bed. She opened a cupboard that was up high. She moved around a couple things, looking for things, whether it was Pym Particles, or the Adrenaline needed to wake him up.

“I submit that he saw something he wasn’t supposed to see. Or knew something he refused to share. If that’s true, this was done to him deliberately; an attack. And if so, It happened less than twelve hours after he and I,” - Theo made a vulgar gesture involving the fingers of one hand interlocking with that of the other - “so I may be to blame for this.”

“That’s disgusting; he looks like he’s 10 years older than you,” Emily said without looking at Theo. She pushed aside a couple of small containers, and found a syringe and a container which said ‘Epinephrine’ on it. “Aha! I’m like 75 percent sure this is exactly what we’re looking for.” Emily stuck the syringe into the Epinephrine container and drew out roughly 1100mL from it. “Hopefully this wakes him up,” Emily declared, turning to hand the Syringe to Theo. ‘As opposed to giving him a heart attack’ she added silently in her head.

If Doctor Juden Hilt were awake, he’d have explained a few things to Emily. Comas weren’t just a form of deep sleep. In fact, sleep was a complex and specific pattern of brain activity that required a healthy brain to perform it - and just happened to produce unconsciousness as a side effect. The human brain just temporarily switched off consciousness - and various stimuli could make the brain switch it back on. A sufficiently loud noise, a certain amount of physical touch or movement of the body in space, a shot of adrenaline, etc. will all send signals to that switch and flip it back to the ‘on’ position. A coma, however, was a lack of activity. The consciousness switch - parts of the ascending reticular activating system - was broken, or the wires leading it to the machinery of consciousness - other parts of the ARAS - were not working, or the machinery itself - cerebral cortex - was hopelessly damaged. This damage could be due to lack of oxygen (suffocation, drowning, opioid overdose, stroke) or due to mechanical injury, but in all cases, the neurons were severely damaged or dead. In some cases a signal couldn’t even get to the ARAS. Even if it could, the ARAS and/or the cortex couldn’t respond like it should. That's the entire reason the coma was happening, and it was the reason that playing Justin Bieber or Pit Bull at full blast, or jostling the person wouldn't wake them up either.

But neither Emily or Theo knew any of this and were hopeful that Epinephrine should do the job. Were they supposed to stick it straight in his heart? Theo looked at the IV bag; was she supposed to poke that instead? Was she supposed to find a vein? Theo thumped her finger against the barrel of the syringe like she’d seen the nurses do on TV. She pressed the plunger and liquid dripped out of the needle’s bevel. “This will probably work, right Ant-Maiden?” Then she jammed the needle into a faint blue seam running beneath the surface of the skin on Juden’s arm.


Theo jumped back and with revolt wiped imaginary spiders from her hands. “Oh that’s so disgusting,” she nearly screamed with the needle still warbling back and forth in Juden’s arm like a flimsy flagstaff in the breeze. “How do druggies do this to themselves everyday,” she asked, looking at Emily expectantly.

Emily, despite having attempted to put up a strong front, was afraid of needles. They made her feel nauseous and when she watched Theo push the needle into Juden’s arm, she had shuddered. Watching it after a moment, it swayed side to side. She had turned and started to vomit up her coffee into the nearest trash can. It was not a very dignifying look for the Ant Queen, but she couldn’t help it; needles were a weakness of hers that she just couldn’t deal with; specifically sticking them into people. If it was by itself she was usually fine.

Theo could hear Emily getting sick so specifically didn’t look over in that direction or else she’d be looking for her own trash can to heave into. Where was Doctor Lolli when you needed him? The Maximoff’s childhood doctor - who’d still been treating Theo as recently as nine months ago - had always been good about distracting Theo when needles were used. Now that she was having to do it herself, she really came to appreciate how difficult it was. Theo didn’t pass out, but it took a moment for her to work up the nerve to approach the bed again. Getting her creeps under control, she grabbed a hold of the syringe and depressed the plunger. As soon as it was done she yanked the syringe out and threw it across the room. “It’s done,” she told Emily, holding a finger firmly against the injection site on Juden’s arm in case he sprung a leak. “I didn’t know you were allergic to needles like that. Honestly, I’m not sure how you plan to inject those red and blue drugs into your body if you can’t stand needles. Sorry, Plimp Articles.”

Emily finished her vomiting after a moment, and grabbed a roll of paper towels, wiping her face. She turned away from the trash can, “The Pym Particles aren’t an injection. I put them in my super hero suit, they let me shrink and grow in size… and it’s not an allergy…. I just… don’t like needles…” Emily looked over at the Doctor guy on the bed. “Is he…. Waking up?” she asked, as she put a clean paper towel over the injection point. ‘Hopefully that didn’t kill him she thought, as she hadn’t read much about Epinephrine/Adrenaline shots, and they were basically taking a shot in the dark.

Theo sat on the edge of the bed and gently squeezed Juden’s hand. She stared at the unconscious man’s chest then leaned down to listen to his breathing. She glanced over at the heart monitor machine which looked exactly as it had before. “No change so far. Let’s give it a minute. So that stuff in those test tubes - the Pimp Articles - that’s kinda like Ant-Man essence? He was a pretty special guy. I can understand why you’d want to carry something of him around with you. I miss my parents too. Alright, when we get back to GQ I’ll braid you a necklace or something so you can hang those drugs around your neck. We can work out the rest later. You know, I wish I’d thought to save some of Juden’s essence in one of those test tubes…”

Emily rolled her eyes, she didn’t feel like explaining the finer points of how her suit incorporated the pym particles, since she had to re-read that part of the journal that her dad had left for her. But at the mention of Juden’s Essence, she scrunched up her face. “You are disgusting… you know that right?” Emily stepped back and dropped the paper towel in the trash can, Juden’s pin prick from the needle was not bleeding. “Are we sure you can’t wake him up with the equivalent of a magic bitch slap?” Emily asked, after observing that the adrenaline shot did absolutely nothing.

Theo gave Emily a hesitant shrug of the shoulders and stared at the unconscious man, deciding what to do. “I honestly don’t know if it’s possible. If I knew how to fix a broken mind I’d have fixed my own, right? But I can try.” Theo repositioned herself, straddling the man and working her hands around in intricate gestures as red wisps of magical fog began to circle the doctor’s head. “What are you doing back there, Emily? Don’t look at my bum, get up here and hold his shoulders down. If this doesn’t work I don’t want some zombie version of him trying to bite me.”

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