Logline: A bionic malfunction causes Steve to go crazy

Set-up: The first three paragraphs are from 'M' in answer to her SMDM challenge question


Rumbling cattle wagons pulled by an old wood-burning steam train gathered speed again as in completed the turn through the town. It continued to descend further eastward in the Urals, through dark shadowy forests.

A solitary figure leapt from the accelerating train as it passed, but did not slow, at the empty starkly light platform.

A stout elderly man withdrew from a grimy window in an opposite alley which surveyed the scene. He rose with difficulty and threw another log on the fire, poured himself another drink, contemplating the glass, before glimpsing back out to watch the former stow-away intently.


He saw the stranger wobbling as if he were in a drunken stupor. He suddenly grabbed his right shoulder and collapsed to the ground. The old man hurried outside and to the stranger he recognized as the reported missing astronaut Steve Austin.

He picked him up and carried him inside his house where he laid him on his bed. He ran his hand against his forehead and felt a bit of a fever. He inspected his body from head to toe for any injury, especially to the right arm and shoulder but Steve didn’t have a scatch on him. He peered at the back of the head for any sign of a concussion. Again, no traces of blood. As he groped the legs to feel for broken bones, Steve began to moan. The old man gently tapped him on the cheek to wake him. Steve slowly opened his eyes and focused on the blurred form sitting by him.

«Where am I?» Steve asked in a complete fluster with his eyes darting around the room.

«Just relax. You’re in my home.»

«I must go.» Steve shot into a sitting position and was quickly overcome by dizziness.

The old man gently eased him back onto the pillow. «Take it easy, son. It’s obvious you’re not well.»

«They’re after me,» Steve panted in abject fear.

«Who’s after you?»



Steve’s eyes swivelled back and forth in a frantic motion as he tried to recall the names of his pursuers. He broke out in a cold sweat, his hands gripping the sheets. «I…I can’t remember. All I know is that they’re after me.» Steve’s breathing grew heavier as his eyes bulged out of their sockets.

The old man placed a hand on Steve’s shoulder, running it up and down in a soothing motion. «Take it easy, son. You’re safe here. No one is going to hurt you.»

Without warning, Steve’s face contorted with pain as a searing pain radiated through his right shoulder. He grabbed it and turned to his right side to apply his body weight onto his arm to alleviate to pain. «God, it hurts.»

Steve’s attack worried the old man. He tried to turn him over to get a closer look at his shoulder, but Steve jerked his hand away.

«I just want to see where it hurts, son. I’ll be careful.»

When the pain subsided, Steve slowly rolled onto his back and allowed the old man to examine his shoulder. He poked and prodded the painful area for any sign of broken bone or dislocated shoulder but didn’t feel any. «Son, did you fall on your arm? » he asked, a bit puzzled at the lack of any trace of serious injury.

Steve shook his head frantically. «I…I don’t remember.» Tears started to cloud his eyes, still swivelling back and forth. «I don’t remember,» he finished in a sobbing voice. «The pain just comes and goes.» He closed his eyes in utter despair.

«I have to send for the doctor.»

Steve quickly grabbed the old man’s arm «No! If you do, they’ll find me for sure.»

«You’re sick, son.»

Steve struggled to keep conscious. He squeezed the old man’s hand before he passed out. The elderly sat and stared at the tormented soul lying before him. There was a striking resemblance with his own son who was shot as he was trying to escape a group of mercenaries in Peru. Was he given a chance to do for Steve for he couldn’t do for Jimmy? A knock at the door yanked him out of his thoughts. He went to the door and opened it to his smiling daughter, Susan.

«Dad!» She hugged him and held a small paper bag in front of him. « I brought you some freshly baked muffins. » She entered the house and walked to the kitchen to put the delicious hot muffins on a plate. She was troubled by the fact that her father hadn’t asked about the flavors as he normally did. She turned round and noticed that he was looking toward his bedroom with a worried expression etched on his face. She frowned in puzzlement and slowly walked up to him. «Dad, is something wrong?»

He took her by the shoulders and stared into her eyes. «Susan I need you to do your old dad a huge favour. I want you to get Dr. Brown out here.»

She began to panic, thinking her father wanted him for himself. «Dad, you’re sick?»

«It’s not me.» He paused and took a deep breath. «Come, I’ll show you.»

She followed him to his bedroom where they both padded up to the sleeping form on the bed. «My Goodness! That’s Steve Austin!»

«I know.»

«What’s he doing here?»

«I saw him jumping from the moving train. When he collapsed in the field, I brought him here.»

«We have to notify the authorities.»


«Dad, if you only had a TV or radio you’d know that the government is looking for him. I heard it say he could be dangerous.»

«What did he do? »

«They didn’t said. Just that if we see him, we need to call the local police.»

He sat on the bed and felt Steve’s forehead. «I don’t think he is dangerous. He’s just scared. Sick and scared.» He looked up at Susan and took her hands. «Please, Susie, ask Dr. Brown to come and don’t tell him anything about Col. Austin.»

Susan lowered her eyes and sighed in resignation. «Alright dad.»

«And please, don’t tell anyone else, I beg of you. I want to hear his version before we turn him in.»

«Okay.» She nodded and kissed him on the cheek.

As Susan left the house, the old man went to the kitchen to get a fresh pot of cold water and a dish towel. He brought the items back to the bedroom and began dabbing Steve’s forehead with the moist towel.


An hour later, Dr. Brown showed up. The old man showed him to the bedroom where he sat on the bed to check the patient’s pulse on the right arm. «Patrick, I’m afraid this man is dead.»

The old man reacted in shock. «That can’t be! He was breathing less than 30 seconds ago.»

Dr. Brown palpated Steve’s throat and felt it pulsating. «Wait! I feel a pulse.» He groped Steve’s right wrist once more and frowned. «That’s strange.»


Brown reached for Steve’s left wrist and felt a weak pulse. «I can feel a pulse on his left wrist but not on his right.»

«What’s important is that he is alive.»

Brown lifted both of Steve’s eyelids. One pupil was fixed and the other was responding to light. He gathered the left was probably artificial. He ran his hand across his forehead. « He’s developing a fever. » He took his stethoscope out of his medical bag and laid it on Steve’s chest. «What happened to him?»

«I can’t say for sure. I found him unconscious in the field. When I laid him in bed, he awoke briefly. He panicked not knowing where he was, who he was or what had happened to him. He grabbed his shoulder and snarled in agony. I couldn’t feel any broken bone.»

The doctor groped Steve’s right shoulder and shook his head. «There isn’t any broken bone and his shoulder is not dislocated. » He peered at the back of Steve’s head for any bumps or bruises. « There’s no evidence of a concussion either.»

«What do you make of it?»

«The rise in the body temperature is usually a sign of infection, but I can’t see any bruises, lacerations of gashes anywhere.» He applied both hands to Steve’s abdomen to feel for any internal injury. «There’s no internal bleeding either.» He reached for a serynge inside his medical bag. «I’ll take a blood sample and run it through the lab. Then I’ll know if we have to admit him to the hospital.» Brown attempted to take the sample in the right arm but met with great resistance. The needle wouldn’t break the vein. «This man’s arm’s made of steel!» he exclaimed in astonishment. «I’ll try with the left.» He walked over to the other side of the bed and drew a satisfying amount of blood. He placed the sample inside his bag, stood from the bed and gave instructions to the old man to keep cool cloths on him until he came back with the results.


Early in the evening, Steve began to stir. His face crumpled, his nose crinkled as he groaned in discomfort. The old man placed a hand on his shoulder .«Son, can you hear me?»

Steve opened his eyes at a crack. His fever had not climbed but the pain was unbearable. «Hurt,» he whispered weakly.

«I know it does, son. The doctor was here earlier. He’s trying to figure out what’s wrong.»

They both heard a knock at the door. Steve managed to garner enough strength to grab the old man’s arm. «Don’t answer it,» he begged in a strained voice.

«It could be the doctor,» he said reassuringly as he peeled Steve’s fingers off his wrist. «I’ll be back.»

As he went to open the door, Steve painfully hauled himself out of bed, making a sweep of the room for any escape path.

The old man was surprised to see four men dressed in formal attire on his front porch. « Are you Patrick Bower, » Oscar asked as he flashed his I.D..


«I’m Oscar Goldman,» he motioned to his right, «and this is Dr. Rudy Wells. We are looking for Colonel Steve Austin. We were told he was here.»

«Who told you?»

«Your daughter, Susan,» Rudy said.

«How could she?» Bower sighed.

«She did what was best for him. He’s in dire need of medical attention. Please let us through.»

Bower opened the door all the way. «He’s in the bedroom.»

With a wave of his hand, Oscar beckoned his two agents to stand by the door in case Steve should make a run for it. Before they could get to the bedroom, Steve bounced out with a gun trained on Oscar and Rudy. «Don’t come any closer or I’ll kill you,» he spewed in rage, his body shivering.

‘ My gun. He must have picked it out of the drawer,’ Bower thought to himself.

Rudy held out his hand in front of Steve as he inched toward him. «Steve, it’s Rudy. Don’t you recognize me?»

« Don’t…don’t come any closer,» he warned, wagging the gun at Rudy. Suddenly, he felt a severe pang in his shoulder and grabbed it, accidently dropping the gun onto the floor. He crumbled to his knees just as Rudy and Oscar bolted to him to prevent him from falling further. Rudy laid Steve on the floor where he began having strong spasms.

«We’re too late, » Rudy informed grimly as he realized the final stage of the ailment had been reached with the seizure.

«Do something Rudy! » Oscar urged.

«Hel…help me,» Steve begged before heaving his last breath.

Oscar started applying CPR but Rudy stopped him. «If you revive him he’ll be nothing but a vegetable. That’s what I meant by being too late.»

Oscar stared at Rudy goggled-eyed in horror. As tears suffused in his eyes, he looked down at Steve’s lifeless body and laid a hand on his shoulder. «He had to die to find what he’d been seeking : freedom. » He slid his arms underneath Steve’s body. «C’mon buddy, let’s get you home.» He lifted his dead friend into his arms and carried him outside.


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