Doctor Gilbreath steeled his nerves and took a deep breath, “Mr. and Mrs. Capadelli, we’re doing our best to make her as comfortable as possible. If you want to see her, she might have a few more minutes.”
Carol Capadelli, strong as she was, swallowed hard, “There … there’s nothing y … you can do?” she managed to ask.
The doctor scratched his gray head, “I wanted to tell you that there is one more thing we might try.”
“Do it,” Tony said without hesitation, patting Rabbit on the shoulder. The young man merely sat next to him with his head in hands.
“There are two biological agents that Phizer is developing that might give you a little more time with her,” the doctor continued.
“What part of ‘do it’ did you not get?” Tony barked, but Carol put her hand on his chest to calm him down.
Doctor Gilbreath sighed again, “It hasn’t even gotten to animal testing, but they have two custom viruses. The SR-14 has successfully kept nerve cells from dying in tests and the T-9 does the same for muscle cells.”
“So you’re going to inject her with viruses to keep her alive?” Carol asked, scratching her own blond hair. Seeing the doctor scratch had made her own head itchy as well.
“We think it will help her survive organ failure,” the doctor said while quickly holding up a hand to quiet Tony, “But you have to understand, she’s suffered massive brain trauma. Her quality of life will be severely degraded.”
“You’re talking about keeping her brain alive while her body dies?” Rabbit asked, looking up through his hands.
“Pretty much,” responded the doctor uncomfortably, “We don’t think she’ll be in much pain and she might be able to communicate. It might give you some time with her before the nerve and muscle cells run out of fuel.”
Carol sat down next to Rabbit, “Would she know us?” she asked.
The doctor shook his head, “Honestly, I think there’s only a one percent chance it will even work. If it does, she might recognize you.”
“I still don’t get what you’re missing?” Tony pushed forward, “Dooo Iiiit,” he enunciated.
Doctor Gilbreath nodded, “If you want to come with me we’ll give it a try.”
Carol and Tony followed the doctor into the operating room. He stopped by the machines that were keeping Jessica alive, “Get the T and SR viruses, we’ll give it a try,” he said to the nurse.
Tony knelt next to his daughter. Her right eye was dead, nothing but a white orb. The doctors had tried to stitch her face together, but the skin was torn loose under her eye. Tubes were forced down her throat, keeping her breathing, defibrillators kept her heart beating erratically and her blood pressure was reading fifteen over zero. The morphine dripped rhythmically with the beeping of the instruments.
Quickly, the nurse returned with a syringe. The ECG went flat just before the doctor injected the contents into her IV. The defibrillator shocked her again, trying to restart the young woman’s heart.
Doctor Gilbreath turned to the ECG. Jessica’s heart stopped again and the defibrillator shocked her. The machine tried in futility for a few moments to get some signal out of the teenager’s heart. Nothing.
The doctor sighed and watched the line stay flat. Quietly, he turned off the respirator that was still forcing air into her lungs.
“I’m really sorry,” the doctor sighed and guided the couple out of the operating room.
* * *
Sitting up, Jessica pulled the IV out of her arm.