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Chapter 11: Dr. DeGroot (Part 2)
Dr. DeGroot remembered the day he heard about the good news. Well, maybe it’s not that good.
He was watching the “Whitbread Round the World Race” with his son when the phone rang. The son was not happy because he only had 2 hours with his father every month. All the other time was all work and more work occupying his father’s life.
“Dad, no phone calls from the work, you promised!” He protested.
“Sorry, sweetie. Daddy just take the call really quick. Something is happening.” Gerald jumped to the phone and picked it up quick.
“You better tell me very good news.” He said, “You know how little time I had with my son.”
The son turned around and put his attention back to the sailboat race. He watched how American team finally passed the Australian Team and seized the champion. Very excitedly, he jumped up and yelled, “Yeah!! We won! We won!”
He stopped in the middle and realized something was wrong. He looked around and saw his father hugging and kissing his mother. “Ewill… Dad! Mom! That’s disgusting! Please don’t do that.”
They didn’t say anything. Both of them had tears dropping down their faces.
“What’s wrong? Mommy? Why are you crying?” He tried to reach her cheek.
His mother suddenly turned around and ran out of the house. He could still hear her crying in the backyard.
“What’s going on, daddy?”
Dr. DeGroot slowly bended down and held his little hand, “I am really sorry, sweetie. We have to take you to live with your Uncle Humes in England. We cannot stay with you anymore. We are leaving soon.”
“No!”the son was shocked by the idea, he had never imagine that one day his parents would leave him. “Why? Am I being a bad boy?”
“No, you are a very good boy.” Tears ran down Gerald’s face, “You are the sweetest boy in the world. I am so sorry that we cannot take you there.”
“Because that’s a very dangerous place. We cannot risk your life there.”
“But…”the boy started to weep, “No, I don’t want you to go…Daddy, please.”
“Sorry. Your mom and I have to go there. We don’t have a choice, but you do.” Gerald held his crying son in his arms, “We want you to live a long, happy life. If you go to the island, you will suffer.”
“An island?” the boy caught his father’s word, “I want to go there too. I have never seen an island.”
“No, you won’t.” Gerald’s voice became very serious, “Promised me you will never step in that island.”
“No, daddy. I will take a sailboat, I will cross the ocean and I will look for you and mom.”
Gerald was scared. He was afraid that his little slip of the word might have changed his son’s whole life, “No, you don’t.” he held him close, “My son, my dearest son. You are my last treasure in the whole world. Promised me you will never, never look for us.”
His son bit his lower lip, not saying anything, only the tears came down on his little pink cheek.
Finally Gerald said bitterly, “What’s the use? You won’t find us anyway. Nobody can.”
His mother walked slowly back in the kitchen. She bent down and hugged both tight and cried,“We are so sorry… to do this to you … Desmond.”
3 months later. First night on the island.
“Noooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!” Gerald roared at the top of his lung. The scene scared him to death.
Just moments ago, Karen was caught by the smoky monster. He saw his wife’s eyes for the last time. They were full of terror. Her face was twisted by the extreme pain, and the next moment she disappeared like a ghost. The next thing he saw was a little black dot far in the sky. Under the moonlight, that little black dot fell vertically to a rocky cliff, and disappeared again in the darkness.
Karen is gone? Just like that? Twenty years together and in just one moment she is gone? This is not real! This is absolutely NOT real!
Instantly he was completely frozen at the horrible sight. Even his employee’s extremely piercing scream didn’t wake him up to the cruel reality. He fell down to the ground and kept staring up at the sky, where he last saw his wife. The scene of her falling to her violent death kept playing in his brain over and over and over and over and over again.
After making sure the monster was gone, DI guys found him still lying in the grass motionless. His eyes wide-open and his mouth kept moving with no sound. They put him on a stretch and took him into a tent.
Four souls were lost that night, but to Gerald, it was like the whole world was dead. The monster took away everything he had and left an empty carcass for him to die slowly. The emptiness was so overwhelming that sky was no longer blue, the grass was no longer green. Everything lost its color in a snap. The only image left was a little black dot falling, playing in his head thousands of times.
How can I live without Karen? How? She is dead now. She’s dead because of me. It was all my fault! I shouldn’t have brought her here. I shouldn’t… He felt so guilty about it. His heart kept aching for the whole day. DI nurses tried to feed him, but he refused to eat. In the end, they had to put a tube in his nose to force-feed him.
Two days later, Amy came. She wore a beautiful bride’s gown. It made her look like a perfect model in a wedding magazine. When she stepped in the tent, everyone couldn’t help but let out a “wow” in her presence.
“Hey, Gerald.” She gently bent down in front of his bed, “Do you hear me? Gerald?”
Gerald turned his eyes slowly to her. She saw nothing but hollow inside. It was a heart-wrenching moment.
Amy wiped out her tears and said, “Remember you promised me that you would walk me down the aisle? My dad passed away. You are like my father now. Come on, please, do it for me.”
Gerald stared at her. His eyes became more and more lively. Suddenly he was like a dying patient in OR suddenly gained back his heart-beat, he choked at the air and took a lot of shallow breath, like he was alive again. Then he held Amy in his arms and let out an anguish wailing.
Everyone in the DI tents heard him crying and was momentarily shock. It sounds more like a badly wounded wolf howling at the moon. That’s not a sound a human could make. The nightmarish sound had haunted them in the months to come.
“It’s alright. Gerald. It will be all right.” Amy said it like a mother comforting her little baby, “We are all here for you. I will tell Paul to come here. We will have the wedding right here.”
“Amy, he is moving.” Dr. Chang pointed out.
Everyone’s eyes switched to his leg. He was struggling like a paralyzed man who’s trying to get out of the bed. Immediately a wheelchair was presented. Dr. Chang and Lara helped him sit onto the wheelchair.
“That’s my boss!” Amy smiled to Gerald, “I am really proud of you.”
Gerald’s face was all numb. Drops and drops of tears came out of his eyes. He didn’t even try to wipe them. He just held Amy’s hand tight. Dr. Chang pushed the wheelchair behind him.
With the Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” playing in the background, Amy walked slowly toward Paul with Gerald by her side. Her tears came out again. Her whole face was all covered by them. She didn’t put any make-up for her wedding, but to everyone’s memory, she was the most beautiful bride ever.
Paul stood by the priest and watched her with care. He knew that Karen was like a mother Amy never had. With her gone, Gerald also turned into a vegetable. She must feel like losing both of her parents again. It was too much to bear. He did suggest postponing the wedding, but knowing Amy for so long, he knew what she would do next. Not surprisingly the wedding was even pushed earlier. The moment the priest was on the island, the whole ceremony started.
“Hi, Paul!” Amy walked close and gave him a wink. She carefully took her hand from Gerald, and lent it to Paul.
“Hi, Amy.” Paul was truly admiring his bride, “You are so amazing!”
“Thank you.” Amy smiled, “From now on we are one. Don’t ever leave me!”
“No, never!” Paul said with a determination, “Until the day I died.”
“No, don’t say that.” Amy put a finger on his lips, “That’s bad karma.”
They hugged and kissed deeply. The priest stood aside and joked, “Hey Paul, I haven’t told you to kiss the bride yet.”
They were a little embarrassed and stopped the kissing. Everyone in the DI cheered and yelled. The thundering happy voices drove away all the miseries. Even the Sun had finally moved out of the cloud and generously shone its full warmth onto them. It was a truly magical moment.
“Well, now you can.” The priest urged them, “What are you waiting for?” He didn’t even make the announcement for them of being husband and wife. In his mind, they were already married a long time ago, and there was absolutely nothing could separate them two. So why bothered to go through those mumbo-jumbos?
Amy’s Wedding improved Gerald’s situation a lot. He started to eat and looked, but no talking yet. He stayed in his tent all day long. The nurse claimed that he was thinking about something. Amy and Paul visited him every day. Dr. Chang took over his position and managed many works to settle everyone in the island. He didn’t have Gerald’s high efficiency, but at least he was doing okay.
7 days later, it was time for the funeral. DI guys did their best to make it looked like a regular one. All four closed caskets were surrounded by white flowers. The priest hosted the ceremony again.
Unfortunately none of the four bodies were recovered. They were believed to be all tossed into the cliff and washed out into the sea. Sharks must have gotten their bodies. The only comfort was that they must have quick deaths.
Pierre Chang gave a 5 minute eulogy. He didn’t really know how to say things in such sad situation. To him the 500-word piece was more difficult than a post-doctor graduate thesis.
It was Amy’s turn. She didn’t even have a paper in her hand. She walked to the middle and started her eulogy:
“Dear friends in DI, a few days ago we had witnessed a tragic, a tragic that stabbed through our heart. I believed everybody here could feel the pain of losing them. I, for one, felt a great loss from the bottom of my heart.
My parents were not perfect. My mother was always drunk and my father was always in the lab. I followed my father and learned all the electronic tricks from him. The talent was like in my blood. I built robots when I was 5, and a fully automatic house when I was 9. However, I spent so much time with my father, that I forgot my mother was very alone. I can’t blame her for the affairs. It was I and my father who abandoned her, not the other way around. They both went through a very bitter divorce. I was on my father’s side all the time. It was not fair to her.
Three years later, I learned the news that my mother drove a car, ran over my father, and committed suicide. It was a great shock to me. I couldn’t eat for days. It was Karen who took care of me, who held my hands when I was in a nightmare. It was her who dragged me out of the room and took me traveling around the world. To me Karen was my real mother, a mother that I have been waiting for in my whole life. Working with her and Gerald felt more like working with my family. I was complete and I was happy again…”
Amy turned her face around, wiped off a tear, then she continued,
“I don’t know why sometimes life is so unfair, that the good people just died like that without any help from the higher being. I just know that we have to be strong. We mourn the loss but at the same time we should take action. We cannot stop here. They are still watching us; they are still blessing us from above so we should do things to make them proud.
A few days ago, I lost Karen, the one who was dearest to my heart. I didn’t want to lose Gerald at the same time. So I arranged the wedding and he is better now. I am very glad that my little scheme work and I really appreciate him coming to the wedding in spite of his great loss.
Gerald, I know your suffering must 10 times over mine, but I want you to be strong. To me, you already had taken place of my father. You are even better than him because you loved your wife so much, and you are my best boss ever…”
Everyone laughed a little bit. Amy tried her best put up a little smile,
“So I urged you. Please be strong for us. We all need your leadership. It just felt differently without your help. No offence, Dr. Chang.”
Everyone looked at Dr. Chang. He shook his head a little bit, meaning “none taken”.
“We should also give our deepest condolences to all the scientists we lost. They were the fallen heroes who face the death and did their best. We will remember them as long as we can.
It was a great tragedy, and we are determined to not let it happen again. We will finish setting up sonic fences this week. No more innocent lives should be scarified to the monster. We will investigate the nature of that monster and find a way to kill it. We will get through this difficult time together. Thank you everyone.”
The applause was deafening.
Near the end of the funeral, the priest asked, "Is there anyone wants to add anything?"
Slowly, to everyone’s surprise, Gerald moved again.
He struggled with his wheelchair. In haste Dr. Chang pushed him to the center, while Lara lowered the microphone for him.
It was dead quiet. The wind brushed palm trees above, making a low wailing sound.
Gerald looked around at all his employees, one after another. He remembered he or Karen had helped each of them at one point of their lives. They all tried to pay him back by working hard for him. DI was like a big family. He was like the head of the household, but the happy moment had passed. It was over when they stepped onto this cursed place. He knew it very well. Now he had to face another difficult choice of telling the truth or not. All the emotions came up, regret, love, hatred, happy, sad, guilt … they weighed on him and made it difficult to speak. He opened his mouth but he choked, "Uh... I ... I ..."
It was deafening silence. None of the DI members moved or said anything. They just watched him eagerly. Tell us what to do, and we will do it. If you want to avenge Karen and charge the monster, we will do it without a word. Just tell us, please!
Those twenty seconds of silence was very very long. Just like Einstein pointed out, time is a relative thing.
Gerald finally spoke in a trembling voice, it sent shocks to everyone.
"My fellows in DI, here I give you my most sincere apology. From the beginning, I knew this island had some unnatural forces that were extremely dangerous, and yet I was being overly optimistic, and seriously underestimated the potential risk that we all had to face, so I came, in the name of so called 'scientific research'. I even convince Karen to come with me because I knew she had the same curiosity, and the same eagerness of great discoveries, just like me. We had to leave our son, Desmond behind, because, again, I knew there were grave dangers lurking in the island…”
His words were quite stirring. No one would have expected him saying things like that.
“Now when I looked back, I would say it’s not worth it. Why I have to leave my lovely son, put my wife in harm’s way, just to chasing the fame and fulfilled my curiosity? I made a stupid choice. I hope everyone here won’t make the same mistake like I did. Life is too short, my friend. Go for the things you really need, please!”
It was awful silence after this. People started to look at each other and thinking the same thing: Maybe he is right. The risk here is too great. Amy and Pierre could only shake their heads. Gerald is doing self-destruction of Dharma Initiatives. He doesn’t want to continue the project anymore, and now he is bringing it down.
“So here I offered all of you a choice. A choice that would no doubt affect the rest of your life. You can choose to leave this island and enjoy your normal life, we will provide you with enough money so you can start your life again, or you can choose to stay. We might see some great things together and make history together, but you have to know that you are risking your life by staying here. Which one you will choose is completely up to you. I guarantee that DI will not affect your choice in any way.
Enough is said. Now whoever wants to leave, please stand up and go back to your tent. I can arrange a submarine to come tomorrow. Pack all your personal belongs, please, because once you leave you can never come back.”
One by one, DI employees stood up and left. Some of them held their head and didn’t know what to do. Some begged his friends to stay. Some girls asked their boyfriends to leave with them. The funeral became the testing ground of faith. People’s voice became louder and louder. Not very long it was filled with cursing, crying, begging and yelling. It became as noisy as the morning wall street market.
Gradually the noise tuned down. All the heated debates have their winners and losers. The sound became mostly “goodbye” and “farewell”.
Amy, Paul, Lara and Pierre stayed in the front row. They hugged each member who decided to leave and wished him/her good luck, they comforted the people whose good friends were leaving, and they tried to persuade some key members of DI to stay.
The whole process was surprisingly peaceful. A lot of tears were shredded, but no blood was drawn.
2 hours later, Amy started to count the remaining ones. “30,31,32 … 40, 41, 42. Well, including you and me, we still have 42 members left. Not bad at all.”
Dr. Chang said with a little sarcasm, “Right, I thought there would be only 5 left.”
Lara, “Yeah, whoever stays definitely deserves all the Dharma Beer he wants.”
Paul, “Well, I can empty all those beers just by myself.”
Amy, “Stop! I prohibit you from drinking.”
Paul, “Oh, sorry, dear. I won’t.”
Pierre,”Come on, Paul, be a man, show her who’s the head of the house hold.”
Paul, “Well, she is.”
“Hahahaha….” Loud laughter burst from the remaining crowd.
3 days later.
Amy, Paul, Pierre and Lara all got a different letter from Dr. DeGroot in the morning from the doorstep.
Amy opened the letter and read it carefully,
It’s very difficult to say goodbye to you. I already feel too much pain. I am not sure if I can take it to see you cry again. So I just leave this note to you. I am terribly sorry to leave without saying goodbye…”
Oh, NO!! Amy rushed out of the house with her husband. She woke up everyone in the DI and started an extensive search operation. All 41 remained members joined the search.
However, just like everyone expected, when Dr. DeGroot decided to do something, there was nothing to stop him. He disappeared just like he never existed. All his belongings were gone. No trail was left behind for them to trace. Amy and her friends searched a whole day, went through every inch they were allowed to reach, yet found nothing useful. She wanted to go deeper in the hostile territories but Paul stopped her firmly. She collapsed in his arms.
When they returned to the DI base, it was midnight already. Amy took the letter on the floor with a trembling hand, and read the rest,
“Amy, I really appreciate your contribution to the Dharma Initiative. You put in your whole life behind it. Without your help, the whole DI wouldn’t be possible at the first place. In my mind you are the real creator of DI, not me. I cannot thank you enough for what you did.
In my mind, you are always still the little girl I met in the award party, the little girl who played spying on her father, and the little girl who was so curious about my rock. I know that along all these years you have grown up quite a lot. You became more intelligent, more practical and more beautiful. I don’t believe in God, but I thank him every day that you are here to help me. You are like our own daughter, and I am so happy that you had chosen a good husband. Karen should be happy to see you two love birds finally got married. You two really deserved growing old together.
However, I couldn’t get rid of the guilt of bringing you all here. This island is an extremely dangerous place. Karen and other three already paid their ultimate price. The other day I was trying to drive you all away, but you, Paul, Pierre, Lara and 35 other members still stay. At that moment I did cry, except there were no more tears in my eyes to shred. I felt good that day, but now every time I see you talking to me, my wife’s face showed up in my mind. She was completely terrified at that last moment. I can’t help but thinking that face could be yours. It makes me very worried. My mind didn’t have a moment of peace since then.
So I decided to finish my life. I know that as long as I live here you won’t go away. I cannot leave this place because this is where Karen is. So the only option I have is to end my life here.
By the time you read this letter, I should be dead already. You don’t need to find my body because you won’t find it. Meanwhile, I strongly urge you to dispense the Dharma Initiative. Amy, you don’t belong here, your bright mind will shine anywhere you go. You don’t need to keep taking such a big risk here. I’m sure that you and Paul will live a much better life back in the outside world. The choice is yours but I strongly recommend you to leave.
Goodbye my dearest daughter!
Sincerely with all my heart,
Your second father,
Dr. Gerald DeGroot”
Amy sat down in her sofa heavily. She felt so tired all in a sudden, and realized that she must be physically and emotionally exhausted.
She took a look at Paul, and seeing him wept with his letter, “Are you OK? Honey?”
“Oh…”Paul quickly wiped his tear and replied, “I am fine, dear. It was just that Dr. DeGroot was like a father to me.”
“Yeah, I felt the same.”
“I still remember how he saved me from getting killed by a gangster. He paid my debt without even knew who I really was. My life turned around completely that day, and he introduced me to you. I never thought I could meet someone so beautiful like you.”
“Oh… baby!” Amy crawled to Paul and hugged him from behind, “You are so sweet!” She could feel the body warmth and hear the heartbeats of her husband.
“I am just telling you the truth. Now he’s gone, I am not sure what to do. What do you think, dear?”
Still hugging his chest from behind, Amy stopped her motion for a while.
Paul just waited quietly.
From the back, Amy could feel Paul’s heart beating fast. She could hear each of his breath. And she knew that whatever the direction she pointed. Paul would follow without any hesitation. One word from her could determine the rest of his life. So she must think carefully, she must analyze all the facts and not affected by her emotion, just to make the best decision. Moreover, it was not only his or her life. It connects to all 39 remaining DI members. This decision would determine their lives as well.
“Do you know Marie Curie?” She asked.
“No, why?” Paul was wondering.
“She was the scientist who was a pioneer of radioactivity and won 2 Nobel Prizes. She is my idol.”
“She died of aplastic anemia, because of her research.” Amy said, “But I think even if she knew the danger, she would just keep doing the research, because our lives are too short, and the chances of making great discoveries are too low. This island has amazing things that I am willing to put my life in it. It’s just like radioactivity to Marie Curie. I want to stay, but I am afraid that I will lose you.”
“You will never lose me.” Paul laughed, “You found the island, and I found you. You are the lady that I am willing to put my life in it too.”
“So we will stay.” Amy said.
“We stay, and I will protect you.” Paul said, “With my life.”