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    [Incomplete] Jacob's Regression (Age-Regression)

    Thank you for choosing to read Jacob's Regression. Before you move into Chapter 1, I wanted to share some important information.

    Content: Jacob's Regression is a non-sexual age-regression story suitable for 16+ readers.

    Updates: Are no longer paused, but there is currently no set schedule.

    Edits: Readers, I am an absolute perfectionist. This means that I am always editing this book in between chapter releases. There's a chance that you might see a spelling error that's gone in a few minutes because I noticed it when I re-read the story. Sometimes, I add a bit of extra descriptive work after realizing another word might have improved the flow. Since I'm rapidly learning and growing as a writer, I often take time to revamp scenes and paragraphs. I do most of my editing on wattpad.com, and I slowly transfer those edits over to other sites (https://www.wattpad.com/story/162751...27s-regression).

    Cover: The picture used in the cover of this book was taken from a stock image website, Unsplash. Photo credit: Conner Baker.

    That's about it for now. I hope you all enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoy reading and writing it. Jacob's Regression is the first story that I've ever written in my life, and I'm so happy I get to share this writing experience with readers from all over the world.

    Please feel free to leave comments and follow me if you enjoy this story.

    -CalebTheReaderWriter
    Last edited by caleb18; 03-11-2019, 06:51:02 PM.

    #2
    Chapter 1: Jacob's Depression

    A door slamming in the distance jolted Jacob from his sleep. While he waited for the pounding in his chest to pass, he heard distant yelling that confirmed his suspicions. Must be my neighbors fighting again. Dammit.

    The young man stretched on his bed and pulled his cellphone out from under the pillow. The paused video on the screen reminded Jacob that he had spent the entire morning smoking weed and viewing pornography trying to masturbate away his emotional pain. Once he finished quickly clearing the unread notifications not even bothering to check through them, he tossed the device onto the other side of the bed.

    Jacob was just about to fall back asleep when an alarm went off on his phone. Snapping his eyes open, he briefly considered throwing the phone wrapped in his sheets into the wall, but instead decided to slide his hands around to find it. When he finally grabbed the device, he realized it was not a phone call about an unpaid bill but the alert for the reminder he had set. He needed to leave his apartment right away if he wanted to be on time for his therapy appointment.

    He rolled out of his bed groaning the whole time. Even though he slept almost twelve hours each day for the past week, Jacob was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, and the young man knew there was no relief coming any time soon. Tomorrow, the day after that and every day next week, he'd wake up and continue the cycle of drowning in his depression. That was unless he decided to do something about it.

    Jacob couldn't escape the compulsion to fantasize about how much simpler it would be if he could peacefully die in his sleep. He was sure it would be a blessing, but for some inconceivable reason, he just kept waking up. Letting out a heavy sigh, he walked out to the living room of his small apartment and lit his last joint.

    Looking around, he took in the current state of his small apartment. Clothes, bottles, cans and to-go boxes littered the floor, and his stained sheets appeared to desperately need a wash. That morning his eyes even watered in response to the terrible smell of the residual smoke mixing with his funk, but Jacob didn't have the desire to clean anything. He simply rubbed the tears from his eyes and pulled on a pair of jeans that he left lying on the couch in the living room before shuffling back into his bedroom to look for a shirt.

    Jacob spent some time staring at himself in the mirror that hung above his dresser. He looked at the pimples decorating his caramel brown skin and his jet-black Afro that had grown out to be about three inches higher than the two inches he normally kept it at. He saw how desperately his beard needed to be trimmed as the hairs were uneven and sticking out in random directions. Sighing and shaking his head, he fished out the last clean shirt from his dresser. He pulled it on and walked out of his apartment headed for the bus stop.

    ****

    Sitting in the lobby of his therapist's private practice office, he thought about how pointless his existence was. He was twenty-two years old, and he had absolutely nothing going for him. With no family, no job and no dreams, Jacob wondered what the point in continuing to live could be when he had absolutely nothing to look forward to. He was sure that it was wiser for him to prematurely end his misery.

    His therapist, Simon, was a short West Indian man from Trinidad in his late thirties who had expertly assisted him in navigating his grief after he tragically lost his family a few years ago. During the last session on Tuesday of last week, they were working through creating some new life goals, and by the end of the last session, Simon had been pleased with how well Jacob was progressing.

    When Simon went to the waiting area to usher Jacob in for his session that Friday, he could smell the strong scent of weed emanating from his client, and he was already disappointed. From his uncoordinated walk to the therapy room as well as his bloodshot eyes, Simon knew Jacob was already so high that the session wasn't going to be very worthwhile. He decided he would at least try to get to the bottom of what happened before he sent him home.

    After Jacob finally made it to the sofa having been guided a bit by Simon so that he didn't accidentally damage anything, he rested his head on the back of the sofa and closed his eyes.

    Simon sat in his chair directly across the room from Jacob, and when the younger man didn't try to start conversation, he called out to him.

    "Jacob?"

    His client opened his eyes, sat up a little and slurred, "Oh heyyy! Wassup bossman? I forgot you were there for a second."

    Seeing that he now had Jacob's attention, Simon leaned forward in his chair. "What happened Jacob? Why are you high?"

    "I'm stoned because I wanna be, Simon," he adamantly declared.

    Simon sighed. He knew that it wasn't going to be easy to get direct answers from Jacob when he was like this.

    "Jacob, you decided to stop using cannabis a year ago. Last session, you seemed to be very happy and hopeful. What changed between then and now?"

    Annoyed that he was reminded of how quickly his happiness was ripped right out from under him, Jacob looked through the window above his therapist's head.

    "I stopped being an idiot, Simon. Now, I see the world clearly. That's all."

    "Yes, Jacob I know. Now the world is terrible, and everything is bad. But what in particular about your life changed that caused you to begin to feel this way?"

    The twenty-two-year-old rolled his eyes, sat back in the sofa and crossed his arms over his chest. Beginning to feel angry, he chose to stay silent.

    Simon ran his hand through his hair in frustration. He knew that Jacob normally had classes on Fridays a few hours before the session, but he presumed there was no way he attended them like this.

    "Did you go to your classes today?"

    The aggravated young man shook his head. "No, fuck that school. Fuck class."

    "Fuck class? If I remember correctly, Jacob, during the last session you talked about how you were planning to take your class attendance much more seriously. So, I'll ask you again, what happened?"

    Jacob took a moment to dejectedly look at the floor.

    "I got kicked out of school. I'm a fucking loser with nothing left," he whispered with a tinge of sadness evident in his voice.

    Simon kept a neutral expression on his face, but he was inwardly pleased to have finally gotten a helpful answer from the young man. However, he still wanted a few more details.

    "When did you find this out?"

    "I got a phone call and email the day after our last session informing me that I was kicked out."

    Simon sat up a little straighter in his chair and crossed his leg. He kept his focus trying to keep the conversation moving quickly, knowing from past experience that Jacob's cooperation was only going to last so long.

    "Since then, what have you been doing?"

    "Oh, I've just been chilling, smoking and making plans." Jacob enthusiastically responded while resting his head against the back of the sofa.

    The seasoned therapist was aware that Jacob had gone back to masking his emotions. He watched the young man sit back with a smile on his face. It was almost as if he was suddenly giddy. He knew that this was something Jacob only did when he was feeling especially emotionally volatile. Nonetheless, he figured he would bite the bait.

    "What kind of plans?"

    Jacob smiled and stretched. "Final plans."

    Simon knew where this was going. After the loss of his family, Jacob had attempted suicide a few times. Before his most recent attempt, Simon had him involuntarily committed to a local psychiatric hospital. To Simon's shock and dismay, Jacob was able to weasel his way out of the hospital within a few hours. The young man had attempted suicide again that night.

    "Jacob, have you made plans to end your life?" Simon asked directly, hoping to stage an intervention.

    Jacob rolled his eyes. "Listen Simon. We don't have to do the whole shebang again." He paused for a moment before he continued, "You're good. I'm good. Everything is good."

    "Have you given up on therapy? Jacob, this is just another rough patch in your life. You can move past it," Simon tried to encourage him.

    The young man sat forward in the sofa and crossed his leg. "I actually came here to tell you that I won't be coming back, but I did want to let you know that I appreciated having you as a therapist. You're really good, better than most."

    "Jacob, after your last suicide attempt, you agreed that you would see me for a closing session to discuss the work we accomplished together, rather than just leaving the same day you choose to quit."

    He shrugged. "I mean if you really want to waste your time like that. I'll come."

    "Good, today is Friday. I can see you on Monday at 6:30 pm. Does that work for you?"

    "Yeah, I'll be there," Jacob confirmed and stood up to leave.

    As he was about to walk through the door, he heard Simon call out to him, "Jacob, please at least try to be sober for the next session."

    "Sure, Simon. Sure," he responded, staggering through the main office door to the bus stop.

    On his bus ride back to his apartment, Jacob solidified his suicide plans. He figured the fact that he had no real family or friends left made the whole process so much easier. He didn't even have to write a suicide note. A few years ago, he had watched a TV show where the main character chose to die by heroin overdose on a beach, and he wanted to go with that same route for this attempt.

    The young man already had a dealer in mind, and he intended to sell his electronics to come up with the cash. Before he opened the door to his apartment, Jacob noticed an eviction notice on the door meant to inform him that he had until next week Wednesday to clear the premises.

    At least they'll get started on the cleanup early.

    After unlocking the door to his apartment, he stumbled through his living room and piled his electronics into a plastic bag to take to the pawn shop nearby.

    ****

    It was late evening when Simon had finished seeing his last client of the day. He sat down in his office and thought about his session with Jacob. He didn't actually plan to see any clients next week. In fact, the private practice that he shared with his wife was closed for an entire month. It was almost the fifteenth anniversary of their marriage, and they intended to leave for their second home near the waterfront in the mountains on Wednesday after spending a few days packing and cleaning.

    Simon couldn't help but feel guilty that he couldn't seem to figure out how to help Jacob. He saw so much of his young adult self in the younger man. He remembered being in a similar dark place when he was around Jacob's age after immigrating to the United States leaving friends, relatives and loved ones behind. That was why he didn't hesitate to try to see Jacob for one last session. Now, he just had to explain the decision to his wife when he got home.

    ****

    Angelique had always supported Simon after Jacob's suicide attempts. She knew from her own experience as a seasoned therapist how difficult it was to process the guilt that surfaces after a client's suicide attempt. When Simon came home and explained to her why he intended to see Jacob before they left for their vacation, she was understanding.

    Simon and Angelique spent some time talking about contingency plans should Jacob still choose to try to end his life. Simon was less than hopeful that his next session with Jacob would be an effective intervention. With their laptops, the couple looked into psychiatric hospitals in Washington that specialized in rehabilitating patients who experience persistent suicide ideation.

    From their research, they learned about Saint Ives psychiatric hospital and the hospital's intensive care unit for chronically suicidal patients. The project was led by Dr. Kelly, the chief psychiatrist of the hospital. The unit was pioneering a new and robust treatment method that involved drug-assisted physical age-regression. In her work, Dr. Kelly asserted that often the only true cure for chronic suicidal ideation in patients is a chance to re-experience childhood in a family free of any form of dysfunction.

    Initially, the couple was doubtful about the efficacy of the program, but the more that Simon and Angelique read into the intensive care unit at the psychiatric hospital, the more confident they were that Jacob would be a prime candidate for this program. That night, Simon sent an email asking for a consultation with Dr. Kelly on Monday morning. He made sure to include a few relevant details regarding Jacob's case.

    Comment


      #3
      Chapter 2: Simon's Intervention

      Jacob spent the weekend finishing the necessary preparation for his suicide. He met with his dealer and spent a large wad of cash on the purest heroin he could get. When he got back to his apartment, he locked the bag of powder in a drawer. He didn't live in the best neighborhood, and he definitely didn't want someone to steal it before he left the city on Tuesday.

      He would just leave for the coast right after his therapy session, but he wasn't sure whether Simon would try to have him committed again. He hoped that after the last time his therapist would understand that it was simply too easy for him to say the right things during psychiatric evaluations. That's the thing, Jacob was sure that he wasn't psychotic; he hadn't lost touch with reality at all. To the young man, acknowledging reality meant accepting that his life was just terrible, and it was sane to want an end to his misery.

      A few times it occurred to Jacob that he didn't actually have to go to the appointment on Monday with Simon, but he figured he owed one last session to him for all of his emotional support throughout the last few years. Even though he knew Simon was getting paid to listen to him, Jacob couldn't help but feel bonded to him. The older man had been the closest thing he had to a father figure in his whole life.

      Lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling, Jacob finally felt his inner peace resurface for the first time since he was a young child. He didn't have any doubt that he would fail to end his life this time. All of his other attempts were usually the result of spur of the moment decisions. This was the first time that he really sat down, contemplated his options and made a step by step plan. Now, he just needed to make it through the session with Simon on Monday evening without incident.

      ****

      On Monday morning, Simon and Angelique had a very informative conversation over the phone with Dr. Kelly. They were impressed by the highlights and statistics the accomplished psychiatrist shared with them about the program. Listening to her talk about some of the extraordinarily positive outcomes she had witnessed from patients who had similar cases to Jacob's quelled any uncertainty that they had left.

      The couple was sure St. Ives was the best option they had to try to save the suicidal young man's life. The only problem was that the hospital was a few hours away, and it was unlikely that Jacob would consent to being driven there or willingly check himself in.

      ****

      Walking from the bus stop to the office, Jacob found himself paying attention to details he never considered important before. He noticed that the potted plants decorating the outside of the office had all been neatly trimmed and slightly re-organized. He squatted down for a second to admire a large red Hibiscus flower.

      The yard of his childhood home in the US Virgin Islands had been adorned with Hibiscus flowers in a plethora of colors and shapes as they were his mother's favorite. Running his fingers over the soft petals, he remembered how he would traverse the yard and pick a myriad of the flowers outside before presenting them in a jar to his beloved mother on every Mother's Day that he lived at home. Letting the flower slip from his grasp and standing up, he heard a phrase softly echoing in his mind.

      I'll be home soon, Mom.

      Brushing his hands off on his pants and pushing his emotions aside, Jacob went to open the door for his final session but found that it was locked. After a few knocks on the door, it was Angelique, the other therapist of the private practice, who answered the door.

      Angelique was a middle-aged woman of Spanish descent. She had a light skin tone, and at times, it unnerved Jacob how much she looked like the younger version of his grandmother he had seen in old photo albums. That evening, the young man noticed that her long black hair was freely flowing down her neck rather than pulled back as she typically kept it. She was also uncharacteristically dressed in casual wear. So, he assumed that she must not have been seeing any clients that evening.

      "Sorry about that. Come in, Jacob," she took a step backwards to give her husband's client enough room to step inside the office.

      "No problem," he walked in and took a seat in the waiting area, setting his book-bag on the floor near his feet.

      "Since you are our last client today, I'm locking the door."

      "Okay, cool," he shrugged and reached into his bag to hook his portable charger up to his phone.

      "How are you?" Angelique politely inquired.

      Jacob always hated small talk, but he figured he might as well try to be a good person for the little time that he had left. Looking up and making eye contact with Angelique, he responded in a pleasant tone, "I'm doing well, and you?"

      "I'm also well. Thank you for asking."

      He watched the therapist turn and walk into her office.

      Jacob didn't have to wait for very long in the quiet office before Simon came to get him from the waiting area.

      "Jacob, come on back."

      Jacob slowly walked into the therapy room taking in the various paintings hanging on the walls. When he sat on the sofa, he announced, "I'm sober as you requested."

      Simon smiled. "That is good to see."

      After a short moment of silence, Simon began, "Jacob, I know that you said you wanted this to be your last session." He paused slightly before continuing, "Is that still what you want to do?"

      Jacob nodded his head and looked directly at his therapist. "Yup, I'm not changing my mind."

      "That's okay. I'm just glad you chose to attend the appointment today. I was a bit worried you wouldn't come."

      The young man lightly chuckled. "Hey, you were the one who brought up the fact that I agreed to a final session in the past."

      "That's true," Simon relented before steering the conversation back on track. "Jacob, I thought we could talk today about some of the highlights of our past sessions."

      Jacob furrowed his eyebrows and tilted his head. "Highlights? What do you mean?"

      "I'll ask you this then. You've been seeing me for over two years, probably almost three years now. What do you think you've gained from therapy?"

      "Oh. Well, I've managed to make it this long. If you had asked me when I was seventeen if I would have made it to twenty-two after all the crap that's happened to me, I would have never believed it was possible. So, I guess there's something to this therapy thing."

      Simon smiled. "You've grown a lot in many ways since you were seventeen. I know the Jacob I first met almost three years ago was lost and confused. How do you feel about who you are now?"

      Jacob pursed his lips. "I don't know." He paused and looked at the ceiling. "I'm not confused anymore, and I wouldn't say I'm lost. I guess I'm relieved for the first time in my life."

      "Relieved? What do you mean by that?"

      The young man took a deep breath. He knew he needed to be careful with his words. "Well, now that I'm sure of where I will be in the near-distant future, everything is simpler and freer."

      Simon leaned forward in his chair. "Jacob, where will you be in the near-distant future?"

      He rolled his eyes. "Come on. You know I can't answer that unless I want to have to sit through hours of evaluations again."

      "Okay, Jacob" Simon threw his hands in the air. "Since you've obviously decided that you are going to end your life, how will you do it then?"

      "It will be on a beach. I want to be looking out at the sea."

      "So that's it then. You are just giving up on a future?"

      "Yup. I've had enough misery for a lifetime."

      Simon shook his head. "How can you not see how childish this is, Jacob?"

      Jacob scoffed and glared at his therapist. "It doesn't matter if it's childish or not. You aren't my father, Simon."

      "You are right. I am not your father, but you can still go on to be a father someday. You can be a husband. You can have a family again."

      "I had a family once, and I lost it. I would never risk that again." Jacob folded his arms across his chest.

      After a few more similar questions from Simon that yielded the same answers from Jacob, the two men were sitting still silently glaring at each other. Neither Simon nor Jacob was willing to relent to the other's perspective. They had already gone 15 minutes past the hour-long session when Jacob looked at his watch before looking at the door and asking, "Are we done here now? Can I go?"

      "Not just yet, Jacob. I need to get some termination forms for you to sign from my office if you'll just wait here for a moment." Simon slowly stood and walked to his office.

      Jacob shrugged and pulled out his phone to check the upcoming bus schedule to the Bay Area in California. He didn't want to wait until it was too late to buy his bus ticket for the following evening.

      Entering his office and walking directly past his file cabinet containing the termination forms, Simon moved to the closet in his office and pulled out the box that had been sent by Dr. Kelly earlier in the afternoon. Inside of the box was a syringe filled with a strong sedative and a pair of handcuffs.

      Angelique had been waiting in his office knowing that this was going to be the deciding moment for Simon as to whether he was actually going to break the Code of Ethics. She also was aware that should he choose to sedate Jacob, he would need help restraining the young man long enough for the intramuscular injection to take effect.

      "Are you going to go through with it?" She asked her husband with a compassionate look on her face.

      Bracing his hands on his desk, Simon whispered softly, "He'll die if I don't."

      It was a harsh truth that he had accepted the moment he realized that any intervention he posed in this last session likely wouldn't be enough to sway Jacob from his decision to end his life.

      Simon summoned all of the physical and mental strength that he could and placed the pair of handcuffs in his back pocket before he walked back to the therapy room with the syringe in hand but hidden from direct view.

      When he re-entered the room, Jacob didn't even look up from the typing he was doing on his phone.

      Before Simon could lose his nerve, he walked to Jacob's left as though he was reaching to grab a loose pen from the bookshelf closer to that side of the young man but instead grabbed Jacob's upper arm with his free hand, stabbed the needle in and quickly pressed the plunger.

      When Jacob felt his therapist grab his arm, he was shocked and tensed his muscles in response. Throughout almost all of their sessions they never exchanged physical contact. When he realized a needle had punctured his skin, his worst fears were running through his head. He never even in his wildest dreams imagined that soft-spoken Simon would go to such an extreme, or he would have never casually discussed his suicidal ideation.

      Jacob tried desperately to pull away from Simon's grasp. He knew that he needed to get as far away from his therapist as possible before whatever he injected him with was able to take effect. Pulling back his right arm, he balled his hand into a fist and prepared to knock the older man out with a single punch to the face.

      His fist was only a few inches away from connecting with Simon's face when he felt his arm grabbed and pulled behind his back. He looked over to his right and saw that Angelique was in the room assisting Simon in restraining him. Neither the adrenaline coursing through his system nor his utter desperation was enough to resist the two middle-aged adults forcing his arms behind his back. Suddenly, he felt metal around his wrists and heard the click that signaled he was locked in handcuffs.

      Jacob was in disbelief. He couldn't believe he was really trapped. When the handcuffs had secured his arms behind his back, the therapists moved their hands to his shoulders to keep him sitting in place.

      "Simon! What the hell?!" Jacob shouted while trying to shrug off the hands of the therapists.

      "I'm sorry it had to go this far, Jacob. When you proved that involuntary commitment to the average psychiatric facility wasn't going to work, I had to consider more extreme measures to save your life. Tomorrow, you will be taking part in a new program at St. Ives Psychiatric Hospital a few hours from here. We will drive you there, but you'll probably be asleep for the whole trip."

      "You'll lose your license for this. Don't do this!"

      "I won't lose my license for this, and I'm doing this to save your life, Jacob. Don't worry, this program will be good for you. The psychiatrist over the program has successfully rehabilitated a few other young adults in similar situations to yours. It will all work out. You'll see."

      "Simon, look I'll come back for another session. Whatever you want, man. Just let me go!"

      "Jacob, you and I are both well aware that you wouldn't come back for another session. If I let you go now, I'll just find out that you died. I refuse to do that."

      "No, we can...we can..." The young man began rapidly blinking his eyes, finding himself unable to hold onto his train of thought.

      Jacob realized that he was already feeling the drug beginning to take effect. His heart was beating quickly, and his vision was starting to swim. After another few minutes, he felt his body slump backwards into the sofa. It was almost like he no longer had control of his muscles; everything felt numb.

      Simon and Angelique had silently observed the young man reacting to the sedative. When they saw him slump into the sofa like a rag doll, they knew he was fully feeling the effects of the drug.

      "I'll help you get him to the car if you are ready." Angelique offered.

      "I'm ready. Let me just get the handcuffs off first. That way, it will be easier to lift him."

      Once Simon unlocked the handcuffs, Jacob's arms hung limply at his sides. Together the couple each wrapped an arm under the young man's shoulders and hoisted him to his feet.

      Jacob was fading in and out of consciousness as he was shuffled through the office and into the back of their car that was parked in the section of the parking lot hidden from road view.

      While Angelique went back to lock the office door, Simon sat Jacob up, clicked his seat belt in place and flipped the child safety lock switch before shutting the door to the backseat.

      Taking the driver's seat, Simon started the car's engine and drove them out of the office parking lot then onto the main road. Together the therapist couple and the sedated young man in the backseat began the three-hour drive to St. Ives Psychiatric Hospital.
      Last edited by caleb18; 03-10-2019, 08:45:24 AM.

      Comment


        #4
        Chapter 3: Jacob's Admission

        Simon and Angelique spent most of the trip to St. Ives silently admiring the beautiful scenery visible from the interstate. Along the drive, tall and majestic trees in varying shades of green adorned the edge of the road, and when the sun had begun to set, they were able to marvel at the kaleidoscope of colors that decorated the sky around the mountains in the distance.

        At some point, Angelique had turned on the radio in the car, and they had been listening to Reggae music for a while before Simon turned the volume down.

        Staring straight ahead at the road, he interrupted the silence, "Do you think he will ever forgive me?"

        Angelique reached over to take her husband's free hand in hers.

        "Honey, I don't know that." She rubbed his arm. "But, we can be sure that this way, he will be alive long enough to have a chance to forgive you. That's all that matters."

        Simon nodded his head. Looking in the rear-view mirror, he watched Jacob's chest rise and fall slowly and rhythmically.

        "This way, he will live." Simon repeated, nodding his head again and turning the volume of the car radio back up before returning to his thoughts.

        When they were getting closer to the hospital, the topography of the landscape changed. They were further into the section of Washington that was a desert. There wasn't much of a population in this part of the state, and this was evidenced by the tumbleweeds littering the expanse of light-brown dirt that stretched beyond the edge of the highway and into the distance.

        Moments after Angelique had nodded off for quick nap, Simon moved his eyes up to the rear-view mirror. Throughout the drive, he had noticed that when Jacob was sleeping he seemed younger and less affected by his traumas. The therapist always knew that Jacob was gifted with incredible potential and exceptional talent, but the baggage of his past was always hindering him from developing new skills and honing his talents.

        He thought about how perfectly the program at St. Ives resolved the major obstacle in his client's progression.

        You get to have a second chance at life, Jacob. This time, it will be better.

        ****

        It was almost midnight when the trio took the exit that would lead them to the St. Ives Psychiatric Hospital. When they pulled up to the drop off area near the lobby, Angelique went inside to inform a nurse at the counter of their arrival. A few moments later, she returned to the car with an orderly who was pushing along a wheelchair for Jacob.

        The young man was still asleep as the sedative had not yet fully run its course through his system. When the orderly lifted him from the seat of the car into the wheelchair, his head lolled to the side. Simon and Angelique watched as he was strapped into the wheelchair and pushed into the inpatient wing of the hospital.

        The couple spent some time in the quiet waiting area filling out the intake forms for Jacob. They chose to list themselves as his emergency contacts knowing their client had no friends or family. When they were finished with the forms, they handed them to the secretary who politely informed them that Dr. Kelly was on her way to meet them.

        It wasn't long before they saw a tall blonde woman in her 40s briskly walk over to them. Dr. Kelly was dressed in her white doctor's coat, and she exuded the demeanor of someone who commanded authority well.

        "Simon! Angelique! It's nice to meet you both in person." Dr. Kelly reached out to shake hands with each of the therapists.

        Simon and Angelique both shook hands with the energetic psychiatrist.

        "Before we get into the nitty gritty of the procedure, I wanted to reaffirm that you two definitely did the right thing by bringing Jacob here where he can get the proper treatment that will ease his suffering."

        Simon smiled sheepishly. "Thank you. It's appreciated."

        The doctor smiled. "I know we've talked a bit about the outcomes, but I realized I never described how the drug works. I can give you an explanation if you're interested."

        Angelique nodded her head. "Yes, please. The concept of drug-induced age-regression is very intriguing."

        "Lovely! So, the drug that we developed for this procedure is called Restalsis, and it works in three stages. We call it the CAP process actually, and it stands for cessation, active and passive. In the cessation stage, the drug targets the hippocampus in the brain inducing developmental inertia which immediately halts any ongoing biological growth or maturation, and in the following active stage, the drug binds to receptors in the brain and manipulates neurons to rapidly rewind physical development."

        When the doctor paused to take a breath, Simon asked, "Would this be the secret to ending aging?"

        Dr. Kelly rubbed her palms together. "We are almost there. We just need to find a way to stop the drug from entering the passive stage which reduces the patient's cognitive functioning. In the final stage, the cerebellum is targeted by the drug and this causes emotional regression and memory loss similar to dementia. The passive stage takes about a month to end, but the procedure itself is completed once the transition from the active to passive stage happens."

        The psychiatrist smiled at the therapists who seemed a little overwhelmed with all the scientific jargon.

        "I'm sure you both still have some other questions."

        Looking over at her husband, Angelique could see that Simon seemed hesitant to ask his question, but she knew him so well that she was sure of what it already was. She held his hand and asked for him, "Will he be in pain?"

        "I can assure you that he will not be in any physical pain throughout the procedure. We heavily sedate all patients before the Restalsis is introduced into their system. As for what the experience will be like for him, I think it's fair to expect that he will be in a sleep-wake state similar to what is experienced during episodes of sleep paralysis. It is common for patients to experience vivid hallucinations of childhood memories during the active phase. I believe 'taking a trip down memory lane' is what it is usually described anecdotally as."

        Angelique squeezed her husband's hand. "How long will the procedure last?"

        "Because it is an outpatient procedure, we are usually done the same day." The psychiatrist paused and raised a finger to her chin. "How old did you say he was again?"

        This time, Simon was the one who answered, "He's twenty-two."

        "Okay, that's good then. The procedure should only last about five hours since he is still relatively young."

        The concerned therapist looked over at the door he had seen his client wheeled past. "What happens to him after the procedure is over?"

        "I'm glad you asked that. That was something I wanted to talk with the two of you about. From the file you shared with me, I noticed that Jacob doesn't have any living family members." She paused slightly, before continuing. "Typically, we assign patients with no eligible relatives to families that have passed our extensive screenings. However, seeing that you two personally brought him in, I thought I would ask to see if you two wanted to become Jacob's caretakers once he is regressed."

        Simon and Angelique exchanged looks with each other, both at a loss for words.

        Seeing the couple's apprehension, Dr. Kelly asked, "Would you two like some time to think about it? I can come back after I order some tests to be done on Jacob."

        Angelique spoke up for the two of them, "Yes, we would like that! Thank you."

        "Okay, I'll be back in a few moments."

        The psychiatrist turned and walked further into the back of the hospital leaving the couple to discuss the opportunity to become Jacob's caretakers.

        ****

        When Jacob woke up again, he was groggy and disoriented. Once the young man became a little more lucid, he was immediately aware that all of the muscles in his body were stiff as if he had the worst sleep of his life and that he had no memory of lying down for bed the night before.

        Fluttering his eyes open and adjusting to the bright fluorescent lights, Jacob recognized that he was in a hospital room. Lowering his eyes, he saw that his arms and legs were bound to the sides of his bed with leather straps and attached to a myriad of hospital equipment with the wires running along the sides of the bed. Frantically looking around the room, he noticed he was dressed in a hospital gown and his clothes had been neatly folded in a pile on a table over on the other side of the room.

        With the memory of his abduction surfacing, he pulled violently at his restrains, and he only halted his movements when the machine that was monitoring his heart rate suddenly made a high-pitched whine as though it was signaling someone to check on him.

        A few moments later, a nurse came to his room. She opened the door with a friendly smile on her face and walked over to silence the machine.

        "Good to see you are awake, Jacob."

        Jacob turned as much he could to make eye contact with the nurse. "Please help me! I'm not supposed to be here. This is a mistake."

        The nurse looked back at him with a solemn expression. "There's no mistake, Hun. The doctor came in earlier to check your file and order some tests."

        Jacob frantically shook his head. "No, I'm begging you. Listen to me. That isn't right. I didn't consent to any treatment. I was kidnapped."

        As though she was unaffected by his words, the nurse simply continued to write some notes on his chart. She walked towards him, pulled back his eyelids and shined a small flashlight in each of his eyes before writing more notes on his chart.

        "There's no need to work yourself up, Hun. Once the procedure is completed tomorrow your new family will take you home."

        The young man wildly pulled at his restrains. "New family? What the hell are you talking about? My family died a few years ago. I'm the only one left."

        "The doctor will explain everything tomorrow before the procedure. Try to get some rest and don't work yourself up. If your heart rate gets too high, we will give you some medication that will help you relax, but we don't want to do that before your procedure tomorrow unless we have no choice."

        Jacob wasn't even able to get a word in before the nurse flipped the light switch and closed the door behind her.

        Afraid of being sedated again, Jacob lay quietly bound to the bed. The young man was absolutely confused. He didn't understand why the nurse wouldn't take his accusation seriously. Thinking about the procedure she kept referring to, he could feel his skin crawl. He spent the night silently trying to come up with an escape plan and anxiously awaiting whatever the doctor had in store for him the next morning.

        ****

        Simon and Angelique had just finished talking between themselves when they saw Dr. Kelly was on her way back to speak with them.

        When she approached she finished writing something on a clipboard before looking up to make eye contact with Simon and Angelique. "Have you two decided?"

        The couple held hands, and Angelique spoke for the two of them, "Yes, we've decided that we would like to become Jacob's caretakers."

        "Excellent." Dr. Kelly smiled. "Tomorrow, I will have the social worker for our unit speak with you two about the options for care throughout the passive stage. Jacob's procedure is scheduled for 10 am. So, if you would like to see him before, please try to be here by 9 am."

        Simon responded, "We will be here, then. Thank you so much, Dr. Kelly."

        "There's a nice hotel not too far from here. Be sure to get some sleep. I'll see you two in the morning."

        Dr. Kelly turned and stepped over to the secretary at the desk to hand her some forms.

        The soon-to-be caretakers left the hospital and drove to the only hotel in the small town, hoping to get a room for the night.

        Comment


          #5
          Chapter 4: Angelique's Stillbirth

          Author's Note: For this chapter, I wanted to provide a content warning for the flashback scene. It covers pregnancy loss, and I know there's a chance a reader might still be recovering from the emotional pain associated with such a tragic loss. If you are out there, I hope that you are getting the support you need wherever you are, and I wish you the best on your road to recovery.

          ~~~~

          Lying on the bed in the hotel room with his wife asleep in his arms, Simon was wide awake and anxious. He was worried that he had made the wrong decision by supporting his wife's desire for them to become Jacob's caretakers. Certainly, this was something he wanted as well having had such a strong bond with the young man, but his duty was first and foremost to his wife. As her husband, it was his job to protect her, and he wasn't sure they were both emotionally ready to have a child in their home.

          The married couple didn't have kids after 15 years of marriage, and it was not because they didn't want to. Rather, it was because their first attempt was so traumatic and disastrous that it took them years to process the emotional pain it left behind.

          A few years ago, the therapist couple had moved to a lakeside house Angelique had inherited from her father when he died. Her dad had been a very successful medical doctor in upstate New York, and with some of the money he earned, he had invested in quite a few impressive pieces of real estate throughout the United States.

          At the time, Simon and Angelique were in-between jobs having just left the mental health clinic they had spent many years working for. They were getting ready to make the transition to private practice, and they were sure the Washington home was an ideal location to build a new business and attract diverse clients.

          The couple had been trying to conceive for some time, and right as they had just started to talk about making an appointment the following month at a fertility clinic, Angelique realized her period was late. The couple was overjoyed when the pregnancy stick showed positive for the first time. Simon and Angelique were so excited to be parents. It was part of the big dream to get married, raise beautiful kids and eventually grow old together.

          With Angelique's inheritance and the money that they had saved up while establishing their careers, the couple was in such a great financial position that they decided to take a year off to prepare for the new addition to their family.

          The prospective parents bought everything in preparation for their first child. By the time Angelique was in her last trimester, the lakeside house had been transformed into a home deserving of a childproof seal of approval. Simon had installed baby fences, wireless monitors and childproof cabinet locks throughout the house. Together, they had painted the nursery a neutral color choosing to keep the gender of their future child a surprise for the day of birth. They made sure the nursery was equipped with all of the essentials and more.

          When Angelique was only one month away from her due date, they were as ready as they thought they could be. For the next 30 days, they planned to take things easy and just pass the time until their son or daughter was born.

          It was on July 29th, that Angelique was one month away from her due date. That was the day Simon would never forget, July 29th, the day he almost lost everything.

          Simon sat on his side of the bed browsing the channel guide waiting for his wife to finish in the bathroom. Every night, they would cuddle and trade the remote between episodes before falling asleep in each other's arms. It was their late night routine.

          When he heard her entering, he enthusiastically called out to her. "Honey! You won't believe what show has a marathon tonight! It's Br-"

          "Simon..."

          Because Simon was a devoted husband, he immediately detected the distress in her voice. Having been married for over 10 years, he knew before he even looked that the situation was grave for her to use that tone of voice.

          But even knowing that didn't prepare him for what he saw when he snapped his head over to look at her. A few feet away his beloved wife was struggling to hold onto the bathroom door and standing in a pool of blood with more running steadily down her legs.

          The remote fell from his hand and shattered on the floor when he dived across the bed to grab his cell phone. He rushed over to her, and with one arm he did his best to guide her to the bed while using his other to dial 911.

          Holding the phone to his ear, he looked at his wife and did his best to try to reassure her, "Everything will be okay."

          Tears began to fall from Angelique's eyes. "The baby..."

          Simon put his hand against his wife's cheek and looked deep in her eyes. "You don't need to worry about that. Right now, we need to focus on you."

          He felt his wife's body begin to tremble as she was wracked with sobs. After Simon ended the call with emergency services, he tightly wrapped his arms around his wife and rubbed her back while they waited for help to arrive.

          When the ambulance was outside, Simon ran downstairs to open the door and direct them to the upstairs bedroom. When he returned with the paramedics in tow, Angelique was passed out on the bed. Even when the EMTs tried to wake her, she was unresponsive.

          Riding in the back of the ambulance van, he watched in shock as the paramedics desperately tried to keep his wife alive long enough for her to be taken into emergency surgery. When they arrived at the hospital, he was left in the waiting area as Angelique was wheeled past the double doors and into surgery.

          Simon was still in shock when a nurse approached him with a pair of scrubs. It wasn't until he looked down that he realized his clothes and body were covered in the blood of his wife and unborn child. Wordlessly, he took the clothes from the nurse and walked to a restroom where he robotically cleaned the blood off of his body and changed his clothes.

          When he got back to the waiting room, he sat in a chair, unmoving, even when minutes turned into hours. It had been two hours before a doctor came to speak with him.

          "Simon?"

          He immediately snapped his head up and jumped to his feet. "Y-Yes, that's me. Is my wife-Is she alright?"

          The doctor took a deep breath. "Simon, your wife suffered from a uterine infection that caused the placenta to detach. We were able to stabilize her condition by administering antibiotics. Unfortunately, by the time she was able to get here, it was too late to save your son.

          Simon instantly felt like a part of him had been ripped away forever. "My son...he's gone?"

          The year after had not been better. Once Angelique had healed enough to fend for herself, Simon turned to work as his way of coping with the tragic loss of their son. He had dived head-first into building their private practice. Lost in relying on it as a coping mechanism, he didn't realize how he was distancing himself from his wife.

          They had moved closer to the city hoping to escape the memories buried in the lakeside house and attract a large clientele for their new business. During the months that followed, he had focused on fixing up the new house and moving their stuff. Every day, he had a new project because doing nothing was just too painful.

          While they were therapists themselves, their marriage wasn't immune to the trials and tribulations brought along by such a tragic loss. By the time the couple had realized they needed to see a counselor to help them work through their issues, they were hardly speaking to each other. It had only been around when Jacob first became his client that they had finally recovered from the ordeal, but still Simon was worried that it was too soon. He worried that maybe the old wounds might re-open for not just his wife but for himself too.

          Looking at his wife sleeping peacefully and affectionately running his hand through her hair, he wondered if just maybe this could be a good thing for them. He wondered if having a tyke livening up the large lakeside home wouldn't be so bad. Closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep, he wondered if the part of his heart that he had closed off forever could re-open again.

          Comment


            #6
            Chapter 5: Jacob's Plight

            At some point Jacob nodded off from sheer exhaustion as he certainly wasn't going to intentionally sleep bound to a bed. He woke up to the sound of the door to his room being pulled open.

            In the darkness, he heard a voice call out to him, "Good morning, Jacob. I'm Dr. Kelly."

            When the light was switched on, Jacob squinted his eyes, struggling for a moment to adjust to the sudden brightness. He opened his eyes to see an older blonde woman in a doctor's coat standing at the end of his bed and checking his charts.

            Jacob had already prepared his speech.

            "Listen I'm not crazy, and I know you guys think that I am. But I can prove it. Let me do an assessment or something. I swear I-"

            "I have the files from your therapist, Simon. Do you remember him?"

            "Yes, I remember him. He fucking kidnapped me!"

            Dr. Kelly stopped writing on his chart and looked up to make eye contact with her patient. "Your therapist kidnapped you? Jacob, do you hear how that sounds."

            "I know how it sounds, but I swear it's the truth."

            "Okay. Why would your therapist kidnap you?"

            He wasn't prepared for her to ask that.

            "He...uh..."

            "Jacob, your therapist had you involuntarily committed to St. Ives Psychiatric Hospital when you expressed your intent to harm yourself." The doctor paused and smiled. "Fortunately for you, we excel in treating patients with your affliction."

            The excitement he heard in her voice terrified him. "W-What are you going to do to me?"

            "Today, you will be undergoing a new treatment we are pioneering here at this facility. It's called drug-induced age-regression. It will turn you back into a toddler, and you'll get to experience the bliss of childhood again."

            "That's not possible. What the hell are you talking about?"

            "Oh, but it is possible, Jacob. Later today, as part of your procedure you will be given the drug we developed, Restalsis, and it will do exactly what I said. I know you don't have any family left, but don't worry. Your new parents, Simon and Angelique, are excited to take you home this evening."

            "Simon and Angelique? You are sending me with kidnappers?! This is insane. You can't do this!"

            She dismissively waved her hand. "It will be fine. When your memory is gone in about a month, you won't know them as Simon and Angelique. They will only be daddy and mommy to you."

            "No! Let me go!" Jacob shook uncontrollably in anger, thrashing against his restrains causing the monitor checking his heart rate to instantly begin making the high-pitched whine.

            Dr. Kelly walked over to the machine that was closer to the head of his bed and promptly silenced the alarm.

            The doctor wagged her finger in the air at her patient. "Settle down, young man! I'm sure the nurse talked to you about keeping your heart rate down. Do you want to be sedated?"

            Jacob stopped fighting against his restraints and gave her a death stare.

            "I asked you a question, and I expect an answer."

            Through clenched teeth, Jacob muttered, "No."

            Dr. Kelly tilted her head to the side. "I didn't quite get that, Jacob. What was that?"

            Inwardly, Jacob was seething with anger, but he knew that he couldn't afford to be sedated if he wanted to have a chance to escape before the procedure. Channeling every bit of his inner strength, he responded slowly and monotonously, "No, I don't want to be sedated."

            When she reached her hand over his head, Jacob tried to evade her, but he couldn't move far away enough in his restraints. Dr. Kelly pet his head three times, further infuriating him.

            "Much better." She tapped her pen against the chart in her hand. "Alright, we just need few tests for preliminary data to be done before your procedure. Be sure to be on your best behavior for the radiologist."

            While she moved to place his chart back in its place at the foot of his bed, Jacob followed her with his eyes, glaring at the psychiatrist until she walked out the room and closed the door behind her.

            Only a few minutes had passed before a Latino man who looked to only be a few years older than him entered the room. This guy was tall and buff. Jacob was sure that he must have played football in high school or even college with his build.

            "Hey, I'm Rob, the radiologist here, and we have a few tests to run. I'm sure you're looking forward to getting out of those restraints, but I have to cover the ground rules first."

            Jacob nodded his head already eagerly looking forward to his impending chance to escape.

            "We are only going a few feet down the hall, and I would rather not have security come all the way up here for such a short trip. It would be best if you don't waste any time making this unnecessarily difficult. Any escape attempts, and you won't be walking back to your room."

            "No problem, man. I won't do anything crazy."

            "Good, then I'll take those off."

            When Jacob was released from his restraints, he rubbed his wrists and stretched his legs on the bed before quickly going to stand up. He almost stumbled onto the floor, but he was caught by the radiologist.

            "I was going to tell you to take it easy since you haven't used your legs in a while."

            He lifted Jacob back onto his feet.

            "There, now try taking a few steps towards the door."

            The radiologist pulled along the IV pole and guided Jacob as he got used to being on his feet again.

            "Okay, good you're looking much better now. Follow me will you."

            "Sure."

            They walked down the hall with the radiologist pushing along the IV pole and Jacob keeping pace following behind. He quickly scanned the floor looking for a way out. He knew he didn't have very long in the hallway to figure out where the closest exit was. Just as the radiologist was ushering him into the room for testing, he saw it. At the end of the hallway, there was a door to the stairs. Now, he just needed to figure out how to distract the radiologist long enough to make a break for the stairs during the walk back to his room.

            He was nervous and impatient throughout the agonizingly slow process that it took for the MRI and X-rays to be completed. When they made it back to the hallway, the radiologist took the lead again pushing along his IV pole. Jacob glanced around checking to see that the hallway was clear enough to make a successful escape attempt. When he was sure the hallway was clear, he knew it was a do or die moment.

            Jacob ripped the IV port out of his arm, splattering blood all over the floor and made a sprint to his ticket to freedom at the end of the hallway. Just as he was a few feet away from the door, he was tackled from behind, and he hit the floor on his stomach, knocking the wind out of him.

            Before he could recover from the fall, he was lifted and held in a chokehold that forced him to face the ground. Jacob heard the radiologist swear under his breath, "I told you not to waste my time."

            Rob reached around to face the nurse station and called over to them. "Can I get some help over here?"

            Immediately, a nurse paged for security over the hospital intercom. Seconds later, Jacob heard footsteps approaching the two of them, and when he felt the prick of a needle, he lamented over the unfairness of the entire situation. All he wanted was to just be left alone to die, and now he was about to be forced to undergo a procedure he didn't even consent to.

            The young man lashed out in anger channeling the confusion, hopelessness and fear overwhelming him into trying to break the chokehold the radiologist held him in. After a few minutes of struggling, he broke free for a second until he smacked into the security guards sent to escort him back to his room.

            Jacob kicked and screamed as he was dragged back to his room. When they were only a few feet away, he felt all the energy in his body suddenly drain out of him, and he stopped resisting the security guards. His thoughts became muddled. He knew he was angry, but he didn't quite remember what it was that he was so mad about. He couldn't even remember how he got into the hallway, or why the security guards were there. To the young man, none of that even mattered anymore because everything felt okay.

            In the midst of fading away, he felt a nurse grab his face and tap his cheek.

            "Good, looks like the drug has already kicked in. No need to restrain him, fellas. He won't be wanting to go anywhere."

            The orderlies sat him on his bed, and Jacob didn't move an inch. His mind was blank as if he had drifted off to a happier place.

            Comment


              #7
              Chapter 6: Jacob's Transformation

              When Simon and Angelique were allowed to visit Jacob for a few minutes before his procedure, the couple entered the room to find him sitting cross-legged on the bed and vacantly staring at the wall across the room.

              Simon patted Jacob's back hoping to elicit a response from his former client, and when there was no reaction or even any acknowledgement, he interrupted the nurse who was stooped down stocking a cabinet with some folded sheets.

              "Excuse me. What happened to him? I've never seen him like this before."

              She stood up and turned around to face the couple. "Oh, he's okay. We just had to give him something to help him relax earlier, but you can talk to him. He can hear you even if he doesn't respond." She gave them an encouraging smile and resumed stocking the cabinet.

              Angelique sat on the edge of the bed and took the young man's hand in hers. "Jacob, honey, we just wanted to let you know that everything is going to be okay. We will be the ones taking care of you after your procedure is over in a few hours. We are so excited to have you in our home."

              Simon and Angelique each gave the listless young man a hug before they left the room.

              ****

              In his zombie state, Jacob was having an out-of-body experience. He distantly watched Simon and Angelique enter the room and try to talk to him. There was still a part of him that wanted to yell, scream and attack the two of them for forcing this procedure on him. A tiny sliver of his desperation was even willing to beg them to help him get out of St. Ives, but whatever drug they had given him earlier was just too powerful. He could barely make out what they were saying to him far more for responding.

              After they left, he observed many different nurses enter and exit his room; all doing something different to prepare him for the procedure. At one point, a nurse had cleaned the dried blood off of his arm with some alcohol pads and replaced his IV port. Shortly after, another nurse entered the room with a few small vials tucked under her arms and took samples of his blood.

              While a nurse was putting compression socks on his feet, an older white man dressed in a pair of scrubs approached his IV pole with a syringe in hand.

              Jacob watched as the older man waved around his hands and grumbled. "I keep telling you all to stop giving them tranquilizers before the procedure! Does anyone have any idea how difficult it makes my job when you do that?"

              The nurse in the room shrugged, and the anesthesiologist pushed Jacob into a lying position on the bed.

              Feeding the medication into his IV, he tapped on Jacob's chest. "Take a few deep breaths for me, buddy."

              The young man could almost immediately feel a warming sensation running through his body and relaxing his muscles.

              "Mmm." He felt like the room was coming back into focus, and he looked up to see the doctor staring back up at him.

              "Hey, buddy. How do you feel?"

              Jacob took a deep, lazy breath. "I feel...really nice. It's...tingly...all over."

              "That's good to hear. Welcome back to the land of the living."

              After the anesthesiologist made a few more adjustments to his IV, Jacob watched him move to the side attempting to give the nurse enough space to push his bed out of the room.

              His vision was still a little blurry when he was wheeled into the operating room. He felt much more aware of his surroundings and could appreciate that his thoughts were much clearer, but the drug the anesthesiologist gave him had him feeling extremely relaxed, making it impossible for him to fight back.

              Two nurses lifted him from the bed and onto the table for the procedure. He thought it was impressive that they could move him so fluidly since he weighed 170 lbs the last time he checked.

              A nurse straightened his head it so that it fit perfectly on the padded headrest attached to the table. Jacob felt a buckled leather strap secure his head in place, and the nurse quickly put a large number of small metal discs attached to tiny wires on his scalp and forehead.

              As soon as the nurse finished, he called out, "Electrodes are in place."

              "Excellent."

              Jacob recognized that voice, and from the corner of his eyes, he was able to make out Dr. Kelly on his right side brandishing a syringe filled with a bright blue liquid.

              She announced to her team, "Administration of the Restalsis begins now."

              The young man could only watch in terror as the bright blue liquid was injected into his IV. The room went silent for the seconds that it took to slowly flow down the tube and into his arm.

              The moment the liquid flowed into his veins, Jacob felt his muscles slowly tighten up. The uncomfortable sensation progressively spread throughout his body as all of his muscles involuntarily tensed. Just when he was beginning to think that the tendons in his arm would burst, the muscle just relaxed and all the sensation in it was gone.

              He heard a technician on the other side of the room announce, "He's begun cessation. We can see the brain waves slowing down."

              The Restalsis continued to progressively paralyze parts of his body, and minutes later, the only feeling Jacob could perceive in his body was complete numbness. Darting his eyes around the room, he tried his best to maintain his consciousness, but it was hard for him to escape the compulsion to fall asleep. He felt light and wanted to just drift away.

              From a distance, he heard a technician announce to Dr. Kelly's team. "Cessation completed. He's entering the active phase now."

              A soothing sensation of wind blowing past the side of his face prompted him to close his eyes for just a moment. When Jacob opened his eyes again, he was in absolute awe as the room around him had transformed into a forest. Listening to the sounds of the wind flowing around him, he was pulled into a flashback.

              The wind rushed past his face while he was riding on his mountain bike through his favorite dirt trail closest to his undergraduate university. He had just finished a pretty decent jump when the Bluetooth in his ear alerted him of an incoming call. He got off to the side of the trail and fished his phone from his pocket. Since it was his mother, he decided he would answer.

              "Hey, mom. Is everything okay? I'm riding my bike right now."

              "Just a quick question, Jacob. Your grandmother wants to know if you will be coming home for the Labor Day weekend? I know you said you were thinking about it."

              "Sorry, I can't. I have a thing at school, but, I'll be home soon, Mom. This Christmas, I'll be there. I promise."

              "Okay, honey. Make sure you're safe and wearing your helmet."

              "I am, Mom. I'll call you back later. Okay?"

              "Bye, honey."

              As the call ended, Jacob's consciousness emerged from the flashback. From a distance, he watched himself get back on the trail and continue the ride. He envied the ignorant bliss of his younger self. At the time, he didn't know he'd made a promise he would never be able to keep.

              When his younger self went over a hill and out of view, the wind around him picked up and shifted, plunging him into another memory.

              The wind slapped his face as he sat in a jeep barreling down the highway. He looked out the open windows and took in the devastation. It was the following Labor Day weekend, and the smell of freshly broken trees mixing with overflowing sewage in the air permeated his nostrils.

              In the distance, the ocean was a disturbing lime-green color that he had never seen before. His whole life, the beaches on St. Croix were only ever adorned with its characteristically crystal-clear waters, but that day followed the aftermath of a disaster the world had never seen before.

              Debris littered the side of the roads. Pieces of metal, sections of roofs, broken doors and shards of glass were strewn all over the land visible from the highway. Jacob felt his stomach sink when they passed closer to the graveyard. There were closed body bags everywhere. It seemed they had run out of bags, and near the road, the soldiers were piling the uncovered bodies they had recently pulled out of the rubble.

              The jeep filled with gasps, cries of horror and sobs from the other passengers. He felt his own tears running down his cheeks. The realization was just too tough to bear. Around him was the undeniable proof that his community, his home and his family were all gone. There was no living thing left behind.

              Emerging from this flashback, Jacob shed a few silent tears. A few days before that Labor Day weekend, multiple catastrophic hurricanes had barreled through the Caribbean desolating the US Virgin Islands. Sitting on top of the nearest hill, he watched the Jeep pull into the graveyard and his younger self stumble out, making it only a few feet away before he braced his hands on his knees and violently heaved the contents of his stomach onto the road.

              As he watched his younger self fall onto his knees and release wild screams of anguish, he felt the wind picking him up from his seat on the hill and flying him into a new memory.

              Holding a small urn in his hands, he walked barefoot onto the shore of the beach. He slowly trudged through the seaweed littering the sand until his feet touched the water.

              Looking out into the ocean, he watched the waves as they crashed into the reef in the distance creating a thin white film on the surface. He felt himself absorbed by the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks near the shore. He focused on the smell of salt water and fish mixing in the air and the heat of the sand beneath his feet hoping to evade the emotional pain looming over him.

              Standing on the shore, he felt the wind whipping past his face, drying his falling tears. His hands trembled as he struggled to open the urn containing the ashes of his mother, little sister and grandmother.

              Removing the lid, he waded further into the water and released its contents into the sea. As he watched the ashes being carried further into the sea by the waves, he pulled at his chest struggling to bear the overwhelmingly inescapable loneliness facing him.

              Once again, his current consciousness separated itself from the memory. He sat next to his younger self after he waded back to the shore. He wondered how it could be that after all these years, he still felt the same way. Here he was still sitting on the beach hoping to find the courage to end it all.

              Standing up and stepping back from the shore, he welcomed the wind that carried him back in time once more.

              This time, he landed on the playground of his elementary school.

              Standing a few feet away, Jacob watched his younger self ride the slide. He watched the child's face light up in delight and throw his arms in the air as he neared the bottom. When he touched the ground, the little boy ran over to the sandbox, and without missing a beat, he climbed right in. Jacob observed him pick up a shovel and enthusiastically fill an empty pail.

              Looking around, Jacob took in the sight of children at play. He listened to the high-pitched screams and squeals of delight saturating the atmosphere of the playground. To the young man, it was all so intoxicating, all so alive. He watched kids of all ages chase each other around the open field playing tag, hooting and hollering.

              A few moments later, Jacob noticed his younger self look up at him as if he knew he was there, and the little boy gestured for him to come over. Without even thinking about it, Jacob walked towards the sandbox feeling a light breeze ushering him there, and he marveled at the incredible castle situated inside. He didn't remember having been so talented at such a young age. The little boy smiled up at him and tried to hand him a shovel, patting the spot in the sand next to him.

              He shook his head at the boy. He wanted to, but he wasn't a little kid anymore. He was an adult now, and that meant he had to put childish things behind him.

              An adamant voice in the back of his mind rebelled, and he couldn't stop thinking about how free they all seemed. He wondered how good it would feel to return to his unburdened childhood. He yearned for a moment where he could let go of all the pain he was always holding onto.

              When the little boy reached over and pulled at his arm again, Jacob relented and stepped into the sandbox to join him. He accepted the shovel and dipped it into the sand a few times to fill the tiny pail.

              He looked over to his side hoping to get a peek at what his younger self might be preparing to craft next, but he was surprised to see there was no trace of him left. The boy had vanished leaving him alone with all the other kids in the large sandbox.

              Focusing again at the castle, he finally remembered the design. It was one that he had repeated a few times throughout his childhood. He decided he would at least finish it before he got out and let the wind carry him somewhere else.

              As he worked on the castle, his body relaxed, and his emotional pain slowly evaporated. His anxieties lessened, his depression eased and his traumas faded. For the first time in years, his existence was light and free. Gone like the wind around him was the desire to leave the playground.

              Unburdened by his past, Jacob sat in the sandbox crafting, creating and playing with the warming sun shining on his smiling face.

              Comment


                #8
                Chapter 7: Mr. Hammond's Instructions

                Once Simon and Angelique finished visiting Jacob before his procedure, a receptionist informed them that the social worker was on his way to meet with them. While they were sitting in the lobby, and Simon took the time to check his phone, and Angelique watched the game show on the TV.

                Almost half an hour later, they were approached by an older bald-headed man in his 50s. He was wearing a polo shirt with khaki shorts and had a sizable beer belly.

                "Simon and Angelique?"

                "Yes, that's us," Simon replied.

                "Hello, I'm Mr. Hammond. I'm the social worker for the unit." He reached out to shake hands with the couple. "I was sent to talk to you two about some things to expect from Jacob during this first week after the procedure. If you two will follow me to my office, I have some paperwork we will need to go over."

                They silently walked with Mr. Hammond down a few hallways until they made it to his office. It was on the same wing as the room they had visited Jacob in. While the room was spacious, he had a collection of trinkets taking up almost all of the space on the desk which was cluttered with dog-eared papers, some even coffee-stained as well.

                "Please, have a seat." Mr. Hammond gestured to the coffeemaker on a table in the corner of the office. "May I offer you both some coffee? I was just getting ready to get a cup for myself."

                Angelique responded, "Thank you, but we just had coffee and breakfast at the hotel."

                "Alright." He poured himself a cup of coffee and sat in his desk chair facing the couple. "First, I'd like to offer congratulations on becoming regressed Jacob's caretakers. Just like parenting, it's a tough job, but it's certainly rewarding in its own right."

                "Thank you. We are looking forward to it." Simon responded, and Angelique nodded.

                "I'd like to talk about the options for care during the month that it will take the Restalsis to finish emotionally regressing young Jacob."

                Simon tilted his head and furrowed his brows. "There are multiple options?"

                "Certainly. Because many of our patients are resistant to this treatment, it puts quite a burden on their caretakers to constantly deal with the fighting and blatant defiance, not to mention thwarting their persistent escape attempts."

                Mr. Hammond paused to take a sip of his coffee. "Many caretakers choose to simply medicate their toddler with tranquilizers for the month."

                "So, he would basically be an unresponsive zombie for an entire month?" Angelique questioned.

                "Yes, and that's one of the reasons why we don't really recommend that as the gold standard for care. Not to mention that it is significantly likely the child will continue to have a dependence on the drug after they have completed the passive stage."

                "What are our other options, Mr. Hammond?" Simon asked.

                "Well, we recommend setting firm rules and enforcing strict discipline. It's important to remember that Jacob will not be an average toddler. During the first week, he will have the awareness of his 22-year-old self."

                Angelique leaned forward in her chair. "Wouldn't it be nearly impossible to discipline him then? If he's consciously choosing to disregard rules rather than just acting out due to frustration or overwhelming emotions?"

                Mr. Hammond nodded his head and leaned back in his chair. "Yes, that is why we often advise caretakers to use more direct and immediate forms of chastisement for the first week."

                Simon widened his eyes and shook his head. "Surely, you are not advocating for corporal punishment, Mr. Hammond."

                "I know it's rather old-fashioned, but until he is at least slightly emotionally regressed, punishments like time-outs simply won't work on him." Mr. Hammond paused to take a sip of his coffee. "It's important to remember that initially, he will want nothing more than solitary confinement and that doesn't help him to regress seamlessly."

                The room was silent for a minute while Mr. Hammond reached for some papers on his desk.

                "Don't worry. After this first week, it's unlikely you will ever have to use corporal punishment again. Actually, I think this would be a good time to talk about some of the expectations that I'd like the two of you to keep an eye out for during this first week."

                "Expectations?" Angelique asked.

                Mr. Hammond nodded. "We do have certain 'markers' that we are looking for each week. For this first week, the hope is that Jacob will lose a significant portion of his resistance. This will mean that by the end of the week, there should be much less aggressive behavior and fewer escape attempts. We are also expecting to observe a decline in his ability to regulate his emotions."

                Simon quietly clasped his hands together in his lap. "How drastically should we expect emotional changes to be in the first week?"

                "For now, we should see him move from the level of a young adult and back into the level of a teenager. It's fair to expect much more intense and frequent mood swings from Jacob."

                Angelique nodded. "We'll keep an eye out for that then."

                "Excellent." Mr. Hammond reached across his desk to hand them some papers. "I've created a list of some items that you two may need to buy today while Jacob's procedure is in progress."

                Simon skimmed through the paperwork until he made it to the last page. He looked up to make eye contact with Mr. Hammond. "This will certainly be very helpful. I guess we should get started on the shopping right away."

                "Yes, I will let you two go to start on that. Do remember that above all, the goal should be to engage him in routine. He needs to get used to playing the part of a child again, and if he has to rely on his caretakers to get his basic needs met, he will be less resistant when it's at least predictable."

                Right as Simon and Angelique were gathering their items to leave, Mr. Hammond sat forward in his chair. "Oh! I forgot to mention that it's required that I meet with you both and Jacob at least once a week to check in on the progression of the passive stage. For this next one, I would like to do a house visit. Are you two open to that?"

                Simon and Angelique shared approving looks with each other before Simon responded for the two of them. "Of course. When would you like to schedule it for?"

                "Today is Tuesday. So, let's say next week Tuesday around midday. Does that work?"

                "Yes, that date and time works for us." Simon replied.

                As the couple stood up to leave the office, Angelique smiled at the social worker. "Thank you so much for your information, Mr. Hammond."

                "You are welcome. Good luck with this first week. You'll need it."

                "Thank you, Mr. Hammond." Simon replied, holding the door open for his wife.

                Simon and Angelique left the hospital and headed to the nearest shopping center, intending to purchase the items Mr. Hammond recommended and find a restaurant for lunch.

                ****

                Later that evening, the couple returned to the hospital, and when they made it to the lobby, a nurse came out to escort them to the recovery ward.

                Simon and Angelique stepped inside the room in the recovery ward, and they were astonished by what they saw. Lying on the bed and soundly asleep was a little boy who looked to be just under two years old. He had only a diaper on his little body, and there were wires all over his chest.

                Walking closer to the bed, they were both able to verify that the child's facial features all matched Jacob's except they were all smaller and less defined. While his facial hair and body hair were almost all gone, the hair on his head seemed to have remained the same length as it was before. He had an Afro about five inches long, and baby fat all over his body.

                Angelique sat on the edge of the bed, and affectionately rubbed the little boy's cold arm a few times before the nurse came back into the room and handed the two of them the discharge forms.

                "I'll just need the two of you to go over these papers and sign your names at the back while I get all of these wires off of the patient."

                Simon nodded, and the couple took a seat on the sofa in the room and went over the paperwork together, occasionally looking up to watch the nurse remove the equipment attachments from Jacob's tiny body.

                They had finished the paperwork at the same time that the nurse pulled the IV port out of Jacob's arm. After she disposed of the needle and removed her gloves, she took the paperwork from the couple.

                "Thank you. That should have been everything we needed from the two of you. You're all set to get him dressed and take him home."

                "That's great. Thanks." Angelique said, while Simon rummaged through the shopping bag he brought with him.

                As the nurse walked through the door, Simon pulled out the pair of pajamas that they brought along with them and handed them to his wife.

                Angelique slowly put the long sleeve shirt and matching pair pajama pants on Jacob. When she finished, she held him in her arms for a bit until Simon reached out to pick up the little boy.

                "I'll carry him to the car," he offered, lifting Jacob into his arms and resting the sleeping boy's head on his shoulder. The couple slowly walked through the hallways of the hospital and out into the parking lot.

                When they got to the car, Angelique opened the door to the backseat for her husband, and he deposited Jacob into the car seat they had just bought. He adjusted the toddler's head so that it was in a comfortable position and buckled him in.

                Angelique took the driver's side this time, and the trio began the three-hour drive to the lakeside vacation home.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Chapter 8: The Couple's Vacation Home

                  Author's Note: This chapter is dedicated to my two awesome friends who each gave me a crash course in home decor in the last 48 hours. I had no idea where to even start. Thanks, y'all!

                  ~~~~

                  Throughout the drive, Simon and Angelique occasionally glanced at the tiny toddler asleep in his car seat. Simon was glad to see that the fit was almost perfect for Jacob. Mr. Hammond's list had indicated that they would need a car seat for a two-year-old, but it still took the couple a while in the store to decide on which of the ones available would potentially fit him the best. It was difficult since they had no idea what kind of body type he had as a child.

                  Fortunately, Simon and Angelique didn't have to do much shopping when they went to the store earlier that day. When they moved into the city, they had opted to list the lakeside property as a vacation rental. The couple had decided against clearing out the nursery which made it a favorite among parents of young children. Angelique had even hired a local college student, Kimberly, to re-stock the house with the essentials before a patron had a stay.

                  Peering at the boy through the rear-view mirror, Angelique was still in awe that the procedure was able to take him so far back in time. She smiled thinking about how adorable Jacob looked wearing the Finding Dory themed pajama set they had bought for him earlier that day.

                  ****

                  It was just after sunset when the trio turned into the long, paved driveway leading to the lakeside home. Simon made sure to mentally note that the trees lining the side of the path would all need to be cut soon.

                  The lakeside house was a Craftsman style home with a beige colored exterior. It appeared Kimberly thought to leave the outside lighting on for them. The porch light illuminated the wrap-around porch, and its light extended to the small garden decorating the front of the house. The couple was delighted to see that the white and red roses they had planted long ago were still flourishing.

                  After Angelique parked the car in the garage, Simon stepped out of the passenger's side and opened the door to the backseat. He quickly unbuckled Jacob from the car seat and lifted him into his arms.

                  At first, the light scent of urine made Simon suspicious, and when he felt the sagging diaper against his body as he propped the child up onto his shoulder, he was confident that his assumption was correct.

                  "Looks like he already used his diaper during the car ride."

                  Angelique unlocked the door to the house and turned to look at her spouse. "Wow, already? I guess they probably did give him a lot of IV fluids while he was in the hospital. I'll change him before we put him in the crib."

                  They passed through the living room choosing to leave the lights off for the night and climbed the stairs. When they made it upstairs, Angelique held open the door to the nursery for Simon. The room remained almost the same as it was when they first set it up.

                  The walls were painted ivory white, and the linens, toys and decorations had an ocean theme. The couple had chosen to buy a light-brown wooden furniture set. The rocking chair, changing table and crib were all still occupying the same spots in the nursery. Kimberly had even re-stocked the shelves with supplies after Simon alerted her that they would be bringing a child with them.

                  He walked in and gently placed Jacob on the changing table. Taking a seat in the rocking chair, he let his wife take care of changing the little boy. The middle-aged man watched as she efficiently made quick work of removing the soiled diaper and replacing it with a fresh one. Simon knew that his wife had taken babysitting jobs as a teenager and young adult. So, he had anticipated that she would have been quite proficient, but it was still remarkable for him to watch her work so swiftly while succeeding in imparting her tender nature into every motion.

                  When she finished, she lifted Jacob into her arms, and just held him for a few minutes. Simon and Angelique had both resolved to take advantage of the opportunity to shower Jacob with affection while he was still asleep. They knew that once he woke up, it would probably be a while before he would be comfortable interacting with them given the circumstances of his regression. Simon stood and turned on the baby monitor near the crib making sure that the camera was syncing with all of their devices.

                  Angelique lightly bounced the boy in her arms a few times before she lowered him into the crib. They took in the peaceful expression on his face as his tiny chest rhythmically rose and fell. Simon pulled the blue blanket over his former client and turned on the mobile above the crib.

                  Exhausted from the activities of the day and the long drive, they both headed straight to their bedroom and silently got ready for bed. Simon opted to use the second bathroom for his shower, hoping to speed along the process for the both of them.

                  When he returned, the lights were off, and Angelique was already in bed and under the covers. He got onto his side of the bed and slid under the sheets to snuggle against her. After a few minutes of silence, Simon asked in a low voice. "Would you have ever thought that we'd have a child in this house so soon?"

                  Angelique took a slow, deep breath. "No, I wouldn't." There was a long pause before she continued. "But, I'm so glad we do."

                  A few more moments had passed, and as Simon closed his eyes, he quietly whispered into the darkness, "Me too."

                  ****

                  When Simon woke up the next morning, he rolled over and saw that Angelique had already gotten up. He expected it, as his wife had always been an early riser. He headed into the bathroom to begin getting ready for the day. Once he finished brushing his teeth and dressing himself after a quick shower a few moments later, he padded into the kitchen.

                  The downstairs of the house had an open-floor plan. The spacious kitchen was furnished with white marble countertops, silver stainless-steel appliances, white cabinets and a light brown wooden pantry in the corner. Near the table in the dining area was a light brown wooden high chair equipped with an ivory white plastic tray. There was a large window above the sink giving them a beautiful view of the nearby lake and brightening the kitchen with sunlight.

                  "Morning." Simon hugged his wife from behind. She seemed to be in the process of making breakfast. "Can I help with anything?"

                  Angelique smiled, continuing to slice the avocados. "No, I've got it. I'm actually almost done. If you want, you can pour yourself a cup of raspberry tea. I made some for myself earlier this morning, and it was really good."

                  When they had finished eating, and Simon was sipping the last of his tea. He remarked, "I'm surprised Jacob is still asleep."

                  "He was still deeply asleep when I changed him again right after I woke up. I guess his body still hasn't cleared the sedative from the procedure."

                  Simon nodded. "The nurse did say he would sleep through the night. Do you think we should try to wake him if he isn't up by noon?"

                  "Yeah, I think that would be a good time. Will you help me with the dishes?"

                  Simon downed the last of his tea and stood up to pile their dishes. "Sure."

                  ****

                  It was just after 10 am when Angelique and Simon sat on the couch in the living room with the baby monitor placed on the coffee table in front of them. Angelique slowly flipped through the pages of her magazine while her partner browsed through his various social media accounts. The two of them had been sitting in silence and engrossed in their activities for about an hour before they heard soft whimpers that made them look over at the baby monitor.

                  On the screen, the could see that Jacob reflexively stretch his arms and legs while his eyes were still closed. The couple immediately jumped up and quickly climbed the stairs headed to the nursery intending to be there as he woke up.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Chapter 9: Angelique's Affection

                    When the couple opened the door to the nursery, they tentatively approached the wooden crib and stood on opposite sides of it. Simon and Angelique watched the little boy kick his legs and move his hands up to his face rubbing at his closed eyes.

                    The therapist couple differed in their expectations for how Jacob would react when he opened his eyes. While Simon thought that Jacob might get verbally abusive, Angelique speculated he would initially have an internalized emotional reaction. However, they were both certain that the 22-year-old inside of that toddler's body was going to be a force to be reckoned with the moment he realized the procedure had been successful.

                    But, neither of them could have predicted the events that unfolded next. To the astonishment of his caretakers, the toddler opened his eyes and let out a few whimpers before breaking out into a heart-stopping wail.

                    Without any hesitation, Angelique reached into the crib and took the little boy into her arms. She bounced him a few times hoping to calm him down, while Simon stood still, momentarily stunned into silence.

                    Watching Angelique try to soothe the crying child, Simon reflected on the little boy's response. He knew Jacob's reaction was not anything close to the behavior they were told to expect. Anxious, his immediate questions echoed in his mind. Is this a complication? What went wrong? Will he permanently remain this way?

                    The only thing he knew for certain is that they had to call Mr. Hammond right away as he would be the only one who could advise them on what to do next. Before he could finish gathering the thoughts and observations he'd need to describe to Mr. Hammond, Angelique tapped on his arm.

                    "Simon, did you hear me?"

                    He focused his eyes on her, taking in her attentive expression. "No, I didn't. I'm sorry. What did you say?"

                    She rocked the screaming child. "Could you get him a bottle from the fridge? I made one earlier. It should be in the door."

                    "Oh, okay."

                    Seeing that her husband was a little dazed by the recent development, she added. "Don't forget to use the bottle warmer on the counter."

                    Angelique placed her free hand on the boy's head that was nestled into her shoulder. Swaying gently, she cooed softly to him, "It's okay."

                    After a few moments, his loud wails dwindled into quiet sobs. The veteran babysitter expected that his throat must have been rather parched since he hadn't drunk any liquids in days.

                    She saw Simon re-enter the nursery with the bottle in his hand and his cell phone pressed against his ear. He handed her the warmed bottle and immediately left the nursery to continue his phone call.

                    With the bottle in her hand, Angelique sat in the rocking chair and propped the little boy's head up against her arm. It took her a few tries to get the rubber teat into the boy's mouth, but once he got a taste of the milk, his instincts took over. For a short while, the only sound that could be heard in the nursery was the little boy eagerly suckling the milk from the bottle.

                    ****

                    When Simon made it to the kitchen, he retrieved the bottle from the fridge and turned on the bottle warmer. He reached into his pocket for his cellphone and dialed the number for Mr. Hammond's office phone. The phone rang a few times before it was answered.

                    "Hello. This is Mr. Hammond speaking."

                    "Mr. Hammond, this is Simon from yesterday."

                    "Gotcha. Is everything alright?"

                    As soon as the light on the bottle warmer disappeared, he grabbed the bottle and made his way upstairs. "Well, we aren't sure. Jacob just woke up, but he...well, he isn't Jacob."

                    "I'm not sure what you mean."

                    Simon took a deep breath. "When he woke up, he whimpered and cried. His actions were closer to those of a true toddler rather than an adult. Angelique is upstairs right now trying to calm him down."

                    "Wow, did he speak at all?"

                    Simon quickly handed Angelique the bottle and walked out of the nursery.

                    "No, he's still crying. I'm not sure if you were able to hear him just now in the background."

                    "Yes, I did. That is odd, indeed." Mr. Hammond paused, and Simon could hear him flipping through some papers and typing on his computer in the background. "It is possible this could just be a response to the sedative, but we have not had this happen with any other patients before. Let's take the day to observe him. Hopefully, he will snap out of it in a few hours."

                    "Okay, we will do that. Thank you, Mr. Hammond."

                    "Not a problem, Simon. I'll let Dr. Kelly know about this development, and we will be in touch in the coming days."

                    "Alright. Thanks again. Bye."

                    Simon put his phone into his pocket and stepped back into the nursery. He noticed that Angelique was seated in the rocking chair with the little boy snuggling into her embrace. It seemed Jacob had already finished his milk, as his wife had placed the empty bottle on a nearby table.

                    Looking up at her husband, Angelique asked in a soft voice, "What did Mr. Hammond say?"

                    Simon leaned against the crib. "He said it is unusual behavior, but he advised us to simply observe for now and wait until tomorrow to come in. The hope is that he will snap out of this state."

                    "Okay. So, we just have to hope this isn't a serious complication?"

                    He nodded. "Yup."

                    They both heard Jacob let out a tiny yawn and watched him rub his eyes.

                    Simon put a finger on his chin. "I wonder if he will talk."

                    He crouched down to Jacob's eye level while the toddler was still seated in Angelique's lap. "Jacob?" he began in a gentle tone of voice.

                    The little boy curled into Angelique and hid his face in her blouse.

                    Simon looked up at his wife, and they both shared a smile. Angelique gently lifted Jacob to turn him around and re-seated him in her lap making him face her husband. She pat the little boy on the back, hoping to encourage him to interact with Simon.

                    The middle-aged man tried again. "Jacob, do you remember who I am?"

                    This time the little boy looked up at him with a curious expression, but he didn't respond.

                    Simon did have considerable training in child therapy, and he decided to try some of the engagement techniques that he reserved for his youngest clients. He stood up and went to the toy shelf on the other side of the room, grabbing a plush clownfish. But before he went back to the other side of the room, he wanted to make sure he checked that the child's hearing was okay.

                    "Honey, could you distract him for a second?"

                    "Sure." Angelique tickled the little boy a few times, eliciting a few giggles from him as he shyly swatted her hands away.

                    Simon clicked a button on a toy cell-phone watching to see if Jacob would respond to the noise. The toy played a musical recording of a high-pitched, sing-song voice. ♫ Hello! Hello! Who's, calling to say hi? Glad you called to talk a while. Then, we'll say bye-bye. Bye-bye!

                    The instant the music began, the child's eyes widened, and he ignored Angelique's tickles. Instead, he turned towards Simon trying to find the source of the sound.

                    Simon smiled warmly in response to the boy's mystified stare and walked back over until he stood on the side of the rocking chair. "Well, I'm glad to know you can hear me, buddy."

                    He stooped down again in front of the rocking chair and lifted the toy so that it was facing Jacob, holding it at the child's eye-level.

                    Simon spoke with a playful tone of voice. "Hi, there." He raised the toy and shook it a few times. "My name is Nemo. Can you tell me your name?"

                    When he didn't get a response, he continued. "I'm from the ocean, and I swim all around the sea." He moved the plush toy around with a wavy motion. "I have so much fun in the water. Can you say, water?"

                    Once again, the toddler didn't respond. Instead, he put his thumb in his mouth while continuing to carefully observe the man's actions.

                    Simon smiled at his wife and settled the toy on her lap next to the toddler. "This nice lady is my friend too." He snuggled the toy next to Angelique. "Sometimes, when I'm swimming in the ocean, I like to count stuff. Will you count with me? I want to count the people in the room, but I'm going to need your help. Okay?"

                    "Alright, here we go! One!" He nudged his chest with the clownfish. "Two!" He grazed the toy against his wife's arm. "Three!" He poked the toddler in the belly with Nemo.

                    Jacob was a giggly mess. He closed his eyes for a second, clearly delighted by the game they were playing.

                    Simon started the game again. "One! Two! Your turn beautiful lady."

                    Angelique filled in. "Three!" The little boy looked up at her and smiled.

                    "One! Two! Your turn little mister." He touched the plush toy against Jacob's arm.

                    He waited, trying to give the child a moment to answer.

                    "Can you say three for me, buddy?"

                    "One! Two!" He paused again, allowing a long moment of silence before he filled in for the child. "Three!"

                    He put the toy down on the floor next to him and placed his hands over his eyes. Quickly uncovering them, he exclaimed. "Peekaboo!"

                    The little boy squealed with a smile on his face, kicking his legs.

                    Simon covered his face with his hands again, and this time he made a silly face eliciting more gleeful giggles from Jacob.

                    The therapist reached over and gently took Jacob's hands in his, slowly removing his thumb from his mouth. He helped the little boy cover his own face with his little hands. Then, he quickly moved them away. "Peekaboo!"

                    He repeated the gesture, and this time released his grasp of the boy's hands, hoping to see him mirror the game, but the toddler hid behind his hands for a few minutes until he peered up and went back to sucking his thumb.

                    ****

                    Simon ran his hand through his hair. He had exhausted the best of his engagement techniques. After spending an hour trying to assess the communication skills of the child, he was still in the dark. Now, he reached the point where he had no choice but to resign himself to hoping the child would choose to verbally communicate with them somehow.

                    Standing up and patting his thighs, he made eye contact with his wife. "I guess we'll just have to sit back and watch."

                    Angelique responded with a sympathetic expression on her face, "That's okay. Now's a good time to get started on lunch. I'm sure Jacob might want some solid food."

                    ****

                    Around 6 pm, after feeding, changing and bathing the toddler, Simon and Angelique decided to watch the new episode of Black-ish on the TV in the bedroom. They were seated at the foot of the bed, and the tyke was lying next to Angelique with his head resting on her lap. They had dimmed the lights in the room as the child had been in the process of falling asleep for a few minutes.

                    Suddenly, Jacob's body shook like he had been electrocuted. Simon and Angelique immediately darted their eyes to his direction. The toddler's hands grabbed at his head, and he screamed in pain.

                    Simon quickly moved from his seat at the foot of the bed and kneeled in front of the child still on Angelique's lap trying to determine what the child was experiencing. Inches away from him, the little boy frantically kicked his legs and shook his head. It's not a seizure if he still has control over his arms. What is this?

                    But just as quickly as the symptoms started, they abated before Simon could make any conclusions. The couple paid close attention as the child slowly straightened himself into a sitting position next to Angelique. With his eyes tightly shut, the toddler massaged his temples.

                    "Ugh, my head." he groaned, and this time Simon and Angelique were sure the real Jacob had finally made his appearance.

                    Oh, the suspense, haha. I hope you all liked the fluff in this chapter. I had a really good time writing this one.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Chapter 10: Jacob's Recovery

                      Jacob woke up to ringing in his ears and a dull throbbing in his head. He had never had a hangover this bad in his life before, and he squeezed his eyes shut until the pain and pressure eased up at least a little bit.

                      "Ugh, my head," he groaned while sitting up and massaging his temples. What the hell did I do last night?

                      Opening his eyes, he took in the unfamiliar room around him. He was sitting on a bed, and in way too close proximity to him for his liking were both Simon and Angelique. His eyes darted around the room as tried to piece everything together in his head. Why am I here? Whose bedroom is this? Why are those two looking at me like that?

                      "What the..."

                      Before Jacob could finish, the events of the past few days flooded back into his memory, and he instantly felt his stomach drop.

                      "No way..." he muttered, looking down to focus on his trembling hands.

                      His fingers were shorter, and his miniature palms were wrinkled at the edges with baby fat. It was clear that at some point one of them had dressed him in a pair of light blue flannel pajamas. His cloth-encased legs now barely made it over the edge of the bed.

                      The young man shook his head in disbelief. "No. No. No. Th-This can't be happening." He closed his eyes again, hoping that this was just a sick dream. "This isn't real," he mumbled.

                      "Jacob, do you remember anything that happened at St. Ives?" Simon inquired.

                      The moment Simon started talking, Jacob snapped his head up to make eye contact with the older man. When he realized his therapist was inching closer to him, he scrambled away until his back collided against the headboard. As the adrenaline coursed through his veins, he covered his hands with his face.

                      "Oh my god. This isn't happening. This isn't possible. I can't-I can't."

                      Jacob was trying to take deep breaths and give himself a second to process what had happened and figure out how any of that was possible, but his next breath kept coming in faster than the last. Soon, he was clutching his chest and gasping for air.

                      The therapists were able to recognize that Jacob was in the initial stages of having a panic attack, but they didn't want to add to his stress by moving too quickly towards him and invading his personal space in an attempt to help him.

                      "Jacob, you need to take slow deep breaths," Simon calmly instructed.

                      "I'm...tr-trying," he panted between rapid shallow breaths.

                      "Breathe with me. Inhale," Simon took a slow and pronounced breath. "Exhale," he instructed as he released the air from his chest slowly.

                      After a few moments of following Simon's breathing prompts, Jacob calmed down and steadied himself. He looked between the two of his captors, distress evident on his face.

                      "This is so wrong. I'm not a child...I'm n-" Jacob braced himself with his hands on his thighs and gagged a few times before lurching the contents of his stomach all over himself.

                      Once he finished heaving, he leaned his throbbing head against the headboard completely drained of energy. He couldn't even fight back when Angelique picked him up.

                      Simon tossed the pillows off the bed and turned to face his wife. "When I'm done here, I'm going to get the bag that I packed earlier and start the car. Let's meet in the garage. I'll drive," he offered as he quickly stripped the sheets from the bed.

                      While Jacob was being carried, he shut his eyes hoping to reduce the throbbing in his head that had worsened while he was jostled around. He opened his eyes again when he was placed on a soft, steady surface and took in the nursery around him.

                      Jacob was sure that the two therapists didn't have kids, and Angelique didn't appear to be expecting. His stomach sank when the realization hit him. They really are planning to keep me here like this.

                      He was immediately distracted from his thoughts when Angelique pulled his pants off and reached to undo the tabs on his diaper. He quickly placed a hand over himself.

                      "Please, no," he whispered weakly.

                      Angelique reached under the changing table to grab some wipes and a new diaper. "Jacob, I need to get you into a clean one. It won't be fun to endure a three-hour drive in that mess."

                      The young man was sure she was right, but he still couldn't just toss aside his dignity. He shook his head accidentally causing the pulsing to worsen for a moment.

                      When he unconsciously moved his hands to cradle his head, Angelique took the opportunity to pull the tabs off and slide the old diaper out from under him.

                      Jacob was mortified as Angelique lifted his legs to wipe his lower body clean and place a new diaper on him. He felt his face heat up, and his lower lip quivered.

                      "There's no reason to be embarrassed," Angelique sympathized as she pulled a new pair of pants over his fresh diaper.

                      Jacob averted his eyes and muttered, "Fuck you."

                      Ignoring his use of profanity, Angelique lifted the little boy into her arms and carried him downstairs and into the garage where Simon was waiting in the driver's seat with the door to the backseat open.

                      Once Angelique buckled him in and got into the front seat, Simon keyed the ignition and began driving, and a few minutes after they got onto the interstate, Simon handed his wife his cell phone.

                      "Would you let Mr. Hammond that we are on our way?"

                      "He's the last outgoing call, right?"

                      "Yeah."

                      Angelique put the call on speakerphone, and on the second ring the social worker answered, "Hello. This is Mr. Hammond speaking."

                      "Mr. Hammond, this is Angelique. I'm calling to let you know that we are driving back to St. Ives."

                      "Oh, has the situation with Jacob worsened?"

                      "Unfortunately, yes. He fully regained consciousness at around 6pm, but he's been complaining of pain in his head and he vomited all over the bed."

                      "It sounds like he's dealing with migraines." Mr. Hammond sighed. "We have had a few instances where patients developed chronic migraines after the procedure. It's a rare complication, but the good news is that we do have a cure. How far away are you now?"

                      Simon spoke up. "We will be there in two hours."

                      "Alright, I'll let Dr. Kelly know that you two are coming in. The nurses will be instructed to prepare for your arrival. The treatment will only take about two hours including recovery time, and the doctor will meet with you two beforehand to explain everything."

                      "Okay. Thank you again," Angelique responded.

                      "No problem. See you two soon," Mr. Hammond replied, and hung up the phone.

                      Jacob listened to the conversation gleaming as much information as he could between bouts of migraine pain. He tried to piece the timeline together in his head. If what Angelique said was true, then he must have been out for a long time, but with how tired his body was, it didn't feel like he had been sleeping for over twenty-four hours. The young man wanted answers, but he was far too tired to carry a conversation. Leaning his head against the car seat, Jacob closed his eyes and drifted off to a much needed sleep.

                      "He's already asleep," Angelique whispered.

                      Simon glanced at Jacob through the rear-view mirror. "Good, I'm sure he needed the break from those migraine bouts," he softly remarked.

                      He sighed in annoyance. "I wish he didn't have to deal with this complication. The kid needs a break."

                      Angelique nodded sympathetically and responded in a low voice, "Mr. Hammond seemed confident this treatment will cure him. I guess all we can do is trust in that."

                      Speeding along the interstate, Simon made three-hour drive in just under two hours as he promised. When they arrived, he quickly got out and unbuckled Jacob from the car seat and carried him in his arms to the lobby of the hospital.

                      The receptionist walked out from behind the counter to speak with them as they came through the automatic sliding doors.

                      "Are you two Jacob's caretakers?" she politely inquired.

                      "Yes, we are," Angelique answered.

                      "Alright, I'll call for a nurse to take you to the treatment room that we've reserved for Jacob.

                      The receptionist paged a nurse, letting her know Jacob and his caretakers had arrived. The trio were only left waiting in the lobby for about a minute until a nurse greeted them.

                      "Simon and Angelique?" They both nodded in response. "Right this way," she gestured towards the double doors and walked ahead of them.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Chapter 11: Dr. Kelly's Recommendation

                        The nurse led them down a few halls towards the opposite side of the hospital that they had been to before. She opened a door to a room that had a small flat bed with railings on the side. The treatment room was equipped with a myriad of different monitors that were all connected by long gray cables.

                        "You can put him down on the bed. I'll be right back with a few supplies," the nurse informed the couple. She turned and walked out of the room.

                        When Simon gently laid Jacob on the bed, the little boy released a long sigh as he stirred awake. The therapists stepped back just a bit, giving him some personal space.

                        Jacob slowly opened his eyes as he was assaulted by the bright fluorescent lights. He thought his nap had been very beneficial since his head was much clearer, and the migraine pain was reduced to a tolerable level. After he adjusted to the lighting, he took in the room around him, and acknowledged the presence of his captors who were both standing mere inches away from him.

                        "Oh, this is great. I'm so glad to be back here," he remarked sarcastically.

                        "I'm happy to see you are feeling better than you were earlier." Simon responded.

                        Jacob turned to glare at his former therapist. "I'd feel even better than I do now if I wasn't the size of a toddler. But you couldn't help yourself, could you? No, you had to play God."

                        Angelique began, "Jacob-" but she was interrupted by Simon,

                        "It's quite alright, honey. Let him get it out."

                        The young man narrowed his eyes at Simon. "Don't you think I should have the right to decide on my own life?"

                        Simon took a deep breath and calmly replied, "If you are asking whether I regret stopping you from ending your life, then the answer is no, Jacob. I don't."

                        The nurse returned right as Simon finished speaking. "I'm sorry it took me a moment to get a smaller needle," she explained as she pulled on a pair of gloves.

                        When Jacob saw the needle in the nurse's hand, he immediately focused on trying to escape. He refused to allow them to sedate him again. For all the young man knew, he might wake up even younger than he already was. He slid backwards on the bed, trying to figure out how he was going to get away with the nurse blocking the only exit.

                        Seeing the young patient's apprehension, the nurse explained sympathetically, "Jacob, this is just an IV. I'm sure you're tired of needles by now, but we need to make sure your body is properly hydrated before you undergo the treatment. Otherwise, you'll have to deal with unpleasant side effects."

                        Jacob stared at the nurse with a defiant expression. "Look lady. I'm sure you're just doing your job, but I don't consent to this shit. There's no way in hell I'm just going to let you or anyone else in this insane place stick another needle in me."

                        "Have it your way then." The nurse looked over at the couple. "Do I have your permission to restrain him?"

                        "Yes," Simon confirmed and moved forward to help her hold him still.

                        "I do not fucking consent!" Jacob snapped, fighting against the nurse when she grabbed his arm.

                        "Hold his arms right there, please." Jacob heard the nurse direct his captors as she pulled a small pair of cotton straps from under the bed.

                        It only took a minute for the nurse to secure his arms in the straps, and when she was done, Simon and Angelique released their hold on him and moved to sit in the chairs that were leaning against the wall.

                        Jacob was silently fuming while the nurse poked his vein with a needle. He had calmed down some after the nurse left, but his anger boiled over once more when Dr. Kelly entered the room.

                        "Fix me back, you sadistic lunatic!" Jacob instantly demanded, seething with anger. "I'm not your lab experi-" He gagged feeling his headache and nausea returning. "I don't want to be stuck as a dumb toddler."

                        Dr. Kelly smiled. "Jacob, I thought I told you that the effects of Restalsis are permanent. You will grow in time, and in about twenty years, you will look almost the same as you did last week."

                        "You're sick and twisted. I already had a childhood. I don't want another!"

                        Dr. Kelly ignored her screaming patient. "Simon and Angelique, could we continue this in the hall? I suspect Jacob doesn't plan to allow us to have a civil conversation in his presence."

                        "Yes, of course, doctor." Angelique replied.

                        When they got to the hallway, Dr. Kelly opened the blinds on the door before closing it behind them, allowing them to keep an eye on the patient.

                        The doctor turned to face the couple. "So, Jacob is definitely experiencing a migraine problem that we have seen in other patients before. This may be a little jarring, but the best treatment available for his migraines is ECT." She paused and leaned against the wall, giving the therapists a moment to let that sink in. "I'm sure you two have heard of it before."

                        Simon rapidly blinked his eyes, unsure that he heard the doctor correctly. "Electroconvulsive therapy?" he asked in a slightly higher pitch.

                        "Yes, but I do want to say that the media really has done a good job of making the treatment out to be a lot worse than it actually is in the 21st century. Nowadays, patients are never awake, and they are given an anesthetic which stops them from convulsing.

                        Angelique commented, "That is much different than what I was picturing."

                        Dr. Kelly nodded. "ECT is a simple, quick and an effective permanent cure. He will only be asleep for about fifteen to twenty minutes, and after we observe him in the recovery room for thirty minutes, you two will be free to take him home."

                        "Are there any side effects that we should be watching out for?" Simon hesitantly asked.

                        "Yes, it's likely that Jacob will experience memory problems for the day. We don't know for certain how extreme they may or may not be as the extent varies from patient to patient but after tomorrow, his memory will be back to normal again."

                        "Should we expect behavior similar to what he was like when he first woke up?" Angelique inquired.

                        "Mr. Hammond did speak to me about that. I wanted-" The elevator that was just a few feet away dinged, and Mr. Hammond stepped out and began walking towards them.

                        "Speak of the devil!" Dr. Kelly exclaimed as she smiled and waved at Mr. Hammond. "We were just talking about you, Charles!"

                        "Oh, were you? I guess I am right on time then." Mr. Hammond huffed, clearly out of breath. "This section of the hospital is quite a good walk away from my office."

                        Dr. Kelly jovially responded, "It's not like you don't need the exercise."

                        Charles laughed for a moment before he looked towards the couple with a more serious expression. "I'm sorry to hear Jacob developed a side effect to the Restalsis so soon."

                        Dr. Kelly added, "Yes, it's surprising that it happened so soon, but I'm glad it is something we can cure it right away." She put her hands in the pockets of her lab coat. "Anyways, please tell us about what happened this morning."

                        Simon and Angelique explained in detail how Jacob had behaved as though he was a true toddler when he woke up after the procedure. Simon shared his account of how he unsuccessfully attempted to get the child to speak, and Angelique relayed how Jacob had screamed and convulsed before he woke up again and started talking.

                        "Wow, that is a first." Dr. Kelly admitted. "What do you make of this, Charles?"

                        "Honestly, I don't know." Mr. Hammond rubbed the back of his bald head. "I certainly recommend a case study. We should follow his regression a little more closely."

                        "I agree." Dr. Kelly pulled a pen and small pad out of her pockets and wrote a few notes before turning to face the couple. "Thank you for sharing this development with us. While this is a unique situation, I do want to say that I don't think this will negatively impact Jacob's regression. It may, however, add to our understanding of the way Restalsis works in the brain."

                        Simon released the breath he was holding. "Okay, that's good news." The couple held hands. "We were worried there may have been serious implications of the events that transpired earlier today," he admitted.

                        Mr. Hammond assured them, "No, his current behavior shows us that the procedure worked as expected. It may just have been the sedative. That's why we want to do a case study to be sure."

                        The four of them stood in the hallway silently for a moment before Dr. Kelly took a deep breath. "Great. Well, let's get back to Jacob. I already got the drugs from the pharmacist," she said pulling the supplies out from the pockets of her white coat.

                        Simon held the door open for his wife and Dr. Kelly as she held the vial of medication in one hand and an uncapped syringe in the other. "Alright, this is just a short-acting sedative and it will put him to sleep for about half an hour." She drew the contents of the vial into the syringe and continued, "Once he's fully asleep, I'll have you two leave the room, and we will immediately start on the ECT."

                        Jacob instinctively tried to squirm away from Dr. Kelly as much as he could when she approached him with the syringe, but with the restraints, he didn't even move an inch.

                        She injected him directly into his IV port, and within seconds, Jacob could feel the sedative in his system. He focused on the details of the room around him and the face of the nurse who entered the room to assist Dr. Kelly, trying his best to stay awake. But when he felt Angelique soothingly rub his head, the last of his concentration slipped away and his eyelids drooped.

                        Dr. Kelly undid his restraints. "Okay, I'll see you two again in the recovery room in a few minutes. This won't take long at all. There's some coffee in the waiting area."

                        "Thank you," Simon replied as the two of them left the room and closed the door behind them.

                        ****

                        A few moments after they finished sipping their cups of coffee in the waiting area, the nurse who had assisted Dr. Kelly for the procedure came to escort them to the recovery room.

                        "Did it go well?" Angelique asked as they stood to follow the nurse down the hallway.

                        While the three of them walked to the room, the nurse nodded her head and confirmed, "We're all done. The treatment was successful. We are just waiting for all his vital signs to stabilize. He should wake up soon."

                        When they returned to the room, Jacob lay asleep on the bed. The heart monitor attached to him indicated his heart was beating quickly, but he didn't physically appear to be unwell at all. The couple sat on the chairs in the room waiting for him to wake up.

                        A few moments later, Jacob fluttered his eyes open, and he was immediately aware of how tired he was and how stiff his muscles felt. He thought he heard the distant voices of people trying to talk to him, but his brain felt foggy, making him unable figure out what they were saying. The young man was even more confused when a nurse detached him from the medical equipment, but he was too tired to process anything and fell back asleep almost right away.

                        Dr. Kelly came back into the room right as Jacob drifted out of consciousness. "His scans looked perfect right after the procedure. It was a success. The nurse informed me that he woke up and vitals have stabilized. So, You all are free to head home."

                        "Thank you so much, Dr. Kelly," Simon and Angelique responded at the same time.

                        "No problem. Good luck on the drive home," she said taking her chart out and leaving the room. The couple followed behind with Simon carrying the sleeping boy in his arms to the car.

                        It didn't take them long to make the walk back to the car, and while Simon was working on buckling the little boy in his car seat, he felt the sleeve of his shirt being pulled. He looked down to see that Jacob was awake again and tugging on his arm.

                        "Simon?" he asked quietly.

                        Simon continued buckling him in, and responded, "Yes, what's wrong?"

                        "How come Nesee isn't coming with us?" Jacob tentatively questioned.

                        When Simon froze, Angelique asked, "Who?"

                        "His little sister," the middle-aged man clarified softly.

                        "Jacob, can you tell me what year it is?" Angelique inquired.

                        "Um..." Jacob yawned. "I dunno."

                        "That was a big yawn." Angelique remarked, taking the driver's seat in the car while Simon closed the door to the backseat. "Are you sleepy?"

                        "Yah," the little boy confirmed as he nodded his head.

                        "Well, it is quite late. So, you should get some sleep. Alright?"

                        "Okay."

                        The couple watched as he obediently closed his eyes and leaned his head against the cushioned car seat. Before they got on the interstate, Jacob was soundly asleep.

                        Simon and Angelique drove most of the way back to the house in silence. When they got home at around 1 am, Jacob was still deeply asleep. He didn't react when Simon picked him up and carried him to the nursery.

                        Simon changed the boy's diaper before he laid the snoring child in the crib and pulled a blanket over him. He joined his wife in their bathroom, and the exhausted couple quickly got ready for bed hoping that Jacob would not experience any more major complications the next day.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Chapter 12: Jacob's Amnesia

                          The next morning Jacob woke up feeling well-rested but dazed like his whole mind had been wiped cleaned. He didn't know anything about who he was, where he came from, or why his brain felt so foggy.

                          Looking past the wooden bars of the crib, he admired the themed decorations in the room and noticed how the furniture appeared neat and pristine, almost brand-new. He appreciated the framed paintings of sea creatures that decorated the ivory-white walls. It seemed reasonable to him to assume the owners of this house had to be well-off.

                          Staring at the surprisingly soothing mobile above the crib, he hoped some information about himself would come back to him. For whatever reason, he still had access to his knowledge of trivial things. He could easily distinguish between the different species of the fish rotating above him, but all of the more important details were gone. One particular question tormented him in his mind above all the others.

                          Why can't I remember my name?

                          As part of her daily routine, Angelique went to the nursery to give Jacob his early-morning diaper change, and when she peered into the crib, she was surprised that he was fully awake.

                          "Wow, someone is up quite early this morning," she commented pleasantly, lifting him out of the crib and placing him on the changing table.

                          Deep in thought, Jacob didn't reply. He simply looked at her with a blank expression on his face.

                          "How do you feel this morning, Jacob?" she asked as she pulled down his pants and removed his diaper.

                          Jacob...Oh, yeah. That's my name. I'm Jacob.

                          Jacob furrowed his brows, staring at the unfamiliar woman. "Miss, what happened. I don't...I don't remember anything," he admitted, scratching his head.

                          "We had to take you to the hospital yesterday, and they performed a procedure. The doctor told us that memory loss is a normal side effect, but it should all come back to you before the end of the day," she informed him, pulling his pants back up.

                          "What was the procedure for?"

                          "You were having some really terrible migraines. Does your head feel better now?"

                          "Yeah, I think so. I'm not in any pain."

                          "That's good. Well, let's get some breakfast in you. I'm sure you're starving. It's been a while since you last ate," she proposed, stooping down to put the powder and wipes back under the changing table.

                          "Okay," Jacob agreed and held his arms up, waiting for her to pick him up.

                          Angelique hesitated for a moment when she faced the little boy compliantly raising his arms in the air. It was odd to her how frequently he shifted between blatant defiance and amiable acquiescence. Knowing it wouldn't last, she settled on enjoying the little boy's placidity while she could and picked him up.

                          She carried him downstairs, and when they made it to the kitchen, she placed Jacob in the high chair.

                          "I'll get you something to drink while I work on breakfast," Angelique said turning and walking to the fridge.

                          He watched as the mysterious woman filled a sippy cup with milk and deposited it in the bottle warmer. When the light went off, she tested it in her hands before stepping over and handing him the cup.

                          He took it from her and began drinking the milk, puzzled by how her pleased expression unsettled him.

                          Quenching his thirst, his attention was fixated on the mysterious woman as she gathered the ingredients to prepare breakfast. She moved so fast, chopping fruits and pulling items from the fridge periodically.

                          "I didn't expect there would be two early risers in the house," Simon playfully remarked as he entered the kitchen a few moments later.

                          "Ha, I didn't either. Jacob was awake before I entered the nursery this morning," Angelique replied continuing to stir batter in a bowl.

                          Simon stood in front of the high chair. "How are you today, buddy?"

                          Jacob sat silently in the chair, transfixed by the familiar, short man with dark skin. He couldn't place exactly where or why he knew him, but the memories surged forward in his mind.

                          "You're Simon," he said surprising himself and the two middle-aged adults.

                          "Yes, Jacob. I am. Did you just remember that?"

                          "Yeah, but that's all I remember," he confirmed, dejectedly looking towards the floor.

                          "That's okay. It's a good start. With memory, you just need time and patience. So, don't get frustrated if it doesn't come back right away. It will," Simon assured the little boy.

                          He went to help his wife in the kitchen, and after the couple finished preparing breakfast, Angelique walked over to the high chair.

                          She placed a sectioned plate on his tray. "Eat up!"

                          Jacob didn't realize how hungry he was until the small pancakes, strawberries and slices of hard-boiled eggs were in front of him. He didn't hesitate to begin stuffing his face, and it didn't take him long to finish his food with how quickly he was eating.

                          He sat, contentedly leaning into the back of the chair. His face and hands were sticky with syrup and strawberry residue. Thinking about how enjoyable that meal was, he wondered if those dishes might have been some of his favorite foods before he lost his memory. Shaking his head, he decided he was sure because the meal was just that enjoyable.

                          "Is your tummy full?" Angelique asked, pulling Jacob out of deep thought.

                          The little boy hadn't even noticed when the adults finished eating. As engrossed as he was in his mind, he hadn't even seen them take their dishes to the sink.

                          "Yes. Thank you. That was great."

                          "You're welcome. Now, let's get you cleaned up," she said, beginning to wipe his hands and face with some wet paper towels.

                          When she finished, Jacob was left sitting in the high chair while Angelique tossed the paper towels in the trash.

                          "I'll finish washing the dishes," she offered as Simon turned on the faucet.

                          "You sure?"

                          "Yes, Jacob needs a quick bath, and I thought I'd let you handle that."

                          "Ah." Simon turned off the faucet and took Jacob out of the high chair, carrying him upstairs.

                          As the two of them entered the bathroom, Jacob caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror before Simon stood him on the tile floor.

                          While Simon turned on the faucet in the tub, the little boy thoroughly surveyed his tiny body, realizing he didn't feel as small as his reflection in the bathroom mirror seemed, but he brushed his concerns off. Maybe I'm just small for my age.

                          Simon quickly bathed Jacob in the tub, and the toddler remained passive throughout the whole process, obediently following all of the older man's directions. Once Simon finished drying the child, he wrapped him in the towel and carried him into the nursery.

                          Jacob let out a serious of long yawns while he was diapered and dressed in a loose T-shirt and sweatpants.

                          When Simon finished, he addressed the little boy, "I think you need to take it easy today. So, how about you and I spend some time on the couch? You can watch some cartoons. That sound good?"

                          Jacob nodded his head and Simon picked him up, carrying him downstairs. The older man grabbed the remote and placed him on the couch. He turned on the TV and changed the channel to a station dedicated to kid shows and grabbed his tablet from the shelf. Plopping down next to Jacob, Simon turned on his tablet, intending on going through the articles in his reading list.

                          Jacob fixated his attention on the cartoon that played on the TV. The show followed a cheerful, blue octopus and his dog as they traversed the town running their daily errands. The calm voice of the main character was especially comforting to the little boy, and halfway through the episode Jacob fully relaxed into the couch. His head drooped every few minutes as he tried to stay awake, and a few minutes before the episode finished, he finally lost the battle and fell asleep.

                          Simon had just finished a really informative article when he looked over and noticed that Jacob was sprawled out next to him soundly asleep. He silently motioned to Angelique while she was in the kitchen making a list until he got her attention. When she approached, he whispered to her, "Will you watch him while I set up the playpen?"

                          "Okay."

                          The middle-aged man went upstairs to grab a blanket and the folded play pen from the closet in the nursery, and when he returned to the living room, he removed it from the carrying case, and swiftly set it up near the couch. Once he finished, Angelique carried the little boy in her arms, careful not to accidentally wake him and laid him in the playpen.

                          ****

                          When Jacob woke up from his nap, he stretched his arms and the unmistakable texture of mesh material against his skin caused him to immediately open his eyes. Sitting up, he slowly realized he was inside of a playpen, and he was fully awake by the time Simon noticed him a few minutes later.

                          "Did you have a good nap?" he asked, handing the little boy a sippy cup filled with water.

                          Jacob rubbed his eyes with his free hand. "Yeah, I'm not tired anymore."

                          "That's good. Plus, you woke up right in time for lunch."

                          ****

                          After the trio finished eating lunch, the couple quickly completed the cleanup.

                          "I'm going to head upstairs and take a warm bath," Angelique informed her husband.

                          "Alright, I think I'll take Jacob outside on the porch to get some fresh air and sunshine."

                          "Aw, that sounds great." Passing by Jacob who was silently standing behind Simon, she gently patted him on the back. "Enjoy the view," she encouraged the child and climbed the stairs.

                          Simon opened the front door waited for Jacob to walk onto the wrap-around porch. The little boy took a seat in the large chair, and after Simon closed the door behind them, he sat next to him.

                          The older man took a deep breath, clearly enjoying the fresh air and relaxed into the chair, looking out at the view of the lake in silence for a few moments.

                          Simon pointed at the leaves of the forest trees that were beginning to change color. "Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower," he contentedly recited stretching his arms above his head.

                          The gears in Jacob's mind were beginning to turn. The quote Simon recited echoed in his mind. This wasn't the first time that quote was recited to him. He didn't know how but knew that it was a quote by Albert Camus, a French philosopher. He had heard the phrase a year ago, but he couldn't place it.

                          Concentrating as hard as he could on the memory, more and more details slowly came back to him. He was in a room, talking to someone. He sat on a couch in a lit room talking to someone holding a notepad and jotting down notes. He was in a private practice office talking to his therapist. He was speaking to Simon, his private practice therapist.

                          With the awakening of that memory, the rest swiftly followed behind, and everything finally made sense to him. He didn't feel like a child because he wasn't one. He was twenty-two years old. Simon was his therapist, and he kidnapped him and took him to St. Ives where Dr. Kelly had forcibly turned into a toddler.

                          Stunned, Jacob accepted the harsh realities that faced him. He wasn't safe in this house with his kidnappers, and more than anything else, he had to get away.

                          The young man anticipated that he would never have another opportunity like this once his captors realized he got his memories back. His ticket to freedom was here. He just needed to wait until the right moment to take it.

                          The two of them sat in silence until the older man eventually asked, "Are you ready to head back inside?"

                          Jacob stiffened, frightened that he would not be able to maintain his prior facial expression of indifference towards his kidnapper. Thinking quickly, he averted his eyes towards the ground and slowly nodded his head.

                          "That's okay. It's probably time to start on dinner," Simon comforted him, thinking the little boy was ashamed to communicate his desire to retire inside.

                          When the middle-aged man stood up and turned his back to open the door, Jacob bolted down the stairs to the porch, running as fast as he could down the path at the edge of the lake. He intended to get into the forest as quickly as possible, planning to use the trees for cover.

                          He was sure his plan would work. He just needed to obtain protection from the authorities until he could reach to the closest medical research center and let them figure out how to undo the age-regression.

                          "Jacob!" Simon called out after him.

                          The young man didn't even turn around. He poured all of his strength into sprinting the last few feet of the path before the forest. His lungs burned, and his leg muscles ached. His tiny body wasn't used to much physical exertion, but he pushed himself, determined not to be stuck in captivity for too long. He couldn't give his kidnappers a chance to mess with his mind. Just the thought of possibly becoming a docile toddler for the two of them to play house with was more than enough to fuel his flight to freedom.

                          When he made it past the first tree, he assumed he was only seconds away from beginning the second phase of his plan, but his dreams disintegrated as he was lifted into the air midstride, spun around and tucked securely under the arm of his captor.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Chapter 13: Jacob's Apprehension

                            Deciding on what he wanted to have for dinner that evening, Simon turned the doorknob and was about to usher the child into the house, but the unmistakable sound of feet speedily padding across the wooden floor behind him prompted him to immediately turn around.

                            For no apparent reason Jacob was sprinting across the yard towards the path near the lake. Simon immediately took off behind him hoping to capture the child before he could put himself in danger.

                            "Jacob!" he called after him wishing the child would snap out of the fight or flight response he seemed to be experiencing. He hoped this was not another strange side effect from the Restalsis.

                            Running behind the child, he regretted being as out of shape as he was. He mulled over not sticking with his New Year's resolution. The last time he had been to the gym was about two years ago, but now that he could plan on having to chase a tyke around, he imagined he would find the motivation to make good on his membership fees.

                            As they got closer to the forest, Simon began to worry. He knew it would be extremely difficult to find Jacob once he was hidden within the trees. So, he put all his energy into closing the last foot of distance between the two of them. Just as the child passed the second tree, he picked him up midstride and tucked him under his arm.

                            As winded as he was, Simon didn't even want to attempt at a conversation with the child right away. Instead, he focused on catching his breath and maintaining his grasp on the resistant boy as he walked back to the house.

                            "No! Someone help me!" Jacob yelled into the forest, trying to twist and turn out of his captor's grasp.

                            "Jacob! Calm Down!" Simon scolded him, already irritated that he had to run so far to fetch the fleeing child. He knew that there was no one in earshot of the boy's screams since the lakeside home was relatively secluded. In fact, the closest neighbor was a few miles away.

                            When he began to climb the porch steps, the little boy screamed with desperation evident in his voice, "Help!"

                            His kicking and writhing intensified so much that Simon struggled to suppress the urge to land a spank on the child's rear end. He really wasn't one for corporal punishment, but Jacob's behavior aggravated him. The little boy had made such a short trip exceptionally difficult.

                            As soon as they entered the house, Simon went to the living room and released the squirming child into the playpen. He stood inches away rubbing at his sore muscles for a moment before Angelique made her way downstairs.

                            "I heard the commotion outside. What happened?" she asked, standing at the bottom of the stairs in a bathrobe.

                            Still recovering from sprinting, Simon huffed before he explained, "When I turned around for just a second to open the door, Jacob ran down the path to the forest."

                            Jacob quickly stood up, propping himself against the rail of the playpen. "Damn right I did, and you're absolutely out of your mind if you think I'll ever stop trying to escape," he confidently declared to them. He intended to shatter any delusions his captors might have of the three of them existing as a happy family.

                            "We aren't trying to harm you," Angelique clarified in a gentle voice.

                            "Then just let me go, you sick fucks."

                            "Language, Jacob," Simon promptly reprimanded him.

                            "You aren't my father. Shut the hell up," Jacob sharply retorted.

                            Simon pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath trying to keep his cool. "Okay, Jacob. You will remain in the playpen until you've calmed down enough to have a chat about your behavior and what our expectations are going forward."

                            "Oh, you'll leave me the hell alone like I've been asking you to? Great!"

                            Simon shook his head disapprovingly, and without saying another word, he walked into the kitchen where Angelique joined him right away.

                            Sitting in the middle of the playpen, Jacob could hear them having a conversation, but they were far away enough that he couldn't make out what they were saying, not that it mattered to him. The only thing on his mind was enduring his time in captivity and plotting his future escape attempts.

                            Jacob ruminated over his failed escape attempt. He had been so close to the forest. He couldn't believe Simon was able to catch up to him so quickly, but the young man attributed it to his toddler body. If he hadn't been so far regressed, he would have easily been able to evade Simon in the forest.

                            He wasn't sure if he was going to have another chance at escape any time soon. He imagined that it would probably be a few days before either of them slipped up, but he resolved to wait it out. He was confident that another opportunity would present itself, and he just needed to be ready.

                            About fifteen minutes later, Simon approached the playpen.

                            "Ready to talk?" he asked, peering down to make eye contact with the defiant child.

                            "Fuck off," Jacob replied, scowling at his former therapist.

                            "Alright then," he replied in a level tone and walked back into the kitchen.

                            Jacob sat silently taking in the layout of the living room. It was an open floor plan which would make his future escape attempts particularly difficult. He wondered what was behind the closed door near the stairs. Another possible exit would be a blessing since it was clear that he wouldn't be able to escape from any of the windows upstairs with how small his body was.

                            After about another half-hour, Angelique came by to place a blue plastic bowl in the playpen. "I made you a burrito for dinner, and I brought you some warm milk to go along with it." She said as she placed a sippy cup of milk in the playpen.

                            Jacob didn't even realize he was hungry until he was assaulted by the tantalizing smell of the burrito, but he refused to even consider eating it. At that point, he felt confident they would resort to drugging him. It was clear they had been enjoying the docile toddler he was before, and if he wanted to escape, he needed his wits to remain unhampered.

                            He scooted into the corner of his prison and sat with his head resting against the padded corner. His stomach rumbled in protest, but he simply closed his eyes and focused on assessing weaknesses of his captors that he could exploit in the future.

                            About fifteen minutes later, Simon abruptly interrupted his musings, "Why won't you eat?" he asked in a no-nonsense tone.

                            Jacob scoffed. "I'm not gullible enough to think you psychos aren't trying to drug me."

                            The older man's face twitched into a smile. "Jacob, if we were willing to go that far to control your behavior, don't you think we would just inject you?"

                            Stunned into silence, Jacob felt foolish. He didn't have a counter ready because he really hadn't thought of that.

                            Simon was pleased to see the embarrassment creep into the child's face. He felt like was finally getting through to him, and he hoped this was the beginning of the blatant disrespect finally coming to an end.

                            "Eat," he instructed, walking back into the kitchen to finish cleaning up.

                            Jacob waited until Simon had walked back into the kitchen before crawling over to the bowl and sniffing the burrito. The seasoned beans and grilled chicken certainly smelled appetizing, and his mouth watered. He took tentative bites of the burrito, reminding himself that he needed to have energy for his next escape attempt.

                            After his hunger was satiated, he had been nodding off in the corner of the playpen intermittently for about an hour before Angelique took pity on him.

                            "Time for bed, mister grumpy pants," she announced.

                            He didn't have the energy to do more than glare up at her when she lifted him up.

                            They made the walk to the nursery in silence until Angelique laid him on the changing table and noticed a few cuts on his feet.

                            "Do those cuts hurt?"

                            He was confused for a second until he tilted the bottom of his feet into his view and saw some shallow cuts that weren't even bleeding.

                            "No, not really."

                            "Hm," she muttered, removing his clothes and tossing them into the hamper.

                            Jacob was barely awake while she changed him. He didn't offer any resistance when she put the clean pair of pajamas on him.

                            Once he was fully dressed, he was left dozing off on the changing table while Angelique went over to grab a pair of socks from the chest of drawers. He woke up again when she took him to the bathroom and sat him on the counter.

                            Angelique gathered a few items from the medicine cabinet before gently cleaning the bottom of his feet with alcohol. She soothingly blew on it until it dried. After Angelique rubbed some first aid ointment on his feet, she covered them with the pair of socks.

                            Once they got back to the nursery, she laid the child in the crib and tucked him in with a thick blanket.

                            "Goodnight, Jacob. Sweet dreams," she said turning on the mobile above him and flipping the light switch to the nursery.

                            After Angelique closed the door behind her, Jacob laid in the crib contemplating what the future would hold for him. He was ashamed of his complacent behavior after he ate, but his escape attempt had already drained most of his energy. Having a full stomach on top of that was just too much. He resolved to resist as much as he could when he woke up tomorrow.

                            He turned onto his side trying not to look at the stupid mobile above him, and quickly fell into a deep sleep.

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                              #15
                              Chapter 14: Jacob's Anger

                              The next morning Simon woke up before the sun rose. He had gone to sleep around when Angelique put Jacob to bed which was quite early for him. He was a bit of a night owl, but dealing with Jacob's escape attempt had exhausted him.

                              Fully dressed after her shower, Angelique walked back in the room on her way to the nursery. Seeing that her husband was awake uncharacteristically early, she softly asked, "Did I wake you?"

                              "No, I think I woke up on my own," he said, stretching his legs and standing up.

                              "Jacob's already got you waking up early. By next week, you'll have gray hairs sprouting," she teased.

                              Simon shook his head, and chuckled. "Speaking of the little devil, I'll get him this morning if you don't mind."

                              "I don't. That will be great actually. I can get started in the kitchen once I'm done here." She explained, straightening the sheets and fluffing the pillows.

                              Simon went into the bathroom where he got ready for the day and mentally prepared to deal with the insolence he anticipated from Jacob.

                              ****

                              Jacob's blissful sleep gradually came to an end after the first ray of sunlight shone in his eyes. He turned over and pulled the blanket over his head, hoping to get a few extra minutes of rest. He longed to return to his dreams as they were his only escape from his new reality of being held captive.

                              He sighed, accepting that he wasn't going to fall back to sleep again and pulled the sheet from his face. It took a short moment before his eyes adjusted to the light in the room.

                              Stretching his muscles and blinking his eyes, he yawned. It wasn't until he shifted onto his side that he realized he was sitting in a wet diaper. That was one of the hardest parts about his regression for the young man. He was consistently being betrayed by his own body in his sleep.

                              Standing in the crib, he pulled down his pants and kicked them off. He quickly ripped off the tabs securing his diaper and tossed it over to the opposite corner of the crib. Feeling particularly spiteful, he decided to get his morning pee out of the way and stood over the diaper, relieving himself onto it.

                              Assuming it wouldn't be too long before one of his kidnappers showed up, he began climbing out of the crib. He thought he might be able to get away while they were still asleep, assuming they hadn't latched both of the doors.

                              When Simon entered the nursery, his eyes immediately widened seeing the little boy in the process of climbing out of the crib.

                              "Shit!" Jacob exclaimed as his foot slipped. He kicked at the wooden bars trying to reclaim his footing. Without the support of his feet, he slid down the bars, and the following collision of his hand with the side of the crib caused him to unintentionally release his grip.

                              "Jacob!" Simon shouted, rushing forward and catching the falling child. "What were you thinking?" he admonished, placing the boy on his feet.

                              Jacob didn't reply. The reality of how close he had just come to a really bad injury wasn't lost on him.

                              "What happened to your diaper?" Simon asked, scanning the room.

                              The young man didn't even remember that his lower half was exposed until Simon pointed it out. Somehow, he didn't think about putting his pants back on before trying to climb out of the crib. He felt the blood rushing to his face but quickly stifled the embarrassment. Determined not to show any weakness, he mustered up as much bravado as he could.

                              "I left it in my cage, but don't worry. I did make sure to use it." Jacob answered with a wicked smile on his face.

                              Furrowing his brows, Simon peered into the crib to locate the worn diaper. As soon as he did, his nose was immediately assaulted by the unpleasant smell of urine emanating from it. Eyeballing the pale-yellow mixing into the light-blue color of the sheet below the diaper, he hoped the mattress wasn't ruined.

                              It would be one thing if the mess was accidental, but the older man knew Jacob had only done it to aggravate him. It was a disgusting way to rebel, and Simon certainly wasn't looking forward to cleaning it up. His day had just begun, and already the child was testing his patience.

                              He turned back to face the little boy and firmly reprimanded him, wagging his finger in the air, "Do not do that again. If you remove your diaper without permission, there will be consequences."

                              Jacob scoffed. "I'd love to see you try to stop me."

                              Simon raised an eyebrow. "Do you really want to have mittens put on your hands?"

                              Jacob's face fell when he narrowed his eyes. "You wouldn't."

                              "If you do it again, that's exactly what's going to happen. Is that understood?"

                              The little boy scowled but didn't respond.

                              "Jacob, is that understood?" Simon questioned, staring down at the little boy with a no-nonsense look on his face.

                              "Yes," Jacob reluctantly responded. Averting his eyes, he asked, "So, can I get my pants back now?"

                              "Hm." Simon paused. "Since you're already partially undressed, you might as well have your bath before breakfast," he decided, stooping down and pulling the pajama top off of the little boy.

                              After lowering the bars of the crib, Simon made quick work of stripping the soiled sheets off. As he tossed the linens into the hamper, he had never been more appreciative of the waterproof mattress protector. It was the only reason he wouldn't have to go to the store to get a new mattress.

                              "Come on, Jacob. The bathroom is just around the corner. Follow me," he instructed, opening the door and waiting for Jacob to walk through.

                              The young man briefly considered running down the stairs, but he resisted the temptation. He had to remind himself that escape would only come if he was willing to patiently wait for the right opportunity. He knew there wasn't any point in unsuccessful escape attempts. They would only force his kidnappers to be more cautious, and that wouldn't help him get away. He needed to get them to let their guard down, at least just a little bit.

                              Simon strolled into the bathroom with Jacob following closely behind. He grabbed a clean towel as well as a washcloth and folded them both over the towel rack. He lifted the naked boy and sat him on the counter next to the sink.

                              "Your teeth need to be brushed." Simon said, rinsing Jacob's toothbrush and squeezing a glob of toothpaste onto it. "Open up."

                              Jacob's left eye twitched. This was a whole new low. He barely even remembered the last time his mother had brushed his teeth for him when he was a child.

                              He took a deep calming breath and opened his mouth, loathing what he was about to experience. Trying not to make eye contact with Simon while his pride took a major hit, he focused on the bathroom decorations.

                              Like the nursery, the bathroom also had an ocean theme. The shower curtain was blue with a wavy design and there were a few sea animal toys situated on the rim of the tub. The mats were light blue, and the tub was ivory white. When Simon allowed him to rinse, he noticed the that soap dispenser was also decorated with sea creatures.

                              Turning off the faucet, Simon sat Jacob in the tub and turned on the warm water. They waited in silence for water level to rise. When Simon turned the water off, Jacob abruptly interrupted the silence.

                              "What is it that you want from me?" he asked in an exacerbated tone of voice.

                              "Less defiance and a lot more compliance would be a great start," Simon cheekily responded, scrubbing the little boy's back with the washcloth.

                              "No, why am I here? Why won't you just let me go?" he questioned, his frustration causing his voice to crack.

                              "Do you remember when we talked about your wounded inner child in therapy?"

                              Jacob blinked a few times, unsure of where Simon was going. "Yes, and I told you the exercise was pointless?"

                              "You certainly did, but it wasn't pointless. It was a necessary step in your healing process. Since you refused to do it on your own, the drug the doctor gave you is supposed to give you a chance to become him again. We will have the chance to do the necessary re-parenting you wouldn't do."

                              "Of course, it doesn't it matter what I want. Does it?"

                              "No, not after you decided to end your life," Simon clarified.

                              Jacob sighed. He allowed the silence to return, not wanting to waste energy trying to continue the conversation. He had endured the same circular argument enough times already. It was like no one seemed to understand that he had the right to choose to end his life. He accepted that they weren't going to change their mind and he wasn't going to change his.

                              He figured it didn't matter anyways. Once he got away and found a doctor who was able to fix him back, he'd be free to end his life like he had planned. While Simon finished rinsing him and drying him, he spent the time silently fantasizing about the adult freedoms he would be sure to enjoy at least one more time.

                              When they were finished in the bathroom, Simon took him to the nursery and diapered him. "Remember, you are not allowed to take this off. Do not do it again," he warned the little boy.

                              Jacob rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I got it."

                              "Good, well it's almost time for breakfast," he said, once he finished clothing Jacob. He lifted him from the changing table, and when they entered the kitchen, Angelique promptly asked, "What kept you?"

                              "I decided to give Jacob a bath since he chose to remove his diaper without permission and left a mess in the crib for me to clean."

                              "Wow, quite the morning," she commented with an astonished expression on her face.

                              "Indeed. Well, let's get you in your high chair so we can finish with breakfast."

                              "What? No, I'm not sitting in a high chair. I'm not a fucking baby," Jacob snapped.

                              It was all too much for the young man. He'd already suffered through being bathed, changed and clothed. He wasn't even allowed to brush his own teeth. Now, they expected him to sit in a high chair like he wasn't capable of sitting in a regular dining chair without falling over.

                              "Jacob, language! From now on, we will not tolerate any more swearing. Every time you use a curse word, you're getting five minutes in timeout," Simon chastised.

                              He grabbed Jacob by his arm and walked over to the cabinet, removing a small stepping stool and placing it in the nearby corner of the kitchen.

                              "You will sit here for five minutes while we finish getting breakfast ready. Use this time to think about how you can avoid swearing in the future," Simon directed the little boy, pointing at the stool.

                              Biting his tongue, Jacob complied. He slowly lowered himself onto the stool without argument, not wanting to make the situation worse. He was supposed to be getting them to let their guard down, and somehow, he already got in trouble before he even had breakfast.

                              He took the time to dig into the depths of his soul, hoping to summon all the willpower he possessed. He anticipated that he'd need every bit of it to stick to the plan. He couldn't escape with the two of them watching his every movement.

                              For just a second, he actually felt shame over his behavior, and it deeply concerned him. It was far too soon for them to be getting in his head. He took a deep breath and reminded himself that he had every right to be pissed off. They were the ones who continued trying to baby him. He didn't ask for it.

                              Jacob's stomach growled loudly, distracting him from his thoughts. From his seat in the corner, he could easily spot the sectioned tray that was meant for him. He didn't plan to ever admit it out loud, but Angelique was better than any cook he had ever come into contact with. All of the meals he'd received so far were absolutely divine. He was undeniably looking forward to this one, and he licked his lips in anticipation.

                              Simon made eye contact with him and approached the little boy. "Your five minutes are up. Are you ready to have breakfast?"

                              "Yes," Jacob responded, carefully limiting his speech. He didn't want to risk another timeout with how hungry he was. This time, he didn't complain when Simon deposited him in the high chair. His attention was completely fixated on satisfying his fierce hunger.

                              Angelique placed a plate of sliced boiled eggs, avocados and small waffles on the tray of the high chair, and Jacob devoured it in a few short minutes. Filling his stomach as quickly as he did, he barely had time to taste any of the food, and when he was done, he quickly washed down the food with the cup of milk.

                              Releasing a soft burp, he leaned back in his chair and wondered what the two of them had planned for the rest of the day. Closing his eyes and succumbing to his drowsiness, he meditated on how he was going to continue to keep his temper in check to win over his kidnappers and secure his freedom.

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