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|Andrew woke up to the sound of his father banging on his bedroom door.
�Andrew, wake up; you�re on the news again!� Sam shouted.
Andrew quickly got into his robe and came down into the living room.
�And our top story is once again Andrew Pearson: our local superman,� said the reporter. �This time, Andrew has found cars too light, so he has switched to vans.�
The screen switched to footage of Andrew military pressing Margaret�s red van in Alexander�s cavern. Then the screen switched again, to an interview with Steve.
�How does it feel to be the best friend of a man with superhuman strength?� the reporter asked Steve. �Are you jealous at all?�
�It feels great,� Steve replied. �Andrew was the one whose strength allowed Orillia District to win the city championship for the first time in years. As to your second question, yes I do feel a little jealous, but I hope this interview will make up for it. Hopefully, this will give Andrew the recognition he deserves.�
�It will indeed,� agreed the reporter. �If you�re watching Andrew, we will be coming by your house at 9 am to interview you. That�s all for now: this is Julia Burke sending it back to the News Centre. Lance?�
�Thanks Julia,� said the main news anchor, Lance Chilton. �In other news, the sudden reappearance of Alexander and Max Collins had prompted police to wonder: where have these men been for the last 20 years?�
�Well, there you have it Andrew,� said Sam, turning off the TV. �You have once again put our town on the map.� He looked over at Andrew, who was sitting on the sofa with an expressionless face. �What�s wrong son?�
�I think we need to talk, Dad,� Andrew replied, �about who authorized Marge to turn me into a huge freak, and who videotaped me without my knowledge.�
�Now hold on son,� began Sam, �just wait a min��
�No you hold on!� snapped Andrew. �This is precisely what I was trying to avoid: a media frenzy! Don�t you think if I wanted the news to know I could bench a van, I would have told them myself? And who exactly authorized Marge to enhance my adrenaline anyway? I went to the Space Station Sickbay to have my ribs repaired, not to be turned into Superman!�
Sam was stunned by Andrew�s sudden outburst, and had nothing to say for a few moments.
�How did you find out about the adrenal enhancement?� he asked finally.
�Oh I don�t know Dad, how about the first time I benched a car?� asked Andrew sarcastically. �I think it was pretty obvious by then that I was no longer a normal football player. I had some external help, didn�t I?�
�Some external stimulation of your adrenal gland actually,� Sam corrected him. �When Marge told us how you took four bullets with just an adrenaline surge, she noticed that you had superhuman potential. She asked us if we would like to have you permanently enhanced to that level and beyond. We thought of how it would help your chances of getting into a good football school, so we agreed.�
�Without even consulting me?� asked Andrew. �I had to hear it from Marge and George. Why didn�t you tell me?�
�We were afraid you would tell all your friends and get all their hopes up,� Sam replied. �Marge has been looking for a while for a human who is compatible with the adrenal enhancement program, but you were the first one she found. A careful DNA scan, from the fingerprints you left on the food plates, revealed that you would show the most response to the program. Steve is the next most compatible, but nowhere near your level. So you got the full dose, all of the prototype serum she had.�
�I see,� said Andrew. �So basically, I was your guinea pig!� He began walking towards his father, who backed up to match Andrew�s forward pace. �I�m just a big medical experiment to you, am I?�
�You don�t know how much we had riding on you!� Sam snapped. �I wasn�t quite good enough to get into the NFL so I had to settle for Business Management instead! I didn�t want my son to lose the same opportunity I did! So I gave you a little help!�
�Didn�t you think I was good enough on my own?� Andrew asked, shocked at his father�s revelation. �And what are you complaining about? You�re a millionaire!�
�Yes, now!� exclaimed Sam. �But it took me almost 30 years to reach that point. I wished I could be a millionaire right away, which football would have allowed me to achieve if I was just good enough. I wasn�t going to take the chance that you weren�t good enough. Besides, no one else has a problem with you being genetically enhanced. They know everything.�
�It�s not what you did, it�s the way you went about it Dad,� said Andrew, completely calm now. �You went behind my back and changed me without my permission. I was almost 18 at the time; I had a right to give consent or not.�
�We can�t reverse the process,� Sam said. �It is permanent. I�m sorry we didn�t tell you, but we thought you would become drunk with power. Obviously we were wrong: it seems to have undermined your self-confidence. I can�t take back what I did, and I can only apologize for it. What do you say son? Can you forgive me?�
He held out his hand, and Andrew looked at it for a long moment.
�If it can�t be changed, I guess I will just have to live with it,� Andrew sighed. �But I had to let you know how I felt.� He shook his father�s hand; Sam winced and was forced to his knees from the pain. �Just remember, you created me as I am now, so you will have to live with it. I�ll just learn to enjoy it.�
�Sure son,� gasped Sam. �Could you let me go now? I can hardly feel my fingers.�
�Oops,� said Andrew, releasing his grip slightly. �You will have to guide me as I adjust to my new strength. How strong will I become anyway?�
�It is an educated guess only,� replied Sam, as Andrew guided him to a chair. �Your adrenaline levels gave us a guide to follow. Basically, you started out at 10 %, when you were able to bench-press 700 pounds.�
�Seems like a long time ago,� Andrew mused. �But go on, I�m fascinated.�
�Marge�s Strength Serum had a timetable,� Sam continued. �One dose would gradually increase your adrenaline levels to 100 % over a period of 6 months. But this effect would only be noticed with a phenomenal athlete like you, who worked out every day.�
�You mean if I did nothing, there would be no change?� Andrew asked.
�That�s right son,� Sam agreed. �This serum was designed to stimulate your adrenal gland only when needed, such as during strength training. But then the results would be extreme. I�m sure you noticed them.�
�I certainly noticed when my bench-press went past 1000 pounds,� Andrew agreed. �Then I had to buy a whole new wardrobe, because all the 2XL shirts were too small.�
�Yes, Marge noticed that your final growth spurt was coming up, which would allow the serum to act more rapidly. So, you had 90 % of your potential to receive, over a period of 6 months, which would mean that your adrenaline and testosterone levels would increase by 15 % a month. This would coincide with a corresponding best-lift increase of the same magnitude.�
�So, if my math is right, my bench-press of a car, about 2000 pounds, is about 35 % of my total potential,� Andrew figured. �So I can soon look forward to lifting about 7000 pounds by the time the process is completed, in about January.�
�That�s correct son,� said Sam. �I told Mr. Malcolm everything as well, which is why he has been hyping you up to his team. I suppose you might be wondering why I received the promotion to President of the Company, instead of Nathan�s son Daniel?�
�I wasn�t actually,� Andrew replied. �I just assumed it was because of your seniority and greater experience. Is there another factor I should know about?�
�Yes,� replied Sam. �It�s you. I told Nathan about Marge�s experiment, and I am now to help the military parallel her research for our soldiers. Since we are a sports company, once the military is satisfied, the athletic community may soon be able to become part of the whole phenomenon.�
�You mean my change may soon help many more people?� asked Andrew.
�Yes son,� Sam answered. �You got so mad, you must have forgotten the potential benefits the serum could have for everyone. And it is all thanks to you, the successful first test case. Think about that the next time you feel tempted to reject this wonderful gift that we have given you.�
�I will Dad,� said Andrew, humbled by what his father had revealed to him.
�Well, if I�ve answered all you questions son, I think we should get ready for the interview,� Sam decided. �I hope this information will help your self-confidence.�
�I think it will,� Andrew agreed. �I used to think I was becoming a freak, but it seems more like I might be the prototype of the next step in human evolution.�
�Don�t go too far the other way,� Sam warned him. �I don�t want you to get a Superman complex. Just appreciate your new strength without letting it go to your head.�
�It seems to be a tricky balance,� Andrew said. �How exactly do I do that?�
�I�ll help you during the interview,� Sam decided.
�How much does the New VR know about the whole thing?� Andrew asked.
�They know everything; Marge told them,� Sam replied. �We both felt it was important to get everything out in the open before people started asking questions. This helped us get government funding for our research.�
�All this in a few months?� Andrew asked. �Is that why you weren�t at any football games except for the last one?�
�That�s right son,� Sam replied. �But I was also busy with the transfer of power in the company, assuming the President�s role and everything.�
�That�s okay Dad,� Andrew said. �I�m sorry I got so mad earlier; I was just hurt that you didn�t tell me all this before.�
�I didn�t want you to get your hopes up in case the serum didn�t fulfill expectations,� Sam said. �But it did, so everything is fine.�
�Well, I guess we should get ready for the interview,� Andrew said.
�Relax, it�s not until 9, and it�s only 7 am now,� Sam assured him. �You go upstairs, get dressed, and I�ll make breakfast.�
�Who are you ordering around?� growled Andrew jokingly. He advanced on his father and held him up with one arm. �You think you can tell me what to do, little man?�
�I made you mister, and I can break you just as easily!� snapped Sam jokingly.
�Yeah right,� sneered Andrew, setting Sam down on the floor. �Not even Steve can hurt me, with his best shot!�
�Well, don�t ask me to try,� said Sam. �Now get upstairs.�
Andrew glared at him and then grinned.
�I mean �would you please go upstairs and get dressed sir,�� Sam said in a fake scared voice. �Is that what you wanted to hear?�
�I�d be lying if I said I didn�t love it when people treat me like their boss,� Andrew grinned. �It really helps my self-confidence.�
�Get used to it son,� Sam said, as Andrew headed upstairs. �This is just the beginning.�
About 20 minutes later, Andrew came back down, completely filling out his 3XL t-shirt.
�I see you may soon need a wardrobe size change again,� remarked Sam, looking up from the pancakes he was making.
�I now weigh 350 pounds,� Andrew grinned. �And it�s all muscle!�
�That�s great son,� Sam said. �I�m very proud of you.�
�Thanks,� said Andrew, shaking his hand. Sam only winced slightly. �I guess I almost got the pressure light enough. I feel like I am getting stronger everyday.�
�You are son,� Sam assured him. �How are you going to work out now? Lifting cars will attract too much attention.�
�That�s a good question,� realized Andrew. �I�m not exactly sure. I haven�t actually set foot in the school weight room since the summer. I don�t want to make everyone jealous. I have just used my weights at home, and in Marge�s Gravity Chamber.�
�I�m sure you�ll find a way,� Sam said, as he finished cooking the pancakes.
They soon had breakfast, and then got dressed for the interview. Sarah and Mrs. Pearson had gone away for the weekend.
At 9 am, the VR reporters knocked on the front door.
Andrew opened the door, and the reporter, Rob Cooper, recoiled when he saw the huge form of Andrew filling the doorway.
�It�s okay,� Andrew said. �I won�t hurt anyone. Come on in.�
Rob gulped and stepped over the doorstep and into the house.
�So what did you want to talk to me about?� Andrew asked, as the cameras started rolling.
�Basically, how you became so strong in the first place,� Rob replied. �I�m not sure if your father told you everything.�
�Everything?� asked Andrew, glancing over at his father. �Is there something else I should know, Dad?�
�You didn�t tell him?� Rob asked Sam.
�Tell me what?� asked Andrew.
�Marge extracted a sample of your adrenal gland while you were unconscious on the Space Station,� Sam replied. �She then had the doctors purify the adrenaline by extracting all the extra material that kept it from functioning at the proper level. Then the doctors re-injected the purified adrenaline into the gland itself. So over time, the gland produced purer forms of adrenaline, which greatly increased your strength.�
�So basically no foreign substances were introduced,� Andrew realized, �therefore minimizing any harmful immune response.�
�That�s it exactly,� said Rob. �That was a very scientific analysis by the way.�
�My son�s a really smart man,� Sam said proudly. �He�s going to University of Miami on an academic scholarship, as well as his football one.�
�Aw, stop it Dad,� said Andrew modestly. �You�re embarrassing me!�
�Don�t think of your accomplishments as embarrassing; enjoy them,� Sam admonished Andrew. �He has a little problem with shyness,� he said to Rob.
�That�s okay Andrew,� Rob said. �That�s why everyone loves you; you�re so modest. I seem to remember that the owner of McDonalds on Memorial Avenue had something to say about that.�
�You mean �that�s why everyone loves you man. You haven�t let the attention go to your head. You�re the most down-to-earth guy I know�?� Andrew asked, grinning.
�Wow!� said Rob in shock, checking his notepad. �That�s an exact quote, from memory! You have a photographic memory too? How high is your IQ anyway?�
�Oh I don�t remember,� said Andrew modestly. �High enough.�
�Don�t be modest,� said Sam. �Are you going to tell him, or do I have to get the report?�
�No Dad, don�t,� said Andrew, catching his father�s arm gently. �I�ll tell him, if he comes close enough to whisper it into his ear.�
Rob came over, and Andrew leaned down almost a foot to whisper the value to him.
�150?� asked Rob loudly in shock. �That makes you Highly Gifted! Or some tests would call that level Genius, which would put you at the IQ level of some University Professors! Way to go Andrew!�
�I guess I have it all: brains and brawn, eh?� Andrew said to Rob with a big grin. �Any more questions?�
�No, I think that�s all for now,� said Rob. �Congratulations on getting into Miami, and for helping O.D. win the City Championship. I hear they have been after that trophy for years. Thanks to you, they finally got it. Just in time too, since it�s your last year here.�
�Thank you very much,� said Andrew. �Well, let�s show you out.�
As they headed outside, Rob turned back to Andrew.
�Actually, there is one more thing I would like to ask you.�
�Let me guess,� said Andrew, grinning. �You�d either like an autograph, or you want me to bench a car or the news van.�
�How about both,� agreed Rob. �Let�s see what you�ve got, Andrew.�
�Okay,� agreed Andrew. �Get ready.�
He walked over to the news van, tipped it up, and then put it above his shoulders. Then he started military pressing it. He pushed himself past five, even though his face turned red from the effort, and managed to complete ten reps. Then he set the van back down, and turned to Rob.
�How was that?� Andrew asked, breathing heavily.
�That was amazing,� Rob said. �But hardly unexpected given what we know of your potential. I can see how you got into Miami. I bet the players and coaches were just as impressed as we all are.�
�I must admit I was not prepared for such a passionate response to my arrival,� Andrew said. �But I loved it. It�s great to be a football star.�
�Thanks for the interview Andrew,� said Rob, shaking his hand. �We�ll get this footage to the News Centre and have you as the Top Story by 12:30 pm.�
�Okay Mr. Cooper,� said Andrew. �See you later.�
As Rob left, Sam came up to Andrew, and said, �That was a great interview son. I�m glad your self-confidence increased as the interview went on.�
�Thanks Dad,� said Andrew. �As embarrassing as I find the attention, I am trying to enjoy it without getting too cocky.�
�I think you got it about right,� said Sam. �You had the right mix of pride and modesty.�
Andrew then went inside and worked out in his room. Sam went to work on some reports for the office.
At 12:30, Sam had the VCR all ready, and recorded Andrew�s segment as the Top Story and Athlete of the Week. Andrew had left two hours before to pick up Carrie.
Across town, in the South End, one person was not pleased at all when he watched Andrew�s story on the news. Daniel Harrington, son of Nathan Harrington, the old president of Sam�s Sports Company, smashed the TV screen with his fist.
�I hate Andrew!� he screamed in frustration, not feeling the blood running down his fist. �He wins at everything: the City Championship, the Miami Scholarship, and now the Top Story on the news! I can�t stand it anymore! I�ll kill him!�
He grabbed his father�s rifle, after smashing the glass door of the gun cabinet with his fist, and ran out of the house. Daniel was a big man, about 6 foot 6, and 260 pounds, and looked terrifying when he was mad. He jumped into his truck and headed off to look for Andrew.
Andrew and Carrie were driving to Margaret�s house to fill her in on the news story. Carrie had come over as soon as the interview ended, since Andrew had called her about and told her about the interview. She and Andrew now headed down the snowy road to Margaret�s house. They had spent about an hour parked in Andrew�s driveway talking.
Halfway to Margaret�s house, they came across a car smashed into a tree, having gone through a fence first.
�You call 911!� yelled Andrew, hopping out of his car. �I�ll help the driver!�
Carrie pulled out her cell phone and started dialling, as Andrew rushed over to the car and pulled it back to the side of the road. He tried to pull the car door open, but it was too warped. So he simply ripped it off the hinges, tossed it aside, and pulled out the occupant of the car.
The lady, who was Meagan, Sam�s new secretary, woke up as Andrew carried her out of the car. Andrew set her on her feet.
�Are you okay?� Andrew asked.
�I am now,� gasped Meagan in gratitude. She hugged Andrew in gratitude and gave him a big kiss on the cheek, just as Carrie turned around.
�What is this?� she snapped to Andrew. �I turn my back for a second and you make out with your father�s new secretary?�
�Wait, Carrie!� said Andrew, as Carrie ran to his car.
He tried to catch her, but she started the car and drove off, too quickly for Andrew to do anything.
�Rats!� he screamed in frustration. �Now we have to walk!�
�It�s okay Andrew,� Meagan said, laying a hand on his shoulder.
�Don�t touch me!� Andrew snapped, shoving her hand off his shoulder. �It�s your fault! Whatever possessed you to hug and kiss me, with my girlfriend standing right there! Now she�ll probably never speak to me again!�
�I was just so grateful that you saved me,� Meagan said. �I didn�t mean to get so carried away. You must know that.�
�Well, we might as well wait for the tow truck,� sighed Andrew. �Even I can�t pull this car all the way downtown.�
So Andrew and Meghan waited. They never thought to look behind the snow bank on the left side of the road, or they would have seen Daniel hiding there. He grinned; pleased at the misery he had caused Andrew and Carrie. Daniel had hidden behind the snow bank, and silently shot out Meagan�s tires as she drove by. He didn�t know it was her; he just shot out the tires of the first car that drove by, knowing that Andrew would be coming that way. He knew that Andrew�s heroic instincts would kick in and that anyone he rescued would be really grateful. Now he planned to kill Andrew with the sniper rifle, once he got him alone.
20 minutes later, the tow truck came. Andrew helped the driver get Meagan�s car hooked up and then they got into the tow truck. The driver took them to a body shop on Memorial Avenue. Meagan went inside, after thanking Andrew one last time. Andrew headed home, which was a long walk away. That was just what Daniel was waiting for: Andrew alone at last, and a perfect target.
Daniel roared up to Andrew in his truck, stuck his rifle out the passenger window and fired twice. Andrew dodged behind a barrel, having heard the squeal of tires. But the bullets penetrated the barrel and Andrew. Daniel drove off in his truck before he could see the results of his attack. Andrew caught his license number as he stood up.
�I guess Daniel missed me,� Andrew said. �He had better learn to shoot straighter next time.� Then he looked down to see his shirt soaked with blood. �Rats: I just bought this shirt!� he snapped.
Andrew lifted up his shirt and saw two shotgun bullet holes, one in his right side, and one in his chest. He quickly put his jacket on to hide the wounds and headed for the nearby Soldier�s Memorial Hospital.
�I would have thought that rifle bullets would have more effect on me than handgun bullets,� he said to himself. �I guess I was wrong. No reason to get too mad at Daniel personally, since his attack had minimal effect on me. But he�s going to go away for a long time for attempted murder. I�d better get to the police station after the hospital.�
Once in the hospital, Andrew went up to the reception desk and asked for Dr. Johnson.
�Is it an emergency?� asked the receptionist. �He�s really busy right now.�
�I�ll say it�s an emergency,� replied Andrew, holding open his jacket.
�Oh my!� gasped the nurse in shock. �How can you possibly be conscious, much less standing, with those bullet wounds?�
�I�m very strong,� replied Andrew. �Hurry and get Dr. Johnson before I bleed all over the floor.�
The receptionist went away quickly and came back with Dr. Johnson.
�Come with me Andrew,� he said. As they walked down the hall, he asked: �How do you feel? Your father filled me in on your amazing strength.�
�I feel a little numb around the wounds, as well as a little weak,� Andrew replied. �These bullets have more effect on me than handgun bullets.�
�Well, don�t worry, I�ll take them out,� replied Dr. Johnson. �Who did this to you?�
�I�d rather not say without more evidence to prove it,� replied Andrew, �though these bullet casings may help.� He held up the rifle bullet casings, wrapped in a paper towel. �And once you extract the bullets from me, I�ll take them to the Police Station. Then they should be able to match them to the rifle that fired them.�
�Good idea,� said Dr. Johnson, as he sterilized a pair of tweezers. �Do you want a local anaesthetic or some numbing cream before I remove the bullets?�
�No, I�d prefer to test the limits of my pain tolerance,� replied Andrew.
�Okay,� agreed Dr. Johnson. �Get ready.�
He carefully inserted the tweezers into the chest wound, and got hold of the bullet, which he could see gleaming in the hole in Andrew�s flesh. He pulled out the bullet, and was amazed to see Andrew sitting there perfectly relaxed, showing no signs of any pain or discomfort.
�Your strength continually amazes me,� he said, shaking his head. �Even after reading all the reports Sam gave me of the adrenaline purifying process, it�s amazing to see the results in person.� He looked at Andrew�s right side, which was bruised all around the bullet hole. �Looks like broken ribs to me,� he said to Andrew. �I must insist on putting you out while I extract this bullet. I don�t want you moving one bit, during this very delicate procedure.�
�Okay Doctor,� agreed Andrew. �I hope you have enough General Anaesthetic to do the job. I have a tremendous lung capacity.�
�We�ll soon find out,� said Dr. Johnson, coming over with the mask. He slipped it onto Andrew�s face and said, �Count backwards from 100 please.�
�Why backwards?� asked Andrew. �Why from 100?� he added as the gas started flowing.
�It is the maximum amount we have,� replied Dr. Johnson. �You�re not counting Andrew. Please cooperate.�
�100, 99, 98,� Andrew began.
Dr. Johnson stood waiting patiently, amazed when Andrew kept counting past 90, the point most patients were out by. Finally, Andrew was out by the count of 50.
�Amazing, simply amazing,� Dr. Johnson said to himself as he worked. �Andrew is the strongest patient I have ever seen in all my years of medical practice.�
It took 30 minutes for Andrew�s procedure to be finished and he finally woke up.
�How did it go Doctor?� he asked Dr. Johnson, as he stood up.
�Longer than it should have,� replied Dr. Johnson. �I had to give you more anaesthetic halfway through because you began to wake up too soon. But I managed to extract the bullet, which had shattered two ribs on the way in. I taped up your ribs; so don�t be surprised if you feel stiff. No stretching either.�
�Thank you Doctor,� said Andrew, putting his coat on.
�Where do you think you�re going?� Doctor Johnson asked him. �You need rest!�
�I�ll get all the rest I need once the person who did this is behind bars,� Andrew informed the Doctor. �The bullets please.� He held out his hand and took the bag with the bullets out of Doctor Johnson�s hands. �Thank you Doctor, now I have to go.�
�I can�t let you leave,� the Doctor insisted, standing in Andrew�s path. �All patients must have 24 hours of observation after surgery of this kind.�
�Do you really think you can keep me here against my will?� asked Andrew. �I�m 18 now, and that means you would be forcibly confining an adult. Not that any restraints could hold me anyway. And another thing: as an adult, who is no longer in his parents� custody, I am ordering you to keep this visit confidential. The less people who know I got hurt, the better chance of getting a confession from the person who did this to me.�
As he spoke, he slipped his hands around Dr. Johnson�s waist and simply set him aside as if he weighed nothing.
�Uh, I guess you can go then,� stammered Dr. Johnson, amazed at Andrew�s strength, even while injured. �Be sure to come back if you feel any pain or weakness.�
�I will Doctor,� Andrew assured him. �Thank you for all your help. Goodbye.�
Andrew then walked out of the hospital, showing no signs that he had ever been injured.
He headed to the nearest phone and called a cab to take him to the OPP Headquarters where Sam worked. Once the cab arrived, Andrew got in and had the driver take him to the police station. There, Andrew explained everything to Sam and the Chief and gave them the bullets and the bullet shells. Sam and the Chief were as amazed as Dr. Johnson that Andrew showed no pain from his injuries.
�We have enough testimony from you to obtain a search warrant for Daniel�s house,� The Chief said. �But we have to tread carefully. We will run the bullets to make sure they match the rifle that is registered to his father Nathan, and then get the warrant to search the house for the rifle. We will also look for any fingerprints on these bullets and compare them to the birth records of his son to see if we can obtain a match.�
Sam and the Chief quietly explained their plan for Andrew to get Daniel to confess to the shooting.
Andrew then went home for the party. This party was to be held by the friends of Andrew�s father, to celebrate him becoming President of the Barrie Sports Company. Andrew quickly got changed and stuffed his bloodstained shirt in the garbage. Then he came downstairs as the first of the guests came in. Daniel came in behind his father and his jaw dropped when he saw Andrew.
�Pleased to see you again,� Andrew said.
�Oh did you see each other earlier today?� asked Nathan, having no idea about the mess that Daniel had left in the house.
�Oh yes, it was a drive by encounter,� replied Andrew, referring to Daniel�s method of shooting him as he drove by.
Daniel looked like he was about to choke on his own tongue, but he composed himself quickly.
Andrew grinned at him, thinking, �This is just the beginning of your problems.�
The next day, Andrew decided to walk over to Avondale where Carrie worked, hoping to patch things up with her. He called the store first and let Daniel know he was coming.
�Perfect,� thought Daniel, as he hung up. �I�ve got the perfect plan to get Andrew arrested. Then the police will never believe him when he tries to tell them what I did.�
He got a screwdriver out of a drawer and carefully weakened the supports on the stepladder. Then he waited for Andrew�s car to come into the parking lot.
When it finally pulled up by the front window, Daniel had Carrie climb up the ladder to get something off the top shelf. The ladder collapsed, and Daniel caught Carrie in his arms just as Andrew got out of the car. Daniel went to put Carrie down, but Andrew walked into the store and saw Carrie in his arms. Andrew�s face went red with fury and he headed for Daniel, who hastily put Carrie down.
Andrew hoisted Daniel up in the air with one arm and growled, �I�m warning you now: if you ever touch my girlfriend again, you�ll never touch anything after that! You got that, punk?�
�I-I was just saving her from the collapsing ladder,� stammered Daniel in fright. �It�s not what it looked like, man.�
�Yes, don�t hurt him Andrew!� yelled Carrie. �I have video footage to prove that what he says was true. He caught me because the ladder collapsed as I tried to get something off the top shelf.�
�Which means that me holding him up with one arm was also caught by the camera,� realized Andrew, letting Daniel down gently. Carrie showed the footage, and Andrew then said, �Sorry man, I guess I misunderstood the situation. I hope you can understand how that could happen, Carrie.�
�Are you referring to yesterday with Meagan?� Carrie asked. When Andrew nodded, she said, �I guess I can understand. Here are your car keys back.�
She handed the keys to Andrew and he stuffed them into his pocket.
�Thanks Carrie,� Andrew said. He reached into his other pocket and pulled out the bullet shells from Nathan�s rifle. �I have something of yours that you left on the street yesterday,� he said, handing them to Daniel.
Daniel was so shocked at seeing the shells that he had carelessly left behind that he blurted out, �I was never on Memorial Avenue yesterday!�
�Did I say what street they had been left on?� asked Andrew, grinning like the Cheshire cat. �Got you! How would you know the street name unless you were the person who shot me?�
Daniel realized he had been tricked, so he shoved Carrie aside and pulled out a handgun, ready to shoot Andrew.
�Go ahead,� sneered Andrew, lifting up his shirt. �The cops have enough of a confession now.� He pointed to the wire running to the transmitter in his pocket.
�You�re dead man!� screamed Daniel in fury. �I�ll finish what I started yesterday!�
He fired, destroying the wire and blasting a bullet hole in the centre of Andrew�s massive chest. Andrew headed for Daniel as the police pulled up, having been parked around the corner. Daniel was startled by Andrew�s approach and glanced out the window when he heard the sirens. That was all the time Andrew needed to crush the gun into a useless piece of scrap metal. Daniel punched Andrew in his ribs as hard as he could. Sheer force of will kept Andrew from flinching. He grabbed Daniel by the collar, trapped his hands behind his back and escorted him outside.
�You made a mistake going for the ribs that only you could know were broken,� Andrew sneered. �But that is just one of many mistakes that will put you away for a long time. Read him his rights, Sam; Carrie and I have to get to the hospital.�
The police took Daniel away and Carrie and Andrew were given a ride to the hospital. There, Doctor Johnson extracted the bullet from Andrew�s chest, which had lodged in Andrew�s breastbone, having been slowed down by his dense chest muscles. Andrew didn�t twitch as Dr. Johnson extracted the bullet carefully.
�You are an amazing example of the pain-deadening powers of Adrenaline,� Dr. Johnson said in astonishment. �Ah, here come your father and Margaret.�
Andrew�s father came into the hospital room, followed closely by Margaret.
�How is he Doctor?� Sam Pearson asked.
�He�s going to require your healing, Margaret,� Dr. Johnson replied. �But to answer your question, Sam, he is doing remarkably well, considering he has broken ribs as well.�
�I feel nothing except a slight numbness and stiffness,� Andrew said. �That discomfort only came after Daniel hit me in the ribs.�
Margaret laid her hands on Andrew�s wounds, and healed them. Andrew thanked her, stood up, and stretched.
�Thanks Margaret,� he said. �Do the police know how long Daniel will go away for?�
�He will be away for at least 10 years for attempted murder,� Sam replied. �He also sabotaged the ladder so that Carrie would fall.�
�But he did catch me to keep me from hitting the floor,� Carrie said. �Why would he do that?�
�The video footage revealed that he timed your trip up the ladder to match Andrew pulling up in his car. He probably hoped Andrew would knock him out with one punch.�
�Do you have any idea what motivated this whole thing?� asked Andrew.
�It was probably jealousy of all your achievements,� said Sam. �He also shot out the tires on Meagan�s car, causing her to run into the fence in the first place. Taking at least two or three counts of attempted murder into account, he might go away for 20 years or more. He must have known you were coming, and that you would rescue Meagan.�
�Well, I�m glad it�s all over,� Andrew said. �Can we go home now Doctor?�
�Since Margaret healed you, go ahead,� Dr. Johnson replied. �Have a good day.�
So Andrew and his friends headed home. As they left the downtown core, Andrew hoped that no more of his friends would turn against him out of jealousy.
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