Publicity

I do not own any of the characters or companies discussed in this story, nor do I own the Jurassic Park franchise or any of its components. Those belong to Steven Spielberg, Michael Crichton and David Koepp, among others. I do own this story and all parts thereof. All rights reserved to all authors and creators.

This is the first time Ian Malcolm has been alone in over half of a year, and he must say, it’s a bit of an improvement. No constant requests from doctors to rate his pain from one to ten, no rude awakenings when patients are rushed in in the middle of the night, no emergency surgeries, no traction, no painkillers, no lawyers. That was the most annoying part—the lawyers. The paparazzi and the inquisitive were never allowed into the hospital—with the exception of a Ms. Sarah Harding, but she isn’t exactly someone to complain about—but the lawyers and the PR managers and everyone else from InGen had a pipeline directly to his room. As soon as he was conscious enough to hold a pen, representatives from Hammond would come, asking him to sign stacks of papers, wringing their hands and saying, “We’d like you to be reasonable, Dr. Malcolm,” a lot. If he’d had any sense of humor at the time, he would have found it hilarious.

But now he’s thousands of miles away from San Jose, far from the hospital that was his home for six months, and back to the normal disorder of his now-filthy Austin apartment. And he’s brought back a few souvenirs—some scars, a compound fracture that’ll likely never leave him alone, and a cane. Oh, and an appointment with a physical therapist in two days, generously paid for by the International Genetics Corporation. How very kind of them.

Ian winces as he gets up out of his recliner, leaning heavily on his cane as he slowly rises. Once he’s standing and he’s caught his breath, he grabs a folder of papers from the San Jose Hospital which, more or less, confirm the fact that he was lying in one of their beds with a critical leg injury all this time. They’re all for the dean of the University of Texas at Austin’s mathematics department—even a professor, Ian thinks, laughing a little, needs a doctor’s note to get his make-up work. He sighs and tries to remember how long a walk it is from his apartment to the dean’s office. It’s been a while since he’s been on campus, and after this, a bit of catching up is in order.

xxx

Ian rubs his eyes as the cursor keeps blinking on an empty page. Three hours, and he hasn’t typed a single word. He knows for sure what he needs to do, and what he needs to do is tell everyone his story. But he can’t do that until he submits his account of what happened on the island to at least one publication, and he can’t submit the story until he writes it. He wants to put what happened into words, he really does—if he writes it out, maybe he’ll feel like he has just a little control over it. But he can’t. He can’t make himself relive what happened, and even if he could force himself to start writing, he wouldn’t know where to start.

Maybe all I need is a little break, he thinks. He sighs, minimizes the word processingdocument, limps over to his couch and plops down, grabbing the TV remote and groaning a little as pain shoots up his left leg. The television flicks on and displays one of the educational channels that Ian is a frequent purveyor of. “Through advanced computer technology and new information, we may know what these monsters were truly like,” announces a deep, dramatic voice over a shot of a jungle. “One day, we may even be able to resurrect them,” the announcer continues; a large, lizard-like creature stalks into the frame, turns to the camera and bares its jagged teeth in a snarl. The animal—Allosaurus?—suddenly lunges, snapping its jaws and letting out a blood-curdling roar. Ian hurriedly presses the power button on the remote, and the screen goes black.

His vision tunnels and he starts shaking, and isn’t really conscious of anything he’s doing until he finds himself leaned over the toilet, vomiting. Once he’s caught his breath, he rinses his mouth out and staggers back to the couch, head spinning, trying to figure out what’s going on—panic attacks always leave him disoriented. He takes a moment to breathe deeply and tell himself that it was fake, that there’s no real predator in this apartment, that he’ll never see another dinosaur in his life if he has anything to say about it. Once his pulse is steady, his breathing is no longer ragged and the panic is more or less gone, he thinks about how empty and dark his apartment is. He’s never really noticed that before—how many shadows there are in this place. He’s been dreaming about being somewhere still and quiet for months, but the fear hasn’t gone away, and it’s made all the worse when he’s alone. He just sits for a little while, in the dark, and shivers.

xxx

Malcolm has never been much of a multi-tasker, and his attempt to get dressed while simultaneously carrying on a phone conversation serves to emphasize this. “I have classes, ah, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from eight to nine. Yeah, A.M,” he says as he buttons down his shirt, holding up his cell phone with his shoulder. “But I can make it Saturday. Any Saturday, really, my schedule’s—” He pauses. “The eighteenth? ‘Course I’m available. Where’s your office?” He rushes over to his desk, his shirt half-done, fumbles for a pen and hastily tears off a corner of a grocery list. “Hold on, can I get that address again?”

When he submitted his story, Ian doubted that he’d even get published, but look at this. He might even get interviewed on a local talk show. This isn’t exactly the medium that’ll get his story out to the people who need to hear it—namely, the entire public—but heck, it’s something. At least it’s a start.

xxx

Ian contemptuously rubs his eyes again and wonders why he even needs to wear powder in the first place. It’s not the fact that makeup is a required part of this that annoys him, it’s that it needs to be applied quite so frequently. Three of the studio’s makeup artists have brushed his face with powder in the space of half an hour. He leans back in his chair and gets comfortable as a cameraman announces, “Rolling in three… two… one.” A red light goes on, everyone in the studio goes quiet and the woman in the chair across from Ian clears her throat.

“Welcome back to CNN News at Six,” the woman says gravely. “I’m Mary Lewis. Our guest tonight is Doctor Ian Malcolm, a professor of mathematics at the University of Texas.” Someone on his left points a camera at Malcolm, so he nods and gives a little smile. “Welcome to the show, Dr. Malcolm,” Mary says.

“Thank you for having me.” It’s always the same script, he absentmindedly thinks. Every news show has the same act that they go through in the beginning, always saying the same things. He never really noticed it until he started his press circuit, but now, he sees it during every single interview.

“I understand that you’ve had a very strange account published in several magazines and newspapers, including Skeptical Inquirer and the New York Post,” Mary says, looking at him and leaning forward a little. “You told about a trip that you took last year to an island near Costa Rica, for, I believe, the InGen Corporation?” He nods. “You say that, while you were there, you witnessed genetically-engineered, living dinosaurs,” she says, putting special, incredulous emphasis on the last four words. “Can you tell us what happened there? Can you tell us about that?”

Ian looks right at the main camera and takes a deep breath. “Gladly.”

xxx

Ian sips his coffee—black, appropriately—as Sarah rummages through the fridge in the kitchenette. “Shredded wheat? Really? That’s all you have?” she asks.

“Oh, I’m sorry. There’s croissants and Danishes in the mini-bar,” he answers sarcastically. “I keep forgetting I run a five-star hotel now.” Sarcastic ribbing is Sarah’s and his main form of communication, and he’s more than okay with that.

She shuts the fridge door. “It’s fine. Not like I came back to civilization to live on something other than energy bars, or anything. I’m taking the last coffee bag.” At least she knows this is temporary, Ian thinks as he picks the morning paper up off of the kitchen table. Sarah—who he’s somehow started dating—is only in Austin for a week, giving a guest lecture about pack behavior at the UT zoology department. After she’s done, she’ll go back to her research in Kenya, but for now, she’s staying at his apartment, out of convenience more than anything.

“Show some gratitude,” he says, opening up the paper. “I cleaned out the guest room for you.”

“I’ll thank the cockroach I saw under the bed,” she calls back. Malcolm rolls his eyes and scans the headlines. Something about the stock market, a missing child, something the president said—one catches his eye, and he stares at it for a moment, quickly reading the text under it and shaking his head in disbelief.

“Sarah,” he calls. “Sarah, um, you need to read this.”

“What is it?” she asks, not looking over.

“Sarah,” he repeats, his blood starting to run cold. “This headline. “InGen Allegations Called Into Question.”” She turns and looks at him, and Ian keeps reading, thinking, no, no, no over and over again. “The head of the International Genetics Corporation, Mr. Peter Ludlow, has addressed the story put forth by Dr. Ian Malcolm…”

xxx

It doesn’t really snow in Austin so much as the rain turns a little slushier than usual and the wind blows at higher speeds, and that’s what’s happening in full force today. Ian pulls his coat tightly around himself and walks briskly, his head down, to stay as dry as possible. He’s just striding down the street, looking down at the sidewalk and occasionally peeking up at the Christmas lights in store windows, when suddenly: “Hey! I know you!”

Somehow, Ian knows that the shout was directed at him, and turns around. Two teenage boys run up to him, and one, the kid who yelled, says, “You’re the dinosaur guy! Malcolm, right?”

Ian looks forward and starts walking again—he really isn’t in the mood for this today—but they catch up. “Dude!” the other one says. “It’s that one guy from the news. Hey, can we get a picture?”

Gritting his teeth, he strides forward, and they don’t follow. Their shouts of “Roar!” and peals of laughter, however, follow him down the street, and stay in his ears all day, no matter how hard he works to get rid of them.

xxx

“I know exactly how long you’ve worked here, Dr. Malcolm,” the dean says, crossing his arms, “but that has nothing to do with the case at hand.”

“Why would I lie?” Ian says again. “What reason could I possibly have? Sir, you—you know I wouldn’t—”

He holds up a hand calmly. “You knew how outlandish your story was when you told it. And now that your—falsehoods—are exposed, you need to face the consequences. There’s no way to avoid this. Our reputation and integrity are on the line when you say these things and, well, we can’t keep risking those.” His polite veneer is way too transparent, and Ian can clearly read his undertone: You’re embarrassing us.

Ian draws his hands into fists; he knows how right he is, he knows the truth is on his side, he knows he’s done nothing wrong, but still, standing in front of the university dean’s desk, he can’t help but feel like a guilty kid in the principal’s office. “This doesn’t affect my teaching,” he says quietly. “I’m not telling my story to students. I’m not involving UT in any way. This—this is a huge mistake. I’m asking you, ah, as a fellow human being, please reconsider—”

“I’ve made my decision,” the dean says firmly. “We’re removing you from your line of tenure and placing you on a research sabbatical. That’s final. Be glad we haven’t fired you yet.”

“I—” He fights to keep his voice steady. “Everyone else believes InGen, but you don’t have to. You can be the one who saw the truth, you can be the one who’s right when I’m vilified. I don’t—”

“Please leave my office, Dr. Malcolm,” the dean says, turning away. “I have other appointments waiting.”

“But—”

“Goodbye.”

Ian closes his eyes, turns and slowly walks out into the empty hall.

xxx

“Still sitting on the couch?” Sarah asks, pausing in the doorway, groceries in her arms. Ian looks up at her, blinking rapidly; he’s still adjusting to the contact lenses he’s decided to start wearing. He doesn’t say anything, only sighs, and she sits down next to him, putting a hand on his shoulder. “You okay?” she asks. “Everything going all right?”

“I still don’t have a job to speak of or any privacy, if that’s what you’re asking,” he says numbly.

She makes a sympathetic sound. “Thought about writing another paper? Something to do, at least.”

“You know as well as I do how much credibility that, ah, anything I write would get,” he says. “Reporters still on the lawn?” She nods. “How many?”

“Not as many as last week,” she says, shrugging. “You’re getting less popular. Isn’t that what you want?”

“I want to be left alone. Four years of this crap—I’m done. I’m just done.”

“I know.” She rubs his arm, and there’s a long pause. “Want to talk about it? You know I’ll always listen.” He shakes his head. “Well, I’m leaving tomorrow night. I think I should pack.”

“I’ll unpack the food,” he says, and they head to their kitchenette together. A year or so ago, Sarah came back from the Congo and stayed with him for a little while, and she never got around to leaving, so now they share Ian’s little apartment. He’s always grateful to have at least one person in his life that doesn’t snicker behind his back or yell that she saw him on TV. In fact, Sarah might be the only thing keeping him sane, no matter how often she tells him to cheer up or how often she runs off to undisclosed locations. She gave him a little advance warning this time, at least—she seemed overly cautious when she told him that she’s going on a trip tomorrow, for whatever reason, but it’s not like he could stop her from going. As he starts to unpack the brown paper bags, he catches her as she’s walking to her bedroom and kisses her on the cheek.

“What was that for?” she asks, smiling.

“It’s just nice to have you around.”

xxx

Ian yawns as a rush of air hits him in the face. The subway car—finally—pulls in next to him, gradually slowing down. The train to Bastardtown has arrived, he thinks as he starts to walk forward. Why he’s actually doing this, why he’s doing a favor for a man responsible for three deaths and the event that ruined his life, is beyond Ian, but Hammond paid his plane fare, so here he is in San Diego. John can’t change the past, but Ian can’t say he doesn’t have a few choice words to dispense to the man. A subway ride and a short car ride, and he’ll be at the Hammond mansion, talking with John about whatever is so important that they had to meet immediately. What a fun little reunion it’ll be.

The subway doors open, and Ian climbs in. He takes a seat and opens up his newspaper—five stops to get to the station near Hammond’s place—the doors close, and the subway starts moving again. He’s not exactly looking forward to it, but whatever happens when he gets to John’s house, it’ll be memorable. He knows that for sure.

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