Patrick Stockman pocketed his sunglasses into one of his black suit's pockets as he walked into the Dowager Memorial Hospital. Stockman glanced around staring at the various nurses walking around the hospital until he was able to decide on one.
"Hello, do you know where I can find Steve Grenwalt?"
The dark haired nurse pointed down the hallway.
"He's two rooms down and on the right."
Patrick followed the nurse's directions and came upon a small room that didn't contain much more then a hospital bed, a privacy curtain and a couple of machines that kept the man alive.
Stockman looked down at the man, he certainly matched the picture of Steve Grenwalt that he'd been shown earlier; although he was worse for wear. Stockman closed the privacy curtain, walked over to the window and pulled down the shades as the man in the bed slept. As Stockman was moving a chair toward the bed, it made a scraping sound against the floor which woke up the room's other occupant. The occupant of the hospital bed jolted upright when he saw Patrick Stockman.
"Who are you?"
"I am Agent Stockman, FBI," he said as reached into his suit pocket and brandished his FBI ID.
"W-what do you want with me?"
"I want to hear your story, Mr. Grenwalt. You ought to be real good at telling stories considering that you write for 'The Moonlight Report'."
"A-alright. Two months ago I bought a laptop off Craigslist, it was already a few years old by the time that I had purchased it. I can't recall the brand, but I think it was Acer. It's a lot more bulkier than the laptops they make now days."
"So if you bought it off Craigslist then you would have met with the seller. Where did you meet?"
"We met up in a Walmart parking lot and did the exchange there, security and all that."
"This is very important Mr. Grenwalt, describe the seller to me to the best of your ability."
"The man that sold me the laptop was Caucasian, bald and bearded. The beard was something that you'd expect a stereotypical lumberjack to have."
"I need more to work on then that. What about his height and weight?"
"He was tall and heavy; at least six and half feet and two hundred forty pounds. I felt intimidated by him, had we not been meeting in a well lit parking lot during the day I wouldn't have stopped and traded with him. Although he was polite and cordial, his voice sounded off and constantly changed."
"He sounds like quite the weirdo. Tell me, why would you still follow through with a trade when dealing with a weirdo like that?"
"It isn't like I wanted to, but I was pretty desperate for the laptop because I had a story to write about a bad oil spill which would necessitate some travel. Oh, he also wore overalls. I paid him the five hundred dollars, prayed that there wasn't child pornography on the laptop (that's how weird the man came off as) and went home..."
Steve Grenwalt paused, his mouth hung agape and his eyes began to shut on their own accord. Patrick snapped his fingers near Steve's face and place a hand on his right shoulder.
"Come on, Steve. Stay with me, you've got a story that needs to be told."
"Where was I?" Grenwalt asked weakly.
"You had just finished describing the man who sold you the laptop and had made it home."
"Oh. I got home and charged it. After it had finished charging I turned it on and began typing, it was during that first session that I noticed a strange hissing sound almost every time that I stuck a key. I brushed it off and figured it must have been the computer working extra hard to keep cool-"
The dark haired nurse from earlier opened the privacy curtain, interrupting the story, and peered in.
"Sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to make sure that Steve was doing okay," she said.
"Mr. Grenwalt is doing fine. He is getting a tad bit sleepy though, so I'm going to bow out pretty soon. I just want to finish listening to his story and then I'll be on my way, miss," responded Patrick Stockman in his most charming voice.
"Everything is fine, Maggie," replied Steve Grenwalt.
Maggie nodded, apologized for the intrusion and shut the privacy curtain which left the two men alone again.
"Please continue, Mr. Grenwalt."
"As I said before, my laptop got to where it would overheat all the time. Things steadily escalated to the point where I was saving my work every couple of minutes and toward the middle of the second month I had resolved to use my next payday to buy a new laptop."
Grenwalt began to cough, blood snuck out with the coughs and wound up on his bed sheets. Patrick Stockman reached into his suit and pulled out a handkerchief which he used to wipe the blood from Grenwalt's mouth and then his bed sheet.
"You're doing good, Steve. We're almost done. Hang tight," Patrick Stockman stated as he ducked out of the room.
He returned a moment later with a cup of water in hand and handed it to Steve Grenwalt. He waited patiently as the sickly man drank the entire cup.
"Sure thing. You can pay me back by finishing your story."
"Right. I was nearing completion of my article on the oil spill when disaster struck. The hissing grew louder then it had ever been before and it sounded like it was coming from my left..."
Steve Grenwalt froze up and tears began to flow from his eyes. He was clearly traumatized. Patrick Stockman stood up and put a reassuring hand on Steve's shoulder.
"There, there. You've handled yourself really well, Steve. Please, try to keep going."
"I... I looked over to the left of my laptop just in time to see a small black snake lunge and sink its fangs into my left hand, the hand I was typing with at the time."
"It had been living in the laptop the entire time?"
"Yes, I had a snake living inside my laptop. I don't recall much after that. I barely remember fishing my cellphone from my pocket and calling for an ambulance. I was hallucinating pretty badly by the time I was in the emergency room."
"Let me guess. The species of snake was an undiscovered one and because of that you weren't able to receive any anti-venom?"
"Yes. It cost me a lot."
Steve Grenwalt paused and lifted his left arm out from underneath his bed sheets revealing a stump where his left hand had been.
"Antibiotics only go so far when dealing with necrotic venom," Patrick remarked while shaking his head. "It could have been worse, it could have been my dominant hand. The doctors told me that it likely crawled in there to keep warm as snakes tend to like that. Sometimes I wonder if that man had put the snake in there."
"That's what we believe to be the case, Mr. Grenwalt. The individual that you described matches that of a known bio-terrorist who has been modifying wildlife and re-releasing it into the United States ecosystem in an effort to destroy it. Thank you for your help."
Steve Grenwalt paused, his eyes started to shut against his own will and blood began to pour from his nose. Agent Stockman pulled out a handkerchief and used it to wipe the blood from Grenwalt's nose, but more blood shot out of it. Stockman threw open the privacy curtain and began to shout for a nurse. Stockman didn't stick around to see the end result which he knew all too well.
Author's note: The above is loosely based upon fact. I was reading about technological nightmares and I read of a particular individual that was working on a friend's computer tower; when he opened the case he found a snake skin.
Written by Doom Vroom