V. 17 years ago…
Cooper Baldwin looked out his bedroom window. The other neighborhood children played tag together and ran in and out of front yards. How he wanted to join them in their games but he couldn’t go out to play. His father had made some house rules, if you stay home from school sick you stay inside. Basically, Jo Baldwin didn’t want his son to use any excuse to stay home sick. What he didn’t realize was Cooper really didn’t want to stay home either. Sometimes he just couldn’t help it. He really was sick.
Take this morning for example. There was a cute girl in Cooper’s class that he was trying to get her attention. He borrowed some of his father’s cologne his mother had mentioned made Jo “irresistible.” Of course, she didn’t know Cooper was listening but he was. So he decided this morning he was going to try some of the cologne himself. One small problem though, he used too much and stirred up his asthma. After suffering an attack for several minutes and not being able to catch his breath his mom made him stay home from school. Cooper really would have preferred to go to school rather than confess the cologne fiasco to his dad. For sure his dad would think he did it on purpose. That was usually the case. His dad rarely listened to Cooper’s side of the story. Or if he did listen he didn’t believe his son.
Cooper sighed and climbed back in bed. He was bored.
Just then his bedroom door opened and Malone Winn walked in. He was in Cooper’s class at school and usually would drop off any school assignments Cooper missed. Typically, it was just an excuse to stop by and chat. The only person that would sit by Malone and talk to him at school was Cooper so when Cooper was out Malone would have a terribly lonely day.
“Hey Coop,” Malone said and Cooper smiled at his friend.
“Hey,” Cooper answered.
“You wanna play a game?” Malone asked forgetting his excuse for stopping by.
“Sure,” Cooper said. “You pick.”
Malone dug through the bin of video games and pulled one out.
They played for a half an hour before Liz came into the room. “Sorry boys, but this doesn’t sound like school work to me. You know the rules.”
Both boys moaned their disappointment before turning off the game.
“See you tomorrow, Coop,” Malone said and walked to the door.
“Bye,” Cooper answered.
“C’mon,” Liz smiled sweetly at her son. “Get back in bed.”
Cooper allowed her to tuck him in and waited for her to close the door. He kicked the covers off and looked around the room. What could he play with that wouldn’t make a sound? There weren’t a lot of options so he made up a game in which he was a ship captain. A ship captain needs a good boat so he went to his closet and closed the door. His father never had finished the closet so the 2 by four frame was still exposed. Yes, yes. This made an excellent ship. A fairly good size vessel, in fact. But, oh no, it hit an iceberg and started sinking. He climbed up the frame as high as he could go. When his eyes were level with the top of the door he noticed something. It appeared to be a rag. A ha! Some kind of buried treasure. His game suddenly switched and now he was a pirate. He grabbed the rag and climbed back down. Something dropped from the rag and he picked it up. What was it?
He rubbed it in his fingers. It kind of looked like some of the pills he had to take for his various aliments but was much bigger. He remembered watching a show where the character did a cool trick with something similar to it. First he put it between his lips with part of it hanging out. Then he used his tongue to try and flip it around. The pill was too big though and he couldn’t flip it. He tried a few more times until he succeeded. By this time, unbeknownst to him, the pill had started to dissolve and become smaller. He was so happy for accomplishing his feat he didn’t realize the whole pill now fit in his mouth rather easily. He did his trick a couple more times. Each time it became easier to flip it.
After his last successful flip his mom opened his closet door.
“What are you doing, young man?” she asked and scared him.
The now much smaller pill slipped down his throat.
His eyes widened. “I, uh,” he didn’t dare tell his mom about what he just swallowed. It was bad enough being caught out of bed again.
“Back to bed!” she said and pointed the way.
He sighed and climbed back in bed. This time though, he stayed there. He became tired and weak. Within a few hours he had a fever. In short, he actually became quite sick. Even his dad couldn’t deny it this time.
The Baldwin family spent a restless couple of days while Cooper’s body fought some kind of infection. What they didn’t know is his body was fighting off the effects of the Samson Pill. Liz called the doctor and was just about ready to take Cooper to the hospital when his fever broke. After sleeping the effects of the illness off, Cooper woke up. His body relinquished its fight against the pill and accepted it. To say he was healthy again is an understatement. He was much better than that. When he woke up he could see more clearly and understand much better. His inside flaws were not only fixed but eliminated. From that day, his muscles developed a lining that served as armor. Once his body accepted the pill it grew more powerful and nearly invincible. Never again did he suffer an asthma attack like he did previously. In short, Henry Buttlefeld was right. His pill worked.
The Samson Pill fused together with Cooper’s DNA and enhanced it intellectually and physically. These were all things he would discover in time but for an 8 year old kid all he knew was he could now keep up with the other neighborhood children. The next time they played tag no one would be able to catch him. No one would ever catch him again. That was enough for him.
Meanwhile, in an orphanage, a little girl named Al was beginning to learn how to fight for her own. The older girls kept taking her dinner meal until Al took them all on. She didn’t win the fight and ended with a cut lip and black eye. But she did earn some respect and got to keep most of her dinners from then on.
And while Al learned to defend herself, an older gentleman sat in his office. He had spent the last 8 years looking for a notebook when the Samson Pill was lost. Time was running out for him to find it. He was an old man and growing older. A picture of his grandson with Cerebral Palsy sat on his desk. Eight years lost when he could have been a healthy boy by now. The old man placed his hand on his heart and knew it would keep beating until he could make his grandson healthy. He willed it so. There had to be a way to make the Samson Pill without the notebook. He was determined.
Next chapter: Chapter VI