"He's in the ICU," she says."So they're taking really good care of him?""They're doing their best, Max," she says.The intensive care unit is this place wherethere are so many nurses, you can't hardly turn ,around without bumping into one, which I doas soon as we get there. Every patient gets aroom alone, and there's all this electronic gearthe Fair Gwen says is called "telemetry," whichmeans when Freak sneezes, the nurses knowabout it before he can wipe his nose.I'm not scared at all until I actually go into hisroom and see how small he looks on the bed.They've got him sitting up with all these tubesgoing into his arms and up his nose and Dr.148149TheEmptyBookSpivak is guarding him, she won't let me cometoo close."I thought no visitors was the best policy fornow," Dr. Spivak says. "But what Kevin wants,Kevin gets."Dr. Spivak is this small woman with short redhair and a real stern face, and it's like she's.madbecause Freak wants to see me, or because I'llbreak some of her precious equipment."That willbe all," Freak says to her. "You aredismissed."The thing is, his voice sounds funny. Not justfaint and weak, but kind ofwhistley. Only whenI get closer do I see he's got this weird littleplastic button stuck in his neck."It's called.a tracheotomy," he says, holdinghis finger against the button, which stops thewhistling noise. "Standard procedure to facilitatebreathing.""Does it hurt?""No way," he says. "I think it's cool. Listento this."Then he plays with his finger against the but-ton, making his throat whistle a tune, .whichhesays is the theme fromStar Trek,although youcan hardly recognize it."So when do you come home?" I ask.Freak can't move much the way.they've gothim set up in the bed, so he sort of shakes hiseyes instead of his head. "I'm not cominghome," he says. "Not in my present manifes-tation."
Freakthe MightyJgo, "What?""The Bionic Unit is on red alert," he says."Tonight they'll take me down there for my spe-cial operation. The next time you see me, I'll benew and improved."_"I'm scared," I say."Don't be a moron," he says. "You're not theone having surgery.""I still wish they wouldn't.""Don't argue with me," he says.I have to lean close to hear him because hisvoice is so small and whispery.He goes,IIIfyou argue with me, I'll get upsetand they can tell on the telemetry. Thenyou'llget in trouble."5,0Ijust stand there likea lump and don't sayanything for a while. I put the ornithopter onthe foot of the bed, but I don't think he notices."See that book on the table?" he asks.He can't point, but I see the book on the table."Open it," he says.The book reminds me ofthe dictionaryhe gaveme for Christmas, except when I open it, all the-pages are blank."That's for you," he says. "I want you to fillit up with our adventures.""Huh?""'Writeit down, dummy. I was going to doit,but now it looks like I'll be busy getting used tomy new bionic body. It'll probably take meweeks just learning how to walkwith long legs."I put the book down.