Testing. Short Story.

“Any changes?”
“Not yet.”
“Increase the patients dose.”
“Are you sure, we increased it yesterday, any changes would take time to occur.”
“We don’t have time to wait around. Increase the dose. We all know where this is heading anyway.”
“Same increments as before?”
“Yeah. See how that works out. If there’s no change by tomorrow morning, increase it again.”
“The stress of that will skew the test results.”
“It’s not like anyone who sees these will understand any of it anyway.”

“If they bring someone else in, or this comes out, I want our methods documented. The less people that have to go through this the better.”
“If this gets out we’ll all be dead, so you won’t face repercussions.”
“That isn’t what I was worried about.”
“Don’t lie. We’re all worried about that. Chances are good that Thompson will make sure this never gets out. We’ll unveil it all in a few years, maybe a decade and by then it will be refined and our results will be faked. If we could reasonably predict the changes that will occur we’d already be marketing this stuff.”
“I’ll increase the dose.”
“Good. And by the way, if you’re not using one already, I’d advise you start signing off things with a pseudonym, that’s what everyone else does.”
“I already do.”
“Then there’s nothing to worry about.”
Jane watched as Andy swept out of the room. She signed and wrote down a few notes, it was her turn to stay here over night and observe the test subject. This round of tests focused on oral administration, rather than through injections. Impossibly, each method produced vastly different results. At first there was suspicions that lifestyles, ages and other factors were responsible for the changes, but there had been no overlapping causes that they could see.

Jane carried the tray of food carefully, and had mixed the dosage into it. It steamed gently as she put it into the transference box. “Here’s your dinner John.”
“Thanks Sam, I was getting kind of hungry. Do you think I could get a few more snacks scheduled in?”
“Sure thing John, I’ll add a few things in, anything you’d like in particular?”
“Grapes would be nice, but anything really is fine.”
John took the tray from the box and brought it to the small table, there he sat and started to eat. Jane didn’t blame him, no one liked cold food.
“I’ll leave you to your dinner. Someone will be by in a bit to collect the tray.”
John nodded, not paying attention. On the wall a TV played some show she didn’t recognise. Jane left the observation area and went back to her office. She preferred to watch through the cameras. It was easier that way. She didn’t have to talk to John, or react to the brief winces of pain. She wondered what they told John, if he knew what he was getting into. Sure they told him the basics, but did they tell him he could die, or lose the use of his limbs. She doubted it. Sure the money was good, but it was unlikely that he’d ever see any of that money. Nor would his family. By now he was probably just another missing student and no one cared. It was how they got all their test subjects. Stage disappearances, it made things easier. They were never pinned as being in any real contact with the victims. After all, they ran so many tests, it was bound to happen that a few people that were missing had dealings with them. By now most of the city had come in for an evaluation for their testing. Most were put into benign trials, some fake, some real, just to muddy the waters a bit more. They needed proof that they were actually doing something.

Jane looked through the previous cases, trying to find anything that might indicate what would happen to John. She looked into the monitor, he was sitting on the recliner, still watching TV, she knew that in another fifteen minutes or so he’d fall asleep. He always did around this time and he’d sleep right through till morning. She had the night shift tonight, not that it was a real problem, she had troubles sleeping lately, so she might as well be doing work instead of lying in bed, waiting for sleep to happen. With the increased dose she wanted to be close by, keep an eye on things. She wasn’t sure who was on night shift with her tonight, but there were a few beds in one of the backrooms, so they could trade off if one got too tired.

It was three a.m. when John started screaming, Jane was getting some food when her beeper went off, she looked at her food for a second, then stood, it would be a long night and she wouldn’t have a chance to eat until at least tomorrow, she grabbed half of the sandwich and started walking towards the offices, there was no rush. The first few times she had panicked, thinking they might miss something, but the cameras were rolling and if it was a medical emergency he was already getting treatment. No doubt the changes had started happening. It was about time.

When she stepped into the room she had finished her food and was wiping her hands, she grabbed her water bottle and took a swig, “What’s happening?”
“He started screaming and clawing at his eyes about five minutes ago, we had a team go in and restrain him, we weren’t sure if we should knock him out or not. What do you think?”
“How bad do you think the pain is?”
“Excruciating. He’s been screaming none stop, I’m surprised he’s still conscious.”
“Don’t medicate him. We might miss something important. What was wrong with his eyes?”
“We’re not sure, they were leaking a purple fluid. We have samples for testing.”
“Good, any other changes?”
“Nothing physical yet, though I expect it will happen soon.”
“It will probably continue with the eyes. I was hoping for something to start happening there.”
“Do you want to see him?”
“I probably should.”
Jane left the room, already regretting finishing her sandwich. She could hear his screams from down the hall. She walked a little faster, it was already too late for him, pain relief wouldn’t really affect things too much, it wasn’t like he was in a position to answer any questions. No. She had to remain firm on that. If they knocked him out the changes might be disrupted. He needed to be conscious. Pain relief wouldn’t help at this point, they’d need dosages large enough to kill him. They’d learned that the hard way.
She entered the room, inside the orderlies stood around, not looking at one another, the door to his rooms was closed.

“Did anyone have contact with the purple liquid?”
“No, we all wore gloves, masks and goggles.”
“Good. Have them sent for incineration. You’ll probably have to be quarantined for a few days as a precaution, don’t worry though, you’ll be all right.”
No one had ever gotten anything from contact, but it was better to be safe.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be given separate rooms so there will be no fear of catching something from someone else.”

The orderlies shuffled into the next room, they knew the drill. Any attempt to leave would have them terminated immediately. The death of the first, and only, orderly who attempted to leave assured them they it was a serious threat.
Jane moved closer to the glass, circling around until she was standing just a foot away from the patient. His arms strained at the restraints, purple goo ran from his eyes freely, they were rolling around in their sockets, she spoke to him, trying to get him to focus, to respond in anyway, but he kept screaming. Jane was already starting to get a headache. This wasn’t as bad as she expected, the last one was much worse. Now all they could do was watch and see if he survived.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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