Hello again. It's almost midnight, and I find myself desperately craving a cigarette. Everyone appears to be asleep by now. We were sent to our beds at 9 pm, but I've been tossing and turning. The cigarette situation poses quite a problem. Smokers who can't smoke need something, like snacks, candy, anything! It's been 7 hours since I've eaten! Dinner was served at 5 pm, which is the earliest I've ever dined. We had pork chops, mashed potatoes, and green beans on the menu and veggie burgers provided for the two vegans among us. I can't help but feel sorry for them.
Earlier, I visited Dr. Nelson as instructed. As I get more familiar with this place I must say, the setup here feels like a prison. We are confined to the common room, our dorms, and the bathroom. The common room has three exits: one leading to our dorms, another to the main part of the building where Dr. Nelson's domain lies, and the last one to the testing room where we'll receive our daily doses. It's reminiscent of being incarcerated, much like my father who, by the way, is in prison. But that's a tale for another time.
Two security officers escorted me to Dr. Nelson's office. The door leading out of the common room is made of metal and requires a code and thumbprint scan for access. See what I mean about the prison vibes? After they deposited me in the doctor's office, they waited outside.
I was sitting before an empty desk for many minutes, clad in my white scrubs. Oh, did I mention that we had to don these scrubs and leave our civilian clothing behind? No smoking, shitty attire, stank-ass Rudy, and the oppressive feeling of being confined - truly, life's blessings are abundant.
Finally, the long-awaited moment with Dr. Nelson had arrived. The man's got a look that screams "I've seen some serious shit, boy." White wispy hair, goatee game strong. He sat down at his desk and sighed like he had the world on his shoulders, He just looked at me and smiled, I smiled, and we smiled some more. It was a smile fest for the ages.
"So, how you doin', son?" he asked.
"I'm a'ight," I replied, a master of eloquence.
Next thing you know, he plops down my folder labeled "Subject 15." Out of 15 people, I was picked last, how flattering.
Dr. Nelson then started inquiring about how I'm adjusting to this "glorious" experiment and how the other docs are treating me. I managed to keep my mouth shut about the bald prick from hell. No need to sound like a whiny little bitch on my first day. I also asked him for something to take care of my toothache and he gave me a few ibuprofen he had tucked away in his desk drawer.
But then, my inner tobacco enthusiast couldn't resist. "Wouldn't it be fantastic if I could also have a smoke right now?" I said, trying to play it cool.
"No smoking during the trials, son," he declared, crushing my dreams.
"Might I ask, why that wasn't mentioned in the ad?" I fired back, like an attorney ready to defend my nicotine rights.
He sighed again. Not a good sign.
"Jack, the compound we're testing is a bit… complex. We can't risk anything messing with the results," he explained.
"Well, how will you know what the drug effects are for the smokers?" I asked, feeling pretty slick.
He chuckled. "Depending on the results, we might broaden our testing to include other variables, but not now."
"But you just gave me ibuprofen, won't that mess with the results?" I think I got him here!
"They should exit your system in just a few hours, which won't pose any issues for the trial," he responded, his tone revealing a hint of boredom.
Well, I tried, but the good doctor prevailed. First round goes to him, but this games not over yet.
"Alright, Doc, what the fuck is this Formula 35c drug supposed to do? Cure baldness, make us all super geniuses, or just turn us into the walking dead?" I asked, hoping for a superhero type answer.
He chuckled, maybe a little nervously. "Great question, that's why I called you in. At Nexus Mind Research, we're focused on finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease. You know, when old folks start losing their memories?"
"Oh, yeah, that memory wipe-out thing and of course it only effects the non-smokers, is that right?" I chided, suddenly feeling victory coming on. He wasn’t amused it seems.
"Yes, it attacks the memory center of the brain, and in the end stages, it's a total loss of self. A real downer, 1 in 6 people over 65 will get it," he sighed, sadness in his eyes.
I couldn't help but wonder if he had a personal connection to the disease. "You've experienced it with a loved one, huh?" I took a wild guess.
He cleaned his glasses, "You're sharp. Yes, my father, when I was a boy. It's why I'm in this line of work."
"So, this drug we're taking is gonna make us remember everything, right?"
"That's what we're aiming to find out," he replied, but I caught a flicker of anxiety. Uh-oh, something's fishy. Does he even fucking know what this drug is supposed to do?
"Don't stress, I'm overseeing everything. Been doing this for ages," he reassured me like a smooth operator. But then, his phone rang, and he switched to gruff mode. "Let's have him."
I stood up, wanting to shake hands, but he seemed uninterested and grabbed another folder.
Suddenly, the security officers arrived with Michael, the Colombian chef, and I was swiftly ushered out. My meeting ended abruptly, but I managed to squeeze in one final question before leaving, "Are we going to have these daily meetings?"
"Nah, not likely. But I'll read all your laptop entries, so spill your guts," he replied.
"Yes, Doctor," I said, realizing they'll be reading our entries. Sneaky, sneaky, free laptop deal! As the security guys escorted me out, I heard Michael gushing in his charming accent. Must be loving his time with Dr. Nelson.
As I made my way down the quiet, dimly lit hallway, an unsettling feeling crept over me. The rows of closed doors stretched into the unknown, concealing secrets I couldn't fathom. It dawned on me that no one knows my whereabouts; I'm in an undisclosed location, far from Boston where they snatched us up in those creepy blacked-out vans and drove us for an hour.
Dr. Nelson, if you're reading this as you said you would, I hope you understand that my words are honest and unfiltered. You did encourage us to share everything, right? I just hope this whole thing is confidential, as I have no idea what might spill out of my mind during my stay at Nexus Mind Research Penitentiary.
Well, I should try to get some rest.
Tomorrow promises to be a major day.