Mr. Reynolds typed frantically on his government-issued laptop inside his small and sparsely decorated office. He was angry, furious even. Just an hour ago he had received an E-mail from Dr. Nelson claiming that one of the subjects was gaining special abilities. To the giant agent this news was not good and ran unequivocally contrary to the anticipated results of the experiment. Formula 35C was not supposed to wake people up, no that would be ridiculous. It was developed to do quite the reverse and put them into a deeper sleep and highly suggestible! This was the mission that was given to the CIA Mind Department, his department, and it came from all the way up top!
Agent Reynolds clicked the green submit button on his E-mail regarding Subject 15 and sent it up to his superior. Action must be taken at once, or the whole operation could be revealed to the public, again. Like MK ULTRA in the 1950s, the epitome of the agencies highest failure at total population control. Formula 35C was entirely unlike the LSD and other psychotropic drugs they had administered during the MK ULTRA trials. Formula 35C was not of this earth. The effects, however, when tested on animals, was what the World Health Organization precisely wanted to reproduce gradually into the world’s population.
After minutes of silent contemplation, he became aware the phone was ringing. Agent Reynolds looked at the Caller ID to see “PRIVATE” and he immediately knew who was on the other end. He quickly picked up the phone. “Sir?” Mr. Reynolds stared into nothing with his empty eyes and listened intently to the voice on the other end never saying a word. “Yes Sir,” he answered and smashed the phone handle back on its base.
He then pushed “2” on his speed dial and waited for an answer. A moment later a voice answered.
“Yes, Mr. Reynolds?”
“Execute protocol six-one-six, test Subject 15,” he responded and then hung up.
Mr. Reynolds massaged his scalp messing up his ordinarily flawless and combed to the side, hairstyle. His leg was shaking nervously with his knee bumping the underside of his desk, rattling all its contents, some spilling to the floor. He didn’t often worry about much, but after twenty-seven years in the CIA he had found one thing that terrified him the most. Truth.
* * * * *
Jeff appeared next to his friend Jack with the cup of water he had requested. The whole common room was in chaos. Just a few moments before everyone had been laughing and watching Ben, one of the fellow participants of the Formula 35C experiment, but Ben started to act crazy. Jeff had been sitting on the couch next to where Jack and Emily were sitting and was quick to respond alongside his friends when Ben started to convulse on the floor. Now he, Jack and Emily all stood over Ben’s body watching as Ben’s eyes rolled back into his head. He had stopped shaking, but he was still very clearly out of his mind. Jack kept trying to offer him water, but Ben was unresponsive.
"What do we do Jack?” Jeff asked anxiously.
Jack looked over his shoulder to see Dr. Nelson and two husky men in black suits approaching, and then he looked to Emily and finally to Jeff. “I don’t know Jeff, I think I have a much bigger problem. “Listen to me-” Jack started as he looked back again at Dr. Nelson and then back to Jeff. “Jeff, I don’t know where the hell I’m being taken, but I need you to look after Emily when I’m gone, do you understand?” he asked.
Jeff’s forehead crinkled, and his brows raised in panic. “What do you mean?”
Jack grabbed Jeff by the shoulders pulling him in close, staring intently into Jeff’s soul with his mesmerizing, almost glowing blue eyes. “Day or night Jeff, you do not let Rudy near Emily,” Jack commanded firmly.
Jeff had a sudden vision of his mother telling him “NO” in that all-powerful sternness that mothers possess and understood Jack’s intention. He had to protect Emily. Jeff also felt a terrific weight fall off his shoulders as his friend’s eyes glanced upon his darkest secrets and vaporized them into the light. For the first time in a very long time, he felt as if someone knew he was there, Jack could see him. “Uh, okay Jack, I fucking won’t. I promise,” Jeff said with great resolve as Dr. Nelson and his two goons took Jack and ushered him out of the common room.
As Jack was being escorted out, Dr. Waters and Dr. Roberts both rushed in. They spent a few minutes examining Ben before using their radio to call in the orderlies. Dr. Waters stood up and addressed everyone in the room. “Everyone just calm down and find your seats.”
Two young orderlies in white scrubs carrying a stretcher entered the room and set up Ben to get him carried out.
“Ben is going to be just fine everyone; we’ll have him back into the group in no time. In the meantime, everyone please try and remain calm and go about the usual routine,” the balding doctor said smooth as ice.
Emily stood up from where Ben’s body was, and she pivoted back to face the two doctors. “Where the hell are you taking Jack? He didn’t do anything,”
Dr. Roberts cracked a smile and placed his hand on Emily’s shoulder which she immediately smacked away. “There there, Emily, Jack is not going very far, we just need to run some tests. His bloodwork came up a bit funny,” he said with grinning lips.
“Bullshit, who were the men in black huh?” Emily asked in anger.
Dr. Waters cleared his throat to interrupt and addressed the issue himself. “Emily, it’s not what you think here. Jack is going to be fine; he’ll be back in no time. Those men were with Dr. Nelson and had no dealings whatsoever with Jack,” he answered and then nudged Dr. Roberts signaling for both of them to leave.
Jeff watched Emily’s face turn red with anger, and he figured she too was reading right through the bullshit. Jeff had always thought of Emily as such a feisty little firecracker, but ever since her and Jack had been together, she was so nice. Although, she wasn’t too happy now as she stared furiously upon both doctors as they departed the common room and left everyone to scratch their heads. Even the asshole squad sat speechless.
Jeff looked over to Rudy and noticed he was holding Jack’s laptop, and he figured he better fix that real quick. “Hey Rudy, that’s not yours so put it down,” he said.
Rudy looked up at Jeff and smiled. He gently closed the laptop and stood up in front of Jeff, soaring over him and killing Jeff’s olfactory senses with his wicked stench. Jeff fought hard not to waver and continued to stare until Rudy stopped smiling. The giant stinking man then turned from Jeff and plodded away slowly towards the sleeping rooms. Jeff thought he saw Rudy gaze back at Emily just before making the turn into the hallway.
“I can’t fuck this up,” he whispered as he watched Emily lie on the couch utterly dismayed like a heartsick girl.
* * * * *
Dr. Nelson led Jack and the two agents further down the corridors of Nexus Mind Research Labs while contemplating the discussion he’d had with Mr. Reynolds only an hour earlier. It all didn’t add up, the old scientist thought. Dr. Nelson was seven days into the experiment, and he’d struggled with it morally, more and more each day. This wasn’t what he had expected. He had been given no real data concerning the properties of Formula 35C, but the experiment seemed to be killing people or causing them to go insane. The only positive results he’d seen were the writings springing from Jack McCoy’s journal, not to mention the thirty-point IQ increase in just days, which was incredible.
Dr. Nelson snuck a look at Jack as they approached their destination and saw that the man was worried. The question was, did the typically selfish Jack worry about his own safety or did he worry about what was going to happen to his friends? Or Emily? Emily had also taken a surprising turn, even though she was part of the control group. Somehow or another, she’d fallen in love with Jack, and that’s something that ran completely against the preliminary behavior predictions that the psychology staff had reported. Jack somehow changed and then somehow changed her, it was a momentous breakthrough as far as he was concerned. Then why, why did Mr. Reynolds sound upset on the phone? Why did the Agent send these two men to interrogate the matter?
The biggest question he had was, what was happening to Jack’s mind and were these agents going to ruin it?
Dr. Nelson stopped in front of a blue door that had a sign reading, “STORAGE” and addressed the two agents. “Are you sure you want to use this old room? Would a proper examination room not better suit you?” he asked trying to sound nonchalant.
“This will do. Has it been set up?” Agent Rishner, a husky black man, asked in a baritone voice.
“Yes, as you’ve requested,” Dr. Nelson answered.
“Good, you may leave us,” Agent Rishner replied.
Dr. Nelson looked at Jack and Jack looked back. Something in Jack’s eyes hounded the doctor into thinking he needed to stop this right away. That he should let each of the remaining people in the experiment run off in escape and that he should report the whole experiment to the police or media or somebody! This whole thing was all entirely illegal, and unethical anyhow and Dr. Nelson felt guiltier by the day. How much longer can I do this? What were they going to do to Jack? What was even happening to Jack? What did they want from Jack? The blood started to drain from his face and rush down into his stomach causing him to feel nauseous.
He knew it now; the CIA was up to no good, and Jack would be in danger if he told the truth today.
“Yes, Doctor Nelson?” Jack asked calmly.
“I hope you weren’t just making stuff up in your journal.”
Jack paused a moment and tilted his head.
Dr. Nelson just continued to stare. Jack smiled in understanding.
“You know me Doc, I’m a salesman and a gambler, all I do is make shit up.”
The agents stared at each other for a moment and then opened the door pushing Jack inside and then closed it behind them, leaving Dr. Nelson alone in the hallway.
Dr. Nelson stood there a few moments relieved that Jack got the message and desperately hoped that Jack would make it back to the common room soon, fully intact. Dr. Nelson also thought to himself that he should start planning for what he was going to do to get himself out of this mess.
He realized then and there that he needed to end this experiment before everyone was dead.
* * * * *
Jeff rubbed his eyes, and then slapped himself in the face for the fifth time that night. He had repositioned his little cot on the threshold of his room so that he could look out for Emily as Jack had instructed. It wasn’t so bad at first. He had the time to read a few chapters of Moby Dick, but then around 3am he started to get tired. So tired in fact that he could see double.
"Fuck Jeff, stay awake,” he scolded himself out loud.
His head swooned with the rhythmic tapping of the pipes hidden behind the paint chipped walls. “TCK TCK TCK” they sounded as they ushered heat into the vents that made the place warm. He turned his head to the right and looked down the hall to see the lonesome restroom light, blanketing the faded blue carpet and revealing all its splotchy imperfections. He was feeling imperfect and blue too, he decided. Who knew if he would ever see his friend Jack again and if he could learn to cope with this place on his own?
He stood up and paced the hallway taking care to look at things so that his mind would stop going into the vivid imagery of dreamland in an attempt to shut his body down. He noticed all the cracks, cobwebs, and the occasional spider peering down at him from the ceiling. He also examined the water-stained ceiling tiles and thought to himself that maybe there was a way out up there. His feet dragged and scuffed against the stiff carpet until it forced him to face plant onto the floor and jolt his entire body in pain. When the shock wore off he decided that since he was down there already that he would do a few push-ups, and so he did. After five or so, he just laid flat on his stomach. His eyes became heavy and soon he was breathing long relaxed breaths while gently inhaling the floor’s musty scent.
It would be so easy to drift into a dark and magical slumber, he thought to himself as he lied there. His body began surrendering and melting into the unexpectedly cozy carpet and soon he began to feel warm and relaxed. He shut his eyes and resonated with the pulsations of all those enchanting little tingles dancing up and down his outstretched body from head to toe.
“Jeff wake up,” came a voice.
Huh? Jeff stiffened and lifted his head to see who had spoken.
The hallway was quiet and unoccupied, but Jeff was now awake. He sat up and put his back to the wall that just happened to be the wall across from Emily’s little room. Jack’s friend sat there, alone in the night, pondering to himself if there was any real danger, that maybe Jack was just being paranoid. Why would Rudy want to hurt Emily? He pondered
Then he heard the footfalls. He slowly turned his head to his left and noticed the deep shadowy figure of Rudy Miller stepping out into the hallway headed his way. All doubt was erased from his mind and his body swiftly stiffened in terror at the pungently foul man. Rudy stood well over six feet and packed a full massive frame of fat and muscle. Each step Rudy took became increasingly louder, and tired little Jeff began to panic.
Rudy stopped in front of him, towering over his sitting form and cracked his knuckles. Jeff stood up hastily and clenched his small fists down by his waist, hoping in his mind that if he was going to die tonight, that it would be quick. Rudy made no sound but looked down at Jeff’s panic-stricken face and smiled. Jeff felt an unnatural fear creep inside of him, almost supernatural, and it may have been his imagination, but he swore Rudy’s eyes tinted a reddish glow.
The ogre stepped in closer to the little man oozing his rancid breath over Jeff’s brown, messy hair and forcing the terrified man to gag and nearly vomit. He brought up his hands to push Rudy back, but he no longer had the space to do so, and his body began to feel weak under the overpowering glare of Rudy’s haunting eyes.
This is it, Jeff thought. The long-haired man knew he was going to die.
Jeff and Rudy both turned their attention down the hallway and looked upon the form of Lynette, her big, bulging eyes beaming angrily at Rudy.
“Get your motherfucking punk-ass back to bed,” she said threateningly.
Rudy stared at her with an almost comical look of confusion. He still did not budge, and Lynette slowly creeped forward.
“I ain't gonna tell your ass again Rudy, get - the fuck - to bed,” she advised once more.
The heavy man inhaled slowly and turned his attention back to Jeff, who was still staring at Lynette in complete shock. Rudy sighed and then turned away from both of them without saying a word. He looked down to his feet and trotted his hefty frame back to his room where he would dwell the rest of the night.
“And wash your fucking ass in the morning too,” she called out.
The once terrified Jeffrey continued to gawk at the black woman feeling a profound admiration for her and a sincere gratitude that she appeared when she did. Lynette turned her gaze from Rudy’s room to look back at Jeff’s unblinking stare.
“What? That motherfucker don’t scare me, I'm too old for this damn shit man,” she defiantly whispered as she began her advance over to the restroom.
When she disappeared, Jeff sat down again and quietly laughed at the absurdity of what had just happened. He hoped that Jack would be back today because he didn’t think he could keep himself awake for two nights in a row.
He sat there for several more hours waiting for the classical music to turn on which would signal it was 7am and time for everyone to get up. When that time did finally come to pass, he sighed in great relief and stood up to stretch. After his muscles loosened up he walked over into the common room and contemplated the strange events with Ben, Jack, and Rudy.
He sat on the soft couch and placed his tired head back into the cushion allowing a great sensation of relaxation to wash over him. He drifted for several minutes before being awoken by a familiar and pleasant voice.
“How fared your night my friend?”
Jeff’s eyes flared open instantly as he jumped off the couch and turned to see Jack. “Jack, I did it. I protected her, well, me and Lynette, but you were right, Rudy, he…” Jeff stammered.
Jack smiled at his friend and walked around the couch to hug him. He looked down at him and ruffled Jeff's already messed up hair. “You almost fell asleep on the floor, didn’t you?” Jack teased.
Jeff stiffened up. "I know, I know, I’m sorry I, hey wait,” he paused in confusion.
Jack laughed and walked towards the hallway. “I’ll see you later when I wake up buddy,” Jack answered back to him.
Jeff stood there watching as Jack disappeared into the hallway where so much had happened in one night. He looked down at the floor and scratched his head in confusion. “How the hell did he know that I almost fell asleep?”