Meds

MEDS by Aaron Gudmunson part 1

Excerpt from InviroTech Laboratory Report dated 16 Jan 2014.

MEDS prototype completed and on-line. Freestanding power supply requested and granted by Department Subcommittee. Upper-level laboratory requested and granted by Board of Directors for controlled experiments. Initial testing to begin on mammal specimen. Positive hypothesis regarding safe departure and return of specimen. Supplementary funding requested and granted by Board of Directors.

#

Green Light blinked on.

Hal could see it through the tinted glass of the chamber. Stay on, Greenie, he thought. Don’t let your evil twin Red out to play. Not today.

“It’s ready,” Julianne said through his earpiece in a whisper of static. “Are you?”

“Ready,” Hal said into the chamber’s microphone. Truth told, he wasn’t sure he was. It had taken him until now to even enter the machine.

Julianne spoke, distant. “Hal, it shouldn’t be you. We should try another rat.”

“Jules—”

“If something goes wrong, you’re the only one who knows how to reverse it.”

“Julianne, listen,” Hal said. “You know enough. I have full confidence you can bring me back. Besides, if something went wrong I wouldn’t be able to live without you.” He tipped her a wink.

Julianne shook her head, her auburn hair bouncing. “Fine. But come back or you’re a dead man.”

“You got it, sugar-plum,” Hal said. He closed his eyes. He could hear his wife speaking into the recorder in her melodic, professional voice.

“Eighteen-hundred hours. MEDS primed and prepared for initial human testing. Test subject, Dr. Harold von Ende, enclosed and prepared for induced cerebral projection.” She flicked a switch on the control board and the unit cycled up. Hal sensed the power ebb. A vibration began at the back of his head where the electrode was attached to the shaved patch of scalp over his medulla oblongata. Two more droned at his temples. He wrapped his hands around the rubber grips and squeezed. Here it comes, he thought. He gritted his teeth. And then…

Nothing. The vibration stopped.

Hal von Ende opened his eyes and peered through the smoked glass of the upright steel sarcophagus of the MEDS unit.

Green Light had blinked out. Red Light glared at him.

#

“I just don’t understand it,” Hal repeated, running a hand through onyx-dark hair showing the first wisps of white. “It should work.” He paced, a robe belted loosely at his waist. “Maybe it’s a ghost or something, trying to sabotage me.”

Julianne sniffed at the reference to her area of scientific specialty, Paranormal Psychology. Hal loved and admired his wife, but he could do without the mysticism. He focused on the logical. He had to hand it to her, though. She was confident in her work, and excelled in it. And she had put that on hold to aid in his research. He counted his blessings.

“A ghost,” she smiled. “There’s a thought. Just can’t accept human error, can you, sweetie?”

“Nope.”

“We can try again in three hours,” Julianne said. She pulled her hair up into a bun, wrapping it around a pencil.

“I don’t want to try again in three hours,” Hal said. “I want to try again now.”

“It takes MEDS that long to recharge, dear,” his wife reminded.

“I know, I know,” he muttered. “I built the damned thing.”

Julianne stood and pinched her eyeglasses off, stepped on tiptoe, and kissed his cheek. “Don’t be a sourpuss. We’ll get it.”

Hal sighed. He stuck his hands into the pockets of the robe, staring down at his feet, and wondered how much relief Jules was feeling at his failure. Not that he could blame her. He checked his watch. They’d been working ten hours without break.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

#

They had lunch sent up from the kitchen fifty-three stories below. The kid in the InvroTech polo shirt who delivered it was wide-eyed and nervous.

“Everything all right, Leonard?” Hal asked, accepting the tray from the kid. The aroma of roast beef wafted up.

“With all respect, Dr. von Ende,” Leonard said, eyeing the plaque on the door that read Center for Paranormal Research. “I don’t know how you can work up here all alone.”

“I’m not alone,” Hal replied. “I have my lovely wife to accompany me.”

“Well, you’re braver folk than me.” He glanced behind him into the darkened corridor. “I couldn’t stand being the only people above the twentieth floor. Not in this place.”

“Why’s that?”

“Some of the guys in the kitchen say this place is haunted. They heard that something went wrong, some experiments or something. Killed some people.”

“Your friends are messing with you.”

“I dunno. But it is creepy up here, being all dark and everything, with only those little lights running along the baseboards. Why don’t they keep the lights on up here after hours?”

“They’re on a timer. Dimmed at seventeen-thirty, back to full at oh-eight-hundred sharp. Saves the bigwigs some moolah.”

“Yeah, but there aren’t even any windows up here. It’s spooky,” Leonard pressed. Hal understood that the young man was in no hurry to trek back down the corridor to the elevator, a three hundred foot walk. Or three hundred foot sprint, if Hal could guess what Leonard had in mind once the door closed behind him.

“No windows make for a more secure environment,” Hal said, checking his watch. “Our research is cutting edge and there are people who’d like to get their hands on it before we can stake our claim. Can’t trust anyone these days. Now I don’t mean to be uncouth, but we have work to do after dinner….”

Leonard colored. “Oh! Sorry, sir. Enjoy your meal.” Leonard nodded to Julianne and said, “Evening, Mrs. — uh — Dr. von Ende.” He turned and started down the dim hallway, his footsteps muted by the thick carpet beneath his sneakers. Hal closed the door and listened for Leonard on the run. He couldn’t hear anything. It was dead silent in the corridor.

Excerpt from InviroTech Laboratory Report dated 16 Jan 2014.

MEDS prototype completed and on-line. Freestanding power supply requested and granted by Department Subcommittee. Upper-level laboratory requested and granted by Board of Directors for controlled experiments. Initial testing to begin on mammal specimen. Positive hypothesis regarding safe departure and return of specimen. Supplementary funding requested and granted by Board of Directors.

#

Green Light blinked on.

Hal could see it through the tinted glass of the chamber. Stay on, Greenie, he thought. Don’t let your evil twin Red out to play. Not today.

“It’s ready,” Julianne said through his earpiece in a whisper of static. “Are you?”

“Ready,” Hal said into the chamber’s microphone. Truth told, he wasn’t sure he was. It had taken him until now to even enter the machine.

Julianne spoke, distant. “Hal, it shouldn’t be you. We should try another rat.”

“Jules—”

“If something goes wrong, you’re the only one who knows how to reverse it.”

“Julianne, listen,” Hal said. “You know enough. I have full confidence you can bring me back. Besides, if something went wrong I wouldn’t be able to live without you.” He tipped her a wink.

Julianne shook her head, her auburn hair bouncing. “Fine. But come back or you’re a dead man.”

“You got it, sugar-plum,” Hal said. He closed his eyes. He could hear his wife speaking into the recorder in her melodic, professional voice.

“Eighteen-hundred hours. MEDS primed and prepared for initial human testing. Test subject, Dr. Harold von Ende, enclosed and prepared for induced cerebral projection.” She flicked a switch on the control board and the unit cycled up. Hal sensed the power ebb. A vibration began at the back of his head where the electrode was attached to the shaved patch of scalp over his medulla oblongata. Two more droned at his temples. He wrapped his hands around the rubber grips and squeezed. Here it comes, he thought. He gritted his teeth. And then…

Nothing. The vibration stopped.

Hal von Ende opened his eyes and peered through the smoked glass of the upright steel sarcophagus of the MEDS unit.

Green Light had blinked out. Red Light glared at him.

#

“I just don’t understand it,” Hal repeated, running a hand through onyx-dark hair showing the first wisps of white. “It should work.” He paced, a robe belted loosely at his waist. “Maybe it’s a ghost or something, trying to sabotage me.”

Julianne sniffed at the reference to her area of scientific specialty, Paranormal Psychology. Hal loved and admired his wife, but he could do without the mysticism. He focused on the logical. He had to hand it to her, though. She was confident in her work, and excelled in it. And she had put that on hold to aid in his research. He counted his blessings.

“A ghost,” she smiled. “There’s a thought. Just can’t accept human error, can you, sweetie?”

“Nope.”

“We can try again in three hours,” Julianne said. She pulled her hair up into a bun, wrapping it around a pencil.

“I don’t want to try again in three hours,” Hal said. “I want to try again now.”

“It takes MEDS that long to recharge, dear,” his wife reminded.

“I know, I know,” he muttered. “I built the damned thing.”

Julianne stood and pinched her eyeglasses off, stepped on tiptoe, and kissed his cheek. “Don’t be a sourpuss. We’ll get it.”

Hal sighed. He stuck his hands into the pockets of the robe, staring down at his feet, and wondered how much relief Jules was feeling at his failure. Not that he could blame her. He checked his watch. They’d been working ten hours without break.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

#

They had lunch sent up from the kitchen fifty-three stories below. The kid in the InvroTech polo shirt who delivered it was wide-eyed and nervous.

“Everything all right, Leonard?” Hal asked, accepting the tray from the kid. The aroma of roast beef wafted up.

“With all respect, Dr. von Ende,” Leonard said, eyeing the plaque on the door that read Center for Paranormal Research. “I don’t know how you can work up here all alone.”

“I’m not alone,” Hal replied. “I have my lovely wife to accompany me.”

“Well, you’re braver folk than me.” He glanced behind him into the darkened corridor. “I couldn’t stand being the only people above the twentieth floor. Not in this place.”

“Why’s that?”

“Some of the guys in the kitchen say this place is haunted. They heard that something went wrong, some experiments or something. Killed some people.”

“Your friends are messing with you.”

“I dunno. But it is creepy up here, being all dark and everything, with only those little lights running along the baseboards. Why don’t they keep the lights on up here after hours?”

“They’re on a timer. Dimmed at seventeen-thirty, back to full at oh-eight-hundred sharp. Saves the bigwigs some moolah.”

“Yeah, but there aren’t even any windows up here. It’s spooky,” Leonard pressed. Hal understood that the young man was in no hurry to trek back down the corridor to the elevator, a three hundred foot walk. Or three hundred foot sprint, if Hal could guess what Leonard had in mind once the door closed behind him.

“No windows make for a more secure environment,” Hal said, checking his watch. “Our research is cutting edge and there are people who’d like to get their hands on it before we can stake our claim. Can’t trust anyone these days. Now I don’t mean to be uncouth, but we have work to do after dinner….”

Leonard colored. “Oh! Sorry, sir. Enjoy your meal.” Leonard nodded to Julianne and said, “Evening, Mrs. — uh — Dr. von Ende.” He turned and started down the dim hallway, his footsteps muted by the thick carpet beneath his sneakers. Hal closed the door and listened for Leonard on the run. He couldn’t hear anything. It was dead silent in the corridor.