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Playing With Fire, Part 1
Prologue: Regarding the Television
The news anchor gave everyone a big beaming smile. “Merry Christmas Eve, America...and what a wonderful Christmas of 2019 it is! I imagine at least a few of you are spreading some holiday cheer! Oh....” He pretended to professionally shuffle his papers. “...speaking of holiday cheer, let's see if Fairbanks has quieted down any....” The image cut to a view of the Capitol Building of Fairbanks, a large, white structure raised where the Regal Cinemas building was. It was late at night, and thousands of people wielding flaming torches were hosting a riot in front of the building. The image cut itself in fourths, and the top left corner remained, depicting a smaller view of the riot. The other three had been taken up by the anchor's body. “No, apparently not.” He said. “Once again, last night, the murder of what the people are calling, and I quote, “seventeen innocent civilians” raised accusations against The Quillmen and The Government. As you can see, thousands of others have taken to rioting in protest of what they are calling, and again I quote, “the Government's cruelty and iron hand.”. If you ask me, I say they need to be taught a lesson. I say that their little riots could inspire the nation the wrong way, and the United States of America will be no more! A message must be sent!” The man continued to spout his obnoxious views, resulting in a severe ratings drop. Little did anyone know what was being planned.
They took Christmas away. Bombed it with cyanide gas, taking over ten thousand lives and shocking our city. After that, we tried to regain our Christmas, but dinner was rudely intruded on by an Emergency Broadcast—The Government, no doubt. The party—all of us—desperately hovered around the flatscreen television, awaiting further instructions. A smartly-dressed man looked up from his notes. "Ah, good evening, Fairbanks, Alaska." He said. Murmurs of shock rippled through the crowd. Fairbanks? It was just us being attacked? Smartly Dressed Man continued. "You are going to be put under quarantine for reasons not divulged to the public until further notice. You will not resist. You will not object, complain, or riot." I could feel anger rising in the room. It was when he began his next list of demands that I began to wish him dead. "You will allow unreasonable and unconstitutional search and seizure. Everything in every house and on every person will be confiscated and destroyed."
I wished a bullet through his head, to see blood splattering across the screen, and to experience the euphoria of an enemy destroyed. Over the past years, The Government had made significant advances in the area of control. Their target was fear. Control. They couldn't get enough of the drug. Smartly Dressed Man continued, and I wished again for the bullet. "There will be no—" There was a pop, and red splattered the screen. Behind it, you could barely make out the slumped form of Smartly Dressed Man. I should have felt euphoria. Joy. Release, almost. But instead, I felt dead inside. I had wished it, and it had happened. No. That's ridiculous. You didn't cause it. Someone from Fairbanks was mad too. But how? It couldn't have been a representative, or anyone. We all knew that guns weren't allowed in The Nation Broadcasting Headquarters I continued to wonder. D.C. was a long way away from Alaska, even more so from Fairbanks.
I suddenly became aware that my mom was tugging at my sleeve. "Noah!" She screamed. "Let's go!" I knew where we were going. Where everyone else at the party was going. The Airport. We had to go. "Noah!" There it was. My mother's voice. Afraid. Run! I told myself. Come on, think! Run! I got up, and, with the unusual circumstances surrounding the Smartly Dressed Man's death lingering on the edges of my mind, fled to the airport, not knowing the death, disaster, and peril that lay ahead, at the airport, in the streets, and in our town. Not knowing who the real threat really was.
Riots & Chaos
Our minivan carried only us and our most valued possessions as it flew through the streets of Fairbanks. It took less than five minutes for us to hit the center of the city, and by then it was obvious that something was happening. A red-yellow haze with tints of black and gray hovered over the buildings. As we progressed further into town, it was apparent a riot was in action. The tires cut on chinks of fallen glass that were once expressionless windows. A few people began to appear, running at something. In as instant I knew what it was. The Government had created large white buildings of stone in every town that served as control stations. These buildings kept every town in line and were hated so much by the people. Every person who walked in the doors of one had to strip bare naked and give a blood sample to make sure that they weren't some type of bomb. Tonight, everything about those rules was about to be broken.
The airport could only be directly accessed by a road that ran through the square. A sharp turn to the left revealed over a thousand people swarming the square like wasps. From there, a right, where there were people still pouring in armed with bricks and rocks. We skirted along the curb, before nearly colliding with a lamppost. Somewhere in the crowd, a gun was fired. Machine gun fire before broke out, on both sides. The riot surged inward like an angry wave, now looking for blood. We all watched silently, waiting for the outcome. As it turned out, we didn't have to wait. A bomb went off, and the building exploded. Windows shattered, pillars collided, and pieces of rubble shot into the air like fireworks. The other part of the explosion killed everything on the ground within a one hundred foot radius. And we were in that radius.
Regarding The Television II
Several sensible people didn't take to the riot. They decided to flee. When the explosion happened, we barely escaped. The car took two more lefts, a right, then a left, before coming to a halt in the airport parking lot. It was a random place, and as we hurried between the mess of cars, we met up with my aunt and uncle. Somewhere, far away, a car crashed into another. Then, an explosion, and a car came flipping over our heads before crashing into another car. Bombs were headed towards the airport. Already, a line of Quillmen were driving in, flinging bombs the size of mangoes at cars. Massive explosions ran through the line. My brother, Luke—ten years old—shrieked in horror. My parents ushered us inside the building as gunfire broke out from the top stories and rooftop. Saying civilians were angry was the understatement of a lifetime.
People were literally screaming inside as ten Quillmen tried to contain the gates to the planes. “Lets us in!” and “Please! Please!” were among the less threatening cries. Threatening ones included, “I'll hurt you if you don't let me through!” and “If you won't let me through, you'll be the one in quarantine!”, and the owners of those cries were waving pens and pencils. The television was on, broadcasting the Smartly Dressed Man's death. The reporter had, as usual, no identification and a blank face. The banner running across the top and bottom of the screen stated “Mysteries surrounding the death of a Government official deepen.” The reporter's voice was soft, like silk, but was grated with years of lies he had knowingly told. “...once again, people. There was no evidence of a gun, as none was found and there was no identification on the bullet that it was fired from any registered weapon.” I frowned, trying desperately not to think, You did this, Noah. You killed the Smartly Dressed Man.
The Battle for The Airport
There was an explosion, and the window shattered outwards. Someone had brought a rocket launcher. Just brilliant. Immediately, the army began to fire machine guns. I located the person with the rocket launcher. She was aiming at the support beams that held the front structure of the ceiling up. Just as the army invaded the windows, she fired. The ceiling exploded. Beams cracked, twisting sideways like the wrapping of a Tootsie Roll, before giving out. The deers screamed as they looked up at the headlights. Then they were crushed. The Woman With The Rocket Launcher whooped.
By then, people had followed up on the claim they made earlier that referenced the Quillmen in quarantine. They disappeared beneath bloody fists and angry bodies, trampled by a mob. My mom shooed the entire family away from the violence, ensuring that we could find another plane. We ran to the next gate. People—including The Woman With The Rocket Launcher—were flooding the plane. The Woman With The Rocket Launcher was waiting, calling anybody she saw. She waved to us. “Hurry! Come on! Hurry! We have to go!” She screamed, but was lost in the roar coming from around the airport. We looked around, and saw two Quillmen charging at us. There were more coming. My mom grabbed a gun and shot at the cables connecting a T-Rex skeleton to the roof. The T-Rex skeleton fell to the floor, pinning the men and restricting any further access by other Quillmen because the new preservative began seeping out of the skeleton. It was a poisonous preservative, that would become airborne if unattended.
We had one minute.
The men had been impaled in some way, and I saw something that would haunt me forever: The men were disintegrating, their flesh melting, their blood pooling. Their bones were even beginning to bend. A shout from The Woman With The Rocket Launcher brought our attention. “Come on!” she was screaming. I felt nausea spreading in my body, but I made myself run.
We were closing in on the boarding tunnel when the first bomb dropped.
The pavement shattered like a paper machete that has been hit one too many times at a party. The windows rattled, and through the brief flash of light, we saw them. Hundreds of airplanes, all several miles off. The Woman With The Rocket Launcher hesitated, then looked around, at the smoking bodies and destroyed skeleton, then at the Quillmen, who, suddenly, were taking aim.
“Uh...no.” She said. “Come on!” she addressed the rocket launcher, shaking it. “There's got to be at least one more round left in you!” She shook it, then tried it again. No response. She swore. “Come on, you son of a b—“ One moment she was standing, fine, the rocket launcher being wrung like the wrist of a child whose behavior wasn't exemplary.
Then she was shot.
She fell, the rocket launcher falling with her. Everyone ducked as a spray of bullets was fired by Quillmen. The woman was gasping, blood oozing from a gunshot wound to her right shoulder. I willed for the death of those Quillmen. The woman and her rocket launcher were there to help people, only doing what she believed to be right.
She was gasping, trying to say something incomprehensible Finally, she managed to choke out, “The card swipe on the launcher. Use something sharp.” My mom had a letter opener. Inside was a bomb, easily able to conceal. We lifted it out. Next was a medical kit.
“Use the bomb on them!”
My dad threw the bomb, and it hit a soldier's gas mask. There was another bloody explosion. The woman drew our attention back to her and the kit. She was trying to say something.
“...when we get on the plane.”
My mom grabbed her shoulders. “Come on! Help me carry her! Noah, get her feet! Luke, the bags! Bob, get the launcher!” Luke got the bags and her kit. My dad got her launcher, and I helped my mom carry her body. We were almost at the end of the tunnel when a man poked his head outside of the plane's door. “Justine! Come on!” He saw us carrying Justine, and ran over to help.
“I-Is she alive?”
“I think there's room for her.” We were in the plane now! “I need a first class seat to clear out!” The man bellowed, and an entire row of passengers moved. We set her down, and the man ran over to the pilot's cabin. “Mike!” He puffed, banging on the doors. “Mike! Take off! Hurry!” As he ran back, the engines started, and the speaker came on. “Attention, ladies and gentlemen, we will be leaving in less than three minutes. Please fasten your seat belts, and if you want to smoke, feel free to.” We opened the kit. “Oh, and, everyone...guns are encouraged, but bombs and explosive devices are considered a disruption of the peace, and when coupled with the possible destruction of this plane, are heavily discouraged, thank you. My assistant, Barry, is here to help you if you need it.” The man who had helped us stood up and waved his hand. “Again people, thank you for your cooperation and have a safe flight.”
Barry grabbed a gun out of his shoe and advanced towards the door. He waved a hand for people to be quiet, and the message spread withing three seconds. We waited...and waited. Suddenly, I realized what Barry was listening for. There was a steady clomping of boots. Soldiers were just outside the door. Barry approached it with a sense of caution, not daring to breathe. He approached the door at the slowest rate, gun clenched tight in his hand, and all the while silently whispering, “Come on, Mike...”. I then became aware that the soldier's boots had stopped clomping. They had noticed. Then, I heard the crackle of radio static as someone whispered into a microphone.
Barry had noticed too. He pointed his gun toward the door and prepared to commit suicide. It was at that moment that Mike was able to make the plane move. We began to slide backwards, onto the runway. Gunfire broke out—not from the soldiers, but from the Quillmen standing with gas masks at the windows, blowing them to shards. The plane backed up onto the runway. Gas was spewed everywhere from a truck, and the wheels seemed to slip and slide.
It was then the firestorm broke out.
Great waves of fire were spewed in tiny canisters from the airplanes that had now arrived, illuminating the runway. It was littered with flammable materials, explosives, and gas trucks. They wanted us to do this.
The wall of fire started behind us, then grew into a raging inferno that was flaring right toward us. People were screaming, and Barry was screaming incomprehensibly at Mike as he pulled the door shut. The plane began to move forward, but suddenly stopped.
— ? —
The fire closed in on the plane, drawing closer and closer, as Mike the pilot desperately tried to start it. He found the problem when the fire was only five hundred feet away: The fuel tanks were leaking. He grabbed a roll of duct tape to fix the engines, and ran out to tape them back. While out there, the fuel leaked over his clothes and he was not able to get inside before the fire found him and burned his entire body like a baked potato. Fortunately, for everyone else inside, he was able to duct tape the fuel leak several times over.
— ? —
We watched as Mike was burned alive, only just having been able to duct tape the fuel line leak. Justine was able to recover enough to tell us the extent of her airplane flying capabilities, which was rather considerable. My dad helped navigate her arm through the plane and set her down in the seat. From there, she was able to make the engines work.
The fire swirled around the plane, obscuring our view and destroying the glass. Justine was swearing. “Come on, you bloody cur!” and other insults were thrown at the mechanics. A few seconds passed, then Justine barreled from the room, screaming at us. “The fire's melting the tape! Get off!” A mad rush ensued to get to the doors first.
My family was first. At least, that's what I thought. Suddenly, I was picked up by my uncle, who had somehow made it on the plane, and carried over the heads of the people. Justine had Luke and was towing him towards the door, still swearing at people to move. She ran to the pilot's cabin, and my uncle followed her. We were going out the window. A smash, and Justine and Luke were tumbling out the window. Then, I was following them. I hit the ground, and was consumed by the fire. Like Justine and Luke, I rolled, until I got out of the fire. It seemed like a never ending torrent trying desperately to melt my body. I escaped, finally, by rolling into a ditch flooded with water. Raising my head, it appeared Justine and Luke had taken the same route. We looked at eachother, and smiled relief.
And the fire from the plane's explosion couldn't have made our features sharper.
Another Man, Smartly Dressed
The man walked through the hallways of the building that was white. He had a large briefcase that contained needed information. He went into another room. An office. Men smartly dressed in suits with glasses that looked like those out of The Matrix watched him as he greeted the president of the United States of America.
“Good evening, Mr. President.”
“Good evening, Sam.”
“We have the data. Fairbanks is being secured as we speak.”
“That is good. The other reason why we are there? Control?”
“A lesson should be sweeping the nation as we speak. Now, we are waiting on your word to deploy the specialists, who have isolated a compound in the cyanide we dropped earlier today that can make the others become like him. It just needs to be activated.”
“Do we know who he is?”
The Smartly Dressed man handed a folder to the President, who opened it calmly, noting the five pounds of material inside it. He looked at the name. Noah James.
Soldiers were put on the plane with instructions to guard the folder about Noah James with their lives. After leaving Washington D.C., the soldiers' tension ebbed from the compartment. Someone lit a cigarette, and passed the case around. A round of talk began, but, this time stayed rooted in a single foundation: the situation in Fairbanks, Alaska. They were all curious as to why they were sent there, but were nervous to carry out their assigned orders—the complete lockdown of Fairbanks.
Little did they know that far away, a vengeful Noah James willed that all support for the army would be destroyed in the most disgustingly, violent, horrific, painfully bloody, long way possible.
And what he willed came true.
Regarding the Television III
For those regarding the television, a very strange story was unfolding. It was befuddling in the sense of not making any sense, preferring to tell the real story, and not the lies, like it had been doing since 2016.
“...and now, we take you live to Fairbanks, Alaska, where riots are breaking out on the streets, and...oh, my God! The Faribanks Capitol Building has...well, it....” A full image of the building being destroyed clouded the screen. A narration, the announcer's voice came on. “The Capitol Building of Fairbanks has just been bombed!” The image folded into the top left corner, and the announcer's voice came back on. “On Christmas Day, riots in Fairbanks? You must be wondering what this is all about—I certainly am. Apparently...” here, he professionally shuffled his papers. “Fairbanks is under quarantine for what the government officials and the president are calling, and here I quote, “A possible airborne contagion in a shocking declaration of war against the United States.” Likely candidates for this unprovoked attack include...” the man rambled the names, going on and on in a slow monotonous drawl, and not coming to a stop for over five minutes, before he came to a stop and smiled with false cheeriness at the screen, and a quick, “We'll keep you updated.”
Fight, Flight, or Flight
Justine had a blindingly fast pace, and we could just barely keep up with her. The airport had been taken over—that was for sure, but the planes were only just beginning to be raided. At the end of the tarmac, there was a 747. That was what Justine was aiming for. Suddenly, a guard got in our way. He held his gun at Luke.
“Hold it there, drop the gun, or I'll shoot the little kid.”
Justine let the gun fall out of her hand, then she jumped at him, knocking his gun out of his hand. She punched his nose, and the action was followed by a disgusting cracking sound and a splash of blood. He drew his legs in quickly, hitting her in the back with his knees. She tumbled over, a hand to her back. The man got up and looked for his gun. Just as he located it, Justine managed to kick his legs, causing him to topple forwards, onto her. She moved, as the man, too taken by surprise to put out his hands to brace himself, fell face first onto the ground. There was another hideous cracking sound as the man's nose was crunched further inward. He slowly moved, but Justine's trained eyes located the same thing he was looking at. Her foot shot out and crunched the bones in his hand before it could reach the gun. His other hand grabbed her foot, pulling her down. She hit the ground with a thud, and immediately kicked his face with both feet. He rolled several times before stopping, and that was only when Justine slammed her foot into his chest. He gave a pained gasp. I shielded Luke's eyes, but couldn't tear mine away from the sight of Justine killing the man. Finally, I heard the thud of her boot connecting with the pavement and tried not to think about the Justine's-boot-sized hole that was through the body. Still shielding Luke's eyes until we were well past the body, we ran for the plane.
The fire pursued us as bombs were rained down by the planes. Was this really our government? Was this really control?
“Find a seat!” Justine screamed as she ran for the pilot's cabin. She was able to start the engines smoothly. I was screaming at Luke to get to a seat and buckle in as he had tripped over the drinks cart. The plane began to move, but not for far. The front cabin had a few more profane things to say. Seconds of Justine swearing at the plane resulted in nothing.
“Barry! Hurry, someone! Open the door! It's Barry!” Barry? Barry's alive? I jumped out of my seat and ran for the door. Barry was already there. I helped him get into the plane. A brief “Thanks.” came out of his mouth before he ran off to help Justine. I slammed the door shut.
“Buckle up kids—oh, h***!” I looked out of the window. Luke too was craning his neck to see. As I looked over at him, I could see his eyes widen. There was a storm of fire heading straight for us. The flares were visible from the isle, and Justine was shouting everything that came to mind. “Screw the window! I can fly without it!” Barry said something. “I don't care about the pressure! They can find gum! Start shooting!” The plane began to move. We were headed straight into the firestorm.
As we moved closer, there were more frequent explosions, and gunfire raining outside. Justine was screaming insults at the gun, which seemed to be jammed. This continued as the plane's nose titled to catch the wind. There was a crack, and Barry was able to fire. Gunfire was presented at an alarmingly fast rate. Justine was swerving everywhere. Something—I think it orange juice—splashed me from behind.
“Justine! Stop! This is a 747, not a fighter one-man plane! We're not doing so well with the window shot out!” The plane didn't stop swerving, and the gunfire didn't stop either. A steady stream of bullets was falling down the isle.
The chaos continued until Justine stopped swerving. I found that I had been gripping the seats so tightly my knuckles needed more than five seconds to return to some color. I gasped, the adrenaline flooding out of my system. I was still frightened. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. I took a deep breath, and opened my eyes. With the threat of dying pushed back in my mind, I could think about other things. It was then the situation hit me. I began to cry. Luke poked his head around the seat.
“What do you think is wrong?”
“Oh, come on, Luke! You can't be that stupid.”
Luke being Luke, he'd push bad news to the back of his head, but I couldn't let this one go. “What's wrong? What's wrong, you idiot?” I choked. “They're dead! Mom, dad, Uncle Joe and Aunt Liz! They're gone! They're a-a-all g-gone! T-They're all gone, and that means they're gone and they're not coming back! This isn't some fairy tale where the good guys win because the good guys win and evil get blasted in the face! They're not there...and...and we'll never see them again. Never.”
Luke began to cry, too. We sobbed for what felt like hours, holding on to each other and never letting go. We were it. All that was left of our family in Fairbanks. They were gone. We wouldn't see them again. Never. Never, and I never got the chance to thank Uncle Joe for saving my life....
Sky Battle Over Mt. Denali
Midnight. That's when Justine knew we had people following us. Their arrival was greeted by a curse, and a swerve of the plane as Justine tried her very best to navigate around a spray of bullets that seemed intent on denting the plane. The plane tilted to a ninety-degree angle, and Luke nearly fell out of his seat. The drinks cart hit the side, and a window broke. Compartments above our heads started to open (usually, they should be mechanically sealed, starting when the flight takes off). Something was in one of those compartments. I couldn't tell was it was, other than it had very precise aim and hit the window, shattering it into thousands of pieces that reflected the moonlight. I looked out into the abyss, the steep slopes that vanished into the black nothingness.
Gunfire that seemed to be aimed at me became distracting, and I poked my head in the window as the plane tilted to the left, and everything that wasn't strapped in—including Luke, myself, and the drinks table—we all went flying to the other side of the isle. Up front, Barry yelled at Justine, who was having herself a fun time.
“Try this on your fighter plane.” She sneered, adding a curse to the end of the sentence, and tipped the plane over—upside down. It saved us, as we narrowly missed a spray of bullets intended for the engines. The plane did another turn, only this time it was what we were normally used to—if we weren't used to Justine's mad flying.
It was foggy all around us, so it came as a surprise when Justine screamed even more foul language and the plane veered to the left, sending everyone flying into walls. “Bloody h***!” Behind us, there was an explosion.
'What was that?” Bellowed Barry.
“Only Mt. Denali!” Justine said shakily.
“I think we lost someone back there!”
Justine steadied the plane. “We're at the top. Whoa!” Another swerve, and we heard something go zooming past the plane. “I guess they figured that out, too!” Suddenly, the plane was sent spinning in circles as gunfire tore open the left wing. Justine pulled the plane around and Barry began to fire into the fog.
“Luke! Stay down!” I screamed. We both fell to the floor at the same time as bullets tore open the end and flew through the isle. Luke hit the floor writhing in pain, a bullet gash to his cheek.
“Luke! Hold on!” As the plane went upwards, a scrambled up the steep incline of the isle. I eventually made it to the top. I used my last remaining strength to pull myself into the pilot's cabin.
“What are you doing here, kid?”
“Where's the medical kit?”
“It fell! It's somewhere in the isle now! Barry, there!” The plane swerved between hoards of planes. Barry was taking out cases of bullets and slamming new clips in the gun. Shells began to fly again, and flames infused the fog with dancing colors.
I looked around the isle. As the plane was subjected to Justine's swearing and wild flying again, I located it, at the end of the isle, about to fall out the gaping hole.. The plane flipped onto it's side again, and I made my move. I jumped through the air, and hit the right wall running the plane took another sharp curve, and this time, I ran down the ceiling. Luke strapped himself in, and now was hanging upside down., blood running into his sand-colored hair. I jumped for the bag as a row of bullets ripped out the left wing and sent it spinning out of the hole. I reached for it, but found my hand torn open by the same bullets that shot the bag into pieces.
I fell into the plane as the right wing and engines were torn off. Justine was cursing, the plane was falling down, and Barry was grabbing Justine's arm, pleading with her to save us and abandon the plane. After a few seconds, there was a whack, and Barry ran out of the room carrying the gun strapped over one shoulder and Justine over another.
“Come on, you two!” He shouted at us, and neither Luke or myself hesitated to run up the hazardous slope that was the isle. We managed to get to the end without falling—the plane's auto pilot system was trying to navigate as best as it could. Suddenly, there was a crash, and water surged through the plane. We had crashed in a river.
“Brace yourselves!” Barry cried as the water hit us.
The next few hours passed in a blur. I remember people, doctors in white uniforms, and the familiar hospital rooms.
With a jolt, I realized where I was. I'm back in Fairbanks.
The door opened, and a doctor came in.
“Ah, Noah. Noah...James. You would be one of the four people who suceeded in escaping Fairbanks...for a while.” There was a repulsive sneer to his voice, which gushed with the surly drawl of someone who has been brought up with personal assistance, therefore giving him the feel of authority. “I am your doctor. Dr. Frank.”
“I don't like your tone.”
“Well get used to it.”
“Fortunately, for me, you are well. Unfortunately for you, you are well.”
“What does that mean? Where's my brother?”
“Luke James. He's fine. He's out there. But, lucky you...you have woken on the day the real quarantine begins. Put these on.” He thrust a black suit at me, and pulled a pair of black shoes from the closet on the shelf. I glared at him, thinking about the idiot he was. “Hurry up, you moron. Rules and Lockdown begin in five minutes. Wouldn't want to miss it.”
“I'll miss it if I'm handcuffed to the bed...moron.”
Five minutes later I was sporting a nasty bruise and lined up on Luke's right side. Justine—whose last name is Jackson—is on Luke's left, signifying that we are lined up alphabetically. Like nearly everyone else, she has a bruise. From what I've heard so far, we are dressed in black, live, eat, and work in a black tent, as well as have black clothes because we are the dangerous people. Makes me feel significantly important.
The tent curtains slide open, and Dr. Frank struts in. I say “strut” because his disposition, look, tolerance level, and the the air of snobbish, raised-with-a-silver-spoon type naturally acquired command he gives off is nearly visible, and it's obvious that he's a lazy lowlife layabout who was given fifty presents for every holiday event.
“Greetings, and welcome to tent fifty. You are here because, like the other ten tents here, you are considered to be the most dangerous of the prisoners here. As of now, you are under quarantine because of an unknown chemical compound in cyanide dropped yesterday. The cyanide dropped yesterday was an attempt to contain the situation here in Fairbanks that was rapidly spinning out of control, however the compound.... That caused a medical anomaly in a person whose identity we don't know his yet, but the sooner the information arrives, the sooner you can all go home and have a nice day. In the meantime, we will be conducting some...experiments on you all, testing drugs, chemicals ...you get the idea. We are trying to isolate the substances that created this anomaly and the one that was in the cyanide You are lab rats. You will not do what you are not told to do. You will behave, cooperate, and address me as doctor. Also, if you need anything, there will be a system of you standing ten feet away from the soldier you are asking. Now, let the testing begin. Off to my office.”
We were marched down a long corridor, to an office marked “Dr. Frank”. He knocked three times on the plate and the door was opened for him. He hesitated in the doorway, then turned around. “First rat...” he called. “Barry Albert.” Barry. Barry went in calmly.
And came out looking dead.
The Office of Dr. Frankenstein
We were called in one by one. I fought the urge to kill the guards, to shove my fingers into their eye sockets and break their hands with their own guns when Luke's name was called—that would only make things worse for him, but Luke went in calmly. When he came out, I could see his jaw was clenched, and there were marks all along his arms, like vaccination scars.
“Next rat. Noah James.” I entered and shut the door, like everyone else did. The office was barren, except for two chairs, each on opposite sides of a table containing a notebook, stacks of files, and vials of test tubes...and one needle. “Sit down, rat.” I sat down in the chair.”
“Cross-contamination.” I said.
“One needle per person? That's cross-contamination.”
“Oh, no.” The doctor smiled, picked up the needle, and walked over to me. He jabbed it into my hand—right where I had been shot. “One needle for everybody.” He grinned, an almost sadistic, half-mad, psychopathic grin, and I briefly wondered if this man had ever considered a trip to the mental institution. “Let's get started, shall we?”
— ? —
The tests continued for weeks, during which Luke's condition only worsened. The test were taking a toll he didn't want to admit. During that time, a storm encased Alaska making it impossible for travel of any kind.
— ? —
As the murderous tests continued, taking tolls on hundreds of people, the President became angrier, not being able to contact anyone to inform them that the person they were looking for was Noah James. He resolved to find a way.
— ? —
Dr. “Frankenstein” said that “we'll get used to it.”, but I don't think we ever will. Every morning, we get up at 4:30, and are given five minutes to eat our breakfast, which is a combination of minerals the body needs to survive, all mixed together in one disgusting, sludge textured, oatmeal-looking substance that has no taste save for a slightly salty flavor that has an aftertaste of hours.
From there, it's an extensive day testing. We are lab rats, and new compounds, substances, minerals and elements find their way into our bloodstream with one needle used for all people in a single tent.
Not everyone there is as mean as Frankenstein. There is, for example, one woman who has taken an interest in helping the kids secretively. She slipped Luke a packet of medicine and several needles, saying they can improve his health. Barry allowed himself to be a test subject first, and confirmed the validity of the woman's words.
Everything about this place is alphabetical, from the way we go to the doctor's for “testing” to the way we sleep. Justine is on Luke's other side, though, so I feel comfortable for his safety. Frankenstein says we can get used to it.
But there's no way we can.
Every Sunday, Frankenstein allows us some time to “get strong”, but that translates as some time for us to “get strong for another rigorous week of testings”. Smart. It's what he has to do, or else all of us “rats” will die, and his pure enjoyment will vanish right before his eyes.
You could describe it as a reprieve, but that's just shedding light on a sad situation. We're really there to get better so we can get worse. Justine was the one who made a point of telling everybody—scaring them to near fainting. I heard once that a patient tried to drown himself in the river, but was caught and severely punished.
Justine had a secret from Frankenstein. She would slip messages down the river in bottles as a way of releasing information to the outside world. It appeared as though the outside world was receiving it, because every night the soldiers would be clustered around the television or whispering about something on the television to eachother. Top secret was mentioned more than once.
Once upon a time, there was a woman. Her name was Justine, and she was a test subject. One day, she got angry because she had to put up with going into a smelly office with a possibly sadistic doctor—he certainly was a pervert. But she put on a brave face anyway, and slipped into the communications center instead at dinnertime.
Justine killed the guard and dragged her body to the incinerator, where she stripped both of them naked then exchanged clothes with the woman. She heaved the body into the scorching heat, then finished buttoning her new clothes and strode out of the chamber, boasting a strong air. She went into the communications room.
“Sage. There you are. Your turn at the radio device.” Justine traded places with a young man in his late twenties who left the room muttering about strong coffee. Justine hadn't been there five minutes when something came in through the fax. There was a first page in red ink, reading, For Dr. Robert J. Frank. Justine smiled. “What now?” She whispered. When it finished, she gathered the pages and read the report. The page contained information that should never find its way to Dr. Frankenstein's eyes.
April 2nd, 2019
Dr. Robert J Frank,
Greetings from the White House. It is out very best wishes that this letter finds you in your best health and without stress.
We at the White House have been trying to reach you for months now, but this insanely provocative storm hovering in Alaska has left us without communication. It has only been now that we have been able to fax you this highly classified report.
One of your patients has been the subject of this operation. The one with special abilities. His name is Noah James. He is fifteen years old and has a younger brother, Luke. We trust that you are familiar with both patients, and we hope this will be the reason we have to end this operation.
Be expecting a fax on the chemicals found in his blood that caused this anomaly.
With Best Regards,
Justine read and reread it before running out of the room.