chapter four: life-saver_ Edward felt wonderful. He had never before felt so mature. He was the right hand man of a life-saver—he was saving lives. That sounded so good to him. Life-saver. He was a hero. His assistance was not only valued by Mr. Green, but also by the science team. He was a sort of advisor to Mr. Green in decision-making, was part of a task force and was also helping out by trying to think of a solution for curing the infected. “Mr. Edward,” Mr. Green said to him, “Prof. Gerald gave these to me. Check it out.” He handed Edward sheets of paper that looked like some sort of x-ray. “These are traces of the bacteria.” The sheets showed microscope snapshots. “This is the bacteria.” To Edward, it was a spectacle to see that something so small could kill so many people. “I’m sure if you go to see Prof. Gerald, he will tell you more about it.” Edward couldn’t have been more curious. “This,” Prof. Gerald said, holding up a maroon-brown liquid, “is infected blood.” Edward kept a straight face. Prof. Gerald frowned. “Don’t hide it, I know it’s an un-nerving sight.” “Is this all you can show me?” “For now. The only other thing we have is a form of liquid bacteria.” He held up a test tube full of gray liquid. “What are you thinking about doing?” “I think we should look for something to counter the bacteria. The bacteria infects the blood and kills white blood cells. I’ve found that the more bacteria inside you, the faster it multiplies and the quicker you die.” For Edward, the science and mechanics of it all were astounding. * Edward was continually involved with scientific trial and error. After finding that tested cures for the bacteria ended up mixing with it to make a new substance that would kill you quicker than normal bacteria, hope was running out. Nothing was working. The science team was running out of ideas, and more and more people were dying, one after another. Edward was even becoming hopeless. The most miserable of them all was Prof. Gerald. He was the only member of the science team who was still devoted to finding a cure. Long pondering wand sleepless nights were creeping him on the edge of insanity. It was not very long before he went completely insane. But then he had it. His suffering had brought him an idea. It was his last resort, inhumane and reckless, but it still had a decent shot. “W-would all m-members of the science t-t-team please re-p-port to the Genetic Experiments Lab immediately,” his shaky voice ran out over the intercom after several weeks of pain. When all members arrived, Prof. Gerald sat down and told them all. To eliminate all traces of the bacteria to prevent it from spreading, he was to use it as a weapon to kill every infected person. Edward’s face remained straight. It was as if what Prof. Gerald had just said did not even faze him. chapter five: mr. martin_ It was not long after the decision was made that Prof. Atwood suffered a serious injury. Edward was the first to visit his father in the hospital bed. He had been sleeping until paged to Prof. Atwood’s hospital room. When Edward arrived, Prof. Atwood looked as if he were about to die. He looked like someone in the sickroom, with cold, gray skin and a lifeless body. He was sleeping, and if Edward didn’t know any better, he would have thought he was dead. Soon after Edward’s arrival, Prof. Gerald joined the room. “Edward!” he exclaimed as he entered the hospital room. “Have you heard the news?” “Well, I’ve heard the news but not the story.” “One of our workers, Mr. Martin, went berserk and tried to escape the facility. We think he wanted to tell the public about our actions. He ran down the hallway to the exit and splashed bacteria-infected milk into your father’s eyes. Prof. Atwood was infected in a vital area—we don’t think his vision can be repaired. The doctor will tell you more about it than I can, as far as medical conditions.” “You’re actually using my idea for infected milk to kill off victims?” “The idea sounded pretty good, and it works like a charm. I still think it would be more humane to use a gun, though.” “I think it’s more fun with the bacteria. What happened to the worker who tried to escape?” “We caught him outside and injected bacteria into him. He is currently in the sickroom.” “What cot number?” “I think it’s B1, but I’m not sure.” B1, Edward thought. “How are you doing?” “I think I’m delusional,” Prof. Gerald answered. “Wouldn’t it be better for you to go outside? How long have you been locked in here?” “Many years. I would be breaking the law if I wanted to go outside. Even if I tried, an alarm would go off and I would get caught like that,” Prof. Gerald said, snapping his fingers. “That’s what happened to Mr. Martin.” “Still…” Edward trailed off. “Where can I get some of that milk?” “Infected?” “Yeah.” “Check the kitchen.” “Thanks.” Edward turned to his unconscious father. “I’ll be back, Dad.” He left the room, and took a carton of infected milk from the kitchen. B1, Edward thought, and headed to the sickroom. * The person lying in cot B1 in the sickroom looked no older than Edward. Health wise, he looked about the same as Prof. Atwood. He looked dead, except for the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest, which broke the illusion. “Wake up,” Edward said, and shook the cot with both hands. “Wake up!” He kicked the leg of the cot. “Get up!” Mr. Martin woke with a bolt. His eyes darted open and stared into Edward’s own eyes. “Good morning, Sleeping Beauty.” Edward was inches away from his face now. “I hear you infected my father.” The person stared at Edward, his eyes full of horror. “Is this true?” No response. Edward opened the carton of infected milk. “Mr. Martin, do you believe in karma?” He paused for the silent treatment. “This is your taste.” Edward poured the milk into Mr. Martin’s wide, horrified eyes and watched it soak into his sockets. Edward watched as Mr. Martin reached up to claw at his own eyes. Edward stood there and slowly watched him die. “Sleep tight,” Edward said, “and don’t wake up.” Edward tossed the empty carton onto the corpse and left, feeling powerful and proud to have avenged his father. * “Hey,” Dr. Santellano of the science team said to Edward in the hallway. “I saw what you did back there.” Edward smirked. “That was pretty sick of you to do that. If I didn’t know you, you’d sound insane to me.” “You don’t know me.” “You must be crazy then.” “Yeah, but it felt good.” “You’re only new to the business. No remorse is good, but no mercy is just plain evil, kid. I don’t want to see you in ten years.” Edward turned away and hurried to his bunk, ignoring Dr. Santellano. “Who do you think you are!?” Dr. Santellano called after him. Edward paused, and then continued to make his way towards his bunk. chapter six: cold-blooded_ With Mr. Martin gone, Edward was both bored, angry and in mourning for his father’s sickness at the same time. He wanted to let out his emotions on the person who caused this. Killing Mr. Martin was not enough, but as far as Edward was concerned, it was fun. It was entertaining watching people slowly die a painful death. It was fun killing the person and hurting him. It was fun altogether. He had not yet discovered the thrill of killing, and he did not know what he had been missing until now. He loved it, and craved for more. These character traits made him perfect for the business. And he didn’t know it yet. His blood-thirsty obsession led him to coming up the new techniques to kill off the sick, other than infected milk. Any spare time in the office was devoted to no longer finding a cure, the previous goal of the science team, but now to finding more effective uses for the bacteria as a weapon. Lethal overdoses, that kill twice as fast as a regular dose of bacteria—which Edward did not prefer; he’d rather have them suffer. Infected food, infected drink, and un-cleaned sheets were all equally effective to empty the sickroom daily as fast as it re-filled. People relocated to the sickroom would die not long after they arrived. Edward loved this thought—he knew that he was killing to make the world a better place; to eliminate all traces of the bacteria. He was saving lives. The only man who every saw his sinister thoughts was Dr. Santellano. He believed what was going on in Edward’s head was pure evil. He didn’t even know how he could still stand working in the facility anymore. Prof. Atwood’s condition was getting much worse. He was lucky to live another day after he was infected. Edward spent as much time as he could inside his hospital room, but his mind was elsewhere. He was working so feverishly, because he loved his job. And that was the sick thing. Because nobody else in the facility did. chapter seven: Prof. Atwood_ Prof. Atwood died. Three days after his infection, he died. The doctors said he was extremely lucky to have made it that far. The doctors were doing all they could, but because they had no cure, Prof. Atwood was to die. Edward did not even see it coming. It seemed to hit him all at once. Even though he had been there by his father the whole time, he had not expected him to die. When he heard the news he was stunned, and did not mourn. He kept all of his emotions inside him, and showed no sign of mourning. The next couple days were hard for him, but he continued working and did not ask for a leave of absence. Things were better off un-changed, he thought. Dr. Santellano felt both sorry for the boy and sick that he was showing no signs of mourning, and questioned what pain he was feeling inside, if there was any pain at all. His wife did not get the letter until one day after his death. Prof. Gerald mourned the most. chapter eight: the director_ “Mr. Edward,” Mr. Green said, “please deliver this mail to their proper recipients in the sickroom.” He handed Edward a thick bundle of mail. “I have marked the cot numbers of the patients on the front of the letters.” “Hey, Mr. Green,” Edward said, “How does mail come to a top-secret facility?” “The government relocates the mail from them to here. The families send the mail, the government gets it, then sends it to us.” “Ah,” Edward said, and left the room. “Yeah…” Mr. Green responded to himself. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. What was Project White becoming? He thought. Was it a project devoted to saving lives, or killing them? Was it trying to kill the bacteria, or find uses to it? He was ashamed to be the facilities director. He couldn’t stand working at the facility anymore. And he wouldn’t. He opened a drawer in his desk, and took out the letters, still sealed inside their envelopes in a neat manner. * This was only the third time he had entered the sickroom, and Edward was showing no signs of uneasiness. He felt fine. As he handed out the letters to the proper patients, he couldn’t help but think of what he was doing everyday of his life. These were the people he was killing off everyday. The question was: did he care, or not? Edward smiled. Just because he was thinking about it didn’t mean he cared. He handed out the last letter, went to the doorway and took one last look at the patients. They couldn’t even read their mail. Why don’t I… the lighter side of him thought, but he snatched that thought away quickly and left. “Would all members of faculty please report to my office,” Mr. Green said over the intercom. Edward was already on his way there. When he arrived, followed by everyone else in the faculty, there was no one in Mr. Green’s office. Three letters were on his desk. One was labeled “To My Wife,” another was “To the Faculty,” and another was “To My Family.” Prof. Gerald opened the one labeled “To the Faculty,” and read it aloud to the others. “My dear friends and co-workers,” he read, “My time is done. Because I would be breaking the law by leaving the facility, I have gone to my room where I have injected an overdose of the bacteria into my body, to kill me quickly.” Prof. Gerald winced. “I understand the question now is who to replace me. This decision I will leave to you. Please make sure it is someone who can save the meaning of the facility, whereas I cannot. We are here to save lives. I believe I can no longer. “Your dear friend, Mr. Charles Green.” Prof. Gerald looked up at the horrified faces, taking in recognition the black sheep Edward, who wore a straight expression. “I-I’m sorry…” Prof. Gerald said. He picked up the remaining letters and put them in his coat pocket. “I will deliver these later.” He sat down. “So, what do we do?” one member of the faculty asked. “Exactly as requested,” Prof. Gerald answered. “We need to find a replacement for Mr. Green. Any volunteers, and we’ll vote.” Edward raised his hand. “Whoa, hold on now,” Prof. Gerald said. “You have had nowhere near the amount of experience need to qualify for that job.” “Yeah, but since he showed up, things have been running much more smoothly,” someone protested. “I strongly agree with Prof. Gerald.” Dr. Santellano stood up. “Edward is not only in-experienced but not what Mr. Green wanted. Mr. Green said to make sure it is someone who can save the intent of the facility, whereas Edward cannot.” The room argued back and forth. “Alright, enough!” Prof. Gerald raised his voice. “Since we can obviously not decide, let’s take a vote. Those in favor of Edward, raise your hand.” Six hands. “In opposition?” Seven. “Okay. Because there are no other volunteers, I will work as the director of the facility. Any objections?” Zero. “Good. Then I will serve as your new director. Please get back to work. I have important business to attend to,” Prof. Gerald said, patting his coat pocket. “Please disperse.” Everybody left except for Edward. “I’m not a boy,” he said. “You’re not a man, either,” Prof. Gerald said. “And even a man needs more experience before he’s promoted to the director! You’re lucky you’re even his assistant.” “I don’t need experience.” “When I was your age, I found out the hard way.” “You went into the business early?” “Well… no, but I did have to make more advanced decisions in life.” “This is different.” “Exactly. This is much more serious than my own decisions I had to make, which makes it even more difficult. I have no doubt that you’re prepared mentally and mentally tough… but my fear is that you haven’t had enough time to learn from your own decisions, besides being maybe… too mentally tough.” Edward gritted his teeth. “You might also want to get some manners, Mr. Edward,” Prof. Gerald teased. Edward’s hands were clenching. He left for the sickroom. He needed to calm down, and he figured some entertainment might help. * “Hey,” Dr. Santellano said to Edward, after finding him sitting down in a chair in the sickroom. Edward grunted. “Best thing to do is look on the Brightside, I guess,” Dr. Santellano said, and sat down next to him. No response. “So, why are you here, of all places?” He asked Edward. “It calms me down.” “What!?” he was shocked. “How!?” “It lets me know other people are suffering, too.” “I’ll bet you that’s a lie. I bet you just like to watch them die.” Edward looked at Dr. Santellano and smiled. “You’re a psycho, you know that?” Edward continued to smile. chapter nine: Edward_ “Edward,” Prof. Gerald said, “Could you please get me my lunch? I’m incredibly busy, and would greatly—” “No problem,” Edward interrupted, and left for the kitchen. Dr. Santellano, who was eating his lunch in the kitchen, watched Edward with a suspicious eye. “Excuse me,” Edward said to the cook, “I need two orders: a meal for Prof. Gerald, and a meal for a patient in the sickroom, with infected milk.” “You betcha,” the cook replied, and turned to fulfill the order. Dr. Santellano carefully eyed Edward. “Alrighty,” the cook said to Edward, holding two trays. “this one’s infected, and this one’s good.” “Thank you,” Edward said, taking Prof. Gerald’s tray first, knocking the milk carton off of the other tray. “oh, I’m terribly sorry,” he said, overdramatically. “Could you please get me another carton of infected milk?” “It’s no biggie,” the cook answered. Bending down to get a new carton, the cook was oblivious that Edward had picked up the fallen carton of infected milk and had placed it onto Prof. Gerald’s tray, throwing away the healthy milk. “Thank you so much,” Edward said, still overdramatic. Dr. Santellano knew it. Play acting. When Edward turned to deliver Prof. Gerald’s tray to him, he winked at Dr. Santellano. “Here’s your lunch, Prof. Gerald,” Edward said to him, presenting the infected tray. “Thank you very much,” he said, and took a bite of his sandwich. He reached for the milk carton— There was a sharp loud noise. Edward’s face went blank as he fell to the ground into a small puddle of his own blood. Dr. Santellano stood in the doorway, holding a pistol. Prof. Gerald looked at him in horror. Prof. Gerald looked at the carton, then stared back at Dr. Santellano with a look on his face: a mixture of worry and horror. Santellano nodded and walked away. Prof. Gerald closed his eyes in disgust and tossed the milk carton into the waste basket.
the sickroom_ (part two: the facility [second section])
August 5, 2010