Short Story/Serial Monday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 17


This week’s installment finds Blaylock forming some suspicions about Dr. Haybrook. Can he and Gini win the race against the clock and against the evil forces at Kongo Fit to find a solution to the problem that has affected so many? Read this week’s installment and you’ll find out how they’re progressing.

You can catch up on the previous parts by going to my SERIAL page.

Please enjoy No Pain, No Gain – Part 17.


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“What is it now?” Blaylock asked Benjamin Schmidt.

“I’m in the security ops center and there was a significant power surge in the diagnostics clinic.”

“So, Haybrook is probably just running an experiment. I’m beginning to think you want to be micromanaged.”

“It’s not just a normal power surge. The usage spiked as if several MRI tubes were at full power at once. The problem is, there is only one.”

Blaylock thought over what Schmidt was telling him. He still didn’t buy that Haybrook was up to anything nefarious, but the activity in the diagnostic lab was a bit strange.

“Alright, go down there and see what they’re up to, but don’t take any action. Just observe and report.”

“Okay. Do you want me to call you back tonight?”

“Not unless there is something significant. And, for further reference, a spike in power usage in a research facility by my lead scientist is not something I consider significant,” Blaylock said not even attempting to hide the annoyance in his voice.

“Yes, Boss.”

Blaylock hoped to not hear from Schmidt until the morning.

********

Gini panicked just a bit. She had a cannister of pepper spray in her computer bag, but it was out of reach and Mitchell didn’t seem to be loosening his grip on her wrist any time soon.

She looked into his eyes trying to assess if a change had come over him. He squeezed them tightly shut and a single tear escaped and ran down his right temple.

“Are you okay, Mitchell?”

He opened his eyes and Gini felt like some of the light had left them. Had he damaged his brain in this attempt to disable the nanotechnology?

He looked around the room as if he wasn’t sure where he was and then some clarity returned to his eyes.

“I…I’m fine. I…I think.”

“Are you sure?”

“There’s only one way to find out. Let’s get to the lab, draw some blood, and take a look.”

Haybrook slowly swung his legs off of the MRI sliding platform and, with Gini’s help, rose to his feet. He felt fatigued and drained. He could easily curl up in a ball and go to sleep.

“Are you sure you’re okay, Mitchell?”

“Yes. I’m just so tired.”

“Maybe you should rest.”

“Let’s get to the lab first, then, depending on what we find, I can take a short rest.”

They made their way out of the diagnostic lab through the lobby and decided to take the elevator to the basement and then cross over to the lab via the chasm of mazelike hallways that traversed the campus.

They entered the lobby elevator and Haybrook leaned against the cool metal wall as Gini pressed the ‘B’ button on the panel and used her ID card to authorize access to the basement. As the elevator door opened, the pair came face-to-face with a looming figure.

“Dr. Haybrook, Ms. Gagrani, you’re working late tonight,” Benjamin Schmidt, Kongo Fit’s head of security said as he held the elevator doors open.

For a minute, Mitchell Haybrook thought that Schmidt wasn’t going to let them pass based on his intimidating posture. Then the hulking security boss relaxed and his face twisted into a smile that stopped short of his eyes. Then he stepped aside.

“Yes. We’re working late on some experiments tonight,” Haybrook answered. “Deadlines and all. You know how it is around here,” Haybrook said trying to sound casual and friendly, but sounding more tired and nervous.

“Which deadline is that?” Schmidt asked.

“Oh. I’m not sure you’re cleared to hear about it. You know how Mr. Blaylock is about confidentiality. I wouldn’t want to get us in trouble,” Haybrook answered trying to think quickly on his feet.

“Right. Right,” Schmidt said with a fake sounding chuckle. “I was just testing you. You passed.”

“Okay, then. We will be on our way if you don’t mind.”

Schmidt stepped aside and Haybrook and Gini made their way to the lab. Haybrook was anxious to get a sample of his blood under the microscope to see if using the high-powered electromagnetic power worked to disable the tech. He had made this walk hundreds of times, but it seemed 10 times farther today and he had to rely on Gini to lead the way. Had he caused some cognitive damage with this experiment?

After what seemed like a ten-mile hike to Haybrook, they reached the lab. He leaned against the wall as Gini opened the door and turned on the lights. She helped him to an office chair and went off to grab a syringe and a small vial.

“Well, this is encouraging,” Gini said as she inserted the syringe into the crook of Haybrook’s right elbow.

“What’s that?” He asked, sounding sleepy.

“The needle went in much more easily than it did before.”

“That is promising, but let’s get that blood under the scope.”

Gini took a sample of the blood and mounted it on the slide. She put it on the microscope and set the magnification to the maximum setting.

“Dr. Haybrook, er, Mitchell, you need to look at this.”

Haybrook got up from the chair and shuffled to the counter with the high-powered microscope. He steadied himself with both hands as he peered into the eyepiece lens.

“Hmmm. I’m about 99% sure that it worked, Gini. Those fragments you saw floating in the sample is the wreckage of the nanotech. I think we did more than disable them, we killed them.”

“That’s great. Now all we have to do is repeat the process on the others and then set up some kind of way to get the other people that are experiencing this the treatment they need.”

“Not so fast. It worked on me. I was in the early stages of transformation. I’m not sure it’s going to work on those that are fully transformed. Furthermore, treating this is going to mean going public. I’m not sure Kongo Fit, aka Blaylock, is ready for that to happen. We’ve cured me, it appears, but we still have a long way to go.”

Gini seemed deflated, but she also knew that what Haybrook was saying was true.

“What about those that are here that have been fully transformed? Can we try it out on them?”

“I suppose we can, but the trick will be to get them to hold still in the MRI machine without ripping our limbs off in the process, or worse.”

Haybrook looked exhausted. Gini recognized this.

“Why don’t we get some rest and we can think this through in the morning. There’s got to be a way we can make this happen,” Gini said.

“I think you’re right,” Haybrook agreed. I need some sleep.

********

Blaylock came into the office early. He wasn’t, however, the first one into his office suite. His assistant, Michele Rolfe, was at her desk and she sprung into action to make him a cup of coffee as he entered his office. She brought in the coffee in his favorite mug as he logged on to his computer.

“Good morning, Mr. Blaylock,” Michele said as she handed him the mug. “Mr. Schmidt has asked to see you as soon as you’re ready.”

At least he didn’t call me in the middle of the night.

“Okay. Tell him to come up.” Might as well get it out of the way.

Michele left Blaylock’s office and returned to her desk. She dialed an extension on the phone and spoke briefly before hanging up. It seemed mere seconds before Schmidt was at Blaylock’s door.

“Enter,” Blaylock said in a tone that still showed his annoyance with the overzealous security head.

“What is it, Mr. Schmidt? What is Haybrook up to?”

“I’m not sure, but it has something to do with the MRI unit in the diagnostic clinic.”

“It’s not unusual for him to conduct experiments using that equipment. Why do you have suspicions?”

Schmidt looked around as if there might be someone hiding within the office.

“I checked the log on the machine. The power level that was used for last night’s experiment was well beyond what is standard for that machine. It’s almost as if Haybrook and his assistant hacked into it so they could use more power. After I saw the power usage spike, I thought I had better check it out.”

“And, how do you know the power was that high?”

“I have a background in electrical engineering from some past experience working in a government lab. I have a basic knowledge of how that equipment works.”

This surprised Blaylock.

“So, why do you think he was using this excessive power that they hacked into?”

“I don’t know, but I think it requires further investigation. Also, Haybrook said he was working against a deadline.”

“I’m not aware of any Kongo Fit deadlines,” Blaylock said as his concern level began to rise.

He lowered his tone to a whisper.

“Let me be clear, Mr. Schmidt. This isn’t like Alberg or Hanson. They were expendable. I can’t lose Haybrook unless we’re absolutely sure he’s up to something damaging. Do you understand?”

“Completely Sir. I won’t act without your approval, but I need your permission to continue to keep Dr. Haybrook under surveillance.”

“You have my permission, but don’t act without my approval.”

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