Short Story/Serial Monday – No Pain, No Gain – Part 18


This week’s installment goes further into the cat and mouse game that is developing as Blaylock learns what Dr. Haybrook and Gini are up to. Blaylock seems to be a few steps ahead of everyone. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

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

Please enjoy No Pain, No Gain – Part 18


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The lab was dark. Schmidt was convinced that Dr. Haybrook and his assistant had left. His plan was to use his master key and poke around the lab. He knew Haybrook was up to something, but Blaylock wouldn’t sanction any action against him unless he was sure. Schmidt’s instincts were usually right. He didn’t think this situation would be any different. These brainy types were usually bleeding hearts. Kongo Fit made its fortune on this technology. The old adage, to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs, was true in this case. The few people that had a bad reaction to the technology were a small price to pay for the healthy lifestyles and fitness the company had brought to hundreds of thousands. It was no different than new drugs or medical treatments. They didn’t work for everyone, but the gamble was worth it based on the potential results.

Now, as he walked into the darkened lab, he was sure his instincts would lead him to whatever subterfuge was going on. Then he would clean up the mess and the noble and profitable mission of Kongo Fit could continue just as it had at the other ventures he had worked at under Blaylock. They had worked together in various companies for 20 years and Kongo Fit was the apex of achievement for his boss. In turn, Schmidt had prospered through his healthy salary and under-the-table bonuses for extracurricular activities that he carried out for his boss. Blaylock trusted him implicitly. Things Schmidt had been asked to do could bring down his boss if they were ever made public. Schmidt had never had an inkling to do this, however, due to his fierce sense of loyalty.

Even though he was certain the lab was empty, he stealthily opened the door and crept in on the balls of his feet. This was fortunate because, as he was about to flip on the lights, he sensed that he was not alone. He took out his cell phone and lit up the screen to give himself a low intensity light to look around the room.

Haybrook and his young female assistant had not left Hey spotted Haybrook on the leather sofa in a corner of his lab. He was sound asleep as was his assistant. She was curled up on a chair under a blanket. What were they doing here? There is no deadline, so what is the urgency?

Schmidt’s experience told him that when there are lies, there is something going on that needs to be stopped. Haybrook had lied about the deadline. That could have been a fatal mistake. Did he not think Schmidt would check?

For now, Schmidt thought it would be prudent to leave the lab and go back to the security command center. He could observe what Haybrook was up to from there and let the pair seal their own fates rather than Schmidt trying to find evidence of their wrongdoing.

********

Haybrook woke up feeling like he had a hangover. He had only had one a few times in his life, but they were memorable and his feeling this morning ranked with the worst of them. There was noise in the lab. As he opened his crusty eyes he saw Gini scurrying about and stopping to key into her laptop. Every keystroke felt like a hammer pounding on Haybrook’s head.

“Gini, what are you doing?”

“Oh good. You’re awake. There’s coffee on the table. Grab some. I have something to show you.”

“Okay. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Give me a minute.”

“I know you feel like crap, but I think I’m on to something here and I need your brain to validate it,” Gini said.

Haybrook felt like his head was full of cotton. He rose from the sofa and walked over to the table. Just the smell of coffee made him feel better. The first few sips were wonderful.

“Okay. I feel human again. What have you got?”

Gini gave Haybrook a bemused look.

“What?”

“You said you feel human again. It’s just kind of an amusing thing to say.”

“I suppose it is…if it’s still true.”

“What do you mean?”

“We should probably look at another blood sample just to make sure the nanotech stayed dead.”

“Do you have doubts?” Gini asked.

“Not really, but to be sure, we should check.”

“Okay, but let me tell you what I found first.”

Haybrook walked over to where Gini was peering into the monitor of her laptop.

“What’s this?”

“I was able to find a set of blueprints for the building and I came across this,” Gini said as she pointed to a large space in the second level subbasement.

“What about it?”

“When I found the blueprint, I also found out that this room has much thicker walls than any of the other spaces on that level. When I checked further, I found this,” Gini finished as she brought up another construction document.

Haybrook looked at what Gini had found and then he realized what his brilliant assistant was thinking. They may have landed one step closer to a solution.

********

Schmidt watched Haybrook’s assistant flit around the lab as if she were possessed. He saw her keying into the laptop and realized that she was masking what she was looking for. Strike two. Lying and then hiding what you’re doing doesn’t bode well for your activities…or your future.

Since Schmidt couldn’t systematically discover what Haybrook’s assistant was looking at, he would use other means. There was a camera located in the corner of the ceiling of the lab positioned just behind her. All of the surveillance cameras were high definition and could easily pan to and zoom in on anything that needed a closer look.

As he maneuvered the camera into position, he was able to focus on the laptop screen. He zoomed in and the camera automatically focused. He was concerned at what he saw. For some reason, she was looking at blueprints of the building lower level. These weren’t generally available. In fact, they were confidential. The view that she was examining had particular implications that worried Schmidt. It was the containment chamber for those “things”. The experiments gone wrong. Schmidt wasn’t sure why they were being kept alive, but he knew Blaylock had his reasons.

Hacking into the plans for the containment chamber made Schmidt’s level of alarm rise. He would watch a bit longer and try to deduce what they were up to. He could see Haybrook stirring on the sofa upon which he was sleeping. It was time to listen in as well as watch. Schmidt unmuted the microphone hidden in the lab.

********

“I see where you’re going,” Haybrook said. “The copper lined floors and walls are highly conductive.”

“What confuses me is why they chose copper to line this large space. Are they electrifying the space and, if so, why?”

A serious look crossed Haybrook’s face.

“What is it?” Gini asked.

“I think that’s where they keep them.”

“Keep who?”

“The ones that have completely transformed. I think they keep them in that containment space and use electrified floors and walls to control them.”

“Well, that makes it easier,” Gini said. “I was wondering how we were going to get those affected by the nanotech to this room and you’re telling me that the most affected are already there.”

“I suppose that’s true,” Haybrook said.l

“All we need to do is magnetize the room. If we can produce a large enough magnetic pulse, we can treat them all at once.”

“So that’s all we need to do?” Haybrook asked.

“Well, yes. I don’t know how, but it’s our best course of action.”

“We think it is, but do we know for sure that it works? I think it’s time to take another blood sample from me.”

“Agreed Let’s do it now and then we’ll worry about how we’re going to accomplish this.”

Haybrook liked Gini’s thought process. She was showing a lot of maturity and good instincts during a stressful situation.

Gini drew another blood sample from Haybrook and prepared it on a slide.

“Looks promising. Come and take a look,” Gini said as she peered into the microscope.

Haybrook stood over the microscope and looked at the sample.

“I see debris in the blood. The debris is definitely dead nanotech. The density suggests that the liver is doing a good job of filtering it out. It is much less dense with debris than last night’s sample.”

“That’s great. Now we need to move on to our other problem. How are we going to find some type of device to help us magnetize that containment chamber?”

“I think I have an idea,” Haybrook said. “It’s going to be risky and we’re going to have to figure out how to do it without getting caught.”

“So, what’s the problem,” Gini said. “We’ve been able to do that so far.”

Haybrook smiled at his protégé.

“Yes we have. Let’s get to work.”

********

Schmidt sat across from Blaylock in his executive office. His boss looked tired. Despite his impeccable grooming and tailored suit, he looked like he was not sleeping well. Perhaps the threats to the company were weighing on him more than he let on. Schmidt had just told Blaylock what he saw and heard in the lab. If Blaylock’s concern had risen to a higher level, he certainly wasn’t letting it show.

“Based on what you heard, I still don’t think Haybrook should be ‘dealt with’ as you did with the others.”

“Mr. Blaylock, I understand your hesitation based on the knowledge that Dr. Haybrook possesses. Have you considered the risk of public exposure of these ‘creatures’?”

Blaylock was annoyed.

“Of course I’ve considered that, Schmidt. I don’t appreciate you questioning how I run things. From what you’ve told me, Haybrook has possibly found a solution to reverse the effects in these ‘creatures’ as you call them. Regardless of his motives, I want to let his solution play out. The knowledge of reversing the process will help us in the long run. We can eliminate the threat of exposure after we observe whether or not his solution works.”

“I understand. I suppose you’re right,” Schmidt agreed.

His boss had obviously thought this through and was a couple steps ahead strategically. His respect for Blaylock grew. Unfortunately, he also felt that Blaylock’s trust in him had waned just a bit after his idiocy in questioning how he was doing his job. That was a stupid move that he couldn’t take back.

“I’ll stand down until they attempt their solution and then wait for your direction.”

“Of course you will,” Blaylock said. “You do work for me, remember?”

“Yes sir,” Schmidt said as the heat rose in his face.

The pair convened the meeting and Schmidt retreated to his security command center.

Blaylock keyed his phone.

“Michele,” he said into the speaker phone.

“Yes, Mr. Blaylock.”

“Please ask Dr. Haybrook to come to my office at his earliest convenience.”

“Yes sir. I was just headed down to the lab area to collect some paperwork for your signature. I’ll ask him to come up personally.”

“Thank you Michele.”

Blaylock sat back in his chair. When this little bump in the road had passed, he promised himself to take a nice vacation to somewhere warm with a beach. First, he needed to get Haybrook in line and find out what he was up to. He decided the direct approach would be best.

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