The end is near, but how will it end. There are some twists and turns in this week’s installment of No Pain, No Gain. I really enjoy writing in this genre where I get to mix some science fiction with my usual mystery/thriller style. You will definitely see more work from me in this style in the future.
I think there will be 2-3 more installments to this story before it ultimately ends.
You can catch up on the previous parts by going to my SERIAL page.
Please enjoy No Pain, No Gain – Part 19
Haybrook and Gini were hard at work on devising ways to create the magnetic field needed at a magnitude that would transform the unfortunate souls in the sub-basement detention area. Part of the solution was amazingly completed for them. The room was coated in highly-conductive copper which would help distribute the magnetic energy. Now they just had to figure out how to generate it.
As Gini looked through building schematics that she had hacked into, Haybrook ran calculations over and over.
“I’m just not sure where we’re going to get enough power for the field that we need,” he said as he furrowed his brow.
“I think I might have a solution. Take a look at this.”
As Haybrook made his way over to Gini’s workstation, the sliding door to the lab opened. Michele Rolfe, Blaylock’s executive assistant, interrupted Gini’s revelation.
“Michele, what can I do for you?” Haybrook asked.
“Mr. Blaylock wants to see you as soon as you can come up,” she said as she handed Haybrook a manila folder.
“Just some papers for you to look over before you come up,” Michele said.
Haybrook was confused. He was usually summoned upstairs via phone or email. He very rarely handled paperwork, but something in Michele’s body language said he should pay attention to what she was and was not saying.
“Thanks. I’ll be up in about five to ten minutes. Gini was just about to share a finding with me.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t wait that long. Mr. Blaylock indicated it was an urgent manner,” Michele said looking Haybrook directly in the eyes as she made the statement.
“Um, okay. Thanks Michele. I’ll be right up as soon as I look this over.”
Michele paused for a minute and then left Gini and Haybrook alone in the lab.
“What was that all about?” Gini asked.
“I’m not quite sure,” Haybrook said. “Something tells me I need to get up there right away. Will your information keep?”
“Yes. I will run some simulations while you’re gone.”
Haybrook sat down at his desk to briefly look at the contents of the folder. Based on some unknown impulse, he felt it was important to look at what Michele had given him in private and away from the lab cameras. Once he opened the folder, he understood why.
Joyce was nearly fully transformed. She felt invincible, but also had a deep pit of sadness. Her humanity was almost vanquished. She would become one of the creatures like those that surrounded her. All hope of going back to her normal life would be lost. It was all because she had to buy the latest gadget due to her own lack of self-control. Maybe if she had tried a different diet or more exercise she wouldn’t be in this situation. If she had ignored the peer pressure and rhetoric of the numerous celebrities and co-workers to be skinny and in shape, she would be living her normal life. She once loathed her normal life, now she longed for it.
The room was buzzing with the energy of the other creatures. They beckoned to her. They wanted her to be one with them. They wanted her to give in. Yet, as she felt the euphoria that would greet her if she gave in, she clung to that infinitesimal part of her that was still human. She still had hope. She wasn’t sure why, but the feeling that something was about to happen wouldn’t leave her. It kept her grasping that last straw of humanity.
Gini looked closely at the schematics in the sub-basement. Adjacent to the containment area, there was a large mechanical room. As she searched the specifications for the room, there appeared to be a large generator that was connected to terminals attached to the containment room. It appeared that its sole purpose was to send a large electrical charge through the copper components of the room as some type of disciplinary or torturous device. It was an appalling thought, but it was also a possible source of power for the idea she had devised.
Haybrook had left the lab looking haggard and nervous. Hopefully Blaylock’s urgent summoning to his office would be routine and he would return to look over her plan and give it validity. She didn’t think that Blaylock was on to them, but it appeared that eyes were everywhere on the campus of Kongo Fit. She was sure of one thing, whatever Michele Rolfe had given to Haybrook, he didn’t want anyone else to see it. After he looked through the folder, she could hear him running sheets of paper through the shredder in his office. He rarely used it, which concerned her even more.
She got back to her calculation to double and triple check what she had found.
As Haybrook ascended in the elevator to Blaylock’s office suite he ran the scenarios through his mind in light of what Michele Rolfe had handed to him. The message was cryptic at first until he realized what Michele was trying to tell him. Apparently, the level of surveillance in the lab and the scrutiny he and Gini’s activities were receiving was much more than he feared. When he opened the folder, there was a single sheet of paper with a handwritten note from Michele. It simply said:
This meant that Blaylock was aware that he and Gini were devising a solution to reverse the adverse effects of the nanotech. It also meant that this was the reason he was being summoned. The note was a warning from Michele which meant that she was also aware of what was going on and was apparently trying to protect him and Gini from any negative fallout. She emphasized playing along. To what end? Did this mean that Blaylock was on their side as well? Somehow, he doubted that.
As the elevator door opened on the top floor, Haybrook was buzzed in to the executive suite and slowly approached Blaylock’s office. He nodded to Michele as he passed her desk. She didn’t acknowledge him other than to say, “Mr. Blaylock is waiting for you.”
“Mitchell. Come in. Please, sit down. I need to talk to you,” Blaylock said sounding like a long-lost friend.
“Yes sir, Mr. Blaylock. What can I do for you?”
“Are you okay, Mitchell. You look exhausted. Can I have Michele get you some coffee or something?”
“No thank you. I’m fine.”
“Working on a solution, I hear,” Blaylock said.
“Solution?” Haybrook said trying his best to act innocent.
“To our mutation problem. I hear that you spent some time in the MRI suite testing out a high-powered electro-magnetic field.”
“Well, um, yes. I…we did. I had a theory that the magnetic field might disrupt the nanotech.”
“And did it?”
“In the one test that we ran, it did.”
“Who did you run the test on?”
“Well, I actually ran it on myself. I injected myself with a concentrated version of the tech and reacted to it in the same way as those with the mutation.”
“A bit risky, wouldn’t you say? I don’t appreciate my top scientist putting himself in danger without my knowledge or permission.”
“I understand sir. It seemed like the only course of action at the time since the concentrated nanotech was much more rapid in causing mutations. It was an urgent situation.”
“Well, apparently your test worked. You seem to be back to normal even though you’re a bit disheveled and look like you haven’t slept.”
“It appears that it did work, sir.”
“So, when can you roll this out on our other subjects in the sub-basement?”
Haybrook was startled by the question. Was Blaylock embracing the solution and agreeing to sanction it? He decided, with Michele’s warning in mind, to answer this question carefully.
“Well, sir, we have some technical hurdles to overcome, but we also have a race against time in view of the level of mutation that has occurred in the subjects. I would say we still need about 24-48 hours to overcome our challenges.”
Blaylock sat back in his chair and meshed his hands behind his head.
“Take whatever resources you need and requisition any necessary equipment. I expect this to be your number one priority until your solution is ready to operationalize.”
“Yes sir. Thank you. That will help a great deal.”
“I expect you to report back to me every two hours. I want to personally monitor your progress. If you face any obstacles, I’ll work with you to alleviate them.”
“Now, I’ll let you get back to it. Just remember to eat and get some rest. I can’t have my top scientist falling ill due to overwork.”
Haybrook stood up to leave.
“Mitchell, one more thing,” Blaylock said as Haybrook neared the office door. “This is highly confidential. We can’t have this leaking out. We will come up with the correct time and place to release this information to the public.”
Haybrook knew this was coming. He kept telling himself, “Play along”.
“Yes sir. Of course.”
Haybrook left the office suite and entered the elevator to return to the lab. He was sweating and shaky. He knew it was not due to the aftereffects of the nanotech. It was due to the aftereffects of meeting with Blaylock. He was intimidating and, even though his words were sincere, his body language was foreboding and threatening.
“Schmidt, I just met with Haybrook,” Blaylock said.
Schmidt was surprised by the phone call. He was just about to call Blaylock with an update on what Haybrook’s assistant was working on, but his boss saved him the trouble.
“What did he say?” Schmidt asked.
“He confirmed his activities. He is conducting experiments to reverse the nanotech.”
“What did you tell him, sir? Do I need to move on them?”
“I told him that I would provide anything that he and his assistant need to complete their work as soon as possible.”
Schmidt was taken aback by this response. He asked a question to clarify.
“So, we are letting them go ahead? I thought…”
“It’s not your job to think, Schmidt. Am I clear? I will tell you when to move. I don’t have to tell you why.”
“Yes, very clear sir,” Schmidt said as he cursed himself for asking yet another stupid question.
“Once they are done with this effort, you will have your chance, I promise you. We can’t risk Doctor Haybrook and his assistant potentially leaking this information.”
“Yes sir. I will await your instructions.”
“Thank you Schmidt. For now, stand down.”
As Blaylock ended the call with his head of security he pondered his next move. Haybrook would give him yet another bargaining chip in his end game by devising this solution. If it worked, he would own the technology to operationalize it and his ultimate goal would be one step closer to being realized. He just needed to be sure that all loose ends were tied up at the proper time including Dr. Haybrook, his assistant and now, Schmidt.