The end is getting closer. I have a rough idea how it will end, but these characters keep taking me on unexpected twists and turns.
As I said last week, 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 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 20
Mitchell Haybrook was in a state of confusion. It was a state that he seemed to be mired in lately and it was not conducive to the problem at hand. As he descended to the basement level to return to his lab, he pondered the next series of moves that he and Gini needed to make. He started this through the logical thought process that governed most of his life’s activities. The first step in this process was to inventory what he knew. First, the electro-magnetic treatment seemed effective. Second, Blaylock didn’t seem surprised that Haybrook had been working on this. The lab must be under surveillance and he and Gini’s activities were apparently under surveillance. Third, for some reason, Michele Rolfe, Blaylock’s assistant, felt that it was necessary to warn Haybrook to play along and avoid mentioning public release of the information. She must have felt that an ally was needed. The logical conclusion to be drawn from this was that he and Gini were in danger.
As he left the elevator, he still didn’t know what they should do. As he pondered this and entered the lab, he determined that he and Gini should follow the advice in Michele’s hastily written note. They should ‘Just play along’.
“Mitchell…I mean Dr. Haybrook, Is everything okay?”
Haybrook realized that Gini was aware they were under surveillance, thus her switch to his formal title.
“Yes, Ms. Gagrani. Everything is fine.”
A flash of understanding crossed Gini’s face as she recognized Haybrook’s awareness of the eyes and ears in the room.
“He was asking questions about our solution to the problem with some of our, um, subjects. He is in total support of our continued efforts.”
Haybrook wanted to let Gini know that Blaylock was aware of what they’d been up to, but also wanted to be certain she knew about Michele’s warning.
“He also wants to be sure that we’re reporting to him exclusively so that he can be up-to-date on what we’ve accomplished. Am I clear on that.”
Gini was very perceptive and she picked up on the meaning of Haybrook’s words almost immediately.
“Of course. Our work is always confidential, as usual. I remember all of the paperwork I had to sign when I joined as your assistant.”
Haybrook felt a sense of relief as Gini responded perfectly. She had caught on that his words had deeper meaning than appeared on the surface.
“I wanted to show you what I discovered before you had to leave,” Gini said. “Do you have some time now?”
“Absolutely. Mr. Blaylock wants this to be our top priority.”
Haybrook made his way to Gini’s workstation. His nerves were frayed, but this gave him a burst of nervous energy. He just had to keep it under control. He and Gini were going to have to keep to the task at hand while they looked over their shoulders for threats. Haybrook had an inkling that the timing of the completion and success of their work would have a great deal to do with when any possible threat would be unleashed.
“Take a look at this mechanical schematic of the sub-basement,” Gini said.
“That is one large, powerful generator,” Haybrook said as he looked at the document on the screen. “It must be used to electrify the containment room that we saw.”
Haybrook thought about this. There was no other reason to have this functionality other than for discipline of the subjects. Kongo Fit had caused the mutations in these poor souls and, instead of legitimately looking for a solution to reverse their condition, they built a containment room that could be electrified to keep them in line, or worse, destroy them. The one bright spot is that, to his knowledge, they hadn’t destroyed them yet.
“We could use it as a power source,” Gini said.
“A power source for what? My home-made device would fry and the MRI suites are too far away and stationary. We need a source to generate a magnetic field.”
“I think I’ve found the solution for that,” Gini said apparently prepared for this question. “There is a portable MRI machine stored in the imaging lab. It is mobile enough to move to the sub-basement near the power source. I looked at it’s specs and I believe I can modify it to be able to run on a substantial increase in power.”
Haybrook looked at Gini.
“I thought you were a bio-engineering major?”
“I am, to the disappointment of my father. He has a PhD in electrical engineering. When I was a child, while the other kids were playing sports or taking dance lessons, my father and I were in his lab rewiring computers and other electronic devices. I learned a great deal from him.”
“Enough to rewire a portable MRI?”
“The inner workings of those machines are quite simple. It’s the software that regulates them that’s complex and you’ve already shown me how to manipulate that,” Gini said with a slight grin.
“Fair enough,” Haybrook agreed. “Let’s go get the machine and work on it here. Then we can transfer it to the sub-basement after we run some tests.”
Haybrook took a quick glance at the camera before he and Gini left the room for their return to the imaging lab.
Blaylock was now personally monitoring the activity in the lab. He wanted an unfiltered view of what was happening without Schmidt’s editorializing. Schmidt’s unbridled loyalty had become a detriment. He was going to slip up at some point and was too eager to solve situations by letting the bodies stack up.
As he listened to Haybrook and his assistant talk through their strategy, he decided to let them proceed uninhibited. He needed a proof of concept that the mutations in the subjects in the containment cell could be reversed. Once he had this proof, he could use it to his advantage and clean up the remaining loose ends.
He placed a call to Schmidt.
“Yes sir,” came the answer after the phone had barely rung.
“Mr. Schmidt, I presume you are watching the activity in the lab?”
“Yes sir. They’ve just headed back to the imaging lab to procure the portable MRI unit. Do you want me to intervene?”
Blaylock felt like he was dealing with a child eager to have dessert.
“No, quite the opposite actually.”
“I don’t understand, sir.”
“I want you to assist them. I want you to help them get it back to the lab. I then want you to return to the security command center until they’re ready to transport it to the sub-basement. Once they get it there, I’ll need you to observe the procedure and then stand by for my instructions. Am I clear, Mr. Schmidt?”
“Yes sir. Perfectly clear.”
Blaylock felt like he was spoon-feeding instructions to Schmidt like he would to a child. How the series of events proceeded from here was extremely crucial, however. He didn’t want an overzealous Schmidt destroying the leverage Blaylock hoped to gain if this procedure was successful. Blaylock imagined the reaction of General Franklin Winston Butler when he promised him an army of invincible mutants that could be returned to easily-controlled human form. There was no way the military would withhold the lucrative contracts that would result from this advance in the technology. Blaylock imagined riches beyond his wildest dreams.
To achieve this flawlessly, however, he needed to be able to replicate the procedure without Haybrook and his assistant. They were just more loose ends as was Schmidt and the mutants in the containment room. They would all be dealt with, but the timing had to be perfect.
Haybrook had to do some creative convincing to the receptionist and a pair of technicians in the imaging lab. He rarely pulled rank or flexed his corporate muscle, but the personnel in the imaging lab were very possessive of their equipment. Even though they had returned the machine in the MRI suite to its previous status, they voiced their indignation that adjustments were made after hours. He reminded them that Kongo Fit owned their lab and everything in it and, furthermore, employed each and every one of them. This did not stop their protests as he and Gini rolled the massive portable MRI unit out of the lab.
The unit, although designated as portable, was quite large. Each component, the large circular ‘tunnel’ and the platform, weighed several hundred pounds each. Fortunately, they did not need the platform, but the main component was unwieldy and Haybrook, in his weakened condition, and his diminutive assistant were having great difficulty maneuvering it.
“Do you need some help?” asked a voice that emerged from the nearby stairway.
It was Schmidt. Haybrook thought that the head of security always seemed to pop up at the most coincidental moments.
“Actually, we do,” Haybrook said. He assumed that Blaylock had send Schmidt to intercept them. It couldn’t hurt to use his muscular bulk to their advantage.
Schmidt did the substantial pushing of the unit while Haybrook and Gini steered it through the maze of hallways toward the freight elevator. The journey to the lab was about three times as long in duration, but they eventually made it. Haybrook expected Schmidt to stay and observe them, but he did not.
“I’ll leave you two to your work. Don’t hesitate to call me if you need to move this again,” Schmidt said as he departed.
Haybrook pondered this last comment. Moving the unit to the sub-basement near the power source was going to be tricky. Schmidt’s help would be useful.
“I will. We may need to move it again in a few hours, if you don’t mind,” Haybrook said.
“No problem at all,” Schmidt said with an icy smile. “Mr. Blaylock said to give you whatever assistance you need.”
“Thank you. We appreciate it,” Haybrook said knowing that that assistance might involve actions that were not welcome when they eventually finished their task.