“I can’t understand the results of this test. Are they right?” Richard said.
“I’m positive” Duncan replied quite animatedly.
“But, But this is quite premature. His psychometric test is like that of a man half his age. Has he said anything yet?” Richard pressed on.
“He’s not spoken but I’m sure if we give him time he will probably read some poetry” Duncan joked.
Unbelievable! Only years ago most scientists would not have deemed it remotely possible. The cure for Alzheimer’s disease was basically science fiction stuff. Now two scientists Richard Ferguson and Duncan Collins have found a lasting solution to this ailment. All those man-hours spent looking after the mentally infirm; all those millions the NHS spends on the elderly – gone! Who would have thought the cure will emerge from Liverpool. The big boys in London laugh when there is any mention of some academic genius up north. This has definitely put a different perspective on things. Liverpool is not only the capital of culture but also the hub of stem cell research. We are going to rock the world. But has this come at a price?
There was always a price to pay in life. Richard was a man who covered every loophole. Subject 54 was acquired by nefarious means and no one, even Duncan his close mate, was to know. The stakes were high here. He had to come up with some cure otherwise funding for the project would be withdrawn. I mean he even offered substantial sums of money but no one volunteered claiming stem cell research was unethical. His hand was forced here and he was not about to buckle under the pressure. It had to be done. The results however were truly miraculous. This was indeed compensation for his malicious acts. Nothing on earth will stop him now. Duncan as usual was prattling on in the background
“This subject suffered from severe Alzheimer’s for years yet he has an aptitude for abstract thought. Take a look at this,” he blurted out
“Oh shit! I mean wow. That looks like some sort of cryptic code. Even I don’t know what it is. Any ideas? Richard said cautiously.
“I’m not sure. Maybe he was in the army or something” Duncan replied. “Hey you look like you’ve seen a ghost. Is everything ok?”
“I’m fine. I must be overworked Dunc. Maybe I need a vacation”. Richard replied.
“Don’t we all Rich. Don’t we all”. Duncan added.
The only way subject 54 would have known these facts was either through coincidence or if he had met up with the egg donor. Somebody must have leaked vital secrets about this project but who could it be? Richard swore to get to the bottom of this.
The donor had been incarcerated in the intensive care unit (ITU) for two weeks. Before she became a statistic she had a name. Her name was Helen a political immigrant or if you like a refugee. Helen, before she lost her tongue, was living life on the edge. She was promised a life of freedom in Britain but for the past two years she has been living rough. Her resources ran out after just two months in the country and she found it difficult to eek out a living. She was turned down by many organisations and hounded by countless thugs so she was forced to live life precariously. She had no choice. For her it was prostitution or bust. The killings in the so-called red light district however put a stop to her nocturnal jaunts. There was nowhere to go until recently but was she free? Freedom meant carrying out the bare essentials of life without the need to answer to anybody. It didn’t mean being strapped to a hospital bed with tubes entering and exiting you from all orifices. She would rather be in her war-torn country than be subjected to this. How could she escape from this dilemma if she could not vocalise? What now?
“Aargh!! H-eeeee-lll-pppp meeeeeeee!!!” Escaped from the knot in her larynx.
“What’s the matter Helen? Are you in pain? Do you need more morphine? I just gave you a shot an hour ago”. The nurse said.
Helen continued regardless. She trashed about and managed to knock the intravenous fluid stand down in order to communicate her ordeal. Something told her that she was going to be detained here and the only way she could avoid that was to escape. How could she? The brainless nurse only wanted to give her morphine so she could continue filing her nails. She started to pray hard, hoping for the unseen God to deliver her from this hell. The passive God who only turns up when he deems it appropriate. Something has to happen now. And then she heard a voice.
.“I know you and will like to help you. You’ll have to trust me even though you can’t see me”.
“What do you mean” she replied telepathically.
“There are evil forces at work here and we need to act fast” it replied.
Evil forces? What’s going on?
Meanwhile Richard looked at all the files for a second and third time. If this was revealed he will be finished. Duncan, although an eminent scientist, was too stupid to read between the lines. How did he think the company had made so much progress in such little time? It was certainly not due to Dunc’s scientific genius. And definitely not due to his sex appeal which stunk to the high heavens. It was due to yours truly. That is why he made CEO and not Duncan. The ability to pull a cat out of a bag was his forte. The thug he hired to do the kidnap job was not the brightest of sparks but he was cold, methodical and best of all deadly. He was also expendable so there really should be no comebacks. This is why he found it quite confusing. Somebody knew something and suddenly his life was on a balance. He was going to phone around. Test the water. See if his competitors were onto him. And he had to do this fast.
Duncan was busy reviewing the slides. After the eggs were collected he got the donor sperm and performed the fertilization himself. At first he thought it was a glitch but he reviewed the embryos again and again. The embryos were the healthiest he had ever seen. When he subjected them to genetic diagnosis they all showed perfect male embryos with no genetic abnormalities. He attempted to contact Helen five days later so as to clarify certain issues but there was no reply. He had to accept these findings and carry on with the research. The transformation from foetal tissue to neural stem cell was a dream. The volunteer, who came with his muscular relative, consented to the procedure without incident. At first it struck him as odd that they were related but what did he care? It was the results he was after and that’s what he stuck to.
Inserting the nerve cells into the volunteer’s central nervous system was the hardest part. He remembered the other subjects who were involved in this research. One subject developed severe meningitis following the procedure and the other poor soul ended up with a massive stroke. He had since refined the technique so as to reduce complications and hoped it will work. At first subject 54 showed increased activity in the brain and he feared he might have an epileptic fit. Later on he withdrew into a catatonic state, refusing to eat or drink for days. When he thought every thing was lost the subject started to show signs of recovery. He was eating well and showing good motor co-ordination, which pleased him. At first he was content to see him recover but what happened next shocked him. This subject, seventy-five years of age, demanded a chessboard and beat two of the best players in the research facility! His improvement however came at a price. There was minimal verbal communication and he often looked up into empty space for hours. Probably a minor glitch but he was not about to let that disturb him. Then came all the cryptic messages and unintelligible anagrams. What’s going on?
Meanwhile in the recesses of Helen’s brain the conversation continued.
“Yesterday Helen you told me about your life. I feel very sorry for your plight, however we both have to escape from here. How did you get here? It asked
“I was desperate, needed money to survive so I responded to this advert regarding egg donation” she said
“Yes. They were looking for egg donors and were willing to pay £250.00 per egg. I jumped at the idea and met with the man called Richard. It was as easy as that”.
“What exactly happened?” it continued.
“They gave me injections and sucked the eggs out of me after two days”
“That must have been painful,” it continued sympathetically.
“Well I was given drugs so it wasn’t so bad”
“Well it was easy money. I didn’t need to stand out in the cold waiting for customers anymore. No more slaps or kicks from angry men. I was in control,” she said.
“So what next?” it questioned.
“I needed more money so one day I went to Richard for a kind of loan”
“At first he started acting funny. He was asking me about my life in Nigeria and I told him I was in University before I left. He then asked if I had many sexual partners and I informed him that I was not promiscuous. I didn’t see the need to inform him about my nocturnal activities here because it would put me in jeopardy. Well he was sympathetic at first and then suddenly dropped the bombshell. Typical man.”
“What do you mean?”
“He made it categorically clear that he would only give me money if I had regular sex with him and donated more eggs.”
“Didn’t you tell him to screw himself?” it continued now quite disgusted.
“He said I was in no position to bargain. He knew my immigration status and was ready to inform the customs officers who would definitely deported me. I had no intention of putting myself in jeopardy so I agreed to all his conditions.”
“You ask to many questions!!!! What do you think? I was roped into this racket and here I am now – dying.”
“You said it was a simple procedure. You’ve had the egg collection done many times before. Was there anything different?”
“Well this time the normal doctor was off sick with the flu so Richard did it himself”.
“It took longer than expected but he claimed that the staff had misplaced the instruments. Few hours after the procedure I had this intense pain in my lower abdomen. This was followed by bloatedness and swelling of my face.”
“I thought so to. I overheard one of the nurses say that I had ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome. She also said that it was common in women with ovary problems”
“Do you have ovary problems?” it demanded.
“No” she replied.
“So his intention was to get you to produce a massive amount of eggs for this research and expected the syndrome to kill you.” It continued
“It seems so” she replied quite dejectedly.
Subject 54 was in one of his pensive moods. These thoughts he had were quite disturbing. He longed for companionship all his life but was always knocked back. Ok he wasn’t a George Clooney look alike but what he lacked in looks he certainly made up in character and compassion. He was a very kind person. The affliction that robbed him of his dignity had been the last straw. He was transferred from one nursing home to another only to be hounded on by those unforgiving, hairy-faced nurses. That was to be his life until recently. Was he some sort of medium? Was this a gift or another stage of the affliction? He knew his life had a purpose and so he was going to keep on dropping those hints until somebody could unravel them. Life without speech was truly unkind.
Richard regarded his meal-ticket-to-fame with loathing. He had checked with all the personnel attached to the project and there was no evidence of a mole. The competitors hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was babbling about and even laughed when he mentioned the word “cure”. Duncan was still marvelled at the progress they’d made that he hadn’t taken a bath in days – phew! So somehow this man was receiving information from some spy and attempting to pass it on. Possibly hoping that stupid Dunc might see what’s going on and report him to the ethics committee. He was going to work out a way of communicating with him and hopefully get to the bottom of this.
“What day is it?”
“Spell WORLD backwards” Richard continued
“Now stop playing games!!” Richard said. “I know you have somehow been communicating with some one regarding this project and I have no qualms about that. The only snag here is that the information is sensitive. It could put you and I in trouble so I guess it’s time to play ball. Name you’re price”. Richard said in a more threatening voice.
Subject 54 grabbed a sheet of paper and revealed all of Richard’s transgressions. He did not omit even the most macabre of acts and even emphasised his point with drawings. He finally ripped the sheets from the book and ate every single one of them. This shocked Richard and beads of sweat started to build up. Any one looking at him would know that he was quite literally crapping himself. As if that wasn’t enough the speechless one wrote, “You’re going down for this” and consumed it – a truly gastronomic feat. Richard got up and fled from the room like a man possessed – screaming.
It was time for food and you would think subject 54 was sated by his paper meal. Nothing made him happier than a roast and this was what he was getting. The nice carer who brought it in had a heart of gold. Whilst she was prattling on as usual he grabbed her. After much screaming and shouting the penny dropped. What he was trying to do was show her a message, which he had scrawled. It was basically a detailed account on his ordeal and his strange gift. She looked up at him in shock and continued to read till the end. She vowed that there would be justice.
On the top floor of the research facility, in a non-descript room, Richard emerged. It was time to end this nightmare. The implications of this discovery will finish him forever so he must cover his tracks. The only way to put an end to this was to take her life - something he was getting quite used to. He walked up to her bedside whilst she regarded him with disgust. They both knew that love never existed and it was time to sever that cord. He fumbled around in his coat pocket and withdrew the vial of potassium chloride. He aspirated some of this stuff into a syringe and cleaned the intravenous line with a swab. Before he did the deed he bent down and whispered to Helen
“I can truly say that greed has killed us both. You could not resist the temptation of easy money so you came back for more. I couldn’t resist the need for your perfect eggs so I continued to pay you. We are both refugees for a cause except that you are beyond refuge. Nobody will remember you but I will continue to fight for human enhancement. The world will soon know of the phenomenon called Richard Ferguson.”
As he was about to deliver a supra-physiological dose of potassium chloride he was punched down to the floor. Richard got up and saw that Duncan had indeed been the assailant and was going to punish him some more. He grabbed the hypodermic needle and made a lunge for Duncan. Duncan sidestepped and landed him a chop on the neck. He then caught him with his left foot just as he was about to make contact with the ground.
“It’s over Rich. You can’t hide anymore. The world will have to know how callous you’ve been”, Duncan said
“Piss off you reprobate” Richard replied. “If not for me you will still be stuck in the dark ages. I made you just remember that. I made you!!!” Richard shouted.
“Not anymore” Duncan said with finality.
A crowd had gathered outside the room. Reporters from the newspapers were quite animated asking questions and offering exclusive interviews. There was however one person that stood out from the crowd. He was the silent one. Helen suddenly rose up from her prone position. The silent one came forward and regarded her with awe. To an innocent bystander there was a psychic connection between these two. It was as if an invisible umbilical cord bound them together like mother and child. They spoke to each other with words unheard.
“It was you who told me about the experiments. You are the reason why I am whole again”, he ‘said’.
“Yes” she replied.
“You have given me a life that I thought I will not have. Now I can live independently without cause for concern”
“Yes” she continued.
“I was known as subject 54 but now I can assume my title as Ralph”
“Yes Ralph” she said, now crying.
“What about you? What do you get out of all this mayhem?”
“Nothing” she said. I am beyond refuge”
© Chibuzo Orjiekwe, 2007
Published on writebuzz®:
> Stories & Scripts