Monday, 31 December 2012

Chapter thirty four


Daniela checked Lucas' vitals again. So far he was only showing a slightly elevated heart rate and mild tachycardia. His heart monitor continued to bleep in the background. His temperature was higher than the last time she checked although he was clearly shivering.

"How are you doing Lucas?" Gary asked.

"I'm freezing. Are there any extra blankets?"

Gary pulled on a latch on the wall and a door slid aside, revealing an inbuilt cupboard. He grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around Lucas. He was sitting up in his bed, the head of the bed had been raised so that he had something to lean back on.

"Being cold is an interesting symptom. It's not one we could have observed with anyone out there." Kelly said from behind the glass.

“It certainly does give us a unique perspective,” Daniela agreed. “I wonder how hot we would need to make it to eradicate the symptom.”

“The Earth is already cooling down,” Kelly said. “It will be years until the temperature is habitable but I don’t know if there’s much we can gain from investigating that.”

“Well, that all depends on whether you are planning to go outside while it is still hot,” Daniela said.

“It would be redundant, the atmosphere would kill them even if the heat didn’t.”

“A useful element to our investigations would be to see if the toxins are contagious from person to person without the second being exposed to the air itself.” Daniela added, thinking aloud. “It would be advantageous should anyone be exposed to the air and attempted to re-enter the building.”

“We’ve set up the lab to perform those tests,” Kelly said. She nodded towards a door between the glass prison Daniela was in and the neighbouring one. A small air lock separated the two prisons, presumably for de-contamination of the air.

Daniela nodded her approval and went back to checking the vitals.

"You okay?" Duncan asked Daniela. “You seem suddenly overly cool about all this.”

He was sitting outside the glass, watching her every move.

Daniela shrugged. “I’m just focusing on getting the best results possible.”

Duncan let it go. “How come you know how to do all this stuff? I thought you were a scientist, not a doctor.”

"I did a couple of years of med school when I was a teenager."

"Just a couple?" Duncan asked.

Daniela shrugged. "I got bored. They stopped being able to teach me anything I didn't already know. Plus, I prefer computers. I'm not much of a people person."

"Really? I hadn't noticed." Duncan said. Daniela could hear the grin on his face without looking.

"His vitals are the same as they were half an hour ago," Daniela said to Gary. "I think he's starting to level out."

"He won't stay that way for long," Gary said. "But I suppose now would be a good time for you to get some rest. I'll call you if anything changes."

"No thanks," Daniela said. "I'm fine here."

"Daniela, you haven't slept in ages," Duncan argued. "We've been in here for six hours already. You need to take a break."

"I don't feel tired as a Walker, my body's doing all the resting it needs in the pod."

"It's hardly the same thing." Duncan said.

"Do you honestly think I'll get any sleep if I left now? If I leave, I won’t be able to control the emotions that will undoubtedly plague me from what you are making me do. As such, I don’t envisage I will be able to come back in here to complete the investigations.”

"No one's making you do anything." Kelly said.

“That’s a stupid thing to say,” Daniela said. “Of course you are.”

"Daniela..." Duncan started.

"You leave if you want, I'm staying put."

"Well, if you’re insistent on it, I probably should go check out the clinic," Gary said. "Jensen?"

"Yeah?" Jensen's voice came over the sound system.

"Bring me back."

"On it."

Daniela turned to Duncan and Kelly.

"You two might as well go too. I can hold the fort."

"I'd really rather not leave you alone." Kelly said.

"What are you afraid I'll do? Kill him? He’s already dying on his own.”

"If you think it will ease his suffering, yes that's exactly what I think you'll do. It's not like he'll be able to stop you."

"I can certainly try." Lucas said.

"I'll stay with her." Duncan offered.

Kelly appraised the situation for a moment.

"Jensen, if she does anything close to killing him, I want you to pull her back."

"Yes ma'am."

"Fine." She said. "Take me back too." She turned to Duncan. "Keep an eye on her."

Within moments both Walkers melted into small round stones on the floor.

"You can go too." Daniela said to Duncan.

"Sorry babe, I'm duty bound to follow her orders. Jensen, can you transfer me inside?"

"Already doing it."

Duncan melted away and re-appeared out of Gary's remaining Danel inside the prison. It was as if he appeared grinning. Daniela wasn't quite sure how he had done that.

"You use your emotions too much as a Walker." She said. "That's kind of stupid."

"Only 'kind of?' Well that's certainly an upgrade from just plain stupid, you must be warming to me."

Daniela rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to Lucas. He was shivering uncontrollably. She reached for a needle on the table beside him.

"What's that?" Duncan asked.

"Relax, it's just a sedative. Do you really think they would have left me in here with anything that could be lethal?"

"N-n-no." Lucas said through chattering teeth. "I d-d-don't want a s-s-sedative, it will m-m-mess with the results."

"On the contrary," Daniela argued. "If it puts you to sleep, then we'll know that we can do that to help anyone in here who might get infected. Isn't that why we're here anyway?"

Lucas considered this for a moment then nodded. "F-f-fine, but only f-f-for a little while."

Daniela entered the medication into his drip. Almost immediately Lucas fell asleep. She watched him for a moment, considering her options. If she was quick she could easily hit him with a blow that would kill him before she could be pulled back. It made sense. He was going to die anyway and this would be easier on him. However, she knew that she wouldn't. Right now, it made more sense to see what the symptoms he was dying of did to him. She thought for a moment on why the thought of killing him had made sense at all. A brief stab of something ran through her, was it guilt? She decided not to dwell on it and pushed it away, welcoming in another influx of empty bliss her Danel so easily provided.

She walked away from her sleeping subject, and sat down at the desk she had taken as her residence since the death watch began. A lap top was set up and it was working through the bloods she had taken. She opened up her current report and started entering in her current findings.

"I do it on purpose you know." Duncan said from the other side of the box.

"I'm sorry?" Daniela asked.

"The emotion thing. Connor and I tried the whole detachment process but found it limited us in combat instead of helping. When we're emotional we can read each other better and also react to situations better. Without it, it was harder to tell wrong from right."

"Don't you find it hard to keep the emotions active when your pre-occupied?" Daniela asked.

"At first it was, but after we got used to doing it, it sort of became second nature. To be honest, it's harder to turn the emotions off now."

"Interesting," Daniela said. "I hadn't thought Danel was capable if utilising the emotions that way."

"You've never tried it?"

Daniela looked at Duncan, confused.

"Why would I want to do that? Emotions just cloud everything anyway. Without them I can get a lot more done."

"Like watch a person die?" Duncan asked.

Daniela thought about that for a while. "I guess so, why do you ask?"

"When I came in here, I could sense little bits of emotion in you, I haven't found any from you for hours though."

"Seeing as I've been forced into this situation, the most logical step seemed to be to remove my emotions from the equation entirely. As everyone is hell bent on getting these results, I thought I might as well deliver to the best of my ability."

"You know, you'll have to go back to your body eventually."

"There's no evidence to support that. So far, I haven't found a limit to how long a person can stay a Walker. I've tested for as long as a month without any major side effects. Naturally my body will need to be kept hydrated and maintained but providing that's being dealt with then I should be fine."

"And you plan to do that?" Duncan asked. "Stay in here for the rest of your life?"

"It's not like there's much out there I'll be missing." Daniela reasoned.

"There's everything out there." Duncan said. "There's life out there. For all we know it’s the only place where there is."

“It seems that I’ve been saved in order to provide answers in here, so it makes sense to stay where I am, at least until it’s finished.”

Duncan tutted angrily, Daniela felt his emotion and it evoked some of her own. Fear, despair, dread and guilt, all flowed through her at once.

“Stop doing that!” Daniela scolded him.

“Doing what?”

“Showing me emotion,” she explained. “You do that and it’s harder for me to forget my own.”

She closed her eyes and focused on her element once more. She felt herself empty out and become neutral again.

“I don’t like this.” Duncan said. “You can’t make an informed decision on whether you should do this or not without letting your emotions help you decide.”

“If I let my emotions decide, there’s no way I’d be doing this.” Daniela said.

Exactly,” Duncan said. “If you’re so certain of that then you shouldn’t be here.”

“I thought you were meant to be keeping an eye on me to make sure I am doing this.”

“Look, I’ve seen some things Daniela, I’ve seen full grown men with stronger wills than you and with seemingly no guilt to speak of, break down over some of the things they were made to do in combat. Things that are less morally wrong than what you are doing right now.”

“You think what I’m doing is morally wrong?” Daniela asked.

“So would you, if you let yourself process it properly. Look, all I’m saying is you’ve been chosen to live, and with a brain like yours you can help in any way you want instead of in here, like this.”

Duncan looked at her sadly.

“I’m scared for you Daniela, whether you want to believe it or not, you will have to come out of your Walker eventually and I’m worried that what you do in here will scar you for the rest of your life. I kind of like how you are now, it would suck if you changed.”

“Are you saying all this to have sex with me?” Daniela asked.

Duncan laughed. “No! Why would you say that?”

“Because you asked me earlier for sex and I turned you down. Now you’re being nice to me and giving me flattering comments, I assume this is all to get me to change my mind.”

“Right that’s it,” Duncan said, getting up. “Jensen, send her back.”

Jensen’s voice came over the speakers. “Ummm, Duncan I can’t. I have orders to keep you both here until one of the others come back. Someone needs to keep an eye on Lucas.”

“He’s sleeping in a glass prison, he’s not going anywhere.”

There was silence. Eventually Jensen spoke again. “I have my orders.”

Duncan swore loudly, Daniela blinked at him, surprised.

“Why are you angry?” She asked.

“I’ll be damned if I let them destroy you.” He said.

He strolled over to the hand held device sitting on the bed and, before Jensen could stop him, hit the de-activate button. He melted away in front of her but Daniela stayed where she was. That was odd, she should have gone with him. She checked the settings on the hand held and saw that it had been set to de-activate all Walkers but she was still there.

“Jensen,” Daniela called. “What just happened?”

It was a while before anyone answered, but when the voice came over the speakers it was Duncan’s and not Jensen’s she heard.

“Jensen can’t come to the phone right now, he’s currently trying to de-swell his eye. He disconnected you from the portable device, what do I press to bring you back?”

“If I told you that then I’d be away from the subject, I can’t do that.”

“Daniela, I’m warning you. I’m getting you out, if it means I personally walk into that room and carry your Danel arse out, I will do it.”

“That’s impossible,” Daniela said. “There’s no way the doors leading out of this prison will open again, even with the decontamination air lock, the risk of exposure is too high.”

Duncan swore again and the room fell into silence. Daniela heard a moan come from Lucas. She walked over to him to see him waking up from his sleep. She checked his vitals, they had slightly increased since she last checked. He shouldn’t be waking up yet, the dose she gave him would have knocked out a person for at least 12 hours.

“Lucas?” Daniela said, “Stay calm, you’re still in the prison, your temperature is rising and the medication seems to already be wearing off. I’m going to take some bloods so don’t move.”

Lucas nodded groggily and Daniela reached for a needle. It was a good thing she hadn’t left, there was still so much more to investigate. She found herself slightly intrigued and excited over the prospect of the results to come. She welcomed these emotions, these one’s would only help her further. She smiled to herself, living like this was ingenious. Why had she never thought of it before?

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Chapter thirty three


Adam paced around his room, munching on his family size packet of Doritos as he went. He was already regretting the way he had spoken to Christiana, he hadn't even meant half of it, he was just shocked at everything and he had taken it out on her. He considered going back to apologise but figured she'd be so drunk by now she wouldn't remember it anyway. He sighed and stuffed another handful of crisps into his mouth. He just needed to keep himself busy.

He walked over to the inbuilt cabinet system by his tv and slid the door open. Inside were a large selection of DVDs. All of his favourites were inside as well as his complete collection of films and TV appearances. For people who seemed to know him so well, he would have thought they would have known that he hated watching his own work. He let his finger scroll across the DVDs, there had to be over 1,000 films and box sets in there, all organised in alphebetical order. He stopped as he came across a particular film and blinked in dismay. It was one of the first movies he had ever done, something that had been labelled as artistic when he had auditioned but had really just turned out to be soft porn. It had only been a small student project in the end and as sich hadn't made many copies. When he started to make it big, he did everything he could to make sure that all copies of the film were destroyed. He hadn't been aware that any more of them existed and yet here it was, right in front of him. He pulled it out and examined the front cover. A young teenaged version of himself peered out at him, shirtless and holding onto an equally young blonde. He searched his memories to try and remember her name but came up blank. He remembered how kind she had been, showing him the ropes and teaching him useful tips of the trade. She had been amazing and now he couldn't even remember her name.

He flipped the DVD over to see if it was on the back. Nothing. He wondered for a moment where she was now and then realised that she was probably in the same place that everyone was, lying on the ground somewhere either dying or dead. He put the DVD back at that thought and walked over to his sofa, sitting down and continuing to munch away at his Doritos. The arm of the sofa beside him seemed cool, he examined it and found it to have an inbuilt mini fridge full of bottles of beer. He briefly considered having one then decided against it.

It seemed odd to him that there was so much alcohol in a building full if people grieving and terrified. Surely all this would do was breed a bunch of alcoholics whose livers would pack in before the first couple of years were out. Then again, there was probably a limited supply of alcohol where they were anyway. It's not like they were able to stock for 4 centuries of alcohol.

He reached into his jacket and pulled out his mobile. He still had a bunch of unread messages. He took a deep breath and started to flick through them.

The first that caught his eye was from Lucy, his ex girlfriend and the woman that he had been convinced he was going to marry at one point. He opened it to find five simple words:

"I have always loved you."

Great, he thought, now she tells me. He thought about how he would have reacted if he had seen this message last night when she had sent it. That would have completely screwed with his mind. And given how drunk he had been, he dreaded to think what kind of angry response he would have replied with.

He continued to look through his messages, more of the same right up until 4pm yesterday afternoon when he guessed the signal must have gone dead. It killed him that he hadn't responded to any of these messages. All of them contained words of love and desperation, and all they had received in return was his silence. What a nice way for them to go out remembering him by.

He felt the anger surge through him again then. He really was angry. He was angry at being here, he was angry and being deprived of any last goodbyes and he was angry that he still didn't have a single clue on what was going on or where he actually was.

He got up, that was one thing he could change. He would go exploring, get an better idea of the place he was stuck in for the remainder of his life.

He left his room and made his way back to the lobby. When he got there however he was stopped by a young blonde woman.

"Adam Gammon?" She asked.

"I'm a little busy at the moment."

"Sorry, it's just I need a moment of your time. I was just coming to your room actually."

Adam sighed as loudly as he could to show how much of an inconvenience she was being to him.

"This will only take a second, I just need to give you your injection."

"I'm sorry, what?" Adam asked. "I don't need any injection."

"It's Utopia policy I'm afraid. Just to eradicate any chance of rogue toxins in your body."

"You think I'm infected?"

"Potentially everyone is Mr Gammon."

"Please don't call me that, it's Adam."

"Sorry Adam. I promise there is no danger. Just a routine injection, we've all had it."

Adam eyed her suspiciously.

"How do I know that?"

The woman smiled at him sadly. "We're hardly going to do anything to damage the people we've spent the past four years ensuring we save."

"Prove it." He said. "Take the injection first."

"I wish I could, it would certainly make this a lot easier," she said. "But I've already had my injection."

"Well I'm not taking it unless you do."

"How many people do you think have said that to me? If I took a dose of this stuff every time someone else did then I would be lying comatose on the floor from an overdose."

"So it is dangerous."

"Any drug is dangerous in too high a dose."

"Well then, I guess I won't be taking it."

"You'd risk death just to be stubborn?"

"Looks like it."

The woman sighed. "I hate to pull this card but we can't risk that happening. You're important to our future so we would like you alive, if you don't agree we will have to use forceful measures."

"What exactly do you expect me to do for your future?"

"Everyone here has been hand picked for their own involvement for the future of Utopia. Unfortunately I couldn't tell you what you've been picked for, I only administer the injections."

"Well who can?" Adam asked. The familiar feeling of anger was back.

"We'll all be told what we need to know when we need to know it."

"Can you see where I'm going with this lack of trust issue I'm having?" Adam asked.  "A little tip, next time you want people to do what you ask, try being a little less cryptic in your answers."

"Claire McCarthy." She said.

"I'm sorry?"

"That's my name. Claire McCarthy. I'm 24 years old. The list of people I have lost over the past two days include my husband James and 3 year old son Liam. I had no idea about the impact prior to entering this building but I have been here for a month and for that entire time I have not been allowed any contact with my family. Last I checked, they filed a missing persons report on me. They even made the local news. I watched my husband cry on camera. That happened to also be the first time I have ever seen him cry.

"I have spent every night since coming in here crying myself to sleep and praying against all hope that the meteor didn't hit our atmosphere. During the first week I hid in the shadows behind the entrance to the building, waiting for it to open. When it did I almost sliced my arm open trying to get out in time. I failed and ended up in surgery."

Claire held out her arm, a large deep and recent scar crossed the span of her upper arm.

"Do you want me to show you the pictures of my family? Show you the white blonde hair of my son and the laughing face of my husband? Or perhaps you'd prefer if I broke down in front of you to prove that you're not the only person who is grieving every second of every day."

"Why are you going along with this?" Adam asked, a stab of guilt resonating in his stomach.

"Because what other choice is there?" She asked. "It's not like I can do anything about what's happened. I can either be angry with these people for the rest if my life, kick my toys out of the pram and refuse to contribute so that I can lie in a fit of depression or I can suck it up, keep myself busy and hope that one day my life doesn't feel as crap as it does right now. So what's your choice? Are you going to give me your arm or am I going to have to call security to come and pin you down?"

Adam thought about it for a moment. There was a chance that she was lying, that all of this could just be her way of manipulating him, but if that was the case he had to assume that there were some people she had now lost. He sighed and decided to just let what lever happens happen. He rolled up his sleeve and offered her his arm.