Chamber of Horrors,
Part Two

 

home / season five / episode twenty / act II

   

Dachau Concentration Camp
Munich, Germany
April 12, 1945

Sydney rolled up his sleeve as Henri approached, bearing a syringe in his hand and a sympathetic look on his face. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, allowing the mental fang to slip into the young skin and draw out the deep red blood.

“It’s not so bad.” Sydney hardly flinched as he felt the needle enter, the daily injections and blood tests having immunized him to the pain. “At least, not when you do it.”

“Well, and how is my little test subject this morning?”

Sydney looked around Henri’s broad frame to see that Dr. Leiden had entered the room, followed by Dr. Krieg. The other two occupants in the room remained silent while the two German doctors conversed about tests and treatments. It was the next sentence spoken that caused Sydney almost to stop breathing.

“The other has two weeks. If he isn’t either recovered or dead, he will be sent for special treatment to Hartheim Castle.”

Dr. Leiden made a movement of protest and Dr. Krieg turned on him, a savage expression on his face. “Don’t get too attached to those boys, doctor. If you do, you might be taking that last ride along with them, provided that the Herr Kommandant Weiss actually does what the Herr Himmler ordered him to and destroys this camp and everyone in it.” Dr. Krieg turned on his heel and marched out of the room, leaving the other three occupants staring after him.

“Will they really do it?” Sydney whispered as he and Henri walked down the hall to the twins’ room.

Henri shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s possible.”

Arriving in the room, Sydney slid onto the bed. “But why? We’ve survived so long and now, at the end, they kill us all?”

Henri slipped an arm around Sydney's shoulder as he sat down next to him and, turning, Sydney buried his head in Henri’s jacket and soaked it with hot tears of frustration and despair. “Sydney? Sydney, listen to me. It may not happen. The Americans…”

“How can the Americans save us? They haven’t done anything to help us since the war started and so why would they start now? What are we to them?”

“I don’t know why they haven’t done anything - nobody knows. But perhaps they didn’t want to kill us.”

“We’d be better off.” Henri heard the adult words come from the child’s mouth with an inner shudder. He was about to respond when his chest constricted and he was forced to cough in order to clear his throat. Stopping, he found Sydney looking up at him with a concerned expression on his face.

“Are you okay?”

Henri nodded. “I will be.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t really know.”

Sydney turned away with a dissatisfied expression and Henri, despite the pain in his chest, tried to hide a smile. Regardless of his efforts, however, Sydney noticed and turned immediately, his eyes demanding an answer.

“What was that for?”

“I can’t help thinking that, one day, when this is all over, you’ll have to make sure you work with people. You would never be happy working at a desk. You need interaction, mental stimulus. You can understand people so well.”

Henri got up from the bed, smiled and left the room. Sydney remained where he was, thinking over the remarks. Only one part of the comments jarred against his feelings. All over? Would this ever really be over? And what would life be like when it was?

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware
December 24, 1970

Sydney sat beside the comatose figure of his brother as the first rays of the sun lit the room and pulled out a picture from his wallet. Unfolding it, his eyes looked down at the image of Catherine and Jarod, footage that was now almost six years old. He had watched that night as she had crept inside and provided the comfort that he was afraid to give. And now she was dead. And Jacob… He leaned over the bed and put his mouth close to his brother’s ear. “You were right, Jacob; you and Catherine. I swear to you, if somebody is doing something to him, I’ll find out.” Opening the door, he left the room.

Jarod fell to the floor as the simulation ended and refused to look up at the sneering face of the man above him.

“What are you waiting for? The day’s work is finished. Get back to your room.”

“Please, sir…”

He turned back and glared down at the boy, lying prone on the floor.

“Well?”

“Please, help me.” The words came out in a gasp but the man merely sneered, turning and walking away. It was another figure that stepped out of the darkness and helped the boy to his feet, with an arm helping to hold him up.

“It’s okay, Jarod. It’s all right.” He smoothed his hair and wiped the sweat, mixed with tears, out of the boy’s eyes. “You’re safe. I promise you, you’re safe now.”

“S…Sydney?”

“Yes, Jarod. I’m here.”

“What are you…doing…back…?”

“I came to see you. I came to make sure you were okay.”

“Who…was he?”

“Is he the one who came to you, the first time after I left, and of whom you were so scared?”

“Is he going to get the chance again…?”

The series of unanswered questions halted when Sydney picked the boy up in his arms and carried him out of the Sim Lab.

December 25, 1970

“Good morning, Jarod.”

The boy looked up from a book he was reading to where Sydney stood in the doorway of his room.

“Sydney!” The boy scrambled out of the bed and ran to hug the tall man. “Is this really mine? This room?”

”Yes, Jarod.” Sydney prevented himself from responding to the boy’s caresses and gently freed himself, remembering the discussion from the night before.

“What is it that you want to put to us, doctor?”

“I have a complaint to make, gentlemen.”

“What is the nature of this complaint?”

“Why was I not informed that Dr. Raines would have control of J…my test subject in my absence?”

“The doctor stated that he had consulted with you and that you had agreed.”

“That is untrue, gentlemen. We had no such discussion and I made so such deal and feel, in fact, that damage may have been done.”

“In what way?”

“The boy is hesitant before pronouncing his findings, nervous and less attentive when taking orders, as though he were waiting to be beaten or knocked around. I believe that, if this goes on, it may compromise the results that we make available to our clients.”

“And so what do you believe should be done?”

“In addition to removing him completely from Dr. Raines’ care, I feel that leaving the boy in his current environment is limiting his chances for further development. If he is given a wider range of stimuli - perhaps a larger living quarters, similar, I might suggest, to the room in which he sometimes performs his simulations, thus providing a further sense of continuity…”

There was a moment of silence, during which time Sydney wondered if he had overstepped the mark.

“Doctor, your request seems reasonable. Your subject shall be given the opportunities you have mentioned and we will see what chance he makes of them.”

Sydney blinked and brought his mind back to the present time to find Jarod showing him some of the nicer aspects of his new quarters. He smiled slightly to himself as he followed the excited boy around the room.

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

“Leiden. Dr. Wolfram Leiden.” Miss Parker looked back over her shoulder at Broots. “I think we found Mystery Man.”

“So this guy is - Leiden? So what’s his connection with Sydney?”

“Let’s look.”

Miss Parker opened Sydney's file and proceeded to run a search on the name Leiden. The computer began to hum and Miss Parker rapped her fingers on the desk impatiently. “Come on, come on.”

“Uh, Miss Parker? You started a detailed search.”

”So?”

“So, Sydney's file contains almost 35 gig of information, including his childhood and everything. And the search program looks through every variation of ‘Leiden’ including an abbreviated version of it.”

“So what are you saying?”

”A search like that could easily take up to twenty minutes, if not longer.”

Miss Parker glared at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You didn’t ask,” answered Broots reasonably.”

“Okay, okay.”

Getting up from the chair, Miss Parker began to pace the length of the room.

* * * * * * * * *

Mayo Clinic
Medical Center
Scottsdale, Arizona

In the hospital room, Dr. Eaton was silent and Jarod turned off the tape and pulled a photo out of the folder and threw it onto the table in front of him, wheeling it around so that James Eaton could see it.

“You know, you were right.” Jarod nodded at the photo. “I should have asked you about Rebecca. She was your daughter, after all. But then I would never have found out the whole story. I probably would never have learnt about your dependency on heroin, nor the fact that you use the money you get in grants to feed your addiction. I probably would also not have learnt about the way you do your ‘research.’ But maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do. Out here in the world, no one feeds me information. I have to find it out for myself.”

Jarod picked up a sheet of paper and dropped it on the desk in front of the doctor. “What I find interesting is that, despite having a letter from the Centre informing you of my escape and asking that, should you have any contact with me, you let them know immediately, you never turned me over to them. Why was that, James?”

* * * * * * * * *

The night air was cool and the grass bent gently under its light breath. The lone figure sat with his knees drawn up underneath him as the images continued to bombard him from all sides with no hope of escape. He was completely alone, the stars shone coldly out of the cloudless night sky and the moon sailed blithely above him, slowly passing from one side of the sky to the other. His hands convulsively clutched at piles of rubble under his hands, cutting the skin and making it bleed. An owl alighted on a tree that acted as part of the field’s fence line and hooted softly into the cool night air. The figure on the ground made no movement - it was unlikely that the sound even penetrated his consciousness.

Barbaric images filled that imagination and tortured that mind as the man sat, his hands now clasping each other as though trying to drag the thoughts out of the depths to which they had sunk. The hours that passed meant nothing. What are hours when lifetimes are being contemplated? What is life when death itself ceases to have meaning? What is failure when that and its brother, success, are met with the same brutal rewards?

Slowly the sky began its daily metamorphosis - a chameleon-like adaptation to meet the golden ball of fire that will traverse its broad expanse each day. As if responding to a signal, the mind also began the gradual upward journey, out of the pit of fire into which it had sunk and towards that saving light. The gentle breezes whispered soft and comforting words to the one who had lain awake all night on the cold ground, his thoughts yet colder. Finally, exhausted, he drew himself up by stages, to his knees and then finally to his feet; standing to look over the long grasses that had been his bed and comfort. Energy was at its lowest ebb and yet, as the light became every minute stronger, the tide turned and a new and different type of power and determination could be felt to trickle and then flow through every limb. Finally the feet turned towards the road. It was time to continue…

* * * * * * * * *

Mayo Clinic
Medical Center
Scottsdale, Arizona

James Eaton sat up gingerly in the bed and then, his thoughts briefly distracted, stared at his hands in astonishment.

“Waiting for the shaking to start, James - or the sweating - the way it usually does, a few hours after your last shot of heroin?”

Jarod waited for an answer that didn’t come. The two men sat in silence for some moments before Jarod extracted a used syringe from his pocket and laid it flat on the palm of his hand.

“It’s amazing what a little research can do, isn’t it? Nobody else knows about this discovery, James. I found it while performing a simulation during…let’s see now, when was it? Do you know, I think it was in 1968?”

“Wha…who…?”

“And do you know, James, who I was working for during that time in 1968? You, Mr. James Eaton. I was trying to discover a cure that would save your daughter’s life and found that in the process.” Jarod held up the syringe and examined the contents in the light before putting it back down again. “So tell me about her.” Sitting back in his chair, he crossed his arms and sat silently watching the doctor to speak. Finally the man broke the silence.

“I lost Rebecca in September of 1968. I was told that it had been impossible for a cure to be found and that, unless great advances occurred in medicine, there never would be a cure.” He swallowed painfully. “After her death - I just got so angry. How fair is it, Jarod, that a nine-year-old girl should die like that?”

“How fair is it, James, that a nine-year-old boy be asked to cure the disease and be blamed when he couldn’t succeed?”

“I never knew that you would get the blame for that. I never even knew who was working on it. How was I supposed to imagine that an organization like the Centre would use children to do their research?”

Jarod nodded. “No, you never really knew Dr. William Raines.”

“I never even knew his name. At least, I never knew it until I got that letter.” Eaton nodded at the piece on paper on which Jarod's hand rested.

“Yes,” Jarod picked it up. “What about this letter? Did you answer it?”

“At the time, I did. I said that if I ever saw you, I would let them know.” Eaton’s voice dropped. “That was in 1996.”

“September,” Jarod agreed.

“In 1996, everything was going as well as could have been expected. But you have to understand; in 1968, after Rebecca died, my life fell apart. My wife and I had been having some problems and our daughter had been the sole reason for us staying together. After she died, we separated almost immediately. My wife remarried within twelve months of the funeral - and I was introduced to heroin. It was great. I could forget everything for a while and pretend that life was as it had been. A few years later I gradually found the strength to wean myself away from the drugs. For my daughter’s sake, I studied medicine and became a researcher at Mayo. I’ve been here for almost thirty years. I should have retired years ago but I couldn’t. I kept hoping that maybe, one day, I would find the answer. Most of that work,” he nodded to the file that Jarod had on the table, “is my own research from several years ago. I shared it with my contemporaries and was proud of it, so proud. And then I was introduced to Julie-Ann…”

* * * * * * * * *

The Centre
Blue Cove, Delaware

A computer’s electronic beep broke the thick and oppressive silence that had been filling the office for the past twenty-five minutes. Broots wiped a trembling hand across his damp forehead and was about to look down at the computer screen but found that Miss Parker was quicker. Her eyes greedily scanned the information provided and finally alighted on one item and she read the data aloud as though disbelieving.

“Sydney Michael Ritter and Jacob Alfred Ritter were subjected to tests under the guidance of Dr. Werner Krieg but under the direct hand of Dr. Wolfram Leiden for seven months during the period 18 September 1944 until 25 April 1945. The concentration camp Dachau was liberated by American troops on the 29th of April, 1945, at which time it was discovered that both aforementioned doctors, along with many members of their team and, more importantly, all of their results, had disappeared.”

Miss Parker resumed pacing and Broots took her place in front of the computer, his brow furrowed. There was a few moments of silence before Miss Parker turned and headed briskly for the door.

“W…where are you going?”

She turned around and looked thoughtfully at the computer and then him. “I know enough now. It’s time to find Sydney.”

* * * * * * * * *

Mayo Clinic
Medical Center
Scottsdale, Arizona

“When I met Julie-Ann, I saw everything that Rebecca had been during the first few months of her illness. The new medicines meant that she was healthier for longer and I really thought I might have a chance to find what I needed and save her life. But I couldn’t do it. After she died, I hit a wall - and I went back to the drugs. Then I heard about her father dying and I thought that it was a sign that I would never succeed in saving people, no matter how hard I worked.” James blinked several times, staring hard at the blankets, and then looked up at Jarod. “Did you ever think that you could make everything okay? Fix all of the world’s problems? Of course you did. Young people always think like that. One day, Jarod, you’ll find that you can’t do it. You can’t make it all right for everybody. And then you’ll understand what I’m going through. And there’s always the problem of time. There isn’t enough of it in my life or in yours. One day you’ll realize that it just can’t happen. And then you’ll understand.”

The doctor’s mouth closed firmly and his eyes traveled from Jarod's face to the window, where a spring storm was raging outside, lighting the room with bright flashes and emphasizing the conversation by occasional growls of thunder.

“And me?” Jarod's voice broke across the silence in the room. “Where do I fit into the picture? You get a letter telling all about me. So will I leave the room and find a team of sweepers waiting for me? Or maybe the Chairman and a set of manacles, made to measure.”

“I need you, Jarod.” The doctor’s voice was an almost inaudible whisper. “I could have handed them over to you, but I need help. I can’t get over my problem this time. I’ve known, ever since Julie-Ann died, that my strength wouldn’t be enough to get over it on my own.” He looked back at Jarod, a pleading expression on his face. “Please, help me with this. If you do, maybe I can finally find something that will make sure that nobody’s daughter has to die any more.”

* * * * * * * * *

7:02am International Airport
Washington DC

“And if I could have your passport, sir?”

Sydney slipped his hand into the pocket of his jacket, expecting to feel the firm booklet. Finding nothing, he felt through the other pocket and then opened his bag, rummaging through it. The ticking of a clock on the wall captured Sydney's attention for a fraction of a second and his awareness of the speed with which time was passing increased, as did his feelings of panic. Movement in front of him drew his eyes away from the bag and he looked up to see his passport being dangled there. At the same time, a hand came down on his shoulder and Sydney felt a strange sense of calm replace the earlier panic.

“Put a hold on that ticket. He’ll be back. Maybe.”

Sydney found himself being somewhat unwilling steered away from the counter and almost forcibly marched over to a nearby café, fortunately almost deserted at that hour. Miss Parker bereft him of his coat and hat, hanging both on a nearby stand before pushing him down into a chair and then taking the seat opposite.

“You look surprised, Syd. Didn’t you think I’d come looking for you?”

”Looking, yes. Finding, no.” Sydney's voice was cracked and harsh from the night spent in the chilly April air and, with one hand on his, Miss Parker turned and signaled the waiter to bring coffee. Turning, she pulled a stilled image from the tape made by Angelo out of her pocket and dropped it onto the table.

“I found out about him.”

“Him?”

Miss Parker shifted impatiently in her chair and tried to keep the frustration out of her voice. “Don’t play dumb, Syd. Dr. Wolfram Leiden. That is who you’re afraid of, isn’t it? That was what made you leave.”

Sydney sat silently, his eyes fixed on the image, as a waitress brought the mugs and placed them on the table. Miss Parker added several spoonfuls of sugar to one mug and stirred it. The movement brought Sydney out of the half-trance into which he had fallen.

“You don’t take sugar.”

“No, but you’re going to.”

Sydney made a movement in protest but Miss Parker pushed the mug in his direction and wrapped his hands around it. “For God’s sake, you’re hands are freezing and the rest of you is probably just as cold. It isn’t exactly the weather to sit around outside doing - what were you doing, anyway?”

Sydney shook his head. “It doesn’t matter.”

“You were thinking about him, weren’t you? What did he do to you, Sydney?”

He looked up at her. For a moment, hope flared in his eye but, like a match, lasted only a moment before dimming again. “I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“It wouldn’t be fair.”

“To you or to me?” Miss Parker looked at him, one eyebrow raised questioningly. “It always helps to talk.”

Sydney nodded slowly. His eyes studied the pattern of the table in a silence that gradually became longer and longer…

On to Act III

 
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