Miss Parker looked up from her uncooperative computer as the teenager
entered her office. “Hello, Debbie,” she stated obligatorily.
“Hello, Miss Parker. How are you today?” Debbie asked, polite and cheerful.
“Eh,” she mumbled in response, returning to her computer and the pages
of code that still didn’t make any sense to her.
Debbie Broots stood quietly beside Miss Parker’s desk, holding her backpack
in front of her. Quietly, she seemed to wait for further acknowledgement
from the woman on the other side of the desk. She tucked her hair behind
her ear with one hand and blinked at the silence.
Miss Parker sighed. She needed to say something. “So, Debbie,” she smiled
broadly, “what are you studying in school?”
“Well, lots of things.” She looked up and saw the tiny sneer that appeared
on Miss Parker’s mouth, then unzipped her bag, pulling out a book. “I
have biology homework tonight. Did you study biology in school?”
Not the way you are. Miss Parker suppressed a snicker. “Yes.
Yes I did. I’m afraid I don’t remember very much of it though.”
“That’s okay. I usually get my daddy to help me.” She placed the book
on the desk and began to dig around in her bag again. “Oh, I’m reading
this really great story in English.”
Miss Parker looked up, obviously distracted, a furrow in her brow. “Debbie,
why are you here?”
“I was looking for my dad, but he’s not in his office, and I didn’t know
where else to go. Can you help me find him?”
How had Debbie gotten in without security having a fit? Miss Parker pressed
a few more keys and the computer screen went blank. She then heard the
sound from the box by her feet that meant the damned thing was rebooting
because it had just crashed. Not again. “I don’t have time for that right
now. I’m busy, really busy.”
Debbie’s lip trembled and she opened her mouth to say something, to apologize
for having bothered Miss Parker. Looking at the expression on the woman’s
face, she closed her mouth quickly, grabbing her bag from the floor and
running from the office.
Staring after her, Miss Parker sighed. She’d have to apologize. Later,
she decided as she glared at her computer. Looking down at her desk, her
gaze caught a brightly colored illustration of a strand of DNA. She reached
over and picked up Debbie’s biology book, turning it over in her hands.
A nagging feeling came over her, as her computer finished booting, prompting
her for a password.
Absently typing in the name of her baby brother, she stared at the cover
of the book. Quickly she pulled up the file she’d been going over before,
at the same time opening the book and flipping through the pages. The
text was far too vanilla for what she was looking for; she’d have to hope
she remembered more on her own.
They weren’t full sequences, but the more she stared, the more the basics
of what genetic sequence of a strand of DNA looked like surfaced in her
There was a noise above her head and the heating grate over her desk
moved slightly. “Angelo, what are you up to?”
Silence answered her, until a piece of paper slipped between the grates
and fluttered toward her desk. It landed face-down, showing the lipstick
smudges that still wouldn’t quite come off. Turning it over, she stared
down at the sweet, tiny face of her brother.
The code forgotten, for now, she sat back, staring at the photograph.
‘Don’t let it happen again.’
She’d brought that little boy into the world, been the one to hold him
as he’d struggled for that first breath. She’d held him as he’d cried
his first tears. She missed him.
Children weren’t part of her life’s plan in any way, shape or form. But
this little boy had barreled his way past that objection the moment his
eyes had focused on her, just moments after entering the world. She loved
him more than she herself had thought possible. “I’ve been good,” she
muttered to herself.
Her brother, she decided as she stared at his picture, was not going
to grow up like she had. Like Jarod had.
Not so long as she was still breathing.
Mimi was gathered in his arms, head lolling back and bouncing with each
step he took.
He kicked the door to Shane’s office open, finding the man he was looking
for sitting at his desk. “What the hell did you give her this time?” he
demanded, setting Mimi into the empty desk chair.
Shane leapt to his feet, crossing to his sister’s side. He did a quick
check of her vitals, barely glancing at the blonde man next to him. “What
“Whatever you gave her messed her up, that’s what happened, big brother.”
He sneered down at Shane, furious. “You just can’t leave well enough alone
can you? You’re going to kill her one of these days.”
Shane stood, drawing himself to full height. “Look, this is my
sister, I care about her more than anything in my life. Do you think I’m
doing this to her intentionally? I’m trying to help her.”
He stared back at Shane. “She seemed better -- mentally. Happy, cognitive,
mellow. She said it felt like her body was falling apart.” He looked down
at Mimi, slumped, still unconscious, in the chair. “Bad side effects this
time. You have to stop using her like this.”
Running his hand through his hair, Shane knelt back at his sister’s side.
“What else can I do? I’m helpless, if I can’t do what I’ve been doing
to help her.” Mimi moaned quietly and blinked her eyes open, trying to
focus on him. “Mimi, honey…”
Breathing a sigh of relief, the blonde shook his head. “You’re not helping
her, you’re not going to be able to.” Reaching, he took Mimi’s hand, holding
it between his, kneeling next to Shane. “This isn’t something that can
be helped like this -- I think that’s become painfully obvious.”
Mimi opened her mouth, moving it in a mechanical up and down motion,
not speaking. She blinked a few times, as if looking at them through a
fog. Shane touched her cheek. “Honey, can you hear me?” She nodded exaggeratedly,
the movement taking effort. Her motor functions had been seriously impaired.
“I’m so sorry Mimi. So sorry.”
The other man released her hand and reached for a file. “Is this what
you gave her?” he asked, flipping it open. Shane nodded, as he watched
his sister. “My god, you idiot.”
“Did you even look at the ingredients in this? This,” he pointed at an
element on the sheet of paper in his hand. “And this shouldn’t be combined
in anyone who isn’t a para- or quadriplegic. It desensitizes the nervous
system. How the hell could you have missed that?”
Sitting back in disbelief, taking the folder, Shane stared at it, too
shocked to question how this man knew that, when he didn’t. “I…
I didn’t know. I didn’t develop this… I never would have…”
“For a smart guy you’re pretty stupid. If you didn’t develop this, who
did? Why did they give you something for your sister that was intended
for other purposes?” He wasn’t giving an inch. Well aware of how much
Shane cared about his sister, he was livid that this had happened, that
Shane had missed the obvious.
Mimi groaned, shaking her head slowly. “Wha’ happened?”
“An accident,” Shane answered quickly, smoothing back some stray hairs
that had removed themselves from her ponytail. “A bad accident.”
Jarod opened the office door, stopping short, surprised to see someone
other than Shane in the room. Mimi sat in his chair, looking rather sick.
A tall blonde man stood watch over her. “Um, should I come back?”
Shane looked up and nodded. “That might be best Jarod. Thanks.”
Turning, Jarod caught the blonde giving him a funny look. “No, wait,
maybe the good doctor has a thought about the situation?”
Surprised, Shane looked between the two men and shrugged. He quickly
filled Jarod in on the situation. “Any thoughts?”
“Sorry. This isn’t actually an area I’m familiar with. I wish I were.
She didn’t take enough to cause permanent damage, that much is obvious.
My best suggestion? Stop giving her things you don’t know the trial protocols
Nodding, the blonde smiled thinly. “Yes, very good.” Mimi had slipped
to sleep in the course of their talking. “I know your heart is in the
right place -- but you’re going to end up killing her.”
“And I suppose you can take better care of her than I can? Is that what
you’re saying? Because you rode in on a white horse one day and decided
to spend all your time chasing after her when she gets out of control?
I’ve done that for my entire life -- you’ve put in four months.”
The sleeping young woman moaned, thrashing in the chair. She let out
a whimper, obviously trapped in a nightmare. The blonde moved to her side,
wrapping an arm around her shoulders. She curled close to him, her fingers
wrapping around the leather jacket he wore and she calmed.
Shane watched for a moment before turning away. “Fine, you’re better
for her than I am. That much is painfully obvious.”
Jarod stood to the side of the room, silent. For once, he didn’t even
know where to begin to help them.
They had to help themselves, but they didn’t know how either. None of
them were in a good position. And it didn’t seem to be getting better.
“Molly, may I speak with you for a moment?”
“Of course Shane, what’s up?” The small redhead turned toward Shane,
her glasses slipping down her nose, Her eyes widened as she looked at
him. “You don’t look so good. What’s wrong?”
Steering her toward a doorway, he opened the door to an empty office,
following her inside. “I found something yesterday, something that has
me very upset.” He watched her movements as she laid her notebook on the
desk, perching on the edge of it. “Do you know what’s going on with the
advanced stages of the drug series we’ve been working on?”
Her nose twitched as she stared up at where he stood, towering over her.
Shane’s jaw tightened at her innocent tone. “The ones I’ve been giving
my sister,” he growled. “The ones you’ve been giving me to give to her.
Are you actually clueless, or are you using her as a guinea pig?”
“Shane, I…” Her eyes glistened with tears as she looked up at him. “I’m
sorry. This wasn’t my choice. None of it was. I can’t just walk away from
this place.” Her head dropped, stopping when her chin rested on her chest.
“I should have, a long time ago. But it’s just not that easy for me.”
"How could you?" Hurt carried through the anger in his voice
as he stared down at her. "How could you do that to Mimi? To me?"
He turned his back on her, balling his hands at his sides. "You were
always better than that -- than those people who thought I should have
turned her over. Was it all an act to get what you needed from us?"
Her voice shook when she responded, her accent coming out to play more
prominently than he'd heard it in all the time he'd known her. "Christ
no Shane." She moved behind him, laying a hand on his shoulder. "I
never intentionally set out to hurt you. I didn't know what was going
on, when I offered my help. Someone higher up caught wind of it and threatened
my family if I didn't continue on in the direction they dictated. My Da
is still in Ireland and he's not exactly a friend of the IRA. My Ma was
killed a few years ago, just before I started working here. She'd gone
home to be with Da and my brother, who didn't want to come to America
when we did." Her hand dropped as Shane turned to look at her. "I
was scared and I wanted to protect my family. I'm still scared,"
she admitted softly, turning her face away from his.
"All I ever wanted to do was protect my family. You protected yours
by trying to hurt mine." Shane's voice lost all emotion as he spoke,
simply becoming cold. "I thought we were friends Molly. That maybe
I meant more to you than that."
"I don't know what to say. I'm sorry."
His head shook. "Don't. Just don't." Walking to the door, he
looked back at Molly for a moment. "You're no better than the ones
who threatened you," he said sadly, turning and leaving the room
before she could respond.
From the desk of Dr. Raines
Subject A given version three of Aurora. Suggestions of passivity were
given and obeyed.
Subject B given version three of Nova. Violent tendencies exacerbated.
Further suggestion to Subject A of cowardice, inability to act on self
defense offered and obeyed.
Putting the subjects together proved successful. Subject B acted upon
vengeful feelings toward A for earlier experiments with interrogation.
No weapons provided, B proceeded to beat A into near unconscious before
stopped. A didn’t move once to defend against the attack.
Application of version five of Starlight has proved successful. The memories
of the events have effectively been wiped clean.
Further versions will continue to be developed to ensure the achievement
of effect, account for every possibility.
Subjects will continue to participate. Risk of overdose of Starlight
is acceptable, risk of use of Nova is calculated -- Guinea subjects will
be used for first-round tests of all protocols.
Angelo blinked a few times rapidly, attaching the pages of gibberish-looking
code and pressing ‘send’ on the email message to his friend. The only
one who could help.