Art Adkins
Author & Leadership Instructor
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Mindwalkers - Chapter 15

Chapter Fifteen

The scopes blinked intermittently at first, the bright colored lights dimming and glowing as the narcotic had the desired effect.  Finally all parts of the brain started to glow a pale pink and then to a brighter red as the neurons started to fire in some sort of rhythm. 

“He is ready for the stimulus,” commented Dr. Conner, reaching over and activating a microphone so Stewart could hear him.  “Stewart, can you hear me?”

Stewart rolled his head from side to side and after several seconds he nodded he had heard the doctor.  The straps pinning him to the operating table restrained his upper and lower body, prohibiting him from doing little more than turn his head.  There was the usual assortment of wire leads attached to his scalp and they were fed into a bank of monitors that in turn transmitted information to the two doctors in the observation room. The only thing seeming to irritate him was the IV in his left arm and he tried several times to tear loose from the restraining strap before settling down.

“He does not like the tube in his arm,” commented Dr. Fawn, aiming a camera lens at Stewart’s left arm and magnifying the image.  “It must be pinching his skin.”

“He’ll be okay.  He seems to be forgetting about it.”  Dr. Conner adjusted some dials on his scopes.  “Stewart, I want you to remember the conversation we had about the ‘man that was coming.’  Can you tell me more about that?  When is he coming?”

It was several seconds before Stewart answered and when his eyes rolled back in his head they both thought he was going to pass out.

“Soon…..soon…will not be….be alone…..others…”  Stewart grew silent.

“What others, Stewart?” asked Dr. Conner.

“From….from the woods…..jungle…..nine of them…..”  Again the restrained young man grew silent as the chemicals raced through his mind, causing a succession of neurons to fire.  There was pain and bright lights, followed by moments of clarity when vision was clear and he could ‘see.’  The spaces were becoming longer and he could ‘see’ the images more defined in his mind.  But the agony that followed was unbearable..

“Nine?  What do you mean nine?  Nine men?”

“Nine….plus the one….will come…..they know….they know!!” screamed Stewart, his body contorting in pain.

“Try another line of questioning,” suggested Dr. Fawn, watching Stewart’s vital signs on a monitor.  His blood pressure had risen over fifteen percent since he had been injected with the stimulus.

 “Stewart, can you tell me what will happen tomorrow here on the island?”

Stewart’s face contorted and then relaxed, taking on an impassive stare.  “Supplies….the one who….who controls…is coming!....he wants more…..more…..always more…”  Stewart started to sob.

“How would he know Gunter is coming?” asked Dr. Fawn, her eyebrows arched in fascination.

“What does the ‘nine plus one’ know, Stewart?  Do they know about you?  About us?”

This time when Stewart answered, he looked directly at the main camera and his eyes opened so wide they appeared as if they would pop from their sockets.  “They know what…what you do!  Why you do it….and how….they will stop you….stop you….no more pain… more……pain….it hurts… bad….make it stop….please….please….”  Stewart started to sob uncontrollably, his chest heaving in convulsive tremors, spittle running down from his mouth.

“Stewart.  Stewart.”  Dr. Conner adjusted the sound on the speaker.  “Stewart!” snapped the irate physician.  “Give him more of the stimulant.”

“No!  You’ll kill him.  His vital signs are all up and his blood pressure has gone up another ten percent.”  Dr. Fawn stared angrily at her colleague.

“We’re too close, Dr. Fawn!  He’s expendable!  Inject the stimulant!  Now!” screamed Dr. Conner, half-rising from his chair.

“No!  You’ll kill him!”

Before the conversation could resume, the door to the observation room opened and Dr. Zofel walked in, accompanied by Dr. Hammermill who had arrived earlier in the day. 

“We cannot endanger the patient, Dr. Zofel.  Anymore of the brain stimulant may kill him.”  Dr. Patricia Fawn stared at the monitor to see if Stewart had ceased his violent struggle.  The young man had temporarily lapsed into a tranquil state of peace but his vital signs were still very high.  He was exhausted. 

“To make discoveries Dr. Fawn, one must sometimes push the extreme of science.  This was explained to you when you signed on.”  Dr. Hammermill had moved up next to the young physician and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder as he spoke.

“We can take this up tomorrow when Stewart has rested and he is in a better frame of mind.  No need to risk his health and safety.”

“Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time.  Stewart may be able to tell us more.  It is an acceptable risk,” interjected Dr. Zofel.

“I cannot, I will not, inject him with anymore of the brain stimulant.  I believe it will kill him or seriously damage his internal organs.  His heart cannot take anymore of the stress caused by the chemicals.”  Dr. Fawn had risen from her seat.

“Your objections are clearly noted Dr. Fawn.  I will administer the remainder of the tests with Dr. Conner.”  Dr. Zofel slipped into the vacated chair.  “Administering another three cc’s of the stimulant.  That is a ten percent increase.  Vital signs, though high, are within acceptable limits.”

Stewart felt the liquid enter his arm and his body tensed.  They were giving him more of the drug.  He could feel the burning sensation as it coursed through his veins and then the pain as it entered his brain cells.  The bright lights!  Fire!  Everywhere!  The moments of clarity were gone and there was just a random set of lights followed by pain.  Crying out in anguish, he writhed uncontrollably against the straps, veins standing out on his forehead and arms.

“His vital signs are rising, Dr. Zofel! You’re going to kill him!” yelled Dr. Fawn.

“Control yourself, Dr. Fawn.  The situation is under control,” replied Dr. Hammermill, his eyes glued to the monitors in the room.

“Sorry….you’ll be……sorry……die….all will….die…”  Stewart’s head was rolling from side to side and his eyes were pinned back in his skull.   His breathing was labored and erratic.

“Who will die, Stewart?  Who?” asked Dr. Conner.

“All…..all of you… more Mind Walkers… more….the one…he comes….”  Stewart focused one last time and stared at the monitor.  His face started to relax and a serene expression settled over him as his internal organs started to shut down, his heart imploding first.  He died on the gurney.

“No!  I can’t believe it!  We’re so close!  So close!” Dr. Conner jumped up from behind his console and ran his fingers through his hair. 

“We need to perform an autopsy immediately.  I want to know what triggered the reaction that shut down his vital organs.  We must have the answers.”  Dr. Zofel rose from his chair and faced Dr. Fawn who had remained in the rear of the room.  “Losses are inevitable in science, especially when a new or experimental drug is introduced.  You will understand.”

Dr. Fawn wiped at the tears streaming down her face and silently nodded.  She could not tear her eyes from Stewart’s body lying helplessly in the room.  Technicians had already moved in and were removing the leads from his scalp.  He was an ‘experiment’ to them and nothing more.  When had he failed to be a human being?  When had he started to be nothing more than a lab animal, something to run tests on?  When?  Who were these people she was involved with?  Dr. Fawn shuddered as she turned to leave.

“I would like to participate in the autopsy,” commented Dr. Conner before leaving the room to the two senior physicians.  Dr. Zofel nodded his acceptance as Dr. Conner stepped out of the room.

“He mentioned the ‘nine’.  How would he know about them?  Does anyone else here know of them?” asked Dr. Hammermill.

“No.  Only you and I, outside of Gunter, know of them.  There is no way he could have known.”

“Who is the ‘one’?  Do you have any idea who he may have been talking about?”

“No and that disturbs me more than him mentioning the ‘nine.’  With them we know what we are dealing with.”

Both men turned and stared back inside the room.  Another Mind Walker lost.  Gunter would not be pleased.

“Has he been stabilized?” asked the Colonel, moving up to the bed where Carlos Ranchone was lying. 

“Yes.  We’ve induced a temporary coma to allow his body time to heal and recover. He’s a strong man.”  The attending physician turned reassuringly to the Colonel.  “Come.  I’m going to brief some key members and you may want to hear what I have to say.”

Without another word, the Colonel was led into a large conference room. Juan Domingo and the other members of the Nine were present.  Everyone was already seated.  The head physician moved to the front of the room.

“The autopsy on the other men has been completed.  The stimulant used to accentuate and improve their physical endurance can be detrimental if not administered in the proper dosage.  There are certain combinations that have an adverse effect on the internal organs in the body.  These effects can be minimized.  As with any combination of drugs, there are risks.”

“What about their mental state?  Can they remain alert and sharp when the compound is administered?  I don’t want the drug to inhibit their thought process.”  Juan Domingo dropped a brief report the doctor had prepared.

“They can remain alert, but again provided the ‘host’ can accommodate the increase in the stimulant.  The sequence of elements comprising the compound has never been used before, other than on lab animals.  It’s going to take some experimenting to attain the correct balance where it is not detrimental to the organism it enhances.”  The doctor turned toward a report on the podium and shuffled the papers again.  There was so much unfamiliar territory with the experiments.  It was truly a new frontier.

“Doctor, we cannot endanger the lives of our men again.  Until we know more about the long term effects of the stimulant, we’re going to have to scale back on the experiments.  I don’t care if we have volunteers or not.  The risk is too great.”  Juan Domingo stared around the room and the others nodded their head in approval.

“Yes, sir.”  The doctor gathered his notes and left the room, accompanied by the Colonel and his staff.  The Nine were left.

Once the room was empty and quiet, Brian Adelain spoke.  “Did you read the notes from our source on the Island?  Another Mind Walker was killed.  That is two within the last two weeks.  If they continue, word will surely leak out about what they are trying to do.”

“We have to act, Juan Domingo.  We cannot wait any longer.  Brazil agreed to be a part of this, but not at the wasteful expense of human lives.  The research could provide cures for countless numbers of people, but we cannot kill others to find this panacea drug.”   Victor Rodriguez had leaned toward Juan Domingo as he spoke and after speaking, settled back into his chair.  The others remained silent.

“I agree with all of you.  What we need now is a strategy on how to remove Gunter from power.  None of us saw the coup coming that he orchestrated to gain control of the facilities on the Island.  We now know that Dr. Zofel has aligned himself with the madman.  But how many others on the Island are with Gunter?  There is a rumor Gunter is taking the stimulant himself to boost his ability.”  Juan Domingo stopped speaking when he noticed several of the men were surprised at the information.  He thought they all knew.

“Are you sure about that?” asked Brian, rubbing his forehead.

“Yes.  Our source is fairly certain Gunter is taking the cocktail.  It would explain a great deal.  As we have heard and seen if taken in the wrong dosage it can cause paranoia, extreme mood swings, unbelievable endurance and many other effects we did not anticipate.”  Juan Domingo watched as his words sunk in.  

“What about the other effects it enhances?  Like one’s innate instincts that are stronger in some and unbelievably so in others.  Like the desire to kill, control, conquer and dominate.  With all of the positive aspects of the stimulant, let us not forget the hidden dangers associated with the mixture.”  Juan Domingo’s countryman, Xavier Sanchez, stared at Juan after stating the obvious that none of them wanted to admit.

“So where do we go from here?” asked Brian.

“To the Americans.  I do not believe Lance has the courage to approach Cody Garrett and he is the one person who can help us.”  Juan Domingo extracted a cigar from his breast pocket and sniffed at the tobacco gently.

Before anyone could say another word, the door opened and a young woman walked in, approaching Juan Domingo.  Slipping a piece of paper into his hand, she leaned over and whispered in his ear.  For several seconds he did not move and the tan on his face faded, causing him to appear old and pale.  He looked at the young woman and asked her if she was sure about the information.  When she said she was, he motioned for her to leave.  When she was out of the room, he addressed the others.

“Gunter ordered a hit on Shirley Waterbury….” Before Juan Domingo could proceed, Brian leaped out of his chair.

“What?  Is he crazy?  This will attract international attention!  If we know, then others know!”

Waving his hand for Brian to return to his chair, Juan Domingo continued to ponder the new set of events, carefully rolling his cigar between his thumb and forefinger.  When he did speak again, he chose his words carefully.

“Shirley Waterbury and her associates are alive.  Apparently a pharmaceutical company Gunter desired to purchase was stabilized by Waterbury, despite Gunter’s efforts to drive the stock price down for a hostile takeover.  Instead of pursuing an alternate method of acquiring the company, he sought the quick fix of having her eliminated.  Only her security staff saved her.”  Juan Domingo looked toward the ceiling.

“What now, Juan?  If Gunter attacks Shirley we have to assume we could be next.  We know more about him than anyone.  Surely he’s figured out we pose a threat,” said Frederick Salvatore.  The small Italian had never liked Gunter and had been one of the initial opponents to placing him in charge of the Island years ago.  A decision they were all now regretting.

“Agreed.  We all need to increase our own personal protection.  I will move up the meeting with Garrett.”  Juan Domingo rose from the table.

“What about Shirley Waterbury?  She may not let this rest,” said Victor, rising with Juan. 

“She may be useful but not now.  We created this problem and we must resolve it before asking for outside intervention.  The Americans suggested we create the Island and they are part of the problem and the solution.  Shirley may be a long term cure.”  Juan Domingo smiled for the first time.  “We must never forget that the ultimate prize in all of this is Oracle.  It holds unbelievable promise for the future.  It must always be kept at the front of our thoughts.  All of these other issues are minor when compared to Oracle.”  Juan smiled again, his words echoing and ringing in their ears.

The other members of the Nine dropped into line behind him as he left the room.  The situation was direr than they had initially realized.        

The living quarters were large for a research facility and the rooms had all been positioned to take advantage of the spectacular view the sun and the sea offered on a daily basis.  In addition to the bedroom area, there was a small couch and two chairs comprising a living room and a very small nook to prepare food in case the occupant wanted to dine in.  The bathroom was expansive, allowing the resident to soak in an oversize tub or opt for a quick shower.

Normally the curtains would be open, allowing the afternoon sun to spill into the room and bathe the bright array of colors into a rainbow.  Today, they were drawn, casting the interior into darkness.  The only light came from the screen of an open laptop computer and the blue glow permeated several feet around the keyboard before being swallowed by the black.

Dr. Patricia Fawn’s face was barely distinguishable in the muted lighting, but the redness around her eyes was evident.  They were puffy from crying and she mechanically pressed her hand to her face. 

Why had they let him die?  Stewart was innocent, a child trapped in a man’s body.  He had come to them for help, not death.  They had failed him, failed others.  When would it stop?  Losing control, a sob wracked her tiny frame and she leaned over, grasping her knees in her arms and falling into a ball on her side.

She had to regain control or she too would die.  These men were far more ruthless than she had thought possible.  They hid behind the cloak of science and progress and used that to justify their means.  Innocent people died and they claimed it was a necessary loss to pursue the hidden secrets of the mind.  The Mind Walker program was showing progress, but they wanted to accelerate the experiments and push too fast, too soon.  Reckless behavior had no place in medical science, especially when lives were at stake.

Patricia righted herself and stared back at her laptop.  When would he contact her?  It had almost been two weeks and nothing.  She knew she could not send a message.  They may intercept it and it would expose her.  For now, she had to resume her role and play the part of the chameleon.  She did know if she could not do it much longer.

Rising from the bed, Patricia flipped on a light switch and opened the curtains. She would have to hang on until he contacted her.  Sighing to herself she moved to the shower, but there was one thought that kept racing through her mind.

Stanley, where are you?

Read Chapter Sixteen