PROJECT ANIMA

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Chapter 6

The sound of the clock ticking away filled the silent room with life. The curtains swayed in rhythm to the slight breeze that passed through the room and it provided comfort for me. For the first time since my wife died, I felt as if I knew exactly what I had to do, I knew I had to finish what my wife started and most likely died for. A mixture of anxiety but pride coursed through my veins for having the honor of marrying such a brave woman.

“You seem to be in high spirits today.” My therapist said peeling me from my thoughts.

I sat there with my eyes still fixated on the ceiling and a soft smile appeared on my lips. “You think so?” I asked.

“I do, there’s a new kind of light about you.”

A light huh? I guess that’s one way to look at what's going on. I felt as if I was pitted against darkness itself and I had to vanquish it somehow but the how kept eluding me. The gears in my mind threatened to cease function if I tried to give the situation anymore thought but I knew I had to. As the only other person who knew of what was going on so wouldn’t it be my duty to shed the light on it? I already thought of the obvious answer of reporting it but with the Heinz family being the main contributors to the police department no telling who was in their pockets. The thought of that made my skin crawl a bit knowing that those who took the oath to serve and protect were the ones helping to hide this atrocity.

“What makes someone evil?” I asked.

“I’m afraid there isn’t a straight answer for that. As to what makes someone evil comes solely down to an individual's perception.”

“So there isn’t anything that’s actually evil?”

“No, the concepts of good and evil are exactly that, concepts… nothing more and nothing less. Everyone has their reality outside of the factual one, this is in regards to things we know are the same for everyone else and it’s a shared experience, like humans being unable to fly or instantly regenerate a broken limb is a shared reality for us all, but when we enter the realm of concepts that’s when things begin to differ. Our perceptions are what defines our concepts thus creating a unique reality of our own, it flows hand in hand because our experiences are what determines the perception.”

As I digested his words I began to feel even more elated that I didn’t waste my money hiring his service. So what were the experiences that shaped the Heinz family's perception to fully embrace this concept they were pursuing? Were they genuinely that convinced about the experiments they were doing as the right thing?

“That was pretty well said.”

“Are you struggling with this concept?”

“Somewhat, it’s more along the lines of trying to understand it from another point of view. Thank you, but I have to go now.”

“You have been walking out of our sessions a lot lately.” He added.

“Look on the bright side you’ll have something else to scribble down in that book of yours.”

“So we’re making jokes now?”

“You’ll have more to look forward to the same time next week.”

“Take care of yourself, Matthew.”

His words felt heavy like a parent seeing their child for the last time before they go out on deployment. “I will.”

I was now sitting on a park bench trying to sort through the information swirling about in my head and that’s when an odd idea crossed my mind. What if, just maybe what if the Heinz family were doing was the right thing? Hasn’t this been the case of how humans have evolved and advanced throughout the centuries by continuously trying to push boundaries? Sure experimenting on another human being without their consent is horrible but wouldn’t it be necessary for the eyes of a scientist?

“I never expected you to reach out to me,” Jonah said when he sat down beside me on the park bench. “What’s wrong? You look like a depressed comfort girl for the world.”

“I can never count on you to be civil can I?” I asked.

“Depends on the technicalities, but it’s good to see you nonetheless.”

“I can’t say the same.” I joked.

We sat on the park bench looking out at the people going about their day probably oblivious to what’s going on in the world. Despite my being yearning to experience that blissful ignorance once more, I felt oddly at peace that I was no longer waking up every day without a shred of knowledge about what’s going on.

“So you have any new inside information for your darling brother?” he asked.

Jonah is a well-respected journalist who never yielded from the truth once he got a sniff of it. He felt more like a menace when we were growing up with how hard he tried to poke his nose into everything; sometimes I wonder how he is still alive? Even so, I believed that the advice from a man who valued the truth above all else would know what to do.

“Aren’t you tired of riding the coattails of my hard work?” I asked.

“Hey, sometimes you got to take the easy road. So what made you want to meet today? You’ve rarely spoken to anyone after Olivia’s passing.”

“I know that, and I’m sorry, but if there was information out there that could shake the city or maybe the world at large. What would you do?”

Jonah was silent for a moment as if he was taking something I said seriously for the first time.

“Information is powerful, but in the hands of man, it’s oftentimes meant to be manipulated to paint a favorable narrative. So the better question is are people prepared for this information you may have?”

“I-I’m not sure.” I stuttered.

“You need to be, sharing information is like throwing a rock into the ocean. Sounds easy most of the time but you’re unaware just how deep the rock may resonate to some.”

I oftentimes forget just how insightful he can be whenever he’s not being an absolute jerk. With the information, I was about to find how would the world react? Who could I trust with it? Would it all just be covered up as a conspiracy theory?

“Stop thinking so hard,” Jonah said patting my head, “telling a harsh truth is never easy but it’s that simple.”

“How can it be simple? This could quite possibly send society in a rage afterward.”

“It’s simple because you ask yourself the simple questions to not complicate your choice. Will this be exposing something heinous? Do people have the right to know what’s going on if it were to impact their lives in any way etc?”

“I do believe it is the right thing to do, but at the same time I’m not sure,” I said.

Jonah looked at me with an unusually stern expression on his face; his eyes lost their usual jovial and whimsical glint and were replaced by something far more brooding.

“That’s good, feel the doubt, heck is terrified if you have to because being able to persevere despite how you’re feeling is where courage spawns from. The one who doesn’t feel doubt or fear is a conceited fool but those who allow it to rule them are cowards.”

His words struck deep and it helped to place some of my stray thoughts into perspective. “When did this become a Ted Talk?”

“Fuck off,” Jonah said smiling.

“What do you think about humanity though?” I asked.

“What’s with the weird questions?”

“They’re more necessary than weird right now. I have to make a decision soon and it feels as if I have to be weighing the value of human life.”

“Weighing it how?”

“If one's freedom is worth more than our evolution to being something greater, something better than what we currently are. Something perfect I suppose.”

The words that came out of my mouth felt dirty, I felt as if I was being sympathetic with what I was trying to prevent but why? Why was I feeling conflicted about the choice I had to make? Wasn’t it obvious that human life is more valuable than anything else?

“Bullshit,” Jonah said confidently, “that’s what we humans are, a bullshit stain on this otherwise perfect planet. We either abuse, neglect, or take for granted everything wonderful that comes with being alive. We’re Gods’ one true mistake if I’m being honest, but with all our flaws I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Imagine how mundane my life would be if we were perfect, I wouldn’t have anything interesting to report besides people dying from boredom. That’s a sad world in my eyes.”

“Wouldn’t a better world be more desirable at the price of boredom?” I asked.

“In theory, I suppose so, but anyone who believes that doesn’t understand the value of being alive.”

I wonder if that’s what I lacked, the understanding of what it means to be human. I couldn’t quite understand it since I’ve been one my entire life but looking back at it now, when did it stop? When did I stop valuing the life of someone else, if my brother were to die right now how would I feel?

“Thank you though, honestly.”

“That’s what older siblings are for, but you should call mom more often.”

“I know I know.”

Jonah got up and proceeded to walk over to his lifelong weakness, the hot dog stand. “I’ll be right back.”

A man carrying a little girl who was crying softly approached me shortly afterward. “May I use this space for a second?” he asked.

“Sure,” I replied.

He placed who seemed to be his daughter on the bench and he began treating a scratch she had on her knee. Seeing the fragility of the little girl reminded me just how much children needed to be protected but not too sheltered so that they can eventually walk on their own. It’s a challenging but immensely beautiful trial nonetheless and to think that kids are being robbed of these years of innocence at the facility was gut-wrenching.

After applying the band-aid the little girl got up and ran off to rejoin her friends as if nothing happened. “Kids, am I right?” The man said to me.

“Tell me about it,” I said smiling.

“They’re so wholesome and precious,” he said while taking the seat, “but they can be quite the nuisance, like how you’re.”

“Excuse me?” I said as I looked at him and shifted my jacket to show my badge.

“Funny how you think that means something right now, allow me to explain your situation. There’s a gun aimed at your friend over there by the hotdog stand and one at you, you’re free to call my bluff but his blood and the possible trauma of everyone here will be on your hands.”

“What do you want?” I asked reluctantly

“My employer would like to know the details of the conversation you had yesterday with Mr. Olmo.”

“There wasn’t much said.”

“I have a low tolerance for liars, Mr. Shaw, our associates made us aware that you two were quite chatty.”

“He’s a senile old man with too much free time on his hands so what did you expect?”

“So what business did you have with this senile old man?”

“I just thought he could have connected a few dots to lead me to a suspect in a case I’m working on.”

“The Cynthia Wild murder case?”

Before I could answer Jonah returned and handed me a hotdog, the mysterious man got up and shook my hand. “It was a pleasure catching up with you, Mr. Shaw, I’ll see you around.”

“Who was that?” Jonah asked watching the man walk away.

“Oddly enough he was the answer to my question.”
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