Kansas City, Missouri; USA.Present Day…
“...So, whatever happened to that other scientist,” Mallory asked; seated atop the bed she shared with her boyfriend.It was face-time for them as the young couple conversed over their laptops; as Karl was at his job.
“Dr. Kenzi,” Karl answered for her.
“Yeah...I read he’s been missing for some weeks! Whatever happened to him?”
“Last I heard, he had some study he had to conduct over in London. I heard he may have been kidnapped! I don’t know…we don’t have anything else to go on except rumors since no one’s heard a word from him since he left.”
The couple looked at each other with concerned faces.A thought crossed Mallory.“Didn’t you tell me before that he’s from London?Maybe he’s just visiting family out there?”
Karl made a scrunching, conciliatory face as he nodded over his laptop’s livestreaming.“Good point, Mal…but I still would’ve thought—”
Karl froze in mid-sentence. Mallory waited for him; watching the thirty-something man with thick-rimmed glasses suddenly pause during their face-time over their respective laptops.
“Karl, Hon, what do you hear,” she asked with concern from her bedroom; nice and comfy, compared to her boyfriend’s work-setting amongst the darkened basement of the medium-sized compound of Dorian Labs in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Karl Davids worked the third shift as a lab assistant--picking up the slack for the rock-star scientists that would go home to their personal lives around nine at night.
He shrugged before finally responding. “I guess that was just some water-pump shuttering on or something...” His broad shoulders bore the white lab coat of Dorian Labs; bright against the darkened lab he was working in, from Mallory Pillman’s perspective over her laptop.
“Are your bosses still trying to revive those poor pets,” Mallory asked with a squirmish face; stiffening on the bed within the couple’s apartment.
“Yeah...I know you don’t approve, Babe, but it’s part of my job--”
“Karl, you don’t have to explain anything to me. I appreciate that all your work goes toward paying our bills while I’m in grad school...I don’t have any room to criticize.”
Karl was picking up his junk-food wrappers and grabbed his cup of coffee as his break was over, and he had to get back to work. “No prob, Mal, but I know how much you love animals and disapprove what we do here! I tried getting another job that would pay anywhere close to what I make here, but all those jobs are either in Silicon Valley or New York...and--”
“I can’t move due to my scholarship in KC,” she finished for him; her tone having a tinge of regret. “Just...all I ask is that you be careful, Dr. Frankenstein!”
They both shared a laugh until there was another sound that came from deeper in the lab behind the young lab assistant! Trying to put on a brave face for his girlfriend’s sake, Karl nonchalantly got up and threw away his wrappers and took a swig of his coffee. “Got to go, Mrs. Frankenstein...”
A playful scoff from the grad student. “Gee, thanks...ok, I love you!”
Face-time over. Now Karl could be honest with himself about the fear that was tugging at him! Jessica Patterson, the other third-shift lab assistant, had the night off to go to a relative’s wedding. Dorian Labs was an up-and-coming research firm.But was not quite in the big leagues enough to hire several backup assistants...that left Karl to see to what the noise was.
As he made his way toward the back portion of the large laboratory, Karl walked by several displays of the Lab’s accomplishments of revived domesticated and feral animals...some cats and dogs; others, more exotic like rare monkeys and lizards! It was, for all intended purposes, a zoo for the paranormal!Many of the creatures that Dorian Labs brought back to life were for financially well-off clients that couldn’t bare to lose their pets.Other animals were revived for other, peer scientific research corporations that needed to test on animals but kept it out of the public’s eye, given the cultural shifting sentiments against the use of animals in scientific studies.
The problem with the Dorian Project, like so many other new scientific pursuits, was the latent effects that popped up from time to time with said-animals from the experiments.
Like what Karl was now dealing with…
Karl went to a section of the Lab where the sound seemed to have originated from. It was the primate section. The latest, and most controversial part of not just the Lab itself, but the very re-vitalization project. For humans were also primates...since Dorian Labs was successfully reviving other primates, what of humans?
And that was another reason the Lab kept its accomplishments quiet. For certain lawmakers in state capitols and some in the US Capitol would, for religious and ethical reasons, be against the Dorian Project! The company knew it could keep its mad scientist secrets for only so long.But the Dorian executives were banking on changing some of the law-makers’ attitudes toward their project once they would get a chance to see the finished and refined final product…and the potential windfall of billions of dollars to the American bio-medical industry, once the world learned of the Dorian Project!
That knocking sound again!
This time there was an alarm that chimed from that section of the Lab that specialized in primates. Karl, now, raced to the area and found one of the chambers opened that housed several of the primates for the project! The alarm continued to blare--given the premature opening of the chamber-door. Karl had dropped all pretense and was, now, frantically looking for the escaped primate…
...and there it was.
It stood just under five-feet and was, perhaps, around 200 pounds. It was Ollie, the only orangutan at Dorian Labs.At least, it was the essence of a one-time orangutan!
“No...no...no, this can’t be!” Karl looked upon the dazed subject--wires, iv’s, and electrodes attached to this primate’s orangish, matted body.
It regarded the human with drowsy eyes.Under normal circumstances, an orangutan would be a potential threat to a human, if it felt that person was invading its space.Clearly, Ollie was still—well, waking up would not be, exactly, the right words!The scientists and their assistants at Dorian Labs were very sensitive to the word, but at some point, the nomenclature of zombie would have to be utilized…
The sudden sound of Karl’s smartphone ringing startled an already-intense Karl.But the phone’s electronic ringing seemed to hurt the orangutan’s ears, as it stammered away from the human a bit.Karl looked on the caller id of his phone and then answered it.
“Dr. Kenzi!Sir, you sure have a hell of good timing—”
“Karl,” the English voice came through; middle-aged and low, “how does our Ollie look?I received an emergency message on my phone from the Lab’s auto-messaging!”
A pause from Karl; his eyes never leaving the primate!He thought for several seconds before responding.“Dr. Kenzi…Sir, did you plan this?Is that why you’re in London…so you could have some alibi against using Ollie this way?”
“Mr. Davids, remember your place at Dorian!Besides, I have nothing to hide…the Board agreed to this next phase for Ollie.”
Another pause from the young lab assistant.This time, his eyes flickered back and forth between Ollie and a corner of the lab as he thought on the revelation the scientist had just told him.“Doctor, I can’t see the Board signing off on this.As I remember, our ethics-code categorized Ollie as far too critical to proceed!”
“Well, he couldn’t have been too far gone, mate…he’s standing right in front of you, isn’t he?”
Karl certainly couldn’t argue with that!By this point, the weary orangutan had seated itself against a supporting beam; the medical and scientific instruments jutting from his body clanking as he moved.
“So…what do I do now, Dr. Kenzi?”
“Hold on a bit; where’s Jessica?”
“Her uncle’s wedding in Jamaica. Remember, Sir?”
Of course, he did not.“Oh, yes…”
Franklin Kenzi thought for a bit, as Karl waited for his response over his smartphone.“What’s Ollie doing now?”
Karl glanced at the primate, shrugging as he responded.“He’s pretty chill right now, actually…I wouldn’t be surprised if his muscles started exhibiting some atrophy by now.”
“Indeed…Tell you what, Mr. Davids:just remain in the primate chamber and keep an eye on Ollie; I’ll phone and see which of the board members is closest to the Lab…I’ll be in London for another day, yet.I’ll get there as soon as I can.”
“Sounds good, Dr. Kenzi.”
“Oh, Mr. Davids…remember to keep this quiet.”
Before Karl could even confirm, Dr. Kenzi had already ended the call.
AN HOUR LATER…
Dr. Barbara Caine’s car had nearly bumped into one of Dorian Labs’ parking pylons when she quickly parked her late-model SUV!The thirty-something scientist, still in her formal wear, was on a date when she had gotten the call from Dr. Kenzi about Ollie.She had abruptly left her date at a fundraiser, after she simply said to him, literally, “Work!”It was a good thing it was still third-shift hours and Kansas City’s traffic was fairly light.
Dr. Caine swiped her security badge over the id badge-reader and rushed into the entryway; passed the lobby; rounded the hallways, then she trotted the rest of the way to the back of the lab—where the primate chamber was.But there was no orangutan nor lab assistant in the chamber!The only thing she could hear were the odd sounds of a virtual zoo, from the other animals toward the front of the lab, and the lab’s machines wiring.
“Karl,” she called out, after seeing the emptied chamber that once housed Ollie.The rest of the several pods that contained other primates were secured—light-indicators and flashing data were reassuring to her.“Karl…it’s Dr. Caine!”
She walked further into the primate section until she finally saw the young assistant; standing rod-straight with his back toward her.His posture alarming her, Dr. Caine rushed over to Karl…in front of him, Ollie, the orangutan, was simply sitting about five feet away from Karl—with all the iv’s and electrodes tethered to his body; as if Ollie were a Buddha statue.Its short legs were scrunched under its ample belly, while Ollie’s arms where casually resting atop his knees…the primate’s eyes staring, unblinking, into those of Karl.Karl was standing just as statue-still.
“Karl,” Dr. Caine yelled out.
It worked.For the young lab assistant snapped out of his trance.“Dr. Caine…”Karl began rubbing his watery eyes.Not from weeping, but from, apparently, keeping them open for an extended time, from what Dr. Caine could tell.Karl started, but then noticed how well-dressed the scientist was and winced upon remembering a previous conversation they had about her date that night.“Oh, Dr. Caine…I’m sorry it was you that Dr. Kenzi called!”
“Never mind that—what’s going on here, Davids?”
He looked upon her with questioning eyes.“I thought you talked with Dr. Kenzi about the Ollie situa—”
“Damn it, Karl; I’m talking about just now…why were you just standing frozen in front of Ollie like that?”
Another confused look from Karl, then he was shaking his head in disagreement.“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about, Doctor.Ollie just sat down a few seconds ago!”
Dr. Caine, her long, dark hair bundled up for the fundraising gala, was, now, the one giving odd looks!She then slowly slid her eyes upon the orangutan.This time, Ollie did move.The mature primate scratched at one of the electrodes on one of its arms; his eyes diverting from Dr. Caine’s.
“Ok…”She went over to a nearby console with laptops and other equipment and placed her personal belongs there.She quickly walked over to a corner of that section of the lab area where there were other white lab coats and slipped one of them on.“Karl, are you able to continue to work tonight?”
“Yes, Dr. Caine.”
He did seem a bit more together by this point, she noticed.“Awesome…as you know, Karl, we like to keep our Project private.At least for the time being.So, we’re not going to call for backup—not even the other scientists, ok?”He nodded without saying a word.“Ok…now, just as a precaution, I’ll have you retrieve our electric prod and stand ready with it until I get some visual recordings for the record…and after the recording, then we’ll do the number crunches.”
“Ok, Dr. Caine…will you be ok by yourself while I get the prod?”
She assessed the orangutan, then nodded.“Yeah…hey, Karl; do you mind using your personal phone to record this as well?I just want to make sure there’s another source of record…you mind?”
At first, she could tell he wanted to inquire about her request, but then Karl, always the team player he was, simply smiled with a nod and ran off to get the electric prod.
TWO DAYS LATER…
Dr. Franklin Kenzi loved London, but he had to admit it felt good to be able to flop onto his own bed and not wonder who had slept on it before him, like he always did; even at high-class hotels in his global travels!His plane had landed in Kansas City from New York hours ago.He was then dropped off at his spacious house in one of KC’s high-end neighborhoods by a share-drive service.Not even five minutes after landing on his bed in his master bedroom, Dr. Kenzi had fallen asleep…jet lag.
And it was about that same amount of time that passed by into his sleep that he heard his doorbell ring!
“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me!”
He went over to his security system’s interface and saw that it was Dr. Barbara Caine!He knew the situation with the orangutan, Ollie, was acute, but didn’t know it was that severe that she had to go over to his house!It was a good thing there was no spouse around that could get jealous about this!
He pushed the talk-button. “Ok, Barb…I’m on the way down.”
On the security console’s monitor, Dr. Kenzi could see Dr. Caine give a quick, singular nod; her countenance looking pretty nervous!
After Franklin made it down to his first floor, he walked over to the front door and let the casually-dressed Barbara in.He quickly shut the door and noticed how she helped herself to sitting on one of his couches in the living room.Not a good sign!
In fact, Dr. Caine merely sat quietly; her eyes looked as if she were the one who’d flown half-way across the planet and back!Noticing this, Dr. Kenzi offered her some tea or coffee.She declined.
He sat opposite of Barbara, in another of his couches; watching her for nearly a minute, expecting this very experienced scientist to give a report on the Ollie experiment.She said nothing…
“Um, Dr. Caine—Barb, are you alright?”
She produced her smartphone and held it up for demonstrative purpose.“You obviously haven’t seen the message I sent you from the last couple of days of what Karl and I have been through with Ollie!”
Dr. Kenzi was too embarrassed to admit to her accusation.“I’m sorry, Barb…I guess I should’ve checked while I was on one of my planes—”
“Here; use my phone…Karl text the video to me, just before he died.”
Dr. Kenzi’s head shot up with horror on his face!Dr. Caine merely sat frozen.From Kenzi’s perspective, she seemed to have a knowing look on her face…“But we’re keeping all this quiet, aren’t we Dr. Kenzi?”
He started, but Barbara didn’t even bother to let him say anything.After Dr. Caine swiped and typed some commands on her phone, she sat it on the elaborate coffee table that was in the center of the elaborate living room.
He gave her a long—indeed, an appraising!—look.But he picked up her smartphone and played the recording that Barbara had brought up on her phone…
It was just as Dr. Caine set out to do:a backup recording via lab assistant Karl Davids’ phone over the past two days of them working with Ollie.It started with the viewpoint of Karl videoing Dr. Caine as she walked back to the primate chamber of Dorian Labs.The recording started off slow, with Caine giving detailed observations and speculations of what happened with the orangutan; how Ollie might have gotten out of his reviving-chamber.Several minutes later, the recording on Barbara’s phone, then, took the viewer to several electronic panels of data and analytics on Ollie…it was at this point in the video that Dr. Kenzi started to have his interests piqued.
“Ollie’s vitals went down to zero,” Dr. Kenzi noted with alarm and incredulity; glancing at Barbara from across his coffee table, then back at Dr. Caine’s phone with the recording playing.
“Not down, Doctor…those were his vitals the whole time.”
Franklin’s face slack-jawed!“That’s impossible, Dr. Caine!There’s no way in hell any subject could maintain vital signs at near-zero—much less at zero!—and persist for days!”
“Not unless we do it the Dorian way…”
Now Kenzi’s head snapped up from the phone!This time he paused the video on her phone and sat it down on the coffee table.He let Barbara continue.
“Our endocrine functions…”Dr. Caine’s hint was enough to put Dr. Kenzi onto the right path—though he still needed help walking down that path.
Dr. Kenzi thought for a bit; frowning, not seeing where she was going with their conversation.“Primates’ glands sending hormones to our bodies’ organs—”
“Via the primates’ circulatory system, instead of conduits structures—kind of like, oh I don’t know, messaging via aerosols versus the need to build telephone lines…just imagine how much money and materials a species saves by not having to build entire infrastructures of telephone lines when all they’d have to do was…just think it!And let those thought-particulates permeate like our endocrine system!”
Now Dr. Kenzi was beginning to catch on!His face went blank.“Barbara…are you telling me that our augmenting procedure on Ollie’s endocrine system not only worked, to the point where his dead body only had to absorb our concoctions, but—”
“His dead body ran on vaporous fumes, for all intended purposes, Dr. Kenzi.Yes…only, our augmenting process didn’t stop with our concoctions…”
It was like watching Dr. Kenzi move in slow motion.He absent-mindedly got up from his couch and began to pace the elaborate, open-concept living room while Barbara watched him.
“Oh my god…”The tall, slender Briton, now, had his hands over his jet-lagged eyes.“Poor Karl…so, Ollie’s revived body…it was able to literally achieve intercellular fusion of Karl’s own vital functions—”
“Dr. Kenzi, we created a damn body-snatcher in real life,” Dr. Caine exploded!“I understand the biologics of what we’ve done, Franklin.But I don’t understand how Ollie’s deceased body was able to utilize our concoction so efficiently…probably the mixing of various species-dna we did with the concoction…”
Franklin had stopped his pacing and focused his full attention on his subordinate.She glared at him; seemed even hateful of Kenzi at that point!
“What the hell were you doing in London, anyway,” she put to him.“We could’ve used your help here!And now, as the COO of Dorian, you get to go over—in person!—and tell poor Mallory what her boyfriend died from!”
Just then, Dr. Kenzi froze; absolute fear was on his face!Noticing this, Dr. Caine, also, got up from the couch she was sitting on and walked over to Franklin.
“What is it, Frank…Doctor—”
“London…I was there on business.Some of our peer-researchers trying to keep our trade under the table…I was overseeing the delivery of over a hundred of some of our revived animals!”
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