The only sounds that filled the room were the buzzing of machines and the clicking of several keyboards at once and the occasional murmurs of men and women in lab suits talking to one and another.
“Ninety-five percent, Mr. Taylor,” spoke a woman to the man beside her. Mr. Taylor, a scrawny gentleman with messy hair, leaned over a computer screen as he pulled his bangs back, showing the reflection of a loading bar in his glasses. Just then a computerized female voice declared Eureka! and applause broke out in the room.
“Another successful transfer ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Taylor announced confidently.
A door at the end of the room hissed open and a dashing man wearing a tailored three-piece suit entered the room. “Damion, you didn’t say you were stopping by. I would have waited to hold the transfer if I knew,” Mr. Taylor said to the gentleman.
“Unexpected visitors today, so let’s keep it formal, Mr. Taylor,” Damion said, a bit of annoyance in his voice.
“Of course Mr. Chester, although I don’t know who would consider you not formal,” he chuckled. Almost everything about Damion Chester was formal. His hair was so clean-cut, it was as if he had a personal hairdresser on standby. The only thing about him that seemed out of order was his five o’clock shadow.
“Another successful transfer I presume?” Damion inquired.
“Good. Press and government officials will be buzzing around today. I don’t want any mistakes.”
“Speaking of the press, my friend, I think I have found the perfect subjects for your projects,” excitedly spoke Mr. Taylor.
“Hers,” groaned Damion, “I have no need to entertain the press.” Damion picked up a magazine on a desk nearby that had an attractive blonde on the cover with the words The New Face of Re-Inc printed under her picture.
“Either way you’ll still be interested in this,” Taylor insisted as he handed over a red folder. Damion curiously flipped through the file as he came across pictures of four teenagers. His facial expression quickly changed to one of panic.
“Please tell me this is some kind of a joke, Atlas!” Damion exclaimed, furious.
“What happened to being formal?” grinned Mr. Taylor, “Let me explain it to you before you shut this project down.”
“Only because I know that you’re not a complete idiot,” snapped Damion.
Taylor smiled and continued, “People are losing faith in this system because they’re expecting us to take a deranged serial killer and turn him into a boy scout that you could take home to mom and dad within the first transfer. What they’re not seeing is the team of behavioral scientists that are struggling to create the perfect profile to make the ultimate treatment.”
“Where are you going with this?”
“That’s why we want to show the world every step, every milestone that these kids go through. If they can see the progress, then they can’t deny it or the program anymore.” Mr. Taylor studied Damion’s facial expression as he waited for a response.
“You can do that with anyone. Why these four? They have never had a successful trial,” he said, holding up the red folder, “Hence, why they were placed in the red section.”
Mr. Taylor grabbed the folder and flipped it open to date and pointed it at June 3rd, 2062. “They were one of the first subjects this program had treated. We’re more advanced now and no one has attempted any of the red files with our new treatments. The case is a high profile, so not only would the public have entertainment, but our profits would soar.” Damion began to pace the room, his thoughts racing through his head so fast that he couldn’t keep up with them. As much as he objected to the subjects, Atlas was right. It was true that he could choose anyone for the projects, but they needed something that screamed difficulty if they wanted to satisfy the people and keep the program running. Damion resigned, “At least it’s not my name on the project.”
“Exactly my thought,” Taylor said with a smile, “and if it fails, I’m sure whoever cleans up the mess would be the next CEO.” Damion caught the hint, and returned the smile,
“Well, why didn’t you say something before?”
Damion walked out of the room through a series of corridors and stopped at the elevator. Once the elevator doors dinged closed, Damion straightened his suit in the reflection of the doors and reached his arm out to his reflection as if he was going to shake its hand. “Ms. Hampton, a pleasure to see you again,”; “Ms. Hampton, it’s wonderful to see you again.” Damion studied his own facial expressions with each greeting he practiced. He wanted to make sure his emotions weren’t being given away. The elevator reached floor twenty-six and the doors dinged open again. He stepped into a room that made him cringe. Desks were lined into rows of four; they were empty and had papers strewn across the tops. Nobody was working--instead, they were gathered around various televisions scattered throughout the room. Each television showed the same woman that was in the magazine holding a press conference. Damion went to the break room in an attempt to get some coffee before his meeting. He sighed as he entered the break room and found it worse than the office area. Cold coffee cups, half-eaten sandwiches, empty yogurt containers, and the occasional salads trashed the room. He leaned out the door between the office and the break room, “Does this belong to anyone?” He asked as he held up some of the trash. The workers seemed to be glued to the TV screens in front of them, so Damion tossed what he had in his hands into the trash and began walking to the coffee pot. “Of course,” he sighed as he held up an empty coffee pot. He fixed the coffee maker and began to brew a fresh pot. While he was waiting, he started to clean up the room and throw away everything in his path. “I did ask them,” he muttered to himself. He was washing the last cup when the coffee finished brewing.
After he made himself a cup, Damion walked back into the office to find that the press conference had ended. The worker bees had returned to their desks and one especially disheveled worker entered the break room, “Where’s my sandwich?” The man demanded.
Damion entered another office that was more to his setting—it was organized and the color scheme didn’t make him want to rip his hair out. He looked outside the window at the landscaping while he drank his coffee. A voice interrupted his thoughts,
“Mr. Chester, did we have an appointment?”
Damion turned around to find Ms. Hampton, who was wearing her hair as she normally did, perfectly waved passed her shoulders. She was wearing a woman’s designer suit that was slightly unbuttoned to show off some of her curves. Damion gave her an insincere smile, “No, I had good news and thought a surprise would be best.”
“Well if it’s good news I suppose I could make time for you,” she joked.
“It seems Mr. Taylor has once again not let us down,” he proudly announced. Damion handed her the subjects and began to give her the same speech that Mr. Taylor gave him. She didn’t seem worried like Damion was. Her face was full of excitement as she read deeper into the file as Damion spoke.
“This is perfect. This is exactly what the media wants. They’re violent and attractive…”
“Excuse me?” Damion interrupted.
“Beauty in the beasts… Nobody wants to watch someone unattractive,” she began to explain.
“What do you mean watch?”
“I don’t want just another published article. I want these kids in the peoples’ homes. I want people to experience them.”
“Experience them? These are killers were talking about. You want to publish real murders on television?” Damion asked, outraged.
“It’s a completely controlled environment and they would be killing man-made clones, not actual people,” she explained.
“This is absurd! There are people still afraid to walk in public because of the horrors these four have committed. You’ll make a nightmare real again.”
“I would make it authentic, which is what the world is asking for,” she interjected. Damion couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Giving serial killers their own television show where they can kill people with no one stopping them? This will never be approved, he thought to himself here…