The Face

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: The Imaginarium


A short story that will make you thing twice about taking a 'selfie'

Submitted: December 17, 2017

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Submitted: December 17, 2017

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Near Swanton Morley, Norfolk, England – Present Day

Caroline stood on the side of a grass verge, listening for a siren. A siren that would tell her, her absence had been discovered. Her unkempt long black hair hung limply down, ‘looking like rat’s tails’ would have been her mother’s comment if she had been there with her.

Caroline had not had a wash, bath or shower for some time and her black army fatigues were now caked in mud. On hearing an approaching vehicle in the country lane, she stepped further into the green undergrowth. The stinging nettles no longer had an effect on her hands as she pushed the taller ones to way side. As the car drove pass where Caroline was hiding, it hit a small pothole forcing the rainwater up into a spout which splashed onto the verge. Some of the water hit Caroline’s right hand, the sensation startled her at first, then without looking she could picture the perfectly small spheres of water before she dispersed them with her index finger.

Caroline stepped out from the over grown verge and headed south along the tarmac road. The sun had passed midday and was now warming Caroline’s right-hand side. That last down pour had been furious, monsoon like. Steam now rose from the blacken road surface as the sun continued to beat now, however as often the case in a British summer another storm was never too far behind. Caroline stopped walking and turned to face the sun, she could only feel the heat of the day, the brightest never bothered her eyes due to the fact that she was blind. Being blind she was unable to see the encroaching clouds and soon the suns warmth left her. With the sun now behind the clouds, a chill came over Caroline. Her internal perception told her to keep walking, remarkably Caroline never put a foot wrong she never had that unsure certainly of walking into a hole or bumping into a tree or telegraph pole. To see Caroline manoeuvre herself you would never think she was visually impaired.

It was a side-effect something to do with the experiment, it robbed her of sight but increased that part of the brain which gave her, ‘second sight’. What a stupid turn of phrase, she thought, how could she have second sight when the first one had been taken away.

Caroline ‘looked’ for a turning into the forest where she could hide. It was mid-July and she looked conspicuous dressed in black particularly now she had pulled her hood up in an attempt to cover her face. Staring towards the trees, she could detect a large dense area. Then she saw in her mind’s eye a light grey mass, she knew this to represent an open space. Caroline moved her head up and down left to right like a sonar, trying to detect any darker shapes that might be obstacles. When she looked back down to the ground, there was the image of a five-bar gate. Moving towards the gate, she reaching out her hands and waved them back and forth until at last she found it. The gate was damp and slimy with the recent rain eventually she found the metal bolt and without hesitation, shot it back.

Caroline opened the gate, the sign attached to it read, ‘Forestry Commission. Authorised Vehicles Only’. She opened it just enough for her to go through then closing it behind her, she shot the bolt back into the metal keeper. Caroline walked a little way into the forest along the temporary road surface before she felt safe removing her hood. Caroline’s hearing was sensitive to the sounds of nature that was all around her, for instance, she could hear above her, a squirrel gently chomping on an acorn. Higher up in the fir tress she heard the thin single note of a Firecrest as it called to its kin. If Caroline could smile she would at these simple but pleasant observations, but of course smiling was something else the ‘experiment’ had robbed her of.

Soon she came upon an abandon picnic area, once used by day trippers when this part of the forest would have been opened to the public. Now these areas were left to over grow with vegetation and the picnic benches allow too rot. Caroline approached one of the benches and with caution; she slowly sat upon it gradually applying her weight. Satisfied it was not going to collapse she relaxed for the first time since she escaped the facility.

Trooper Caroline Munro, of the Special Air Service (SAS) assigned to the Counter-Terrorism Wing was planning an escape with the other troopers held at an unknown Ministry of Defence (MOD) facility near Swanton Morley, Norfolk. The arrangements with the other captors were to breakout during the cover of darkness; however, an opportunity presented itself for her to make a run for it during the day. She knew she had committed a selfish act; allowing her actions to scupper the element of surprise for the others and so alerting their captors to their intended plans. But she was going to come back for them, that she promised herself even if the others now considered her a traitor.

Caroline suddenly looked skyward towards the low bass drone thump, thump sound made by the rotor blades of a low flying helicopter that was fast approaching. Looking around desperately, she now needed somewhere to hide.

Caroline Munro left the picnic bench and ran straight towards the thickest part of the forest. She moved faster than her inner awareness could process. Literally, she blindly crashed through the branches and kept running until she could detect that she was now completely covered by the canopy of the conifer trees. Her heart was thumping so loud in her ears that she struggled to hear where the chopper was now. Once her heart rate was rested she could hear the helicopter flying overhead. It was not hovering, which told her that the thermal camera on board was not picking up her body heat. The chopper banked to the left and the drone of the rotor blades faded into the distance soon to be replaced by the barking of approaching dogs.

 

 

MOD Facility No.57, Swanton Morley, Norfolk, England

General Charles Grant sat at the head of the table facing two sixty-inch wall-mounted monitors. Sitting around him at the table were the other senior members of staff from the facility.

The General was on a Skype conference call to the Home Sectary, Clare Hammond. The face of a fortysomething year-old woman filled both screens as she looked down upon those gathered there. “So, General can you confirm that only one trooper managed to break-out from your facility?” Grant now stood to address the Rt. Hon. Clare Hammond. “That’s correct,” he said glancing through the file now in front of him. “Trooper Caroline Munro the first woman to be selected by the SAS and as of two weeks ago, assigned to the Counter-Terrorism Wing broke out from her enclosure at approximately 5am this morning. The other four troopers are for the time being under armed guard.”

Clare Hammond lowered her eyes to read the report in front of her. After a moment she looked back into the Skype camera her soften eyes she only reserved for her children, were for the general cold and heartless. “You know I have authorised the removal of this individual under code-name ‘Death Warrant’.

General Grant gave a solemn nod; that command had only been given out twice since the end of the Second World War. Both of those times it was issued for the removal of high-ranking para-military leaders living in Britain, who were about to launch a bombing campaign on the mainland. Never had it been issued against a serving member of the armed forces.

The Home Sectary saw the aguish in the General’s face, “General Grant may I remind you of the devastation this would have on not just the government but our society as a whole. If the general public ever find out what we have done to those soldiers I can guarantee you our eight-hundred years of civil stability between the State and the people would dissolve into anarchy overnight. For the peace of our nation, Caroline Munro must be eliminated.” Grant once again took his seat; he stared at Caroline’s black and white passport photograph attached to the front of the brown folder.

The Home Secretary wanted to be reassured on one final matter before terminating the call. “The remaining four troopers what is to become of them?” Without looking up the General gave a sigh before replying, “There will be a helicopter crash tonight in the Brecon Beacons with no survivors.”

 

 

Unclassified MOD Facility somewhere in Britain – Two Weeks Ago

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a convoy of six land rovers were driven at speed through the facility checkpoint, sitting in the back of the middle land rover sat five SAS troopers dressed in full black combat fatigues. All were wearing their Avon NBC respirators and carrying their Heckler and Koch assault rifles.

The land rovers eventually drove into a compound and came to a halt outside bunker No.2. The back of the land rover carrying the troopers came down and all five of them jumped out of the back. General Charles Grant stood waiting until they were all present then ordered them to follow him inside the bunker and down the long corridor. The five black dressed figures were now conspicuous against the stark white interior of the bunker. At the end of the corridor was a set of steel doors with two armed soldiers on guard. As the General showed his pass one of the soldiers duly punched in an access code and opened the steel door to let all six of them pass through.

All six of them were now standing in a large boardroom, sitting at the table was Dr Gillian Stevens, developer of the new government surveillance FaceClip app. Behind her were five armed members of the Military Police. Dr Stevens looked a little un-nerved at first when the five black clad troopers entered the room wearing their respirators and brandishing their firearms. She gave a nervous laugh followed by a smile before welcoming them to the facility.

Captain John, ‘Randy’ Crawford removed his respirator and on seeing this, the other four followed suit. General Grant took command giving Crawford’s men an order to surrender their weapons. The Military Policemen that were originally standing to attention in the laboratory, came and stood in front of each of the troopers waiting to receive their Heckler & Koch. “OK General, what’s all this about,” demanded Crawford. “You get me and my men out of our beds, drag us all the way to where I don’t know for a chat with the nice doctor there?” Dr Stevens stood up from behind the table. “Gentlemen,” then seeing that Caroline Munro was among the troopers, “Oh! and a lady, I do apologise,” Munro just shrugged the comment off, although she looked feminine with her long black hair, which she was allowed to keep because she broke the fingers of the barracks barber when he tried to cut it, she was as hard as the rest of them. Dr Stevens continued, “The reason all of you were brought here was because I needed, and I hate to use this phrase, ‘guinea pigs’ who were physically and mentally fit.” Munro pushed her way pass the MP standing in front of her and made her way towards Dr Stevens, “You called us what!” The MP reacted to Munro’s aggressive tone and made an attempt to restrain her. Before the General could stop the MP, the policeman was curled up on the floor nursing a broken arm. Munro gave the MP a contemptuous look and then continued her rant at Dr Stevens. “There are plenty of people who fit your requirements, why waste the tax payer’s money dragging us here!” Dr Stevens was still looking at the fallen MP wondering if she or anyone else should go and help him. “Believe me” said General Grant, “there is no-one more trained then you five gathered here now who could withstand the experiment that Dr Stevens needs to perform on you.”

 

 

Near Swanton Morley, Norfolk, England – Present Day

The dogs were getting nearer; Caroline knew it would be suicidal to make a run for it, particularly over the uneven ground in the forest. She had no choice but wait until the dogs came close then she would launch her only element of surprise, her appearance.

Apart from Dr Gillian Stevens and General Charles Grant, nobody knew of the horrific side effects suffered by Munro and the other troopers when they were exposed to the experimental surveillance mobile phone app, FaceClip. After the accident all five troopers had their faces covered and were whisked immediately away to a ‘quarantine’ facility area in rural Norfolk.

Caroline selected two large branches from the fir tree nearest to her. She was not concerned by the cracking noise they made as she savagely pulled them from the tree. The noise would g0 unnoticed over the furious barking and snarling from their dogs. Caroline Munro waited and waited her training telling her to optimise every moment of concealment. She could now hear the handlers shouting, trying to intimidate her into breaking cover. It was an old trick if you wanted to flush someone out of hiding. Make them feel they were trapped sparking their ancient instinct for survival and forcing them to run for it. Its the same tactics the gamekeepers and beaters use on the moors to hurry the grouse up in the air for the waiting guns.

The first handler sensing the dog was almost upon the fugitive; reached down to the collar and slipped off the lead. The large German Shephard bounded into the darkness its barking soon turned to whining and yelping before falling silent. Without hesitation the second handler released his dog within seconds of entering the thick woodland that too soon met the same fate.

The handlers immediately drew their side arms and at that moment for a split second was shocked by the grotesque imagine of Caroline Munro. As she stepped from the trees, Munro only needed that second to reach the first dog handler and disarm him of his weapon. With an action so swift, she placed the pistol in the centre of his chest and pulled the trigger. The sound of the shot woke the second handler from his shock of seeing the face of trooper Munro. Before he could get a shot off, Caroline was upon him and it was not before he too fell to the ground dead alongside his fallen comrade.

The two shots would have alerted anyone nearby, military or civilian. Munro grabbed in turn each of the legs of the handlers and dragged them into the forest to lay alongside the two dogs she harpooned with the two broken branches. She now needed to get away from here completely. She needed answers, she needed to speak to Dr Gillian Stevens.

 

 

Unclassified MOD Facility somewhere in Britain – Two Weeks Ago

The five SAS troopers sat around the large oval table in the boardroom. With their weapons removed the security was now down manned to just two of the MP’s now standing guide inside the room. Dr Gillian Stevens seemed a little more relaxed after the initial confrontational meeting. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” Dr Stevens gave an extra friendly emphasis on the word, ‘Ladies’ much to the annoyance of Caroline Munro. “Let me introduce myself, my name is Dr Gillian Stevens and I work for The Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ. Like you I have been assigned to the Counter-Terrorism Wing and have been tasked to improve our homeland security. I think at this point its best if we now show the short film I have made.” Dr Stevens returned to her seat as the room dimmed and a large white screen made its way down from above just as the ceiling mounted projector started to play.

As the film began to play; Dr Stevens herself then came onto the screen. “Welcome to this presentation about the proposed surveillance mobile phone app called. ‘FaceClip’.

It has been recognized for some time now that the best way to fight against terrorism is infiltration. If the security forces around the world could penetrate the very organisation that threatens our liberty by gaining access to their plans before they were acted upon, we could effectively shut down every known terrorist group overnight.” The on screen Dr Stevens now moves over to a desk that has a computer monitor and a keyboard. She continues her presentation. “Everybody takes ‘selfies’ even terrorists. Here are some examples of a few taken by phones of known ‘sleeper terrorist agents’ we rigged up for this demonstration.” The doctor sat behind the keyboard and soon the whole screen was filled with three portrait pictures. Two were men, one was a woman. From the poses it was obvious they were taken in a relaxed environment. The pictures soon left the screen and were replaced again by the image of Dr Stevens who took up where she left off. “Now I hear you all saying, what’s such a big deal about capturing someone photo, well when you combined that with the technology of 3D printing, this is the result.” At that point the screen went blank and a door to the right automatically clicked open and behind the door was three glass cabinets. Each one had the perfect replica of the terrorist heads. Dr Stevens got up from her chair and went over to the door, pushing it open further she pulled all three glass cabinets out into the boardroom for all to see. All five of the SAS troopers also left their chairs to examine the heads.

SAS captain, John Crawford was the first to open the glass cabinet, he was expecting the effigy to be made of wax, upon feeling the heads he felt the cold clammy flesh of dead tissue. Even for a man used to seeing the evidence of extreme violence, the sight of these severed heads turned his stomach. Rage was building up in him as he turned to General Grant, “What kind of sicko are you? Is this what we do now? Go down to their level of butchery!” Dr Stevens looked at General Grant, “Crawford!” he shouted, “Let the doctor explain before you jump now anyone’s throat.” John Crawford backed away from the cabinet letting Dr Gillian Stevens talk his place over at the cabinet; she could not help but smile at their achievement. “We have pushed have 3D printing a little further now, with our genetics programme we have managed to clone several human heads. We have created human adult male and female skulls grown and attached muscles and even manged to cultivate skin and hair from different ethnic groups. These heads we have created have no features and they are just blank canvas, that’s where the 3D printing comes in. The phone app digitises the face and then sends the information to our 3D printer which converts into living tissue and then maps it over the genetically grown head moulding the flesh and muscle to produce the face from the selfie.

Caroline Munro went over to stare at the head of the woman, still staring at the head she said to Dr Stevens, “You want us to have our faces exchanged for terrorists, don’t you?” Dr Stevens looked awkwardly at General Grant, the General nodded to Stevens. “We want to swap your faces around. We will take a picture of your face for, shall we say, filling. Then while your faces are still warm, we will digitise the terrorist face that we have grown on our GM heads, over onto your, ‘Blank’ faces.”
“So, I take it then you have five of these scum bags lined up for us?” said John Crawford. Grant immediately answered him, “Five known terrorist have been located in London that we have under surveillance right now. Your job is to go in eliminate your target and resume their identity.”
“Got it all worked out haven’t you,” said Munro. “Except one thing, our voices. I bet we don’t sound like them!” Crawford gave a smile as he looked towards the General and the doctor. “Well, do you have an answer for that one?”
“We just want you to gain entrance into their safe house and waste the mothers, not engage them in polite conversation!” The General was by now getting slightly agitated with John Crawford and his team. Dr Stevens then continued, “The voice recognition and duplication application is a little way off, but if we can provide a convincing distraction to allow a group to get pass their front door, that would be a vast achievement,”

General Grant signalled to the two MP’s standing by the door and on his command, they let Crawford and the others pass out into the corridor. Dr Stevens lead the team down the long passageway where they finally reached their destination, Dr Stevens test laboratory.

Inside were only five chairs and a bank of monitors. On Grants command, reluctantly the five troopers took a seat each, Crawford saw the arm restrains and knew it would be useless to make any kind of protest. It was Dr Stevens who took the decision to strap in the five troopers feeling that this would seem less intimidating for them than if the MP’s did it. Dr Gillian Stevens addressed the room when she proclaimed the standard reason behind tiring someone down to a chair, “It’s for your own safety,” giving everyone a smile. A female laboratory assistant then entered and began putting ECG and EEG sensors on the troopers.

Once the assistant had finished placing the sensors on the troopers, a technician in a room outside switched on the monitors to show the heart rate and brain wave patterns for all five of the troopers. Dr Gillian Stevens began to explain what was going to happen next. “Troopers, soon a mask from above will be lowered onto your face. Inside the mask are tiny cameras that will continuously photograph your face for two minutes. You will during that time lose your eyesight, please do not concern yourself, this is part of the process of removing your face which will be mapped onto a genetically cloned skull, like the ones you were shown, for safe-keeping. Almost immediately after that process the face of the chosen subject will be transferred onto your now blank face. Once the process is finished, we will keep the mask on for a few more minutes to allow the muscle tissues to settle. Right! Everyone ready?”

 

 

 Somewhere in, England – Present Day

Two days had now passed since Caroline Munro broke out from the MOD security facility near the Norfolk town of Swanton Morley. She and the four other SAS troopers were taken there after a surveillance experiment went horrifically wrong. Now she was back outside the perimeter fence where two weeks ago Dr Gillian Stevens turned her into a side-show freak.

One thing they teach the recruits on the SAS selection course, is how to become aware of your surroundings whether you are blind-folded or just sitting in the back of a land rover. When they were being taken to the ‘unclassified’ facility there was a lot of information to be observed along the way. Although it was pitch black, Caroline glimpsed road signs, and buildings. She paid particularly attention to how long they were travelling between turn offs and junctions. She even managed at one point when stopped at traffic lights, to see where certain star constellation was in the sky. All this added up to a visual map in her head to where they were going. She did the same when they were moved to the facility in Norfolk after the accident, now she played the map in reverse and filled in the blanks with the other information she retained.

Just like in the forest, trooper Munro used her inner vision to scan the fence for a weakness, just then she heard to her right the sound of a car door slamming. The car engine revved and slowly began to make its way over to the sentry. Caroline ran to where the noise was coming from. She halted and crouched in the bushes near the guardhouse. The car reached the sentry and the soldier on duty was satisfied with the drivers pass and lifted the red and white stripped barrier letting the car pass out onto the country lane. With all her stealth, Caroline Munro slipped unnoticed pass the guard and made her way to Bunker No.2 that lead to Dr Stevens laboratory.

 

 

Unclassified MOD Facility somewhere in Britain – Two Weeks Ago

Caroline looked up towards the ceiling to see the mask lowering down upon her face. She just had time to glance at her heart monitor seeing the heart rate beginning increase. As the mask approached, she closed her eyes for the last time.

Claustrophobia was one fear the army could not beat out of her in their training, with her eyes remaining closed she began to breathe deeply to relieve her anxiety of being confined. Then before her stress levels had time to increase, the tiny flashes of light, Dr Stevens spoke about, began to strobe inside the mask. At first, she could detect the light pass over her eye lids then that sensation slowly decreased until she was left in totally darkness.

She gathered that the flashing lights must have stopped because next she felt a slow tingling feeling come over her face. The sensation gained momentum as facial muscles began to twitch involuntary, now she had the weirdest feeling that her lips were shrinking and her mouth was closing up! She tried to stick her tongue out but it now only hit a wall of flesh. Now to her horror, like her eyes, her mouth had also disappeared.

Now trying not to panic, Caroline Munro remained still in the chair. The arm and leg restrain were still in place, so the whole procedure was not yet complete. Trooper Munro sat there now waiting for the transfer of her new face to take place. While sitting in the dark, she became aware that she could see! Not the type of seeing she was used to with her real eyes, but seeing telepathically. She had a perception, an awareness unlike she had never experienced before. Was this part of the experiment? Was this now part of being this lethal assassin? She would now be able to second think the terrorist before they commit the crime.

While Caroline was getting use to her new ‘second sight’ she had lost time of how long she had been under the mask. She then remembered that the doctor did say that the transformation would be almost instantaneously. This now seemed longer, something had gone wrong. She then became aware of activity beside her, although the mask covered her ears, her hearing had not been affectived and she could make out the voice of Dr Stevens and General Grant talking rather excitable bordering hysterical next to her.

Caroline had never heard a SAS trooper cry out in terror before, not even during the most gruelling of training. So, when John Crawford screamed, Caroline froze out of total fear. The scream was blood-curling, the type of scream a person would make if their soul had been ripped from their body. There was no doubt in her mind now, something had gone disastrously wrong.

John Crawford was escorted out of his chair with a hood placed unceremoniously over his head. The Captain of this group of SAS troopers, who had survived torture interrogation by the Taliban, stumbled out of the laboratory a broken man crying like a baby. Caroline could hear Dr Stevens gasp out of shock and General Grant tried his best to compose himself at what he saw when the masks were lifted off the remaining three troopers. Caroline could not hear any cries form them just muffled sounds like they were being gagged. Soon only her chair was left. She felt the straps being released from around her arms and legs then she flexed her fingers to help the circulation return. Slowly she felt the pressure of the mask lift off her face and again Caroline heard Dr Stevens cry out in disbelief at what she was now looking at. Once Caroline Munro was free of the mask she tried to open her eyes without success. Her brain was sending messages to her optical muscles but they were not responding, trooper Munro had no eyes to open. Neither did she have a mouth to voice of fear. She could move her jaw and she could still feel her teeth with her tongue, but she had no oral orifice to open.

In her head Caroline Munro screamed her anguish, and in their minds Dr Stevens and General Grant heard her. Dr Stevens placed her hands over her ears and looked at General Grant. He too was suffering from the sudden noise inside his head. Dr Stevens took hold of Caroline by the shoulders and gently sat her back down on the side of the chair. “Caroline, can you hear me?” Munro nodded, “Good, now using your inner monologue say your name.” Both Dr Stevens and General Grant heard a name spoken to them in the unmistakable West Country accent of trooper Caroline Munro.

Further tests were done on Caroline to see what type of senses she now had given that she was blind and mute. Once Dr Stevens and General Grant were satisfied with their test results, Dr Gillian Stevens began to explain to Caroline what had happen during the transfer.

 

 

Outside Bunker No.2 – Present Day

Caroline Munro took cover in between the wheelie bins. She had no idea if Dr Gillian Stevens was on the base this evening, but someone would be there. Someone to help her reverse this mistake and so get her old face back. She could not believe what Dr Stevens had told her, about the malware that was on the terrorist phones they had bugged with FaceClip. A malware that had been sent out by the same government she worked for. GCHQ were sending out malware patches to the phones of all known suspected terrorists. The malware was to corrupt any photographic image taken by their phones, wipe the image or distort it with some other images. This was to frustrate and confuse the enemy in identifying their targets. No one thought to pass this on to Dr Gillian Stevens and her team. The original three suspected terrorist they used as test subjects had brand new phones and so were protected by the free thirty-day anti-virus allowing the experiment to proven to be a success. Caroline learned that the selfie photo they used for John Crawford had been mixed with a random picture and so his face now looked like a Picasso painting with his features all distorted. The other three had their faces so badly distorted that their features had staring to dissolve once their masks were removed.

The photograph they were hoping to use for Caroline face had been wiped, so there was nothing for them to substitute her face with. Caroline then asked the doctor the question, why couldn’t they just give them back their old faces? The doctor replied that the disfiguration on the first three had radically altered their bone structure making it impossible to give their own faces back. In the case of Caroline, the malware had now corrupted the laboratory software and so her face was no longer viable to use.

It was an early July evening and the twilight was casting its long shadow, long deep shadows to hide in. Caroline needed entrance into the bunker but this was going to be difficult without a pass. She still had the pistol she took from the dog handler back in Norfolk, her plan was to wait for someone to emerge from the bunker and hold them at gun point until they took her to the laboratory. Hopefully it will be a civilian worker who will also be stunned by her appearance. Her wait was soon rewarded by the arrival of a young lab technician. Caroline jumped the young man who upon seeing the deformed SAS trooper dropped his files and was pushed back into the bunker with Caroline holding the pistol against his temple. A wet patch soon appeared down the inside right leg of the young man’ trousers, unable to control his bowl movements at being taken hostage.

Caroline calming constructed the sentence in her mind before sending it telepathy to the technician. For the young man it started as an echo calling to him, he looked around to see no-one in the corridor except the faceless trooper. Then he heard the clear female voice speak into his mind. “Nod your head if you hear me?” The young technician shook uncontrollably as he slowly nodded his head, “Good, I want you to take me to Dr Gillian Stevens’s laboratory. Do you understand?” Again, the young technician nodded his head. With her free hand she pulled her hood up to conceal her face, “Now, I’m going to remove the pistol from your head and I want you to take me by the arm. If anyone asks, you are taking me to General Grant. Is he still here?” The technician seemed a little more relaxed now the pistol had been removed from his head and responded by saying ‘yes’ to Caroline’s question.

The technician, who was named Jason, led Caroline by the arm down the corridor towards Dr Stevens laboratory. Being an experimental facility, volunteers were always being escorted by laboratory staff to various rooms and so, no-one suspected Caroline as she was led by Jason through the corridors. The arrival of the five SAS troopers two weeks ago was high-classified. Only General Grant, the doctor plus a small group of armed guards and technicians were privy to the FaceClip experiment and only those members knew about the disaster and the quick removal of those involved.

Jason and Caroline reached Dr Stevens laboratory. Jason knocked on the door checking if it was empty. To both of their surprise the voice of Dr Gillian Stevens called back to them, “Who is it?” Caroline produced the pistol to prompt Jason to reply before the doctor got suspicious. “It’s me Dr Stevens with the DNA you requested.” There was a brief pause then the door clicked open, Caroline Munro pushed Jason to one side before trusting the pistol into the face of Dr Gillian Stevens.

Caroline locked the door behind her before, she pressed the ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ button. Lowering the pistol from the doctor’s face, Munro grabbed Dr Stevens wrist, forced her fingers apart and placed the doctors hand on the palm pad. After Dr Stevens palm print had locked the door, Caroline let go of the doctor’s wrist leaving Dr Gillian Stevens to stare into the blank face of trooper Caroline Munro.

“So, I see you have found me then?” Dr Stevens seemed remarkably relaxed as she rubbed her wrist. Caroline once again used her telepathy to speak to the doctor. “And you think I’m stupid not to realise your little codes. Anyone with half an ounce of common sense would know that DNA is not delivered like a postman delivering mail. So, what did you do press some sort of panic button?” Dr Gillian Stevens went back to sit behind the table in the laboratory. “Forcing me to lock the door won’t stop the armed response team I have alerted. When the General phoned me two days ago to say you had escaped I knew a person of your determination would soon find me. I have been staying at this facility ever since, becoming the bait to bring you back.” Caroline resumed pointing the pistol back at Dr Stevens and sat down at the table opposite her. “So, you know what I have come back for?” Dr Stevens looked matter-of-factly towards Caroline Munro, “I told you last time you were here, your face was corrupted. I can’t give you your face back.” Caroline’s telepathic voice began to vibrate in the doctor’s mind. “I just want a face, any face, your face!” Dr Stevens stirred awkwardly in her chair. “I told you our computers got corrupted by the malware so I can’t do as you asked.” Caroline Munro flicked the safety catch off the pistol, “In that case,” she said pointing the pistol into Dr Stevens face, “you may as well die.” Gillian Stevens drew her hands up to cover her face, “Wait! Maybe there is a solution. We can duplicate.” Munro lowered the pistol, “Duplicate? You mean have two of us walking around.” Dr Stevens was now playing for time. It needed to be long enough to allow the armed response team to arrive. “I can duplicate both of us. Afterwards you can live in any part of the world you want. I’ll explain to General Grant we have come to an agreement. It’ll be tidy, an ending for all of us” Caroline knew what tidy meant. While she was making her way to the facility, Caroline remembered hearing the news from various outlets of a helicopter crash with no survivors in Wales. At the time she thought to herself how ‘tidy’ that was.

Dr Stevens slowly came out from behind the table, her movements still alerted Caroline, “Where do you think you’re going?” Dr Stevens stumbled of her reply, “I eh! Need to get things set up for us.” Caroline now unnerved Dr Stevens it was as if Caroline could penetrate her every thought. Caroline Munro did not trust the doctor and so followed her around the laboratory checking everything she did. “Right,” said Dr Stevens her hand shook as she held the phone in her hand. She then touched the ‘camera’ icon and then flipped the phone away from its case to expose the camera lens. Looking at the camera full-on Dr Stevens then took a picture of herself. Afterwards she plugged the phone into the computer. Her image came up on the screen and the anti-virus software scanned the computer moving from 0% to 100% changing the colour on the gauge from red to green. Dr Stevens programmed two of the chairs and both the doctor and Caroline could hear the chairs hydraulics starting to respond. Dr Stevens turned to face Caroline Munro, the soft deformed facial muscle rippled involuntary under her skin. Stevens then looked into the flesh covered hollow part of Caroline’s face, that part of the face where her eyes should be. “Trooper, you are going to have to trust me on this next part.” Caroline thought for a moment, what had she to lose. If Dr Stevens was now going to betray her, death would be swift and a release from this nightmare. Trooper Munro nodded in agreement.

Dr Stevens escorted Caroline Munro into her chair, there was no need for the restraints today and placed the computers on timers. Then Dr Stevens sat in her chair and both women leaned there heads back on their head rests. As the countdown on the computers neared zero, the chairs began to stir to life. The timer now said zero and the masks started to lower themselves. Caroline again felt the claustrophobic encasement of the mask, the next part of the procedure was alien to her, this was the point when first time around the experiment went wrong. So, instead of feeling that her face was being pulled apart, she had the feeling of her facial muscles growing, expanding. Now for the first time in just over two weeks her optical senses were detecting flashes of light strobing across her face. Her lips were forming back and she could now open her mouth.

The strobing stopped and Caroline sat there letting her new face adjust to her existing bone structure. It was then while sitting in total darkness that the shooting started.

Not long after the strobing had started, it finished. The mask was slowly lifted off Caroline Munros face, white blinding light pieced her new eyes, someone was gently lifting her out of the chair, “This way Dr Stevens,” said the voice and Caroline was taken to a waiting stretcher. She tried to speak, her voice was now deep, like a man’s voice but her Bristol accent could still be clearly audible. “What happened, where I’m I?” She was generally confused. “Looks like we manage to stop the process before that renegade trooper changed her face into yours.” The armed response soldier pointed to the corpse of Dr Stevens as she laid slumped in the chair now with her face completely wiped. “The lab tech, Jason told us Munro broke in and was holding you hostage. We had orders from General Grant to destroy the computers. Looks like we did it in time before the process started. What was her plans, doctor, for you two to swap clothes so she could steal your identity?” Caroline looked down at the black fatigues she was still wearing. She tried to speak, “I, I guess so,” There was something burning, she rubbed her throat. The medic came over to Caroline, “The mask you were wearing short-circuited when some of the bullets hit it. The burns will heal in time, but I think its damaged your vocal cords.” Caroline rested back down on the stretcher as she was taken to hospital.

Within the week Caroline Munro, now addressing herself as Dr Gillian Stevens, was discharged from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and after emptying Dr Stevens bank account, disappeared off the face of the earth. While she was in hospital she had time to think. Why did the General give the order to destroy the laboratory? Rescuing the doctor, it would seem, was not part of his plan. Did the General now consider Dr Gillian Stevens a risk? Did he have orders from the Home Secretary to ‘tidy’ things away? If the General ordered Dr Stevens execution, that would have been another trail to ‘tidy’ away, when would the killings stop. But if the doctor got caught in the crossfire, well that would have been a tragic accident, no lingering questions to ask. She was obviously now considered a loose cannon that needed tying down.

General Grant never paid Munro/Stevens a hospital visit, obviously distancing himself from any future police inquiries when Munro/Stevens body would eventually turn up floating in the River Wensum. Her face now told the world she was Dr Gillian Stevens, a face that would eventually get her killed. However, inside she was still SAS Trooper Caroline Munro a trained killer who had every intention of living, and who had every intention of finding General Charles Grant.


© Copyright 2018 Markie Bee. All rights reserved.

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