The Torus Project

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 12 (v.1)

Submitted: February 08, 2011

Reads: 48

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 08, 2011



Chapter 12
7:45 a.m., Saturday
Brian awoke to Wilson’s schedule again Saturday morning, breaking a dream in which he and Dr. Kevill sat around a fire in the wilderness. They spoke of life, of goals. Suddenly, Kevill had transformed into half-wolf, wearing an African tribal mask, with streaks of red ochre down his face, horns from his cheeks, hair sprouting from his ears. Kevill’s friend Daka had entered the dream and brushed close to Brian. He didn’t wear a mask, but the whites of his eyes grew as large as the moon in the firelight. Without a word, the dark man ballooned his cheeks and puffed a blue-colored smoke at Brian that caused him to feel drugged, a sleep within a sleep, his head feeling heavy.
“Come on, Dad! I want pancakes!” Brian opened his eyes, his head throbbing with a nasty headache.
“Hey, buddy,” he grumbled. “Slow down. Slow down. Give Dad a few minutes.”
“I want pancakes! I want pancakes!”
Brian looked at the clock. Forget about a break between semester classes, he thought. He pulled Wilson’s jumping body into the bed with him and started a tickle fight, making his son scream with laughter and runfrom the room.
Feelings. Aside from the headache and the grogginess, Brian felt a pull this morning. He felt a need to accomplish and do and find. The feeling blitzed him as he got out of bed, put on a t-shirt, and headed to the kitchen. A meaning to his life. No longer was being a simple, hard-working student enough. A look at Wilson confirmed the desire. Something more. For himself and Wilson in turn. But what that was yet, he didn’t know. 
From his and Carol’s break-and-enter scheme, Brian knew that only action would get what he wanted. He knew life wouldn’t just come to him on a platter—even if he studied well and provided Wilson with all the basic needs of food, water, home, and pre-school. Now or never. Fill the void. The headache throbbed, but past that, he knew good things lay on the horizon . . . only if he acted to make them happen.
“Thanks for being such a good boy last night, Wil. Did you have fun with Jackie and Carol?”
“Uh, huh.” Wilson devoured some hot, fresh pancakes smothered in butter and syrup, one of the few things Brian could actually prepare with confidence for his little family. “They’re nice ladies.”
“Yep. What do you want to do today? Go to the park and ride bikes?”
“Yeah!” A line of syrup ran down Wilson’s chin, but the taste, evidently, made him immune to messes.
Brian grabbed a napkin to help his son out. “Sounds good. Let’s clean up a bit and head there before it gets too hot, okay?”
The park had a few early joggers and bikers also escaping from what looked to be a 90-plus-degree day in May. Brian took in the idyllic scene of green grass, a pond surrounded by gently swaying maple trees, and a family of ducks gliding through the water like they didn’t have a care in the world. Also, a couple of other families, dad and mom and little ones, strolled about, enjoying the day. The scene brought up a similar day not three years ago, him and Rebecca and a much younger Wilson, all playing catch at the Air Force Base playground by their on-base home. Smiles all around, they were happy, their future wide open.
He realized how hard his wife’s death had been on him. Yes, I did feel much more optimistic then. The days seemed shorter, more filled. He’d been a good dad to Wilson, he knew, but the hole inside prevented him from icing the cake. Wilson ate and drank and had his needs met, but what spiritual aspect did the boy have inside of him? Grandparents wanted them to go to church, but Brian had fought the notion, his humanistic readings bending him toward just spending this time in the park to be closer to God. But am I really doing enough? Is my hole also Wilson’s since I walk around carrying the weight and am not the father I can be?
His headache was slowly dissipating as the pancakes settled, but Brian felt a slow depression creeping in to replace it, something that a bunch of sugar and flour couldn’t help. Am I really being all I can be to my son?
“Come on, Dad! Let’s race!” Wilson’s wheels creaked as he sped in front of his dad toward the far end of the park. So young. So impressionable, Brian thought. So . . . so free.
“You’re on, bud!” They cycled ahead for about 50 meters before Brian’s handheld beeped. He had meant to leave the thing behind, unfettered to the world around, but habit, he guessed, had clipped it to his belt. 
He slowed down to see the caller’s name. Mike. Mike’s ringing me pretty early, he thought.
“Hold up, Wil. I need to talk to Mike here.”
“Come on, Dad!”
“Hello?” He pressed the video button, but Mike’s end wasn’t up.
“What’s up? This is Mike.” His voice wasn’t the usual perky, Mike voice Brian knew.
“Hey, Mike. You feeling better?” Brian thought he surely sounded better than he did yesterday at Sam’s, though.
“A little. Thanks for asking . . . Hey, got a favor to ask.”
“Shoot.” Brian noticed Wilson making circles ahead and turning his bike into an off-road vehicle.
“Well, you know that flash drive I gave you, the one with all the nanotech names and stuff?”
“Sure . . . Wilson, stay on the path! . . . Why?”
“I really need to borrow that for little bit today . . . Seems like the experiment I was on when I accidentally came across your research list is somehow tied to having the drive plugged back in the computer . . . Believe it or not, the darn thing won’t run unless I place the drive in for a moment before I can access my stuff and then save it under a different name.”
Brian thought about Mike’s proposition. He’d never heard of a storage disc acting that way, but he wasn’t the research guru Mike was.
“Sure. You going to stop by?”
“Yeah. How about 30 minutes. Be around?”
“Or come by the park again for a ride. Wilson and I are here right now.”
Mike paused. “Oh, well, I’m in the middle of some research right now. Will you be at your place in a half-hour?”
“I’ll call you when we get back.”
“And, Mike, boy do I have something to tell you about that flash drive.”
“Really? What?” Brian recognized a nervous tweak in Mike’s response.
“Tell ya when you get here.”
“Okay. See you then.”
Mike’s call seemed harmless enough, but Brian remembered a psychology lecture in Dr. Kevill’s class this past semester and one of Kevill’s longer digressions from discussing the anatomy of the brain.
“When you are open to the flow of the cosmos,” he had mysteriously said, “every incident in your life has meaning. No one thing should be discounted from the whole, for all life events—just as our brains are to the world around—are interconnected. They call it synchronicity.”
For some reason, Brian brought that idea up in his head at this moment concerning the nanotech information, Dr. Kevill, Carol and Dr. Uhland, and the man called Daka. No one person, no one thing should be discounted. All connected. A mantra he couldn’t push away.
“I’m meeting him in a half-hour,” said Mike into his cell, sitting on a beat-up brown and green sofa in his apartment.
“Very good, my boy.” A familiar face filled the small cell LCD screen. “Please procure the storage drive and bring it to the lab for disposal.”
“Sure, Doctor Kevill. But what should I tell Brian when he doesn’t get his drive back?”
“Just tell him the data was corrupted. Hell, I bet Josh could make you a revised flash to give him, one less harmless to our cause, don’t you know.”
“Got you, Doctor Kevill . . . and, sir?”
“Yes, Mike?”
“Thanks for the mental boost, if you know what I mean. Things are 200% clearer now. I feel so different!”
“Welcome to a new age, my boy.” Kevill gave him a big smile and a wink. “Are you practicing with our dear Amber?” 
“A little last night, though I still feel under the weather.”
“It will pass. And before you know it, Mike, you will be telling all those grad students where to put their research, huh?” Kevill chuckled. “But, seriously, take advantage of your powers, but don’t flaunt them. As they say, the more power you have, the greater your responsibilities. Use them for good, like superman.”
“Yep. I plan to. But I don’t know. Everything looks and tastes and feels so different!”
“You are augmented, my boy. You are different. A different Mike with a whole new life ahead of him.”
“Yeah. Okay, I’ll see you in the lab in about an hour then?”
“Yes, sir,” said Kevill, knowing full well that Mike’s naiveté could hurt his project if the young man wasn’t kept on a short leash. “See you then.”
Mike placed his cell in his front shirt pocket, taking time to feel the sensations around him. His messy apartment—shirts and socks lying around, pizza boxes and coke cans not put away—bothered him a great deal. He craved more order, a feeling derived from the implants inside. A strong thought of unity encompassed his perceptions. Everything . . . the clothes, the trash, even the particles of dust floating through the sunshine from his open window. Everything, he knew, was connected. He’d thought about the concept before, sure. But, until now, he had never really felt it.
Amber had told him the first week would be a little rough. She too had been down with the flu, coughing and headaches and dizziness. But, after the initial adjustment, everything got focused, and she told Mike that now she had great precision in everyday thoughts and actions. She demonstrated her acumen at Sam’s before the two had left the previous night.
“Name a beer,” she had commanded.
“Okay. How about Coors.”
And she had almost instantly, without looking at any advertising or any labels, accessed a great reservoir of knowledge, telling Mike about the history of the company, its current brands, and recent stock gains.
Mike couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the possibilities.
“How did you do that?”
“Simple,” Amber countered. “Your implants mesh with the Internet and also your brain. I don’t think it’s perfect knowledge, and the procedure seems to break down when I feel more stressed or when my mind isn’t calm—but, as you can see, Mike, the availability is enormous.”
“Too cool,” he had told her. “Too cool. Wait ‘til I impress those dead-head grad students that rule over me!”
The statement had triggered Amber, though. She had reached her hand out to Mike, sending a telepathic message instead of speaking out loud. Never reveal the power to outsiders, Mike. Be very, very careful in how you use yourself now. Very careful. Kevill knows. You are linked to him and his mainframe in the lab. He knows. He records our conversation now, I bet. So I wouldn’t test his patience.
Amber had looked down at that last point, sadness on her face.
“What? Did he hurt you?”
“In a way. Don’t get me wrong. The man has done much for me. I go to college because of him. He has been of great financial help, but, even though he may wish to be a father-figure, he could never replace my real dad.”
Mike had felt Amber’s sadness, their connection providing a stronger empathy than he had ever felt for another. “Your dad? What? He’s not still alive, Amber?”
“No. He’s dead. My mom, too. I’m an only child, and Doctor Kevill is my only family, though we’re not related.”
“Oh. Sorry. Have they been gone long?”
Amber had looked up at Mike, a tear in her eye. “Never mind that. It’s all past. We have things to do tomorrow, Mike. And great things in our future.” Contact me telepathically whenever you feel the need
“I’ll try,” he’d said. “I’ll do my best.”
That’s all we can ever ask of you, she had ended their conversation. We all can only do our best, so don’t let Kevill or his crony Josh tell you differently. “Okay?”
Brian called Mike on his cell, breaking the memory of last night and bringing him fully into the present.
“Okay, bud, we’re back at my apartment. Come on over whenever you’re ready.”
“Thanks, Brian. See you in a few.”
The lab felt chilly this Saturday morning as Kevill, Josh, and Daka huddled up to open the door of Frank Barnes’ little cell and see how their latest procurement into the Torus Project was doing.
Barnes, looking disheveled with crinkled collar and messed-up hair, greeted the three men with a groggy nod and a few cuss words, but he didn’t try to flee or even contact his superiors via his handheld computer, which still rested in his jacket pocket.
“Glad to see you up and going this morning, Frank,” said Kevill, patting the DOD agent on the back and escorting him out of the small room and into the corridor. Josh and Daka followed closely in case the new recruit decided to make a run for it.
“Stuff it, Kevill. I know what you did. And I know what you’re planning. You won’t get away with this, though.” Barnes shook Kevill off and proceeded to walk toward the main area of the basement lab and its pillar of light, magnified particles floating through the diamond-glass tube from floor to ceiling.
“Frank, Frank. Listen to reason, man,” said Kevill. He placed his hand again on Barnes’ shoulder. “What is the world now but a series of individual countries, religious factions, and crime organizations fighting to make the most money and killing each other in the process? We’ve just given their hopeless and endless quest a new direction, that’s all.”
“That’s all, huh?” Barnes stood in front of the pillar, its dust motes floating like little fairies within the beam. Kevill could tell by the look on Barnes’ face, a softening and a wonderment, that the beam had an effect on him even if the government agent’s tone didn’t change. “You and your associates have taken our project and turned it into your own personal mission!”
“Our project, Frank? You’re with us now, right?” Kevill shot a questioning look at Josh.
“Do I have choice? Don’t worry. Your little machines are definitely buzzing around in my head. I can feel the difference . . . Actually, it’s quite wonderful.” He reached out as if to touch the light but pulled back. “But I still question the means of gathering subjects under your domain.”
“Yes.” Kevill stood next to Barnes in front of the light beam. “Quite. Look, Frank. We need you. Please don’t fight it. Just let the universe flow through you.”
Barnes coughed. His eyes were bloodshot, and his hands shook noticeably.
“The flu-like symptoms will pass,” said Josh, now standing next to the pair in the middle of the lab. “You’re on a pretty high dose, so get lots of sleep and water.”
“Really pretty incredible, Doctor Kevill, what you have accomplished here. How the hell did you proceed to this level without the D-O-D knowing?”
“Long hours behind the scenes. Josh here has been of great help, coming from a top lab to our side. And, possibly, a little luck.” Kevill tugged at his ponytail.
“The worldview suddenly spinning in my head says there is no such thing, doctor. It says we make our luck through persistence and being at the right place at the right time.”
“Well, you could give us that. Look, Frank, stick in there. Embrace this change. You will learn how much more you’re able to do now. Knowledge is at your command! Think of yourself as the next step in our species’ evolution!”
Barnes stared at Kevill for a moment like a little kid. “Who are these others I sense connected to me?”
Kevill shot a glance at Josh, who answered for him. “You are not the first, Mister Barnes.”
“How many?” said Barnes.
“Three,” Kevill replied. “This is an interesting benefit, I guess, between the inoculants.”
“Maybe so.” Barnes straightened out his suit jacket and pants, also running fingers through his hair. “I have to get back to Washington and give a report.”
“Right,” said Kevill. “But we’ll be in touch, okay?”
“I’m sure we will.” Barnes headed toward the exit. “Allow Daka to escort you out and on to the airport. We wouldn’t want you to have an accident on the first day of your new life.”
“Daka? Make it back in a few hours, all right?”
“Good. See you then. And Frank? Stay tuned to us everyday. No leaks, okay?”
“Right, Kevill. I’m with you.”
“Nice to hear that. Goodbye.”
Daka and Barnes left, leaving Kevill and Josh alone. Kevill went to one of the room’s four actuators, a device used to create the nano devices that streamed through the light in the middle of the lab. Alone, the human eye couldn’t see the particles. But the glass surrounding the beam was actually a sophisticated magnifier and thus allowed the nanoparticles to resemble real particles for effect. He inspected the oval, metallic machine, which stood no higher than his knees, running his hand along its smooth exterior. The technological breakthrough had, really, been with these units, something Dr. Hays had begun, something Kevill had subsequently taken over.“Josh?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Are we proceeding in the right direction?”
“Can the system handle multiple inoculants as we’re doing now?”
“Sure, Doctor Kevill. I’ve tested the device past a thousand. Why?”
“I know. Wouldn’t want things stretched too thin. That’s all.” Kevill turned back toward Josh but stared at the beam of light for a moment before continuing. “You know. What’s the possibility of turning some other research centers under our ‘control’, so to speak?” He faced his right-hand man, smirking.
“An idea I’ve contemplated, actually. Very possible, Herr Doctor. Very possible.” He crossed his arms. “Just a matter of getting to the right personnel.”
“As I thought. That, I think, needs to be planned for stage three, don’t you think?”
“Yes, sir. A wise choice.”
“But first we have some havoc to wreak around here, right? Stage two centers on starting fires on our home campus and community.”
“All set for the operation. Once Daka returns, he will pass along the next inoculation device.”
“Excellent. And you are set for our next big catch here on campus?”
“Ready to go when you’re ready.”
“Good. Once that takes place, we need to gather a little meeting of the minds, don’t you think?”
“’Might be a good idea, Doctor Kevill.”
Kevill headed back to the basement’s main office but abruptly turned on Josh, who had started to follow. His face took on a more sinister demeanor.
“Josh, tell me a little more about last night. Tell me about this woman you decided to keep a secret.”
Josh’s head tilted back in surprise. “Ah. What’s there to say? I let my dick do the thinking. I wasn’t careful enough.”
“Yes. Anything else I should know that might compromise us?”
Josh thought and bit his lower lip. “I took her to the upstairs lab once.”
“What?” Kevill took a step closer to his partner.
“I’d had a few drinks, sir, and didn’t think any harm would happen if I showed her the protein exhibit.”
“Protein exhibit, eh?” Kevill placed hands in pockets and turned back around. “I guess not. But, please, Mr. Uhland. Less risks in security areas in the future, leaving risks for our project parameters here, okay?” Kevill then smiled. “So how was she?”
“The girl. How was she?”
“Oh. Well, I’d say all right. A nice passion.”
“I know you need to get off every once in awhile. It’s a natural thing. Just do it on your own time and space, okay?”
“Sure thing, Herr Doctor.” Josh scratched his head, reeling a little from the honesty of their conversation.

“Good. Now let’s see how our little Amber is doing this morning. I’ve a little project for her today as well.”

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