"Is this really necessary?" I asked, irritated that my hands and feet were locked into place in addition to the unyielding strap around my waist.
I was currently strapped to the most uncomfortable metal chair ever made, in the lab that I'd heard so much about, surrounded by expensive looking equipment and instruments.
"After the few displays of yours I've seen in the short time you've been here?" Wescott asked. "Yes, I think it is."
I rolled my eyes. "What if I have to scratch my nose?" I wasn't kidding either. Inevitably, whenever my hands were tied up, my nose would start itching like crazy. Of course, up until now, they had always only been figuratively tied up...
He glanced at me. "You'll survive."
I huffed and sat, annoyed but passive as the woman in the white coat began sticking my arm with needle after needle.
"What? No objections?" He raised an eyebrow from his table a few feet away, as the woman injected something into my arm. "No angry tirades?"
"Would it make any difference?" I asked, giving him back the same sarcastic tone.
He smiled slightly. "Not really, but that didn't seem to deter you before."
"Yeah well, maybe I've decided to cooperate." I said, tentatively. May as well work on appearing that way, at least.
His smile became more pronounced as he glanced down at the computer in front of him. "I doubt that." He said confidently. "Playing possum is more like it."
The woman finished up with my arm and I scowled, annoyed that Wescott was apparently a step ahead of me.
"So, what took you so long?" I asked, when he started applying sensors to my pulse points. The woman walked across the room and started experimenting with my blood.
"Why'd you wait till I was so old to take me? Why even give me away at all, if I'm supposedly so valuable?"
He hooked the sensors up to a machine and fiddled around with the controls for a minute.
"If it had been solely up to me, you would have never left," he said.
What a miserable life that would have been. I probably wouldn't have even thought it was odd for a long time.
But something else registered in my mind. Wescott didn't have complete control. Something or someone had superseded his decision.
"So why did I?" I pushed when he didn't volunteer anything else.
He regarded me for another minute before deciding to tell me.
"Your....mother, for lack of a better word, grew a conscience."
I snorted. "What a shame," I said sarcastically. "What do you mean by my mother?"
"The woman who's DNA we used to create you," he said. "She was my partner, from the beginning. We had this dream together. We worked tirelessly for years to perfect it. The plan had always been to keep you here. But then, after she saw you...how normal you seemed to be..." He sighed. "I suppose that's what comes from doing this particular project with a woman."
I rolled my eyes. As if only a woman would see the vast ethical problems of that plan. I glanced at the woman working with the blood to see her reaction to that comment. Either she didn't hear or she didn't care, she didn't even glance up.
"Considering we used her DNA, and she was one of the leaders of the project, she had more say in what happened to you than anyone else. I didn't see it as being a problem when we had the same goal."
"But then it became a problem for you," I guessed.
"Not actually," he said. "I was annoyed at first, but then I saw the advantages of having you raised normally. Growing up in this environment, I would never be sure how practical many of your results would actually be. You wouldn't have the same family ties, opportunities for friends and achievements, or exposure to the real world. So, I agreed it was for the best and you were to be raised under fairly close surveillance until you turned eighteen, when you would be returned to this facility."
I looked at him curiously. I was twenty-seven.
"Obviously, we did not retrieve you on schedule," he said, reading my expression. "When the time came, Helen thought it would be best to allow you to finish college, so the age was pushed back to twenty-one or twenty-two. Then, she said you ought to get some real life experience, so it was twenty-five. Then it was something else."
"It was obvious, Helen had no intention of bringing you back. She was ready to throw away all our work, all our time."
I couldn't help but notice, I hadn't yet met Helen.
"Let me guess," I said. "You were able to convince her otherwise?" I asked, not really expecting that to be it.
He smiled. "In a manner of speaking, I suppose."
"So where is she?" I asked, warily, already guessing the answer. "Will I meet her?"
Wescott pursed his lips. "I'm afraid not. Helen's no longer with us. She...passed away."
"You killed her," I said, realizing I somehow knew that as soon as I heard she'd gotten in his way.
He raised his eyebrows as if to say 'and?'.
I stiffened at his callousness. Not only was he a murderer, he was almost proud of it. And he had complete control over me at the moment.
"She lost her vision," he said.
"You mean, she got in your way," I accused.
He shrugged. "I set out to accomplish something and I'm not about to let anyone stand in my way now that I'm so close to my goal."
"You don't even care, do you?" I said.
"I care that she had a brilliant mind and, for a while, was an exceptional partner," he said. "But about the rest, no, not particularly."
"You have no soul," I said, wanting more than anything, to be able to distance myself from him, right now.
"Alas, no," he said. "I rid myself of that long ago."
I shrank back into the chair when he moved to adjust one of the sensors.
He paused. "Don't worry, Abi, you're safe from my soullessness, for now. You're far too valuable."
I just glared at him as he continued with his tests.
"Is that what you're going to do to me?" I asked. "When I'm not useful any longer?" To the world, I was already dead.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that," he said, nonchalantly.
I almost laughed. "Right," I said. "Why should I be worried about that when you're a cold-blooded murderer. Silly me."
He smiled. "I meant, you're going to be useful for quite a while."
"Meaning what?" I asked. "How long do you intend to keep this up? How many tests could you possibly have to do?"
He met my eyes. "I intend to test absolutely everything about you. Every body system, your mental capacity, your entire life cycle."
I just stared back at him not wanting to believe any of this. Unfortunately, I didn't have a choice.
"Of course, I probably won't personally document your death, since I expect you will outlive me by several years. But someone will, I assure you."
I was supposed to live out the rest of my natural life in this awful place? Another sixty or seventy years? That was worse than being murdered after he finished all his tests.
"And what am I supposed to do until then?" I asked. "Are you just going to lock me up for fifty years?"
"Oh, there will be plenty about you to keep us occupied in the meantime, I'm sure. Besides, I doubt it will be from old age. There are all kinds of tests we could do that might be fatal, which, of course, aren't exactly practical, right now. But given another forty years or so..." He shrugged.
Wescott turned his back to me and I tried to squeeze out of my arm restraints, rethinking my plan to appear cooperative. He wasn't buying it anyway.
He turned back, caught me trying to free myself, and raised his eyebrows, looking amused.
I slumped back in the chair. My attempts weren't doing anything anyway.
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, wanting to know what he was planning. "What about me, specifically, is supposed to keep you busy? What tests?"
"Let's not worry about any of that just yet," he said, vaguely.
I scowled as he typed things into the computer. If there was one thing I hated more than my current situation, it was not knowing what was coming.
He met my eyes. "I'm not trying to be cruel, Abi. This is the way your life is going to be from now on. The faster you accept it, the better off you'll be."
"Well, maybe I'll give up," I said "If everything's as hopeless for me as you say. Maybe I'll ruin everything for you." There was no point to a life like this.
"I highly doubt that," he said, unconcerned.
I just watched him, daring me not to try something.
"You're hardly suicidal," he said. "Anyway, you wouldn't be allowed to be."
"Really?" I asked, almost smiling. I could think of half a dozen ways to end my life, off the top of my head. I think it might be worth it to ruin this for him.
He watched me for a second, judging how serious I might be. "Alright," he finally said. "Have it your way. I'll put you on suicide watch, even though it's unncessesary. It's really just more inconvenient for you." He shrugged. "Less privacy."
"Like I have any anyway." I rolled my eyes.
"Still, you aren't the type of person to commit suicide," he said, confidently. "You're highly logical, yet somehow an optimist. You're a fighter. You'd never simply give up. Even though I'm telling you otherwise, you'll never stop thinking that you'll somehow be able to escape."
That was all true, however, I wasn't about to admit it. Besides, it wouldn't be like giving up. It'd be like winning.
"You can watch me as much as you want," I said. "No doubt, you will anyway, but accidents do happen, you know. And you can't force me to eat."
He crossed his arms and leaned against the counter behind him. "On the contrary, I can. If necessary, I'll have you hooked up to a feeding tube and put in a padded room," he said. "I certainly have the means to do so, and it would, again, merely be more inconvenient for you. I'm sure it won't be necessary, though."
I just stared at him defiantly. Apparently he didn't know how stubborn I could be. Even then, I'd figure something out.
"But enough of this," he said. "We are wasting time. We can have this battle another time."
Yes, we would, I thought. So much for getting him to think I was going to accept any of this. Like he said, I was a fighter, and fight, I would.
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