28 April 2011

Page 20

(Later that afternoon in an unmarked lab, behind an unlabeled door, in a secret hideaway, stood a mysterious scientist whose last name was Jones. His first name was Lieutenant, but nobody except the VelkLaddeur, the National Security Agency, the VISA credit card company, and the payroll secretary knew this. Across an enormous ebony desk sat the VelkLaddeur himself…an even more mysterious gentleman who used no other name than ‘VelkLaddeur.’)

“You lost him?” asked the VelkLaddeur.

“No, Sir. We got him, but somehow he escaped,” said Lieutenant Jones.

“What do you mean ‘you got him.’ If you got him, he would be dead.”

“Yes, Sir. But you see, when we sent in the corpse collection unit, all they found was an old man named Maximus Dudley.”

“Didn’t Cerberus I see the unchipper in the plaza?”

“That they did, Sir. But there was some kind of electrical disturbance that confused Cerberus’s circuitry. The unchipper must have escaped then. The most likely explanation is the drone…once the electrical disturbance ceased…automatically assumed Mr. Dudley was the unchipped man.”

“Maximus Dudley was a chipped man Lieutenant. How could the drone assume otherwise? Machines never assume Lieutenant. Never. What kind of electrical disturbance was this?”

“We’re still uncertain. Our tech guys are checking it out as we speak. Nothing’s turned up yet. It seems in perfect working order.”

“Keep looking Lieutenant. And keep looking until you find the problem. The last thing we need is another unchipped cowboy running around footloose and fancy free.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I want a full report of the problem ASAP.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“One more thing. See the safe nurse before you leave.”

“But, Sir.”

“You know the Law Codes. Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.”

“What if we don’t find him?”

“Thirty days Lieutenant. You have thirty days before the methyl butyrate is released.”

Lieutenant Jones left the VelkLaddeur’s office. The last thing he saw was his Cheshire cat-like grin. It unnerved him.

Lieutenant Jones grumbled to himself as he walked the long corridor to the safe nurse’s lab. He hated this building. Every conversation was under constant surveillance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One couldn’t even grumble aloud without it going on record. Secretly, he was glad when it was quitting time. Working for Z-Tech gave one a headache. One couldn’t even go to the bathroom without some roving mechanical Cyclops staring at you. Yet, this was the case for all government buildings…constant surveillance…always watching.

Lieutenant Jones entered the safe nurse lab where he instinctively held out his hand and passed it over the receptionist’s scanner. It beeped.

“We’ve been expecting you,” said a thin, middle-aged woman with short hair, plain face, who could easily have passed for a man. Her name tag said Leah. “Dr. Charan will see you now.”

She led him to a small room with pink walls and told him to sit on a table. Leah closed the door and left. He tried the door. Locked. The room was bare. No cabinets, tables, or anything to suggest he was in a doctor’s office, yet he knew he was monitored. A moment later the door opened.

Dr. Ali Singhe Charan was short, bald, possessed bushy gray eyebrows, and a wrinkly forehead. “You know how this works,” said Dr. Charan immediately. “Same principle as the V-chip in your right arm. This will be in your left arm. Roll up your sleeves.”

Jones rolled up his left sleeve and relaxed as Dr. Charan rubbed alcohol on his arm. Then he picked up a needle, inserted a rice-sized capsule, and carefully injected it in Jones' arm.

That’s it?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied Dr. Charan. “In 30 days the capsule is programmed to release 100 micrograms of methyl butyrate and 50 micrograms of Sucralose. First you fall asleep, then the heart stops beating. So quick, easy, and painless.”

“And the antidote?”

“There is no antidote for the red capsule. We remove it manually.”

Lieutenant Jones forced a grin. “I feel like Damocles.”

“You are Damocles,” said Dr. Charan.

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