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Chapter 3

January 2, 2012

The night air was cool, almost cold.  For a moment I considered going back inside for my shoes, but overall barefoot was better.  I needed to be able to move silently.  I didn’t know what would happen if I was caught outside of my room, but I suspected that getting tased would be the least of my worries.

The facility was double storey building, my room on the first floor.  Just outside the window was a narrow concrete ledge than ran along the side of the building.  It was almost pitch black outside, the moon was new and no stars were visible in the night sky.  I prayed that I wasn’t visible from the guard towers, or to any of the patrols around the compound.  If I was seen this little adventure could well end with a bullet in my back.  But then even that was cleaner than killing myself without realising it.

A breeze stirred through the trees sending them rustling, tantalising me with the prospect of life outside of the facility.  I could take this opportunity and try and leave.  I hadn’t seen any security fence by Dante’s office, which suggested it didn’t encircle the entire facility.  There was always a way into a place, always a way out of a place, I knew that.  How I knew it I wasn’t sure.  I shook my head and told myself to focus.  I couldn’t be sure how much blood I had just lost, I needed to be alert.  Tonight was about answers, escape could come later.

Carefully I pushed closed the window.  I couldn’t be sure that I would be able to prise it open from the outside later, but I had to be sure that no one would notice anything amiss while I was gone.  The sound of footsteps on gravel alerted me and I froze still, my feet balanced on the narrow ledge and my fingers holding the top of the window frame.  A guard came walking along the perimeter fence, his dull grey uniform just visible in the night.  A red glowing dot flared up in front of him and then faded, then flared up again.  Smoking on the patrol round.  Sloppy.  I’m sure Dante wouldn’t approve of that.

The guard’s boots crunched closer, the tread slow and unhurried.  Somewhere in the distance a door slammed, I thought I heard distant laughter, and I noticed that I could just hear the distant roar of the motorway above the sighing wind.  Abruptly the footsteps halted, the guard almost directly below where I was standing.  I waited for the shout, the command, the bullet to the back.  The muted noises of the night carried on without change.  Scarcely daring to breathe I stood there, my toes growing numb and my fingers beginning to cramp.  What the hell was he waiting for?

The  guard took a long drag on his cigarette and tossed it to the floor before grinding it out with a booted heal.  Then he paused, and with a frustrated grunt stooped down to pick something up.  The dog end.  The guard gave another sigh and set off, continuing his route around the compound.  I waited two minutes past the last footfall I could hear and then inched my way carefully along the ledge.

I could see a light on in the room right next to mine.  Carefully I risked a look inside.  It was the mirror image of my room down to every detail.  The same bed, the same bedside table, the same table and chair.  Small details were different.  The table itself looked in better repair, with no fractured laminate presenting handy implements for suicide.  The door to what I presumed was the bathroom was on the opposite wall, meaning it would back on to my bathroom.  The door to the corridor was the same heavy duty variety, and from the caged look of the room’s occupant it was similarly locked.

He paced up and down the room, his hands thrust into his pockets and his face glowering at the floor.  He looked to be about mid-thirties, with a slight build, average height and brown hair.  He looked to be muttering something under his breath.  At least, his lips were moving, and as there was no one else in the room he must have been talking to himself.  Either that or he was a lunatic.  In mid-stride he stopped pacing and turned towards the window.   I quickly drew back, pushing my body flat to the brickwork to the side of the frame.  It didn’t seem possible that he could have seen me, so intent was he in his own thoughts, his eyes locked to the floor by his feet.  Nonetheless it was too risky to chance another look, and it was high time to be about my real night’s work.

Reaching up I could just grasp the guttering along the roofline.  I have it a couple of experimental tugs.  It seemed firm.  With luck it would support my weight.  Without luck I would end up flat on my back on the floor below.  I pulled myself up slowly.  The guttering creaked and made small cracking noises but held.  Moving faster I pulled myself up and over the roof line, rolling quickly sideways and off of the guttering.

I was in luck.  As I had hoped the entire facility was covered in a flat roof.  It sprawled out before me, a vast squat L-shaped building.  The roof itself was black and covered in what looked like a specialist roofing membrane.  It had the look of having been laid recently, something which was at odds with the air of gradual decay, the nicotine white and shabby furniture, that I had encountered on the inside of the building.  Taking Dante’s pen and the equation paper from my pocket I made a quick sketch of the shape of the roof.  The shaft of the L to the south was long and relatively thin.  I suspected it could contain no more than a corridor with a row of rooms along either side.  I suspected this was also the location of Dante’s office. The base of the L, the part of the facility where I stood, was a far larger rectangle.  I stood in the far north-east corner, a location I marked on the map with a small square.

From this vantage point I could also make out the security fence and guard towers.  In addition to the two I could see from my room there were a further three along the eastern perimeter and two on the west.  I marked these, together with the run of the fence, onto the sketch map.

My footsteps made almost no sound as I set off across the roof at a careful walk.  For a second the ridiculousness of my situation almost made me laugh.  Here I was, creeping across a rooftop at night, about to try and break back in to the place I had just broken out of.  There was nothing funny about my situation though, a glance down at my bandaged wrists confirmed that.

The stars remained hidden behind the high clouds, in a number of places I had to slow down, lest a wrong step lead me into mischief.  A light suddenly glinted out, causing me to stop dead in my tracks.  It shone out far to my left, and for a heart stopping moment I thought its beam would swivel round and fix on me.  There was no cover on the rooftop, just the vast black expanse.  All I could do was stand there.  The beam swung around for a second, before lancing out into the surrounding forest, the cone of light souring the edge of the tree line.  It jogged up and down across the base of the trees, roaming left to right almost hungrily.  The sound of raised voices reached my ears on the wind, together with the sound of a dog barking.  Small figures appeared in the beam of the search light, black silhouettes against the illuminated trees.  The light hovered for a second and then snapped out, leaving a yellow and purple after image over the darkened forest.

The beam of light had taken the edge off my night vision, so I waited a full twenty minutes before setting off again.  The shouts and barking came and want, further off but sounding no less urgent for it.  Whatever was happening it was all to the good if it had drawn people away from the facility building.

I thought I had a way left to travel so was shocked when the roof in front of me suddenly gave way to a large opening.  With a curse I almost tumbled off, and had to drop to my knees to avoid pitching in to the darkness below.  Narrowing my eyes I confirmed that this was what I was looking for.

Moving slowly around the edge I found the top of the downpipe.  Without giving myself the time to change my mind I threw my legs over the edge.  Griping the pipe between the soles of my feet and my hands I was able to gently lower myself down to the floor.

The dull grey walls that surrounded me seemed blank and hostile.  My spirits had lifted at being atop of the facility, albeit bare foot and far from actual freedom.  My heart started to beat quicker and without realising it I had balled my hands into fists.  I shrugged my shoulders and tried to work some of the tension out, it was important to stay loose.  My left shoulder ached a little from the exertion, but I was pleased at how well it was holding up.

In the gloom the blue door was just a slightly darker shade of grey.  I crouched outside it and listened hard for about twenty minutes.  There was no sound from the other side, no footsteps, no doors closing.  With my heart in my mouth I turned the handle, the catch giving a satisfying click as it opened.

The fluorescent bulb above me flared into life, flooding the corridor with light.  I was momentarily dazzled, and shielded my eyes with my hand as I closed the door behind me as best I could.  I’d been prepared for the sudden burst of light, but still it sent my pulse racing.  Like all the lights in the facility these were motion activated, so my time creeping around in the dark was most definitely over.  My expectation – my gamble really – was that this part of the facility was uninhabited at night.  If there was anyone here, anyone at all to notice the light, my game was up.

Inside the corridor everything was deathly still.  The harsh light flowed down the bare walls, highlighting every imperfection in the ugly undressed concrete.  With only a moment’s hesitation I set off down the corridor.  My only ally was speed now.

Jogging quickly I reached extraction lab 12, before taking a turn to the right.  Passing the point where I had hit the guard I increased my speed.  I saw the lights spluttering into life in the distance a split second before I heard the voices.  I grabbed the handle on the door next to me and it turned.  Rushing into the darkness beyond I pressed myself flat against the wall.  There was no time to close the door, whoever was approaching must have rounded the corner and would be sure to see the movement.  Their footsteps and voices drifted ahead of them up the corridor.

“I don’t need to tell you how important this is to Dante, do I?”  It was Richter, his voice superior.

“Of course not!”

The soft velvety tones were those of Christa, but she sounded flustered and angry, a harsh edge to her melodious voice.

“If you think you can achieve anything by threatening me you are gravely mistaken Damian,” Christa continued.  “And if you think I won’t mention this to Dante you are wrong there as well.”

The footsteps stopped short and were followed by a short scuffle.

“Get your hands off me!” spat Christa.

Richter made a tutting noise and something heavy thudded into the wall my back was pressed against.  Richter’s voice was pitched low and threatening, but he must have been very close to the door as I hear his word clearly.

“Now, now, lovely Chrissie, we both know that would get you nowhere.  Of course, you are far easier on the eye then me, but Dante’s plans are nothing, NOTHING without me!  If you cross me I promise you Dante would have you out of here before you could fix up your hair.  Far quicker in fact.”

There was a brief scuffle along the wall and a long pause.

“Good, I can see we understand each other.”

A shrill electronic buzz broke the silence and I heard Richter step away from the wall.  The noise broke off mid-buzz.

“Yes, what is it?” he demanded.

I strained my hearing but couldn’t hear the voice over the phone.

“Really?” Richter’s voice sounded surprised and amused.  “No no, let’s see where this goes.  I’ll be there in five minutes.”  There was the sound of a phone being snapped shut.

“Well my dear, I have enjoyed this stroll, another time perhaps?”

“If you ever touch me again, I swear to god…”

“Good good, I’ll look forward to that then.”

Richter’s footsteps moved swiftly off down the corridor, followed a few seconds later by Christa’s.  Both sets of footsteps faded away into the distance.  Five minutes later the lights went off with a hollow click and the corridor was plunged into darkness.

I’d stayed hidden until the lights in the corridor had been off for a full five minutes.  I’d met no one else in the final dash through the corridor maze, arriving at the dead end and slipping through the door as quietly as possible.

I was back in the small storeroom I’d hidden in the day before.  It seemed an awfully long time ago now.  A single bare bulb hung from a length of electrical wire in the centre of the ceiling.  It cast jagged shadows around the entire room, leaving unsettling patches of darkness behind the three metal filing cabinets.  I could remember this room, a memory from before the flash, and it was that memory that had led me here.  I could recall battering on the door and swallowing something hard, something which I now realised must have been the key I held in my hand.  This had to be the right place.

The key fitted the lock on the first cabinet but wouldn’t turn.  The same was true with the second cabinet.  I held my breath as I pushed it into the lock on the third.  The key stayed rigid.  In exasperation I jiggled it back and forth.  With a scraping sensation the lock turned through one hundred and eighty degrees.  I pulled open the top drawer.

The drawer inside had twin rails that ran from the front of the drawer to the back.  Each of these held a green cardboard file hanger, twin metal hooks at each end holding it to the rail.  On each file hanger, a few centimetres from the left hand side, there was a small plastic index tab.  Each one held a name.  At the front of the cabinet was ‘Jameson 16’, then ‘Jarrow 158’, then ‘Jerod 541’, all the way back to ‘Lawson 49’ at the back of the drawer.  Each green cardboard file hanger held a buff coloured folder. Grabbing one at random I pulled it from the drawer, the front closing slowly as I released the handle.

The folder was marked ‘Kerridge 32’ on the front with a red stamp across the centre saying ‘retired’.  It seemed like a remarkably low tech filing system for an advanced research facility.  It looked like some sort of personnel file.  Inside the folder were about thirty to forty pages held together with plastic tags.  A photograph was held to the inside of the folder cover with a paperclip.  Kerridge looked like an unremarkable sort of man.  In his mid forties, brown hair running to grey at the temples, tortoise shell glasses, a salt and pepper moustache and podgy cheeks.  Oddly the picture didn’t look like a standard personnel file shot.  Kerridge stood in front of a Christmas tree – I could make out the green and some tinsel and baubles behind him – and what I could see of his body indicated he was wearing a large woolly jumper.  There had clearly been more to this photo: the right hand edge ended in a ragged tear, and Kerridge’s relaxed grin seemed thoroughly at odds with the mundane buff coloured folder.

The front page was also light on interest.  It gave Kerridge’s date and place of birth, vital statistics, hair and eye colour and an extract from a recent psychological evaluation.  Interestingly this claimed Kerridge had begun to develop a persecution complex and was prone to violent outbursts.  Hence he was now retired, I was willing to guess.

The rest of the folder contained what looked like project and employment evaluations.  Grunting I flipped Kerridge closed and placed it back in the cabinet.  It wasn’t what I was looking for.  Pulling out the note I double checked the name.  Marshall 42.

I found the file near the front of the bottom drawer.  It was considerably thinner than the file for Kerridge but also had the name and the stamp ‘retired’ on the front.  It would seem this small room was the last resting place for retired folders.

There was no picture in this file, but the first page held the same basic information as the Kerridge file.  Instead of the psychological evaluation a short note explained that this employee was a short term contractor.  There were only three other pages in the file, but I didn’t even read past the first one.

It was dated July 15 of that year, just over three and a half months ago.  The project evaluation showed that while it was classified as a success, the project had exceeded both budget and anticipated timelines.  After review the decision had therefore been made to terminate Marshall’s employment.  There were some more detailed notes, but what held my attention was the project title and location.  The page was headed ‘Recruitment of Dr Collin’s – Of Utmost Importance’.  The location was given as The Erinnerung Laboratory, Perchtoldsdorf, Vienna.

 

Getting back to my room had been relatively easy.  I encountered no one on route and had been able to force my window open again using the nail file.  With the screws back in place I did my best to fix the metal cover strip over the edge of the window.  It didn’t look perfect, but hopefully no one would have cause to study it.

My hands were shaking a little and I took a long drink of water straight from the tap in the bathroom before filling my plastic beaker and carrying it back to the table.  The smudgy grey light of a false dawn was beginning to leak through the glass of my window.  It illuminated the security fence, the guard towers and the forest, but sucked all the colour from everything, making the world look lifeless and petrified in the still air.  I needed to snatch some rest but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep yet.  Eagerly I pulled the file from the back of my trousers and opened it up on the table.

Just the heading on the second page and the location proved I was being lied to.  I hadn’t been working at this facility for years.  They were trying to recruit me three months ago, from a lab in Austria.  Anger and indignation welled up inside of me.  It looked like the recruitment hadn’t gone well at all, and instead they had decided to kidnap me.  Whatever had happened on the way had left my memories like scrambled eggs and made me prone to suicidal blackouts.  That was if it was an accident at all.  I now knew these people didn’t have my best interests at heart.

The man detailed in the Marshall 42 folder was thirty four years of age, 185 centimetres tall with brown hair and dark grey green eyes.  His address was given as 24 The Tining, Wootton, Bedfordshire.  The bottom of the personnel page was a table with a series of codes.  I couldn’t make head nor tail of them.  The first one was ‘AUC’, running through thirty two different boxes to ‘WXR’.  Most of the boxes were ticked, a handful were not.

Turning over the page I studied the details of my ‘recruitment’ again.  Marshall had been instructed to visit Dr Collins at his lab in Austria and make a generous offer of employment.  He was authorised to negotiate with Dr Collins up to a total package value of five million dollars.  Five million dollars!  If Dr Collins could not be recruited he was to make arrangements to return to the Mnemosyne facility in Southampton.  While Marshall could exercise discretion in the negotiations it was essential that they be completed before the 3rd of August.

Other than the location of Dr Collins’ lab that was all the information on the page.  The next two pages detailed projects of a similar nature.  The first detailed the recruitment of a Gerhold Neuberg from a laboratory in Sweden, the second the purchase of research from an intermediary called Jurgen.  Neither of these projects had the same price tag as mine (two million for Gerhold Neuberg and four hundred thousand for the research), and both were simply marked as complete.

I closed the folder and slipped it under the mattress.  I needed to find a better hiding place for things in the room, but for now it would do.  The frustrating tapping noise was back.  Walking into the bathroom it was louder.  Crouching down on the freezing tiles I could make it out clearly, something metallic on a pipe.  It could be travelling across quite a distance, carried through the facilities plumbing, or it could be the work of the neighbour I’d spotted in the room next to mine last night.

The repetitive nature of the pattern suddenly jarred a memory loose and it washed over me.  One second I was on the bathroom floor, the next I was stood in a dark green field tent, the canvas heavy with accumulated moisture.  The sides of the tent were up and I could see large ran drops hammering into the sodden ground.  Every patch of earth around the tent was churned to mud.  With a shock I realised I was naked.  My fingers were cold and numb, my feet like blocks of ice, my entire body covered in freezing mud.  It had been days since I had slept and my eyelids felt like lead weights, my head was packed with sawdust.  The icy wind whipped through the tent causing me to take a sharp intake of breath.  My ribs exploded with pain and I almost passed out, instead listing to one side and dry retching onto the canvas floor.

“Not here, dammit!” said the man sat at the camp table.  “Complete your task and then you can pass out.”  The man waved a hand to what looked like an antique telegraph and a set of headphones.  I picked up the headphones and placed them on my head.  A long string of Morse code played through the earpieces.  Once it had looped twice the man thrust a small yellow book into my hands.

“Add the cipher and re-transmit,” he growled.  I opened the book and made a note of the cipher code.  I applied it to the message and began tapping out the result on the telegraph.  I’d managed four loops before my vision clouded and I slipped sideways onto the floor.  It felt quite comfortable really.

“Get me some blankets and a doctor!”  I could just make out the voice as I slipped unconscious, and then I was back in the facility, crouched on the bathroom floor.

The tapping was Morse code, and the most simple message you could send.  SOS.  Save our souls, the universal distress signal.  Leaping to my feet I pressed my ear against the wall.  The tapping was louder but its location no easier to detect.  Abruptly it stopped, cut off mid-message.

 

Six hours later and the boredom was becoming hard to bear.  Sarah had brought me both breakfast and lunch, but she was more tight lipped than ever, uttering not a word.  She looked tired and worn down, a bruise high on her cheek and a slight limp when she walked.  When I asked her what was wrong, who had done that to her, she had just grunted and left the room.  Was it Sarah’s message I could hear being tapped on the pipes?  Was she a prisoner here just like I was?

Richter had called at midday to tell me exercise was cancelled for that day, but even he had nothing else to say.  When my door opened again in the middle of the afternoon I was eager for anything, almost anything, to distract me from my gloomy thoughts.

The guards marched me to Christa’s door, but instead of knocking they opened the door and pushed me inside.  In the middle of the small room was an evil looking chair, like something from a demonic dentist’s treatment room.  It was covered in black leather, with a high back and flat steel arms.  It had been bolted to the floor in the middle of the room, the scratchy carpet messily torn around its base.  Over it hung a massive lighting rig that was attached to the base with a pneumatic arm.  Cables ran from the hulking chair to a console setup in the corner of the room.

What I noticed first though, and what held my attention, was the shiny steel manacles attached to the arms and leg rest of the chair.  With a surge I pushed myself to the left, but the guards had been ready for this.  One of them twisted my arm behind my back, wrenching it upwards to the point I thought my shoulder was going to tear loose.  As I growled in rage the other two picked me bodily from the floor and marched me towards the chair.  I sagged limp, relaxing every muscle as far as I could.  From fighting one second to dead weight the next the guards lost their balance, the one on my right arm stumbling just a fraction.  I rocked my head back, catching the man behind me full in the face.  The pressure on my shoulder disappeared, and I swung my right arm in a wide arc, desperate to make connection with something, anything.  Pain exploded in my lower back and I sunk to the carpet.  When I could breathe properly again I was in the chair, metal manacles secure around my wrists and ankles.  God I hated tasers.

It looked as if I had broken the guard’s nose, he clutched his face trying to stem the flow of blood.  With a bitter chuckle of amusement I saw it was the same guard I had punched the day before.  He scowled at me from around his bloody nose.  It looked like I had a new enemy.

Muttering curses the three guards stalked from the room and slammed the door, leaving me alone strapped to the chair.  I gave the restraints an experimental tug, but I wasn’t expecting much.  They looked like they meant business, and sure enough there was no give at all.  The array above my head looked like it was for more than just lighting.  A number of bulbs looked back at me, but there was also what looked like a camera and an array of ports and dials.  Stamped on the metal were the raised words Mnemosyne Corporation together with the hand and torch logo.  I might have believed it was some sort of surgical equipment, had I not been strapped in.  As it was it seemed highly likely this was some sort of torture device.

Other than the chair the room was exactly the same as yesterday. The squishy chair was pushed into the far corner and the door to Christa’s bathroom stood open.  Craning my head round I could glimpse the console that was attached to the chair.  It looked unremarkable: a keyboard, screen and a large grey box.  It was all mounted on a grey steel trolley with a metal cabinet underneath and small black wheels.  Presumably so they could torture on the go, once they’d managed to bolt down the enormous black leather chair of course.

The door opened again and Christa Mayhew rushed into the room, closing the door quickly behind her.

“Oh dear, I had told them to wait until I was here so I could explain, but it seems they felt compelled to act, are you OK?”

Her concern was touching, but her tone and cadence were unconvincing.  Also she had rushed purposefully into the room, but she was not a bit out of breath.  If she really had rushed from somewhere, it would have to be somewhere pretty close.  No, this was thoroughly rehearsed, and I was willing to bet Christa had no intention of arriving before I was safely in the chair.

“Oh don’t worry, I’m fine,” I said, flashing a vicious grin.  For a second Christa’s mask slipped – she looked terrified – then the performance resumed.

“Well, I had hoped that we could talk things through before we got started, but I notice from Derek’s face outside that the chair must have given you quite a fright.  They’re good boys mostly, but do tend towards decisive action when they’re pushed.”  I guessed trying to break someone’s arm and then tasering them could be called ‘decisive action’, so I let it slide.

“Anyway, there really is nothing to be worried about.”  When addressed to a man strapped to a torture chair this sentence was truly remarkable.

“I will explain all of this in just a second, but first I must get the machine started up.”

Christa moved over to the console and pressed a button, and standing between me and the screen to block my view typed a few commands on the keyboard.  With a cheery sequence of notes the cabinet under the console popped open and Christa pulled out a bundle of leads.

Returning to the chair Christa proceeded to plug the leads, there were four in total, into the lighting array above my head.  The end of each lead ended in a small black square, which Christa proceeded to tape to my head.  Two to my forehead, one to each temple.

“What the bloody hell is this thing, what are you doing?” I snapped, wrenching my head sideways and pulling the cord off my temple.  With patient hands Christa re-attached the lead, her fingers stroking lightly down my cheek.

“Really, please don’t struggle.  This will all be much easier if you don’t struggle,” she purred.  Returning to the console she typed in a few more commands.  She then took her chair and brought it round in front of me.  In her hand was what looked like a television remote.  Christa settled herself in the chair and pulled out her clipboard and pen.

“Now, this isn’t as bad as it looks.  This machine is, in part, a neural enhancement device.  A memory aid if you will.  It analyses your brain waves and feeds back a sympathetic flow of electrical energy, boosting brain function.  There really is a lot more to it than that of course, but if you can’t remember how it works then you would not understand the detail, and when you can remember how it works it will be unnecessary to explain it to you.”

She smiled as if making a funny joke.  I wasn’t laughing.

“There are a number of people who are, shall we say, rather impatient about the rate of progress we are making with restoring you to full health.  Their concern for you is extreme, and as a result we now need to double our endeavours.”

Christa paused again, tapping her lips with the end of her pencil and endeavouring to project what I imagined was her best pretty girl look.  That it worked didn’t make me any less angry.  She sucked on the end of the pencil for a few seconds before continuing.

“So, what we are going to do today, with the help of the machine, is try and get you in touch with some more of yourself Dr.  It has a number of functions that can be of use to us.”

“You said that was only part of its function.  What else does it do?”

Christa hesitated, tapping the pencil against her knee a few times before answering.

“Well, it’s not entirely passive you see.  Its connection to your brain is such that it has a number of other uses.  One is its unparalleled ability to detect lies.  By analysing your brain function it can tell truth from untruth to a degree of accuracy that is tantamount to absolute certainty.”

Christa rose from her chair, placed her clipboard on the seat and smoothed her short dress over her hips.  Walking slowly forward she placed one hand on my chest, the other stroked my cheek.  Her voice was low and sweet, but also menacing.

“And you see Dr, I know that you have been lying to us.  When all we want to do is help you I don’t know why you would lie, especially to me, but we know you are.  And if we are to help you, we can’t… have… lies.”  With the last three words she tapped her finger lightly on my nose.  I snarled and snapped at the offending digit but she danced a few steps backwards, giggling, much like she had when she had kissed me in the bathroom.

“You’re out of your mind!” I said.  “What on earth could I lie about, I don’t remember enough to make things up.”

It was like someone had poured boiling water over my brain.  My head was on fire, inside out, my eyeballs burning as if they were about to pop.  I opened my mouth to scream and it ended, the pain vanishing like it was never there.  My heart was pounding and my breathing was rapid and shallow.

Christa was now sat on her chair again, clipboard and pencil in hand.

“Tut tut Dr, I told you it can detect lies.  And there we have yet another feature of the machine, its ability to enforce compliant truthfulness, through the administration of what I understand is quite phenomenal pain.”

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