He continued talking to me, but all I could hear was sound. No words. No meaning. Just sound. It didn’t make any sense at all. I felt like it was all a dream. I was waiting for the moment when I would suddenly jerk and wake up in my own bed. But that moment never came.
“You can’t imagine how hard it must have been for me.” These words of his dragged me back into real world. He had been talking to me all this while but my brain had not processed a word he had uttered. It was busy in making some sense of the whole situation. I didn’t realize when I had climbed into his car and he began driving.
The mayor was also missing. I didn’t know where we were headed and why. I didn’t know what to say or how to react. It was as if I was paralyzed physically, mentally and emotionally.
After a long time all I could blurt out was “Are our kids too…”. I had a slight glimmer of hope after seeing my back from the dead husband which vanished with his guilty “No.”
I was lost again. But one part of my brain was still working frantically to make any sense of whatever had happened tonight. The death threat, the children in the street, the mayor, Robert, the “experiment for the children”. It was total chaos.
After driving for almost quarter of an hour we came to a building that looked like a warehouse of some sort. The structure was old and falling apart. There was no security around, and by the looks of it, none was needed as well. We drove straight to the front door where finally our car halted. Robert exited and I followed. Robert inserted a key and twisted the door knob. Instead of the door opening a touch pad of some kind appeared out of nowhere. Only after he impressed his thumb on it did the door opened.
We entered the building where after another thumb print examination an elevator door popped open from behind an old wall. We were going down. Pretty impressive technology for an old and abandoned warehouse.
As soon as the elevator door opened it seemed we were in a different place altogether. A well lit corridor lay ahead. As we walked down the corridor I saw different doors with names like “MICROINJECTION” and “TWINING” inscribed on the doors. Each one had the biometric fingerprint scanners at the entry. Robert led me to the last room, probably his personal office. The name on the door said “Dr. Richard McCallum”.
We sat there in silence for a few minutes which seemed like eternity.
Finally Robert broke the silence. “I am sorry Maribel. I always wanted to tell you everything but you… the FBI… I simply couldn’t jeopardize the whole operation. But now that it’s over you deserve to know everything.” Robert began by telling me about the past government funded projects carries out in the country.
“After the World War 2 the government began taking nuclear threat very seriously. In the late 1940’s government started research of their own and also funded many private researchers. Understanding the nuclear behavior was a top priority during the cold war when there was a realistic possibility of a nuclear war with the USSR.
Experiments started to be conducted which included the radioactive effects on animals including humans.
One of the, then most classified, and now most infamous, government sponsored project was project “Science Lab” conducted by MIT and Harvard universities. Boys from Fernald School for mentally retarded in Massachusetts were being fed mildly radioactive milk with their morning cereal to understand the effect of radioactivity on humans.
The details of this project were revealed to the public in 1994 by the US Dept. of Energy.
But many more continued to be conducted secretly. Recently the government undertook an extensive research and experimentation expedition into the newly exposed world of genetics and cloning. The research in nuclear technology had provided them with the tool which probably no other government in the world had – “Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer”
This advanced technology gave gene cloning a completely new dimension. Being extremely sensitive the details of these projects were not even revealed to the federal agencies.
In 1992 the successful creation of genetically enhanced human embryo was achieved, credited to the Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer technology.
Soon the experiment grew in magnitude. The whole project was deemed a great success… until…”
“Until?” this didn’t sound good to me.
“Well… in the next 9 weeks 17 specimens expired due to unknown reasons, possibly due to radioactive exposure. Those who survived had displayed some side effects like increased aggression, mental disturbance and depression. So the subjects had to be isolated. During the same period the federal agencies seemed to have got a scent of what was happening. They started investigating and uncovered one of the three projects being conducted on this. Fortunately ours was still out of their reach. But they were closing in on us very rapidly.
To cover up the whole operation we had to wipe out all the clues that led to us. I had to die. I wanted to tell you all of this for a long time but the confidentiality of the project was more important than me or you”
“Even more important than our children?” I was still crying but I had no tears left in me anymore. Our eyes met for a brief moment but he couldn’t face me.
Turning away and looking through the window he gazed out in silence.
At that very moment a thought struck me like a lightening bolt. The kids in the town… they were the “defective specimen”, “subjects to be isolated” and last of the clues to be “wiped out”
I had to do something. I couldn’t let those innocent offsprings of science die just because they were “failed experiments”. They might have been cloned but they were real humans as far as I was concerned. Saving them and exposing this scandal was my responsibility.
“They were my responsibility. I should have saved our kids. I am very sorry Maribel… I am your culprit”
Just as he turned to look at me, all he could have seen was my fist within inches of his face before he hit the floor, stone cold.
“You sure are the culprit. And yes… they are not just specimen you $#@%#* bastard.”
I hurried past him towards the door. I had a mission at hand and there was not much time left before Jake’s words became a reality for all of them.