Madhouse

31Jul10

One, two, three.

Silence.

One, two, three.

Stir.

One, two, three.

“Breathe!”

Her heart was suddenly empowered by a bolt of energy. Her mouth opened and had a huge intake of breath as her eyes twitched open. Her vision was blurry and her body felt cold and weak.

“Her vitals are stable but her pupils are still dilated,” a female voice uttered.

As chaotic as it seemed, everything was still somewhat inaudible to her.

She forced her head to lean the other way as the lights blinded her. She groaned and her eyes squinted in pain. Her mouth opened slightly as she strained and tried to speak. Her cheeks hurt to move. She was conscious but unable to control her own body.

She was transferred onto a stretcher by strong arms yet she still felt numb from the tight embrace. Her face was frozen, inanimate and the shock on her face reeked of death. As she was hastily moved inside the ambulance, a man checked her belongings carefully and raised a brow at the contents of her pocket.

“We have a Jane Doe here, no wallet, no IDs, just this photograph in her wallet.”

He examined the photograph further. It was the girl she had just carried onto the stretcher. He looked at the back of the photograph and saw an encryption on the back that read:

Tabula Rasa.

&&&

In a dimly lit room, drapes were yanked down with force and dangled from the window bars that reached till the mess-cluttered floor. A silhouette of a man stayed still in the middle of the room with his back turned towards the windowpane. His fingers lightly tapped on the mahogany table at his front.

“So how did it go?” A masculine voice emerged from the speakerphone.

“They found her body a few miles from our facility. Her body is still in a local hospital.” He replied nonchalantly.

“No, I know what happened to her. I’m talking about the results,” the voice exclaimed.

“Another failed experiment, sir. She passed away this morning in the local hospital. That’s exactly 4 days after we injected her with the chemical. So far she is the longest survivor. Every subject we test seems to go crazy then die. Although our tests are showing that female subjects survive far longer than males. The results don’t look as promising as we expected.”

“The big guys in corporate don’t seem too happy especially after the whole incident,” the man took a deep breath and continued. “They’re planning to pull the plug on our research unless we show some progress. The media is asking too many questions and we might have to clean up this mess before it gets too big for us to fix up. I will keep you updated as soon as we think of a plan for all this. For now, we have to mitigate the damage; I called for a press con in half an hour.”

“Sir, it’s going to be so easy to deal with this. Can’t we just tell them that she is just one of our many schizophrenic patients who escaped?”

“You just stick to doing your job. The media has us for torture and inhumane treatment and whatever bullshit they can think of. Get rid of all her records and don’t let anyone in or out the facility. We are in deep shit but I’ll take care of this.”

&&&

She ran as fast and as far as she could as she pulled out the needles still strapped to her arm. Her breathing became violent and exhausted from all the running and crying. She stopped to catch her breath by a corner and looked on to check if someone was following her.

The television sets from a nearby appliance store was showing the local newsflash.

“Different groups rallied today in front of congress protesting against the Human Utilitarian Interest Law that was passed around three months ago. This controversial law was passed after Dr. Leo Heisenback of Merck Medical Institute passed away after he tested his own experimental vaccine on himself.”

The man on the television seemed quite familiar to her but she couldn’t quite figure out when and where she had seen him before. She shrugged the thought and continued to watch on.

“The results from his autopsy then helped create Carcinoma Cell Prevention vaccine, the popular anti-cancer vaccine now available in the market and has been used by thousands world-wide. This has pushed lawmakers into passing a law that allowed consented human testing.”

She hurried towards the store and stared fearfully onto the screen.

“Hey lady, your nose is bleeding,” a drunken bum lying by the gutter stated loudly.

&&&

“We can’t treat them like this, they are human beings too,” she said. “We can’t just throw every person who goes insane because of our experiments into the asylum.”

A man with graying hair and a crooked smile stopped on his tracks as he turned back to face her. “You seem to be forgetting why we are here and why we are doing this. This is for the greater good. We are saving millions of lives.”

“See that girl,” she pointed across the one-way mirror beside them. “She has a name, a family, a mother, a chance at life. We took that away from her.”

“She knew what she was getting herself into. We told her about all the risks involved. That’s why it’s called an informed consent. What else did she expect from an experimental drug that supposedly removes memory?”

“That’s why there’s no real informed consent!” She interrupted. “She was expecting to be rich off of this. To be given the rewards and benefits we promised her thinking that she’ll be able to get through all the risks. Most of our subjects are homeless and are living in poverty. Do they really have a choice?”

“They had so they shouldn’t have trusted our word for it.”

&&&

“Sir, what can you say about speculations that you are hiding subjects in a facility people are calling Madhouse? They say that the unidentified girl who passed away this morning was from that place,” shouted one of the reporters.

The crowd of journalists in the press con has become restless and discontent with the vague answers of the man representing Merck Medical Institute. They were crowding the small space of the hall that was provided for the interview and were already agitated not only with his answers, but also the heat.

“These are all conspiracy theories spread by special interest groups whose goal is to undermine our company. Just in a span of a few months we have offered things that save millions of lives and prevent countless diseases all because of human testing. All our subjects are with informed consent and all our procedures are guided by the rule of law.”

He sipped from the glass of water that was on a table beside him.

“The woman was under the influence of a drug that induced amnesia. It is an experimental drug that removes memory. It is an isolated case and we take full responsibility for this incident.”

&&&

A woman with wavy dark hair and a physique of someone in their 20s sat on a lone chair in the middle of a holding room. Her eyes were searching and her body became fidgety with nervousness. After a few minutes of waiting, the door to the room opened and a man appeared.

She recognized him from the telly.

“Are you ready?”

She nodded her head slowly, uncertain of the outcome. She didn’t trust her mind to work for her so she decided to keep her lips tightly shut. The man went in front of her with papers for her to sign. She weakly smiled at the man and took the pen from his hands and signed her name. He proceeded in taking wires and injections from his leather bag slung across his body.

“You will be tested with the drug that we have generated. With a single dose of this drug, it will be distributed to certain areas of the brain that is critical for holding specific types of memory.” He explained as he readied the equipments. “The drug that I am about to give you will block any activity that the brain retains of learned information.”

She stayed still as he connected the wires to her arms, neck, and back. He pulled out a meter that was attached to the wires and she cringed in annoyance that they were attached to her.

“Are you ready?”

She took a large gulp and closed her eyes tightly as a sharp needle penetrated her arm.

“One… two… three…”

She opened her eyes. Her vision was getting blurry and she had already become lightheaded. Her heart was beating fast and her body had started becoming numb. She tried to speak but no sound came out. She was panicking and the man noticed.

“Calm down, miss.”

She wouldn’t. She refused to. Something felt wrong.

She thrashed her arms wildly and her hair had started flying around. The man had lost control over her and she slapped the injection away from his grasp. He groaned as the injection darted to his calf. He doubled in pain and lay on the cold ground.

The woman ran.

The door was difficult to unlock but after a few tries, kicked it open. She hastily walked out of the institute and stumbled upon the streets of the city. Her balance had started to dwindle and she fell on her knees. The people that were passing by were looking at her curiously but one elderly woman stopped and came to her to help.

“What’s wrong, dear?”

She couldn’t speak but in her mind, she had to tell the old lady what happened. Her mind was working fast, however, and the events that had happened before that day was becoming a haze to her. She reached in her pocket for anything that would help her and grasped on something.

She took it out and it was a picture. She wrote something down on the back and showed the woman, but she looked at the seemingly deranged woman inquisitively.

“Tabula rasa… what does this mean?”

She had lost hope. She had to get away. She had to tell people.

She passed by throngs of people without a care, stores that seemed familiar, and streets that she thought she had already passed before. A man sitting down at the side of the street acknowledged that something was wrong with her.

She was bleeding.

She was dying.

And no one seemed to care.

Her body felt weak and she had already lost everything. She took quick breaths and fell on the ground with a thud. Her eyes were blinking slowly and she knew that it was close. She saw bright lights and her mind became a blank.

People had started to encircle her dying body. The sirens started to sound like distant static. Everything was chaotic. Everything was mad.

One… two… three…

And all she saw was darkness.

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