Intended Length: Novel
Genre: Post-Modern Paranormal Action & Adventure
Narrative Mode: Third Person Limited Omniscient
This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.
The lighting was dim and intimidating. More than a dozen people were crowded around a large table. It was a corporate meeting, of sorts. The table was a dark slab of snowflake obsidian, cut into the shape of a spade. It matched the company logo, a black spade with a white ring around its girth, on an angle. The ring gave it the galactic look of a planet, such as Saturn.
Seated at the tip of the spade, William Hurge stopped staring at the logo in the corner of the page he would soon be expected to sign. His eyes joined those of everyone else, now staring at the stem of the spade where the chief executive officer sat.
The CEO of Spade Laboratories had furrowed his brow into a great bushy mess of a gray synophrys. A distinct, bestial unibrow. And his eyes, sharp and cold, expressed looming impatience. It seemed as if all the pressure in the room came from him. His eyes flicked from left to right, judging. And with one thick hand, he sipped a blankly white mug of black coffee. Then, he broke the dark silence with which the meeting had begun.
"Is everything in order for the delivery to the airport?" his voice was stiff and monotone, though heavy with interest nonetheless.
What am I delivering for them? William knew he should be the first to speak up. However, he was too intimidated by the mood this man across from him had created. He did not understand how Spade Laboratories conducted business this way.
"The airport called. They said they are willing to accept the private shipment to Afghanistan within the next three hours. Is that enough time for our guest, Mr. Hurge, to deliver it?"
Yes. William nodded, it was all he could do with the knot in his throat. And he reached for the water pitcher closest to him, and turned over a clean glass from beyond the single paper in front of his seat. His hands were shaking.
"Sir, are you sure it's ready for a field test?" A woman, nervous with the audacity to question the meeting's very existence. "The main test groups have been entirely male, and all are over the age of twenty-five."
So, this is why they made me sign a confidentiality waiver.
"Miss Joquette," his voice was thick with contempt. "Do not speak out of turn. Review the outline before you. The field test group, and the potential application, is to be experienced soldiers, all with fanatic loyalty to what they do."
Huh? William Hurge took another sip of his water. He knew they would come back to him. He knew he would have to sign the last paper, and drive the load to the airport.
"But sir, the mortality rate decreases with age. We would be best to refine the drug more, and set about with a younger test group. Forty percent have died, when coming out from their first dose. How many good soldiers are you putting at risk?"
"Again, Miss Joquette, you ignore what is right before you!" he boomed, slamming a fist onto the stone table. "Their loyalty must be unquestionable. Thus, we take a great risk of betrayal with use by the young. Far more likely to become deserters. In this context, deserters are something we cannot stand for."
Another man, in a lab coat, spoke up. He was grinning, "And besides, the effects become more erratic with the young. Their imaginations and personalities are under too much stress. Not as concrete and solid. The effects are derived from their mentality. Psychologically, use upon the younger test groups has let loose some of the most uncontrollable results."
"Results," the CEO added, "That had to be eliminated."
"Very well," she said. "I see how it is."
And then, the eight eyes on either flanking side of the spade, and the insensitive eyes of the man at its stem, came to look at the eighteenth person in the room.
William Hurge felt seventeen eyes boring into him. He tried to focus, and look down at the document before him. However, his eyes watered as the spade's tip was sharp in the bottom of his view. He pulled in his chair, and it dug uncomfortably against his suit.
"Mr. Hurge, will you make the delivery?" There was an implication in the unforgiving eyes, beneath the furry gray monobrow. He has heard too much, thanks to Miss Joquette.
William gulped, and the last of his water went down with it.
Perhaps I will have to review her status of employment this evening. And the chief corporate executive furrowed his brow with intimidating impatience once again.
Hastily, as if his life depended on it, William Hurge picked up the ball-point pen and curled his signature onto the page in blotchy red ink. His head was pounding. His hands were shaking. Now, he had a deadline.
His head was still pounding and his hands were still shaking, forty-five minutes later. He had already driven away from the unmapped facility in the woods. Now, he was bound for the airport. His van was loaded with things he dared not think about. That was when delivery van number three of Hurge & Son Deliveries Incorporated was slammed into by a drunk driver.
The truck rolled over the rail and into the grassy alley between the eastbound and westbound traffic. The right-hand side back door of the van, which had not been secured adequately, came open. And in the crash, a single cartoned tray came loose from the pile. It contained six vials of a mysterious green substance.
When an ambulance came to the scene, the jaws of life had to be used. They pried open the side of the van so that William Hurge could be pulled from the wreckage. He suffered a mild concussion and a broken rib.
Thirty-five cartons of two-by-three trays of six green vials remained upside down, strapped to the floor of the van. The van was lying flat upon its roof. Nobody on the scene noticed the thirty-sixth carton which had come loose, and fallen outside.
At the airport, though received late, nobody noticed the missing carton either. In Afghanistan, however, they noticed. Spade Laboratories immediately rushed over a final carton. And Miss Joquette, who had been assigned to count and pile the load, was finally given sufficient grounds for a dismissal.
And thus it was that a young man, just a senior in high school, came jay-walking his way across the highway and picked up the strange carton. Luckily, it was not rush hour anymore. And luckily, he was not hit by a drunk driver during rush hour. The packaging was unblemished. The product was unopened. And he stared at it curiously. Then, he kept walking, putting it into his bag, as he was more interested in the mall, over the fence, across the highway streets.