Monday, May 30, 2011

Absolution - I

The cigarette dangled off the edge of his pursed lips, scattering tiny flecks of ashes into the air. The glowing cinders died out as they flew off the edge of the rooftop that he was perched on.

He bent down to glance at the telescopes eye piece one more time.

There he was, under the crosshairs, sipping his blood red wine, with that cocky grin on his red lips. He wore a black tux with a red bow tie, and a red rose in his breast pocket. He sat opposite to a pretty girl in a glowing white dress, with flowing brunette hair. She was delicately placing the thousand dollar caviar into her soft red lips, somehow managing to flash a smile while doing so. They were talking about something. They were laughing.

James had long foregone the habit of laughter, only managing hollow smiles for his landlord or his neighbors. He could only grimace bitterly as he bit down onto his dry sandwich, watching the couple. The restaurant was a costly one. One that James had eaten in during their celebrations on their latest breakthrough.

The three of them had been there. James, Morgan and Sarah.

They had been working on the nanotech cancer treatment research for almost three years and had finally succeeded. So to celebrate they decided to dine in style for once. For a change they abandoned their take out Chinese food, eating near the test tubes and lab equipment, to put on their finest suits and gowns and tip their champagne glasses together for five hundred dollars a bottle.

But this time it was only Morgan, and his latest catch, fresh off the covers of Vogue. Sarah was gone. And James was on a rooftop, watching the two of them.

He felt a pang of pain when he realized where they were sitting. It was near the very same window that Sarah had leaned over and whispered into his ears.

“Let’s get outta here James. I think a little celebration of our own is at hand.”

He could almost smell the lingering musk that lined her neck. He could almost feel the tingling sensation, when her lips grazed his earlobe ever so slightly.

Now the only smell that he got was that of the rusted iron bearings that held the railing at the terrace. The only sensation he felt, was the burning desire for retribution.

The wind whipped his over-coat into the air, resurrecting the dying glow of the cigarette tip. He took one last look at through the telescope before spitting out the cig and turning away.

He could not do it.

He had already rigged Morgan’s car with C4 earlier. It was child’s play after their work at the lab. And yet the trigger lay in his duffel bag, untouched.

He could not do it.

So he did what he had done every day for the past two weeks. He packed the telescope in his bag, along with the M40 rifle that he dragged along, trigger untouched, and walked away.

He reached out to turn on his apartment lights, groaning as he stretched. The scar that ran up his arm was still fresh. As the tube-light flickered on he noticed the dark brown clot that had formed around the wound. He began scratching at the scabs, letting the wound bleed afresh, letting the scar remain intact, and letting the memory remain burnt in his mind.

He winced as he remembered the plexiglass shards, digging deep into his arms, as he frantically tried to reach Sarah’s writhing body. Her unearthly screams reverberated across the still and silent room. Her pale face, contorted with terror and pain, flashed across his eyes. He buried his face in his hands, rubbing his eyes weakly. This cannot go on.

He had finally managed to get himself into bed, without any violent flashbacks. The darkness of the room calmed his turbulent thoughts, soothing his distraught mind. It was almost as if the lack of anything around him made the relative emptiness inside just a little more bearable. After the first two hours, his eyes finally drooped shut.

He was back in the damned lab. Morgan was saying something that James could not hear. He was angry and frustrated.

James could hear Sarah saying, “It’s absurd! Why would they deny the opportunity to finally go into alpha test phase. The animal results were completely impeccable! We KNOW it’s going to work.”

He realized he was back to the time when they had been rejected by the board. That god forsaken day when he had doomed her.

They had stopped talking and were staring dejectedly at the bubbling bacterial canisters. James felt himself open his mouth.

“Why don’t we try it on ourselves then?” His mind screamed NO! You IDIOT! You fu-

Morgan looked up incredulously. “Why not! We know it is ready. We can do this.”

Sarah paused for a while before nodding in agreement. “The board doesn’t have to know until we hand them our positive test results.”

Again James opened his mouth, his actions sealed by the unchangeable past. “But none of us has cancer Morgan, so what now.”

Sarah smiled weakly, raising her hand like a schoolchild. “Sir, if you would recall, I was just diagnosed with an adenoma.”

Morgan clapped his hands triumphantly. “So what are we waiting for! Let’s get her prepped!”

James shot a nervous glance at Sarah. She mouthed it’s gonna be okay baby.

Her comforting smile, that beautiful reassuring curve of her pink lips, faded away.

He was now in the testing chambers. The rhythmic bleep of the machines seemed to remain prominent despite the haziness of the dream. He could see Sarah walking into the Hyper baric chamber, with the bright white spandex suit, clinging onto the contours of her slender body. She flashed him a dazzling bright smile before strapping herself onto the machine.

Morgan’s reflection appeared on the smooth plexiglass that separated the chamber and the observation room. He nodded at James. James nodded back.

He watched as Morgan entered the commands for the nano bots to be injected.

It all seemed to go smoothly for the first three minutes. The radioactive dye showed the blood deliver the bots past the liver and towards the blood brain barrier. They floated easily towards the targeted benign tumor that hung awkwardly at the edge of the gland. As they began to get to work, dissolving the mucous layer, James noticed Morgan’s nervous expression, turn from worried, to pale, to downright aghast.

James rushed over to the computer screen. “What is it?! What’s wrong!”

Morgan tapped desperately at the screen. “Look at the code! It hasn’t been programmed correctly! The specific receptors have been left empty!”

“What?! What are you talking about?”

“James! They are not going to stop at malignant cells!”

“Then shut it down goddammit!”

“NO! Relax. I could just enter the commands now. It’s alright. It’ll be okay.”

James stared at him incredulously. “Are you out of your mind?! That’s Sarah we’re talking about. That’s not some lab monkey. That’s my fiancĂ©e for god sake!”

“And that’s 250k worth of nano bots. That’s the last we’ve got. I am not going to let 250 grand just decay and come out with urine. We can still stop it. I just need time.”

“You know I cannot let you do that Morgan.”

Morgan turned away from the computer screen for the first time. His eyes had a grim determination to it. It was a look that James was familiar with.

“I’m sorry James. But I just cannot let this go.”

He shoved James out of the viewing chamber and locked the sliding glass doors, as he scrambled to his feet. James screamed at Morgan angrily, ramming himself into the hard glass. Morgan ignored him and hurried back to the computer screen. He glanced at Sarah.

That’s when the screaming started. The bots had finished with the adenoma. They had begun with her. James muffled voice managed to reach Morgan.

“Morgan please. Jesus, don’t do this.” His voice was shaking now. He could not bear to look at Sarah.

She had opened her eyes and began screaming out in pain. The bots were digging into her cerebrum. Right into her pain centers. And there was nothing James could do about it, besides plead with Morgan.

Morgan was banging at the keyboard. He looked out to James. His expression stopped him cold.

“It’s not stopping!” His muffled voice reached his ears. “ James, it’s not responding anymore!”


He gave all hope with the sliding doors and ran straight to the hyperbaric chamber. His eyes were brimming with tears. He looked around desperately through his blurred vision, looking for a sharp object. Each of Sarah’s screams made him shudder with weakness and despair as they rung in his ears. He felt helpless, like a man drowning with a dead weight tied to his leg.

Before he realized he found himself hurling a chair at the glass, creating a tiny crack as a small shard fell off. He punched it in and dug his arm into the tiny hole. The protruding edges dragged along his hands as he reached inside. If he could just get to the canisters, he could kill the bots with radio waves. But the canister was out of his reach.

Blood spilled off his ravaged arm and dripped onto the floor. Pain streaked up his arm as if his muscles were on fire, but he did not notice. He could only hear Sarah’s blood curling screams as he kept stretching farther and farther.

Almost there….just a little more….

He woke up, thrashing in his sweat and blood soaked sheets. He was breathing hard. The nauseating feeling in his stomach pushed him to stumble to the toilet as he held the rejected night’s sandwich in his throat. He retched violently into the metal sink, wiping his mouth on the towel.

Looking up at the mirror he realized that his face was wet with a blend of sweat and tears. He looked into his bloodshot eyes.

His mind was coiled with hot bands of regret and anger, a sickly red creature, holding his thoughts in an inescapable vice of pain and fury. All his guilt and repentance fueled his hate and blame on Morgan. There was a fire in his eyes.

And through the fire he could almost see Sarah’s beautiful pale face appear behind him. She leaned in close like the day in the restaurant and opened her blood red lips.

Kill him for me, James. Kill for your love.”

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