Anton watched, from his vantage point under cover of the forest trees and shrubs, the figure swimming in the little pond just 30 meters ahead. Trying to identify the individual who swam there. Not sure of it's gender at this point as he had just stopped at the sound of splashing water. He often took his walks in the deep forest to think, it was always calm and peaceful here with the tall trees, waving grasses in the cool breeze off the mountains was glorious. It always helped him find the answers he was looking for. That peace was what was called for at this time as he'd been offered a promotion and wasn't sure if he should take it or not. After an hour of wandering the little path he'd made from his previous visits, he heard a noise that was out of place. The sound of splashing water coming from the pond just ahead. The sound was too big to be made by the water birds that frequented the area. He went to investigate to find someone there.
The little pond didn't have enough girth or large enough feed water access from the much larger lake 150 meters away to be a fishing hole. But it was always full and warm. He'd even taken a dunk on hot days to cool himself. As far as he knew no one else ventured out of the compound for fear of bug bights or getting dirty, so to find another person in the swimming hole was quite astounding to Anton.
Anton had grown up to the far south of the compound in a the village of Azten. Unlike the compound everyone lived in little homes outside the protection of the dome. The villagers grew and raised their own food and with this type of living came lots of getting dirty. This life style gave the compounders the quivers. They just couldn't understand living off the land. The mere thought of butchering ones own meat made most of them deathly ill. So when Anton took his little walks in the forest he was quite alone. He'd even tried to take dates for a stroll to find himself dateless. Since then he'd not much luck with the ladies of the compound as the tales of his attempted exploits spread like wild fire. He'd even heard some of the women commenting on him once or twice. They referred to him as dirty Anton. Dirty was not a state of mind of sexuality but of the one thing the compounders found most loathsome of all, physical outside dirt.
The figure made it's way to shore opposite of Anton. It was definitely female. The body curves were unmistakable. Her long wet hair streaming down her back, little trickles rolling around her round posterior and dripping back into the pond. She made her way to shore. “Who are you?” he whispered. “And where do you come from?” This woman was obviously not someone from the compound. Already she had captured his heart and he had no idea of what her face looked like, yet she was a kindred spirit and he was sold.
Anton tried to think of ways to casually meeting her but, didn't want to let her know he'd seen her swimming. That might put her off and he'd never have the chance to get to know her. Other than being dirty he didn't need the extra stigma of being a peeper. That would definitely set him up for a life in the religious order. The idea of being celibate and not by choice was quite depressing.
By this time the woman had vanished to the cover of the forest just beside the pond. Anton worried she'd seen him or had left. Just then he saw beside the pond some of her belongings sitting on the little sandy beach. He felt relief that she hadn't left, then anxious if she had seen him. He quickly retreated to deeper cover. He didn't hear any more noise so maybe she hadn't seen him. That would be good. He had an idea and started making his way slowly to the other side of the pond.
“Unbelievable, dimwitted, narrow minded, Cleanies!!!” Spat Cassie as she stormed out of the compound. Her lunch under her arm, she was headed out to get away from these people. She needed to clear her head and gain prospective. The only place for her to achieve this was obvious, the forest. She was certain that no one would ever think of following her there. That way she could be alone with her own thoughts. The ideas of leaving this retched place or making the better of it swirled around and around her thoughts. She struggled with the pros and cons of either decision. Both had their benefits and drawbacks and at the moment she couldn't make up her mind.
Frustration was taking over and she needed to escape. She'd seen a little path going into the forest from one of the observatories when she had arrived just 3 days prior and thought it'd be nice to see where it went. Well, today was the day she would find out. After about an hour of following the faint path she was hot and hungry and started looking for a place to cool off. She heard water birds squabbling near by and discovered the perfect spot for her needs to be satisfied.
The water of the pond was perfect. Not too cold or too warm, it was perfect for a little swim. She was confident that she wouldn't be discovered as the compounders would never think of following her out here. But, something kept nagging in the back of her mind, who or what made the path. It wasn't warn down enough to be a game trail, not like there was much if any game around in these parts. Still, who could have been here enough to warrant the path she'd been following. She still felt comfortable she wouldn't be discovered as the path curved away from the pond and didn't lead up to it so no-one had visited it as frequently as the path itself.
She had found the perfect little patch of sand for her pick-nick under a big gnarled shade tree. She'd set her belongings down and striped down to the buff for a swim. She had enjoyed swimming in the ocean when she was little, except for the salt residue that would cover her body when she was done. This fresh water was entirely new to her. There were no fish to speak of as the water was too warm for them, The natural acidic content of the water made it impossible for plant life to grow in or on it so no agile or weed like growth to worry about either.
After she had circumnavigated the little pond for a dozen laps her stomach was reminding her about the late time of day. She had to quit paddling around and get to shore to eat. Her stomach was acting like it hadn't eaten in days. She was famished.
Grabbing up her cloths and the little blanket she'd brought to sit on she toweled dry and dressed. 'This little trip was just what the doctor had ordered', she thought to herself. 'I think I'll visit here every chance I can. This definitely added a little more weight to the stay category rather than leave.'
Anton came to the turn in the path where it turned away from the pond and started to make his way there. He saw the back of the woman sitting on a little blanket digging through a basket as he approach.
“Well, hello there...Where did you come from? I've come here now for the past 2 years and have never seen another soul before.” He though that was casual enough not to elicit a bad reaction from her. “I'm Anton.”
At the sound of his voice Cassie jumped startled from rummaging through her lunch basket to find a man approaching her. She had no idea who he was let alone what his intentions were. She was curious but cautious. No telling what type of person he was to have ventured from the Compound, but at least he wasn't a cleanie.
“Hold on there, I'm not going to hurt you,” Anton was surprised by her reaction to his approach, it was like a frightened animal trying to decide weather to freeze or run and hide. He stopped his approach and held his hands out palms toward her “My name is Anton, I work at the compound, I heard your splashing over here from down the path and wanted to see what was here. You see no one ever comes out here, so you can imagine my surprise to find another person other than myself.”
Cassie relaxed a little but couldn't find her voice. Not sure if he was for real, or some person who had been exiled from the compound due to disease. Just then her stomach overruled her idea of running away with a loud growl.
“What was that?” Anton reacted to her stomach “Was that you? Please don't let me interrupt your dinning, I just wanted to meet you.” Anton sat down on a small patch of grass at a safe distance from the woman. 'Wow, she is pretty', though Anton, 'I sure hope I haven't messed up too bad approaching her like this.'
Cassie watched as the man sat down. She decided he was far enough away from her meal to not pose any real threat so she went back to her basket. “I'm Cassie,” she said “I just started working at the compound and not sure I'm going to stay here.” She looked up and eyed him with curiosity “Your not like any of the other cleanies, just being here tells me your not a lifer like the rest. Why are you here?”
“A job” said Anton, “much like yourself I'm not a lifer either. I know what your going through I've been here several times myself trying to decide to stay or go. I've always managed to find good enough reasons to stay. The money is too good to leave, seems to be the primary reason.”
Cassie nodded in agreement, “yeah, I know what you mean. If the money wasn't so good I would have left the day I arrived. People here are way too extreme about being so clean for my liking.”
“What's so funny?” shot Cassie at Anton's apparent amusement at her expense.
“My nick name among the ladies is dirty Anton.”
This elicited a full belly laugh from Cassie. “I think that tag will follow me soon enough too.”
Both Anton and Cassie enjoyed a good laugh at the idea that they were non-conformists with the cleanies and proud of it.
Kaymore was not a happy man, and especially today after hearing the news. Again he had to deal with the incompetence of others. This did not amuse him one bit. He'd given explicit instructions and expected them to be handled with ease of the individual he'd assigned them to. Yet again, disappointment in the average human's ability to get the job done right had him fuming. Now he was going to have to remove this individual and fill the open position they'd vacate.
Kaymore passed his finger over a lighted display being careful not to touch it directly, that would get him dirty, and waited for a response. A feminine voice came through the intercom. “Yes sir?”
“Get me Greeg.” said Kaymore in a very calm voice.
“Right away sir.” said the disembodied woman's voice.
After a few moments a low buzz could be heard from Kaymore's counsel. Again he passed a finger over the appropriate display light.
“Greeg here.” Stated a course male voice.
“I have another job for you, I'll send you the specifics over air.” Kaymore replied in his unwavering calm voice.
“Yes, sir.” Stated Greeg, and the connection was broken.
With a wave of his fingers over more displays an image appeared in mid air in front of Kaymore. With deft precision he manipulated the image to his purpose, then the image was gone. He loved living here in the compound, he never had to touch anything unless he desired to. Getting his hands dirty repulsed Kaymore as it did most compounders, the fear of spreading disease and germs was gouache. Human contact was only tolerable for specific occasions.
Being in public required all flesh to be covered by a minimum of barrier cloth. Though to the common eye of the non compounder it didn't appear to be much of a barrier as it looked to be a simple sheer wispy cloth. But, the barrier cloth was anything but flimsy or cloth. It was comprised of extremely strong micro weave of such a dense filtration fibers that were compacted so that it filtered air and light to the wearer and even filtered ones breath to others around. One didn't wish to smell what someone else had for lunch. That would be disgusting. It prevented microbial life forms from penetrating to the wearer. Thus preventing the spread of any form of contagion. One thing above all the compounders were completely phobic about germs and anything that may cause illness.
In years past decades, several disease had nearly wiped out the human race. Some were air born while others were spread by simple contact. This is what lead most people to retreat to domed compounds. The air here was filtered and recycled many times over. The water was obtained from deep springs and as the air was cleaned heavily before allowed for human use, so was any substance that came into the compound for use or consumption. Then came physical restrictions, imposed by those who believed extremist views, that all human contact should be strictly regulated. Thus laws were enacted to prevent any casual contact without consent and in private only. Thus limiting the spread of any germs to the general public.
Some people though that the diseases had always been present. That just because of overzealous use of sterilizers and sanitizers along with the misuse of antibiotics caused the human race to become weak and easy targets. While others felt it was germ warfare from some foreign nation gone horribly wrong was the cause. The truth may have been a combination of the two, but not enough people who ran the governments had survived long enough to let the people know exactly how it happened or why, it just happened. 40 billion lives were lost in the first decade after the initial outbreaks leaving the worlds population on the brink of extinction.
Those with technology and extremely fearful gathered in the compounds. Those who were least affected by the diseases were the people of small rural communities. For some reason they were hearty enough to withstand the on-slot. Only the weak or sick suffered. Thus most people of these communities stayed where they were and never altered their way of life. The town's people were oblivious to the compounds till it came time to trade food for medicines or other needed technological support. Over time some of the rural folk came to live for a time in the compounds. They came to learn and to earn money. Some learned medicine, others about the technology that could be used in their communities. Later it was the compounds who sought out the help of the townies. Certain jobs were just too dirty or too disgusting for the compounders to handle. Thus the symbiotic relationship was born. Compounders tolerated the dirty townies and the townies tolerated the cleanies. Both needed the other yet neither could understand the other.
Kaymore was not a lifer of the compound. He had come from a distant community where he felt his intellect was under appreciated. He hated getting his hands dirty and desired to pursue other ventures. Ones that would gain him wealth and prestige. After arriving at his first compound he found it easy to fit in. He simply adopted the life style of the people and never admitted to his origins. Once he found his place in society he succeeded quite nicely. If he got board of one compound he'd simply move to the next. His current compound was his fifth since his initial new life began amongst the cleanies, and this was the largest of them all. So much wealth to be had here and power too. He felt that this would be his final home and here he'd have the largest impact of all.
Kaymore had another plan other than just wealth and power. He had a dream that with the knowledge he'd gained over the years and with his experimentation, on other poor souls, was at the point of a breakthrough. But, it would seem that the less perfect people in his employ were causing unnecessary delays and setbacks that were intolerable to him.
Anton couldn't get Cassie out of his head. He wanted to see her again but that would be a bit difficult. He tried to figure a way to make things happen but was running into brick walls. She lived in a sector that was completely on the opposite side of the compound from him. Hearing her voice over a com channel just wasn't enough. He so wanted to go swimming with her in their pond, and a few other things. To touch her, to see her up close with out her cloths, to kiss her and of course break the sexual dry spell he'd been going through for the past 5 years. He often wondered if he'd forgotten how to satisfy a woman.
His promotion was still pending his acceptance, and that acceptance would confine him even more to where he was, away from Cassie. She worked with biometrics in the medical laboratory. Nothing too exciting but it paid well. All medicals were confined to one sector to ease the minds of the cleanies of the possibility of contamination from anything. So for Anton to move to her sector he'd have to be a medical tech or something in the medical field. He was far from that. Entering the sector was time consuming. One needed to be on real business to enter, so no casual visits were allowed. Cassie couldn't come into his sector unless she was on business either. She had to be thoroughly cleared of any contaminants and pass a rigorous physical exam before she was allowed to leave. That procedure could take hours.
No one cared if they went outside the compound from their respective sectors. The re-entering from outside was a more detailed screening and exams. They had to enter back into the compound from the exits they had taken so there was no slipping past the air lock system so that wouldn't help either. To make matters even worse they worked opposite shifts from each other that it was a wonder that they had met at all.
Anton decided maybe there was something he could do to change his situation. Maybe there was something he may be minimally qualified for on Cassie's side of the compound. He started looking at the job postings for the medical sector. After looking for several hours at all the posting he was about to give up when he saw a posting under test subjects needed for study. The pay was about half of what he was making now. If he accepted the promotion that would cause his pay to double. He knew that Cassie wouldn't approve of this type of move on his part. So he started looking for something she might qualify for on his side of the compound.
Then it occurred to him that if he accepted the promotion that meant that he had the power to hire out for specialists and with her expertise in biometrics he might be able to get her a waver to work with him on say new bio-genetic security protocols. He had to do some checking to see if that would be valid but he felt this was definitely workable. His spirits lifted and he couldn't wait to tell her of his idea.
Cassie worried about Anton. She so much wanted to see him again but all the issues that separated them were almost too insurmountable. She hadn't heard from him in several days and worried that he'd lost interest due to all the issues keeping them apart. She tried to change her schedule to match his but her boss wouldn't have it. She tried to change fields of work but no one wanted to touch her resume for fear she might be a contamination risk. “Why did I even think anything could possibility happen? It's just my bad luck with men all over again.” She complained to herself as she prepared for bed. She struggled to sleep as her thoughts about Anton and the hopeless situation for any possible relationship became depressing to her. All the ideas she could think of turned to dust under scrutiny. She was at a total loss now on what to do next.
Stanley was not a pleasant man. He was always angry. It seemed to him that he could never do anything right. Even the simplest tasks seemed to be out of his reach. This made him nervous and easily agitated. He'd just landed a new position with securities and was starting to feel content and able to finally accomplish something working in the filing department in the bowels of the compound. No one ever came to see him, so no need to be jumpy. It's hard to mess up filing when it's all done by computer database. All you had to do is punch in the file and the computer told you where the file went or where to find it. Simple, easy, quiet, and very peaceful. Well, that was until he got an assignment from higher up. He was asked to retrieve a package. Not a problem or so he thought originally. He'd gotten the package the other day and filed it. Then he was asked to retrieve it. He knew exactly where he'd filed it so there was no need to check the data base. He got to the spot and it wasn't there. He went to check to see who might have checked it out. The data base said that it was still where it should be. He informed his boss of this and she was not pleased at all. This made Stanley very anxious. He'd lost an important package and his butt was now on the line. There had been an inquire and an investigation. Things for Stanley weren't looking good at all. He was afraid that he'd lose his job, again.
Just then his door buzzer sounded, letting him know someone was at the door. He opened the door view to see a strange man standing there. “Who is it?” He asked.
“It's Mr. Greeg from the head office, I need to speak to Mr. Stanley Banks.”
“One moment please.” Stanleys voice crackled with signs of worry and stress. Stanley fumbled with the locks and the entry switch to allow the door to open. Mr. Greeg stood patiently in the door way. “I'm Mr. Stanley Banks, Please come in Mr. Greeg.” Mr. Greeg entered the apartment and waited for Mr. Banks to close the door.
Kaymore looked over the morning reports. A new position for a file clerk had opened up. He placed a called to the head of the division and asked why the position was vacant. The division head told him that the man that they'd hired 2 months ago, a Mr. Stanley Banks, had died in his sleep sometime over the weekend, from an apparent heart attack. Not too surprising as the man was extremely high strung and with all the investigation going on with a missing package he'd apparently misfiled. Thus leaving the position of file clerk vacant.
Kaymore smiled, 'Mr. Greeg does do good work.' he thought to himself. Now to fill that position, he had the perfect fit. Some woman from the medical sector looking for work outside her current field. No one would want to have anything to do with her for fear she'd contaminant them. She was perfect and if she ever failed at her duties he was sure her death would be a sigh of relief for the community.
Cassie's comm station buzzed for her attention. She answered it with her voice which activated the connection. A familiar voice came through the channel, it was Anton.
“I've got great news for you Cassie, I've got our problem solved!”
“I was going to call you too, I've solved our problem already. I've got a job in securities in the archives and files department. I just accepted the position this morning. Aren't you happy?”
“You what?” asked Anton as if the wind had been knocked out of him.
“I said I got a job in your sector so all of our problems are solved silly! Weren't you listening?” Cassie chided.
“Wow, I mean, that's great. Um, when do you start? Have they secured you accommodations yet?”
“Geez, don't sound so thrilled.” Cassie was taken aback by his reaction to her good news. She thought he'd be jumping for joy rather than sounding so down about her it.
“No, no I didn't mean it that way. I am happy about your news, really I am.” He apologized. “Tell me, please, all about it. Where will you be living? Is there anything I can do to help?”
He was happy. Now they could spend lots more time together. If she didn't like the job then he could offer her what he'd planed. So he decided to wait to see how things would work out and just be happy for her accomplishment.
Mr. Greeg sat silently in the foyer of Mr. Kaymore's office. Beside him was a rather bulky sack disguising it's contents. The pretty petite lady behind the desk covered in barrier cloth was busy on her hollow screen paying no attention to him. Mr. Greeg was not offended by this as he never liked drawing attention to himself. He was a expert at blending into his environment and quite physically un-noteworthy. When ever anything happened, no one ever remembered his presence. This was why he was so good at his job. Not too big, not too tall, no real distinguishing marks, just an average looking man. He could blend into a crowd and be invisible, and watch as his work unfolded before him. He like it that way. Many time people forgot he was even there. He traveled alone, no real friends or family so no one could connect him to any suspicious activities. He never minded being such a loner. It was kind of fun. When he had needs to satisfy he'd simply use the escort services or his female victims. He preferred his victims more because of the power he had over them, their fear was like nectar, their pleas for mercy, a joke, they were far more enjoyable than any escort.
The com buzzed gaining the woman's attention. She made no real reaction to what she heard and did not even looking up from her work. “You may go in now Mr. Greeg.” was all she said.
The door opened before Greeg as he entered the inner office. Kaymore seemed lost in though looking out the window behind his desk as Greeg entered. He moved silently to his usual seat that gave him full view of the office and the door which closed behind him. There he sat patiently for Kaymore to get to the business at hand.
Kaymore finally turned and looked at Greeg. Without a word Greeg took a package out of his bag and placed it on the desk before Kaymore and opened it. Greeg knew Kaymore would be repulsed at the idea of opening the package himself as he didn't want to touch something anyone else had handled. There in the box shimmered it's contents in tinny glass vials. Kaymore looked down at them and smiled. With a soft smooth voice dismissed Greeg. So with no real conversation Greeg left the office. He knew that Kaymore would be in contact if he was in need of anymore of his services.
The Lab was quiet and empty, except for a lone figure perched atop a stool busy examining the most recent data from her experiment. Professor Moore felt she was her most productive after the students and facility had left for the day. This way she could concentrate without interruption. She was working on perfecting her latest batch of serum. Her benefactor had made it quite clear that her funding would dry up if she didn't reach his expectations before the end of the month. His attorney had made reference to bright new minds could probably do a better job if she could not manage it.
At first she though this request was impossible but now she was sure she could do better than requested with the right ingredients. Already she was seeing greater potential with the serum with just a bit of fine tuning. Professor Moore knew only the type of product she was to produce but wasn't quite sure of it's application. She wasn't sure if this serum was to be used alone or in conjunction with others to create something more. It seemed benign enough, nothing illegal and the money she was receiving for her work was staggering. She couldn't speak to anyone about her work as she had signed a confidentiality agreement. That was no problem for her, she never trusted her pears as they were known to steal each others work and get credit for it as their own from time to time.
With her most recent data in hand and a shopping list of her required ingredients she sent off a wave to the attorney. “That ought to do it.” She said to herself with relief. “Now all I have to do is wait.” With that she shut down her computer and prepared to go home.
Just as she grabbed her barrier cloth she had an epiphany. She could use the data she'd just gained to improve the serum she'd just sent off to filing. If she could just get it back, for say a few hours, then she could provide her benefactor with such an improved product she'd guarantee her job for the entire project and maybe even elicit a raise. With that idea she rushed to find the secretary she'd sent the package with to be filed.
Kaymore relaxed in his palatal accommodations listening to his music and sipping a silver looking concoction of his own making. Thinking of how to align his subjects once he gained total power. He grinned sickly of the images of his underlings shaking with fear at the utterance of his voice. 'How sweet, their afraid of me.' He thought whimsically to himself.
A light on his desk started to blink. “I wonder who that could be at this hour.” With a single word command the consul sprung to life and displays hovered in mid air. He glanced over his shoulder to read who the message was from. “Ah, it's Dr. Zarrious's report. This should be interesting.” He pressed a button on his chair and it swiveled over to his desk. Touching the screen a video came to life.
Dr. Zarrious, a short pudgie man with squintey eyes, dressed in a white lab coat and covered in barrier cloth spoke. “This latest batch is far superior to our previous ones. The results are astounding. Your going to want to see the test subjects for yourself, before we have to terminate them. I'd say it's a miracle.”
“Well,” Kaymore puzzled over the invitation, “maybe I'll just have to see this for myself. This was the first time Zarrious had ever been excited about anything, so this must be good.”
The old warehouse district was dark, dingy, and in ruin, at least that was the outward appearance. No one was willing to knock down the buildings for fear of some hidden contaminant. The local city planners didn't wish to part with the kind of money it'd take to hire outsiders and the equipment, with their noise and air pollutants, necessary to demolish the buildings was just too much for anyone to bare. So they sat, tumble down building long abandoned.
When the dome was constructed this area was used as staging areas and storage. Now they were empty and unused, slowly falling apart on their own. Kaymore's building was especially rundown on the outside enough to keep out the locals and the authorities. Compounders with their innate fear of dirt and this location served it's purpose well. Keep out any curious people and secretly carry out it's usefulness.
Kaymore truly disliked coming down here but, Dr. Zarrious had peaked his interest. His dream plan had finally been moving forward according to his most recent timetable, with only a few minor setbacks. Those setbacks were easily taken care of by Greeg. Now to see his plan reaching fruition was going to be a thing of beauty.
A guardsman was waiting to escort him upon his arrival. To open doors and keep a clear path for his movement to the staging area. Once they made their way through the maze of broken down, antiquated machinery and into the bowels of the warehouse they found Dr. Zarrious was waiting for them. He lead Kaymore the rest of the way explaining to him the most recent developments. Zarrious was almost bouncing with excitement. He rambled on about details that Zarrious had little interest in. He was getting annoyed and wanted to get to the bottom of it all. Finally, Kaymore turned to Zarrious with furry in his eyes and waited for Zarrious to notice. Zarrious was in mid sentence when he looked up at Kaymore and was instantly silent. Kaymore took a deep breath to calm himself before he spoke. “The subjects please.”
“This way sir.” said Zarrious in a small voice empty now of all excitement. He knew full well the power of Kaymore and had no desire to end up missing or worse, a member of the test subject population.
They walked in silence to the viewing booth that had been equipped with the most up to date technology. From this vantage point they could look down onto the subject without notice. There to Kaymore view were 5 men and 5 women. 3 of each sex were healthy and active on one side of the enclosure while the other 4 subjects were suffering horribly on the opposite side with rashes, welts, bleeding sours, puss and mucus pouring from every orifice on the floor writhing in agony. The odds were getting better.
“What is the decay rate of the survivors?” asked Kaymore.
“Down to 5%.” answered Dr. Zarrious. He had lost all excitement when he'd caught Kaymore's eye in the hallway. He didn't wish to anger him anymore.
“Much better.” Things were progressing much faster than he expected. “Dispose of them.” ordered Kaymore as he turned and left the booth to make his way back to his transport he'd arrived in. All the while as he walked the way he'd come his thoughts were of his timetable.
Dr. Zarrious pressed a single button, he hated this part of the experiment, disposing of healthy test subjects. So much could still be learned from them but for Kaymore they were worthless at this point. A gas was released into the chamber with the test subjects and with in minutes they were all dead. Upon pressing another button robots entered the room to clean up and dispose of the bodies. No one person could ever be paid enough to keep quiet about this part of the job, so automation was employed. No emotions getting in the way of doing a necessary job. They couldn't afford any squealers on the team bringing a halt to the experiments. Now all that was left for Dr. Zarrious was to wait for the next batches of serums to arrive to be mixed in the correct portions and the next batch of test subjects to be rounded up for injection. Then wait for the results.
Cassie and Anton were out on the town celebrating her new job. Anton thought it was great that she only lived a block away from his place, and that with his promotion they had the same work shifts. Now was the time to build on this relationship and see where it took them.
They came to a quaint dinner, but to Cassie and Anton it was a little too sterile compared to the ones from their respective villages. All the wait staff were covered completely except for their eyes that peeked through their protective garments and of course then covered from head to toe in barrier cloth. There wasn't much variety in the compound but it was something they didn't have to make themselves.
All the food was processed and decontaminated prior to serving. Some patrons went so far as to bring their own utensils for fear of cross contamination. All this processing of the food in the compound made it taste dull, that is how Anton and Cassie felt anyways. After their waitstaff took their order and brought their beverages Cassie noticed someone walking in. Cassie called out “Teressa? Teressa!” The lady, thin and tired looking turned to recognize Cassie.
“Oh, my God!!! Cassie??? It is you!!!”
Teressa walked over to the couple to embrace Cassie. Cassie stood and just at the last moment before they touched they both thought better of their actions. They'd both almost forgotten the laws about public touch and just smiled at each other and exchanged a few pleasantries.
“Teressa, I want you to meet someone.” She gestured to the male figure who had been sitting across from her. “This is Anton, he's not a lifer like us.” Teressa looked at Anton and smiled. “Anton, this is Professor Teressa Moore. She lived in my village and was the one who got me my first job in the medical sector.” Now Anton had a context for who this individual was and her importance to Cassie.
“Nice to make your acquaintance, Dr. Moore.” said Anton trying to be polite and politically correct.
“Call me Teressa please, I get enough of the Dr. Moore business at work. In the real world I'm just Teressa.”
“Teressa, please join us for dinner.” Cassie invited. Teressa gladly accepted and the evening was spent catching up on each other lives.
Teressa had been the first to leave the medical sector for a different position in several years. Shortly after she'd told Cassie to came to work at the compound to fill the position she had just left. Teressa's new position was going to be teaching at the university. Her credentials as a scientist were very impressive and as usual took several days to pass clearance out of the medical sector. This was almost a year ago. Cassie's application took several months to process and to be physically cleared before she could start work and Teressa's recommendation made Cassie the perfect replacement.
Cassie inquired how her work was going. Teressa hesitated a little, this caught Anton's eye. Teressa made a bland comment about her students afraid to handle even water in the laboratory and the frustration she was having getting them over the remote possibility of coming into contact with potentially hazardous materials.
“In your last wave you'd mentioned some research you were getting paid to do. What ever happened to that?” Cassie inquired excitedly.
“Oh, it's still on going. Really quite boring and nothing much to talk about really.”
Anton noticed a little nervousness in Teressa's response. She was hiding something, her body language was unmistakable, he just knew it but couldn't figure out why simple research would be something to hide. Unless it was something illegal. Anton made note of this and thought he'd do a little checking on his own. He didn't want Cassie to be implicated in something illegal by association with a friend.
The conversation dragged on. Cassie told both Anton and Teressa of her wonderful discovery. The man she'd replaced had died due to stress he suffered over a lost package and that she'd found it. It was as if it had gotten bumped and knocked off it's shelf behind other packages. She'd even received a commendation for this work. She was so happy.
Anton remembered this incident and had remembered interviewing Stanley Banks the individual Cassie had replaced. Stanley had walked Anton through the entire area and even showed him step by step his procedures that he'd taken to find this package. Stanley had looked behind everything on the shelves and had shown Anton that the package had gone missing with out the benefit of being checked out. It was just gone.
Something was going on and Anton feared for Cassie. He kept quiet, didn't want to alarm anyone unnecessarily. He also noted the look in Teressa's eyes, she was politely curious but, seemed a bit taken back by the story, she seemed a little unsettled. He'd check into all of this new information later, and covertly. He didn't want anyone else to know, as the missing package smelled of an inside job, something a little more sinister than just a lost package. That his investigation might turn up to be dangerous for everyone.
On their walk home Cassie couldn't say enough about Teressa and their life together as they were growing up. Funny stories and sad stories of lost loved ones, on and on she went. Finally Cassie realized she was having a one sided conversation and inquired of Anton's distance. “Oh, it's nothing really, just work I've got to do tomorrow.” He instantly perked up for Cassie, he didn't want her to suspect anything. Not now, it was not worth getting her all worked up about. They stopped at Cassie's place and stepped inside the foyer. For the first time they actually embraced, it was a little safer than on the street as someone would definitely notice their touching and possibly report them to the authorities.
Anton gave a little tug on the barrier cloth over Cassie's face, as it fell away he leaned forward to kiss her and found her lips meeting his on his way to hers. This was so nice that Cassie felt the same as he did, and didn't have any affliction to touching. He had no idea how he'd survived as long as he had without human touch. He had no idea how the compounders coped. Anton pulled away first, Cassie was wanting more, but Anton thought better of it as all the questions from their night out swam through his head.
“What's wrong?” asked Cassie, a little hurt by his actions.
“Really nothing, I would love to stay.” 'Boy would I' he thought to himself. Things were moving in the way he'd only dream-pt of since he'd met Cassie. Not that he didn't want to have them progress but, the information of the evening kept tickling at the back of his head and wouldn't let me concentrate on the pending consummation of their affections. “It's just I remembered that I have an early meeting and I really need to be in my own bed tonight. Sleeping over as you know would mean no sleep for either of us right now.” He knew his forward presumptions words were spot on as Cassie blushed and said nothing. This warmed Anton, now he knew for sure she was having the same ideas about him as he was about her.
Cassie tried to control her blush, it was as if he looked into her soul and pulled straight out of her mind her very thoughts. Or, was she just that transparent to him. Either way she understood. Didn't like it much as it had been very long since she'd had the opportunity for human contact. She longed for the night that her and Anton could take the time to discover each other completely. But, tonight wasn't going to be it. They kissed once more, Cassie put on her barrier cloth so the neighbors wouldn't suspect and retired to her door.
Anton, busy in though made his way home. He wasn't sure how to progress in his investigation so as not to arouse suspicion so he decided to be more covert than usual. He'd have to call in a few favors.
Stanley awoke, still groggy and realizing he was not home. He had no idea what had happened. The last thing he remembered was going to bed after letting Mr. Greeg out his apartment door, worrying weather he'd have a job come morning. 'Where am I.' He though rubbing his eyes trying to clear his vision. As he regained a clearer head he sat up. He was not alone. He looked down beside and across from his position to see several other beds some filled with people still asleep and some empty awaiting occupants. 'Am I in the hospital?' he wondered.
As he surveyed his surroundings he realized his arm hurt, glancing down he saw a tube that was taped in place there, which was attached to a bag full of fluid, he reasoned an IV was attached to his arm. “I must be in a hospital, but why am I hear.” he said softly not wishing to disturb the other patients. Stanley had never been in a hospital so he had no idea how one looked. The only reference he had was the video waves left over from the past age before the plagues. That's how he knew about the IV bag attached to his arm. He didn't even think of removing it as it was there for a reason and his health. That's what they did to patients on the videos.
Next to his bed was a covered tray. Stanley realized just how hungry he was, as he reached for it he was hoping it was food. Yes, it was. Stanley gorged himself uncaring who saw. He felt he hadn't eaten in days. He had no idea that in fact it'd been 3 days since his last solid meal. He'd just have to wait on an attendant to fill in the blanks in his memory.
Stanley hadn't shown up for work the next day. His one and only, sometimes, friend and neighbor went to see if he wanted to get lunch when he discovered Stanley was absent. Upon returning home his friend went to visit Stanley to see what had happened. Stanley didn't answer his door or the call to his wave phone. This was so unlike him. Lucky for his friend he had the entry code from the last time he'd watched over Stanley's place while he was away on family business, or at least that's what Stanley had told him. He punched in the code, hoping Stanley hadn't changed it, and entered the apartment. There he found Stanley lying in bed. He tried to wake him. All the shaking in the world wouldn't get Stanley to move, Stanley was totally unresponsive. He called for emergence response. When the responders arrived he was shocked to hear them pronounce Stanley dead. Immediately they whisked the body off to the morgue for cremation, leaving his friend in a daze. He called off of work and reported Stanley's death to their boss.
When the emergency responders reached the morgue the mortician was waiting for them. “Take him to Dr. Zarrious.” The responders knew what that meant. With out a word they drove to the warehouse district to their designated drop point to find Zarrious's men waiting to off load the body. The responders had no idea that Stanley really wasn't dead, but only in a drug induced coma. As they left the warehouse the driver asked his co-worker what he though the doctor was doing with all these dead bodies. The co-worker had obviously been thinking about this arrangement for some time. “I think he's developing some medicine to help keep the rest of us from dying like the people we drop off.” That sounded plausible to the driver. No more questions were asked again.
Greeg had been given the secret to a certain drug for his work. Every time he had a call to “take care of someone” he'd prepare the drug for delivery. All it took was a little contact with flesh and within a couple of hours the victim was down and out for at least 2 to 3 days, they appeared dead for all intensive purposes. All Greeg needed to do was to wipe it on his barrier cloth when he visited people at home. Most people didn't bother waring the cloth in their homes but visitors would, out of respect for the people living there. All Greeg needed to do was bump into the victim once, rubbing the drug onto their skin. Simple. Once absorbed anyone else touching the individual would have no ill effects. Thus no evidence. It was a perfect crime.
Since Kaymore's arrival Greeg didn't have to deal with taking out people anymore in the old fashioned sense. It kind of made him feel respectable. No more messes, no more need to cover his tracks, No need to make sure his body did not leave behind anything that could be traced back to him. The last thing he needed was to become a murder suspect. That would ruin his reputation not to mention he'd probably be the next guy to be 'taken care of.'
Now was the time for collection of test subjects. He had to be careful not to draw suspicion to the people he gathered. This way no one could draw any parallels to something sinister, like a serial killer. He made his choices, when it was his choice, by region of the compound, as it had to be random. Then the individuals emotional make up. The loners were the easiest targets as no one missed them. The sickly and old were the next best targets, though unfavorable as test subjects, as no one found their deaths suspicious either. Actually the sickly ones made the sectors sigh in relief. The other people felt they wouldn't have to worry that the sickly person would be able to infect them with anything anymore. Then there were his assigned targets. His boss always seemed to have an endless supply of potential test subjects lined up for him.
Tonight was his choice and he was in need of a little personal release. So his preference now was looking for something frail and pretty. Something easy to control and have his desires fulfilled. He'd just entered a night club to find several ladies that fit that description. The noise of the music was so loud people were almost yelling to be heard next to their companions. The lights flickering along with the music's beat was meant to enhance the experience of the club and the intoxicants located there in.
'Now comes the fun part, separating my victim from the herd.' thought Greeg to himself. He ordered his favorite beverage, much like himself, nondescript, a beer. Found himself a table where he could survey his potential victims and the entrance. He was always aware of his surroundings and those that occupied that space. He'd learned a long time ago to watch his own back and that meant watching the door.
He reminded himself 'One never knows who's going to walk in with the intent of killing you while your looking to kill someone else.' He'd once not known this detail in his youth in his career of choice when he was almost killed by the friend of his victim while on the hunt. The friend had been surveying Greeg's attention to his friend and made an excuse to leave. Never intending to leave permanently the friend quietly re-entered the club behind Greeg's back and preceded to beat Greeg to an inch of his life before being pulled off by the authorities.
It wasn't long before Greeg narrowed down 2 potential victims from the herd. One was having a fight with her male companion that appeared to be a break up and the other sat alone without any companions looking sad and dejected. This made her even prettier to Greeg, a helpless lonely girl looking for companionship.
The couple seemed to be escalating their fight and taking their argument elsewhere. That left one lonely girl as a victim for Greeg. Perfect timing for him to put on his charm and start his hunt.
Professor Moore could not find her secretary anywhere. Then she remembered the time, everyone had gone home hours ago for the evening. She'd just have to get her package from the archives herself.
The archives were located in the basement of one of the official government buildings, It was a beautiful steel and glass structure that was several stories tall. The archives were located in the sub basement in the building. As quickly as possible she made her way to the department where her package was filed away till it was sent for. No one was around. The doors were unlocked and the lights still on. She called out “Hello...anyone there?” No answer. She waited a little and called again as she walked around the counter that separated the sterile looking waiting area from the archives themselves. Still no answer.
She walked to the computer station to see that it was still active. She searched the display and found the appropriate application. Archive retrieval. She typed in her name and the location of her package was displayed. Before leaving the station she deleted her name and exited out of the application, she didn't want anyone to know she'd been there, just in case what she was doing was wrong in anyway.
'How could it be wrong, the package is mine after all.' she thought as she located the package, tucked it into her bag and left the department.
Anton struggled with his private investigation into the unsettling matter of Mr. Bank's death. The information he'd gotten from the night before still pecked at the back of his mind. Something wasn't right. Cassie's friend's reaction to her story for one and the fact of the found missing package that shouldn't have been found so easily. Where to start, how to go about investigating without drawing suspicion?
Activating the wave phone at his desk he decided to call in his first favor. His friend Bobby who was the security guard at the archive building. The wave was answered in short order by Bobby himself.
“Hey Anton, what's new?” answered Bobby recognizing Anton right off.
“Same old here, you know nothing much happens around here.” chided Anton. “Bobby, I'm trying to tie up some lose ends on that missing package from the archives.”
“Didn't you hear? The package was found by the new girl. Seems it was here all the time and old Banks was just too dumb to notice it.” Bobby interrupted.
“Oh, really. I hadn't heard that.” lied Anton. “I was just hoping to have a look at the security footage to see if I could find anything.”
“I don't see why you'd need to now that the package was found.” replied Bobby.
“Call it a hunch. I went through the archives with Mr. Banks and that package was nowhere to be found. I've got a feeling that that package wasn't misfiled by Banks and was missing. That who ever took it came back and misfiled it for the new girl to find.”
“Dang Anton, never thought of it that way. Are you sure? Your not just being overly suspicious?” asked Bobby.
“No, not really, but, do me the favor and keep this just between the two of us. I've got a bad feeling about this and I really don't need anyone breathing down my neck about it, okay?”
“Sure thing. So where do you want the footage sent to?”
“Send it here. I don't want anything to seem out of place officially speaking.” answered Anton.
“Consider it done, just wave me the time frame you want to examine and I'll package it up for you.”
“Thanks Bobby, I'll wave it to you in just a few.” With that said Anton disconnected the call and proceeded to send Bobby the wave of the time frame of the packages original drop off and the day Cassie told of her finding it. 'that should about cover everything with the missing package' though Anton, 'now to look into Mr. Bank's untimely death.
Cassie was eager to catch Anton again for some private time. After work she stopped off at one of the Deli's close to home and picked up dinner for both of them. 'This will be a nice little surprise.' thought Cassie as she rung the bell at Anton's apartment. There was no answer. She rang again. Still no answer. “He must be working late. Well, if he's not here then I'll go there and surprise him.”
With that thought she took the quickest route to Anton's office. Entering the foyer she noticed that only a few people were still at work. One took notice of her and approached the front desk. “Can I help you?” asked the pleasant looking man behind the desk.
“I'm looking for Anton, I'm trying to surprise him with dinner, and he wasn't home so I...”
The gentleman held up a hand and nodded he understood as he walked to the small gateway that separated the waiting room from the offices. Cassie didn't need to explain anymore. This man had been around enough to know when a potential girlfriend of an agent was stopping in. He held the gateway open for her to pass through with out having to touch anything. Then he pointed down a long hall just behind the entry and said “last door on the right.” he then smiled at Cassie's blush and went about his work.
Cassie walked down the hall, trying to compose herself, to the last office on the right and looked through the small window seeing Anton sitting very intent on a video he was watching. His door was open so Cassie didn't bother to knock. As she walked in Anton glanced over to see who it was and in sudden shock quickly toggled off the video and jumped to his feet. “Cassie! What are you doing here?” he asked almost disapprovingly of her presence.
“I'm sorry,... I just wanted to see you again and.... I got us dinner from the corner deli and.... I stopped by your place and you weren't home, so ….I came here” she started backing to the door, “I'm so sorry if I've interrupted something important,” she started to turn to leave in a rush. His reaction was so unexpected and almost harsh, this wasn't the Anton she knew, 'I've really screwed up assuming that he'd be happy to see me, I've got to get out of here now!' she thought as she tried to run away.
“Cassie, please wait, I'm sorry, you just startled me, your the last person I'd ever expect to see here. Please, don't go!” pleaded Anton.
This plea stopped Cassie in her tracks. She turned to see the Anton she knew looking at her with his hand outstretched begging her to come to him. Slowly she turned and re-entered the office.
“Close the door behind you please, I really don't want anyone interrupting the lovely dinner you've brought.” Anton said with a smile. Cassie obliged letting the door latch behind her.
They sat and ate in relative silence. Only exchanging pleasantries of their days at work. Cassie was feeling unwelcome by this. She said “Really, if your busy, I'll just go, you seem preoccupied by something and I don't want to be in the way.” She started to pack up the remains of their dinner to leave.
“No, Cassie, don't go, not yet.....there's something I need to talk to you about...”
Cassie's heart sank 'There is another woman, it figures, all my luck, he's trying to break things off before we even have a chance to get started.' As if reading her thoughts Anton replied “It doesn't have to do with you and me...us...it's more to do with...well, something happened before you took your new job...and, well, I'm afraid your friend Teressa is involved, and I don't want you to get into any trouble...and ...well, come see for yourself.” With that he activated the video screen and made a few commands to bring up the video he'd been watching.
“Now before I start this let me give you a little background.” Anton explained about the missing package and the investigation him and Mr. Banks had done. Then about the conversation she'd had with Teressa at dinner the other evening, then of his suspicions about her reaction to Cassie's story. Cassie nodded her understanding of the background with a furrowed brow as she approached the video screen. There was a time date stamp on the video.
“Is this a security video?” asked Cassie.
“Yes, it is.” Now this is the day that the package had arrived in the Archives and Mr. Banks has just left for the day. The standard operating procedures is to leave everything up and running if anyone is in need of anything from the archives. One only needs to check out the packages on the computer so they have a tracking of what goes in and out. Well, watch here.” Anton pointed to the door. In walked Teressa. She did something on the computer, then walked back to the archives. Anton stopped the video and said, “I've checked that computer with Mr. Banks the day of my investigation and there is no log from Teressa checking out her package, she must have looked up it's location and deleted her search.” He activated the video again. “A few minutes later she left but her bag was much larger than it was when she'd entered the office. Anton stopped the video again “Clearly she's the one who took the package, but, why didn't she check it out?” Anton quarried a bit to himself but loud enough to include Cassie in his questioning.
“So, is that bad?” asked Cassie.
“Not really except that Mr. Banks was dead the next day after my investigation. Now look here.” he cued up another section of the same security video. “This is the evening before you took your new position in Mr. Bank's place.” There was Teressa again, looking suspicious with her big bag entering the archives. This time she didn't bother with the computer. When she returned to view a few minutes later her bag was considerably smaller. “This explains why you found the lost package and why Teressa was acting so strange when you told us about your finding it.”
“So, your thinking that Teressa had something to do with Mr. Bank's death?” inquired Cassie.
“I don't know for sure yet. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but this is very suspicions and I am really worried this might come down some way to harm you. That's the last thing I'd ever want to happen. Hell, I'm not even suppose to be letting you know this or show you the video. But, something tells me it's better you know than for you to be blind sided by all this.”
Cassie looked at Anton and saw the genuine worry on his face. She relaxed and couldn't be angry with him anymore. Now her worry went to Teressa, and how she wouldn't or couldn't talk about the experiments she was involved in.
“What are you going to do now?” Cassie asked.
“I don't know for sure. There is a lot of lose ends I need to look at and try to tie together. Something isn't right about all this. I've got to find out more information before I can conclude anything. Hell, even my boss doesn't know I'm looking into this....at least not yet. That's why I'm here after hours. I don't want anyone to find out...not yet anyways.”
“So, are you wanting me to leave now,....or are you wanting to get out of here and see what we can do about dessert?” Cassie asked with a little bit of coy in her voice suggesting something else not involving sugary after meal fancies.
With this Anton sat up and forgot all about his investigation. “Oh, hell yah!” And as quickly as possible Anton locked down his office, swept away the remains of their dinner and happily escorted Cassie from the office to the front door. Cassie beamed the entire way. Oh what plans she had for him tonight.
It was very early morning when Greeg left Cibel's apartment. That was the name she'd given him at the club. Weather or not it was her real name he didn't care. He was quite pleased with himself and his work. She was very satisfying to his lustful needs. How he relished her pleas for mercy how she cried when he took her and ravished her repeatedly. When his was completely spent he doused her with his elixir of sleep and watched as she slipped away. Then he'd washed her off to eliminate any evidence he may have left behind, dressed her and arranged her body to look like she'd overdosed on drugs to her death. Then he left to find a vantage point of little notice for the show to begin. She'd mentioned that a friend of hers was coming in the morning to pick her up for work and she had not wanted to be up too late. That was all fine by Greeg, she wouldn't have to worry about waking up ever again once he was finished with her.
Just like clock work a woman arrived at the building and went to Cibel's door. She rang the bell, no answer, she called for Cibel, again no answer, she tried the door, it was unlocked, she entered calling for Cibel. Then came the shrill scream and seconds later the woman, pail as a ghost, came running from the apartment. Other tenants came from their doors to see what was wrong to find the woman cowering in a corner of the hallway. They too investigated to rush from the room calling to others to call the authorities. Minutes passed before the emergency call was answered. The authorities entered the room to find Cibel apparently dead from an overdose. Cibel's friend was interrogated and allowed to leave. Cibel's body was removed and taken to the morgue. Greeg had already called ahead to the mortician. Yet another successful collection completed. Now it was time for Greeg to sleep. He was sure his boss would have someone else lined up for later in the evening to be collected for testing.
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 17.06.2012
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