Thriller (Medical thriller, Action thriller, suspense)
Date Published: Oct 20 2020
Publisher: 43Ten Press
The only thing to save two old friends from death may also be what kills them.
Mr. Peters is a successful business owner. Other than dealing with a recent rash of break-ins, he lives a very satisfying life. That was until a childhood friend and brilliant scientist paid him a visit.
While the two friends had a troubled past, not speaking for ten years, the reunion was a happy one. That happiness quickly took a wrong turn as their lives are threatened.
Now held captive, the use of an experimental drug was the only option. A top-secret drug that enhanced a person’s will and physicality is the only thing giving them a fighting chance.
However, there are deadly side effects. Along with enhanced abilities comes a decrease in mental stability. Moreover, there is more to the kidnappings than first thought.
Will the two childhood friends maintain their sanity long enough to survive?
Excerpt from Chapter 2
The lab environment was huge. There were tables and equipment everywhere; it was a spotless room with a lot of testing and sample stations in different areas. Michael and Trey got off the elevator and walked over to two large tables at the back of the lab. Each of those tables had a maze set-up that spread the length of them. Next to the tables were cages. One cage held about twenty little white mice. Trey stood by the table looking at the mazes.
“I don’t get this new set-up,” Trey said.
He pointed to one table and commented on how that maze wasn’t really a maze, but just a straight line to the end. Then he looked at the maze on the other table and pointed out how there were a lot of branching paths going in all different directions.
“Yes, sir! That is exactly what you are looking at. The table with all the branching paths circles around the cheese. If you notice, there is no access to the cheese in that maze,” Michael explained.
Michael reached in and grabbed a mouse from the cage. He held it dangling it by his tail. With his other hand, he held a piece of cheese in front of the mouse, almost teasing it. The mouse reached out while swinging back and forth, trying to grab at the cheese. He then put the piece of cheese in the middle of the maze. He put the mouse at the beginning of the maze and let it go.
The mouse sniffed around for a moment. Once it got a whiff of the cheese, it ran into the maze. It kept running through all the branching paths of the maze and ended up running around the path that circled the cheese. The mouse could smell the cheese but had no path to get to it.
“So, the mouse knows the cheese is there, and he just keeps circling it. Seems like typical behavior,” Trey said.
“It is indeed typical behavior. That’s the control, the mouse acts as it is expected. This maze here with the straight line to the finish is the test,” Michael said, pointing to the table as if he was displaying a prized showcase.
“Okay, that’s a single hall to the cheese. But it’s still blocked—”
“Yes, the cheese is blocked off,” Michael interrupted.
Michael reached down and picked up the little wooden block that ended the straight line on the table. He handed it to Trey, and Trey examined it. He noticed that the block was slightly heavier than what these mice could physically move. Michael then walked back over to the cage of mice and grabbed a different mouse. He took a syringe from the table and injected the mouse.
“Well, mice have been known to gnaw off their own limbs to escape mousetraps,” Tracy said. “Is that the idea here?”
Trey watched as Michael dangled the mouse in the air. He then took another piece of cheese and held it in front of the mouse. The mouse seemed to get excited trying to get at the cheese. The mouse viciously grabbed at the cheese, trying to bite it while dangling. It even bit Michael a few times.
“Damn, that mouse seems a lot more aggressive than before,” Trey said
“Take a look at this…Oh, just so you know, this is the thirty-seventh time we have done this today,” Michael said.
Michael took the weighted block from Trey and placed it back in its spot at the end of the maze. He then took the piece of cheese and put it behind the block. Trey examined the maze, which was just a straight line to the weighted block with the piece of cheese hiding behind it. Michael walked to the front of the maze and placed the mouse at the starting point.
The mouse immediately ran toward the maze’s finish at a speed beyond that of the fastest mice they’d seen in the lab. The mouse ran to the end of the maze and slammed head-first into the weighted block. The block moved, just a fraction of an inch. The mouse then viciously clawed and bit at the block.
“Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before. That mouse seems to be really determined, to the point where it completely ignored the pain from slamming into the block at that speed,” Trey said.
The mouse then ran in the opposite direction, back towards the beginning of the maze. It turned and sprinted back to the block at an even faster speed than before, slamming its head on the block once again.
“The mouse isn’t ignoring the pain. The brain stopped registering it,” Michael said.
The mouse repeated this act several times, moving the block just a fraction each time. After a few minutes of this display, the block had moved just enough for the mouse to slide through the opening. The mouse did so and ate the cheese.
“My research stated that this would happen, but I didn’t think we could achieve it this soon,” Trey said.
“Well, the last set of changes you proposed to the formula seem to put us at the almost there state. As you can see by the speed of the mouse, the brain is able to tell the body’s muscles to perform at levels above normal. The mouse’s skin seems to go into a protective mode and harden, just a tad, to brace for impact,” Michael explained.
Michael reached into the maze and removed the weighted block. The mouse continued to eat the cheese.
“So, we have created a near invincible mouse,” said Trey.
“No, the mouse is still completely vulnerable, but it will be the toughest mouse you have ever seen…for a short period of time.”
“Well, it’s hard to say with other specimens, but with the mice we have, and the dosage we have been giving them, it lasts about five minutes. The other problems we have had are still there with prolonged use, so we have been using a new mouse each time,” Michael said. “There is one problem…”
Trey looked at the maze and noticed the mouse was lying limp on the floor beside the cheese. The lab tech walked over and picked up the mouse as if it was dead, and put it in a second cage filled with a different set of mice.
“Did the mouse die?” Trey asked.
“No, it didn’t die. All the benefits of the formula are fueled by a goal, which in this case is getting to the piece of cheese. Once the goal is accomplished, the hypothalamus realizes it has delegated functions beyond the body’s safe capabilities. Tries to normalize the brain functions in a hurry. Thus, the mouse passes out,” Michael explains.
“Hmm…new problem,” Trey said.
“Yep, new problem. The passing out seems to have no effects on the mouse. Just looks like it’s a way of the brain returning to normal in a hurry. But it’s something you must be mindful of. Nothing we can do about it now.”
Trey looked over at the mouse cage to see the once-limp mouse running on the pinwheel like nothing had happened.
“That was fast. The mouse is back to normal again.”
“Yeah, they seem to be resilient… but it’s a mouse, and it is a very small dose that they receive.”
“I don’t remember sleeping that long,” Trey said.
“You slept for two days, Tracy. We almost took you to the hospital,” said Michael.
“Okay, yeah, you are right, it was a long time. Was some good sleep,” Trey said. “But this is a different formula. Improvements have been made, as you said.”
“Yes, that’s true. But even though you passed out, that never happened with the mice until the new improvements.”
“Something to think about,” Trey said.
“Something to think about indeed,” Michael echoed.
About the Author
DL Jones was born in Brooklyn NY, grew up in Newport News VA and has spent the last 8 years in Charlotte NC. He has served time in the US Army and works as an IT Professional. His first love has always been tech, well computers and the web specifically, which has led to a lot of writing.