Books written by Ray Sullivan

Friday, 21 December 2012

Parallel Lives chapter 35

The call arrived at Fylingdales at about five thirty PM, forty minutes after the first deep session on John had started. Martin had been called away, reluctantly, from the interview observation room he had had constructed hurriedly at one end of the under-utilised medical centre.
‘Yes, what is it?’ his impatience boiled up and overflowed. God damn it, this project was looking like it could bear some fruit at last. Already he had a number of potential problems he could place on file, to await results, and Staples had referred to at least two events he could not have known about, due to the deep level of sedation he had been under. Once the big wigs, the lords and masters, got wind of this the project would be elevated a rung or two and he would have reciprocal benefits. Sam Jackson spoke.
‘I think they know,’ he said. Martin, usually considering such an opening in a conversation to be quite normal, was thrown. His evaluation of Sam included a deep routed belief that he would blurt out State secrets to anyone who cared to say boo, for whatever reason. Enigmatic openings that would reveal nothing to eavesdroppers didn’t figure in his assessment.
‘Who knows what?’ he said, biting his tongue as he realised he had just broken about every rule in his own book, the one he would only write in his head to prevent anyone else reading it. He tried to follow up with a caution before Sam could speak, but was too late.
‘Staples’ boss and his wife. I think they know where he is,’ said Sam. Before he could proceed he was interrupted by Martin:
‘No names, of people, places or anything. Just try to tell me what you know within those constraints.’
‘I had a visit. She said she had checked all the possible places that…’ Sam paused, trying to comply with the request that sounded like an order, ‘…he could be. She said she knew he wasn’t there. I know protocol. They wouldn’t say one way or the other. The only way she could know would be if she knew exactly where he was,’ said Sam, unsure as to whether he had complied with the instructions or not. He was about to continue when Martin pitched in.
‘OK, I think I understand,’ he lied, ‘could you get here tonight?’ Sam thought quickly.
‘I guess, but I can’t stay. I’ve got appointments tomorrow that I have to follow through on.’ Martin thought about this, not really understanding the lack of commitment, in his opinion, that the man showed.
‘No problem, we need to talk more freely. Don’t take your car, I’ll arrange something.’
‘Don’t you trust me?’ asked Sam, affronted.
‘Not one inch. If I’ve understood what you have just said than you’ve either let someone follow you last time, or you’ve been talking. Whichever, it isn’t good news. You’ll be picked up from your house at about six thirty. Be there.’ Martin slammed down the phone in an untoward fit of anger, then picked it up again to make some more calls. Twenty minutes later he slid into the observation room, to be greeted by an excited Michael.
‘I think I’ve found the exact balance of drug. This could have taken days but I’ve stumbled on the amount almost without trying. I ramp it up, he glazes. I let it decay, he talks. Have you called in any of these yet? I think the bomb in Tel Aviv should be checked out, if it’s going to happen here the information he gave should prevent it.’ Martin tried to mirror the doctor’s excitement. Despite the realisation that this was potentially the most dramatic medical and scientific discovery ever he couldn’t feel the child-like sentiments that Michael obviously felt. Deep down he resented and envied those emotions, expressions he had never been able to show.
‘Sure,’ he lied, back on home ground, ‘and the rest. I’ve been out of the obs room awhile. Any other big ones?’
‘A couple, but I think I read about one of them yesterday, it’ll have to be verified. I’ve had a few nightmare scenarios, as well.’ Martin looked up from the note he had started to jot at this comment. They had dubbed this the nightmare scenario because it blew the whole project apart. When it hadn’t happened, when Staples had been able to reveal events that had happened while he had been sedated plus events that were, as yet, only potential events, then the spectre of the nightmare scenario had diminished, pushed into a dark corner away from sight. Martin caught Michael looking at his watch.
‘I’ve dropped his levels, I’ll call it a day for him now. He may need a counsellor when he comes out of the stupor, I’ve arranged for a damn fine one to arrive sometime this evening,’ Michael said. Martin looked perplexed, felt anger.
‘Why? We decided the counsellor wouldn’t be needed until after we had finished with the patient. You’ve only touched on his potential, you should keep him pumped up,’ Martin exploded. Michael, taken aback, defended his position.
‘We’ve proven the principle, at least as far as events that have happened. What we can’t be sure of is whether he became contaminated in the hospital this morning, I believe he dropped into semi-consciousness at one point, he could have overheard stray conversations. I think we need to do two things. First we need to verify that a proportion of the events he described occur or, better, are prevented by the intelligence he has provided. Then we need to present him with the facts, appeal to his public spirit.’ Martin was shaking his head at this suggestion. He had expected this much from Michael, having followed his every step for the last couple of years. The man was too soft, too ready to put the patient before his country, that much Martin was sure of. He had respected the decision to allow him into the DTRU, after all he had the makings of a scientist who could deliver what he promised. But deep down he was just like the rest of them, concerned with ethics and, worse, scientific procedures; the same procedures that insisted potentially life saving drugs for cancer or AIDS should be “rushed” through ten years after discovery. No matter that ten thousand people would die with or without the drugs, the scientists refused to release them until small scale trials had been completed ad infinitum. And ad nauseum.
But worse than all of this was the risk that the nightmare scenario was kicking in. It had been modelled, but by proper mathematicians, not medics with their half baked approach to the subject. And not with Michael’s knowledge either. He might guess, but he would never know. If the modelling was right they could have between half an hour and five weeks, with an eighty three point diddly squat chance that they were nearer the half hour than the five week point. It all depended on who found John first.
‘That’s all very decent of you, but I think we need to gather as much information as we can. Staples is out of it for now, he can be kept there for a while longer. If you bring him down and he needs counselling then he’ll need it again next time. I’ve seen those counsellors in action, you shouldn’t inflict it on him more than once.’ Martin was desperately trying to keep the discussion at a level that could be recovered easily. If he went in hard then he could lose Michael, and therefore the project, in one swift move. He had that ego seeking prat Jackson coming in, he would keep Staples under for months as long as he believed he was heading to be top dog. If Jackson had proven to be more reliable previously then he would have been at this facility now. He would need careful monitoring, that was obvious, but if Michael was about to go all ethical on him then he will have outlived his purpose.
What Martin needed to ensure was that the technical matters were transferred completely. He needed to rein Michael in until the process was complete. After that he would re-evaluate. Michael spoke, clearly and unemotionally;
‘We run this my way, or the whole thing stops here and now. My concern is for the patient. That cocktail we’re giving him now is likely to cause long term damage to his vital organs in short order. Truth is, I can only guess what the time scale is as they are a unique combination. We owe it to John Staples to check he’s OK.’ Martin considered this for a while before responding. He realised that he was in a tricky position.
‘I agree,’ he lied again, ‘but before you do that I’d like Sam to have a look. He’s on his way as we speak.’
‘You brought Sam into this? I knew you were going to talk to him this morning but I didn’t expect you to react this quickly,’ said Michael, picking up immediately.
He’s on his way, and he tells me he has a pretty busy schedule back at work so he can’t stop long. He won’t have much time, so I think you could run him through what you’ve achieved today.’ With that Martin started to turn. As he moved he continued, seamlessly. ‘On balance I feel it would be better if you kept Staples sedated, but use the next couple of hours carrying out tests on his blood, urine and whatever else it is you measure to confirm his well-being. Obviously if you get serious contra-indications then Sam will miss the show, and I guess you know how cut up he’ll be over that. Still, as you said, the patient comes first.’ Michael thought quickly.
‘Sounds sensible. Sam would hate to miss this and I guess I owe him it. I’ve had some samples of Staple’s fluids sent for analysis, and I reckon I can have them expedited. His real time indications, heart rate, blood pressure, alpha and beta activity seem reasonable at present.’ Michael nodded, more to himself than to Martin. ‘Yes, I agree, I’ll keep him balanced just under the optimal level until I get the results and if there isn’t any problems I can put him back into the probing condition within minutes of Sam arriving. After that Sam and I can decide on the best method of treatment.’ Michael felt a weight of responsibility lift off him as he unilaterally transferred a sizeable portion of the treatment decision making across to Sam. ‘I’ll make a start now,’ he said, moving back towards the ward, a sense of purpose re-ignited.


Copyright Ray Sullivan 2011

The characters, places and events described in this novel are fictitious and any resemblance to persons, places or events, past or present, is coincidence.  All rights reserved

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