Tainted cure (the rememdium series book 1) (page 2)

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Sorry it took me so long. I love you all and miss each of you every day. Hope you are watching this. I’m on the cusp of making history!

Limbs working once more, Everett snatched the report sheet from the desk he’d set there twelve hours prior. His age-spotted fingers trembled as he read his notes on formula number 10,899, administered the night before to the test subject labeled the same.

It worked.

The little white mouse sat quietly at the opposite end of its enclosure. Born from a long lineage of addicted rodents, bred to study not only the physical but genetic qualities of addicts, the change was downright astonishing. It was uninterested in the heroin sitting in the food dish less than ten inches away. Instead, the mouse busied itself by cleaning its whiskers.

Everett had dubbed the specimenUltima Mus—his last mouse—because if the latest chemical compound failed, he planned on giving up. The long days, sleepless nights, and haunted dreams had drained the last ounce of strength to continue on. He already had his exit plan from the world mapped out.

Everett found his voice and shouted, “Riverside! Come here!”

From across the lab, Everett watched fellow researcher, Dr. Daryl Riverside, flinch. Everett rarely spoke and when he did, his normal tone and cadence were quiet and unassuming. He tried, but couldn’t recall, the last time he’d spoken the kid’s name.

Two months? Three?

Riverside jumped to his feet, long legs making short order of the distance between them. His tennis shoes made a strange noise on the vulcanized rubber floor while he walked toward Everett. Daryl’s unruly dark curls bounced in harmony with his steps. “What’s wrong, Dr. Berning? Did you cut your hand again or something?”

Everett laughed at the young pup’s concern for his older lab partner. “No, though I would have cut off an appendage for these results.”

Daryl slid to a stop next to Everett, his light, hazel eyes wide with shock and curiosity while staring at Ultima in the cage. He pushed the hair from his face and peered closer. “Are you saying—?”

Everett grinned so wide he thought the skin on his face would snap. The moment was the first time he’d felt happy—truly happy—in over ten years.

Grabbing Riverside by the neck, he hugged the bewildered kid tight, yelling, “Yes! We did it! Look at that! Ultima has no interest in the heroin—at all! Of course, we still need to run a battery of tests on him—see what, if any, side effects the formula might have on his organs. Oh, and we also need to run tests on the additional subjects hooked on various other drugs.”

Everett released Riverside from the hug and started pacing in front of the cages. His mind raced with a thousand thoughts while putting together a mental laundry list of the next procedures.

Daryl laughed as he patted Everett’s shoulder. “Calm down, Dr. Berning. Wouldn’t want to have a stroke or heart attack, right? What fun would it be to die before you were one-hundred percent sure?”

Everett ignored the stupid comment, excitement coursing through him. He felt twenty years younger. He scooted over to the counter and started scribbling notes. “Where’s Dr. Flint?”

 

Roberta Flint took a long swig of iced green tea to clear the fog inside her mind. Being so far underground interfered with her circadian rhythm. Over the years, the group of nerve cells inside her brain controlling her master clock finally calmed down, allowing some semblance of normal sleep.

Then menopause took control of her body four months ago. The onset screwed up her insides even worse than the subterranean hellhole she’d called home for over ten years. If she suffered one more bout of night sweats and hot flashes, her plan was to sleep naked on rubber sheets, a bag of ice on her head. She couldn’t begin to imagine how rough the annoying symptoms would be if she were above ground. The heat and humidity would cause her to spontaneously combust. For the first time in years, she was glad she was underground.

Though a scientist, Roberta refused to ingest man-made chemicals to ease her symptoms. The change was part of the normal progression of aging. Since she never wanted—nor had—children, Roberta didn’t feel a pang of melancholy like the majority of other females. She embraced what her mother always called “the last leg of a woman’s race” with gusto.

There were no psychologically-induced alarm bells ringing inside her head, warning her the expiration date of her eggs neared. Her lips curled in disgust at the thought of giving birth, spending every waking moment consumed with taking care of a helpless thing completely dependent upon its mother for survival. Not to mention the damage to a woman’s body as the cluster of cells grew. No man, no matter how well-endowed or loving, was worth a lifetime of servitude to some ungrateful brat. Besides, she would never let the twelve years she’d spent in med school go to waste.

Personally, she didn’t miss the cramps and torrent of blood each month, though she did miss the week or so of mood swings. Her entire career had been spent working alongside males, and all of them seemed pre-programmed to assume all women suffered from PMS. Roberta never had major shifts in mood during her cycle, though she never let anyone else in on her little secret. The false assumption she would get “bitchy” each month gave her a chance to let out some anger every three weeks if anyone got too close.

She did miss that.

Roberta would have to simply ride out the symptoms for the next few months until her body acclimated to the shift in hormone levels. She just needed to ignore the irritating side effects until the readjustment was made. She knew hormone replacement therapy was an option, yet Roberta simply wouldn’t chemically alter what nature intended.

She let out a snort of derision at the thought.

What a hypocrite I am!

Once situated in front of the computer screen, Roberta sighed. Temperature regulated, she shrugged off the previous thoughts and concentrated on the tasks at hand. She gave a quick scan of the small office. No expense had been spared in creating the research headquarters. Though missing windows, the rest of the interior was flawless. The slick construction and attention to detail hid the fact they were underground.

Technological advances were grand in terms of medical research. The equipment in the entire facility was a joy to work with—when she had the opportunity—and worth well over ten million dollars. Using the expensive gadgets excited Roberta, yet reading and typing out emails frustrated her beyond words.

Today, she had twenty-seven unopened emails sitting in the inbox vying for attention. Several of the messages were from Dr. Jason Thomas. He was her immediate superior and occasional romp-in-the-sack partner when he made impromptu appearances. A small grin made her full lips tip upward. Seeing his name reminded her over six weeks had passed since their last dalliance. A twinge of sexual heat warmed her groin.

At least my hormone levels are still high enough that I haven’t lost my interest in sex.

She clicked on the most recent email, one requesting a daily status update.

Roberta glanced at her watch and grimaced. “My, but aren’t we impatient this morning? Hmmm. Perhaps I am not the only one suffering with hormonal balance issues.”

She hitreplythen reached across the desk for the phone. Surprised Dr. Berning had yet to send in his morning report, Roberta scowled. Tardiness was something she expected from Dr. Riverside, not the always punctual Everett.

The second her fingers touched the phone, it jangled. The LED indicated it was from Dr. Berning’s station.

“Good timing, Dr. Berning. I was just about to—”

“Sorry, but what I have to report you need to see with your eyes first. At this moment, I’m not sure I could stop my fingers from shaking long enough to type out a legible word anyway.”

Roberta furrowed her brow, unaccustomed to hearing any emotion other than boredom or a twinge of sadness from Dr. Berning. “Expound, please.”

“Roberta, just get down here. I’m serious!”

“Did you just refer to me as—?”

“No time for formalities! I’m too excited. We did it! We fucking did it!”

Before Roberta could respond, the line went dead. The excitement in Dr. Berning’s voice made her own heart rate spike. She stared at the email from Jason and considered shooting him a reply yet decided against it.

He’ll just have to wait a while longer. If what Everett said is true, Jason won’t bat an eye at my late response.

In a flash, she rose from the chair and bounded down the hallway toward the main lab.

It had to be true—no one at the facility had dared ever used her first name.

Ever.

 

ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE - Monday - December 20th– 10:00 p.m.

Benito San Nicolas admired the opulent décor of the bedroom, his gaze taking in the party decorations set out for his birthday. It was the first time he’d actually noticed how stunning the place was since he usually blocked out all the other times he’d been inside the room.

He smiled, exposing a set of perfectly white, capped teeth. His focus settled on the chair in the middle of the area. The dark brown eyes of his captured prey stared back, full of a mixture of fear and defiance. For a few seconds, Benito drank in the intoxicating view of Mario’s fat body bound to the seat. The anticipation of the kill made Benito’s pulse pound. The rush was better than any drug or sex act.

Removing his jacket, Benito rolled up his sleeves, eager to usher in his reign. His gaze never wavered from the soon-to-be formerCapo.The only sounds in the room were his own footsteps reverberating off the marble floors and Mario’s labored breathing. Benito’s devilish grin widened while he walked over to the tray of weapons next to Mario.

He let his fingers hover over the tools as though contemplating which one to use though he’d already chosen inside his mind. Beads of sweat formed on Mario’s haggard, old skin, right next to droplets of blood from where Benito hit him earlier. A few trickles of both dripped off his bulbous nose and onto his stained, once white t-shirt.

“So,chero, here we are. What a way to celebrate my twentieth birthday, eh? I’m sure the reversal of our roles wasn’t something you’d expected.Esta bien yucca, no?”

Mario Alvarado’s jaw tightened and he swallowed hard. “You knock me out, tie me up like some commonHalcones—in my owncasa—and still address me as friend? Pft! You are wrong. The situation isn’t difficult for you. Only me.”

“I must disagree, Mario. I’m about to create a masterpiece out of your body, yet no one will ever know the handiwork is mine. I find that incredibly difficult and rather sad. Ah, the life of an artist is filled with disappointments, no?” Benito replied.

Benito licked his lips while clasping his damp fingers around the brand new Bushlore knife. Gripping the Micarta handle, he raised his arm high, admiring the glint off the overhead lights on the blade.

Mario yelled, and flecks of white spittle stuck to his dark mustache. “When I found you, you were nothing but achucho, begging for food and shelter in the filth-stained back alleys in San Salvador! This is how you repay me?Puchica!”

Benito’s movements were lightning fast. Before Mario uttered another sound, Benito pushed the tip of the sharp blade against the tub of lard’s throat. A thin sliver of red appeared and dribbled down the metal.

“Do you think I’m not grateful you rescued me, Mario? Made me aLugarteniente? You provided me with an education, training, and a deep understanding of the business world. I’m thankful you bestowed upon me the title of Lieutenant over hundreds of men. Had you not whisked me away, I’d still be—as you say—a dog in the streets, perhaps even already dead. I appreciate those things, truly. But the price you made me pay—nightly—for the rescue was harsh. Very harsh. Your bedroom tutoring turned this mongrel into a ravenous wolf, one ready to lead the pack. Now, enough idle chit-chat. Let’s get down to business. I need the combination to your safe. I want whatever secret you are hiding in there. I already know everything else needed to take your place.”

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