She looked much too young to be a scientist working miracles. The disbelief must have shown on my face because she launched into more of the story.
“I was recruited while I was doing grad work at Stanford. They were happy to have me; I’m good at what I do. There were rumors in the scientific community about what The Center was achieving with human performance and I wanted to see for myself. After an internship, I was hired full time. What I discovered is that a lot of their recruits for the testing come from the staff itself. Everyone was so eager to become enhanced. I got caught up in the excitement. They juiced up my physical abilities. I was able to put up some Olympic caliber times with my running. I can only imagine how you could manipulate someone who already had that type of peak performance on their own. They also enhanced my ability to remember. I was able to recall everything that had happened in my life—back to the womb. Pretty cool and disconcerting at the same time. But just like nearly everyone else, my abilities faded over a matter of months. Every once in a while I’ll get a resurgence of my abilities, but it’s unpredictable and I’m weak afterward and my memory’s fuzzy. I’m worse off than before I was enhanced. I wish I’d never done it.”
Hank put an arm around Amy’s shoulders while I pondered her story. If she were telling the truth, maybe that explained my amnesia. Maybe after years of superhuman powers, I was coming down off some extreme high. Could I have had too much of being inside others’ minds and now my own was revolting and refusing to remember? At least I was creating new memories. I remembered the crash and making my way to the farmhouse and everything else since I regained consciousness. I hadn’t been able to see inside anyone else’s mind though. Could what they were telling me even possibly be real?
“Listen, Jack. I’m not sure we’re safe here. If we have spies in The Center, they may have infiltrated our operations as well. Are you feeling well enough to move on? There are other places that we can get you to without the others having to know.”
Listening to Hank speak I realized he meant to go now. At least I had some food in me. I swung my legs off the bed. With the two helping me I stood, but my dizziness took over and I wasn’t able to move under my own power. I collapsed back onto the bed with complete exhaustion.
I watched Amy and Hank communicate something silently to each other. “We need you to be able to move under your own power before we can transfer you. Carrying you out of here would cause a lot of commotion. Our orders are to have you recover before we relocate,” Amy explained.
Knowing that I might be in danger from others inside the home made me determined to get better and fast.
“I’ll hang out outside your door tonight,” Hank volunteered.
I contemplated the risks to my life as I tried to settle into the bed for the night. My mind refused to stop racing as I reviewed everything I had been told. Funny how the pastel frills and farm animal décor in my farmhouse bedroom had suddenly become almost menacing as I realized the danger I was in.
I awoke the next morning to a knock at my door. Hank opened the door just enough to get a peek inside. “You decent?” he asked. I sat up in response, rubbing my eyes. I couldn’t believe I had actually slept. And slept well, apparently. While still weak and sore, I could tell that the nausea and dizziness from yesterday had significantly abated. Hank opened the door farther and a middle-aged woman with a dark braid entered. She set a breakfast tray down by my bed. “I’m Sharon,” she said, smiling kindly at me. I gratefully eyed the plate of bacon and eggs. I grabbed the hot mug of coffee and smiled my thanks at Sharon. As I inhaled the aroma, a sudden jolt went through my body.
With absolute clarity I flashbacked to several years before. I was in a safe house and still had all my childhood memories. I was sitting over coffee with Sharon in a cabin in Montana. Every feature of the room was etched in perfect detail in my mind. I understood what the government wanted from me and what superhuman powers I was capable of. My memories started filling in as I rushed toward the present.
My body was being overwhelmed by my memory returning. I could feel someone taking the steaming coffee out of my hands. I looked up to see Sharon’s concerned face hovering over me. As I made eye contact with her, my brain suddenly became supercharged. My memories abruptly cut off and I felt like Sharon’s brain was gushing into mine. I tried to remain still and placid, but it was difficult when I was being flooded with someone else’s knowledge and memories. I tried to channel Sharon’s knowledge to a reservoir in some part of my brain so it didn’t drown who I was and what I had just remembered.
Sharon’s life streamed through me: third grade dance recital, Easter morning, state capitals, romantic sunsets, periodic chart, speeding ticket, government contacts. The pertinent information somehow came floating to the top of this infinite well of information. I knew she was working for the enemy. Despite the concern on Sharon’s face, I knew she could not be trusted. I had to get out now.
“Hank, could I have a little time? I’m not quite well.” I flopped back on the pillows, willing Sharon to leave before she realized I had just downloaded her brain. I was feeling hyper-alert, but faked my exhaustion. I’m glad I knew who Sharon was now but I was incredibly frustrated that my own memory had shut down before it remembered everything. I had both photographically clear snippets and gaping voids. Why had I gotten on that plane? Was my freefall my own doing? Sharon and Hank were huddled together looking worried and talking quietly. Finally Sharon left and Hank came back to the bedside. As soon as the door shut, I whispered “We have to get out of here!” and jumped out of the bed, ignoring my physical pain.
Check back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!