Modifications – Chapter 1
Written by happiest_in_shadows :: [Friday, 10 March 2006 08:23] Last updated by ::
Modifications – Chapter 1
By Happiest in Shadows
Warning this story contains adult content so if you’re a minor don’t read it or if adult content involving sex, violence or super powerful women offends you don’t read it either. This story was written with input from Supernaught whose real name I haven’t inquired about.
Rachael had always been fairly weak of body and at times it seemed life went out of its way to give her several annoying reminders. The one she had to deal with nearly every day was the heavy lab coat she had to wear around her work area. The over sized coat didn’t appear to give her any trouble but while she didn’t seem to have issues with it on the outside she was always grateful that she didn’t have to move around a lot. Let the lab techs go fetch the materials.
Of course weighing in at 100lbs there wasn’t much to the woman and she seemed to simply vanish within her lab coat at times. The heavy material did a wonderful job of hiding the few curves that she did have. A long sigh escaped Rachael’s lips and she leaned back in her seat look through the date on her computer monitor. The company’s research project was going rather well though it was a little behind schedule it was more or less on budget. So no one was giving them a hard time at the moment.
Rachael had been working with the team for a few months now. The objective of their research was to develop a new synthetic skin that would allow injuries to heal up even more quickly then previous versions. “Damn people. We humans are a rather rotten bunch.”
“And why do you say that?”
Rachael glanced over her shoulder to see the group director, Walter looking over her shoulder. “Because no matter how much people’s healing time is reduced they always want something to help them heal faster.
Then they want something to help them to heal even faster because they no longer learn from their mistake since the first injury didn’t last them long enough.”
Walter shook his head. “Well that is easy for you to say. You’re still young so you heal up nice and quick. Now somewhat like me, it takes a little time to heal.”
“True, but your generation isn’t the main buyers of this stuff unless you’re recovering from surgery.”
Walter didn’t comment but proceeded to lean over Rachael’s shoulder a bit. She didn’t bother worrying about him peaking at her breast the coat would have made such an action entirely fruitless. Instead he was looking at her computer screen. “You’re ahead of your co-workers. Some of these tests shouldn’t have been finished for a few more weeks.”
“Maybe but that doesn’t help speed things a long anymore. None of them are giving the results that we need.”
“At least your finding out what we don’t mind. Huh.” Walter leaned closer to the screen for a moment then snapped his fingers. “Blast it.”
“Oh. You can swear in front of me.”
Walter rolled his eyes. “No thank you. And you need to be careful of that habit of yours as well. It looked like you had something right here.” Walter extended his finger and touched a section of test Rachael had conducted.
“Yeah, to bad it ended up growing inside of the body and blocking the arteries.”
Walter straitened back up. “You have already submitted that research data to me haven’t you?”
“Yes. I did a few days ago.”
Walter gave a nod and started to walk away then stopped as he remembered something. “Rachael, I have heard that you have been skimming the edge of what we can do here and I don’t mean pushing us to the next level of quality.”
Rachael sighed. She had been known to push the limits of what they could do legally but she had made many very profitable discoveries thanks to these findings and yet to go entirely over the edge so most ignored her habits. “I might have used a little more synthetic materials then what I was supposed to.”
“Now Rachael I know most turn a blind eye to how dangerously close you have come to stepping over those boundaries. However, from what I hear you are getting even closer.”
“I imagine that you didn’t want to see that report just because I was so close to a brake through.”
Walter gave a nod. “You’re a very intelligent young woman but you have a habit of pushing your boundaries.”
“Well I didn’t make anything that could be considered a new life form.”
Walter shook his head a bit. “Well. I will see what the report says.” Reaching out Walter gave Rachael a pat on her shoulder. “Don’t worry. You have done real well even while dancing dangerously close to the edge. Even if you were to step over it just a little bit we can over look it.”
“So I can take this as a friendly warning?”
“Of course, I just don’t want to risk you falling over the edge. You’re an asset to the team and to the company.”
“Hey, doesn’t that mean that you should be covering up my dancing?”
Walter gave a bit of a laugh. “Rachael. You haven’t heard what the legal department thinks about you.”
Rachael gave a slight giggle and stuck out her tongue. “Thank goodness the directors are interested in money enough to let me get away with a little bit.”
Walter gave a slight chuckle. “Yes and thank heavens you are skilled enough to say that.”
Rachael gave a shrug. “It is part of loving my work.”
“Well. I need to go see how closely you danced.”
Rachael gave a nod and watched as Walter walked away. She had to admit to herself that he was one of the few people that she actually liked. He was a good friend and rather helpful. He had actually turned a blind eye to more then what most people may have known and she imagined glossed over a few of her dances that may have gone to far. Looking back to her computer screen she finally let out a long sigh. “This isn’t going to work I need to relax a bit.”
As Rachael stood up her eyes turned to the safety box. The large storage unit the back of the room held various synthetic DNA patterns and other materials that were just barely legal. These were closely monitored to avoid abuse. Rachael proceeded to the back of the room and placed her hand on the metal. She had access to the chemicals inside as a researcher.
It had been one of the reasons she had pushed so hard to gain her position in such a short period of time. She was only 23 years old.
Lab techs and others employees weren’t allowed access to the more dangerous chemicals. Of course despite her access everyone was closely monitored. It was quite the task to remove any of the DNA strands and other materials from the building. That which was taken out was to either be used in research or was to be destroyed. What would she have paid to gain unlimited access to the treasure trove? Rachael gave her head a shake. Considering what she had risked and paid in order to sneak a few of those precious substances out it was clearly quite a lot.
Rachael backed away from the container and decided that she would stop by the brake room and eat a snack before she returned to her work. Perhaps she could also speak with a few people.
“You were wishing that you could play around with the synthetics again weren’t you?”
Rachael glanced to her right to find her friend Elaine setting down.
“Hi Elaine, How is your day going?”
“Pretty well, you would really love to have free access to the storage unit wouldn’t you?”
“I imagine that you wouldn’t believe me if I said I didn’t.”
Elaine giggled and shook her head. “Not a word of it.” Leaning in close Elaine whispered in her friend’s ear. “You know I heard that some materials weren’t disposed of properly. I bet you could volunteer to help remove them.”
“Would I have to bring my own cleaning supplies?”
“Yes and don’t bring the cheap stuff either.”
Rachael let out a sigh. She really wanted this but she had to ask a few questions first. “How big or dirty of a mess did they make?”
“Well it isn’t big but it is very dirty.”
Rachael straitened up as Elaine backed away and reached into her jacket pocket. Pulling out a small hand held computer she took a few moments to log into her bank account and take a look at her financial status. A shudder ran up her spine. “If I helped would have to clean it all up?”
“Yeah they need to get it cleaned up quick.”
“Okay. Where was the mess made?”
“I am not certain. Just stop by the guard station in building A-2 during regular hours. I am certain they can tell you where they need the extra hands.”
“I will be sure to be there. Thanks for the information.”
“No problem. I guess money is getting tight for you though.”
“Yeah my home project is beginning to cost me.”
“Have you tried to conduct any of the tame stuff while at the labs? I mean I am certain they wouldn’t mind if a bit of the less valuable stuff went missing.”
“I already do that. No one seems to mind so long as I keep being productive and don’t focus too much on my own work.”
“Do you need some help making some extra money?”
“It would be helpful but I don’t know what I can do.”
Elaine grew silent for a moment. “Have you considered asking for a raise?”
“With my habit of borrowing company equipment and my little side projects? I think that would be pushing my luck.”
“Yeah I suppose that it might be. Well you could just slack off your side projects and work on getting a few bills taken care of.”
Rachael gave Elaine a rather annoyed look but relented. “You’re right. Of course I would rather think of a way to continue my side projects and pay my bills.”
“Wouldn’t we all?”
“True. That is very true.”
“Well they’re a few options for someone of your skill level. Of course quite a few of them aren’t precisely legal.”
“I am already further into the not precisely legal world then I would rather be.”
The grin on Elaine’s face told Rachael that she had a different view point. “It isn’t such a bad place to be you know.”
A giggle escaped from Rachael. “Of course you can say that you are already past the most dangerous stage.”
Elaine patted Rachael on the shoulder. “Well I can’t force you into anything and it is your choice. This isn’t really the place to talk about such things anyway.”
“Would you like to come by my place for dinner tonight?”
“I thought you would be too rapped up in your work for such things.”
“It won’t take me very long. Dirty spills actually take less time then large ones.”
“Okay I will drop by and we can talk some more. Well listen I need to get back to my station before I am missed.”
“Is material disposal a busy job?”
“It can be. It tends to take its spells.”
“I bet I keep you busy at times.”
“Yes. Yes you do especially when they grant you permission to use the more controversial materials.”
“I only use a little.”
“That isn’t the reason it takes so long. It is the paper work. We have to record the exact amount used and were it all went. It takes quite a bit of time.”
“Sorry about that.”
Elaine waved her hand. “It isn’t like you’re the soul contributor. Anyway, I really need to get going.”
“You two and don’t forget you said you would help clean up the mess.”
“I won’t.” Rachael watched as her friend left the room then took another look at her financial standings. She had been slipping more and more into the red over the last year or two thanks to the greater expense of her own research. She had made several breakthroughs over the last year which had encouraged her to step up her research even more. However, she had needed more specialized equipment to do this and even more materials. “How do I make some extra money?” Rachael stood up a few moments after no one provided the answer and made her way back to her computer station.
“Hi. I heard that you had a bit of a mess you could use a hand cleaning up. I suppose cleaning up chemicals spills is a bit difficult.”
The security officer looked towards Rachael for a moment. He didn’t need any more information then to see her face she had done business with him before. “Yeah, it is pretty messy stuff.”
Rachael had never been skilled at slipping someone an unseen object and was grateful that this didn’t require her to. She just held out the card for the officer to take. A quick slip into his wrist mounted computer to insure that the credits were there and he held out a tiny object no thicker then a pin and only half as long. Rachael glanced at the side to see what it was supposed to contain. “How long until the contents expires?”
“A week if you just left it in there. I have noticed you never clean up the same spill twice.”
Rachael gave a nod. “It avoids confusion. Take care.”
“You to and thanks for the help.”
“Oh before you leave. If there is ever a spill that you need some help cleaning up let me know.”
“I will keep that in mind.” Rachael started to turn around. She did in fact have some materials that she could part with but she changed her mind. What she had just done could get her in enough trouble. She wasn’t quite desperate enough for money to take it further just yet.
Walter let out a sigh as he carefully reviewed Rachael’s report. She had indeed crossed the line. It wasn’t anything that would cost her job or get her sent to prison at least not at the moment. Had there been any significant scares at the moment she could have got caught up in it. Still, he would have to speak to her about her research habits. The substance she created was for the most part based on natural genetic patterns, however certain factors were not.
Leaning forward Walter closed his eyes. He couldn’t quote the act word for word but he knew what it amounted to. No genetic engineering was permitted to use entirely synthetic materials except those that had been legalized by law. These had to be ruled safe and even then they were closely monitored and were limited in their use. Even when it came to those strains of genetic material one could not create something purely from them.
Those strands appearing naturally were for the most part free range at least but that limited what could be done. Straitening up Walter left his little office and made his way down to the main lab, Rachael would most likely be there.
Rachael glanced up in time to see Walter coming. She didn’t have to worry about him seeing the materials she had secured earlier in her work day. They were currently tucked away. “Hi. What brings you back down here so soon?”
“Rachael we need to talk about you going over the line.”
“Huh? Didn’t we do that earlier?”
“Yes we did but that was before I knew how far you had gone.”
“But only 18% of the strand was synthetic.”
“Rachael you know as well as everyone else here that is far too much. If you keep this up I am going to have to limit your access to the special case synthetic materials.”
Rachael wasn’t exactly certain how she was supposed to respond to this news. She wasn’t going to try and lie her way out of it. “Are going to have to? Does that mean that you aren’t going to do it this time?”
“Not this time but I am putting you on warning. I know you like to use the synthetic material to see what you can do then back track to natural materials and see if you can gain similar results. I know that this method has worked very well for you in the past and I don’t mind if you continue using it. However, you can not use that many synthetics in a single strand. Do you understand me?”
“Yes sir.” Rachael didn’t feel any anger towards Walter despite the warning. She had known at the time that she was pushing the limits. Actually she had been well aware that she was over those limits legally but she had been too curious about the results.
Walter took a moment to look to look around the lab. He didn’t want to end things on a sour note with Rachael she was a very productive worker after all she just took risk that she wasn’t allowed to take. “I hear that you have been working on your own project on the sides. Care to tell me about it?”
Rachael started to decline but she resolved that she could give away some information. “Well you know that I am a border line.”
Walter glanced at her. “Border line? Oh you mean your muscle strength.”
“Yeah, my muscle strength and potential was low enough to almost allow me to receive some enhancements but not enough.”
“Rachael you know that engineering someone to be stronger requires certain conditions to be met. Even if you had the equipment you can’t just alter yourself.”
“I know. But I have been exploring and I am hoping that I can find a way to improve my condition a bit without breaking any laws.”
“So what is your idea?”
“I just want to find a way to encourage my body to strengthen itself that won’t require genetic alterations and is more permanent than what is already on the market.”
“So a steroid with no negative side effects and doesn’t wear off?”
“That is one way of putting it.”
Walter gave Rachael a few pats on the shoulder. “If you succeed at that you would be one rich lady you know that.”
Rachael gave a slight laugh. “That is one benefit I often find myself day dreaming about.”
“Perhaps I could authorize you to use the lab more after work hours.”
Rachael shook her head. “No thanks you have done enough.”
“Okay but remember the offer still stands.”
Rachael watched as Walter walked off, she had given him some of the truth but not all of it. Fortunately even Walter didn’t know that Rachael had been getting her hands on synthetic materials to use at her home experiments. Elaine and a few of those that sold the materials knew about it but they didn’t seem to care why she wanted the samples. Rachael had no intention of simply improving her condition.
She wasn’t aiming for anything less then entirely redesigning her genetic make up. That posed some problems of course as she couldn’t risk conducting the test at her place of work at least none of the major test. She had to obtain the equipment and materials then conduct the experiments at home. Fortunately Elaine and others helped in both accounts though this also tended to cost her a significant amount of money.
Rachael was focused on her computer screen. So focused that she didn’t notice a present walking up behind her until she smelt a rather pleasant sent. Looking to her right she noticed a pair of hands holding a white carry out trey. “I thought you might be hungry. You have a habit of forgetting to take your lunch brake.”
“Thanks Thomas.” Rachael couldn’t help but smile as she looked up at her co-worker. Well that wasn’t exactly right as while Thomas did work in the same building and lab as her he was actually subordinate to her.
Thomas was a lab technician who did the grunt work for the researchers including Rachael.
Thomas set the trey down and took a seat next to Rachael. “You know mathematics alone can’t prove that something is going to work. Would you like me to test a few of those for you?”
“No thanks I already tested them. Now I am just trying to figure out why they didn’t work properly.”
Thomas gave a nod. “Well let me know if there is something you need to test.”
“You could talk to me for a while.”
“I would be happy to.”
“So what meaningless test did those other idiots have you run today just to waste material, waste your time and make them feel better about their fruitless efforts?”
Thomas gave a chuckle. “Well that is an awfully negative way to look at it. Not everyone can be a prodigy after all. Also, I am not certain that you can waste a lab techs time. We are told to conduct a test and we conduct them.
Rachael gave a slight snort. “You have more use then the majority of my colleges. At least you don’t waste any of the materials just to test something that you should known won’t work.”
Thomas could never truly figure Rachael out. He had seen her getting along with Walter and Elaine other wise she was rather quiet. He had chosen to get to know her a few weeks after starting when he realized that she had yet to ask him to do any experiments or collect any data.
She seemed to prefer to do it all by herself. He also knew of her habit of pushing the boundaries to achieve results and this tended to make her co-workers both nervous and jealous. “Well anyway. My day is going pretty well.”
“What do I owe you for the chicken?” Rachael didn’t have to open the container to see what Thomas had brought her. She could tell by the smell and he knew what she liked.
“Don’t worry about it. I figure it is the least I can do since you don’t add to my work load even though you easily could.”
A rather warm smile spread across Rachael’s face. “Thanks.”
Thomas could still remember when he was first trying to learn about Rachael and how cold she had seemed to everyone except Elaine and anyone else who couldn’t benefit her. He was more then likely the only subordinate whom she was nice to. He had learned out why when he had finally managed to get close to her. Rachael had been affected by the plague. She was one of the few survivors.
The plague was the name commonly given to an attempt to improve humans with genetic strands that were entirely man made. No basis in nature what so ever. It had been meant to enhance the mind however before it could be fully tested a miss hap had caused it to be released. The plague served to enhance the mind but it served to degrade the body. In many cases it degraded the body too far and the people didn’t live long after that. It is hard to live when your heart isn’t even strong enough to pump blood through your veins.
It had a less extreme effect upon Rachael. She didn’t die but it did leave her and a great many people very weak. This is what had lead to the laws against synthetic materials. Steps had been taken to correct this miss hap in that a good deal of those affected had been given genetic enhancements in order to allow them to function. However, Rachael’s case hadn’t been extreme enough.
It made her temperamental especially when it came to her strength. Perhaps, that was why she never asked for anyone’s help in the lab and preferred to conduct her experiments by herself. “Rachael I was wondering. Would you like to go out to dinner some time?”
Rachael picked up the plastic fork from the container. She didn’t bother griping that Thomas had already begun to tear it open. Granted her body wasn’t so weak that she couldn’t tear open a flimsy little plastic container. However, the moment of exertion just before she tore it open was rather embarrassing. “I wish they would make these coats lighter.”
Thomas glanced at his bulky lab coat for a moment. “At least they have a lot of storage space.”
“That is true.”
“I wouldn’t mind being treated to dinner some time. I just need to check when I would be free.”
“You work takes up quite a bit of your time?”
“Yeah, the projects I conduct at home don’t help either. Just let me see when I can leave it up to the machines to conduct the experiments.”
Thomas gave a nod. He knew that Rachael was looking for a way to improve her condition without doing anything illegal. He also knew that if she happened to find a way she would be able to make quite a bit of money since she would have effectively found a loop whole. He didn’t really know what everything on Rachael’s computer screen meant but he decided to simply watch her work.
Rachael sighed as she pulled into her drive way. She had a rather nice home; she had inherited it from her parents. The plague hadn’t killed her but it had cut her parents life span by a great deal. They weren’t around anymore. Pulling into the garage Rachael glanced around the room for a few moments. She always liked to make sure nothing looked out of place before she climbed out of her vehicle.
When ones strength is roughly two thirds of what it should be they have to be careful. After making certain that she was the only one there Rachael finally climbed out of her vehicle. She had to be grateful that she wasn’t born a few years ago with the same condition. She didn’t have a large stack of papers from work just a little hand held computer that she had to pack around.
Rachael’s home reflected her desire for security. The walls were nice and sturdy the doors had been replaced after her parents’ deaths with rather solid security doors. She couldn’t stand the idea of a massive glass panel in her door even if they were safety glass. The windows had also been barred up.
Even the door built into the garage was another security door. Rachael let out a sigh as she entered into her home. She only felt secure when she had the door shut behind her. Now she needed to decide on just what to do. She had invited Elaine over so she might want to start dinner.
Rachael reached into her pocket and found the tiny container.
Of course she also needed to get her illegal contraband secured away and growing. The reason Rachael had never had to buy more of the materials was because unlike most she grew her own. Her work helped a great deal in this as did Elaine as she was able to secure certain machines needed for the task and she had the know how. Rachael resolved that storing away the sample was more important then starting dinner at that exact moment.
Rachael kept her home nice and tidy, a habit that she was told got from her mother. The house was an odd mixture of old fashioned details and the most modern. Rachael’s parents had liked the old look and even had the floor made of a wood look alike amongst other things. Rachael’s tastes were more modern so as the material would wear out she would have it replaced with more up to date materials. The result was an odd mixture of old and new.
Rachael came to her basement door where she placed her hand on a security pad and entered a code. She knew it would seem a little strange to most but she always told them that since the basement was the most secure part of her house. She kept it there in case someone ever broke in and she needed another layer of safety. Rachael leaned against the door to help push it open.
Walking down the steps the house was entirely up to date now thanks to the equipment Rachael had been storing away and working with. As she made her way down the stairs Rachael took a quick glance at her voltmeter. Unsurprisingly she was in the negative again. This was a common happening for her so much so that people had come to expect it from her. Nearly every home was built with solar panels upon the roof and most of them produced excess energy which was feed back into the power grid. This earned them a small but pleasant check every week for the energy their home supplied those who used more then they produced received a bill. Rachael always received a bill.
With a slight shrug she continued down stairs into her lab. The machines weren’t as up to date as those at her place of work and those that were had actually gone missing from her place of work. These times were very expensive for Rachael and far between as well. The only time she could convince even Elaine to sell her some of the company’s machines was when they had to move a great many things around. It was rather expensive to convince them to take the risk even then of course it was far cheaper then having to buy it legitimately and Rachael didn’t have to worry about investigations.
Rachael made her way to the far wall and entered another pass code into a container similar to the one at work though it was much smaller. Reaching in Rachael took out a few spare dishes and then set down at her desk. Slipping on a mask and goggles for safeties sake Rachael began to remove the precious sample from its container. At the moment she only had enough to run a few test at most. She needed to make at least ten times as much if she was going to avoid having to purchase another sample.
It only took her a few minutes and Rachael had placed the now growing sample into the proper section of the containment unit and locked up her lab. As Rachael shut the door she let out a sigh. Why was she taking this much of a risk? She could have adjusted her genetic pattern long ago. Regained the strength that had been taken from her and then some but Rachael hadn’t. It was as if she couldn’t settle for the strength that current enhancements would allow for. As always the mental debate ended with a sigh. She would continue her research and she knew it. She had made progress after all and developed a few unique synthetics. She was currently testing one of them that held promise. Rachael stepped away from the door and made her way down the hall to her kitchen. She wasn’t the type to eat out and she did want to speak with Elaine in private.
“Elaine I have been thinking about what you mentioned earlier today. I was wondering if I could apply my skills with some engineering and maybe do some enhancing.”
Elaine looked at Rachael for a moment. “You do realize that enhancing is just short of selling the synthetics. You can get in a lot of trouble for stepping over that gap.”
“I know but I need the money if I am going to continue my research as I have been. Surely you know some people that could use someone with my skills.”
“I wouldn’t have mentioned it if I didn’t.” Elaine grew quiet for a moment. “I could throw some of the safer jobs your way though those aren’t the more lucrative ones.”
“You mean they are safe jobs in this?”
Elaine giggled a bit. “Sports stars that want a little extra edge and quite a few that aren’t sports stars. Old men and women who want a few more years added onto their lives.”
“Ah.” Rachael knew she shouldn’t ask but she couldn’t help herself.
“There is a faction at our place of work that don’t care for the species preservation act isn’t there.”
“There is a small group even in the higher offices. You want to know more about me don’t you?”
“Well yes but don’t tell me.”
Elaine gave an amused giggle. “That is a good decision. At times I wish I knew less then what I do.”
“You’ve intentionally kept me in the dark haven’t you?”
“Yes but we both already knew that. You’re personnel research I am not certain what it is but it is a little warm even for me to want to know too much about. Anyway, I know of a few people who would like to be enhanced. I could set up a meeting though unlike your purchase I get a cut.”
“That is okay. How much of a cut though?”
“In this case I want thirty percent.”
Rachael gave a nod. “I thought it would at least be fifty percent.”
Elaine shook her head. “No I tend to be happy with thirty percent. After all I am just setting up the where, whom and telling you the what.”
“So do you have anything for me now?”
“Yeah but I need to take care of some things first I will be in touch.
You’re a pretty good cook you know.”
Rachael gave a nod. “Yeah I know. You told me last time.”
“I guess you get a lot of practice.”
“Yeah, I make myself cook dinner and breakfast in order to get out of my lab for a little while everyday.”
Rachael felt more then a little strange as she pulled into the drive way. The massive three story mansion loomed out of the surroundings and her little car looked entirely out of place. “So this is the place? Well they let me in through the front gate so I suppose it has to be.” Rachael glanced down at the suitcase next to her and gave it a slight pat.
It took a few more minutes of driving but at least she parked her vehicle and climbed out. Walking around to the other side she gave the case a slight jerk and let it slide out. She was grateful for the wheels on the bottom as she pulled it across the driveway towards the home. Making her way up a ramp she imaged that whoever lived here had it put in during their current years.
A few minutes after getting the door and ringing the bell it at last opened. A rather large man stood in the doorway in what seemed to be a rather expensive tuxedo. Bodyguard and butler all rolled into one was Rachael’s first impression. “Hello I am Rachael Marks I am here to meet with a client.”
“We have been expecting you Miss Marks” The man proceeded to step aside and usher Rachael in. Once inside and the doors were shut he lifted the suit case from her hands. “Pardon me for a moment but I must check the contents.”
“That isn’t a problem.” Rachael proceeded to reach out and enter the code for the lock. A slight hiss and the case popped open ever so slightly.
Rachael was fairly confident that the man didn’t have any real idea what he was looking for. He was just making sure that it appeared everything was okay.
“Everything appears to be in order.” The man shut the suitcase but didn’t hand it back to Rachael. “This way please.”
Rachael was grateful he was carrying her suitcase as they came to a stair case and began to walk up. “Your employer does realize that with the level of modification requested there is no chance they would pass a DNA screening.”
“That is one of the advantages of having no need to work. You don’t have to concern yourself with such things. Without this treatment she will be dead in a year or two anyway.”
“That makes since. Could you tell me who I am going to be working by any chance?”
“You didn’t look at the gate? This must be your first time.”
“Has your employer been enhanced before?”
“No but she has had some guest that aren’t favored by the general population. Are you aware of Amanda Heart?”
Rachael froze up for a moment. “The woman that bailed In Con out a few years ago is who I am going to be working on?”
“And owns 37% of the company’s stock to date.”
Rachael froze up for a moment. “I am going to be working on my boss?”
“Well yes. Elaine mentioned that there were people on the bored of directors that did not care for the species preservation act did she not?”
“She did but, wow. I am surprised that she didn’t get someone more qualified then me.”
“I tried to talk her out of it and get a more senior researcher to conduct the procedure actually. However, she insisted it be you after looking through your un-doctored reports. Apparently you have more experience with this kind of procedure then anyone else thanks to your habit of. How did Walter put it? Dancing around the line and some times across?”
“Walter knows about this?”
“Are you going to ask him about it?”
Rachael first thought was to say yes but she quickly changed her mind. “I am not going to speak about this to anyone.”
“Then does his knowledge matter?”
Rachael let out a sigh, it wasn’t exactly the type of response she wanted but she was going to have to live with it. She was doing something that could get her locked away for quite some time after all. There was no reason to push her luck by asking about things she doesn’t need to know.
She had already learned something that she didn’t expect to find out.
“Here we are.” Rachael stopped as the butler finally stopped and opened a pair of heavy doors. Glancing around his side she was fairly surprised by just how lavish the room was. Though the rather large machine near the bed took something away from this, it was still an impressive sight.
Of course the entire structure was a testament to the wealth of its owner.
Rachael waited outside as the man walked in and whispered to a rather old look figure in the bed. He then set Rachael’s suit case down and signaled for her to come in. “Hell dear.”
“Hello Miss Heart.”
“So Elaine tells me that you are looking for some extra money and would be willing to conduct a little procedure for me. I am sure Elaine told you what I wanted.”
“Yes you want a full enhancement. After all the current life extension programs could only add some twenty or so years.”
“Do you think there is anything wrong with wanting to live longer?”
“Not at all.”
“I spoke to Elaine about it to some extent. She said this procedure could offer me some sixty years of good health. How long do you believe this procedure will offer me?”
Rachael rubbed the back of her neck for a moment. “More then sixty years that is about certain. This is a full enhancement. You won’t be as healthy as you were when you turned twenty. You should be far more healthy then that.”
“Well then it is certainly worth the investment.”
Rachael gave a nod. “May I proceed?”
“Just one more question. Is this the best enhancement that you are capable of performing? Elaine mentioned that the chances of me being enhanced again were quite low. Since the research and methods tend to only apply to basic human genetics and to do more would be dangerous.”
“Well with some research and money you could be enhanced against. At least more likely however baring such situations yes this will be the first and last time. Of course with at least 60 more years to live, there may be changes.”
“So is this the best you can perform?” Rachael grew silent unsure of just how to answer the question. Fortunately Amanda decided to clear things up. “Let me put that a different way. Is this the best balance between the risk and the enhancement?”
“Yes it would be. May I ask you a question?”
“Yes you may, though that doesn’t mean I have to answer.”
“Considering how wealthy you are. I just thought you would have a team working on this.”
“Would a team improve the quality of the enhancement?”
“I like to keep these things as quiet as possible and I trust Elaine’s judgment. Of course I would be lying if I said the only reason I hired you was because of your skills though that was a major factor.”
“Would you tell me the other reason?”
“Because, with the research you have been conducting I find it very doubtful you would ever go to the police.”
Rachael gave a slight laugh. “That is true.”
“So, how about we get started?”
Rachael gave a nod and proceeded over to her suit case. Opening it back up she began to carefully remove a syringe and several vials. “You are going to feel sick for a few weeks or even months after the treatment.
You need to be certain to eat as your body is going to be rebuilding itself. It will be the worse during the first week and lighten up after that.”
“Would you mind telling me exactly what is going to happen?”
“Well the first injection I am going to give you is going to relax your immune system a bit. The second is actually the enhancement. It contains a virus that has had its DNA modified. Normally a virus would inject your cells with its DNA. This would then program them to make more of the virus. In this case though it won’t make more of the virus but instead will redesign them into your new cells.
The third injection is actually some minerals that your body is going to need the most just incase you haven’t been eating like you should or feel to sick. I have the idea amount of virus however even that won’t be enough to get every cell in your body. That is why you will feel sick for a fairly long time. Your body is going to have to work for a while to replace the old cells with the new and improved.”
Amanda gave a nod. “It sounds simple enough.”
Rachael set the syringe down as well as the vials. She then removed a few small devices from her suitcase. “Now before I begin you already went to your doctor and made sure you were in as good health as possible? Like I said the first shot is really going to weaken your immune system for a time.”
“Yes I already saw to that.”
“Okay. I am going to hook a med scanner up to you just to be on the safe side.”
“What do you think that is? Well part of it?” Amanda indicated the large machine near by.
“Oh. Sorry I guess I wasn’t thinking at the moment.” Rachael made her way to the opposite side of the bed and took a glance at the readouts for the machine. “To be honest I thought it was life support and didn’t give it a second look.”
“I understand it is rather clunky looking.”
Rachael gave a nod and took a few minutes to note the readings on her client’s health. “Okay everything is in order.” Walking back to the opposite side Rachael took back up her syringe and proceeded to give Amanda the injections.
“So when will I begin to feel something?”
“You should begin to feel some changes in the three hours but they won’t be pleasant. I brought some pain killers if it becomes too unpleasant though it is safest if I avoid using them.”
Amanda closed her eyes for a moment. “I have been planning this for five years you know.”
“That is a good idea. Lack of preparation has gotten others caught in the past. What steps have you taken?”
“When was the last time you saw me around the labs or offices?”
“I don’t think I remember ever seeing you there.”
“Yes. You wouldn’t since it was near the time that you began work for us that I began to seclude myself. You were just a lab tech at the time working on your degree if I recall correctly.”
“Yeah it was a job class.”
“I notice you haven’t asked if I have a room prepared for you.”
“Sorry, I didn’t know if it was appropriate.”
“Whew for a moment I thought you planned on leaving after giving the injections.” Amanda smiled but Rachael had a feeling she wouldn’t be leaving even if she tried.
“No. I need to observe you for at least a few days.”
“I’ll have you shown around the house later or would you prefer now?”
“Later is fine.” Rachael stood up and walked over to the monitors. “I would like to see what changes happen, after all your body is going to undergo some extreme changes very soon.”
“Did you like the equipment I had passed your way?”
“Why the equipment Elaine sold to you.”
“You mean you knew about that as well?”
“Yes and I encouraged it. Like I said I planned this for a while. I know you are wondering about the price though.”
“Would you have taken the equipment if it had been cheap?”
Rachael only had to think about the question for a moment. “I would have denied even wanting it.”
“Exactly, Elaine has been helping me in my search for quite some time now.”
“Does this mean I will get a slight discount from now on?”
“We will see. I have to ask though, just what are you trying to achieve? After all you are perfectly capable of enhancing yourself so what are you trying to do through your research?”
“I can’t bring myself to settle for a one shot deal. If I am going to enhance myself I want something more.”
Amanda gave a nod. “I see.”
Rachael smiled as she set in her basement. It had been some three weeks since she had given Amanda her enhancement. Rachael had to stay at her home for three days to insure the procedure was going to go safely and had left. Since then Rachael had been making much more progress on her work not because of the money itself but because she was able to acquire equipment far more easily and more often.
This had helped a great deal in her research though she wasn’t ready to enhance herself at the moment. She wouldn’t be ready to enhance herself for quite some time, at least a few years. “Well the equipment is nice.” Rachael glanced at one of the machines then let out a sigh.
Leaning forward a bit, she gave her new microscope a pat. “Though I don’t know how much it actually helps.”
Rachael turned away from the machine itself and towards her computer display where the image was transferred to. What she watched on the screen was the main result of her work interacting with a few of her cells. It had to be her cells as those were the ones it was designed to work with. This at times had caused problems as Rachael had grown tired of pricking herself constantly. She had gotten over it though as she realized that to achieve the results she truly desired she couldn’t make a general treatment.
A sigh escaped Rachael’s lips. “Why won’t you work? I have been working on you for several years now and you should work. What am I missing?” Rachael didn’t expect an answer back from the chemical compound as she hoped it would begin to work its magic on the cells. “All the others have worked with my cells.”
Rachael glanced towards the wall opposite her for a few moments. Several DNA patterns had been tucked away many of which used a great deal of synthetic strands. However, the one she was currently observing was entirely synthetic, not only that but it had been custom designed for her cells and her cells alone. She had no idea how it would react with the cells of others. However, there was one glaring problem that she had yet to over come.
While the virus had no trouble transferring the DNA strands to the cells and it moved into them well enough. There had yet to be any major changes in the cells themselves or how the function though the DNA was successfully replaced and altered. A beeping took Rachael’s attention away from her screen. Checking her watch she let out a sight and began to shut down her work stations. It would be time for work soon, despite having Amanda’s un-official aid she still had to come to work and perform.
Thomas glanced over his should as he heard the lab doors opening. A smile lit up his face as he noted Rachael walking into the room. She looked a little tired but that wasn’t overly uncommon he knew she would at times end up staying up late. She could still function despite this tiredness so no one ever said anything to her.
Rachael looked around for a few moments. Her eyes seemed to move over the majority of the works with indifference until they locked onto Thomas.
Walking over to his work station she pulled up one of the seats next to him. “So what are you working on?”
“Oh, just testing a few of the compounds.” Thomas held up the small dish containing a mixture of nutrients, blood and the healing hormone.
Several were already laid out.
“Let me see the patterns.”
Thomas didn’t hesitate to bring up the file on his computer. He then handed Rachael the small head band which would allow her to actually look through the DNA patterns within her life time. “There you go.”
“Won’t work. Won’t work. Won’t work. Won’t work.” Rachael didn’t even think to lower her voice having no concern for whoever may hear her even if the developed happened to be in the room. “Now that is just a waste of materials right there. I can see why they might think that would work.
That isn’t an improvement over what we already have.” At last Rachael removed the head piece.
“To bad I can’t just take your word for it and take an early brake.”
Rachael gave a slight laugh and stood up. “Well I am going to get to work on my own findings.”
“Perhaps you would be willing to share what you have found if you are going to set their and comment how faulty my findings are.”
“Hello Steven. So that bit of crap is your research? I guess wisdom doesn’t always come with age.”
Steven glared down at the far smaller and weaker woman. The thirty four year old and developed a dislike for Rachael over the few years that she had been working for the company. Her arrogance when it came to engineering was almost unbearable at times and the way she didn’t hesitate to offer her opinion on others works. “Well then I suppose you are right on the verge of a brake through. Of course perhaps the reason you can’t show your work to your co-workers is because it would get you arrested.”
“Who knows? It just may.” Rachael couldn’t help but grin. “Well I need to get back to work and see if I can finish up this research project.” Rachael had a large grin on her face as she began to walk past Steven it wasn’t like he would do anything to her hear. She was thus a bit surprised when she was stopped.
Steven had dealt with Rachael’s lip long enough and she tended to end up walking away. What aggravated him the most was not just her age but even when he seemed to win an argument it was as if she didn’t care in the least. If his experiments didn’t turn out she would just have even more reason to gloat. While his rational mind told him that he could lose his job over it he couldn’t help but reach out and grasp her arm to prevent her from walking away.
Rachael was rather surprised when she felt the hand clamp down on her slender arm. A look of true hatred crossed her face as she felt the hand preventing her from walking away. “Let go of me unless you want me to contact the legal department.”
“Now you listen here. I am tired of putting up with your mouth.” Steven’s tone was more then a little condescending, as if he was talking down to a child. He didn’t get to finish his lecture though.
“She said let her go.” Thomas had stood up from his work station the moment he saw Steven take hold of Rachael. Balling his hands into fist he wasn’t normally the type to strike his elders however if he didn’t let go of Rachael he was prepared to.
Rachael was grateful that she had Thomas backing her though she wasn’t willing to back down from Steven neither would she have been even if he wasn’t there. “You do realize that this could be considered assault.”
“Don’t give me..” Steven didn’t get to finish as he felt something rather solid collide with the side of his face. The force of the impact was enough to make him release Rachael’s arm and send him to the ground.
Rachael was a bit surprised and glanced over towards Thomas. “Well you can hit pretty hard can’t you?”
“I was a military engineer it is how I paid for college. I still have some residue from basic.”
“How dare you.” The indignation in Steven’s voice was almost palpable, Rachael silenced him though.
“Thank goodness Thomas was here to protect me. Look at what you did to my arm.” Rachael proceeded to remove her lab coat revealing the heavy bruising that was now appearing on her arm.
“What I barely touched you.”
“I was infected you jackass.”
Steven actually turned pale as he realized what weight Rachael’s words carried. Not only had he grabbed a much smaller and rather slender woman but she even weaker then what her frame would imply. Despite the sizable bruise he felt forming on his face he knew that he would be in far more trouble then Thomas would be if the incident was reported.
Rachael waited for a few moments smirked and gave a slight shrug. “Thanks for the help Thomas. Would you mind accompanying me down to the legal department?”
“I would be happy to.”
“Well congratulations Walter. The way the flesh is knitting with the synthetic is quite impressive.”
“Yes. It can actually help someone recover 70% faster then anything currently on the market though I owe you a great deal of the credit.”
“So you found the flaw in my compound?”
“I can’t say that it was really a flaw. You were missing a kill command so the tissue didn’t know when to stop growing.”
Thomas, Walter and Rachael all three watched the monitor as the video record of the cells working with the synthetic skin was shown. Thomas’s presence was thanks to Rachael. “Well blast it. I am surprised at myself for forgetting something so simple. When are you going to show the rest of the team?”
“Soon enough, I just felt that you deserved a special sneak peak.”
“I appreciate it. Mm I guess that means that after some testing and the safety of the synthetic are confirmed we will be finished ahead of schedule.”
“Yes. Though don’t worry about having to start a new project right away. I plan on trying for some vacation time.”
“That is fine. Though be certain that whatever my next project is that I don’t get put on it with Steven.”
“I will be sure to keep that in mind.” Walter glanced at Thomas who had kept quiet up until now. “Would you mind working with Rachael again?”
“I would be happy to assist her.”
“What about you Rachael? He seems to be one of the few people you work well with.”
Walter gave a nod. “Rachael I was wondering. Why didn’t you press charges against Steven you could have had him fired?”
“But then I couldn’t watch him have to demean himself in his new position.”
Walter gave a slight laugh. “Be careful, revenge can come back to haunt you.”
Steven was positively fuming as he set in the police station. He had once feared that he would be the party being arrested after taking hold of Rachael. Now though he was ready to pay her back. “That is right detective. She has violated the species preservation act numerous times.”
“That is trouble some but I have to ask you first. How far are you willing to go with us on this? While your report is troubling we can’t just go into a company as big as InCon without evidence. You will have to bring us something more concrete.”
Steven groaned slightly while at a time this would have been easy. Since his little incident with Rachael things had got tougher for him. Not only had he been shifted to less important projects that paid less but he had also lost several levels of security clearance. “I am willing to help in whatever way I can.”
Ellis gave a nod. “I can’t ask you to take anything and I must insist that you don’t. However, any proof that you could bring which would enable us to get a search warrant would be greatly appreciated.”
“I am certain that I can provide some solid proof. I just need to get hold of some of the original lab reports.”
“I wish that I could be of more help but with only one person’s testimony. I wouldn’t be able to acquire a warrant.”
Bang, bang, bang. Rachael’s head repeatedly impacted with her desk though only hard enough to cause a little pain. After all she was the one bumping her head against it. At least she settled down with her forehead pressed against the solid surface. “Why? Why won’t you work?”
Rachael glanced towards the screen. She had made some modifications to the synthetic DNA strand she had been working on several of which she had been unable to do thanks to the quality of her equipment. Yes the synthetic still refused to do anything other then modify the cells. Once that was done they would continue to function normally until they died. It was almost maddening that it didn’t seem to have any result at all.
The lack of any happening was also what intrigued Rachael the most about her creation. How was it possible that it wouldn’t have an affect? This question was most likely the reason she had stuck with the synthetic for such a very long time. It took some time but eventually the sound of her phone ringing got her attention. Rachael quickly punched a few commands into her computer turning on her microphone and speakers.
“Rachael this is Elaine. We are under investigation.” The click of the phone being hung up was heard before Rachael could even respond.
“What?” Rachael set up suddenly a look of utter shock on her face. She then moved to try and locate Elaine’s number but found that it had been made from a public phone. What was going on here? Rachael gave her head a slight shake. The company was under investigation that was what was going on, but why had Elaine called from a public telephone and why was the message so brief?
Rachael felt a sinking feeling starting in her gut as she took what this could mean into consideration. Elaine wouldn’t have called unless she was concerned but how concerned was she? Should she call her and find out exactly what was going on? Should she even come into the office the next day or should she be packing up her belongings and getting out of town? Was she already implicated? Was Elaine implicated? She needed to speak with her.
Rachael quickly located Amanda’s cell number and dialed in. She felt a wave of relief when she got an answer. Once she heard Elaine’s voice on the phone though she didn’t know what to say. What if the line was bugged? “Hi Elaine, how are you doing?”
“Hey I am doing alright. I got a day off while the police are snooping around the office so I figured I would take a bit of a drive.”
“The police are snooping around the office? Do you know why?”
“Apparently the amount of equipment that has gone missing has them concerned.”
Rachael bit her lower lip for a moment uncertain if she should press the issue. “So they believe that someone has been taking some equipment?”
“Yeah, all well at least it should be a safer place to work once it is all over. I know I wouldn’t want to be caught with any of the equipment though.”
“True. So should I bother coming into work tomorrow?”
“Did you finish your project early?”
“I recommend taking some vacation time. You could use the rest.”
“Well thanks for the information. Take care.”
“You take care to.”
Rachael waited a few moments after Elaine had hung up and then told her computer to shut down the line. She could feel a weight forming in her stomach and in her throat. Slumping into her seat she didn’t know what to do.
“Cheers.” Rachael set opposite a full length mirror a rather large and expensive stake set in front of her. She wouldn’t have normally spent so much but today was going to be a special day. She had gathered from her conversation from Elaine that she needed to dispose of the equipment she had purchased. However, this meant she wouldn’t be able to insure the safety of her creation. It had occurred to her to keep a back up file on how the synthetic was made but Rachael wasn’t willing to take the risk of it being found.
Even if it wasn’t found if she was implicated she may not be able to make another batch within her life time. So she had made a decision. Today she would inject herself with the synthetic and begin the process of disposing of her equipment. She wasn’t certain if it would work however at the moment she didn’t feel as if she had very many choices.
Setting her wine glass down Rachael stuck out her tongue for a moment Rachael took up her fork and knife and cut off some of her stake. She didn’t usually drink so she had never developed the taste for it however at the moment she needed all the nerve she could gather even if some of it came from a bottle. “One more good meal and you gamble your life.” Rachael spoke to her reflection suddenly feeling very desperate for some company but she would have to make due with her reflection for now.
As Rachael ate she found her mind drifting to the equipment in the basement as well as the synthetic she had been developing. She had made some more progress with the synthetic thanks to the new equipment at least she had superficially. She had yet to have the synthetic cause any noticeable changes within the cells which still had her perplexed.
Perhaps it would be better to try something that she at least knew would work.
While the stress had caused her to feel as if a weight was in her stomach and throat Rachael felt a pulse strait from her heart when she considered the option of trying one of the other compounds. It was as if the idea struck at the very core of her being and revolted her. She simply couldn’t allow herself to us something that she knew was limited no matter how much of an improvement it would give. She had spent quite a few years of her life working on something that wouldn’t have such limitations and even though she was young. It was too many years and too much effort for her to try for anything less.
She would use the synthetic strand that she had developed herself there was no other choice in the matter. Looking down at her food Rachael realized she hadn’t even began to eat yet. Soon she focused entirely on eating resolving that she would do her best to enjoy what may very well end up being her last meal.
Rachael held the thin syringe in her hand. It hand taken her a few hours but she had managed to load up all the equipment she had gathered over the years. “I didn’t realize I actually had so little.” The words seemed to flow from her mouth as Rachael glanced at the back seat of her vehicle.
Perhaps having to gather things up over three years had made it seem like she had more then what she truly did.
Now the only thing she actually needed to do was take the finale step and inject herself with the virus that would inject the synthetic strand into her cells and hope for the best. It had occurred to her to wait until she had disposed of the materials in case something went wrong but she just couldn’t stop herself. If she was going to get rid of everything it would happen all at once. Just before climbing into her car Rachael pressed the syringe to her arm, felt the needle push through her flesh and the virus enter her blood stream.
Tossing the now empty syringe into her back seat Rachael climbed into her car and started it up. Pressed her remote garage door opened and was on her way. She knew that it would take a few hours to begin feeling the effects of the synthetic moving inside of her though. That would give her enough time to dispose of the equipment and make her way back home. It was 2 o’clock at night when she finally left.
Rachael glanced at the back seat of her car at the various instruments that were in the back seat. She had been so happy when she managed to get them but now she was going to dispose of them. She couldn’t risk them being found at her home after all. Rachael reached up and placed her hand against the spot where she had given herself the injection. She would have to hurry and get rid of the machines quickly before the alterations going on inside of her body began to affect her.
It had occurred to Rachael that she could try to sell the machines but she realized this would be a futile effort considering the search. It wasn’t likely that anyone would be willing to buy the items and she didn’t have any real contacts that could move it not with Elaine trying to clean herself up as well. At least she knew that it would be a bad idea to take the items to the junk yard though this left her with very few options.
Rachael had carefully cleaned the machines and their hard drives to insure that nothing linked her to them could be found. She had also disposed of the strands that she had purchased and grown herself. The only strand that she was keeping would be the one that was currently making its way throughout her body. Of course there could be something that she was forgetting so she had resolved to hide them away as best as she possibly could.
“Hide them as well as I can.” While Rachael had dealings in the office she had never planned for a situation where she would have to dispose of her machines. In truth she would have liked to melt them down but she didn’t know anyone that would be able to do that for her. She also knew of very few hiding places that would actually be effective the best thing she had come up with is she would drop them in a lake.
“Am I over reacting?” Rachael mused to herself. Her mind drifted back to the comment of Elaine’s about not wanting to be found with the machines. Rachael wasn’t entirely certain how deep that statement had been meant but believed it meant she should dispose of the machinery now.
At last Rachael pulled over onto the side of a bridge. Looking over the edge she groaned for a moment. She didn’t truly like the idea of dropping anything off this spot since it seemed a likely place to search. However, Rachael didn’t have a boat or time to figure out how to get further out over the water. Climbing out of her car she walked over to the passenger side and opened the back door. She then began the painful and rather difficult process of hefting the equipment over the side of the bridge and into the water below. “At least it is a nice night.”
Her eyes turned upward to the moonless night sky it was good and dark so it seemed less likely anyone would see her in the act. It was also pleasantly warm and quiet. The only sound she heard was the occasional car and the sound of the heavy bits of equipment hitting the water. Well heavy to Rachael. Perhaps in a few weeks it wouldn’t seem so heavy to her?
As Rachael worked she found that the equipment was becoming heavier. Was fatigue setting in? She knew that it couldn’t be the equipment she had started by tossing the heavier items over the side first so she knew it couldn’t be the weight of the equipment. More then likely fatigue was a factor she tired so easily but Rachael new that might not be the only reason. She gave her watch a quick glanced and cringed.
It had taken her longer to drive to the bridge and begin to unload the equipment then she realized. It had been over an hour since she had given herself the injection and her body was reacting to the virus. More then likely it wasn’t the virus altering her cells that she noticed at the moment. Rather it was her immune system thinking she had an illness. “I would have brought some fever medicine.”
Rachael realized that she couldn’t stop now fortunately she managed to finish throwing the last of the items over the side of the bridge. When she got home it was nearly five o’clock. Soon she would be under the effects of the synthetic strand. Walking into the kitchen she fetched a rather large jug of water complete with a rather long straw a few snacks and set down in the living room. Reclining in her seat she was grateful that getting rid of the machinery had tired her out since it allowed her to fall asleep quickly.
The sun light was not welcome. Not welcome in the least. As Rachael opened her eyes she was grateful that her curtains were made from rather heavy material. What she noticed a few moments after the sun light was that she felt horrible. That was to be expected though considering what was going on inside of her body. She felt like she was running a fever and she felt very weak.
Carefully Rachael tried to raise herself from the couch. Her hands pressed against the material, her muscles strained and she didn’t budge an inch. “What?” Rachael’s voice showed her weakness. Looking down she couldn’t help but wonder what was going on and began to try and set up using her legs and arms at the same time. She was able to rise up slightly however it was only for a few moments. Her muscles gave out and she slumped back into her seat.
Rachael could feel her fear clutching at her yet she was able to keep it under control. She was used to being weak. Granted she wasn’t used to being this weak but she at least had some experience with the feeling. “Why can’t I stand up?” She felt sick but she didn’t feel so sick that she shouldn’t be able to move.
“One thing at a time.” Rachael glanced at her arm. Focusing intently on it she began to try and lift her arm. It was with a sight of relief that her arm lifted from the arm rest though it took some effort. It felt as if someone had strapped a 35 pound weight to her arm. Settling her arm back down Rachael then moved her left arm and got a similar feeling though this time it felt as if she had a 40 pound weight.
Her legs had a similar feeling whenever she attempted to move them. Considering the trouble that she was having lifting a single limb it didn’t seem surprising that standing up would be out of the question. She had known that she would be weak for a few days she had even gathered up some supplies to help herself be comfortable during the first 24 hours. She had not expected to be this weak though.
Rachael let her eyes drift shut as she took time to contemplate what could be going on. She could be dying that was most assuredly a possibility, her body could be having trouble thanks to the alterations going on inside of it or it could be a combination of the two. What if the synthetic had actually made her weaker instead of stronger? It wouldn’t have been the first time after all while the plague had been meant to sharpen the mind it hadn’t been meant to make someone physically weak.
Rachael’s body jerked upward as she attempted to stand up. Her eyes suddenly flashed open as she began to desperately struggle against gravity all to know effect. What if she had made herself weaker? What if she had only made her situation worse? The thought was even more frightening then death.
Of course death would be the ultimate end to this if she couldn’t even stand up. After struggling for a while Rachael finally fell back into the seat tears welling up in her eyes she began to cry.
It took some time but at last Rachael’s tears ceased to flow and she was able to regain her composure. Able to focus on her situation she began to evaluate what she should do. Considering her condition she was in desperate need of help. She didn’t have any family that she could do and her list of friends was limited. Going to the hospital was out of the question. After all once they found out why she was so weak it would only be a matter of time before they tried to fix or cleanse her genetic code a process that ended in death more often then not.
Her options were truly limited. Sighing Rachael was grateful that she had set her tiny cell phone on the table next to her. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too heavy to lift. Raising her arm up Rachael reached out for the tiny machine. It was hard just to keep her army strait thanks to the effects of gravity, if it had been outside of arm’s reach she may have not been able to take hold of it.
Rachael started to pick the phone up or at least attempt it but changed her mind. If she accidentally dropped the phone there may be no retrieving it in her weakened state. Instead she wrapped her fingers around it and used her thumb to press the release button on the side. At least she was able to do that as the tiny machine flipped open.
As she pushed the buttons in she let her hand rest on the table. Holding it up was taking to much energy.
“Hello?” Elaine’s voice sounded on the other end, thank goodness for advancements in the speaker phone feature and microphone reception.
“Elaine this is Rachael I am in some trouble.”
“What is wrong you sound sick?”
“I was cleaning up a mess earlier and I think I am sick. I pricked myself with something sharp.”
“Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“Possibly but I can’t.”
“Rachael I can’t help you. Why don’t you just go to the hospital?”
“I don’t want to have to get cleaned up.”
The line was silent for a moment. “You should have been more careful.
I am going to take a vacation and I don’t want disturbed. Do not call here again.”
“Wait Elaine” A click on the other end silence Rachael.
Thomas groaned as he was finally allowed to leave the office. The police had been asking him questions for some time and he was more then a little tired. As he made his way out of the station he reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. It was bulkier then the average cell thanks to the extra security features. Thomas didn’t believe that he actually needed them but had bought the phone on a whim.
As he started to dial he realized that he didn’t know the phone number. It didn’t matter much though as his phones and most others had a built in phone book feature. It was regularly updated as well. Looking through the names he was relieved to find that Rachael had her number listed.
Rachael would have cried more if she had been capable of it. She had contacted Elaine and a few others she had business dealings with or at least tried. They hadn’t picked up. She had even got desperate enough to try and contact Amanda. It seemed that Elaine had already informed the others of her situation and they were now staying very far away from her.
She was a bit surprised then when she heard her phone ringing. Glancing at the little device she reached out to turn it on. It took a good five rings before her fingers were finally able to reach the button. “Hello?”
“Rachael is that you?”
“Thomas? Yeah it is me.”
“What is the matter you sound sick.”
Rachael giggled slightly. “I am sick.”
“What do you have?”
“I can’t say.”
Thomas could feel his concern double and then grow again. He had just called Rachael to see if the police had been giving her a hard time as well. As he spoke with her though he began to worry that he knew where some of the equipment had disappeared to. “Have you gone to the doctor?”
“I don’t believe I could if I wanted to. I can’t actually stand up.”
“Would you mind if I came over? It sounds like you could use some help.”
“Thomas I don’t think.”
“Okay I got your address that I am going to be right over.”
“Thomas wait” Rachael was beginning to resent being hung up on. It was better then no one picking up but the click was still aggravating. Unsure of herself Rachael began to call Thomas back however she found herself unable to complete the task. It wasn’t just her weakened body that was preventing her from doing so but there was something else. Quite simply she was frightened.
It took longer then he would have liked but Thomas was able to find Rachael’s home. Pulling into the drive away he half expected her to open the door when he remembered that she couldn’t move. As he looked over her house he got a better impression of just how much Rachael’s physical weakness had controlled her life. Her house seemed to be built for the worse crime rate one could imagine. The walls looked quite thick and the windows were barred. A very rare site especially for the part of town she lived in.
Thomas nearly fell over as he realized that he had forgotten a rather important detail. If Rachael couldn’t even stand up how was she going to let him in?
Rachael felt odd as she heard her phone ringing. She heard a vehicle pull up and had a good idea of who it was. “Hi.”
“Rachael is there a way into your house? The front door is locked and well.”
“H1i1d2e1n1 and then a2w1k1e1n2i1g1”
“That is the override code. Enter it into the front door keypad. Normally it would require a thumb print or a key to open the door as well. At least the normal pass code would but that won’t.”
Thomas let out a sigh. While such things as an electronic lock weren’t exceptionally uncommon. It gave him a better idea of just how Rachael’s fear of her weakness reached. After entering the code he was somewhat surprised by the sound of the lock opening up. It wasn’t the click of a small lock rather it was quite heavy.
Rachael watched as the door opened up and Thomas walked in. “Hi. This is your first time over isn’t it?”
“Yeah Rachael, what did you do to yourself?”
“Oh I just tried to modify myself a bit. I didn’t get the desired results. Would you mind bringing that bottle a little closer? I could really use a drink of water.”
“Huh? Sure.” Thomas walked over to the container Rachael had set out for herself earlier. Lifting it up Thomas held it so the water more poured down the straw then anything else so she wouldn’t have any trouble drinking. After a few moments he removed it. “How did this happen Rachael? I know you said that you modified yourself but I doubt you intentionally made yourself weaker.”
“I tried an experimental synthetic of my own design on myself. I wasn’t content to settle for those that were already out there. I suppose I got a little too greedy.”
Thomas didn’t know what to say about this. He knew that taking Rachael to the hospital was out of the question. Considering what she had done they would try to correct the changes to her DNA pattern a process that would more then likely end up killing her. Of course he didn’t know how much time she had to live in her current state. “Do you think you will get better?”
“I don’t know. I hadn’t experimented with the synthetic long enough. Are you going to take me to the hospital or call the police now?”
“No, but I do need to get you out of here.”
“Well you can’t take care of yourself can you?”
“No but why?”
“You don’t have any friends or family to turn to either do you?”
Rachael shook her head. “No. I thought I might but it turns out they don’t want anything to do with me. I can’t really blame them though. I may have turned myself in a virus incubator that may cause all sorts of death. You do realize what would happen to you if anyone learned that you helped me?”
“Yeah I know. I had to learn before I could even become a lab tech after all. Anyway, I am going to get some of your things packed. You can’t very well stay here.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“I believe that my place would be the safest for you.”
“Aren’t you worried that I might be carrying some horrible new illness?”
“That is a concern but I am willing to chance it.”
Thomas grew silent for a moment. “Rachael I really do care for you. You never noticed?”
“Well I thought of you as a friend but. This goes beyond that.”
“A good friend will bail you out of jail, a great friend will help you bury a body.” Thomas chuckled a bit. In truth he had hoped to be more then a friend to Rachael.
“How are you keeping it so together?”
“This isn’t any worse then being taught to handle being shot at.”
“Is there anything in particular that you want me to bring?”
“Yeah but at the moment I have a favor I really need to ask you.”
“What is that?”
“I haven’t been able to stand up for a few hours and well.”
“Oh. Say no more.”
Thomas busied himself gathering up Rachael’s clothing. He had slipped on a pair of lab gloves to avoid leaving behind anymore fingerprints. Most likely the police would want to question her eventually as they had done him. He hoped they wouldn’t search the home too carefully and he hoped that his vehicle hadn’t drawn any unwanted attention. Of course he would most likely be questioned about her disappearance based purely on the grounds that he was one of her few known acquaintances
Picking up the suit cases Rachael had instructed him to take anything of value as well. He already knew that her savings were rather lacking and he now understood why. While he had been packing her stuff he had her tell him about her research and all the materials she had to dispose of. She had mentioned that she enhanced one person but hadn’t said who and he hadn’t bothered to ask her for the person’s or persons’ name.
Thomas exited through the side entrance into the garage. Rachael had told him out to open the door and he wanted to avoid being seen as much as possible. A part of him had regretted the call that he made to her earlier. Rachael looked out the passenger side of his car. “Thank you for this Thomas.”
“You’re welcome. I think I have everything now.”
“Are you sure that you truly wish to help me? I would understand if you didn’t.”
“It is fine Rachael I want to do this and would do it even if you didn’t want me to. It isn’t like you could protest after all.”
“I can still complain a lot.”
“As weak as you are? You couldn’t pull of the tape.”
“What do you plan on doing after hiding me away?”
“I am going to try and help you recover from whatever you did to yourself.”
“In my current condition I can’t actually conduct any research. You are going to have to be my arms and legs if you want me to help.”
“Well I don’t really have the know-how and only you know what you really did to yourself. So I will just have to make due with that. With any luck the police are going to focus on people other then you.”
“I hope so. I wonder what brought this investigation about.”
“I don’t actually know.”
“I am going to give you’re a house a good cleaning before we leave.”
“Okay. I will just stay here.” Rachael closed her eyes. They had been feeling heavy for quite some time which wasn’t surprising. Nearly all of her muscles seemed to have been weakened by her mistake. Thomas waited a few moments to make sure that Rachael was simply resting and hadn’t quit breathing before he went back into the house.
“I am glad that you are light.” Thomas was grateful that it had taken him so much time to clean up Rachael’s house he was also grateful that he commuted to his job. His home was actually well outside of the city limits.
“You like the out doors don’t you?”
“Yeah they are nice.”
“Mm a few decades ago I bet this land must have been very expensive.”
“OH it isn’t something in the family. I took out a loan to purchase it. I hate being around a lot of people you see.”
“Ah. I just assumed from the look of your home.”
“I guess I just like the look of the older houses.”
“My parents were the same way.”
“Mind if I set you down for a moment?”
“Go ahead.” Rachael didn’t even try to look up as she was settled down on the ground. She just wanted to stay entirely still and conserve as much of her energy as she possibly could though she didn’t know what good it would do her and in all truth believed it wouldn’t matter.
Thomas scooped Rachael up once again. “Well if the outside looked old fashioned to you I hope the inside doesn’t bother you.”
“I don’t mind the old fashioned look I just never really cared for it.”
Thomas continued on into his home. Walking into the living room his comment was well taken by Rachael who actually found the energy to look around the room for a few moments. “What do you think?”
“Where are the animal heads mounted on the walls?”
“Dang it, I knew I was forgetting something.” Thomas chuckled and carried Rachael over to a sofa. Laying her down on the couch he stretched his arms a bit. “I am going to go ahead and bring your things in then I will show you around the rooms and let you pick which one you want.”
Rachael wasn’t certain why she was so relaxed around Thomas. Perhaps she simply figured that her situation couldn’t get any worse then what it was considering what the synthetic may still be doing to her or she could be left as helpless as a kitten for the rest of her life.
As Thomas carried Rachael’s suitcase in he was actually glad that she had insisted they take a few of her things. The missing items would make it appear that she had either been robbed or more then likely ran for it. While this wouldn’t help her if she was caught hopefully it meant the police wouldn’t be asking him any questions or would be pushing on her few friends too much.
Of course there were other concerns such as how was he going to help her through this? Perhaps the damage wasn’t as bad as Rachael seemed to think and she just needed some time that or maybe some exercise would help her to build up her strength. Thomas gave his head a shook. Most likely that was just wishful thinking he had worked with Rachael after all and he knew she was very competent. It just seemed that in her desperation she had made a very bad decision.
He set the suit cases down in the living room. While it would have been a shorter walk to just leave them in the hallway he was actually taking the chance to look in on Rachael. She seemed to be fine if a bit distracted.
Rachael’s mind was currently focused on more immediate concerns for once. Such as just how much Thomas was going to have to help her. She needed his help to get into the bathroom but she had managed to take care of the rest herself thank goodness. Bathing was another matter as was eating. She didn’t like the idea of having to ask for help with either. She was strong enough to lift up her little cell phone so surely she could handle a spoon. Then again she also tired very quickly and the repeated action may get to her. “I hope you don’t mind helping with someone that has been reduced to a child.”
Thomas glanced at Rachael. “Well I am glad that your mind is intact after all that is the aspect of you that I really love.”
Rachael couldn’t help but smile though she didn’t quite notice the strength of the last word. “I think I am going to need your help bathing myself.”
“Now that is something that I don’t mind doing at all.”
“You’re only saying that because I am not old or haggard.”
“Well I do have to admit that makes the idea much more appealing.” Thomas set the last of Rachael’s items down and picked her up once again.
“What kind of spare room’s do you have to fix up?”
“Oh no fixing up needed unless they are things that you wanted changed.
I have two extra bedrooms.”
“Well I was thinking ahead to the future and considering that it was cheaper to have two bedrooms built then instead of later I decided it made more sense.”
“In case you ever had children?”
“Is there anyone in your life?”
“Well there was someone at work that I was trying to get close to.”
“She won’t be going to work for a while.”
Rachael blinked her eyes a few times unsure of what the statement meant. When it sunk in she couldn’t help but blush. “Thank you. Is that why you are helping me?”
“Yeah I hope you don’t mind.”
Thomas rubbed the back of his neck for a moment as if thinking. When nothing in relation to their current conversation came to mind he resolved it would be best to allow Rachael to pick her room. Picking up Rachael once again he carried her out of the living room down the hall and up some stairs. “Now I know it doesn’t have much in the way of furniture.”
Rachael gave an amused giggle. “That isn’t a problem I couldn’t make use of it even if there was.”
Thomas gave a nod and continued into the first room. The space was somewhat bare with a dress a set of shelves and a bet set in. “You seem to have something against large windows.”
“I just don’t feel safe around them.”
“Well then you should like the next room. It isn’t decorated much better.”
“Could I get a TV?”
“That would be fine. I know you answered your phone so you can at least push some buttons. I could set you up a little entertainment center. I think I will move that dressed into the next room for you. That way I will have space enough to store all your clothes.”
“I will try not to be more of a burden then I have to be.”
“Now don’t worry about that. I told you down stares why I am doing this.”
“Yes, but you know that I enjoy being able to handle things myself as you observed back in the labs.”
Thomas gave a nod. “Well what can I do for you now?”
“Well I am kind of hungry.”
Thomas gave his forehead a quick smack. “Duh, well I feel like an idiot. I am going to go and cut you up something small to snack on be back up in a second. Then I will actually cook something.”
“Make sure it is soft?”
Rachael proceeded to open her mouth then snap her jaw shut as hard as she possibly could.
“Ah I see. Okay I will see what I have.”
Rachael sucked lightly on the straw. Thomas had left her a can of slim fast which he had fetched from the kitchen as well as some grapes. She didn’t know what Thomas was doing with such a drink until she noticed that the can had a bit of dust left on it. It was probably just an emergency breakfast for him whenever he woke up to late. She could smell Thomas cooking something downstairs though she wasn’t entirely certain of what it was.
Thomas was more then likely having to cook something that he hadn’t had much experience with considering her weakened ability to actually chew her food. Guilt was a feeling that Rachael rarely had to deal with however at her current moment she could feel it welling up inside of her. She hated having to rely on someone and while she was glad that she had at least one person how cared for her. She now found herself regretting that she had put him in such a situation.
It was easier to use her tongue to push the straw out of her mouth then her arms. Looking around the baron room she was glad that Thomas kept his place tidy. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Rachael turned her in the direction of the doorway to see what Thomas was talking about. “Mind what?”
“Well I didn’t know exactly what you could handle so I chose the softest things I knew how to make. Then I realized I don’t even know if you would like it.”
Rachael for the first time noticed some pain in her stomach. “Don’t worry. As hungry as I am now I doubt it will matter. What did you make?”
“Mashed potatoes, boiled cabbage and some meat loaf.”
Rachael couldn’t help but stick her tongue out. “But I don’t like meat loaf.”
“Sorry I should have asked.”
“Thomas I was kidding. Well I wasn’t kidding about not liking meat loaf but I am hardly in a position to complain. I am grateful for all you are doing for me.”
“So you just want to eat the potatoes and cabbage?”
“No. I said I don’t like meat loaf. I am hungry enough at the moment that I don’t care about that.”
“I don’t know about that. You haven’t tasted my cooking yet.”
“Well we can speculate all we want but until we put it to the test neither of will know. Now didn’t I say I was hungry?”
“Yes Madam.” Thomas set the trey down for a moment and proceeded over to the bed to help Rachael up into a better setting position. He then picked up the trey and began to feed her a spoon full of the mashed potatoes.
“I think I am strong enough to lift a spoon.”
“Maybe you are but at the moment that is the equivalent of you running around. You need to recover some energy and then we can try to think of an exercise program if you are up for it.”
“Good idea. I might as well try to develop what little strength I have.
Perhaps I won’t need someone to always carry me around after a few years of exercise. If I live that long that is.”
Thomas didn’t let Rachael talk too much longer as he shoved a spoon full of mashed potatoes into her mouth. “Be sure to chew it well.”
Rachael didn’t respond and she didn’t try to swallow she didn’t know how her throat muscles were effected after all. Instead she did as she was told carefully chewed her food before even attempting to swallow after one failure she chewed a little longer and finally managed to swallow.
“How is it?”
“It needs some salt.”
Thomas rolled his eyes in response to Rachael’s comment. “Well just consider yourself on a low sodium diet.” This gave Rachael some of the boiled cabbage wanting to insure that she could eat it for when he cook in the future. A few moments later she tried some of the meat loaf. The look on her face told Thomas that she hadn’t been kidding about not liking meat loaf the fact that she ate it showed how hungry she actually was.
“Rachael I wanted to ask. How are you still alive right now? I mean shouldn’t your heart be too weak to pump your blood.”
“Considering my body’s over all decrease in strength? Yeah actually I am surprised I didn’t die in the middle of the night.”
“I am going to get some medical equipment when I can. I want to make sure that you aren’t going to die and part of that is finding out how your insides are doing.”
“Mm it is a shame that you can’t max out my credit cards.”
“Huh why do you say that?”
“Well I won’t exactly be able to pay my bills and if they try to take my property I can’t actually show up at court in my condition.”
“I could pay your bills.”
Rachael gave a slight giggle and shook her head. “I appreciate the concern but I couldn’t ask you to do that. Also you couldn’t.”
“Huh? Why couldn’t I?”
“It would make people curious for one thing in case anything is get tracked back to me.”
“Maybe they won’t find anything to make them suspect you. It isn’t a crime to disappear though I imagine they are quite a few people that won’t like the unpaid bills.”
“Thomas you couldn’t afford to make the payments on my bills I barely could. Actually if you remember what I told you earlier I couldn’t.”
“But that was continuing your research.”
“I still managed to rack up a fair amount of debts. Thomas, we don’t even know if I can be cured or if I will be alive in the morning. I could grow weaker as time passed. So don’t worry about it. If I manage to recover then I will worry about it.”
Thomas grew silent for a few moments. “Okay.”
Rachael fingers moved over the pad carefully as she manipulated the mouse. It had been a week since she had moved in with Thomas. He had assured her that the police weren’t pestering him though she couldn’t be sure if that was the case. He had been kind enough to bring his computer up stairs. The keyboard mouse configuring was currently setting on the bed with her while the computer screen was near the foot of the bed.
She didn’t have the energy to do anything like actively type but at least this allowed her to play cards and download videos. Rachael kept the video downloads to a minimum she had no desire to cost Thomas more then what she already was. Thomas for his part was currently away at work leaving her alone. It had taken quite a bit of effort on Rachael’s part to convince him that he had to return to work and leave her alone.
Despite her helplessness and being in a strange home Rachael felt safe at the moment. Not as safe or secure as she felt with Thomas around but tolerably safe. Thomas had told her that he would take steps to insure her safety which she did appreciate. He hadn’t gotten around to it quite yet but it had only been a week and Thomas had his job to think of. Not to mention when he finally did get home he had to take care of her.
An annoyed look crossed Rachael’s face as she realized that she had just made the last move that she could make. “I hate solitaire.” Rachael glared at the screen for a few moments before shutting down the game. Perhaps she should watch one of the video’s that Thomas had already downloaded?
Rachael had spent so much of her time in her lab that she hadn’t gone out to see a month in the past several years which meant she had a lot of catching up to do. While she doubted that she would have gone out to see the type of action movies Thomas seemed to enjoy at least they let her pass the time and she could criticize the physically healthy characters for doing illogical things.
Illogical? The word popped into Rachael’s mind. Thomas was doing something rather illogical in taking care of her. Once again Rachael could feel the odd emotion of guilt creeping in. She had been feeling it more often as of late as Thomas had taken care of her but it was still a rare enough occurrence that she felt it was somewhat alien.
Would she ever be able to repay Thomas for what he had done for her and the risk that he had took by helping her? It didn’t seem very likely that she would be able to if she didn’t recover and even less likely if she got weaker. Then again her body had never been anything to truly brag about it had been her mind which allowed her to succeed so well at her job.
Her job, Rachael mind drifted back to her work and thoughts of just who might have turned them in. It was probably arrogant of her to assume that her actions had been the ones that started the investigation but then again she was the most likely candidate. It was she that had regularly pushed the rules. Of course she had tried to be careful but perhaps she hadn’t been as careful as needed or simply hadn’t had the proper knowledge.
Thomas looked around the lab for a few moments. They were quite a few people missing more then he had expected there to be. Were that many caught up in the investigation? He couldn’t be certain at the moment. Then again perhaps they simply weren’t allowed to continue their research until the police were satisfied. Several projects that used even the smallest amount of synthetic strands had been put on hold as the police and confiscated the synthetics.
He hated having to leave Rachael by herself but she had a point he needed to work. On his way home he would need to pick up some baby food for Rachael. She didn’t particularly care for the stuff but it was easy for her to eat so it had become a major part of her diet.
“So what are the results?” Thomas looked to see Walter walking across the room.
Thomas gave a slight jump and quickly looked back to his computer screen. “None of the natural strands are having the same results as the synthetic.”
“So we are over looking something.” Walter nodded his head. “Well we are working with horribly complex materials. Any ideas on what might work?”
“I can’t say I have any, but I don’t really know a great deal about the details.”
Walter looked at Thomas for a few moments as if he was thinking. A rather embarrassed look appeared on Walter’s face a few moments later. “Sorry about that.”
“Sorry about what?”
“I suppose I miss my conversations with Rachael and your habits are so similar to hers I guess my mind got mixed up for a few moments.”
Thomas didn’t know what to think of this for a moment until he realized how much time he spent around Rachael’s work station. Indeed his movement pattern seemed very similar to hers. This wasn’t surprising of course considering he had attempted to spend as much time with her as possible when she was in the labs. “I must have seemed like her shadow once in a while.”
“No, I think shadow would be to dark. I always thought you seemed more like a security blanket to her. She seemed to relax a bit when you were around.”
“You think so? I never noticed.”
“I doubt she noticed either. Do you have any idea of what might have happened to her? She hasn’t been to work in quite some time.”
“I can’t say that I do.”
“I was wondering. Why are they so many people missing?”
“Quite a few people are currently under investigation others simply can’t continue their research under these conditions.”
“Do you know if they are looking into Rachael? I am a little worried that she might have been caught up in this.”
Walter shook his head. “I wish I knew but I don’t. Anyway, I guess we should just enjoy the slow pace of things right now. Once this is over we are going to have to double time it in order to catch back up.”
Thomas couldn’t help but groan. “Which means quite a few late hours for me? All well I can use the money.”
“Can’t we all?”
“How did work go?” Rachael was currently set up as Thomas feed her some of the baby food. At first she had a hard time dealing with the taste and the fact that she was actually eating the stuff but she had gotten over it during the week.
“Slow right now.”
“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Does that mean you have a lot of time to set around and think?”
“Yeah, so I was thinking I would turn on the microphone and we could speak to one another while I am at work.”
“That is a good idea. Maybe I could help you with your work a bit as well.”
“I think that might get some unwanted attention and I would hate to have to try and explain how I knew something that I don’t know.”
Rachael let out a bit of a sigh. “You’re right. I just wish there was something that I could do.”
Thomas couldn’t say that he would mind having Rachael’s help. However, he understood her situation and wasn’t going to add any pressure to it. “You do a good enough job of taking care of yourself.”
“Yeah right, all I need is my mind and control of my bodily functions to go and I might as well be considered elderly.”
“How have you been feeling lately?”
“Not depressed as I thought I would be. I suppose having someone to talk to helps.” Rachael looked over at the computer for a moment. “I wonder if I could do a little something to help pay for my keep.”
“I said don’t worry about it. We might be able to find something for you to do later on but not right now.”
“Have you found out who caused the investigation?”
“Not yet but I am certain that it will come out eventually.”
“Have you seen Elaine around?”
“A few times, why do you ask? Do you want me to pass on a message I know you used to spend a lot of time together.”
“No thank you. Don’t let her know you know anything about me.”
Thomas felt quite a bit of concern at Rachael’s comment but he was able to keep it from showing. He knew that Rachael had to have help in acquiring the equipment she had dumped now he had an idea of whom one of those helpers might have been. “I remember not to get any banana this time.”
“I don’t know who said that stuff taste like bananas but clearly they weren’t paying much attention.”
“Do you think you would be okay by yourself for a little longer then usual?”
“Yeah, do you want to start spending some time away from your home? I know I must be cutting into your after work social life.”
“No. It isn’t that it is just that once the lab gets back into full swing I believe I am going to have to start working some later hours to get caught back up.”
“That is fine. You don’t have to give me attention twenty four seven though I do appreciate your concern.”
“How are your exercises going?”
“I think they are going alright. I can lift the two pound weight you left with me for three reps of 15 now.”
“That is good. That is 50% more then what you could do when we started. Actually that is a little surprising.”
“How is that surprising? It still isn’t that much.”
“Well it normally takes much longer to make that type of progress.”
“Maybe I jut built up some confidence and was able to put more energy into it.”
“That is true.” Thomas was about to comment further when he saw Rachael’s body suddenly convulse. Standing up he didn’t know what was going on until he realized that Rachael was suppressing laughter. He started to relax until he saw tears forming in her eyes.
“For goodness sakes I am proud of being able to lift two pounds 45 times. I am so weak. I …” Rachael didn’t bother saying more her laughter and tears simply continued to issue forth.
Uncertain of just what he should do Thomas pulled Rachael into his lap and wrapped his arms around her. It was a good five minutes later when Rachael had time to cry that he was able to speak to her. “You’ll get through this Rachael and I will be with you every step of the way. I suppose it is time for me to start taking classes again if I am going to help you.”
“If only it was even that easy. Thomas I modified my genetic code the strands that work on normal people may not work on me or they may make my condition worse. There is no way of knowing what might happen.”
Thomas grew silent and just held Rachael. He would hold her until she calmed down and try to think of something later.
Thomas glanced up stairs towards Rachael’s room. He was currently working on her and his lunch. It had been a few days since her crying spell. She seemed calmer since then if a little depressed. Since then he had resolved to spend as much time with her as possible. As while she hadn’t seemed to notice her mood did seem to improve when he was with her. The more time he spent with her the less depressed she seemed to be. How he wished he could make her happy though instead of less depressed.
Rachael tried to keep her hunger from showing as she heard Thomas coming up the stairs. Of course she doubted she was doing a very good job. She hadn’t even been able to hide her hunger when she was just speaking to him over an intercom he had set up. Actually it was a device for parents to listen to their baby but Rachael didn’t like to think of that.
Thomas set his trey down first and then deposited Rachael’s in front of her. A little table mounted on the bed no allowed this to be done far more easily. Reaching out he started to take hold of Rachael’s spoon when he heard the phone ring. “Sorry I will be right back.”
“Okay.” Rachael watched as Thomas left the room she then turned her attention towards the plate in front of her. A sigh escaped her lips as she at first thought she was going to have to wait until he came back. Rachael seemed to attempt to set up as she was suddenly hit by a revelation. It wasn’t like she couldn’t lift a spoon. So why was she depending on Thomas to feet her? At least to feed her things that she can feed herself.
Taking hold of her spoon Rachael dipped into the steaming mashed potatoes. She was a bit disappointed when a grunt of effort escaped her lips as she had to exert herself a bit to pick it up thanks to the additional weight. Of course it didn’t weigh nearly two pounds so she should at least be able to get 45 spoonfuls. Bringing the spoon to her mouth Rachael was quite pleased when she ate her first mouthful.
Thomas let out a sigh as he walked up stairs. He hadn’t mentioned it to Rachael but the police had not left him alone. Apparently Rachael was under investigation and he was well known as one of the few people that got along with Rachael especially since he had defended her from Steven. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“It is alright. I hope you don’t mind that I started without you.”
“Huh?” Thomas was a bit surprised when he looked at Rachael’s plated and noticed the mashed potatoes were gone as were a good deal of the steamed vegetables.
“See? Now you don’t have to worry about feeding me.”
Thomas smiled and gave a nod. “I suppose that is true.” He then took a seat next to Rachael’s bed. He didn’t bother mentioning to Rachael but she seemed to be a bit happier now. So focused was his mind that he didn’t even think to blow on his mashed potatoes before he took a rather large mouthful.
Rachael was a bit surprised when Thomas suddenly grabbed his mouth. His head quickly bent down and he spit his mashed potatoes back into his trey grabbed a glass of water and began to gulp it down. It was only a few seconds and all the water was gone he didn’t quickly dumped the ice into his mouth and proceeded to set there. From the look on his face she could tell that he was in quite a bit of pain. “Thomas what is wrong?”
Thomas held up his finger indicating he needed a moment. Standing up he made his way quickly down stairs. It was a good five minutes before he came back up. “Thank goodness we don’t live in the days that there wasn’t a burn medicine for the mouth. I think I got my entire tongue.”
“Those mashed potatoes are scalding hot.”
“Huh? I didn’t notice.”
Thomas glanced back to Rachael’s trey. The burn had temporarily taken his mind away from the fact that she had already eaten most of her potatoes. Walking over to the bed he held his hand just over the mashed potatoes and then withdrew it. “Rachael let me see your tongue. I hope you aren’t losing the ability to feel pain.”
Rachael looked a little worried but opened her mouth. She had noticed the steam that was wafting off the mashed potatoes when Thomas had brought them to her. After holding her mouth open for a while and letting Thomas see her tongue she finally asked. “Well is anything burned?”
“It doesn’t appear that anything is but.” Thomas looked towards the trey.
“Give me a second.”
Rachael couldn’t help but grin at the sight of Thomas using a thermometer to see just how hot the mashed potatoes were. “Well doctor are they cooked?”
“Yeah I guess I warmed them up more then I tended to. But how aren’t you burned?”
“I don’t know. I would have thought that my injury would have been worse then yours considering my condition.”
“Same here, perhaps your enhancements didn’t just weaken your muscle strength. We haven’t really begun testing to see what else might have been affected.”
“So I might be burn resistant. Well that is something at least. Maybe if the house caught fire my body wouldn’t be burned to ashes entirely.”
“Well with any luck you wouldn’t be burned at all. I suppose this is a sign that we need to start running some test.”
“Does that mean you are going to start poking me with needles?”
“I could get a medical scanner.”
“I was kidding. Well I am going to finish my meal and then we can see what we find out.”
Thomas removed the syringe from its case and began to wipe down Rachael’s arm with some disinfectant. “Are you ready?”
“Hey I may be as weak as a child but I am not as winy. I have given blood before.”
“Well okay. Still, in case you turn out to be more responsive to pain let me know how much it hurts.” With that Thomas started to press the needle into Rachael’s skin.
Rachael had to turn her head away from the sight. She had never gotten use to seeing her own blood flowing out of her veins after roughly two minutes though she turned her head back into Thomas’s direction. “You are going to have to push harder then that I believe.”
“Rachael the needle is bending.”
Rachael looked down at her arm. She had heard the surprise in Thomas’s voice and the same surprise soon shown on her face. “Is that a prank needle?”
“No.” Thomas began to push harder watching as the needle bent and finally broke in two. “Well now I suppose you are resistant to more things then just heat. Since it doesn’t seem likely that I am going to be able to get any blood today how about we best your heat tolerance?”
Rachael glanced over at her hand as it rested within a pot of water. A thermometer was currently sticking out of it while the pot itself rested on a burner. She watched as the temperature on the thermometer began to increase. “So is it getting hot yet?”
“Well it is warm but I wouldn’t say that it is hot.”
Thomas looked at the temperature for a moment. Extending a hand he held it over the water for a moment and then dipped his fingers into it. He pulled his hand out 15 seconds later. “Yeah that is pretty warm. Let me know when it begins to become painful.”
Rachael gave a nod and turned her head away from the thermometer. She didn’t want to actually see how hot the water had become. Rather she resolved that she would simply rely on her since of touch and wait for the pain to reach the point that she could no longer endure it. She would have to trust Thomas to let her know if her hand looked as if the heat was actually injuring her.
Thomas could hardly believe it as he saw Rachael’s fingers touching the bottom of the pot. All of the water had evaporated. “Your hand doesn’t appear to be burnt at all. Isn’t the metal even hot?”
“It feels warm but that is it.” A slight giggle escaped Rachael. “This is so pathetic.”
“It seems that I have endurance like I was shooting for but I am still helpless without even normal levels of strength.” Rachael let out a sigh and closed her eyes. She didn’t want to risk braking down in tears. “I wonder if my natural life has been extended.”
“You’re worried that you will be stuck like this even longer then you originally thought.”
“It would be bad enough to be stuck this way for a single life time to be in such a situation for more then one life time?” Rachael had to stop talking in order to keep herself from crying. The pain had already begun to creep into her voice.
Unsure of what to say Thomas chose to do. Standing up he gave Rachael a gentle kiss on the forehead. “That just means we have longer to try and find a way to restore you. We can continue these tests later on. I believe that you need to rest for a while.”
“Yeah, just give me a while to calm down and then we can continue.”
It had taken more then a while for Rachael to calm down. Nearly a week actually but at last she and Thomas were back to testing her endurance. “Now be certain to tell me when you begin to feel the least bit of pain.”
“Don’t worry I know the drill.”
Thomas gave a nod. While testing the strength of Rachael’s skin and heat resistance had worried him somewhat. The most recent test had his nerves shot. They were going to get an idea of just what it would take to break one of her bones. Of course he had no intention of going that far. The idea was to apply pressure until she felt a noticeable amount of discomfort and stop there. It wouldn’t be an exact amount and could indeed be far off but at least they would have a better idea of just what she could endure. “Okay here goes.”
Rachael could feel as the device began to apply pressure to her leg. It was an odd sensation as she couldn’t really resist the machine’s strength but after a certain point it seemed unable to affect her leg any longer.
Thomas watched as the gage went up he had it set up to move slowly since he didn’t want to have to treat Rachael for a broken bone. His fingers rested nervously over the off switch and it even began to lower as it began to approach ranges that he knew would have bent a one inch steel bar. “How are you doing?”
“No pain just yet, but I can still tell it is building.” Thomas gave a nod and watched as the numbers increased. Brake concrete, bend steel and higher until finally he heard the words. “Okay it is starting to hurt now shut the machine off.”
Thomas didn’t wait for Rachael to finish as his finger had already hit the off button as soon as she had said the word shut. “Well that is quite impressive.”
“How much can my bones take before I begin to feel pain?”
“Well we don’t have to worry about you being crushed if the house were to collapse in on you.”
Thomas didn’t know what to think about the test results. While it appeared Rachael was weak as a kitten her endurance seemed far beyond anything he had ever encountered. From the results they had gotten he figured she could easily endure shots from most hands gun and even a few rifles. She was equally resistant to heat and cold if not more so.
“Spaced out are we?”
Thomas glanced over his shoulder and wished he hadn’t “Do you have some test for me to run Steven?”
“Well is that anyway to talk to a co worker.”
“It is when you have no desire to speak with them.”
“I guess your upset since Rachael hasn’t been around for a while.”
Thomas felt his heart rate speeding up and his desire to punch Steven growing every moment he was in his presence. “Well do you have some test for me?”
“Did you know the police are looking for Rachael? Considering how close you two were I thought you would want to know.”
Thomas didn’t want to just punch Steven now. He would have liked to beat the man within an inch of his life but he was able to keep control of himself. “When did this happen?”
“Couldn’t say, anyway about those tests you were asking me about. Yeah I have a few I want you to run for me.”
“So you want some vacation time?” Walter looked at Thomas’s application for some vacation time which had only been submitted a few hours earlier.
“Yes I have been feeling some what stressed. I guess I am worried about Rachael and it is starting to get to me.”
“I can understand that but Thomas we really need your help right now. Thanks to the investigation several projects have fallen behind schedule not to mention we are now missing one of our best researchers.”
“Well I am just a lab tech. I am sure you could find someone to fill my place.”
“Thomas you might be a lab tech but you aren’t easy to replace. We can’t just let anyone work with the kind of equipment we have here and your military record let us skip the evaluation period to decide if you were trust worthy.”
Thomas bit his lower lip for a moment. “I really need this time off.”
“Thomas I can’t.”
“Then I will go and prepare my letter of resignation. I believe I have to give you a weeks notice.”
Walter gripped the sides of his head for a moment. “So you feel that strongly about this? Somehow I doubt this is just about you feeling stressed out. You don’t have to give a weeks notice just date the letter a week ago and you can take off.” When Walter removed his hand he couldn’t help but grin at the surprised look on Thomas’s face. “I imagine you want to leave as soon as possible without arousing suspicion.”
“We are doing what?” Rachael could help the shock in her voice.
“We have to leave. It seems the police are searching for you.”
“That doesn’t mean they know to look for me here.”
“I think Steven is the whistle blower.”
Rachael grew silent for a good five minutes before she found the words to sum up how she felt. “Well shit.”
Thomas busied himself preparing for there departure. He wasn’t entirely certain where he was going to take Rachael but felt it best if they left as quickly as possible. He knew that his departure would only make the authorities more certain that he did indeed know where she had gone off to but he didn’t want to risk them raiding his house looking for information and finding Rachael stuck in the bed. The fact that he had to leave his home behind did set well with him but Rachael was more important.
“Thomas I can’t ask you to give up your home for me.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“But Thomas I already have taken so much from you.”
“Ah well look at it this way. If the police find out that I helped hide you I won’t be able to enjoy this home anyway.”
“Gee that makes me feel much better.”
Thomas gave a slight chuckle. “Don’t worry about it. You’re worth it.”
“How about I just turn myself in?”
“Don’t say that. That is something that I can’t let you do.”
Rachael didn’t respond to this comment but took some time to consider just what they were going to do. “So where are we going?”
“I am not certain to be honest. I am going to withdraw my money from my bank account and then I believe that we will head north.”
“Are you planning on taking me to Canada?”
“That is a possibility. It isn’t the best plan in the world but I hope to just shop around and find some place to lay low for a while. I am pretty handy with tools and I don’t mind physical work either so I am sure I can find something. It is just the two of us so I can’t imagine us having much of a problem.”
“I am sorry. I really am sorry absolutely pathetic in all truth.”
“Rachael don’t say that about yourself. You’re not sorry in the least you are a brilliant woman who I love. I am going to start getting ready to leave. I don’t know how much time we have and I believe the sooner we leave the better. We can start making plans while we are traveling.”
“Who told you about this anyway?”
“Steven came over and was gloating.”
“What makes you so certain that he wasn’t lying?”
Thomas grew silent for a moment. “I can’t help but think he was trying to get a reaction out of me. If he was lying about them looking for you at this moment I have a feeling that they will be soon enough. Further more I believe that I have already been named a suspect.
Rachael looked around the tiny apartment that she and Thomas were currently sharing it was a rather simple place with limited luxuries. Three weeks had passed since they left Thomas’s home and they had already settled down at least for a little while. She had to admit Thomas did a good job of adapting to new situations. He had already managed to find a new job though it was far from being a good job.
Scanning the room Rachael couldn’t help but sigh. He had given up too much to help her. He had a home and a good job, while Thomas had never told her about his financial situations she knew he was making more money then he was spending. With his new job working the late shift at, Rachael had to shake her head. Thomas had told her he was working at a store but he never told her what store.
She had a feeling it wasn’t a very good job. At least he wouldn’t have to carry her for much longer. At least she hoped he wouldn’t. Rachael’s hands pressed against the bed and she slowly began to rise up. Her body felt heavy far heavier then it had before she enhanced herself but at least she was able to set up now and stand up. Thomas didn’t know about either of these details.
She had been keeping it a secret from him. “Okay. Let us see if I can do this.” With that Rachael lowered her feet to the ground and stood up. Walking was a very tiring event as it still felt as she had weight strapped to her arms legs and entire body but now those weights were lighter. Using both arms Rachael had found a few days earlier that she could move a chair not a sofa or the sorts just a regular chair like one would find at a kitchen table. Maybe she could surprise Thomas when he came back to the apartment. His time working hadn’t left him much time to clean. Maybe she could at least do that.
Then maybe someday she would be able to do more. After all just a few months prior it had been a monumental effort for her to just lift up a cell phone. It seemed that her strength was either returning or building. “At least we never have to worry about room service finding me.” Rachael half lamented the condition of the apartment.
Steven has surprisingly been honest about them looking for Rachael. Over the last few days they had heard the news mention the event. Elaine and Amanda had managed to escape the search unscathed however several people had been caught and some were being looked for Rachael was amongst the list of those being looked for.
A silent thank you escaped Rachael’s lips as she thought about this. Thank goodness Steven had to gloat and thank whatever powers there may be for Thomas.
“At least it isn’t as bad as basic.” That is what Thomas told himself everyday that he came back to the apartment. Of course he shouldn’t be ungrateful the fact that he had managed to find a job within a week of his and Rachael’s arrival had been rather surprising. Of course he had money enough that he didn’t need to work at the moment but he didn’t want to use that money until it was absolutely necessary.
Upon opening the door to the apartment he was shocked at what he saw. The apartment was clean or at least cleaner then he had left it. This immediately struck him as odd his instincts taking over he quick made his way to Rachael’s room to see if she was okay and find out what had happened. His jaw nearly hit the floor when he looked in.
“Hi Thomas, how was your day?” Rachael was poor the sweat as if she had just ran a marathon and a half. Despite this a smile graced her face a smile which seemed to brighten up the entire room.
“Rachael? What happened and why are you sweating?”
“Oh I have just been cleaning is all, it was more work then I expected it to be.”
“With my hands, well my hands a few wash rags and cleaning supplies.”
“You mean that you can move.”
Rachael responded by slowly forcing herself to stand up. While the slow action of her feet touching the ground and then her standing up was good for dramatic affect it was done more because she had no other choice then for showmanship she was still very weak. The moment Rachael had elevated herself she was lifted into the air even higher as Thomas picked her up giving her a rather heavily hug.
“Oh thank heavens you are getting better.”
Rachael didn’t say anything but instead chose to wrap her arms around Thomas’s head. They remained in his position until Thomas’s arms began to tire and he finally had to set Rachael down.
“So how long have you been able to move around?”
“I found out I could get out of bed a few days after we arrived. Of course I also learned that at the time I couldn’t stand up for very long and I ended up falling down. You wouldn’t believe how much trouble it was to get back in the bed. At least now I can help out though.”
“Are you sure you’re not endangering yourself by straining your body so much?”
“Well I can’t say that I am certain, but then again I don’t know if staying in bed all that time helped either. Anyway, I need to exercise.”
“How long were you cleaning?”
Rachael couldn’t help but blush a little. “I started as soon as you left. It is kind of hard for me to work quickly.”
Thomas smiled and helped Rachael to set back down in the bed. “I will help you later.”
“Don’t do that. I want to finish up.”
“Alright, still I need to get dinner started. You just rest you have had a busy day.”
Rachael stood in front of the bathroom mirror running a brush through her hair. Granted the brush felt like a three pound weight in her hand but that was far better then how things had been. Her strength had recovered enough that she was now able to cook though she had to be careful especially when feeling a pot up with water. She had been grateful for her heat resistance on several occasions after accidentally splashing herself with scalding hot water.
Rachael also took the time to keep their little apartment tidy though that was rather easy. She hoped that she would soon be able to rejoin the work force and actually start helping pay for things. Since her strength had been recovering Rachael’s mind had once again began to turn towards the future.
While there was no way that she could reclaim her old life she didn’t plan to spend the rest of her life living the way she was. Well they were a few things that intended on keeping. She planned on staying with Thomas and repaying him for everything that he had done for her and continued to do for her though she wasn’t certain how. While she may be able to pay him back for his monetary losses some day she couldn’t think of anyway to pay him back for the kindness and care he had shown her as well as the risk that he had taken.
It had occurred to her on a few occasions that since she could move around now it might be a good idea for her to leave Thomas. After all being with her only endangered him. She had resolved to stay though when he told her that if she left and was caught them he would confess what he had done to the police. This took away any reason for her to leave and gave her more of a reason to stay though it was a rather odd form of blackmail.
At last Rachael went to set down the brush. Her eyes widened the moment she moved it in front of her face and she noticed several strands of crimson within the brush. Reaching down Rachael began to remove the strands the whole time growing more concerned about the amount of hair that was in the brush. She couldn’t bring herself to actually look into the mirror and see how much hair she had lost for ten minutes.
Reaching up Rachael parted her hair expecting to see a bald spot what she saw instead surprised her. The reason her hair was falling out is because new hair was growing in. Underneath it was several short strands of violet hair were currently forming. Rachael let her hair fall back into place and began to search the rest of her head.
“Well this is unexpected.” Thomas was currently pacing around Rachael examining the hair that had grown in the place of her old. While neither of them was certain of when the change had started it seemed to have been happening for a while. Not a single strands of Rachael’s red hair was left instead it had been replaced by violet hair. Currently it was shorter then Rachael’s old hair but it seemed to be growing longer.
“It seems that my body is just full of surprises. I wonder what else is going to change.”
“Well it isn’t too bad and your strength is recovering at least. I suppose you can just tell anyone that asks that you like to dye your hair. It looks kind of nice actually though I liked you more with longer hair.”
“This may be explainable by simply dyeing but what if my body continues to change? I hope I don’t grow wings or a tail.”
Thomas gave a nod. “Yeah that would be a bit harder to explain. Of course there isn’t anything we can do about it. I suppose we will just have to roll with the punches. How is your strength coming along?”
“I have been doing better lately. At this rate it wouldn’t be to long before I am back to my old self.”
“Just with a lot more endurance and violet hair.” “Thomas grew silent for a few moments. “Rachael just what was the DNA strands you development meant to do? I am pretty sure you told me but I might have forgotten.”
“It was meant to enhance me but not in the regular way. Most enhancements are a one shot deal unless they are designed with improvements in mind but even those are limited. Mine was meant to allow for infinite improvements.”
“So you tried to make it so that you could improve yourself even more after the initial adjustments?”
“I went further then that. I wanted my body to continue improving itself. Of course you might imagine this posed some complications.”
“What were you worried about?”
“Other then the fact that it had never been done before? I needed a way to insure that my body wouldn’t go in a direction that I hadn’t for scene or didn’t desire.”
“Were you able to accomplish that?”
“I believed that I had. Of course I wasn’t entirely certain. I injected myself before I was done testing because of the investigation. I couldn’t stand the idea of having to start over especially when I might not have access to the strands ever again.”
“How were you going to control what direction your body moved in?”
“I tried to make the connection between my redesigned cells, nervous system and brain more complete. I wanted to be able to treat it something like a neural interface with my own body.”
“Well I guess this proves you succeeded on some level at least. Your body is clearly changing.”
“I just hope it is for the better.”
Rachael glanced towards the window of the apartment. The blinds were constantly drawn but they were so thin that they might as well have been open. Thomas hadn’t allowed her to start working just yet since he feared her body would suddenly weaken again. It annoyed her to some extent but he was right. They needed to give it some time to make sure her body wasn’t going to relapse.
At least her hair had grown back to some extend. Several weeks had past since the last of her natural hair had fallen out while her altered hair now reached down to her shoulders and though it looked somewhat strange it was better then being bald she reasoned. She had resolved that instead of trying to explain the strange color as the result of dyeing she would do the opposite and dye her hair back to red.
Stretching a bit Rachael was somewhat surprised when she felt something rather solid against her toes. Carefully she moved them along the surface until she suddenly set up in bed her eyes wide. Removing the covers she soon realized that her toes were actually touching the iron rim of the bed.
It didn’t take Rachael long to scramble out of bed and begin to search for a measuring tape and a pencil. Locating the items she placed her back against one of the walls and made a quickly mark. She then proceeded to find out just why her feet had touched the rim. “Six feet three inches.” Rachael felt her body twitch somewhat. “Why hadn’t she noticed this earlier?”
Looking down Rachael realized one of the reasons was probably because the clothing she had been wearing lately was very loose. They also had other concerns which would have distracted her add the fact that she had so much trouble adapting to being in her weakened state and it wasn’t too surprising that she didn’t notice.
Leaning against the wall Rachael took in a few deep breaths to steady herself, “Okay you knew your body was changing and you didn’t actually plan for it to stop. There is nothing wrong with putting on a few inches nothing openly unnatural has happened yet.” A second Rachael’s hand touched the top of her head. “Okay one unnatural thing has happened. Well no if I include my resistance that makes two unnatural things. Crap.”
Straitening back up Rachael proceeded into the bathroom. It had the largest mirror and the apartment and she needed to check a few things out. She had planned on doing some cleaning and cooking today but those were quickly changing. It had been some time since she had really checked herself out and she needed to know if there was anything else that she had missed. As Rachael walked into the rest room she glanced down at the measuring tape she held. The exterior case was made of metal and the weight wasn’t bothering her.
“How could you miss these?”
Thomas felt somewhat awkward thanks in no small part to the globes that were currently being displayed in front of him. “Well I. I suppose the change was so gradual that it didn’t really click.”
“Thomas I went from just barely a C cup to a DD cup and you didn’t notice?”
Thomas felt his face redden a bit though it wasn’t due to anger. After all Rachael didn’t truly seem to be scolding. Rather her tone of voice was teasing. “We had other things to worry about and your hair sort of takes away from that area. At least it did before hand.”
Rachael smirked and proceeded to lower her shirt again. “It seems that my strength has recovered as well if not more so. I am a little surprised that it didn’t take much longer.”
“Have you run any test?”
“Well I lifted some of the heavier items to see if I could. I didn’t have any trouble with anything at least except those things that you would expect.”
“So you don’t have to strain to lift a pot full of water.”
“Nope, I guess this means that I am ready to rejoin the work force and start earning my keep.”
Thomas didn’t respond right away but took his time to get a good look at Rachael. He had been too busy to notice lately but she seemed to have changed in ways she hadn’t noticed either. “Rachael I don’t remember you ever looking so toned.”
Rachael glanced down at her arms and legs for a moment. “Huh I guess they do look firmer then what they did even before my mistake.”
“I wonder if your treatment might have just needed some time. Perhaps, you should just stay here for a while longer so we can see what is going to happen.”
“Thomas if we keep doing that then we will never find out. I would need equipment to test and be certain of anything and we can’t afford it right now. Not to mention that it would be very difficulty to get hold of such equipment without proper licensing. If this is indeed only a temporary improvement I want to enjoy it as long as I can.”
Thomas took his time to respond. He didn’t like it but Rachael did have a point. “So what kind of work do you plan on looking for?”
Rachael took a moment to step away and pick up a chair. It would have been easier to drag it to the spot but she was so grateful to even have the strength that a healthy human of her size would have that she couldn’t resist. After setting the chair down Rachael sat down. “The type of job that doesn’t require a lot of documentation to get. Perhaps, I can get a job working in a heated environment that most people would find uncomfortable. Maybe I can even work along side of you. What have you been doing anyway? You always told me not to worry about it. I assume it must be rather unpleasant and you didn’t want me to feel guilty about it.”
Thomas couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. “Well it isn’t really anything to be ashamed or difficult. It just bothers me that after so much education I am working as a janitor.”
Rachael blinked her eyes for a moment. “Yuck. How have you been keeping your work clothes hidden from me?”
“It is easy considering that you couldn’t really do much for a while. Once you started cleaning though I did continue to do some of the laundry.”
“That is true. I bet they make you repair the little floor sweepers as well.”
“So how about we try and find you some work that you would at least enjoy?”
“Well that doesn’t provide many options.”
“We can start at the beginning. What is it you want to do?”
Rachael was about to answer work in a lab when she realized that wasn’t the truth. “I want to do something that would allow me to make use of my endurance and my strength.”
Thomas gave a nod. “Well I can think of a few jobs that people generally consider unpleasant thanks to the conditions.”
“Of course it would be nice if it was one that I could quit without much fuss but then again I suppose that is inevitable since it also has to be work that I can get without much testing. I would feel comfortable going to a doctor to have a physical done in my condition.”
“That does limit the prospects quite a bit.”
“Thomas, would you mind doing me a favor?”
“Sure. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to hit me.”
“You said you would do me a favor.”
“Yeah but I didn’t expect for you to ask for something like that. I can’t just hit you.”
“Oh come on. You know you can’t break my bones even with mechanical help. Well you could have broken them we stopped before that point, but it would have required enough force that there is no way you could deliver it with your first.”
“That is true but I don’t want to risk hurting you even if I can’t injure you and well it just doesn’t feel right.”
A rather playful smile formed on Rachael’s face. “Would it help if I hit you first?”
“Rachael. I don’t want to hit you.”
Rachael giggled a bit and quickly leaned forward pressing her lips against Thomas’s for a moment. It took a little while but Rachael finally leaned back. “Okay I couldn’t bring myself to hit you either. Anyway I can test this on my own.”
It took a while for Thomas’s mind to start working enough for him to respond. When he finally came to he realized Rachael was busy searching around the apartment. “What are you doing?”
“I am look for something and here it is.” Rachael proceeded to take an old globe from one of the drawers. It was one of the things she had Thomas take with them since it was an antique. “Yes this should be heavy enough.”
Thomas started to walk towards Rachael somewhat worried about what she was planning. “Heavy enough for what?” Thomas felt his concern triple as Rachael held the globe above her head. “What are you doing?”
“Don’t worry. I am just going to run a quick test.” At this point Rachael released the globe from her fully extended hands and allowed it to fall onto her head.
“What are you trying to do? Nock yourself unconscious?” Thomas couldn’t help but raise his voice at the recklessness of Rachael’s actions.
Rachael smiled and stuck her tongue out at Thomas. “Of course not silly, I was only trying to get an idea of the protection my endurance gives me.” Rachael bent down and proceeded to pick up the globe. “This has to way a few pounds at least and it didn’t even sting being dropped from arms length.”
“You know Rachael perhaps you getting a job just now isn’t such a good idea.”
“Huh why do you say that?”
“Well for one thing after your test I am worried that you might hurt yourself and well you have grown some since this began. How do we know that you’re not done growing? It would be rather difficult to hide growing oh say an extra foot.”
“That just means I need to get a job were there isn’t many chances to compare my height to other peoples. That or to find a job that I won’t be staying on for very long. You need to relax you know. Back in the lab I was known for pushing the limit a little bit and it isn’t like I dropped that without some prior testing. I knew it didn’t have enough force to crack my skull after all.”
Thomas let out a sigh. “I think it was easier on my nerves when I didn’t have to worry about you experimenting on yourself. How about we check out the help wanted ads and see what we can find? If nothing else perhaps you can find some work doing odd jobs.” Thomas closed his eyes for a moment as if thinking of something. “Rachael, would you go out to dinner with me?”
The question caught Rachael somewhat off guard but she didn’t need long to think anyway. “I would be glad to. Though I am curious as to where that question came from.”
“I didn’t feel comfortable making any advancements towards you while you were in your weakened condition. Now I want to try to woo you a bit.”
“Silly, you have been doing that this entire time. Now let us go and take a look at those help wanted ads.”
The days since Rachael’s recovery had been rather odd for Thomas. He had known Rachael for some time and she had always been reserved at least when it came to how she dressed. Ever since her strength had not only returned to the same level it had been before she tried to enhance herself and then gone beyond. She had been wearing less and less clothing. She had already cut away the legs of several of her pairs of pants converting the clothing to shorts.
The shirts for their part didn’t need any modification thanks to Rachael’s increase in height and bust line. Going from 5’2” to 6’4” will have that affect. Thomas gave his head a quick shake. 6’5.5” Rachael had put on an additional inch and a half since then and may very well grow taller though how much taller he couldn’t be certain.
She had also begun to stay closer to him which was a rather odd behavioral pattern. Rachael had often kept her distance from other people as if subconsciously or perhaps consciously she felt they were a threat. Now he found himself receiving frequent hugs and kisses from her. Of course there was no way he was going to complain about this.
The one thing that did have him worried though was Rachael’s desire to experiment with the changes that were occurring. He frequently saw her trying to lift increasingly heavy objects and having an easier time doing so with each attempt apparently her strength wasn’t done increasing.
Testing her strength wasn’t what actually had him worried of course. Rather it was her tendency to intentionally place her hand on a hot burner or drop a rather heavy object on her foot or at times atop her head.
On top of all of this she had began talking about him quitting his job and trying to find a more comfortable one now that she was working. She was making more money then what he had been. She had assured him this was due to her increased bust size and didn’t have anything to do this either of their work ethic or brains. Rachael had managed to get a job at a repair shop. It wasn’t the type of work that she had been looking for but she seemed to be happy.
He doubted that she wore the protective gloves to avoid getting shocked. Of course he had to admit that a part of him wanted to try and find work else where.
“What are you thinking about?”
Thomas looked up to find Rachael standing next to him. He had been so lost in thought that he hadn’t noticed her approach. “I was just thinking about her employment status.”
“Are you finally going to quit your job?”
“Well I don’t need to quit to find a better job do I?”
“No, but I know you can enjoy your work.”
“It isn’t so bad. How are things going at the shop?”
“They are going pretty well though I wish people would quit telling me to put on my gloves or I am going to get shocked.”
“They are right.”
“I know they are right. I have been shocked several times already though they were mostly intentional. It just so much fine to touch a wire and know that if a normal human was touching it they would be knocked unconscious or maybe killed yet it doesn’t even bother me.”
“It’s nice to know that you are enjoying your work.”
“It is nice enough though I want to try something different eventually. I wish he could have found a way to dye my hair.”
Thomas gave a nod. They had attempted to dye Rachael’s hair to a normal color but found the task to be impossible. No matter how much dye they put on her hair it simply wouldn’t soak in. Rather it would just run off. “What do you want to try?”
“Just about anything that would let me make use of my strength and endurance. I have been asking around the office but I haven’t had much success. I suppose they don’t realize just how big I really am.”
“Well you do keep sat down as much as possible.”
“Yeah, which does stink but until I stop growing I can’t let anyone get a good idea of what my height is.”
“You know you could just go to a gym if you are so interested in seeing what your muscles are capable of doing.”
Rachael grew silent for a few moments. “Oh sure, make me look stupid why don’t you?”
Thomas couldn’t help but laugh. “Well it is the idea to meet people if you are looking for ways to make use of your strength.”
“True and I don’t have to worry about being recognized. Do you know of any gyms in the area?”
“Sorry I can’t help you there. I haven’t really had time to look around thanks to work.”
“That is a problem. I will shop around some later.”
This was one side of Rachael that Thomas had never expected to see. Rachael had always worn fairly simple clothing that concealed her frail frame rather well. However, since her frame was no longer frail it seemed she was eager to show off. He had thought today would be spent looking into various gyms instead he found himself waiting outside of a dressing room for Rachael to try on some clothes for the gym.
Rachael let out a sigh as she set a hair of low cut shorts down. While she liked the way the garment showed off her legs she knew that she couldn’t justify purchasing it. Not that she believed Thomas would complain about any purchase that she made. She knew that it would be a needless drain on their financial situation especially since they didn’t know how tall she was going to become.
She needed to stick with clothing that was either over sized but would still work or that could stretch. “Thomas I don’t think these t-shirts are going to be large enough. Could you ask the clerk to check for something larger?”
“Huh? But those shirts would be baggy even on me.”
“Yes but I am taller then you and you don’t have breast.”
“Good point I will see what I can do.”
“Oh. Before you go, please put these back.” Rachael proceeded to hand over the packet of t-shirts as well as several of articles of clothing.
“Did they not fit you?”
“They fit me at the moment but I doubt they would stretch enough. At least if I put on any more inches.”
“True. Okay I will be back in a moment. Thomas didn’t bother mentioning that Rachael was already five and a half inches taller then him. Considering this the only reason he made a trip to the women’s section of the store was to put back the shorts that wouldn’t fit her. After which me made his way to the men’s section and began to search for the largest shirts the store had available. “Okay how are these.”
Rachael caught the packed as it flew over the top of the dresser. “Give me a moment and I will let you know.” Unzipping the package Rachael pulled out one of the shirts. “Is this the largest that they have?”
“Yeah, is it too small?”
“I will let you be the judge of that.”
Thomas’s jaw nearly hit the ground when Rachael opened up the dressing room door and stepped out. He knew that Rachael had been growing both in muscle mass and height as well as had a bust size increase but he wasn’t expecting this. He had no idea of just how much she had changed over the last few weeks.
Rachael noticed a slight gasp from Thomas and felt a bit of worry as she wondered what it was caused by. As she looked him over her worry faded as she realized it wasn’t due to him finding her unpleasant to look at. Rather it seemed to be the exact opposite.
“Where have you been hiding that body?”
Rachael gave an amused giggle. “I am glad you like it.”
Thomas gave a nod and decided to give his eyes a few moments to take in the vision of loveliness before him. He had none that her body had been toning up over the past few weeks but now those changes were really being brought home to him. Starting with Rachael’s legs he could see the outline of her muscles hidden under her skin even when they were relaxed. The muscles seemed to dance every so slightly every time Rachael would shift her weight.
Rachael’s thigh muscles were truly massive and looked like they could crush a man’s head like a grape if they were to be caught between them. Traveling upward he was surprised to find that her abdominal muscles were clearly defined into six different sections that looked as strong as a plate of steel. The t-shirt she currently wore was drawn so tight against them that it was plain to see. Looking further upward he noticed from the outline of her nipples in the shirt that Rachael wasn’t wearing a bra and considering how firm those breasts appeared to be he doubted that she needed one.
Looking to the side he noted Rachael’s arms. When had her biceps gotten so large? He had no doubt that they were larger then his own. Rachael waste was slim in comparison to the rest of her. “Wow.”
“I am glad that you like it. I guess these clothes are going to have to do if they are the largest that the store has.”
“Mm is that the closest to a coherent answer that I am going to get?”
Thomas gave his head a quick shake. “That is a distinct possibility.
I mean wow. When did this happen?”
“It has been happening for a while. I guess it takes time for such a change to become truly apparent though. Keep in mind though that I may not be done changing yet.”
“How about we just buy the cheaper clothes since they may not last me for a very long time?”
“Yeah that is a good idea.”
Thomas opened up the little oven and glanced in at the confection.
Rachael was currently away working while he had taken a day off in order to stay home and prepare something specially. He would miss the day’s paycheck but with Rachael working they could take such brakes. In truth their finances had grown though only slightly. “I wonder if this is something I should really be celebrating?”
Thomas just gave a shrug and took the cake out of the oven. It was already baked after all and if he didn’t take today to celebrate it would be an entirely wasted day. “Okay. Is that everything? I have the cake, ice cream, hot dogs, fries, tape measurer and I believe that is it.”
He and Rachael had been in hiding for quite some time now. A year actually and they hadn’t had any real trouble avoiding capture. He imagined it was due to keeping a low profile that and Rachael looked nothing like the woman they showed on the TV. People were looking for a woman that barely topped five feet and Rachael had passed up six feet a long time ago. Today Thomas planned on finding out just what height Rachael had reached.
Taking a quick glance at the clock to see how much time he had Thomas was somewhat relieved to see that he had forty minutes before Rachael would be home. Settling down in the room that doubled both as a bedroom and living room he flipped on the television and resolved to relax a bit before Rachael got back.
As Rachael walked up the stairs to her and Thomas’s little apartment she moved more slowly then normal. She hadn’t mentioned it to Thomas but her job had ceased to be amusing a long time ago. The occasional shock she gave herself had been amusing for a time but with her actions restricted it had finally quit being fun and started being work. A chuckled escaped Rachael’s lips as she thought about the lab. While that had been her job she wouldn’t have ever called it work. It was too much fun to be that.
Of course perhaps it wasn’t actually the job but rather it was her. She had undergone a lot of changes after all and now that she actually had some strength to speak of she felt compelled to use it. Rachael froze for a moment and proceeded to flex her right arm. Watching as the biceps swelled and pressed the fabric outward. Her eyes widen in surprised when the shirt actually developed a tear. “My.”
Rachael’s smile returned at this bit of relief and she made her way the rest of the way up to her and Thomas’s room.
Thomas had turned off the TV some five minutes before he expected Rachael to arrive though he didn’t bother turning off the lights. He knew that would make her suspicious as to what was going on inside. “Welcome home Rachael.”
“Hi. You’re back early aren’t you?”
“I decided to take today off.” Thomas withdrew the tape measurer from his back pocket and walked over to Rachael.
“Oh do you have something special in mind?”
“Yes I do, but first would you mind if I took some measurements?”
“Sure, though I don’t know how long that they will be consistent.”
“I have a feeling that these will hold accurate.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I have been comparing our heights.” Thomas walked over to Rachael until he felt her breast pressing against him he then learned forward a bit.
“Yeah I have been in this spot every time you hugged me for a while now.” When Rachael giggled Thomas couldn’t help but notice her breast shaking.
“Well that isn’t the most scientific means of measuring my height but it is one way to do it without me noticing.” Rachael proceeded to wrap her arms around Thomas and pull his head down slightly so that it came to meet her breast just a bit more.
When Rachael finally released her grip Thomas straitened back up. “So how about we find out just how tall you are?”
“Okay.” Rachael walked over to the wall where they had been measuring her height for a while now while Thomas retrieved a foot stool. Standing on the stool he could see over her head and marked her height on the wall. He then placed the tape measured against the line and allowed Rachael to pull it down.
“So what does it come to?”
“You are two and a bit more then a tenth meters or seven feet tall.”
“Well no wonder your head almost ends up in my cleavage every time we hug.”
“No I am pretty sure that is because of your arms pulling my head down.”
“Well while you are standing on that why don’t we take some additional measurements?” Rachael didn’t give Thomas a chance to answer but proceeded to pull her t-shirt over her head and move so that her back was facing the stool that he was standing on.”
Thomas grinned and learned forward as he wrapped his arms around Rachael he made it a point to give her breast a slight squeeze as he did he felt Rachael shift slightly causing her breast flesh to rub against his arms. “That is fifty seven inches or one hundred and twenty four centimeters. No wonder those t-shirts were stretched when ever you tried to wear them.”
“That store just didn’t have anything for fat people.”
Thomas gave a slight chuckle and hopped down. He then proceeded to wrap the measuring tape around Rachael’s waste. “Thirty inches or seventy centimeters.”
“You know you only need to give me one type of measurement. I know both systems.”
“Yeah but it helps me remember them both more easily.”
When Thomas tried to withdraw his hands from Rachael’s waist he found that he couldn’t perform the task as Rachael’s hands had settled upon his and now held them in place. His hands were only held for a few seconds before Rachael released and allowed him to take his final measurement. “Forty nine inches or about one hundred twenty four centimeters.”
“Of course my height isn’t the only thing that has been going up.” Rachael didn’t wait for Thomas to stand up but proceeded to bend down and slip a hand under each one of his arms. Straitening her legs out Rachael lifted Thomas into the air holding him so that her arms were fully extended at a slight angle.
“Impressive but you are straining.”
“Yeah I know. Of course just because my height has stopped going up doesn’t mean that my strength has. At least I hope it doesn’t mean that.” Rachael brought Thomas in closer and proceeded to wrap her arms around him. Thomas followed suit as he enjoyed the feeling of being hugged, his weight was entirely supported by Rachael so that his feet were left dangling above the ground.
“I have something else for you.”
“What is that?”
“I couldn’t make anything fancy but I decided to bake a cake for us today to celebrate.”
“Are we celebrating that my height seems to have stopped increasing?”
“That and the fact that it has been nearly a year since your successful experiment.”
“Successful? It nearly killed me.”
“True but if these are the end results then I believe that it was successful.”
Rachael set Thomas down and took a moment to admire her body. “Well so long as this progress doesn’t regress I would have to agree.”
“Later on we could look into special ordering some clothes that would fit you. Though before we do that, there is something else I want to speak to you about after we eat.”
“What is it?”
“Lets take some time to relax first then we can talk about what I have in mind.”
“Okay. So what kind of cake did you bake me?”
End Chapter 1