Defective

Defective is a Science-fiction novel which is in the early stages of development. 

What you will see on this page is a first draft sample from the book which is not yet available so please enjoy the sneaky peak!

Chapter One

 

Dr Evelyn Harper walked up to the electronic doors of ‘Enhance Life’ and waited for them to open. She straightened her coat and tucked a stray strand of short dark brown hair behind her ear in the way she always did when she was nervous. Still the doors didn’t open.

Aaron, her young trainee shuffled his feet, nervously.

“Are you sure we should be doing this?” he asked.

 “Someone has to,” she replied.

 It wasn’t as if she wasn’t just as worried as he was. Especially as all he’d done the entire commute was to give her all the possible bad outcomes from going there in person.

“And that person has to be you?” he asked, then corrected himself, “…us. Us.”

“You didn’t have to come with me Aaron,” Evelyn replied. “I’m quite capable of looking after myself.”

“I couldn’t let you come alone,” he protested. He glanced around and lowered his voice conspiratorially. “What if there is something strange going on? You start asking questions and you could ‘disappear’.”

She turned to look at him and raised an eyebrow, “And you’re going to do what exactly to stop that from happening? Besides, people don’t just disappear in this day and age. Everyone is monitored by the main computer. You can’t vanish. It always knows where you are.”

“They could tamper with the records,” he suggested, whispering, “They have a lot of power. Who knows what they could be capable of?”

“Aaron, you’re letting your imagination get away with you. You’ve watched too many old spy films. If you’re so concerned, then go home.” She stopped and took a deep breath. “I’m going to be fine, and I’m not going to let you talk me out of this so you might as well give up now.” She glanced at the door again. “That is of course if I can get to the reception desk,” she muttered.

Aaron sighed.

She knew he had every reason to be concerned. Since it had opened ten years before ‘Enhanced Life’ had become a very strong and powerful company. They practically ran the city, or had customers in powerful places.

He was doing what he did so often and trying to look after her. She just wished he wouldn’t fuss so much. It was bad enough that he nagged her about meal times and sleep when she was working on an important breakthrough, but he seemed to think he was her keeper. She was thirty three. She didn’t need some twenty four year old, not long out of college, boy trying to take care of her. She’d only really given him the job as a favour to her old college professor who insisted Aaron had potential, but needed a good mentor, however in the past nine months it had seemed more like he was guiding her in everyday life than she was guiding him in science. He had however done a lot of good work, she couldn’t deny it. In fact it was him that had first stumbled on the fact that her patients had all visited ‘Enhanced Life’ some time before their illness began.

“Maybe they’re not open today,” Aaron ventured, an obvious hint of hope in his voice. “Perhaps we should come back tomorrow?”

Aaron started to move away from the doors and Evelyn noticed something behind where he had been standing. “Not so fast, Aaron. Look. That’s why the doors don’t open.” She pointed to a small screen on which the words ‘please ring the buzzer’ were flashing, and beneath them was a round red dot.

“Oh,” he said, turning back, “I hadn’t noticed that.”

Evelyn wasn’t convinced he was being truthful. It was pretty obvious from where he had been standing, “Of course not,” she said smiling. “Otherwise you would have pressed the buzzer.” She placed her finger on the red dot on the screen and a short cheerful jingle of music echoed around them. A receptionist’s face appeared on the screen. She was smiling a smile so wide Evelyn thought it might swallow her face.

“Welcome to ‘Enhanced Life’. How may I be of assistance today?” she trilled cheerily.

Evelyn cleared her throat. “I’m Doctor Evelyn Harper. This is my assistant Dr Aaron Pierson. We have an appointment with Dr Wyght.”

The receptionist glanced down at her screen and searched the records. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t seem to have a record of your visit.”

“I spoke to him two days ago via the city network,” answered Evelyn, “he told me he was unavailable until today, but if I came down here for about 2pm he would be happy to speak to me in person.”

The receptionist smiled. “If you don’t mind waiting just a moment I’ll see if I can reach him.”

Her face disappeared from the screen and a trailer for ‘Enhanced Life’ came on.

“Here at Enhanced Life we treat each person with care and respect and we are proud to offer a five star service on all enhancements and after care needed….” The trailer sang out with an equally cheerful voice as the receptionist. A slide show of the building played out in the background, followed by a supposed ‘new customer’ speaking to a person in a lab coat.

“Do you think he was just trying to get rid of you the other day?” asked Aaron.

“I don’t know,” replied Evelyn, “maybe, but we’re here now and I’m not leaving until we get what we came for. There needs to be some reward for listening to all these painfully cheerful voices.”

Aaron snickered, “maybe there’s a way to change the screen so we don’t have to listen to it…” he reached out towards it, but she stopped his hand.

“Better not. We don’t want to get cut off just in case they don’t answer the next time.”

He nodded. “It’s a very smart building,” he said, looking around. “I’ve never been this close to it before.”

“Me neither. The whole idea of letting them ‘improve me’ makes my skin crawl,” Evelyn couldn’t help a slight shudder as she thought about what the company did.

“I couldn’t do it either,” Aaron stated, “but it must be pretty popular. According to the promotional trailer they’ve performed over fourteen thousand procedures.”

Evelyn shook her head and responded dryly, “Don’t believe everything you’re told in a promotional film. Companies always make things up.”

She was about to say more when the doors suddenly flew open and the receptionists beaming face popped back onto the screen.

“If you’d like to come in to the main reception, Dr Wyght will be down to meet you shortly,” said the receptionist smiling the smile that made Evelyn’s jaws ache just thinking about it.

“Thank you,” Evelyn said. She straightened her coat and tucked her hair behind her ear again and marched through the doors as confidently as she could.

Aaron took a deep breath and followed her inside.

The reception area was bright and clean. White curved screens, made from fibreglass, rose out of the dark wood floor like statues, each one a piece of art. There were smart leather seats artistically dotted between them and the ceiling was made of glass. The receptionist’s desk was raised on a platform overlooking the main floor. It too was made of dark wood and glass. The annoyingly cheerful receptionist sat behind it tapping the desk which appeared to be a giant touch screen. She peered over it at them.

“If you’d just like to take a seat he won’t be long,” she trilled. “Can I offer you a drink?”

Evelyn smiled back, “No thank you.”

The receptionist stared at Aaron, her smile not breaking for a second. He was too busy looking at the ceiling to notice. The receptionist waited, then when it was obvious he wasn’t listening she let out a small ‘ahem’. Aaron looked up at her, “Drink?” she asked, keeping her fake cheery disposition but a slight hint of irritation in her voice.

Evelyn tried hard not to smile at this thinking, ‘Thank god. She is human after all.’

“Oh. No… I’m fine, thank you,” stammered Aaron.

Evelyn chose a seat and Aaron followed, taking the seat next to her.

The receptionist returned to tapping on her desk. Every now and then she would slide her finger across it and move an open file to somewhere else.

Evelyn sat watching her wishing she could glance at those files, but she supposed that was why the desk was raised. Aaron was looking towards the door with his leg nervously bouncing up and down. It was a habit that he always did when he was thinking hard or worried about something. She reached out and rested her hand on his knee.

He looked back at her and stopped, “Sorry,” he whispered.

She lifted her hand off and put in on her own lap.

Aaron swapped to lightly drumming his fingers on the arm of the chair. He was beginning to make her nervous too.

She was about to stop him when a wall to their left slide aside. A tall man with neat short grey hair entered. He looked to be in his fifties, but Evelyn wasn’t completely certain. He was dressed in a smart suit with a lab coat thrown over it and Evelyn noticed his shoes were extremely high quality and obviously very expensive. They didn’t even make a sound as he walked across the floor towards them.

Evelyn and Aaron stood and the stranger smiled at them and held out his hand.

“You must be Doctor Harper,” he said, taking Evelyn’s hand and shaking it.

“Dr Wyght?” enquired Evelyn.

He nodded. “Please call me Lynus. I always insist visitors should call me by my first name. It’s just so much friendlier, don’t you agree? It’s a pleasure to finally meet you and…?”

“This is my assistant,” Evelyn considered the first name idea, but wasn’t sure she wanted to be so personal with a man who could be in charge of something very sinister, “Doctor Pierson.”

“Wonderful,” replied Lynus shaking Aaron’s hand strongly. He held his smarmy smile. “Now you said on the city network line you had some serious concerns that you wished to talk to someone about. What, may I ask, is it that is concerning you and how may I help to alleviate those concerns?”

Aaron looked at Evelyn and she cleared her throat, “Well, frankly Dr Wyght…”

“Lynus,” he corrected.

She swallowed and forced herself to carry on, “Lynus, it’s a sensitive matter and I’m not sure we should discuss it out here. Is there an office where we could go through the details? Somewhere more private?”

“Of course,” Lynus moved over to the right side of the room and Evelyn and Aaron followed. He stopped them in the middle of the floor.

“If you’ll just stand there,” he said.

Evelyn and Aaron watched as he tapped on the side of one of the white curved walls. It began moving, as did three others, until they had formed a perimeter around them all. As they connected together, sealing all exits, a soft sound like falling rain and a slight shimmering overhead indicated the forming of a forcefield. Three wooden chairs rose out of the floor and a desk. Lynus sat behind it and indicated the two seats opposite.

“Wow,” whispered Aaron.

Lynus smiled, “It is pretty impressive if I do say so myself. Now, on with business.”

Evelyn sat in one of the chairs. Aaron looked the other up and down awed. “How does it work?” he asked.

“That would be giving away our secrets,” answered Lynus.

“I wouldn’t tell anyone, I’m just….”

“Dr Pierson,” said Evelyn firmly.

“Yes. Sorry,” Aaron murmured, sitting down in the spare chair.

Evelyn looked over at Lynus Wyght who sat smiling and waiting. Well, here it was. The moment she had been dreading. She was going to have to explain.

“Dr…. Lynus. I have come here today because I have discovered something that could be potentially a big concern for both you and myself. Dr Pierson and I are neuroscientists and I specialize in the treatment of patients who develop mental illnesses. I have studied both the physical and psychological aspects of various patients over the years and tried to develop treatments for their conditions.”

“A very worthy cause I am sure Dr Harper,” Lynus commented.

“It is.”

“I am not sure however what that has to do with us,” he said.

Evelyn could feel her mouth was getting dry, but she couldn’t back out now. “I have, in the last ten years, been presented with cases unlike any that have been seen before. They do not seem to follow any of the normal behaviours or have symptoms that can be attributed to any one already existing condition. Their behaviour is erratic. One day they are almost in a coma like state, the next they are screaming hysterically. It is only a handful of patients, but they have all been sent to me because no-one else knows how to treat them either.”

“I agree their situation sounds disturbing, but you still have not told me why they bring you here.”

“These people have no history of mental illness in the family and I have looked for common genetic influences or environmental influences that could account for why these people have been affected, but there is only one thing that I have found so far that they have in common. They all came to ‘Enhance Life’ to undergo a procedure of some kind. It is the only common factor.”

Lynus’s smile faded and he replaced it with a look of concern, “Are you saying you believe we have done something that has affected these people?”

“I don’t know for certain, but it may be a very real possibility,” answered Evelyn. She tucked the strand of hair back behind her ear and waited for him to say something else.

“Do you have the names of these patients?” Lynus asked, “It may help us to look at their files so I know what it was they had done when they came here.”

“Of course,” replied Evelyn. “Dr Pierson, where’s the data chip?”

Aaron searched his pockets and handed the chip to Lynus.

 Lynus placed it on his desk. A similar screen to the receptionist’s popped up and so did the names of the patients. There were nine in total. Their files flew into place on the desk. Lynus flicked through them quickly, then he closed the screen and handed the chip back to Aaron.

“According to their files they all had very minor procedures. Skin purifying treatments, time chips inserted, one cybernetic joint replacement, but nothing that would involve their brain being tampered with. In all honesty I cannot see how these procedures could bring about this illness. There must be something else you’ve missed, Doctor,” said Lynus.

“So you don’t think there is any reason to be concerned with them all sharing a history of involvement with ‘Enhance Living’?” retorted Aaron. Evelyn could sense he was getting angry.

“There is nothing that we have done that could have caused these symptoms,” Lynus answered, “However I will look at the files in more detail and get each surgeon involved to go through them too. I would hate to think that some minor glitch was developing in to a serious illness in our customers further along the road. Now, how about I give you a tour so you can see what it is we do here and maybe you can see some of these procedures yourself to assure you of their safety. How would that be?”

Aaron looked at Evelyn with a look that said, might not be a bad idea.

She smiled, “Thank you, Lynus.”

“Of course. I know a scientist’s curiosity can be very powerful. Now let me show you what we do here.”

Lynus stood and indicated for them to do the same. He tapped the side of the desk and the chairs and desk sank into the floor again. The curved walls disconnected and moved back out to where they had originally been. Lynus tapped his wrist and a small projection appeared above it. “Ruscole. Could you join me in the main reception? I’d like to take our visitors on a tour of the facilities.”

“Right away, Sir,” answered the projection.

Lynus noticed Evelyn and Aaron staring at his wrist and smiled. “Just another one of our procedures. I have a small data transmitter inserted under my skin. By tapping it I am able to communicate with anyone else who has the same enhancement or a compatible one. I can also use it to connect to the city network. It comes in very useful when ordering take away late at night,” he laughed at his own bad joke. “It’s currently only on trial, but we hope to be offering it to the general population by the end of the month.”

The wall at the end of the reception area slid aside and someone walked through it. Evelyn and Aaron had seen cyborgs before. It was fairly common these days for people to have missing limbs replaced with mechanical ones or even get mechanical implants that could make arms stronger and faster which was beneficial at completing highly physical jobs more efficiently. Most law enforcement officials and military personnel had several cybernetic implants to allow them to perform their jobs more effectively and safely, giving them an advantage. This man however was not just part cyborg. There was very little evidence of human body left.

He walked over to them and nodded his head, almost in a bow to Lynus.

“Doctor Harper, Doctor Pierson, allow me to introduce our head of security, Ruscole,” said Lynus.

“Head of security?” asked Aaron, “I didn’t realise you needed security.”

“More than you think,” answered Lynus, “there are other companies out there who are desperate to get ahead of us in the game, even if it means stealing our technology. It is, unfortunately, protocol now that any visitors must be accompanied by a security official. Please, don’t take it personally.”

“I’m afraid there has been a chemical spill in unit E. It is currently being cleaned up Sir, but it may take our team a few hours to finish and make the area safe again,” said Ruscole.

“Oh. Right, in which case we might have to miss that area out, but I’m sure our visitors will get chance to see what we do here without unit E. Let’s begin then shall we?”

Lynus walked over to the wall and opened it by tapping somewhere on the nearby sculpture partition.

Evelyn couldn’t see any buttons or signs as to how he knew where to press at all.

They followed him through a carpeted passageway in to unit A. Lynus showed them small rooms where customers had consultations. He demonstrated how the consultation desk worked by scanning the person and uploading a 3D projected image. Consultants could then select from a long list of different enhancements to improve on any weaknesses in the body or change physical appearance depending on what the customer wanted. Other optional enhancements were listed and shown in detail, such as microchips designed to be inserted under the skin to adjust a person’s temperature, allowing them to always feel a comfortable level of cold or heat or genetic alterations that could change a person’s eye or hair colour.

“If it’s cold outside and a person wants to be warmer all they need to do is tap their neck. One side raises the temperature of the body, the other cools it. Each implant can only be operated by the fingertips of the customer, so there are no accidental changes in body heat if they were to have a massage for example,” said Lynus smiling.

There were so many possible enhancements, but none that linked to the brain directly in a way that wasn’t complete cyborg circuitry. Even the gene altering procedures seemed very straight forward and simple, and according to the files none of her patients had been exposed to any genetic alterations. Evelyn began to wonder if Lynus was right and there was no way ‘Enhance Life’ could be the cause behind her patient’s illness.

Unit B was the genetic alteration unit. In this unit pregnant women could have genetics altered in their unborn children to eradicate hereditary illness, or ordinary people could get a gene altered to change the way they looked and even felt. Evelyn wasn’t sure she liked the idea of messing about with genetics. It had always made her skin crawl, but there were a lot of people out there who endorsed the use of genetic engineering and thanks to it, many medical conditions were now no longer passed down through the generations and some conditions were even beginning to disappear completely.

They moved on to Unit C, the implant and cybernetic unit. They watched as a soldier had a missing leg replaced with a cybernetic one.

Evelyn looked over at Ruscole and wondered why he had so many cybernetic enhancements. She found it hard to look at him, he seemed almost more like a machine, cold and distant. He acted like that too. All the way round the tour he never said a single word, but there were times she felt his eyes on her. It made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and she found herself moving closer to Aaron, happy that, despite all his misgivings, he had decided to come with her.

Unit D was a data storage unit. Huge computers covered every wall and seemed to rise from the ground in the centre of the rooms. They towered over the visitors as they walked past. Lynus showed them how he could call up data on a large screen and pulled up the soldier’s file. It had notes on all of his consultations and now the surgery, plus details of his rehabilitation and post operation treatments that were still to come.

Exiting Unit D Lynus led them past a door labelled unit E.

“Is it still contaminated?” he asked Ruscole.

Ruscole tilted his head to the side and put a cybernetic hand on his temple. There was a sharp zapping noise and he straightened his head back up. “According to the computer maintenance system, it is Sir.”

“Oh well, we’ll have to go straight on to unit F,” stated Lynus.

“What do you actually do in unit E?” asked Aaron.

Lynus smiled, “Ah well, that’s a good question. Unit F is where we come up with ideas, which you’ll see soon, but unit E is where we attempt to build them. All new enhancements are put together and tested in that unit, which is why we do often have to close it for safety purposes. Sometimes our inventors get a little creative. It’s a lot of trial and error.”

“So you mean like creating the data chips?” Aaron asked.

“Exactly,” answered Lynus. “But not just chips. We’ve been working on creating a material like skin that can change to match the surroundings. It can actually make someone invisible unless you look closely. It’s a military project so I probably shouldn’t be telling you about it. I’m sure you won’t tell anyone else though, will you?”

“No. of course not,” replied Aaron.

“Is it even possible to make something like that?” asked Evelyn.

Lynus sighed, “It’s a work in progress. So far we’re not there, but maybe in a couple of years. Anyway, shall we continue?”

They moved through unit F where drawings of implants and cybernetic units were pinned up on the walls.

In unit G there were conveyor belts and robots were manufacturing chips and cybernetic pieces ready to be sent to units B and C for implantation. Finally in unit H they got to see the rehabilitation centre and after care. Lynus explained that the whole building was a large circle and that there was a route through the middle that brought units B and C straight to unit H.

“We call it unit H, for home, because it’s the last stop before customers get to go there,” he joked. “Well, that concludes our tour, “he said leading them out into the reception once again. “I hope that you have seen everything you needed to see to put your minds at rest and if you do have any more questions you are free to contact me at any time.”

“Thank you, Dr Wyght,” said Evelyn, shaking his hand once again.

“Of course,” he said smiling and taking Aarons hand to shake it, “if there is anything you ever feel like getting done yourself, any enhancements that have taken your fancy, let me know and I’ll see if we can get you a deal on the price.”

“I’ll let you know,” answered Aaron.

 “Have a good trip home, won’t you.”

 

 Lynus watched them head out of the door and gave them a friendly wave. As soon as the door had closed his smile dropped. He turned to Ruscole. “Where’s Adrian?”

“At his post, Sir,” replied Ruscole. “Do you want me to call him here?”

“No,” Lynus snapped. “I’ll speak to him myself. I want you to pull all of the files they brought me off the system and put them on a portable pad now. I want them deleted from the main server and I want you to keep an eye on our doctor friends. Make sure they don’t dig any deeper than they already have!”

“Yes, Sir.”

Lynus marched back into the units. He smiled at the passing customers, but dropped the smile as soon as he overtook them. He was about to get very angry with someone. This mess up could cost them everything and he needed to know what, or who had gone wrong.

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