The Subject-What Happened

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-7XK-9G


PROJECT: November Delta Beta

DATE: November 7th, 20XX

BROWN: Do you require any medical attention?

AARONOVITCH: What do you think?

BROWN: I’m required to ask as part of this debriefing.

AARONOVITCH: I’m fine, any bloodstains are from other people.

BROWN: Asset does not require any medical aid.

AARONOVITCH: I do require something to eat and a stiff drink.

BROWN: Once we’re done.


BROWN: You were inserted three klicks from the target.

AARONOVITCH: A lot of your lingo sounds suggestive. Do I need to speak to HR?

BROWN: Asset continues to show a lack of respect for authority.

AARONOVITCH: You spooks don’t know how to have fun.

BROWN: Can we please continue?

AARONOVITCH: Fine, fine. Have it your way Burger King. Oooo!Someone’s got a new nickname.

BROWN: Did you encounter any resistance on your way to the target?

AARONOVITCH: Other than it being hot, gross, and sticky? No.

BROWN: You then disabled external power to the compound.

AARONOVITCH: Yes. I also breathed in. Then, hold on, I breathed out.

BROWN: These details are important.

AARONOVITCH: Fine, I knocked over the electrical tower. The one you told me to.

BROWN: Did the electricity affect you?

AARONOVITCH: No, it kinda tickled though.

BROWN: Continue.

AARONOVITCH: I got to the edge of the compound. It was crawling with scared guys with guns.

BROWN: How could you tell they were scared?

(AARONOVITCH taps her ear.)

AARONOVITCH: I could hear their heartbeats. Boom, boom, boom!

BROWN: What happened next?

AARONOVITCH: I cleaned house. 

BROWN: Meaning?

AARONOVITCH: Ugh! It’s like you have no poetry in your soul!

BROWN: Poetry is subject to interpretation. We need the facts.

AARONOVITCH: Fine! I killed them all. Is that what you wanted to hear?

BROWN: Yes. What about REDACTED?

AARONOVITCH: He almost got away.

BROWN: Almost?

AARONOVITCH: Well, after I went through all his men I thought, ‘Where is REDACTED?’

BROWN: Where was he?

AARONOVITCH: Picture this, I’m in the middle of the REDACTED. Covered in blood, the place is on fire.

BROWN: How did it catch on fire?

AARONOVITCH: A flame thrower may have been involved.

BROWN: You used a flame thrower?

AARONOVITCH: They started it. But if I’m being honest, it’s a LOT of fun.

BROWN: Then?

AARONOVITCH: Well the tank was empty, so I just flung it through a wall.


AARONOVITCH: Right, got off track. So I stop and I listen. Then I heard it.

BROWN: REDACTED’s heartbeat?

AARONOVITCH: Nope. The fading sound of helicopter blades. So I run outside and leap into the night. It was sorta like flying. Very peaceful. Then, of course, there was the tearing of metal, the screaming, and the explosion.

BROWN: Can you confirm REDACTED’s death?

AARONOVITCH: After all that? Yeah, consider him dead.

BROWN: I cannot stress how important this is. REDACTED has been killed. Yes or no.

AARONOVITCH: YES! Jesus, you have some serious trust issues.

BROWN: Call it an occupational hazard.

AARONOVITCH: Maybe open your heart a little there Burger King.

BROWN: Did you enjoy it?

AARONOVITCH: I mean, you drop me in the middle of the REDACTED jungle so I can kill the world’s most dangerous REDACTED and destroy a REDACTED.

BROWN: So you enjoyed it.

AARONOVITCH: Oh my God yes! 

BROWN: Your enthusiasm is noted.

AARONOVITCH: You’re welcome. BTW, there was a room just filled with cash. I mean like a cartoon-rich guy amount.

BROWN: Did you take any?


BROWN: Why not?

AARONOVITCH: Well for starters, I didn’t have a purse. And the ninja outfit you had me wear didn’t have any pockets. Even if it did, what would be the point? It’s not like I’m going to go on a shopping spree.

BROWN: What happened to it?

AARONOVITCH: Dunno. Probably burned up in the fire. Seems like a waste though.

BROWN: In what way?

AARONOVITCH: There have to be people who could use that money more than REDACTED and his band of merry assholes.

BROWN: Interesting. That is not an answer I would’ve expected.

AARONOVITCH: My mercurial nature is one of my most charming qualities.

BROWN: Is that why you took that watch?

AARONOVITCH: You like it? I just saw it and HAD to have it.

BROWN: Did it belong to REDACTED?

AARONOVITCH: He wasn’t going to be using it.

BROWN: Please refrain from looting corpses.

AARONOVITCH: Please refrain from a buzzkill.

BROWN: No promises. A meal is being prepared for you, as per your order.

AARONOVITCH: Everything I asked for?

BROWN: Absolutely. 

AARONOVITCH: Including the-

BROWN: Everything.

AARONOVITCH: Burger King, that is so sweet. You’re going to make me blush.

BROWN: Have it your way.


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The Subject-Sales Pitch


Prague-Czech Republic 

U Medvidku Beer Hall

November 9th, 20XX 9:00 PM Local Time

DZULEV: Try the Matuška stout, it’s perfect for a cold evening.

EMISSARY: I prefer the pilsner.

DZULEV: Please sit down. I have to say that I had no idea that the infamous Doctor Kim was so young and lovely.

EMISSARY: I am not Doctor Kim, I am here as her representative. Additionally, my age and appearance are none of your concern.

DZULEV: A lie is a poor way to begin any sort of relationship.

EMISSARY: If you recall, our communications did not indicate that Doctor Kim would be present for this meeting, just that her interests would be represented.

DZULEV: I do not deal with underlings.

EMISSARY: Should I walk away because you are not Vla-

DZULEV: Very well, very well! We are both here to negotiate for powerful people.

EMISSARY: It’s important that we understand each other.

DZULEV: I cannot agree more. We are extremely interested in your process. The West already has their own super-human. It’s all the news reports these days.

EMISSARY: I am aware.

DZULEV: The balance of power must be maintained.

EMISSARY: As you say.

DZULEV: Do you not agree?

EMISSARY: I’m not here to discuss politics.

DZULEV: Business then.


DZULEV: Very well. Your process, what do you call it?

EMISSARY: Apotheosis.

DZULEV: How classical.


DZULEV: We would like to purchase this process.

EMISSARY: The process itself is not for sale. You choose whom you wish to go through the program and it is done by us.

DZULEZ: No, no, no. Those I speak for were most insistent that we own the process.


EMISSARY: What is the most popular soft drink in the world?

DZULEV: Excuse me?

EMISSARY: It is an easy question.

DZULEV: It pains me to say this, but the American Coke-A-Cola.

EMISSARY: Correct. The secret formula for that is in a vault. At any given time, there are only two people who know the recipe, and each only knows half of it. They are forbidden to travel together for obvious reasons. It is reasonable to assume there are other security measures in place to assure their continued dominance in the soft drink market. No amount of money would make them sell.

DZULEV: I see but-

EMISSARY: That is for a soda, worth untold billions but still, just a soda. We have the power to shift the geopolitical landscape as well as change the course of human evolution. There is nothing you can offer or threaten that will persuade us to sell our secrets.

DZULEV: Nothing? We have a great deal of resources at our fingertips.

EMISSARY: I will repeat myself once more. The process is not for sale.

DZULEV: I’m sure there is something we can offer.


DZULEV: This is unfortunate, for you.

EMISSARY: We are well aware of your history with the GRU. It means nothing.

DZULEV: We will see, won’t we? Take her.

EMISSARY: Apricot.


DZULEV: Bozhe moĭ!

EMISSARY: Colonel Dzulev, if you thought I would come to a meeting with someone of your particular reputation with no precautions, you are either very stupid or arrogant.

DZULEV: My men…

EMISSARY: All dead, the seven inside with us, the three on roofs with sniper rifles, the six in the van idling down the street, and of course your personal driver.


EMISSARY: Joan, please say hello to the Colonel.

JOAN: Hullo.

EMISSARY: Joan is an example of Apotheosis. I believe this is what they call a “Hard Sell.” Messy, but effective.

DZULEV: What she did, was…


EMISSARY: Indeed. Joan, was that difficult for you?

JOAN: Pffft! Easy-peasy.

EMISSARY: Thank you.

JOAN: Cheers! That was a bit of fun then.

DZULEV: We… We will agree to your terms.

EMISSARY: I know you will. We will be in touch. Joan.

JOAN: Alight, ready to go.

EMISSARY: And Colonel, just so we’re clear. Our fee has just tripled.

DVULEV: I understand.

EMISSARY: You will.


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The Subject-Take Out

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-6F7

LOCATION: Debra Feinberg’s Apartment, NYC, UWS. (Audio Only)

PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: November, 6th, 20XX, 19:30

FEINBERG: Come on in.

RAMIREZ: Thank you.

FEINBERG: Can I take your jacket?

RAMIREZ: Yes, please. Wow, your place is very big.

FEINBERG: That’s thanks to my grandfather. He bought it after the second world war when he came home. 

RAMIREZ: He sounds like a smart man. 

FEINBERG: Zayde Irving said, “Buy a home and you’ll always have a place to live.”

RAMIREZ: Can’t argue with that. I got take out from that place you mentioned, the Golden Coach.

FEINBERG: Thank you! Did you get beef with snow peas?


FEINBERG: You forgot?

RAMIREZ: Sorry, I only got two orders. Is that enough?

FEINBERG: So now you’re funny.

RAMIREZ: Maybe I’m super funny.

FEINBERG: We’ll see. You know, we could’ve had it delivered.

RAMIREZ: It was on my way and why make someone go out in this weather?

FEINBERG: Most people don’t mind ordering out when the weather is shitty. Sorry, when the weather is inclement.

RAMIREZ: I don’t mind you swearing.

FEINBERG: You gave me a scandalized look when I said the F-word last time we talked.

 RAMIREZ: t’s just that my Abuela hated swearing, she was very old fashioned, and she raised me so…

FEINBERG: You’re honoring her memory.

RAMIREZ: That and she put the fear of God into me. She had eyes in the back of her head. 

FEINBERG: Now you can see a mile away.


FEINBERG: I’m sorry, that was-

RAMIREZ: No, I was just wondering what she would’ve thought of all this?

FEINBERG: I’m pretty sure she’d be happy you’re alive.

RAMIREZ: She would. Then she’d tell me my hair is too long.

FEINBERG: I like it.

RAMIREZ: You do?

FEINBERG: Yes, it’s very… It suits you. Are you hungry? Let’s go in the kitchen.

(Eleven seconds of movement sounds.)

RAMIREZ: Don’t you have a dining room?

FEINBERG: I do, but it’s too big for just me so I usually just eat in the kitchen.

RAMIREZ: The kitchen’s pretty big too.

FEINBERG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s just get that food on the table.

RAMIREZ: Thank you by the way.

FEINBERG: For what?

RAMIREZ: Inviting me over for dinner. I don’t really know anyone in New York.

FEINBERG: I think everyone in New York knows you.

RAMIREZ: It’s so weird.

FEINBERG: You have been super heroing it up all over the five boroughs.

RAMIREZ: I don’t know about that.

FEINBERG: First, hand me an egg roll. Thank you. Second, let me list some of your many exploits. You saved a kid from being hit by a city bus.

RAMIREZ: Anyone would’ve done the same thing.

FEINBERG: Duck sauce, please.


FEINBERG: Thanks. I’m confident that the rest of the human race lacks your lightning-fast reflexes.

RAMIREZ: Yes but-

FEINBERG: Abubububa! I’m not done. You caught someone who fell off a building. By leaping in mid-air and rebounding off the side of other buildings. You also prevented a gang war.

RAMIREZ: I just listened, those guys just wanted to be heard.

FEINBERG: And to top it all off, you got a cat out of a tree.

RAMIREZ: I like animals.

FEINBERG: What did Agent “If That Is Your Real Name,” Brown say about your adventures.

RAMIREZ: He is currently away on some other business. 

FEINBERG: Not at all suspicious.

RAMIREZ: The agents who he left with me seem pleased. But…

FEINBERG: But what?

RAMIREZ: They’re not unhappy, but I think they wish I was less impulsive. 

FEINBERG: Well, it’s not like you work for them.

RAMIREZ: True, but they are treating me well.

FEINBERG: Of course they are, everyone is in love with you.

RAMIREZ: Everyone?

FEINBERG: Did you pay for this sumptuous feast before us?

RAMIREZ: Yes, but I had to insist! They wanted to just give it to me. 

FEINBERG: That generally doesn’t happen.

RAMIREZ: I guess not.

FEINBERG: Try the cold sesame noodles.

RAMIREZ: Wow! These are great!

FEINBERG: New York has the best American-Chinese food in the world.

RAMIREZ: What about China?

FEINBERG: Real Chinese food is different.

RAMIREZ: You’ve gone to China?

FEINBERG: A few times, for tech conferences and so on.

RAMIREZ: I’ve never been outside of the U.S. other than Mexico.



FEINBERG: I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities now.

RAMIREZ: You think so?

FEINBERG: Yeah, absolutely. How did your government babysitters take it when you went out tonight?

RAMIREZ: I’m… not sure.

FEINBERG: Excuse me?

RAMIREZ: I may or may not have mentioned it.

FEINBERG: How did you break out?

RAMIREZ: It’s not like that.

FEINBERG: So you told them we were having dinner.

RAMIREZ: I just said I needed an evening in. I just didn’t say where in was going to be.

FEINBERG: Charlie, this is a whole new side of you. Sneaking out. Did you hide in a laundry cart?

RAMIREZ: No! That’s silly. I just unlocked the window and leaped to a roof across the street.

FEINBERG: Much more practical. I think I’m having a corrupting influence on you.

RAMIREZ: That wouldn’t be terrible.



FEINBERG: You know


FEINBERG: Hold on.


FEINBERG: Shit! Look at this.


FEINBERG: You should probably-


FEINBERG: And he’s gone. Goddamnit, why did I say shit?


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The Subject-Diplomatically Yours

NCN (National Cable Network) Mid-Day Report with Martin Boyd

1:17 OM EST

DATE: October, 30th, 20XX


BOYD: Our next guest is the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Abigale Germain. Ambassador, welcome to the show.

GERMAIN: Martin, always a pleasure.

BOYD: Ambassador, there is a great deal of pressure for the United States to release the details of the research that not only cured Charlie Ramirez of cancer but also gave him superpowers. Will this research be shared with other nations?

GERMAIN: Martin, let me just say that the U.S. government understands the interest in this matter. It’s a potentially world-changing discovery.

BOYD: Potentially?

GERMAIN: What everybody needs to remember that this is a very new discovery. We only found out about it two days ago. It’s unclear if this can be reproduced. It would be extremely negligent to be released without the proper due diligence.

BOYD: The Russian ambassador, Vassily Krupin has suggested that the U.S. government is unwilling to share this because of the military applications. An army of, “Super-Soldiers” were his exact words.

GERMAIN: Let me be perfectly clear, there are no plans for an army of “Super-Soldiers.” We have every confidence in the brave men and women of our armed forces to protect this great nation. The applications for this new technology that has us most excited are the medical ones, not the military. The world will need patience while experts sort through the data.

BOYD: Do you know how long that will take?

GERMAIN: I’ve personally not seen any of the research, I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but I have been told that it is very extensive. It would be reckless of me to put a timeline on this.

BOYD: What about the other enhanced individual? The woman who caused so much destruction in Arizona.

GERMAIN: I understand she is being held in a secure facility.

BOYD: Will she stand trial for what she did?

GERMAIN: That would be a question for the Department of Justice. Though I would expect so.

BOYD: Do you think that these recent events have shifted the balance of power in favor of the United States?

GERMAIN: That’s a simple view of the situation.

BOYD: And that’s not an answer.

GERMAIN: Martin, you know the things change, moment to moment. There is the potential for great good to come from this but never forget the cost was high for the good people of the Flagstaff area.

BOYD: What will the-

GERMAIN: Sorry to interrupt but I’d like to let your viewer know that if they want to donate to the victims of the Flagstaff Disaster, please go to RebuildFlagstaff.Org. Or call 1-888-555-AZFS, that’s 1-888-555-2937.

BOYD: I’m sure they will.

GERMAIN: As I’m confident that you will as well.

BOYD: As soon as we go to commercial. Ambassador, thank you for stopping by.

GERMAIN: Marin, my pleasure.

BOYD: Stay tuned, we’ll be right back.



A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-76H


PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: October, 29th, 20XX


BROWN: Good afternoon. I’d like to ask you a few questions.

SUBJECT II: You’re not a doctor.

BROWN: What makes you say that?

SUBJECT II: You’re dressed like one, but you’re not fooling anyone.

BROWN: I see. Then what do you think I am?


BROWN: Not exactly.

SUBJECT II: Special agent, operative, spy, Mr. No Name. Take your pick.

BROWN: You can call me Mr. Brown.

SUBJECT: How nondescript.

BROWN: You are Fiona Aaronovitch, age twenty-seven, born April sixth in Davenport Iowa to Herb and Barbara Aaronovitch, now both deceased. You were declared dead as of February eleventh, three years prior.


AARONOVITCH: Was that a question?

BROWN: Clearly not.

AARONOVITCH: You did say you were going to ask me questions.

BROWN: I did.

AARONOVITCH: I’m just wondering when that was going to start.

BROWN: Given that your enhancements have been removed, and you are currently facing multiple criminal charges, I wonder why you seem so calm?

AARONOVITCH: Now that’s really two questions. There are two reasons. The first is that they are not removed, they’re just in idle mode. I see the drones at Sanderson are playing ball.

BROWN: And the second reason?

AARONOVITCH: You’ll need to earn that.

BROWN: You were in what was reported as a fatal car crash, the medical records list multiple fractures, organ failure, and brain death.

AARONOVITCH: I got better.

BROWN: So you didn’t give your consent for the procedure?

AARONOVITCH: I was a bag of meat and bone fragments, it’s not like I could sign anything. Or speak. Or nod.

BROWN: Did you meet any others in the program?

AARONOVITCH: No, they didn’t tell me about the others.

BROWN: Others?

AARONOVITCH: The good-looking one, he was a lot of fun. Yes…

BROWN: How many others are there?

AARONOVITCH: Like I just said, they didn’t tell me.

BROWN: You said others, which means multiples.

AARONOVITCH: I only found out about the hotty when Doctor Kim told me.

BROWN: What do you know about Doctor Kim?

AARONOVITCH: She was the brains behind the whole thing. There were lots of people in white coats but she ran the show.

BROWN: Do you know her current whereabouts?

AARONOVITCH: Gee, I don’t know. It’s been a really crazy week.

BROWN: Is there anything you can tell me about her?

AARONOVITCH: She’s smarter than you.

BROWN: In scientific matters, clearly yes.

BROWN: We’ll see.

AARONOVITCH: In every way.

AARONOVITCH: Typical cop, you think-

BROWN: Did Doctor Kim tell you to attack the other subject?


BROWN: The other enhanced individual.

AARONOVITCH: Do you know his name, we danced all night and in all the excitement, I forgot to ask.

BROWN: Let’s call him the subject.


BROWN: Did Doctor Kim direct you to attack the subject?

AARONOVITCH: She just wanted me to introduce myself.

BROWN: After keeping you separate for so long.

AARONOVITCH: I had the same question but she was very coy about things. If you knew she where was, you could ask her yourself.

BROWN: I intend to.

AARONOVITCH: Lemme know how that works out.

BROWN: Did Doctor Kim ever tell you why she created this process?

AARONOVITCH: She didn’t, like I said, very coy.

BROWN: What was the second reason?


BROWN: You said there was a second reason why you were so calm, given your current situation.

AARONOVITCH: I did, didn’t I? Okay, I’ll tell you. You don’t want me to stand trial in a big public way. If you did, I’d be speaking to a shitty public defender, who would be guaranteed to lose. If you wanted me dead, that would’ve already happened. You want to use me. Well, probably whoever you work for does. Am I right?

BROWN: If you were, what would you say?

AARONOVITCH: I’d say, lets dance.


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The Subject- A Chat and Report

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-43KV


PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: October, 29th, 20XX

POTUS: Lemme say right off the bat, I don’t care for you strollin’ into the Oval Office like it’s a Wawa and you just need a quart of milk and some Tastykakes.

X: Mister President, as your predecessors knew, we see our access to the White House as a sacred trust. When we do visit, please understand that it is of the utmost importance. 

POTUS: It’s lucky that REDACTED had to reschedule that meeting.

X: Yes, we are most fortunate. 

POTUS: Let’s deal straight with each other. What do you want?

X: I wish to discuss Mister Ramirez.

POTUS: You and the rest of the world! Whoda thunk it? A genuine superhero, right out of a funny book!

X: Indeed sir.

POTUS: And he beat cancer! Folks are going loco about that part. I don’t suppose you’re here to tell me you figured out how to do that?

X: Not yet Mister President. There is a vast amount of data to sift through.

POTUS: I’ll bet.

X: You would win that wager, Mister President.

POTUS: My keister isn’t a ham so stop blowing smoke up it! What are you here to say?

X: As you said earlier sir, there is a real-life superhero in our midst. An American superhero. I suggest that you embrace the opportunity to fully legitimize that.

POTUS: From everything I’ve heard and seen, he seems like a stand-up fellah. Saved all those folks.

X: Which is why if you accorded him some honor, say the Presidential Citizens Medal, it would show that you and the United States Government stand behind the first American superhero.

(POTUS pauses for five seconds)

POTUS: That’s not a bad idea. It’ll put a stamp of approval on things. Honestly, I thought you were going to tell me we needed to REDACTED, like the time you told REDACTED to REDACTED.

X: Much different time Mister President.

 POTUS: Alrighty, if we’re doing this, we need to go all in. Ramirez is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom. With Distinction. That man’s a real American hero, we gotta treat him like that.

X: I agree. Best to be, as you said, all in.

POTUS: If there’s nothing else, I’ve got work to do. 

X: Thank you for your time, Mister President.




October 30th, 20XX. 9:00 A.M. EST.

Russian Naval Corvette Sinks Off Coast

 The RFS Smerch (a Nanuchka III class corvette with a complement of sixty), sank in the sea of Japan with all hands, approximately one hundred and twenty-three nautical miles off the coast of Vladivostok. Rescue ships were sent but as of this report, no survivors have been found. The incident took place during a routine patrol according to a Russian Naval press release. 

Counter-Admiral Fedor Volkov, of the Vladivostok Naval Base, issued this statement.

“We are all saddened by the loss of the crew of the Smerch, all of them brave and loyal sailors taken too soon. The cause of this is currently under investigation and it would be unhelpful to make any speculation as to the details. We will release more information as it becomes known to us. Thank you.”

A Japanese cargo ship, the Ryūjin Maru, that was ten miles, northeast of the sinking, radioed in a report of sounds of explosions, preceded by a loud sonic boom. There were no recorded aircraft in the region at that time.

Russian Naval authorities have remained silent about this latest development.

Reporting by George Nephus and Barbara Lenke, Writing by George Nephus; Editing by Dani Chin.

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The Subject-Morning Round-Up

NCN (National Cable Network) News Round-Up With Rebecca Howitt (Transcript)

11:15:00 AM EST

DATE: October, 28th, 20XX

HOWITT: Welcome back. Super-powers are real but that’s not the story everyone is talking about. Charles Ramirez, claims that not only did the experimental treatment give him abilities straight out of a comic book, but also cured his cancer. With me are Nanoscientist, Professor Henry Bhatt, and our Chief Medical Correspondent, Doctor Judith Moore. Thank you for joining us.

BHATT: A pleasure.

MOORE: Happy to be here.

HOWITT: So let’s get right down to it, can nano-machines cure cancer? Professor Bhatt?

BHATT: Theoretically? Yes. If we could program nano-machines to eradicate cancer cells, it could work. Though I want to make clear to you and the people at home that we are years and years away from anything like that. Or I thought. This could be a turning point for human evolution.

MOORE: Rebecca, if I could just jump in here. I think Professor, evolution isn’t the most accurate term to use. Living beings evolve because certain useful traits are passed from generation to generation. This, whatever it is, is not natural selection.

BHATT: I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with my esteemed colleague. In a very real way, this is evolution. Whoever made these remarkable innovations, has evolved the intelligence to do what that did. Passing those traits to another.

MOORE: That’s a very… loose interpretation of Darwin. I’d like to remind the viewers that none of the actual research has been released. Until we can look at the data, we should treat it as suspect.

BHATT: We must trust the science. 

MOORE: Until we know more, all we can do is make educated guesses.

BHATT: Better than uneducated guesses.

MOORE: Excuse me?

HOWITT: What are the moral implications of all this?

MOORE: So many. Can it be duplicated? Was their intention to create super people or to cure diseases? Can it cure other conditions? Can it cure all of them? Can they do it without the enhancements? Morally, we’re at best, in a grey area.

BHATT: Though I want to say if this is all true. It’s the greatest scientific achievement of this or any other century.

MOORE: If it’s true. Of course, I’d love a cure for cancer to be real, but there’s too much we don’t know.

BHATT: There are a lot of questions, but it seems that it can be duplicated. The enhanced woman that Mister Ramirez fought seems to have the same abilities as him.

MOORE: And where did she get her enhancements? 

HOWITT: Mister Ramirez did state that he saw no other people being experimented on.

MOORE: Just because he didn’t see it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t concealed from him.

BHATT: Difficult to say. We don’t have all the facts.

MOORE: No we do not.

HOWITT: Currently, according to the Department of Justice, the Sanderson Institute is currently under multiple indictments for violations of human experimentation, from both Federal and international courts. It may be a while before any of the science comes to light. Any last thoughts? Professor?

BHATT: I’m cautiously optimistic about what the future holds for this remarkable innovation. And to any government agencies investigating this, I would be more than happy to assist.

HOWITT: I urge all viewers to NOT stop any cancer treatments they are currently undergoing. We have no evidence that the Sanderson process is safe, repeatable, or even real. If you have questions, please consult your own doctors.

HOWITT: Excellent advice. Thank you both. We will continue to update this story as it develops. We’ll be right back after this brief commercial break.

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The Subject-Interview

CR Interview 8:00 AM MST

DATE: October, 28th, 20XX


FEINBERG: Morning. I’m Debra Feinberg but the thing everyone is talking, texting, tweeting, and posting about was the footage we just watched. One of the two people featured in that clip, Mr. Charles Ramirez, is here with me now. Thank you for joining us, Mister Ramirez.

RAMIREZ: Please call me Charlie, Mr. Ramirez makes me feel like I’m in trouble in school.

FEINBERG: Okay Charlie, you can call me Debra.


FEINBERG: So Charlie, people are calling you a superhero, how do you respond to that?

RAMIREZ: Well, I’m not wearing a cape.

FEINBERG: Ha! Cape or no cape, you do have some extraordinary abilities.

RAMIREZ: That’s true.

FEINBERG: Can you tell us what you can do?

RAMIREZ: Okay, I’m stronger than most people.

FEINBERG: That’s a bit of an understatement. There is only one other person who’s in your bracket, strength-wise and you fought her to a standstill all over Arizona.

RAMIREZ: You don’t pull punches. When they last tested me, I dead-lifted about ten tons.


RAMIREZ: The problem is that holding up that much weight from two points, like my hands, whatever I’m lifting can buckle and break.

FEINBERG: That makes sense. When you said they tested me, you meant Sanderson Industries, correct?

RAMIREZ: Yeah, they’re the ones who were running the show.

FEINBERG: In what other ways were you enhanced?

RAMIREZ: Excuse me? Oh… Well, my skin is kinda like armor now.

FEINBERG: I personally saw you ignore small arms fire like it was nothing.

RAMIREZ: Handguns and rifle rounds do just bounce off me.

FEINBERG: Does it hurt?

RAMIREZ: No, it’s like a light tap. But getting used to being shot at was not easy.

FEINBERG: I can only imagine. Did they test anything larger?

RAMIREZ: Oh yeah, the last one they tested on me was a tank round.

FEINBERG: Did that hurt?

RAMIREZ: It did, but only for a moment.

FEINBERG: That’s… amazing.

RAMIREZ: I know.

FEINBERG: You have other abilities, can you share them with us.

RAMIREZ: I feel like I’m bragging.

FEINBERG: If it helps, you’re the most humble super-powered person I’ve ever met.

RAMIREZ: Have you met a lot of super-powered people?

FEINBERG: So far, just you.

RAMIREZ: I’m happy to give a good first impression.

FEINBERG: Your other abilities?

RAMIREZ: Right. I can run about a hundred and twenty miles an hour, leap about a quarter-mile. My muscles and skeleton are, I guess you’d say reinforced to allow me to do all that stuff. My sight and hearing are enhanced. I can read a book about a mile away. I have very keen hearing, based on heartbeats, I’d say there are seventeen people, not including me in this studio.

(FEINBERG listens to an earpiece.)

FEINBERG: Seventeen exactly.

RAMIREZ: You’re wearing a self-winding watch.

FEINBERG: I am. It was my grandfather’s.

RAMIREZ: That’s cool, not many people wear watches anymore. They just look at their phones.

FEINBERG: Thank you.

(Three-second pause.)

FEINBERG: All those sounds must be overwhelming.

RAMIREZ: It was at first. But I learned to focus on one sound at a time, which was not easy. But eventually, I was able to filter each one.

FEINBERG: Do you have heat-vision? Can you see through things?

RAMIREZ: God no! Both of those sound horrible. The Sanderson folk explained it to me this way. “You can do what everybody else can, just better.”

FEINBERG: That’s underselling it.

RAMIREZ: I guess so.

FEINBERG: I’d like to ask you about the woman who attacked you. Was she part of the same program as you?

RAMIREZ: No. No, I don’t think so.

FEINBERG: She seems to have the same enhancements as you.

RAMIREZ: She does, doesn’t she.

FEINBERG: So you have no idea where she got those abilities?

RAMIREZ: I don’t. When I was at Sanderson, there were no others going through the program.

FEINBERG: The program?

RAMIREZ: That’s what they called it.

FEINBERG: You were the only one.

RAMIREZ: As far as I know.

FEINBERG: Doesn’t that seem odd?

RAMIREZ: No more than the rest of this.

FEINBERG: Did she say anything to you?


FEINBERG: The woman who attacked you.

RAMIREZ: It’s funny.

FEINBERG: She said something funny?

RAMIREZ: No, more funny weird. She didn’t say anything.

FEINBERG: Did you say anything to her?

RAMIREZ: I tried to talk to her, but she started to destroy things. Like buildings and cars.

FEINBERG: A lot of people owe you their lives.

RAMIREZ: I just wish that their lives weren’t in danger.

FEINBERG: Do you think she was testing you?

RAMIREZ: What do you mean?

FEINBERG: Was she trying to gauge how powerful you were? Or maybe what you’d do in an extreme situation.

RAMIREZ: That’s horrible!

FEINBERG: It is, but horrible things happen every day.

RAMIREZ: That’s… Yeah, I guess they do.

FEINBERG: Do you have any idea about her motivation?

RAMIREZ: No. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

(Seven seconds of silence.)

FEINBERG: Do you need a moment?

RAMIREZ: No, I’m… I’m Fine.

FEINBERG: Did you want to be a superhero when you were a child?

RAMIREZ: Sure, what kid doesn’t?

FEINBERG: Is that why you entered the Sanderson program?

RAMIREZ: Oh no. I had no idea this would happen.

FEINBERG: Then why volunteer?

RAMIREZ: Well, they came to me in the hospital and told me they had an experimental treatment. I figured, what do I have to lose?

FEINBERG: You might’ve lost your life. Experimental treatments can be very risky.

RAMIREZ: You’re right, but I was already dying. Cancer.


To: Grandmother

From: DK

Date: October, 28th, 20XX, 09:15:33 WST

Subject: Family News

It seems Margaret and Sam are fighting. Not unexpected, given their temperaments. These sorts of quarrels makes things complicated for everyone.

Having family squabbles in public is upsetting to me as I’m sure it is to you. But these things have a way of working themselves out.

I was hoping that we might have our family get-together locally but I think the weather is against it. I’ll be in touch soon so we can reschedule.

Perhaps the mountain house?



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The Subject-REDACTED

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-76H


PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: October, 27th, 20XX

(Portions of this conversation have been redacted for reasons of security)

BROWN: Good morning REDACTED.

X: Is it?

BROWN: All things considered, I’d say yes.

X: You are unusually sanguine given you have done the polar opposite of what your assignment was. Were I in your shoes, I might be more penitent.

BROWN: Clearly things have gone in a different direction than anticipated.

X: Indeed.

BROWN: However, given the circumstances, I think that this was the best possible outcome.

X: I’m curious how you came to this conclusion.

BROWN: Well sir, once the footage was posted it was a choice of denying what everyone could see or embracing it.

X: you should have employed the REDACTED Protocol.

BROWN: That option is no longer viable given current technological and societal factors.

X: That is a shame.

BROWN: It’s a different world, sir.

X: Nonetheless, you were sent to control this fire and you have thrown kerosene on it instead.

BROWN: While I have not doused the flames, I believe I have contained it. Once something had been posted on the internet, it is virtually impossible to delete it.

X: Had you asked, I would’ve authorized a REDACTED.

BROWN: The estimated death toll would’ve been in the thousands. It seemed too high a price. Additionally, it would’ve made the job exponentially harder.

X: Very well, but making this public will make it more complicated.

BROWN: It sped up the timeline to be sure, but having enhanced individuals was never going to be a secret for long.

X: Very well. Did you acquire the female enhanced as well?

BROWN: We did, though I don’t know if she’ll prove to be as agreeable as the male. Preliminary psych evaluations indicate dangerous and severe sociopathy.

X: Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

BROWN: Thirteen agents were killed before she could be sedated.

X: Acceptable losses.

BROWN: As you say, sir.

X: What about the other one?

BROWN: He’s proving to be very cooperative. The perfect face for the future of enhanced individuals. He’ll make an excellent first impression.

X: What about this journalist?

BROWN: Debra Feinberg, she’s very well regarded in her field.

X: Her file shows a distinct lack of trust for authority.

BROWN: Her background in science has given her an analytical mind, and the subject requested her.

X: Did he? Make note of that.

BROWN: Already done sir.

X: Is she aware of Doctor Kim?

BROWN: No, and neither is the subject.

X: Where are we on locating Doctor Kim?

BROWN: Still working on that.

X: So you have no idea?

BROWN: We are following every possible lead.

X: See that you do. This whole affair is becoming far too public.

BROWN: There is one positive aspect to this.

X: Which is?

BROWN: The first enhanced individual the world will see is an American one.

X: Thank God for that. Now find Doctor Kim. Bring in REDACTED for support.

BROWN: Are you sure sir? REDACTED was responsible for REDACTED and REDACTED.

X: As I said before, acceptable losses.

BROWN: Yes sir.


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The Subject Returns

A little over four years ago, I began this serialized story. For reasons I cannot remember, I never finished it. Perhaps I was blocked or found something else that inspired my imagination. Honestly, I can’t recall. But I have returned to this story and will finish it.

I’ve included the initial installments as well as a new installment. I hope you enjoy it.

-Leo Jenicek

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-3PH


PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: October, 24th, 20XX

BROWN: Please state your name for the record.

FEINBERG: You know my name, you had me brought here. Against my will.

BROWN: While you and I may know things about each other-

FEINBERG: -I don’t know your name.

BROWN You may call me Mr. Brown.

FEINBERG: But it’s not your real name.

BROWN Let’s just get back on track, shall we?

(A moment of silence.)

FEINBERG: Fine. My name is Debra Feinberg.

BROWN And what is your job, Ms. Feinberg.

FEINBERG: I’m a journalist. I cover scientific news for NNS. (National News Service)

BROWN: You’re well regarded in your field, are you not?

FEINBERG: Depends on who you ask.

BROWN: (consults a file) You were the recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship.

FEINBERG: Yes, I was.

BROWN: As I said, well regarded.

FEINBERG: Fine, I have the respect of my peers.

BROWN: Where were you on October 23d of this past year?

FEINBERG: I was at the Sanderson industries facility outside of Santa Fe. They were announcing, as they said, a breakthrough technological invocation. They buried the lead.

BROWN: Please tell me, in your own words, what did you see?

FEINBERG: You’ve seen the footage.

BROWN: We’d like to hear your account.

FEINBERG: There weren’t a lot of us there, which turned out to be a good thing. Just myself and four other journalists, we were given a press kit, which was full of the normal sort of flack companies like Sanderson give out at these things. A little bit of real science covered with a big helping buzzwords and spin. Then they drove us out to the desert, to what they called the Testing Range.

BROWN: Is that unusual?

FEINBERG: For a company like Sanderson, it is. They, as I’m sure you already know, specialize in processors, semiconductors, in laymen’s terms, the stuff that makes your phone, computer run, along with just about everything else.

BROWN: Did this make you or your colleagues suspicious?

FEINBERG: Only that it might be a waste of time.

BROWN: Of course, it wasn’t.

FEINBERG: No, it was not.

BROWN: When you first saw the Subject, what was your first impression?

FEINBERG: The Subject? That’s not what every-

BROWN: Ms. Feinberg, let’s just call him that for now.


BROWN: Your impressions, please

FEINBERG: He looked like an ordinary man, Very fit, but…


FEINBERG: Well, he was… Let’s just say he had a certain charisma.

BROWN: In what way?

FEINBERG: in the way that you could not take your eyes off him.

BROWN: So you found him attractive? Sexually?

FEINBERG: Did you ask everybody if they had the hots for him?

BROWN: What was asked of your fellow journalists, is-

FEINBERG: Classified.

BROWN: Indeed. But I do not ask this of you based on your gender if that is your concern.

FEINBERG: Thanks, I suppose.

BROWN: We just need to understand.

(Ms. Feinstein laughs for a period of one minute and twenty-three seconds.)

BROWN: Are you ready to continue?


BROWN: Were you sexually attracted to the Subject?

FEINBERG: I… Listen, I’ve met more beautiful people than the Subject, but he was one of those people who have IT.



BROWN: I see.

FEINBERG: I don’t think you do.

BROWN: Moving on. What did the Sanderson representative, Andy McCann say to you all?

FEINBERG: He said that they had created a technology that would change warfare for all time, given that Sanderson was not a weapons manufacturer, we were all skeptical. Then he had the… Subject stand about ten feet away from us, then pointed a gun at him and shot.

BROWN: Then what happened?

FEINBERG: Most of us screamed.

BROWN: What happened to the Subject.

FEINBERG: Nothing. At first, we thought it was some sort of new body armor. But it wasn’t.

BROWN: What was it.

FEINBERG: McCann called it an NDA, which he thought was pretty damn funny. It was an acronym for Nano Defense Armor.

BROWN: Mr. McCann is a marketing executive?

FEINBERG: Oh yeah.

BROWN: I see. What else did the Subject do?

FEINBERG: We all took turns shooting him. He was a pretty good sport about it, never seemed to get tired. The NDA also increased his strength and stamina.

BROWN: By what degree?

FEINBERG: He picked up a jeep with four people sitting in it with no visible effort on his part.

BROWN: That’s quite a feat.

FEINBERG: Doesn’t this freak you out?

BROWN: Would it comfort you for me to do so?

FEINBERG: No, it wouldn’t.

BROWN: Then let us proceed. The attack was at 3:17 PM, mountain time.

(Mr. Brown’s phone beeps)

BROWN: Excuse me. We will resume this later. Your country appreciates your cooperation and discretion.


Flagstaff Gazette

October 24th, early edition


Bowen’s Gas station on US Route 89 exploded yesterday afternoon but miraculously, there were no fatalities or even serious injuries.

As first responders made their way to the site, they discovered six people a half-mile away from the station.

“They were just standing there, on the side of the road,” said EMT Jamie Stevens,

27. “Everyone was in shock.”

Those six people were later discovered to have been at Bowen’s when the blast took place.

Gary Brockett, 19, who was working at the station at the time, had this to say.

“There was this streak of light that headed right towards me. Then I felt like I couldn’t breathe none. Then, I was on the side of the highway and I sees this fireball on the horizon. It was crazy. Crazy!”

Firefighters were able to put out the blaze but the cause is still unknown and the ATF and local officials have issued no comment other than it is an ongoing investigation.

‘We’re all just so lucky to be alive,” said survivor Sally Martinez, 43, “We all have a guardian angel.”

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-3PH-A


PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: October, 24th, 20XX

BROWN: Let’s continue.

FEINBERG: What’s going on?

BROWN: You were going to tell me about the attack.

FEINBERG: Why were you gone for, what I’m guessing was about two hours or so? Your people took my phone and this room doesn’t have a clock.

BROWN: Urgent matters needed my attention.

FEINBERG: That’s government talk for “Not going to tell you.”

BROWN: So what happened during the attack?

FEINBERG: Will my cooperation speed my release?

BROWN: Almost certainly.

FEINBERG: That’s as good as it’s going to get.

BROWN: The attack.

FEINBERG: Right. Well, as I said before, the Subject was showing off his, I guess you’d call them powers. It was pretty amazing, right out of a movie. Then it all went to hell.

BROWN: In what way?

FEINBERG: Suddenly there was dust everywhere, my ears were ringing, and we’re all knocked to the ground. Except for the Subject.

BROWN: He was unaffected?

FEINBERG: As far as I could tell. He didn’t get knocked ass over teakettle. Which was odd.

BROWN: Why do you say odd?

FEINBERG: It doesn’t matter if you are incredibly strong, or even superhumanly strong. That amount of force will push you over. It’s just physics.

BROWN: But the Subject just stood there.

FEINBERG: Yes. He would have an incredibly dense body or have some way to negate the force of the blast.

BROWN: Interesting. Could you gauge the Subject’s body mass?

FEINBERG: Not without knowing the exact force of the explosion, the distance from the point of impact, and if there was any damage to the Subject.

BROWN: Would you like to hazard a guess?


BROWN: A lot?

FEINBERG: Without any data, that’s the best I can do.

BROWN: Very well. What happened next?

FEINBERG: After the dust settles, there’s a crater, a big one, don’t ask me how big, I’m confident your people have already measured it, the Subject is just standing there, fists on his hips. Oh yeah, just like a su-

BROWN: Just stick the facts, please.

FEINBERG: Fine. Here’s a fact, another one came out of the crater.

BROWN: Another one?

FEINBERG: Like the Subject.

BROWN: What makes you think it was like the Subject?

FEINBERG: They jumped out of the crater, about a hundred-foot leap, right in front of the Subject with no visible effort.

BROWN: That tracks. What happened next?

FEINBERG: They disappeared with a sonic boom.

BROWN: Did they vanish or-

FEINBERG: Given the second cloud of dust, it seems likely, if anything about this is likely, that they took off at a very high velocity.

BROWN: I see. Did the second Subject resemble the first one, in general build, height, dress?

FEINBERG: No. No, she didn’t

Office of Governor Jillian Dubois (R-AZ)

October 25th.

BROWN: Governor, thank you for seeing me on short notice.

DUBOIS: Why do you need me to order an evacuation of everyone in a hundred-mile radius of Flagstaff?

BROWN: There was an incident at a research facility near that city that might prove a danger to the citizens.

DUBOIS: What sort of incident?

BROWN: I’m not at liberty to say, but it would be best for people to leave, just for a short while.

DUBOIS: That is not an answer.

BROWN: Surely you trust the government.

DUBOIS: Do not be clever with me Agent Brown, Federal personnel have invaded the area around Flagstaff and no one seems to want to answer a straight question. So, I need to know why I shouldn’t just call a press conference to call all of you out.

BROWN: That would just cause panic, and panic can endanger people’s lives.

DUBOIS: Ignorance can do that just as well. I need to know what is going on. Sonic booms happening outside of air corridors, buildings being destroyed but no one is hurt, a locomotive engine falling from the sky into the Agua Fria River.

BROWN: The Federal government would appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

DUBOIS: I’m going to need some details before I upend the lives of all those people.

BROWN: Governor, I understand. If I were in your place, I’d be asking all the same questions. But honestly, if I told you what was really happening, you’d think I was crazy.

DUBOIS: You’ll pardon my language but that sounds like bullshit.

BROWN: I know, but I’m going, to be honest with you, this is going to happen with or without your help. The real question is, are you going to be the Governor who refused the outstretched hand of federal aid in a time of crisis or the one who saved the lives of her constituents with decisive and swift action.

DUBOIS: God damn you.

BROWN: You should arrange that press conference; FEMA is ready to begin coordinating with your people.

DUBOIS: People are not going to be happy.

BROWN: That’s not my job.

DUBOIS: What is your job?

BROWN: Making sure they can still have the option.

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-7Y4


PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: October, 26th, 20XX

BROWN: Doctor Edgar Corta, thank you for your patience.

CORTA: What is going on here?

BROWN: I need to ask you some questions about project Durendal.

CORTA: What is that?

BROWN: Doctor, let’s not waste each other’s time. We know that you were working on that project.

CORTA: Whatever I worked on, I’m not at liberty to say. I signed an NDA when I began at Sanderson, so I can’t speak about any work I did or did not do.

BROWN: Full disclosure, the board of directors at Sanderson Industries have been currently indicted on a long list of charges, not the least of which are illegal human experimentation and treason.

CORTA: But they…


CORTA: The subjects signed releases, we were told that it was all legal.

BROWN: A corporation putting potential profits above the law? Shocking.

CORTA: I want my lawyer. I have the right to legal counsel.

BROWN: Indeed you do.

CORTA: I’m not saying another word without my lawyer present.

BROWN: Doctor Corta, I completely understand your concerns, and you will be given the opportunity to contact an attorney. I should tell you that Byer, Randall, and Moskowitz, the legal firm that represented Sanderson, and by proxy, you, have terminated their relationship with that company and chosen to cooperate with us in this investigation.

CORTA: I have no lawyer?

BROWN: You will have access to a public defender.

CORTA: This is a joke!

BROWN: I assure you, both myself and my superiors are treating this whole affair extremely seriously.

CORTA: I don’t really have any choice, do I?

BROWN: Of course you do. You can help your country in this time of crisis and earn the gratitude of this nation and perhaps the world. Or you can invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and hope for the best.

(At this point there was a ten second pause.)

CORTA: I’m going with the first one.

BROWN: A very wise choice. Now, I need you to tell me everything you know about project Durendal.

CORTA: It was a next-generation quantum-scale technology project. Do you know what nanotech is?

BROWN: I have a general idea.

C: Most companies have barely scratched the surface of nanotech. Well, this is next-level stuff.

BROWN: In what way?

CORTA: Do you have multiple degrees in physics and engineering?

BROWN: Let’s assume I don’t.

CORTA: Okay, nano-machines can directly attack cancer cells or clean up an oil spill or make odor-resistant clothing.

BROWN: Handy. And what can quantum-scale technology do?

CORTA: Theoretically, it can change things on a sub-molecular level.

BROWN: Meaning?

CORTA: As an example, we can take anything and make it virtually indestructible. A coffee mug, a building, anything. But that’s just the beginning. Theoretically, it means you can rewrite the laws of physics.

BROWN: That’s quite a breakthrough.

CORTA: I know.

BROWN: I wonder why you wouldn’t publish your findings. This would win you a Noble Prize, wouldn’t you say?

CORTA: Of course it would. I wish I came up with it.

BROWN: You are the Project Manager on Durendal.

CORTA: Yes, I am.

BROWN: But you didn’t bring this to Sanderson?

CORTA: Like I told you, I wish. Someone else came up with the actual physics.

BROWN: And who did come up with the actual physics?

CORTA: Upper management referred to her as a consultant but everyone, including me, had to defer to her. I mostly did the paperwork, I didn’t do any of the actual science.

BROWN: Does this consultant have a name?

CORTA: We called her Doctor Kim. I never learned her first name.

BROWN: Thank you for your cooperation.

CORTA: Am I free to go now?

BROWN: For the time being, consider yourself under protective custody.

CORTA: How is that different from being under arrest?

BROWN: The food is better.

A.E.G.I.S. REPORT # 89H6-76H


PROJECT: November Delta Alpha

DATE: October, 26th, 20XX

BROWN: Ms. Feinberg, thank you for speaking to me again.

FEINBERG: I didn’t realize I had a choice.

BROWN: Apologies for my lack of contact. I hope you’ve made comfortable.

FEINBERG: It’s the cleanest prison I could imagine.

BROWN: This is not a prison Ms. Feinberg.

FEINBERG: Then I’ll be on my way.

BROWN: I’m afraid that’s not possible, given the current situation.

FEINBERG: I don’t believe you’ve ever been afraid.

BROWN: You’d be wrong.

FEINBERG: Hmmm. So, what is the current situation?

BROWN: Complicated.

FEINBERG: As much as I enjoy our banter sessions, if you’re not going actually tell me something, I’d like to go back to my cell.

BROWN: We have the Subject.

(MS. Feinberg stared in silence for sixteen seconds)

FEINBERG: How did you manage that?

BROWN: He asked for our help.

FEINBERG: Really? How did that work?

BROWN: When he encountered the National Guard troops who were deployed in downtown Flagstaff.

FEINBERG: That raises so many other questions.

BROWN: I have a briefing for you to read. If you’ll do something for us.

FEINBERG: Not for “Your Country?”

BROWN: Ms. Feinberg, neither of us are naive.

FEINBERG: Clearly. So what do you want me to do?

BROWN: Your job.

FEINBERG: Huh, okay. What am I covering?

BROWN: You’ll be interviewing the Subject.

FEINBERG: Are you f—— with me?

BROWN: No I’m not.

FEINBERG: Why are you doing this. Transparency is rarely the first choice for governments. Or corporations. Or people.

BROWN: Honestly, footage has leaked. It’s of poor quality but it is out there.

FEINBERG: You want to control the narrative.

BROWN: Very much. We’re setting up a studio and we have a full crew standing by.

FEINBERG: I’m a print journalist. A scientific print journalist, I’m not some TV flack.

BROWN: There are four reasons you are the best person to do this. You have an actual background in science, your writing is insightful and sharp. You also are attractive in a way that won’t upstage the topic.

FEINBERG: Wow! I feel so seen!

BROWN: So you’ll do it?

FEINBERG: I’d be a fool not to. But I won’t be censored.

BROWN: Of course. Thank you. Here’s the briefing and a pad, and pen for notes and questions. Hair, make-up, and wardrobe are standing by, just let the agent outside know when you’re ready. But we’d like to have this ready for the morning news.

FEINBERG: You said there were four reasons. You only listed three.

BROWN: The Subject requested you.


BROWN: By name.


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The Cottage

This week I’m looking back in time, by sharing something I wrote for an English class when I was fifteen years old. If you enjoy it, you can thank my mother for saving this. If you don’t, blame me for writing it. It’s presented as I wrote it with no editing. I dearly wanted to make changes, it’s one looooooooong paragraph.

Did I have the glimmer of talent way back in the day? If not, I like to think I picked it up somewhere in my travels. Your mileage may vary.

The Cottage

As I stood int the driveway of the cottage that I stayed in as a child, many memories returned to me. The cottage was far from being luxurious, in fact it was ramshackle. Standing on stacks of concrete blocks it rather gave the impression that it might fall at any moment. The screens on the porch were filled with gaping holes that were patched with scotch tape. Paint decades old flaked off at the slightest breeze. But that is only the outside, I wondered, as I walked up the groaning steps, how much the inside had changed. The porch still had its decaying wicker lawn furniture. Pushing open the main door, whose lock incidentally did not work on a rainy day, I walked into the living room. I turned on the light and staggered back a step. It was as bad as I remembered it. The floor still had the rug, if it could be called that, made of shipping rope. Make-shift couches, that were in reality sagging cots, still lined that walls. The off-off white walls remained the same, including the tacky gold painted mirrors that hung at intervals. Then I entered the bedroom. It still had the twin beds with the molting covers and hard pillows. An ugly blue paint covered the walls and a bare light bulb protruded over the first bed. Turning around the I saw the kitchen with it’s rickety old center table the same as when I left it so many years before before. From what I have told you this seems like a sorry excuse for a cottage. Maybe in the physical sense, but when it was filled with good friends, it seemed like a palace.

P.S. In case you were wondering, the cottage I was writing about was real and it was a dump. That was accurate. Adding that last dollop of sentimentality made it seem less like what would now be a very harsh Airbnb review.

P.P.S. I don’t know what I got for this literary gem, the copy I have has no grade. Maybe a B? Let’s say a B.

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