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

LOCATION: XXXXXXXXXX

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.

FEINBERG: Okay.

BROWN: Your impressions, please

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

BROWN: 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?

FEINBERG: Sure.

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: It?

FEINBERG: 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.

END TRANSCRIPT.

Flagstaff Gazette

October 24th, early edition

SIX SURVIVE GAS STATION EXPLOSION

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

LOCATION: XXXXXXXXXX

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?

FEINBERG: A lot.

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

LOCATION: XXXXXXXXXX-XXXXXX

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…

BROWN: Yes?

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

LOCATION: XXXXXXXXXX-XXXXXX

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.

FEINBERG: He did?

BROWN: By name.

END TRANSCRIPT.

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