Chapter eight – Inside the base
The landgraab army base, about a twenty-minute drive from my home, was one of the facilities that had been closed off years ago by the local government. It now served as a tiny research facility and a place where the local elementary school went on excursions.
At least, that’s what it should have been. But Ethan and I could still see military trucks driving by in the early morning when we walked our dogs, and every once in a while a high-ranking military officer could be spotted eating in the restaurant. Ethan and I used to joke that Landgraab was like the area 51 in the movies, where the government said there was no activity but you could still see the flashes of light at nightfall.
Secret agent Johnson was the one to welcome me into the facility. Once inside, no one seemed to even try and pretend the base wasn’t being used. Men and women in white lab coats walked in all directions, making way for the occasional soldier or guy in black suit, the latter strolling around as if they owned the place.
‘What’s with the lab-like setup?’ I asked eventually, glancing through the glass into a room where someone was seemingly randomly mixing chemicals. Secret agent Johnson laughed.
‘This is a research facility, after all. We won’t be bothering you with these rooms, though. Don’t worry.’
‘What will you be bothering me with, then?’ I asked. We passed by another room, one with a single chair under a spotlight and a weird machine against the wall. It looked really weird.
‘Oh, just some small tests to begin with,’ Johnson said. ‘We’ll be taking some blood, a scan of your body. Analyze your brain waves, if that’s okay with you.’
‘It sounds fishy.’
‘Are you sure you have proper permission from your dad, Micah?’ Johnson said, turning around. ‘We let him sign a paper, of course, but just to be sure.’
My mind flashed back to two days ago. Dad had a lot to say about it, that had been sure.
‘I said no, and that’s that! You’re not going, Micah!’
He opened the door with force and stormed through to the kitchen, with me right behind him.
‘No buts! That place is dangerous, Micah, they could be conducting who knows what kinds of experiments! I’m against it, and you were just as against it as me only a few days ago!’
‘But I have to go!’ I pleaded again. ‘It’s important, dad! I need to! There’s no one else who can! Don’t you understand?!’
That only seemed to enrage him more. He lifted his hand and for an insane second I thought he was going to hit me, but he only pointed his finger at my chest.
‘No, you’re the one who doesn’t understand! You don’t have to do anything! You’re just a teenager, Micah, not even a full adult yet! Let someone else care about that Custard boy, you have got nothing to do with this!’
‘Yes I do!’ I yelled, getting mad as well. ‘There’s people out there who can help me control this, dad! People that I can save! I need to give this a try at least!’
‘NO! Don’t you get it?’ he screamed back. ‘This isn’t some kind of game! This is an army research base! You’re going to end up hurt, and I’m not going to let you do that just because you’ve watched too much ghost whisperer!’
‘WHAT?!’ I yelled. ‘That’s something else! That’s completely different! I can’t believe you’re saying this!’
‘I’m protecting you! Plumbob knows your mother would have done the same!’
That did it. Him suddenly dragging mum into the conversation – it made me snap. A red haze appeared in front of my eyes and all of a sudden I was yelling twice as loudly as before, making Milow jump in fright.
‘HOW WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT MY MUM WOULD DO?!’ I screamed. ‘SHE’S DEAD! I never even met her! Because she died giving birth to me! And now I’m trying to save other people from dying as well, and you won’t let me do it! How can you do this to me?!’
‘No! I HATE you, dad! I wish mum was here instead of you!’
The shock from those words made me cover my mouth with my hands. No. That wasn’t true. I did not mean to say that. I didn’t even know where those words had come from.
But the look in dad’s eyes said enough. With those words I’d tore open something that shouldn’t ever have opened again. I just did something irreversible.
‘Dad, I… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…’
My mind abruptly returned to the lab. Secret agent Johnson was still standing there, sunglasses shining in the TL-light, looking down on me with curiosity on his face.
‘Are you all right? Did you get permission?’
‘…Yeah. I got permission.’
‘Excellent!’ he smiled, nodding vigorously. ‘Right this way then, miss.’ He pointed to the room on our left. ‘Your first test is in there. I’ll be right outside if you need anything.’
I nodded and turned around, heading for the door.
Just as I wanted to enter the room, the door opened and agent Davies came walking out. He had a content grin on his face and was looking everywhere but at me. His cheek seemed to be back to normal. I wonder if my hit had really hurt him? I wasn’t that strong.
Davies walked by without even giving me a glance, but as passed me, I could swear I heard him say something.
‘We’re expecting a lot from you, Adams.’
That guy gave me the creeps. I ignored him and walked into the room for my first set of tests.
When people hear “secret science lab tests”, their minds usually create bizarre images of being used as test subjects for weird potions and creepy machines. I, too, thought I’d have to do something like that.
Luckily, the first few hours were nothing like that. A woman named Judy Smith gave me a medical examination, one you’d get at any hospital. They took blood samples, wanted to know if I was allergic, checked my heart, checked my lungs – everything you could think of. It felt just like being in a normal hospital, really.
It was after that that things started turning weird.
The first place they took me after my medical checkup, was a big, box-like white room in the corner of the building. It looked a bit like the shower rooms back at school, only without the showers. There was a rug on the floor and three low tables were pushed against the wall. There was a single scientist standing next to me, a fidgety type with brown hair and glasses.
‘So… what am I supposed to do?’
‘You are here under observation for the possession of supernatural powers, yes?’ he said.
‘Eh… yeah… I guess?’
‘Good! Then this will be your first test. Please try to move the objects on those tables with your mind.’
‘Go on, then! Give it a try.’
This was insane. Absolutely crazy. Who did they think I was, Prue Simmywell? But, if they wanted me to… no harm in trying, right?
I turned my head and saw a small handkerchief lying on the table most to the right. It seemed the lightest out of everything. That would be good to start with…
But what on earth was I supposed to do? Say a spell, or…?
Just try whatever, then.
I took a deep breath, stretched out my hands and pointed them at the handkerchief, like I’d seen people do in the movies when there was magic involved. Staring it down, I forced myself to think of it moving. Rising… ascending… elevating… to another place…
Of course, nothing happened.
I felt like an idiot.
‘Don’t worry, that’s a normal test result,’ the man said. ‘I get this all the time.’
I couldn’t help but notice that he looked a little disappointed.
‘So… that’s good, right?’
‘… Yes. You can leave.’
After that, I was brought to another room that had the exact same setup as the previous one, where I was asked to sit down. Another scientist then told ordered me to tell her what cards she was holding up.
‘But I can’t see them like this,’ I protested. ‘You’re holding them with their backs towards me.’
‘They’re supposed to be like this, dear. Just guess if you don’t know the answer.’
I only got about ten percent right, which, apparently, was another normal test result.
After that, there were a series of intelligence tests, puzzles that made me demonstrate my creativity and even a test for colorblindness. They gradually turned weird again, up to the point where my fifth scientist told me to fly around the block on a broomstick.
‘You’re… kidding, right?’
The last test I had was from the scientist woman again. I found out her name was Juliet Shifton, and she seemed pretty nice, for a scientist person.
‘Over here, Micah.’
‘Nu-uh, I am not getting into that torture chair,’ I said, while violently shaking my head. It was a truly creepy thing, with wires from the sides and back of the chair tracing back into a big computer screen. Was that a brainwashing machine?
‘It’s not a torture chair,’ miss Shifton smiled. ‘We’re going to show you something, and we’ll monitor your brainwaves for a bit. Now please sit down.’
‘Well, okay…’ I said hesitantly. ‘But no surprise jolts, you hear!’
I nodded and sat myself on the chair. Nothing happened, and after a few seconds I let out a relieved sigh.
Maybe I had been watching too much television.
‘All right, let me explain what we’re going to do. Do you see that screen over there?’
She pointed right in front of me, where a single wall was placed in the room. Hanging right in front of it was a small tv-screen. Were they going to show me a movie?
‘That chair you’re sitting in is programmed to monitor brain waves. I’m going to show you images of several people on the screen, and I need you to try as hard as you can to memorize them. Do you understand me so far?’
‘Good. Then let’s begin.’
Miss Shifton grabbed the remote control lying on the desk next to the brainwave chair and turned on the television. Almost right away, pictures of people began to appear in what seemed to be a slideshow. There was no sound, only the pictures, and I started to feel bored almost instantly. This was no fun. Just a grey background, and a middle-aged white man on the screen. And another middle-aged white man. And another middle-aged white man.
Back at school, they’d probably be on lunch break right now. I wondered if Ethan missed me.
Middle-aged white man. Middle-aged white man. An African looking man. Middle-aged white man. A brown-haired guy who looked pretty hot, like Bratt Pritt in his younger years. Middle-aged white man. Middle-aged white man. Middle-aged white man.
Eventually, after what seemed like a year, I was finally allowed to stop watching. Miss Shifton turned off the television, and the machine, and I could get up from the creepy chair again.
‘You’ve done a great job, Micah!’ she said with much enthusiasm (I noticed her not calling me miss Adams anymore all of a sudden). ‘We’ll give you free time until dinner now, and continue this tomorrow.’
‘Does that mean I can leave?’ I asked. Being bored from staring at the same spot for so long had made me drowsy and I wanted to lie down.
‘Of course. Just ask agent Johnson outside to take you to your room. I’ll see you tomorrow, Micah.’
‘… See you tomorrow.’
I smiled at her and exited the room. A meal and some resting on a bed would do me well. Just as I left I heard her say something else:
‘I’m sure your father is proud of you doing this, Micah.’
I wasn’t so sure of that.
A short knock on the door.
‘Micah? Can I come in?’
I quickly dried my eyes with the dress I was wearing.
‘Yeah. Go ahead.’
The handle moved downwards slowly. I saw dad opening the door and stepping inside, with a strange look in his golden eyes.
‘I’d like to talk to you, Micah.’
‘I’m sorry, dad,’ I mumbled with my head on my knees. ‘I didn’t mean to say that. I was just so angry and then… then it just slipped out.’
He moved closer to the bed until he was practically standing next to me. Then, to my surprise, he crawled onto the bed. I could tell from the way he acted that he was probably going to give me a lecture.
‘Listen to me for a bit, okay?’
‘Okay,’ I sniffed. ‘It’s just… everything is so messed up right now. I don’t even know what to do anymore. You’re probably right-‘
‘Micah, will you just listen to me already? I’m going to let you go.’
I slowly lifted my head and looked him in the eye. He seemed uncomfortable, but also determined.
‘Yes. I’ve changed my mind. I was only looking at the possible dangers of going, not at what could be gained by this. I can’t help you figure this out, Micah, but they can. If you really want to go, I won’t stop you. It’s… the least I can do.’
It was only after I’d set several steps back into the hallway that I realized there was no one there. No agent Johnson, no Davies; no one. I quickly glanced at my cellphone. Six p.m. – they were probably eating dinner already. It would be a while before they’d come back.
That meant that, for now, I was all on my own in this big, weird building.
A bit of snooping around…
… wouldn’t hurt, right?
I nodded to myself and began to walk from window to window and from door to door, curiously peeking inside. All of the rooms looked exactly like the others, except for some of the machines inside of them. I tried to take a closer look, but the doors were locked.
Just as I was ready to give up and look for my room instead, my eye fell on a door that looked different from the others. I could see books through the glass, and the lock on that door wasn’t turned. It was like it was screaming at me to open it.
There was a small sign on the door – confiscated, under observation; do not remove. The message was puzzling. Confiscated from who? What did they take?
I couldn’t contain my curiosity. Slowly, I opened the door and stepped inside.