The National Genetic Laboratories:
Excerpts from Case File #64
Inspector: Please state your identification for the record.
TS 402359: Test Subject 402359.
Inspector: Thank you, now—
TS 402359: Aren’t you going to ask me my name too?
Inspector: Excuse me?
TS 402359: My name. You’ve already got my identification; it’s on that sheet in front of you. And you wouldn’t have pulled me in here if you didn’t know who I was, so I thought you might like my name, which is not on that sheet.
Inspector: I— That’s not part of the government’s policy.
TS 402359: Oh trust me, I know that.
Inspector: This is a formal investigation, Test Subject 402359, into a very serious incident that puts not only National Genetics Laboratory and its subjects at risk, but also the entire country. Cooperation would make everyone’s lives easier.
TS 402359: Of course. I apologize.
Inspector: How did you come to National Genetics Laboratory?
TS 402359: Like everyone else. I saw the advertisement. I was fifteen, my parents were dead in the war with New China, and I had to support myself. A place to live, food, and a government job after spending four years there sounded pretty good.
Inspector: And it was at that time when you met Test Subject 392480?
TS 402359: Tara.
TS 402359: Her name was Tara.
Inspector: (sigh) Though we know test subjects often call each other by pet names, the government does not recognize them in any capacity.
TS 402359: It’s not a pet name, it’s her given name. Tara is what it says on her birth certificate, and it’s what it says on her death certificate.
Inspector: Now, listen, you really are going to have to cooperate or—
TS 402359: No, you listen. The whole reason you’re interviewing me is because you want my personal statement on what happened and because I was her friend, so you can call her whatever the hell you want, but me? I’m going to call her Tara.
Government Research Facilities
Initiation Evaluation For Participation
Name: Tara Montolvo
History of Chronic Illness in Family: No
Scores (Out of Ten)
Physical Capability: 6
Willingness to Follow Orders: 9
The applicant’s health score was in large part based upon the fact that she is malnourished and has several once broken ribs that have now healed. These are consistent with being raised in a poor socioeconomic background. With proper access to food and medication, her physical capability score will be vastly improved. Though her IQ indicates she might be an excellent candidate for genetic experiments on her mind, some of her statements make one wonder if mind-altering or enhancing substances would be wise. When asked why she was applying for the National Genetics Laboratories, the applicant stated, “to get stronger.”
Approved to become a test subject in the National Genetic Laboratories, focusing on physical tests.
Inspector: Did Test Subject 392480 ever tell you why she volunteered?
TS 402359: She didn’t like to talk about her family much.
Inspector: I didn’t ask about her family.
TS 402359: She arrived at the labs with a black eye, and I just said she didn’t like to talk about her family. Why do you think she joined? (pause) I will say though, she was excited to be here at first. Couldn’t wait to see what would happen.
I, the undersigned, hereby forgo all claims to my body, life, actions, and health, and submit without question to any and all demands put upon me by the National Genetics Laboratory and its staff. The National Genetics Laboratory is not responsible for any pain or suffering I may experience. Nor will I ever disclose any of my experiences in the National Genetics Laboratory once I leave it. If I die while a Test Subject in the National Genetics Laboratory, I agree that my body will remain in the National Genetics Laboratory to be studied for as long as seen fit.
Signature of volunteer: Tara Montolvo .
Inspector: What was the initial experiment on Test Subject 392480?
Dr. Snow: Flexibility. We’d started working on a program for making one’s bones bend, rather than break. It’d be a fantastic use for the soldiers. Can you imagine if they didn’t have to worry about breaking a leg or arm in combat?
Inspector: What were the results on Test Subject 392480?
Dr. Snow: Well, she was involved in the early stages of the trials. There were some quirks to work out of course. At that point, our dosage was too high and Test Subject 392480’s bones turned to jelly. She couldn’t stand up, couldn’t hold things. Anything that required rigid bones, and she was helpless. Not ideal for a soldier. So we began adjusting the dosage on the next subjects, trying to find a balance. We tested some bone strengtheners on Test Subject 392480 and strapped metal braces to her legs.
Inspector: Did she regain control of her body?
Dr. Snow: Yes and no. Test Subject 392480’s bones became slightly more dense, but she relied on the metal braces and her muscles to move about. It took immense concentration to even take a few steps. Perhaps if events had not played out as they did, we might have been able to bring her back to normal bone density. As it was, we were about to give up on her bones and enter her in a different experiment involving the skin.
Inspector: Was the bone experiment a success in the end?
Dr. Snow: Absolutely. We have some test subjects right that retain the use of their body without aid, but their bones are still sufficiently pliant enough to not break when struck by something heavy. We’ll go into mass military production of the drug over the next couple months.
Inspector: What was Test Subject 392480’s behavior like during the recovery of her bones?
TS 402359: Initially, she was thrilled. It’d taken weeks for anything to happen, besides the aching and other random side effects that we all get from body-altering drugs. But then it sunk in that she was stuck in a bed, unable to do anything for an unclear amount of time. And then the GenLab Slump set in.
Inspector: GenLab Slump?
TS 402359: Success isn’t common in the GenLab. I’ve seen more people—
TS 402359: Fine—test subjects—than I care to think about, end up dying in agony in the GenLab’s medical wards. Tara was just another failure. They moved on to the bigger problems, more difficult puzzles and left Tara to the other test subjects.
Inspector: What do you mean?
TS 402359: We’re teenage kids in pain. And Tara could barely move. The others let their frustrations out by picking on her. What did you expect? So what was Tara like in that period? She was lonely, teased, frustrated, and bored.
Inspector: What was the experiment being tested on you?
TS 402359: Me? What’s that got to do with anything?
Inspector: The medication….
TS 402359: Oh. Right. I was approved for mind-altering treatment. The experiment was to see if I could develop the ability to change my appearance at will. They gave me low-level psychological medication to open my mind so I could control parts of my body you can’t normally control. Follicles, bones, skin, etc.. Around the time everything was happening with Tara, I could change my hair color and length at will. I think changing my nose was the next step.
Inspector: So you were a success?
TS 402359: Yes, the doctors were please with my progress.
Inspector: Did you ever give Test Subject 392480 any of your medications?
TS 402359: (silence)
Inspector: You are commanded to answer fully and honestly. If you’d rather, we can pull the security footage and you can be punished for not being forthcoming with me.
TS 402359: (pause) She was having headaches. She had to concentrate so hard just to take a step. I thought giving her some of my drugs would make it easier for her to control her body.
Inspector: When did you first realize that Test Subject 392480 had regained control of her body?
Dr. Snow: She hid it well for a while. Kept the braces on and acted the same as she had in tests. But we have cameras all over the compound and eventually someone noticed her moving about when she thought she couldn’t be seen. We immediately pulled her in, ran extensive tests, and learned she’d been taking medications that were not prescribed to her for several weeks.
Inspector: What did you do next?
Dr. Snow: Well, the revelation showed a dangerous proclivity towards lying and hiding. We had to take action and make sure she was more carefully monitored.
Inspector: Which meant?
Dr. Snow: Solitary confinement.
Inspector: Was Test Subject different when she was released?
TS 402359: She’d been kept in isolation for a week! Of course! She lost any excitement about the experiments she’d had. She wouldn’t talk to anyone, even me, and if she did, all she said was how much she hated it here and wanted out.
Inspector: Was that when she began stealing treatments?
TS 402359: Yeah. ‘Course, they didn’t realize until after everything had played out. Tara was smart. And desperate.
Inspector: Why do you think that was?
TS 402359: Have you ever been trapped? Tara was always trapped. A stepdad who hit her, a body whose bones bent if she stepped the wrong way, doctors who locked her up. Can you really blame her for trying to get free?
Inspector: Can you tell me about the night of April 22?
Dr. Snow: Test Subject 392480 had been erratic, but she performed her tests well, and we thought her mood had improved. So we decided to run some tests to check on her bones. Routine, treadmill. One of the other doctors was displeased and tried to motivate her to work harder with a few electrical stimulants. Also routine. But Test Subject 392480 snapped and hit one of the doctors. We absolutely do not tolerate such blatant disobedience.
TS 402359: I saw her screaming at them not to put her in solitary confinement again as they hauled her away. They must have sedated her because nothing happened for a couple hours. Then at around 11 o’clock, there was a sound like we’d been hit by a bomb.
Dr. Snow: She had been taking mind-enhancing medication for weeks without our knowledge and developed into a full telekinetic. We had no idea how far Test Subject 392480’s abilities had progressed. If we had… well, we might have done things differently. After waking up to find herself in solitary confinement again, she became very still and sat on the floor, cross-legged and not moving. Then she stood, placed her hands on the wall and caused an explosion large enough to blow a hole in it and crush two doctors. We have security footage of the entire action.
TS 402359: They should have left her be, they should have let her go! She escaped, she was free. The government could have forgotten about her.
Inspector: She was unstable.
TS 402359: She was scared.
Inspector: She was a threat to the safety of anyone around her. Enemy countries could have used her as a weapon.
TS 402359: And who made her that way?
Inspector: That doesn’t change the fact she needed to be caught.
TS 402359: They didn’t have to use me as bait.
Inspector: You were the one to capture Test Subject 392480?
Lt. Fallon: Yes. All Test Subjects are implanted with a chip, so it was a simple matter track her and pin down her location. Upon surrounding her, a few of our soldiers were taken out by explosions, so we brought leverage to insure her surrender.
TS 402359: The soldiers hauled me out in front of Tara and pointed a gun at my head. They said if she didn’t come quietly they’d kill me in front of her.
Inspector: And she came quietly?
TS 402359: She hesitated first. Said they wouldn’t do that. That they wouldn’t waste a successful experiment. The soldiers said it didn’t matter if I was successful or not. I was just a Test Subject. There were plenty more like me. I really thought I was going to die.
Inspector: Yes, but what did Test Subject 392480 do?
TS 402359: She surrendered. I told her not to, to run, but she came anyway.
Lt. Fallon: Test Subject 392480 had become much too powerful and uncontrollable to use in any further experiments. Upon returning her to the Genetics Laboratory, the government ordered her to be nullified as soon as possible.
TS 402359: I only saw her one more time. When they were taking her for her injection. She just smiled at me sadly.
Inspector: Did she say anything?
TS 402359: She told me to live for her.
Inspector: Do you have any regrets about Test Subject 392480’s case?
Dr. Snow: Well, yes, obviously I regret the outcome. She had so much potential and those experiments offered such great knowledge. It’s a shame to have lost that. But we did gather a great deal of data from her case, and we have the body for autopsy, which will be very useful going forward.
Inspector: Do you have anything more to add?
TS 402359: I’ve said my piece.
Inspector: Your file says you have been very reserved since the incident with Test Subject 392480.
TS 402359: I take my medication, I do my tests, I follow instruction, and I work to the best of my ability. If a lab rat doesn’t perform, it’s of no further use.
Inspector: The government dislikes the comparison between test subjects and lab rats.
TS 402359: Mhm. May I go now?
Inspector: (sigh) Yes.
TS 402359: Thank you. (pause) It’s Lidia. Since you never asked.
TS 402359: My name is Lidia. Tara called me Liddi.
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