Following on from my previous article, and endeavoring to be as topical as possible, here is an extract from Intelligent Design; Book Two, which is currently in process. This scene leads on from What is Project American Quilt?
“OK, Major, he’s awake.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
Second Lieutenant Brock Dalton awoke to find himself behind glass, suspended in a warm clear fluid. The last thing he remembered was riding back to base on his motorcycle. He had lost control and come off of the bike, but it had all happened so fast.
On the other side of the glass, two men perched on footstools, staring at him intently. The man on the left wore a military camouflage jacket and trousers, his insignia and name badge identifying him as Major McGranite of the U.S Air Force, and the second man wore jeans and a tee shirt. Brock recognised neither of them, nor his surroundings.
His first thought was that he was in the sick bay. He tried to turn his head to look around, but couldn’t move, though from what he could see, he was in a large, windowless room with white walls, harsh fluorescent lighting and several lab benches strewn with computer equipment and dismantled machinery. He opened his mouth to speak, but his mouth and nose were full of thick, clear fluid.
Brock couldn’t feel anything below his neck, and he was unable to breathe in and out. My God, he thought, I’m paralysed and on a ventilator, but he wasn’t frightened or upset. He felt nothing, nothing at all. The two men continued to stare at him, so he tried to speak again.
“Don’t try to talk, Lieutenant,” said the Major. His square jaw was dimpled, there were bags beneath his hazel eyes, and his skin was tanned and craggy from too much time in the sun, with deep brow lines and crow’s feet. His brown hair was greying at the sides and clipped short. His voice was loud and clear through the glass and fluid, thanks to the speaker built into the front of the tank.
“I am Major McGranite,” said Major McGranite, “and this is Doctor Neilson.” Doctor Neilson gave a cheery wave. He was thin as a rail, and looked like he hadn’t seen the Sun in a dog’s age. His pale face was framed by a mop of curly brown hair to his shoulders.
“If you can understand me, blink twice, then raise your eyebrows.”
Brock did as instructed and both men grinned.
“Well, would you look at that?” drawled Major McGranite. “Now, listen up, son. You’ve been in an accident. You came off your bike and hit your head. Do you remember? Blink twice for yes, raise your eyebrows twice for no.”
Brock blinked twice.
“Well, it was one Hell of a blow that you took. Your injuries were quite extensive. If we turn the lights off, you’ll be able to see your reflection in the glass. If you would, please, Doctor.”
Doctor Neilson flicked off the lights and Brock’s reflection appeared in the glass. From the neck upwards, he appeared fairly intact, with the exception of several cuts, bruises and abrasions to his cheeks and forehead, and the clamps attached to each temple.
Below the neck, however, was a different story. His body was gone. Nothing! Nada! Squat! Zip, zilch, zero; just a tube pumping clear, green fluid in, and another draining cloudy green fluid out.
Brock started to protest, his jaw moving up and down and his eyes bulging.
“Lights please, Doctor.”
The lights came back on and the ghastly apparition vanished.
“Stop your yammering, Lieutenant.” Brock stopped yammering.
“You appreciate the gravity of the situation? Blink twice for yes, raise your eyebrows twice for no.”
Brock blinked twice.
“Look, son,” said Major McGranite, “I’ll cut to the chase here. You’re dead. Capisce?”
“As far as the World is concerned Second Lieutenant Brock Dalton died following a tragic motorcycle accident, and was buried with full honours. Hell, we even sent your family a flag in a glass case; what more could you ask?” Major McGranite leaned forward excitedly. “But it don’t have to be this way. Dead don’t necessarily mean dead. How would you like another chance to serve your country, son? How would you like another chance to be all you can be, Hell, more than you were before? Do you like the sound of that? Don’t try to talk son, blink for yes, eyebrows for no.”
Brock didn’t have to think for long; being dead had not been part of his five year plan. He blinked twice.
Major McGranite slapped his thigh. “That’s the spirit, Lieutenant.” He turned to Doctor Neilson. “You see that, Doc? That’s what I call the right stuff! Takes more than decapitation to keep one of our boys on the bench.”
His expression hardened. “Now listen up, Lieutenant; let me tell you all about Project American Quilt.” He pulled his stool closer, and lowered his voice.
“Project American Quilt is above top secret. Hell, it’s above above top secret. Not even God has clearance for this.
War today ain’t like it was in your Daddy’s day, or in his Daddy’s day. War used to be about marching into the other guy’s country, kicking his ass and taking his oil.
Now, the enemy is everywhere. They’re in our streets, they’re hijacking our planes, they’re hiding out in the mountains, and the worst of it is, they surround themselves with civilians so we can’t get to them. Every time we drop a bomb on one of their training camps, the Goddam bleeding heart, pinko, tree hugging, hippy-dippy do-gooders start crying about,” here he paused to make invisible quotes in the air with his fingers, “collateral damage. Boo-Goddam-hoo!” He jabbed his finger at the glass. “That’s where you come in. Project American Quilt is about building a newer, better soldier. One that can get in, do the job and then get out with a minimum of civilian casualties. You will be no longer be the best of the best. You will be better than the best. The best best that there can be; but understand this, son, if you agree to this, you will cease to be Second Lieutenant Brock Dalton. You will become Project American Quilt. Your status will remain deceased. You can never contact your friends or family, and you’ll be under tighter wraps than any of that weird alien crap we have down here. You will become property of the United States Air Force, body and soul. That is how it has to be.
Or if you prefer, you can go back to being dead again. Really dead.
So what’s it to be, Lieutenant? Are you ready to get back into the game? Blink twice for yes, raise your eyebrows twice for no.”