He laid out a plate of cranberry glazed chicken with a side of mashed potatoes. The plate itself was a fine china and the silverware was perfectly cleaned and shining. The rough, woven tablecloth and lumpy candles on the table gave the rest of the room a more informal feeling. He hadn’t even told me to dress any differently for this; I was in my light blue jeans and frilled red blouse with the lace sleeves. Once the glass of water was poured he went to the other end of the square table and sat down.
“You said this was your favorite meal, so I wanted to give it to you. This is going to be the final test to see if our product works, then after this…”
“We will get rich selling it, I can’t wait Richard.” I smiled as I considered all the buyers already waiting for us to finalize the product then set up their orders.
“Are you sure you want to do this? I have the antibodies right here, so if at any point you want to stop we can.” I nodded at him, the vacuum sealed syringe with clear liquid was right next to his right arm, he gently touched the plastic wrapping.
I leaned over and got the oxygen mask. Once it was attached to my face I pressed the flow button. The machine shot a controlled dosage of the experimental drug into the mask which I effortlessly breathed in, colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Once that was done I waited a minute for the air in the mask to clear itself of the chemical then took the mask off.
I took up the fork and started to eat. The tart mixed with the greasy savory coated my mouth; mother sitting down with a large chicken while orange leaves blew around outside, our family had its own set of traditions that didn’t ever involve such things as large turkeys. My mouth always loved the holidays. Richard was watching me closely, and once I finished my bite he spoke.
“The food should taste amazing.” The next bite I had was a mush lumping of nothing, my saliva dried as it could only tell now that I was trying to ingest solid matter, and I had to gulp down the bite.
“I don’t taste anything.”
“How does it smell?”
I leaned down to smell the steam of the chicken and earthy mashed potatoes and the sweet cranberries, but I smelled nothing. I could tell air was rushing into my nose, and nothing came into them that suggested a scent. I shook my head again.
“What’s it like?”
“I feel so free, open.”
“You don’t seem to be enjoying it.” He was fingering the plastic again, twitching as he kept his eyes on me.
“I’m doing fine.”
“And what will happen when you can’t speak again, or see? What will happen to the millions of people we could be vegetating if we release this product?”
“Richy, this product…” The room was going black, I couldn’t see him anymore as he rushed to speak.
“I know about the defense contractors. Military organizations could use this to win wars, domesticate populations.”
“Hospitals can use it to easy pain and suffering…”
“There’s too much risk…”
“I… don’t think… so.” I couldn’t feel my tongue, everything was numb now.
“Thank you for agreeing to take the final test. I promise I will use the antibodies to bring you back… but only once I’ve destroyed all of the chemical and research notes we made.”
A shiver went through my entire arm as I heard him stand up and move towards me. “Rich, wait… you can’t. That’s years… of our life’s work.” My arms were being moved behind my back, I wanted to stand but I could barely register trying to push to stand up.
“It’s going to be okay, just stay here until I’m done. Can you still hear me?”
I flailed my head to the sides wildly, “Stop! You can’t do this. You’ll ruin-”
“Shhhhhhh.” His voice was getting quieter. “It’s better this way. I promise, everything…”
Tears dripped down my cheeks, the only way I knew how was that I knew I was making them, everything was black and quiet. This was hell. Richard was hell. I was no longer human. I was nothing. I was a void. I was dead.
by Bridget Atkinson Moore