Carrie Goldwater dipped her finger into her contact case, gently pulling out the left eye contact. It felt like slimy softness between her fingertips as she readied it to her eye. A silent pop and it was on, like a suction cup to a glass window, making her horrible vision somewhat clear again—but not quite 20/20. What an ordeal it was to get ready in the morning. It was bad enough Carrie wasn’t a morning person, but it was worse when waking to a blurry mass of objects which, in turn, tricked her mind into thinking she was still asleep. And, yet, she knew better than that—oh that tricky, tricky brain.
Splashing lukewarm water on her face, she lathered—rinsed—shoved a Crest covered toothbrush into her mouth, brushed hard—spit—rinsed—pulled a brush through her long blonde hair—highlighted of course—dusted her cheeks with pink blush, dabbed her eyes with the slightest bit of mascara—breathed, or sighed—and done.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she frowned. Was it really the same thing every day? Yes, it was, she thought. Carrie grabbed one of her sweaters and pulled it over her loose pajamas that she hadn’t yet changed out of, and made her way into the kitchen. Her two other roommates were gone again, leaving her alone in their humble apartment. Sarah was off at school early, while Lyn was probably still at her boyfriend’s house. Lyn and Carrie had been growing silently apart, ever since Carrie’s recent break up with her own boyfriend, Jason, of two and a half years. Carrie didn’t quite understand the distance between the two of them, but neither did she understand the failure of her own relationship.
As she poured the coffee grounds into the filter and pressed the brew button, she remained standing in the kitchen, watching the coffee drip into the pot, rubbing her left eye. Her gaze drifted to the cabinet of food, realized she didn’t have the stomach for it—glanced towards Lyn’s bedroom—the door was open—and finally rested her gaze on the window, or rather outside of it. She continued to stare through the window, focusing on a tree, its limbs gently bending in the wind, the leaves flashing green from the morning sunlight, the sun’s light pushing into the living room but never reaching the darkened kitchen. Must change, she thought. Maybe cut my hair—pedicure—dye hair brown…
She jumped. A loud knock on the front door startled her out of her daze. Fluffing her hair and pulling at her left eyelid to adjust the bothersome contact, Carrie made her way to the door. She wasn’t expecting anyone in particular and she knew there wasn’t any maintenance needed in the apartment. She peered outside the peep hole and saw two tall men in suits standing outside the door.
She paused before opening the door. She definitely wasn’t expecting any men in suits. Carrie slowly opened the door and gave her most polite smile—which also could have been read as who the hell are you and what do you want. Funny how it works that way.
“Ms. Carrie Goldwater,” the right one said.
Carrie hesitated but nodded, a little taken aback that he knew her name, which meant they were definitely here for a very specific purpose.
“We would like to speak with you,” the right one said again. The left one didn’t seem to have anything to contribute at the moment, but the two of them did pull out FBI badges in order calm Carrie’s nerves down.
But it didn’t do much help. She was already dreaming up scenarios of either Sarah or Lyn being dead or kidnapped, maybe something bad had happened to Jason—maybe her parents!
“Ms. Goldwater, may we come inside?” Right said.
“Of course,” she managed, clearing her throat nervously. “I’m sorry.” Carrie ushered the two agents inside and slowly closed the door behind them. She stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to do next. The two men glanced around then focused on her, expecting her to say something. When she did not, Right gestured to the couches.
“May we sit down?” he said.
“Oh yeah,” Carrie said, a little more flustered than she wanted to be. “Please sit down.” Carrie made her way to one of the couches and sat, the other two men sitting on the opposite couch.
“So is this something really bad?” she asked nervously. “Do I really need to hold on to something or get ready for some bad news?”
“Ms. Goldwater, we are here to inquire if you would like to be a participant in a very specialized government program supported by the US military and funded by Americor Science and Research,” Right said.
Carrie sat in silence, staring blankly at them. All her fears were replaced by pure surprise. She wasn’t sure how long the three of them sat there in silence. To her, it felt like time had frozen and she was stuck in surprise-mode. Finally, she spoke.
“I’m sorry, but I’m really confused,” she said. “I thought you were here to tell me some really bad news.”
“That was not our intention,” Right said. Left just sat there.
“I guess I just don’t see why FBI agents would be asking me to be apart of some program,” Carrie responded.
“The program is specialized for people within their mid-twenties and especially for those who are physically fit and rarely sick,” Right continued, ignoring Carrie’s question. “We need willing participants who will go through a steady and rigorous training of exercise and diet for five weeks. After that, we conduct the experiment. Out of the criteria, we randomly chose a select group of people, and you were one of them.”
Carrie sat there for another silent second and attempted to absorb all of this.
“Wait,” she finally said, “this is a bit much. I’m not even sure what’s going on here. You’re asking me to participate in a program. I’m not even sure what this program is about?—other than all that other stuff you just told me.”
“It’s technically an experiment on the human body,” Right said.
Carrie smiled slowly, finding the entire situation to be ridiculous and almost humorous.
“Okay,” she said, nodding in appreciation to the bluntness of the answer. “Why is the government conducting this program, slash, experiment?”
“That is top secret,” Right said.
“But you’re openly telling me a bunch of stuff about it. What if I were to say no and then go blab to other people that the government is conducting a secret experiment on human bodies?”
That’s when Left smiled. It was one of those calm smiles that somehow radiated creepiness at the same time.
“You could do that,” Right said. “But who would believe you without proof? Besides, it wouldn’t really matter what you would spread if you decided not to be a participant. And you have every right to decline. We are only here because you were one the selectees that was picked by a computer randomizer. And we, among other government officials, have said the same thing that we are saying to you now.”
Carrie nodded, forcing herself to take this seriously, and something inside of her told her that it was very serious. Maybe it was the way Left smile that made her stomach turn.
“Alright, I’m listening,” she said. “So what happens after the five weeks are over? Do I just come back home?”
Right hesitated for the first time and that made her more curious, if not more concerned.
“If you decide to be a participant within this program, you can no longer have contact with your friends or family. Not during the five weeks, or after. To them, you will have simply disappeared.”
The room suddenly seemed to turn cold despite the sunlight filling the room.
Carrie didn’t say anything. She didn’t know what to say. Her insides screamed hell no, but something else held her interest—her curiosity. What program or experiment could be so important, or dangerous, that one would be cut off from family forever? It couldn’t be forever, could it?
“That’s a little extreme,” Carrie managed to say.
Neither Right nor Left said a word.
So Carrie said, “How can I make a decision like that? Especially when I practically know nothing about what you’re talking about.”
“Other people have declined because of the severity of the situation. But there are those who have agreed,” Right shrugged. “It’s really up to you.”
“This is the chance of a lifetime,” Left said, and it almost surprised Carrie enough to jump. “There are so many others that will not have this opportunity given to them. We cannot tell you why you must be cut off from your family and friends, and we cannot tell you anymore about the program than we already have. All we can tell you now is that this may be the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever.”
“At least, so far,” Right said.
“Yes, of course, without saying,” Left responded.
Carrie blinked. She wasn’t sure how to react or think. The whole situation sounded absurd and she wasn’t sure if she could believe them. And even if they were telling the truth—and why wouldn’t they be—should she really drop everything to become apart of something she knows nothing about, except exercise and diet?
“Is it dangerous?” she asked.
“Every precaution is taken,” Right said.
“Would I have any contact with the outside world at all?”
“Yes,” Right said.
It didn’t make sense. She wouldn’t be allowed to have contact with her family or friends, but she could have contact with the rest of the world?
“Do I have to decide now?” Carrie asked.
“No, you can be allowed twenty-four hours,” Right answered.
Carrie nodded. She was wringing her hands in anxiety. Twenty-four hours. That would give her enough time to contemplate her answer and perhaps spend as much time with the people around her as possible—call up her parents and grandparents, make sure Lyn was coming home this time and maybe they could have girl-time along with Sarah—maybe call Jason.
As she walked the two government officials to the door, she was thinking all this. There was so much information cluttering her thoughts and teasing her curiosity, she couldn’t bring herself together. As the two men exited the apartment, Right mentioned that they would return the next day. Carrie nodded absentmindedly, closed the door and double locked it. It wasn’t that she was afraid of them breaking in, but it was the simple state of shock that she was in.
As she slowly, mechanically moved her way into the kitchen, she grabbed a mug from a shelf and poured herself a cup of coffee, something that she had been missing this whole time. Maybe if she had her coffee, things would clear her fogged up head. She had to think. She had all day to think. And she couldn’t believe that she was even considering it at all. How could she leave everything behind, but for something that might be the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever? Carrie definitely needed to think!