Mostly Hidden, Chapter One

Yeah, so, I haven’t really written anything substantial in a long time. Too long.

But fairly recently, I had a small inspiration for something, and began writing. As I wrote, as often happens, more of the story and characters and what I could do with it came to me, and now it’s something I’m actually working on. Here’s the first chapter.

 

Michael was falling. Falling into a sea of air, with nothing below but empty space in which to fall further.
Was he falling or floating? Was there even a distinguishable difference in this infinite space of nothing? There had to be. He felt like he was falling. Something was holding his head up, though. He wasn’t just tumbling, falling aimlessly, rolling over and over with no possible way to stop. It was an organized fall, orderly, peaceful in its certainty. Come to think of it, it was very peaceful, without any hint of that gasping stomach-in-your-throat feeling that falling almost always had.
Was he falling at all? He wasn’t sure any more. The thing holding up his head was more… existent, now. Instead of being some invisible force, he could almost sense it, see it, feel it. Almost.
A pillow. But still, the air, the falling. He was in both places at once, now.
Oh, that’s right. He was there. God damn, he always ended up back here. Sometimes he wished that the new one would take him away and leave him away. Death, they called it, or an unfortunate dosage. But he didn’t call it that. He called it paradise, an escape from the daily wondering of whether what was happening was real or assumed.
His bed managed to be, while technically comfortable, the most irritating thing imaginable. Perhaps it was because that was the first thing to remind him of his continued existence.
He spun out of his lying position to hang his legs over the side of his bed, leaning over with his head in his hands.
He would be given a few days as a break. Technically speaking, it was just a break in time that prevented any contraindications with the next drug. It usually worked. Some, however, happened to linger around in the body a little longer than that, and the next test was almost always complimented with the negative effects of the combination.
Michael let out a sigh and slumped off the bed to stretch and do a few warm-ups. They usually seemed to help bring him back to the sad reality, no matter how much he disliked doing them. Lingering in the effects of the test while still awake and conscious was almost worse than being in reality, and he tried to switch between them as fast as possible.
His head ached as his skin dampened with sweat and the memories of the dream poured out into a single tear running down his cheek.

“Seems that the after-effects weren’t too bad,” Gerard said as he made a few more notes onto a clipboard, flipping it around and setting it on the desk in front of him. Henry looked up to him from his chair in front of the one-way mirror. “He usually takes them pretty well.”
Gerard turned his back on Henry and began walking out the door. Midway through, he paused. “Start him on the next one as soon as possible. Diazopralm, right?”
Henry looked at a small list taped to the wall. “No, he isn’t slated for that one. It’s supposed to be arela…”
Gerard cut him off. “Diazopralm next. I want to see how he takes it.”
The damping stay of the door creaked as it closed behind Gerard.
“Why diazopralm, though?” Henry muttered to himself. “We’ve had almost no successful trials with it so far. What does he hope will change this time?”
He pressed a small button on the desk and spoke into a microphone set next to it. “Rest up well, Michael. In a few days we’ll give you diazopralm.”
The man behind the mirror snapped his head towards where he knew Henry was as he heard the voice, frowned as he heard the name of the drug. “Do I look psychotic to you?” he shouted.
“Not my call,” Henry answered.
That made Michael frown further. “Gerard. Damn it.”
Henry flipped through a small book, then to another section, thought for a moment, then pressed the button again. “Looks like you’ll have four days before it.”
“Great,” Michael answered flatly.
Henry turned off the system inside the small room he was in, then went out the door.
Michael, sitting on his bed once more, cursed Gerard quietly.

James stepped through the front doors of Mind Pharmaceuticals after pausing briefly and scanning his identification card over the small black box that allowed access into the building. Caitlyn, the receptionist, sat behind a desk to the left in the large, open room he was now in. She looked at him and nodded slightly, then went back to what she was working on.
He took a deep breath, closing his eyes on the inhale and opening them on the exhale. His head cleared, slightly, and he went down the hall to the right.
Production facility. That was where he worked. Almost all of the process was mechanized, by now, but his job was to make sure that the machines that did the production kept working. Officially, he was a production worker. But he was really just a mechanic.
The job wasn’t the point. Everyone who worked in that section knew that. Sure, it provided money, pretty good money, too. But that was only part of it.
Only one part of it.
He stripped off his clothes and slowly walked through the sanitization room, which progressively washed, sanitized, rinsed, and dried each worker going into the production facility. At the end, he put on his worksuit and entered the room.
It was a massive room, all the larger for its incredible sound and eternal echoing. Five other workers had already arrived and were busy keeping eyes on pressure gauges, adjusting dials occasionally if something drifted into an undesired value.
Today was metaproxil. Good thing, too.
The same system made all of the drugs produced in the facility, cycling out which ones were produced on a given day, unless there was a major need for a certain one, in which case that would replace whatever was going to be made that day. The last metaproxil production had been two weeks ago and, as it was one of the most widely used and needed drugs that Mind Pharmaceuticals produced, it was produced about twice as frequently as any others.
Officially, metaproxil was a Schedule II drug, most frequently used for pain after surgery. Unofficially, it was a hell of a lot of fun. Unfortunately, that fun came at a cost, which existed in the drug’s potential for addiction, price, and difficulty to get.
Difficulty for some to get, James reminded himself.

Gerard sat at a desk in the small room provided him at the company. He squeezed his temples slightly, slid his hand across his face and rested it on his chin for a moment, then resolutely sat up straight and picked up a pen. He placed it on the paper before him and began writing.
He wrote until he had filled up that piece of paper, then moved to a second. When that was about two-thirds full, he had finished. He picked up both pieces of paper, read them to himself silently.
He then held them both up by the corner with his left hand and, with his right, retrieved a lighter from his pocket and lit the bottom corner of the paper.
He watched the flames lick up the paper until it came too close to his left hand, and he dropped them on the desk.
The flames had completely consumed the paper in a matter of seconds, and he watched the slight orange glow on the fire-eated ashes until these, too, were gone, and he swept them into a small wastebin.
He leaned back in his chair, setting his feet on the desk, and closed his eyes.

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