Mostly Hidden, Chapter Two

See, I told you I’d get back to it.

Clyde tiredly inspected the small, white rat in front of him. Its whiskers flicked around as it turned its head from side to side, forever paranoid that it should meet the end of so many of its relatives.
“People don’t like rats,” Clyde said to himself. “They think they’re dirty, evil, bent on evil, hating everything. Maybe it’s some carry-over from our past bad experiences with them, when they were carriers of disease and death. Whatever the case, people still don’t like them.”
He picked up the rat with one hand, lightly running the fingers of his other hand down its back. It squirmed, but was unable to move from his grasp.
“I suppose it’s convenient, having a small, easily breed-able animal that people don’t mind putting through tests and trials of all kinds. Psychological, physical, chemical.”
He sighed. “Well, little guy, you’re the last of the twenty I needed to prove the efficiency of this. Don’t screw anything up for me, okay?”
Still holding the rat, he picked a small syringe up off the table in front of him. He stuck it into the leg of the animal, pressing down on the end fitting of the plunger. Within moments, the rat went completely still, its body slowly cooling. Clyde watched it for a moment before putting it in the bin with the others.
He got out of his chair and opened the only door out of the room.
“Eh,” he looked around for someone, then pointed at a young woman walking by. “You. Take this bin of rats to the furnace. Oh, and tell them that the new barbiturate works great.”

Michael tapped his foot against the hard plastic of the floor. They didn’t usually make him wait this long. Not that he could exactly complain, in his circumstances, but it still irritated him.
He got off the bed and went to a corner of the room, leaning heavily against it, his head leaning back on it. He closed his eyes and crossed his feet at the ankles, the top foot repeatedly tapping the air in front of it.
The door into the room opened and a mesomorphic orderly stepped through, eyeing him. Michael rolled his eyes and hefted himself from his relaxed posture and lumbered over to the man, then turned around and held his hands out in back of him. The orderly snapped a pair of handcuffs onto him, then took him by an elbow and led him out of the room and through a hall, then a staircase, then another hall, and, finally, to Michael’s cell. The man opened the door, watched Michael go in, closed the door, then unlocked the handcuffs.
Michael rubbed his wrists, more out of habit than from any amount of chafing. The orderly grunted, then walked off. Michael watched him leave, then leaned against his wall, looking up at the ceiling and thinking.

Clyde sat back in his chair, closing his eyes and rocking back and forth.
Clyde Edison Orrville, CEO of Mind Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated. He had gotten tired of that joke, yet people constantly -once they noticed it- brought it up.
It was unusual, of course, for a CEO to still sometimes do menial tasks like rat testing. But that was how he had started out at the company, and it was nostalgic.
A white rat sat, perched with his front paws up, on Clyde’s desk, staring at him with his freakish pink eyes.
Clyde cocked an eyebrow at the rat.
The rat settled back down into his four-legged position, walked in circles on the desk for a moment, then began grooming.
Clyde stood up, walked over to a bookshelf on the right side of his office, looked around for a moment, and picked out a book titled Grand Willowdraught: One of the World’s Vital Resources.
So much for a title, Clyde thought.
He had read it dozens of times before, but always found it an interesting and pertinent book. It was, after all, what close to ninety percent of the drugs made at Mind Pharmaceuticals were derived from.
It really was an intriguing plant. Each part of it had a use, and very different ones depending on the location on the plant.
The roots created three powerful analgesics; noroplanine, corquine, and tranzilide. From these were derived four different pain medications that the company manufactured. The bark of the tree contained a stimulant called erichlorate, as did the leaves, though the leaves also contained an anti-inflammatory called perologeic acid, and, oddly enough, a precursor to an antipsychotic drug called melonine. The flowers contained a dissociative sedative called afalamine, the seeds contained an anticholinergic tropane called ununalamine (which didn’t exist in any other plant yet discovered), and the twigs contained a minor anesthetic called eletapomate.
Furthermore, almost all of these drugs could be synthesized into others with slightly different effects, and the company was still learning and experimenting with some of these.
They had needed people to experiment with them.
There had been some degree of coincidence, there. The fact that the state’s largest and most dangerous prison had been a mere two miles away made that idea come pretty easily.
It was a good situation, really, and not really as unethical as it was illegal. The prisoners otherwise would be of no help to humanity, and, in this way, they could at least help people by testing things that would go otherwise untested.
A very good situation, Clyde thought, and picked up the rat.

James sat and took a metaproxil. It was his lunch break, which typically meant a pill, a peanut butter sandwich on cheap manufactured white bread, and water.
He knew as well as anyone (though less well than some) that there were some at least marginally illegal things that went on -officially- at Mind Pharmaceuticals. Nobody ratted them out, of course. The benefits were just too good, he thought (as he took the pill), and the risk was just to high. A company as powerful as Mind was, being able to do these things without getting caught automatically, would have no trouble silencing people, as James was sure they had in the past.
Clyde Edison Orrville was a man rarely seen and rarely spoken of. James wasn’t sure if that was either a sign of his unknowing of some of the things that went on, or a sign of him being the source of all plans and actions that the company took. In any case, James had never seen him, nor knew of anyone who had. He only knew the name from a small plaque on the wall near the entrance of the building that stated that he was the CEO.
James let his mind drift. It was the one time during the workday that he could really do so.
He didn’t get the point of anything, anymore. Why bother.
He made an exception and took another metaproxil, and left half of his sandwich untouched.
Lunch break was over, and it was time again to work the grindstone.


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