**Allow me to greet Aunty HotStuff fess: _______O__ Oya, make una read**
Mastermind: Miss Awosika
The day was already coming to an end, but work wasn’t over.
It never was. Especially when you had your time invested in your passion. The feeling of accomplishment, that surge in your heart when you reach every milestone, knowing you are making impact – it never got old. Nothing gave me better satisfaction.
Not the wife.
Nor the good sex.
Not even the pride of being a father.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my family, but my love for my work was on a whole different level. Every day, I blew my own mind with the new experiences I had at work. It was simply awesome. I think what was even almost as awesome as my work was working with people who shared my passion. We worked late – sometimes even on weekends – but I knew they didn’t mind. I knew because even when I gave them time off, they found their way back to work.
It was their life.
They loved it.
We lived it.
I quickly learnt to tame my emotions over the course of my job. I mastered the art of ignoring the pain and the pricking I felt in my conscience most of the time. Whenever I felt pain or discomfort, I plugged in my ear phones. Slow music did it for me: full blast and I was in another dimension, where pain was almost nonexistent and discomfort unheard of. This music was what, over time, killed my emotions. I was at it again because I had had a long day today. Everyone else was outside preparing for our next patient’s procedure. I sat on my desk and stared straight ahead. The lovely view outside my window helped a lot. My ear phones were plugged in. ‘Tonight’ by John Legend was playing and I was in another world. For that moment, I had no worries, I did not need to think, I was just okay, and I was no longer within the four walls of my office.
The new toys were over at the corner waiting to be tested. It no longer hurt me to see people die much less the animals we tested our procedures on. Families were separated but then I kept reassuring myself that it was for the greater good of science. Even if it was, I would still answer to these things on judgment day, and as much as I knew it wouldn’t, a small part of me still hoped that the “greater good of science” argument would hold before the Creator whose creations we were destroying.
Our patients who didn’t die were held within the premises. They were as good as dead anyways. Most of them, less than shadows of their former selves were zombie-like. They were kept in cells outside the lab. We had enough space – in fact more than enough. They were allowed to roam free during the day. It was something we did to appease our consciences.
At least they had a little freedom. It was not like we kept them locked in all day.
“Excuse me sir, patient 1036 is ready”. It was Ola’s voice. It took a while for me to respond but I knew he wouldn’t speak again. I never responded immediately. My mind was racing, I was back to myself and I couldn’t help thinking that another life was about to be endangered.
But it was for the greater good of science, wasn’t it?
Patient 1036 was strapped in the new toy. Red lights were blinking all over the place. He had been “prepped” for the procedure. He would be a new person if the procedure worked. There were two things we could do. It was either we swapped identities or simply made clones of one person’s identity. We loaded on memories and peculiar characteristics of other people. We could make clones of the same person in different bodies. This was going to be the start of a new generation. I nodded my head at Joshua. We had done this so many times. He instinctively moved towards the machine and pressed the start button. Once again, I convinced myself it was for the good of science.
As the procedure went on, I walked myself through the process just so I could take my mind away from what was going on. We made exact copies of the person on the machines that had just arrived. It took the things that make a person unique such as the DNA, the gene patterns and brain cells where memories reside. This way, even though the new body had no memory of what happened to the old person, when these particular brain cells were reactivated, they brought up these memories and voila the new person is living someone else’s life. It was an awesome procedure. We made a copy of Patient 1036’s patterns, DNA, genes and all. We could use it if it ever was needed and if need be, we could reload it into him. The new identity was loaded unto Patient 1036 but the procedure took a while. It was no biggie: just like copying files from a flash drive.
See what I meant when I said I blew my mind away with the work I did?
By the time I had snapped out of my thoughts, the process was at the last stage – the point where the “memory brain cells” would be ‘loaded’ in the patient’s brain. The progress bar showed the status of the process.
I was excited. What was the worst that could happen? Well, if his memories were swapped out and the new ones failed to load, he’d be blank – a clean slate!
There was a loud sound, followed by a black out.
I heard loud sucking noises and wondered what it was about.
Pacing back and forth, I was more than a little puzzled. You see, we ran on generator because PHCN was too unreliable and it was bad enough that our experiments were risky – we couldn’t afford ruining more or even losing more patients due to power outage.
It was five minutes already.
“Shit,” I swore under my breath. “Come on Joshua, could you go and find out what the hell those boys are up to? What kind of mistake is this? We just freaking lost a patient.
“Daft abokis,” I mumbled to myself while I waited for a reply. There was none.
I went back to my office, plugged in my earphones and waited for the lights to come back on.
Ten minutes later and there was still no light. I couldn’t stand the suspense any more. Using my phone as a source of light, I walked back to the lab. Ola and Joshua must have gone out to talk to the abokis about the light situation as there was no one there. I went out to find them only to meet them on their way back looking like they had just seen ghosts. I tried to get them to talk but they wouldn’t, so I decided to go back out to find out what was wrong.
God knows what got into them. They were behaving pretty weird.
I rushed outside to the outhouse. There was only one aboki left.
“Wetin happen?” I asked, barely concealing my irritation. In faltering English, he explained to me how he had gone to check the gen and had come back to see that everyone had disappeared, leaving behind a pile of clothes.
He was even more confused than I was.
I looked around again to see for myself. I wondered in that irrational part of my brain: maybe the radioactive waves from one of the experiments was finally taking its toll on us? My wife had always warned me that one day these things we thought were for the good of science will turn around and bite us in the ass. The abokis’ house was so dirty: they had piles of clothes all over the floor. I looked around in disgust as the only aboki present was trying to make out some words in English.
“Oga, gen e good. E no just work,” the aboki was saying. I nodded distractedly and returned to find Ola and Joshua walking around still looking spooked. I walked past them into the lab.
I noticed something else this time: there was no Patient 1036. All that was left of him were the overalls we had dressed him in.
My nerves had gone past the point of fraying. Shit, what the hell is going on? Bits of Ola’s and Joshua’s frightened whispers wafted into my ears: Gone… Dark…Left… Alone… Behind… Something in me calmed down. What did this mean? I went back outside. This time I went into the wards to check on our patients. The wards looked almost the same as the aboki house. Piles of clothes everywhere! Most of the patients were gone. The rest of them wandered about, hardly noticing anything. They were too damaged! I ran out of the gate. Maybe they planned some sort of escape! It was then I realized the blackout wasn’t just in our compound. It was general and more so, there were piles of clothes at different spots on the road, and people wandering about looking as lost as I felt.
My mind went back to the details of the night.
Ola’s and Joshua’s faces.
One aboki left.
The pile of clothes.
It came rushing back – all the stories I had read – the Left Behinds, the messages our pastors preached, the stories I had read in the Bible when I was still a church-going Christian. At that same time, I remembered all the patients we had manipulated, down to Patient 1036 and I broke down from the pain that coursed through my body and my soul. I remembered my family. I hadn’t seen them in weeks – been too busy. Were they left behind too? I wondered. How would I know? All the slow music in the world couldn’t help now. Everything was still. All I could hear was my heart beating real fast and even though it had been a while since I did, I prayed that my For the greater good of science argument would hold before God.
“People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. Two men will be working together in the field, one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” Matt 24:39