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Building 14

Summary

A young mans journey out of boredom leads to an adventure to die for.

Chapter One

Joshua sat up in his bed.  He listened carefully to check for any noises coming from within the house.  Hearing none, he slowly stepped out of bed and tip toed across the floor to his closet.  Turning on the closet light, he quietly pulled down his backpack.  Pulling open his dresser drawers, he grabbed four pairs of socks, four shorts, and four t-shirts.  Always good to have a couple extra changes of clothes he thought, just in case this takes longer then he had planned.  Jamming them into the pack, he went back to the closet.  Carefully moving the front boxes from the shelf, he pulled out the last box.  He lifted the cover to check its contents, then closed it back up and placed it on the dresser.  He filled the pack with three pairs of jeans and two dress shirts.  Just for the hell of it, he stuffed a couple of ties in the pack too.  He figured once he was done with this, he might have some time to have a little fun too, before coming back home at the end of the weekend.  He then placed the box from the closet on top and zipped closed the pack.  As quietly as he could, he walked out into the hallway. Slowly, very slowly he crept down the stairs.  Always aware of any noises he heard.  The pounding beats of his own heart, echoed in his ears.  After making it to the bottom of the stairs, he crossed the living room to his fathers study.  Turning the knob, he inched the door open.  Being careful not to let the door swing in to far so as to squeak, at the point it always did.  Once in the study, he slowly closed the door.  So far, so good, he thought to himself.  Now comes the hard part, his mind said.

           

            Joshua had been living the typical boring life of any 16 year old young man.  He was going to school, and doing quite well as a matter of fact; almost all A’s on his last report card.  He was the Captain of the school’s Basketball team.  He had a part-time job on the weekends, and helped around the house with chores.  He had April, his girlfriend of two years, and was in the popular group at school.  His parents just bought him a car, for his birthday four months ago, a 2003 Ford Mustang.  Yes, his life had been very normal.  Normal at least, for any 16 year old boy with parents who loved him, and gave him what ever he needed or wanted.  Normal.  Yet boring.  But that normality came to a halt three weeks ago.  Joshua couldn’t believe that his live had changed, turned upside down, in just three short weeks.  He was a little scared, but excited too.  More excited then scared.  He was going on an adventure.  No more being bored. 

 

            As Joshua crossed the floor of his fathers study, he sat his backpack down on the desk.  Going to the large framed painting of his parents and himself, he took it down from the wall.  Joshua paused for a moment to look at his mother in the painting.  He remembered when they all sat for the artist who painted it.  As he gazed into the eyes of his mother, he almost started to cry.  He missed his mom.  It had been almost six years now since she passed away and Joshua thought about her often.  His dad remarried two years ago, and his step-mom tried to be the motherly type to him, but Joshua just wouldn’t let her.  There was no way he could call her mom, and he tried at every turn to let her know that.  Setting the picture down, he turned his attention back to the wall.   Looking at the door of his fathers safe, he said a silent pray that the combination was still the same.  The same as the one written on the piece of paper he held.  Joshua spun the dial.  27 left.  56 right.  98 left.  32 right.  He tried the lever.  It clicked.  He pulled.  The safe opened.  Thank God, Joshua thought.  Turning on his mini flashlight, he flipped through the folders.  He pulled out the three labeled with the names also written on the piece of paper.  Going back to the desk, he slipped them into his backpack.  Picking up the pack, he reached into his shirt pocket and placed an envelope on the desk top.

            “Sorry Dad.”  He whispered.

 

            Joshua safely made it out of the house, without making any noise.  He crossed the yard to the street.  He had purposely parked his car on the street earlier, so he could coast to the bottom of the hill before starting it up.  Otherwise, the sound of his car starting would surely have awakened his parents.  Once at the bottom of the hill, he fired up his Stang.  He headed to the phone booth on the corner of Fifth and Washington.  He had been told to be there by midnight.  Looking at the dashboard clock, he had twenty minutes to get there.  No problem, he thought, it’s only a four minute drive. 

            As he turned south unto Fifth Avenue, heading towards Washington Street, panic struck him.  He saw the flashing lights of a police car in his rear view mirror.  Before he could even react, he heard the quick double blare from the siren.

            “Pull your vehicle to the curb.”  He heard the officer say through the loud speaker.

            “Oh fuck!”  Joshua muttered.  Not know.  Not tonight, Joshua thought.

            Joshua pulled the Mustang over to the curb.  He was shaking.  The police car pulled up behind him.  It seemed like forever before the officer got out of his vehicle and started walking up to Joshua’s car.  Joshua looked at the dashboard clock.  11:47pm. Come on, come on, hurry up Joshua said under his breath.

            “What’s the rush young man?”  The officer asked.

            “Sorry officer, I didn’t think I was speeding.”  Joshua answered.

            “You weren’t.”  The officer said.  “But I’m guessing you left wherever you were in a hurry, because you forgot to turn your headlights on.” 

            “Oh jesh.” Joshua moaned.  “Sorry about that.  The street lights are so bright I didn’t even notice.  Am I going to get a ticket?”

            “Only if you don’t turn your lights on.”  The officer said with a slight laugh.

            “Not a problem.”  Joshua replied with relief, as he pushed the button to turn on his headlights.

            “Now drive carefully son.”

            “I will Officer.”  Joshua said.  “Thanks.”

            Joshua pulled away from the curb.  He watched in his mirror as the police car did a U-turn and headed back north.  Thank God, he thought.  Glad that the Officer didn’t follow him. 

            The clock on the dash read 11:57 as he turned into the parking lot at the corner of Washington Street.  He pulled into the spot closest to the pay phone and got out and stood beside the phone; waiting for it to ring. 

            He had stood there, pacing in front of the phone for over ten minutes. Glancing into the car, the dash clock read 12:09am.

            “Come on, ring already.”  Joshua whispered to the phone.  No sooner had he spoken, when a navy blue Escalade pulled in and parked beside his car.  Then the phone rang.

            “Hello.”  Joshua said, after picking up the phone.  He stood there staring at the Escalade.

            “Joshua?”  A voice asked.

            “Yes, I’m Joshua.”

            “What was with the cop up the street?”

            “Nothing, I forgot to turn on my headlight, that’s all.”  Joshua answered.

            “You sure?”  The voice asked.  “You didn’t say anything about what you were doing?”

            “No.  No, I swear.”  Joshua said with a little panic.

            “For your own sake, I hope you’re not lying.”

            “I’m not, really, that’s all it was.”  Joshua said worriedly. 

            “I trust you kid.”  The voice laughed.  “You got too much to lose to be lying to me right now.”

            “Now listen carefully.”  The voice commanded.  “There should be a blue Escalade parked beside you.”

            “Yes.  Yes there is.”  Joshua answered, shocked that the man on the phone knew that. 

            “Good.”  The voice said.  “Give the driver the three folders you have.  He will in turn, give you an address and an envelope.  Read the address before you take off.  If you don’t know how to get there, the guy will give you directions.”

            “Okay.”  Joshua answered.  “Do I hang up now?”

            “Unless you want to chat about your love life, I got nothing else to say right now.”  The voice laughed.

            Joshua heard the click when the man hung up.  Walking back to his car, he reached in and opened his backpack.  His hand touched the shoe box; he hesitated for just a second.  He thought about doing something, but then decided that would be stupid.  Pulling out the folders, he walked to the Escalade.  Once at the drivers’ door, the window came partly down.  A gloved hand reached out.  Joshua placed the folders in the hand.  A second later, an envelope was stuck out the window.  Taped to it, was a piece of paper with an address written on it.

            “You know where that is?”  The driver asked.

            “I think so.”  Joshua said after reading the address.

            “Don’t think kid!”  The man barked.  “Do you or don’t you?”

            “Yes.  Yes I do.”  Joshua nervously answered.

            “Good, you have two hours to get there with the envelope.”  The man commanded as the window went up and the Escalade backed out of the parking stall.  A few seconds later, the Escalade was gone. 

            Joshua stood there for a couple minutes.  He looked at the envelope.  He wondered what was in it.  He thought for a moment about opening it up and checking to see, but then opted not to.  Sliding back into his car, he read the address again.  He really didn’t know where it was, but he could find out how to get there easy enough.  Reaching over, he flicked on the GPS navigator.  He typed in where he was, then the address on the paper.  In a couple seconds, the gadget laid out the quickest path to get there.  According to the GPS, it would take forty two minutes to drive to Anderson Electronics, in East Bainbridge. 

            “At least they gave me plenty of extra time.”  Joshua said to himself.

            Pulling out of the parking lot, Joshua thought about his parents.  It was clear to see he probably wasn’t going to make it back home before his Dad got up for work at five this morning.  And he was sure his Dad would go to his den before leaving.  He would find the note he left for him.  Joshua only hoped his Dad wouldn’t call the cops on him.  Not just for Joshua’s sake, but for his parents and his little brother.

Chapter Two

It was 1:22am when Joshua pulled up in front of Anderson Electronics.  Stepping out of his car, he glanced around.  His was the only vehicle on the street.  He looked at the building.  No lights shined through any of the windows.

            “What the hell?”  Joshua said.  “They send me to a place that’s closed?”

            Reaching into the car, he grabbed the envelope.  He walked up to the front doors.  Just for shits, he tried the door.  It was unlocked.  He slowly opened the door and quietly walked in.  By the time he thought about the box in his backpack, it was too late.

            “Hold it right there.”  A voiced called out from the darkness.  “What are you doing here?”

            “I was told to bring an envelope here.”  Joshua said with a slight nervousness.

            “Who told you that?”  The voice asked.

            “I don’t know their names.”  Joshua replied as he scanned the dark store trying to see where the person talking was. 

            “What did he look like?”

            “I never saw him.  He handed me this envelope through his car window.”  Joshua said, slightly waving the envelope in front of him.

            “What was he driving?”  The voice asked.

            “A dark blue Escalade, I think.”  Joshua answered.

            “Did you give him anything in exchange?”

            “Three folders.”  Joshua said, still trying to figure out where the person was in the dark store. 

            “Okay, go through the silver door in the back.”  The voice said as a small light came on towards the back of the store.

            Joshua walked slowly to the back of the store.  He kept looking around to make sure there was no one else there.  He walked through the back door and entered what looked like an office.  A small wooden desk and chair sat in the middle of the room.  A lamp, with a dim bulb sat on the desk.  Joshua looked around the room.  A couple of filing cabinets and a water cooler was all there was.  He was alone.

            “Have a seat son.”  The voice said.

            Joshua looked around again.  There was no one in the room.

            “Go on, sit down.”  The voice said again, this time, with a little more authority.

            Joshua walked over and sat down.  As he did, he noticed the speaker on the wall.  That’s why he didn’t see anyone.  They were talking to him through the speaker.  Which meant they had to have a camera too?  Joshua looked around again.  Yup, sure enough, there was a security camera on the left side wall. 

            “Wait there.”  The voice commanded.  “Someone will be in to see you shortly.”

            Joshua did as the voice told him.  Sitting there, he once again glanced around the room.  This time real carefully.  There was really nothing to look at.  The walls were barren of anything.  No pictures, posters, nothing.  Not even a clock.  Time seemed to drag for Joshua.  He wished he had worn a watch now.  It felt like he had been sitting there for a good half hour.  Bored but nervous, nervous but curious, Joshua decided to check out the desk.  He opened the center drawer.  There was nothing but some blank paper and a couple of pens.  Opening the top drawer on the right, his heart skipped a beat.  Staring back at him was a picture of himself.  When he picked up the photo, he saw others beneath it.  He flipped through them.  There were about a three dozen pictures, all of him.  Some were of him at school, some outside his house, some of him and April.  And a lot of them were of him and his little brother Brian.  As he looked at the photos, he realized they had been taken over the past few months.  It wasn’t just an accident, or twist of fate that the man approached him three weeks ago.  He had been scouted.  But why?  Why did they want him? 

            Joshua heard someone at the door.  He quickly put the photos back and shut the drawer.  The door opened; there stood an elderly gentleman, dressed in a blue pinstriped suit. 

            “Joshua I presume?”  He asked.

            “Yes.”  Joshua said with a nervous tone in his voice.

            “You seem to be handling this all pretty well.”  He said.  “The names Gilbert, you can just call me Gil.  I suppose you have a few questioned you’d like answered, now’s your chance.  Once we leave here, no more questions.”

            Joshua was dumbfounded.  Yes he thought, he had a million questions.  But sitting there, he couldn’t think of a single one to ask.

            “Don’t be nervous son.”  Gil said, walking around behind the desk.

            Joshua just sat there.  He really wanted to ask a question, but now he was afraid to. 

            “Well then, let me help you out.”  Gil stated.  “We choose you to help us because of both your fathers’ connections to certain people, and your love and protectiveness of your brother.  We’ve been watching you for a while now.  Do you know what your dad does for a living?”

            “Yes, he’s an Insurance Consultant.”  Joshua answered.

            “Well, technically, I guess you’re right.”  Gil said.  “But your dad does a lot more then that.  There’s no need to get into that right now though, we have more important things to discuss.  Like your little brother.  What’s his name again?  Oh yeah, Brian.”  Gil said, in a voice trying to get a rise out of the kid.  He wanted to see how much he really cared for his little brother.

            Joshua instantly went from nervous to protective anger.

            “You guys have to leave him alone.”  Joshua said, trying to not sound so threatening that the man would take steps to do something to him or his brother, out of sheer spite.  “The other guy promised.  If I do what you ask, you leave him alone.”

            “Take it easy son.”  Gil replied, happy with the instant reaction to protect his brother.  “That promise stands.  As long as you do what we need you to do, nothing will happen to anyone in your family.”

            Joshua wanted to say something, but decide it would be wiser to keep quiet for the time being.

            “So far, we have only tested you.”  Gil said.  “Tested you to see if you would do what we told you, no questioned asked.  So far you’ve passed.  Just keep doing what you’re told, and this will all be over in a few weeks.”

            “Weeks?”  Joshua cried out.  “I can’t be gone from home for weeks!  My parents will have the cops out looking for me if I don’t get back home before school on Monday.”  Joshua thought about his note to his Dad.  He promised him he’d be home by Sunday night.  Weeks, Joshua thought, God what have I gotten myself into?

            “No, no they won’t.”  Gil assured him.  “Your stepmother may panic, but your father will keep her under control and keep things private.  Trust me on that.”

            “What do you mean?”  Joshua asked.

            “You’ll understand when it’s all over.”  Gil said.  “You can ask dear old dad all about it when it’s over.”

            “Now, let’s get down to business.”  Gil said, walking to the door.  “Follow me.”

            Joshua got up and followed Gil out the door.  They walked back through the store towards the front door.  Exiting the store, Gil turned to Joshua and asked, pointing to the Mustang.

            “Yours?”

            “Yes.”  Joshua replied.  “My folks got it for me on my Birthday.”

            “Nice, really nice.”  Gil commented.  “Let’s go for a ride.”

            Once seated in the car, Gil told Joshua to head south towards Connersville.  There was no conversation for the first twenty miles or so.  Reaching into his suit pocket, Gil pulled out a box of Marlboro Lights.

            “Mind if I smoke?”  He politely asked Joshua.

            “No, go ahead.”  Joshua replied, then added.  “Can I have one too?”

            “You know they’re bad for you.”  Gil said, handing one to Joshua.

            “Yeah, I know.”  Joshua said.  “But I only smoke every once in a while.”

            Again, for the next ten miles, neither one of them spoke.  The next words uttered where from Gil.

            “Turn left at the next intersection.”  He instructed.

 

Joshua slowed and made the turn.  He noticed the big white and red sign that read ‘KEEP OUT PRIVATE PROPERTY’.  After driving about six miles, the road narrowed and turned from pavement to gravel.  It was now a one way road.  Huge pine trees lined both sides of the road.  Up ahead, Joshua could see lights, lots of lights.  As they neared the lights, Gil spoke up again.

            “Pull over up there by that van.”  Gil gestured to the vehicle parked to the left of the gates

            Joshua stopped the car beside the silver van.  Gil stepped out and walked around to the passenger side of the van.  Joshua opened his window a little, hoping to overhear what was being said.  No such luck.  They were talking too softly.  Gil came back and got into the Mustang.  Setting a briefcase in the back seat, he told Joshua to drive through the gate when it opened

            “Drive up to the main building and park by the second set of doors.”  Gil instructed.  Joshua did as he said.

            “Let’s go.”  Gil said, once they were parked, stepping out of the car.  Joshua got out too.  As he walked around the back of the car, he saw the briefcase.

            “What about the case?”  He asked.

            “That’s for you,” Gil answered.  “For later.”

            Walking through the massive glass doors, Joshua looked around.

            “What is this place?”  He asked Gil.

            “Well, that’s a little hard to explain.”  Gil replied.  “It’s a combination of things.”

            Joshua looked around the lobby of the building.  It was beautiful.  The walls were multicolored marble with shiny silver and gold spacers.  The floor was polished granite.  As he looked around, he thought there was something missing.  Then he realized what was missing; people.  There wasn’t a single person in the lobby.  No receptionist.  No guard.  Nobody.

            “Joshua!”  Gill called out.  Joshua stood there almost in a daze.  The elegance of the lobby was mesmerizing.  “Joshua!  This way.” 

            “Coming.”  Joshua called out as he jogged to catch up to Gil.

            They stood in front of a polished steel door.  Gil placed his hand on a glass panel to the right of the door.  In a matter of seconds, the door slid open. 

            “Welcome to my world son.”  Gil said as they entered the room.

Chapter Three

If Joshua thought he was amazed at the look of the lobby, he was in total awe now.  The room he was in was filled floor to ceiling with computer screens and TV monitors.  There must have been fifty people in this room, all watching different screens and writing things down.  Each wore a headset, and was talking to whoever was on the other end. 

            “Follow me Joshua.”  Gil said as he walked across the room to another set of polished steel doors.

            This time, along with the palm print screening, Joshua watched as Gill placed his chin on a padded bar rest and a blue light scanned his eyes from right to left.  There was a series of beeps, and then the steel doors slid open.  Walking in Joshua asked again.

            “What is this place?”

            “Well, I call it home.”  Gil replied.  “Some call it Heaven.  Others call it the pathway to Hell.  I’m sure you’ll come up with your own name for it sooner or later.”

            “But what is it?”  Joshua asked again.  “Does this place have a real name?  You know, like a company name that people would know?”

            “Not really.”  Gil answered.  “It is just referred to as ‘Building 14.”

            “What goes on here?  If I’m allowed to ask?”

            “No harm in asking, if that’s all you ask.”  Gil said, then turned and walked behind the desk and sat down.

            Joshua stood there waiting for an answer.  As he watched Gill pick up the phone and dial a number, then open up a desk drawer and pull out some papers, he realized there would be no answer.  No harm in asking he thought.  Just don’t expect an answer.

            “Stanley?  Gil here.”  Gil said into the phone.  “I have the kid here in 14.  Yes, yes, so far so good. I don’t think so.  I’ll ask.”

            Looking up to Joshua, Gil asked.  “You ever broke any bones that required the use of metal pins or the like to set?”

            “No, I’ve never broken any bones.”

            “So that’s a no on the metal in you?”

            “Yeah, as far as I know I don’t have any metal in me.  Why?”

            “Any medical abnormalities?”

            “What?”

            “Anything medically abnormal?  Like one leg shorter then the other or deaf in one ear?  Stuff like that.  Anything abnormal?”

            “No.”

“He says no.”  Gil said talking back into the phone.  “Yes, of course we’ll run a full body scan to be sure.  Yes, we can do that here right now.  Okay, I’ll call you back when we’re done with the exams.”

            “Come on kid.”  Gil said getting up from the desk.  “I’ll take you down to the medical floor.”

            “Why?  What are you going to do to me?”  Joshua asked.

            “Questions?  Gil turned to look at Joshua.  “What where you told about unnecessary questions?”

            “Unnecessary questions?”  Joshua said with a shock to his voice.  “You’re about to do medical tests on me and you won’t tell me why?”

            “You don’t need to know why.  Not yet.”  Gil replied.

            “Well I think I do.”  Joshua yelled.

            Gil stood there looking at Joshua for a few seconds.  He walked over to one of the monitors on the wall.  He picked up a headset and simply said, “View J-12-B”

            “Look at the monitor kid” 

            “Okay, so?”

            “No, look at it.”  Gil repeated.  “Do you recognize what you’re looking at?”

            Joshua stepped closer to the screen.  It was dimly lit.  He saw Gil flip a switch and the screen turned green and got brighter.  Now he recognized what he was looking at; his little brother’s bedroom.  Brian was sleeping in his bed.  Joshua felt weak.  He almost started to cry.

 

            “Were you not told, that you would be given all the information you need, to do what we ask of you, at the times you would need such info?”  Gil asked.

            “Yes, but,,,”  Joshua started to say.

            “But nothing.”  Gil said.  “There’s no need for you to be asking useless questions.  But if you insist on wanting to know more then you need to know, I can say a single word into this headset, and after you watch your brother die, I will answer all your questions.  Every last one of them.  Your decision?”

            Now Joshua was crying.  “No, please no.  I won’t ask anymore.  I’ll do whatever you say.  Just don’t hurt him.  Please.”

            “As long as we understand each other,” Gil said.  “You will be told everything you need to be told, to ensure your safety, other then that; you don’t need to know anything else.  Correct?”

            “Yes, I understand.”  Joshua mumbled through his tears.

            Gil clicked off the monitor.  He walked over to his desk and grabbed the box of Kleenex.  Handing them to Joshua, he said.

            “Calm down kid.  As long as you do what you’re told, you have my word nothing happens to Brian or your parents.  I showed you that to let you know we have the ability to take action in less time then it would take you to call someone.  But as long as you follow instructions, everyone stays safe.  Now dry those tears and come with me.”

            Joshua stood numb.  He knew the other guy had told him they would be keeping close to his brother, in case Joshua decided to do something stupid, but he never realized till now, just how close they would be.  Up to know this had all felt like some kind of fantasy or dream.  But seeing his brother sleeping on the monitor, it hit him.  Hard.  This wasn’t a game.  They weren’t playing.  This was real.  A wave of regret swept over Joshua.  Why had he allowed himself to get dragged into this?  What started out seeming to be a thrill ride was now a ride of horror for him.  He wished he would have just ignored the guy who approached him three weeks ago.  But it was too late now.

            “Joshua?”  Gil called out.  “We have to get going.”

            “Okay.”  Joshua replied wiping away the last of his tears.

            Joshua followed Gil back through the first room and into the lobby.  There Gil walked down the hall and stood in front of the marble wall.  Pulling out his phone he dialed a number.  A section of the marble wall slide back and to the right, revealing an elevator.  Placing his hand on another glass panel, the doors opened.  Joshua followed him into the elevator.  Once inside, Gil spoke slowly and firmly.

            “Medical floor.”

            After a few seconds, Joshua heard a computer generated voice respond.

            “Voice recognition confirmed.  Going to Medical.”

            Placing his hand on Joshua’s shoulder Gil assured him.  “It’ll all be okay.  Brian will be okay.  He’ll never know anything about this.  Hell in a few years you’ll look back on this and see it as a fun time in your life.  Trust me.  Hell you might even decide to work for us on a permanent base.”

            Yeah, fucking right!  Joshua thought.  He wanted to scream out, ‘Don’t fucking touch me!’, but was afraid of how Gil would react, or what he would do.  So he just stood silent.

            Stepping out of the elevator, Gil led them down a long polished steel hallway.  Again, Gil placed his hand on a glass panel and the set of doors opened.  Entering the room, Joshua could have sworn he was walking into a hospital emergency room.  There were about fifteen men and women sitting around, none really seemed to be doing anything though, except for the two guards, who watched every move Joshua made.  But once Gil announced his arrival, everyone seemed to come to attention.

            “Gil, what can we do for you?”  One of the men asked.

            “This is Joshua.”  Gil replied, gesturing towards Joshua.  “He needs a complete work up.  Full body scans, blood work, eyes, ears, the complete works.”

            “Okay.”  The man answered.  “We’ll get started right away.  Are you going to stay and wait?”

            “No, I’ll be back in my office.”  Gil said.  “Buzz me when you’re done.”

            Gil turned to leave, but he paused in front of Joshua.

            “Remember, No useless questions,” Patting Joshua on the back.  “If you need me, tell them to buzz me.”

            Turning to the rest of the people he announced.  “If he asks to talk to me, you stop what you’re doing immediately and call me.  Got that?”

            There was an echoing of about a dozen voices in unison saying.  “Yes Sir.”

 

 

            “Hello Joshua, I’m Doctor Evans.  We’ll be doing a series of high tech scans on you in a couple of minutes.  Have you ever had any MRI or CAT scans?

            “No.”  Joshua answered.

            “Well, it’s much easier then those.  You just need to lie still for about thirty seconds while the machine scans across your body.  We will do two sets of two scans.  But first, Joyce here will draw some blood and get your vitals.  Okay?”

            “Yeah, I guess.”  Joshua shrugged.

            “Right this way Joshua.  Do you prefer Joshua or do you go by Josh?  She asked.

            “Joshua, please.”  He replied.

            “Okay Joshua, just sit down here and relax.  You’re not scared of needles are you?”  She inquired.

            “No, I don’t think so.  I’ve only ever had this done a couple times.”

            “Well I’ll use the butterfly needle, so you shouldn’t even feel it.”

            “Thanks, I guess.”  Joshua said.

            Once Joyce was done with the blood draw and vitals, she led Joshua down the hall to the scanning room.  Handing him a thin gown she asked him to disrobe and but the gown on and wait for the technician to come in.  With that, she left the room.

            Joshua had changed into the gown and was pacing the floor eyeing the machine in the middle of the room when the technician came in.

            “Joshua, I’m Matt.”  He said offering his hand.  “I’ll walk you through what we’re going to be doing.”

            Joshua shook Matt’s hand and nodded.  “Okay.”

            “You’ll need to remove that.” Matt said, pointing to the necklace around Joshua’s neck.

            Joshua hesitated.

            “You can put it back on when we finish,” Matt assured him. “You just can’t be wearing anything metal during these tests.”

            Reluctantly Joshua removed his necklace and placed it on his shirt on the chair.

            “Alright then,” Matt started.  “Just hop up on the table here and lay down on your back.”

            Joshua did as he was instructed.  Once on the table, Matt placed a foam pad between his feet.

            “Just keep a little pressure inwards on the cushion.  Place each hand on the platforms to your sides.  Don’t grip them; just relax your hands on top of them.

            “Okay.”  Joshua said.

            “Now you’re going to hear a low whirling sound, then the machine will start to move from your head down to your feet.  Once it passes your feet, it will return back up.  Try not to move until it stops above your head again.  Okay?”

            “Yeah, no problem.”  Joshua answered.

            Once the scan was over, Matt returned and told Joshua to turn over on to his stomach.

            “We’re going to do the same as before.  Okay.”

            “Yup.”  Joshua said.

            Less then a minute later Matt came back.  “All done.”

            “What happens next?”  Joshua asked.

            Matt looked down at the clipboard he was holding.  “Looks like you’re off to the showers.”

            “Showers?  Why do,,,”  Joshua stopped himself.  He could hear Gils voice in his head.  ‘No useless questions’  “Okay, whatever.”

            Matt led Joshua to the shower room.  As Joshua looked around, he saw that this wasn’t like any shower he had ever seen.  The shower stall was huge.  It looked more like a car wash.

            “Okay.”  Matt instructed.  “Take off the robe and step inside.”

            Joshua did as told.  Once inside, he heard Matt say.  “Don’t get scared now, the walls and ceiling will be adjusting for your body size.  It will get a little close, but they will stop before touching you.  We will do this in three steps.  First raise your arms above your head and hold your hands palms forward.  Keep your eyes and mouth closed.”

            Joshua did as Matt instructed.  A couple seconds later the walls and ceiling moved in towards Joshua.  They literally stopped an inch away from his body.  Water seemed to come from everywhere.  The water rinsed his body for about thirty seconds.  Then as the water stopped, some sort of foam encased his whole body.  It felt warm and tingly.  It seemed to cling to his skin.  Just as Joshua began to enjoy the feeling, the water started again, rinsing the foam from his body.  Damn he thought, that felt sort of good.  The walls and ceiling returned to where they were when he had entered.

            “Alright Joshua, we’re done here.”  Matt come in and said.  “There are some towels over there and a new set of clothes for you in the garment bag.  See you back at the front desk when you’re dressed.”

            “Okay.”  Joshua answered grabbing a towel.

            Once dry, Joshua opened the garment bag.  Pulling out the clothes, he held them up.  Cool he thought.  Then he noticed the small plastic bag clipped to the lapel of the jacket.  It was his necklace.  Joshua removed the necklace from the bag, kissed it and put it back around his neck.  After dressing, he stood and looked at himself in the wall mirror.

            “Damn!  I look good in these!”  Joshua said with a cocky arrogance.  For a second he wondered how they had guessed his size.  The clothes and shoes were a perfect fit.  Then it dawned on him.  If they had been watching him for a few months, and knew everything else about him, why wouldn’t they know what size shoes and clothes he wore. 

 

            Gil was back in his office when his cell rang.  He was working on Joshua’s final paper work.

            “Gil here,” He answered.  “Okay, have Matt walk him back up here.”