At 7 AM every morning, I'd sit in front of the TV and watch the news. I noticed pattern's emerging with the increasing violence covering the planet like a morbid blanket: mass-shootings; riots; mothers killing their babies; kids killing kids; ferocious, random bits, always too horrific to dwell on. It was everywhere you turned: internet, radio, TV, and even talks at work. Yet, no one recognized why it was happening.
I started keeping journals (audio records as well), documenting the chaos, and before I knew it, I'd filled an entire binder. Then another, filling each faster than the one before. I have seven completely full at present. I wanted record showing where and how this all started. Of course, while engrossed in leaving a detailed account, it never dawned on me, there may not be anyone left to give it to. The whole matter was unbelievable, to begin with. But, this was as literal as it got; this was really happening. Newspapers, even the mainstream media, displayed headlines like "Disturbing Trend of Sociopathic Tendencies."
These in-depth pieces reported that there had been "no signals of mental sickness" in subjects "prior to this outbreak of horrifically inhuman behavior." Sure, the media had its own reasoning, such as a new trend in the consumption of bath salts and other ludicrous solutions as the catalyst for people eating others' faces or committing mass-murders; however, what could they say? There was no evidence of any drug use in much of the cases. This information was based explicitly on toxicology reports filed (confidentially, of course) with county coroner offices and police departments, but to keep the status quo, and to keep hysteria at a maintainable level, these findings couldn't be published. That would mean telling the masses that these things were occurring for no reason at all.
So, the public had no idea what was really going on. The average person was incapable of putting the puzzle together. The upswing in violent acts was happening at such a rapid rate it caught most off guard. However, no one had contemplated that it could be a virus. Of course, conspiracy theorists said it was the chem-trails or some government running experiments on an unwilling public. As it stood, people were dropping like flies daily, and I knew why. I knew the truth.
And because of it, life would never be the same again...
"A woman opened fire at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center, killing 21 and wounding 9. After running out of ammunition, she grabbed a butcher knife and stabbed two others, before being killed by Tribal police."
February 20, 2014-CBS
"For reasons unknown, a shooting spree occurred at several locations on the Fort Hood military base near Killeen, Texas. Twenty-two people, including the gunman, were killed, 24 wounded."
April 2, 2014-CNN
The U.S Dept. of Vital Statistics reported 1,289 mass killings in 1,260 days. 1,897 were killed. In 2016, those figures doubled, and in 2017 they tripled. In the United States, there is a mass murder every 120 minutes.
"The pop of gunfire shattered the early morning routine at Dearborn Middle School as two students; ages 13 and 11, pulled a fire alarm at their school in a small rural Arkansas community and then opened fire on students and teachers using an arsenal they had stashed in the nearby woods. Four students and a teacher who tried to shield the children were killed and 10 others were wounded." When I first heard it on the news, I determined it was horrendous but still indiscriminate. Especially after finding out they had been bullied. That was in 1998.
Then a year later, another one occurred, this time at Columbine High School. Two teens gave no previous indication before brutally snuffing out the lives of 13 of their classmates and then themselves, one April morning. I sat in my dorm room, watching the news thinking something was up. At first, I sincerely expected drugs were involved. But my girlfriend Olivia Weathers declared I was overreacting, claiming, "Kids that young don't use drugs."
Olivia was the love of my life. Standing only 5 feet two with brown eyes and blond hair, she was my ground in the groundless world of science my life revolved around. But her doubtfulness worried me since she had a record of observing things through rose-colored glasses, which didn't allow her the luxuries I had, and never seeing things as they truly were.
I put it out of my mind, stubbornly. But there was a part of me that knew the truth.
Later that day, I spoke to Dr. Quill, my genetics professor, after class. I explained my concerns. He assured me I had nothing to worry about. I figured since he had tenure at MIT, and me being just a student with barely two years under my belt, I would allow his words to persuade me. At least for a short time, anyway. That was until July 29 of that year. That's when a 44-year-old chemist-turned-day trader, strolled into two investment offices and opened fire on fellow investors and office workers. The shootings at All-Tech Investment and Momentum Securities Inc. left 19 people dead and 12 injured. After hearing that, I thought of what my philosophy teacher, Mrs. Sherwood, had told me my first year. She said, "In life, there are no coincidences. What you think you see, is exactly what's there."
I walked into the hall and grabbed the house phone, and immediately called Olivia. I trusted her more than anyone else, and valued her opinion, above all.
"Hi, sweetie. I was just thinking about you." Her voice carried a warm, comfortable tone, even though I expected skepticism any minute.
"Have you watched the news?" I questioned. But a silence followed, causing me to inquire if she was still there.
"I saw. Noah are you still hell-bent on that theory of yours?"
I paused before answering, "What do you think?"
She knew me well enough to know once I got my hooks into something, I wouldn't let go. And this was no different.
"I asked Professor Quill his thoughts on it. He used to work for the CDC.” Again, she got quiet, awaiting my response. I took a deep breath. "I'm not wrong. I know you think I'm acting superior, but I'm right."
"What did he say?" she asked in a patronizing tone, causing me to bite my lip before replying.
"He told me, I shouldn't worry about it."
"See, I told you. Why do you have to believe you're right about everything? You do realize, other people can be right occasionally?"
"You don't have to be a smart ass. You, mark my words. There's something going on."
After that, my point became moot, because, on September 15, 1999, mere months after the Columbine shooting, a man opened fire inside the crowded chapel of the Wedgwood Baptist Church. Worshipers, thinking at first that it must be a prank, kept singing. But when they saw what was happening, they dove to the floor and scrunched under pews, terrified and silent as the gunfire continued. Seventeen people died before the shooter took his own life.
When I opened the newspaper and saw that in the headlines plastered on the front page, it disintegrated any doubt I may have been entertaining. Now, even though my major was "human genome studies," I had evolved an interest in virology and found MIT would nurture it. So, I began to dabble whenever I could, even sitting in on a couple of classes Olivia took.
Her major was virology. She got to study the worst of the worst, things that would make the Black Plague look like a head cold. It was another reason we clicked. Monday morning rolled in, and I found a memo taped to my door. It said admissions needed to see me.
I thought I was in trouble, but I made my way to their office, regardless. I was informed I would be getting a roommate. But, that's not what threw me. I found out he was only 14 years old. His name was Ethan Levey, and he had won the Westinghouse Prize at just 12 years old. He'd already accomplished more in his short life than most would in four. When I first saw him, he looked like he'd stuck his finger in a plug socket. His frizzy blonde hair was wild, his clothes worn, and when he spoke; it was fast, like he'd drunk too much coffee.
He seemed nice enough though. That is, until one of my lab partners, Jerry Calloway came to visit. Jerry was kind of a jerk, but to be fair, there weren't very many students on campus who weren't. Most intellectuals have an "I'm better than you” attitude. It's quite common. Nevertheless, Jerry immediately began ridiculing Ethan.
Ethan stood his ground, staring Jerry down, not saying a word. However, as soon as Jerry was out of sight, Ethan approached me, asking in a calm tone, "What dorm does that guy stay in?" And oddly enough, at the time, it didn't strike me as strange. Of course, in hindsight, I should've seen it coming.
Two days later, I heard Jerry had to be rushed to the hospital. He began vomiting uncontrollably in the middle of the night, and doctors at St. Mary's in downtown Boston, were baffled by his condition. Within about a week, he was released, and he promptly dropped out of school shortly thereafter. I never confronted Ethan.
Even though it scared me, I couldn't help liking the guy. He had a way about him that was hard to excuse but funny to watch. He showed no emotion, no empathy, no fear or sympathy, and he didn't recognize it. I would have to explain to him why people were pissed off. Let's just say his list of friends started and ended with me.
"Noah, can I ask you something?" Ethan asked, brushing his hair out of his eyes.
"Sure. What's on your mind?"
"Do you think I had something to do with what happened to your friend?"
I thought, "Oh great. I tell the kid the truth and he kills me in my sleep."
"I'd be lying if I said no, and I don't lie to friends. Yes, yes, I do. Do I fault you? Absolutely not. I get it, trust me. We’re in the same boat. The smarter you are, the more people hate you. And for the record, Jerry and I were never friends, just lab-partners." I ended with a smile, hoping to lighten the mind-numbing tension that engulfed our small one window room.
"Fair enough," he continued. "Have you heard what people around the quad are saying?"
"You mean ‘you are one lab accident away from being a supervillain’?" I replied.
His eyes got wide. "Well, I'm not. My mother had me tested."
I didn't know if I should laugh or if he was serious, so to be safe, I chose the latter and stayed quiet, occasionally nodding. After listening to him rant, I thought, "Oh my God, this kid is smart as hell. After that day, someone could've told me he set off a small yield nuclear device because the cafeteria ran out of lime Jell-O, and I wouldn't have been taken aback. He was far from stable with an IQ closing in on 200, so of course, the US government headhunted him. He ended up at the DOD.
However, soon after, he became bored with that and transferred to the CDC, North Brother Island, where I worked. That's when the fun really began.
One frigid October afternoon, I hung my hand out my office window, trying to sneak a cigarette. Stubbornly, I sat in front of the winter port-hole, nearly freezing my ass off. But, I had to take in my fix. People complained I smoked in the office, so I said I'd quit. Of course, that lasted all about 4 days. My only justification for the nasty habit is I didn't accept the luxury of a tranquil job. More times than not, it carried nose-bleeding stress and long hours. My dream had always been to cure cancer, ridding the world of its ravaging effects, but that had to be set on the back burner after getting a job at the CDC.
Ethan worked down the hallway from my lab, a restricted area most weren't permitted, including myself. But we remained close, having lunch daily, chit-chatting during our downtime, which wasn't a lot. However, that afternoon, Ethan was missing. This was after bombarding his cell phone and laboratory lines with multiple calls. I hated to admit it, but I was more concerned about the safety of others rather than Ethan's. I knew he could manage himself.
It was around 3 o'clock when my phone began vibrating across my desk. I grabbed it and immediately realized it was Ethan. The text simply read, "I don't care what you're doing, drop everything and come to my lab, ASAP."
I found the text disturbing because Ethan never used abbreviations. I know it sounds minute, but I knew him all too well. So, I grabbed my coffee that was sitting on the counter behind me next to a Bunsen burner I had forgotten to turn off and headed down the hall.
As soon as I turned the corner, I saw him standing outside his doorway, with an expression on his face like I'd never seen before, which made my heart drop. I held my tongue as long as I could, but eventually, we were face to face.
"Are you okay?" I asked with genuine concern.
"No. Not really. Come here," he said gesturing me to follow him. "I want to show you something."
I took a deep breath and replied, "Lead the way."
We quickly headed to his office, where he grabbed a bulky manila folder off his desk. "I need you to look at this."
To say I was curious would've been an understatement, so I grabbed the folder and began flipping through the hundreds of loose papers. At first, I didn't know what I was looking at, but then it hit me like a train wreck. They were case studies. The results my eyes were absorbing were nothing I'd ever seen before.
"Where did you get this?" I questioned, not taking my eyes off the papers I held in front of my face. He hadn’t responded yet, which concerned me, so again I asked him, "Where did you get these?"
Finally, he replied, "They are local."
"What do you mean they are local? Is this a protein?" But once again he remained silent attempting to stay aloof.
"ETHAN!" I snapped. "What the hell is going on?"
He turned away and walked to the window, before he said, "I think we need to have a serious talk, but not here. The walls have ears," he said giving me a wink.
After parting ways, we secured our laboratories and eventually met up at a favorite restaurant of ours in Midtown, Maggie's Metropolitan Grill.
The hostess, a cute 20-something brunette with a bubbly personality, showed us to our table and assured us our waitress would be right over to take our drink orders, which was enough time for Ethan to lean across the table.
"I think I made a huge mistake," he said taking a piece of bread from the small wicker basket in the center of the table.
"Okay, your vagueness is starting to get on my nerves. You need to tell me what the hell is going on because I'm not up for all this cloak-and-dagger bullshit." As a rule, I'd always dealt with Ethan like I was handling nitroglycerin, but my patience had reached its limit.
"A few years back, somebody at the Department of Defense approached me with something." Then he grew quiet again.
"Why do you keep doing that? You start to say something, but then you don't finish."
"Because it's classified, Noah, and I don't feel like going to federal prison for the rest of my natural life," he said, shoving the bread he'd been playing within his mouth. With his boisterous statement, the people sitting at the table across from us froze in mid-chew.
"You're officially starting to freak me out." He reached over and grabbed the glass of ice water that was on the table in front of him and took a big swig, swallowing it hard.
"They asked me to design something. They told me if I did, I'd get a free ride. They'd get me into any college I wanted, and I’d never worry about money again. Because when my father died, we went from being poor to being destitute. You know how many times I went to bed hungry as a kid because my mother couldn't afford to buy groceries? Do you know how many winters we went without heat because we couldn't afford the heating oil? All more than I care to remember, so don't judge me."
"For reasons unknown, a shooting spree occurred at several locations on the Fort Hood military base near Killeen, Texas. Fourteen people, including the gunman, were killed."
April 2, 2014-CNN
"Marysville-Pill Chuck High School, north of Seattle. A 14-year-old attacker shot and killed 16 people, injuring one, authorities said. A federal law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and at this time, there's been no motive revealed."
October 24, 2014-FOX News
I was almost afraid to ask, but of course, my curiosity got the best of me. "Ethan, what exactly did they ask you to do?"
He remained silent staring at the slender candle in the middle of our table, watching the flame dance around in the narrow red glass tube.
"They wanted me to design a virus they could use for population control, something that couldn't easily be detected. So, I used a prion. I extracted from a bovine spongiform encephalopathy and added another protein."
"Are you fucking kidding me? Mad cow disease?" I asked loudly.
But he didn't respond. Finally, our waitress arrived, breaking the silence at the table. "Hi, my name’s Sara. I’ll be your server. Can I start you off with an appetizer or maybe a cocktail?"
"No. I'm good. I don't think we’ll be staying," I said standing abruptly and throwing my red cloth napkin down on the table. Before Ethan could get to his feet, I headed towards the double doors with stained glass inserts and brass bar handles we had entered through just minutes before.
Seconds later, he was on my heels, trying to get my attention. "Would you slow down?"
"Why? You got another bomb you'd like to drop on me?" I was beside myself with fear and paranoia because I knew exactly what he was talking about and what the prion would do and the damage his little experiment would cause. "So, why the hell are you telling me now? Why did you wait so long?" I barked.
We managed to get back to the platform to catch the L train just as it pulled in, but we had to stand due to the crowd of people that packed the 60-foot aluminum passenger car. "I don't understand why you're so upset with me?" Ethan said raising his voice over the ambient noise.
I tried to hold back because the last thing I wanted was to cause a scene, but my anger overpowered my sense of control, "I just don't understand how somebody as smart as you, could do something so stupid! Did you not think there was a problem when you realized this so-called virus," I said using air quotes, "began killing off its host!" For the first time in memory, the normally boisterous New Yorkers who packed the L train car fell quiet.
"What was I supposed to do, Noah? We were losing our farm; my father hadn't paid taxes in years and the IRS was going to confiscate it. Of course, you wouldn't know what it's like to be poor. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth like you were."
"Oh, give me a break. You knew damn well what you were doing, so don't cry that poverty bullshit. I'm sorry your life started out the way it did, but that doesn't give you the right to destroy everyone else's. Did you even bother to synthesize a serum before you made this, or were you too poor for that too?"
"You know, Noah, you're a real asshole sometimes. I did what I did to ensure the continuity of my household. And if you don't see that, I don't know what else to tell you."
I looked around the packed subway car, and it looked like the passengers were watching a tennis match, transfixed on our every move.
"Are you serious? So, what you are telling me is that you have no issues with the fact this virus could wipe out every living soul on the planet?"
Before he could respond, the train pulled up to the platform. After getting off at J Street Station, we had to jog up the stationary escalator, which was invariably broken, to come out on Fifth Avenue and Broadway.
We stood under the pedestrian canopy for a couple of minutes, watching the sky light up with random streaks of lightning, followed by distant rolls of thunder, before we hailed a cab. The weather had become dark and dismal, which didn't come as a surprise. It was October. But, it got me thinking, back to when I was a kid, how I'd run and hide behind my mother whenever a New England Northwestern would let loose. I still wasn't a fan. We still hadn't eaten, so I instructed the driver to stop at Ronnie's café on the corner of Six Avenue.
Neither of us had a lot to say to each other at that point that wasn't fueled by anger, so we kept quiet. We walked into the busy restaurant and immediately Ethan headed to the restroom, and I found a seat at the bustling counter. The dinner rush was in full swing as customers moved about, patiently waiting for a seat. I looked at the counter and could see the TV. The news was on, and they kept cashing in on the most recent mass shooting at a naval yard in DC, where 12 had been killed. Sadly, it had become routine television.
I don't think anyone really knew what was going on, which was probably for the best. The reality was I didn't even know; I just had the slightest idea. It didn't matter how many times it aired or how many mass killings took place; you never got used to it or the carnage it left in its wake. It was something that would turn your stomach, every time it was brought up. But it didn't stop people; it just kept coming.
Ethan startled me out of my hypnotic trance I had taken with the TV.
"What's wrong?" he asked looking genuinely puzzled.
"Seriously?" I knew he meant well, I just had no patience left. I couldn’t sweep it under the rug as easily as he was, but then again, I wasn't out of my mind like him either. Regardless, I softened my tone. "Nothing. Nothing at all." It didn't help I was still holding a torch for Olivia either; it just added to the mountain of stress. We tried to work things out, but as the saying goes "long-distance relationships do not work," and ours was no exception. After she moved to DC, we slowly began to lose touch, until eventually, the calls stopped altogether.
I harbor no ill will for her, but I was smart enough to notice the signals she was sending. So, I moved on, as I'm sure she did. I looked up at the clock that hung above the old faded poster of Farrah Fawcett, noticing the time. "Let's get something to eat and get the hell out here. I'd like to be home before midnight at least one night this week." Even though Ronnie's was a hole-in-the-wall, considered a greasy spoon by most, it still had the best-smothered hash browns I'd ever tasted. We wolfed down our food, paid our check and left a hefty tip on the table, before heading back out into the nasty autumn weather.
I told Ethan I was going to head home. The day's events had taken their toll, and I was wiped out. But he said he wasn't tired yet. It wasn't even 9 o'clock, so he planned on heading back to the lab to get some late-night work done. The storm that was in its infancy earlier had now bored down on the city around me. Sheets of rain pounded my back as the wind whipped around downtown knocking some off their feet. By 9:45, I'd completed my arduous journey back to my apartment in Queens.
I walked in, kicked my shoes off and threw my keys into the warped multicolor clay bowl next to my door my nephew had made me in kindergarten. I wanted to sit down, but I knew I had to peel my wet clothes off like a banana before I could. After toweling off, I plopped down on the overstuffed chair that sat in front of the TV and grabbed the phone off the coffee table.
I scanned the numbers on speed dial until I came across Olivia's. With little to no hesitation, I pushed the button. The line rang.
"Noah? Are you okay? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Well, everything, actually." I know I must've sounded insane, but even after all these years; I still got tongue-tied around her. "Would you be upset if I told you I just miss hearing your voice?" I realized after I said what I did, it wasn't what I had intended to say, but it seemed like at that point, I didn't have much control of what came out of my mouth.
"No," she answered softly. "I wouldn't. I was thinking about you this afternoon. Noah, what did you mean when you said ‘everything’?"
"Funny story. My bat-crap-crazy colleague designed a virus from a prion he got from mad cow disease, but he discovered an irregularity in the first process. So, rather than give up, he exploited the flaw by adding a synthetic protein to it. Honey, we think it got out, and it holds a 99.9 contagion spectrum and a 100% kill rate." The phone grew quiet, after her initial gasps. "You still there?" I asked halfheartedly.
"Yeah. Do I even dare ask why?" she said, her voice breaking.
"He told me it was somebody at the Department of Defense but didn't specify who. They wanted to use it for population control."
Oddly enough, it was after midnight when we hung up. I let out a big sigh and tossed the phone over onto the couch. Letting my mind wander, laughing under my breath. "And people wonder why I smoke?"
The next morning wasn't any better than the day before, at least weather-wise. I pressed my nose up against the cold glass of my bedroom window, observing the residents of Queens milling about. They were all trying to stay dry and warm, going about their daily routines.
I remembered being pestered by the sense of fear and foreboding as I walked down the old rickety steps of the brownstone. Some might call it a feeling of premonition, a warning from some sixth sense that could see around the corner of time. But I've never bought into such things. I found the idea of psychics absurd. I will admit though there were times when I've thought back and wondered if the universe was giving me a warning.
I walked through the halls of the 1960s retrofitted CDC building, meandering about, not wanting to see Ethan or deal with the nightmare he'd given birth to until I realized it was after nine, and I was late. I felt foolish sneaking around the hallways like a James Bond spy, trying to get to my lab without being seen, but I just wasn't in the mood to deal with him so early, especially after the prior evening's events.
There was no way around it. So, I swallowed the raging emotions that were pounding in my head and put on my best game face. As soon as I turned the corner, I saw Ethan sitting in front of my door thumbing through a book on genetics. He greeted me with a smile, and a chipper, "Good morning, Noah." I just nodded and bit my lip, holding back my first thought: What's so good about it?
I pressed my face up against the retinal scanner. "Access granted," it announced in its computerized voice.
Abruptly, Ethan asked, "Bad night?"
I held my tongue, giving him a glare. However, he continued, "Touchy, touchy."
I took a deep breath to steady myself. I could feel the anger surging through me like an electrical storm. Ignoring his comment, I asked, "You accomplish anything last night?"
"A little bit," he said fidgeting with a finger spinner I had sitting on my desk.
"Look," I said resting my hands on my desk, "let's address the elephant in the room. I'm not thrilled you waited so long to put me in the loop. That's number one. Jesus, Ethan, it never occurred to you to bring this to my attention, years ago? I know you're a tad eccentric and have issues with social skills, but this is just common sense. You know you don't create something you can't control. That's rule 101. Hell, that's the only rule!"
His once jovial demeanor faded fast, as I continued my rant. "And the fact you don't have a grip on the reality of what you've done is disturbing on a whole new level. I'm sorry if I sound like a dickhead, I just have a seriously hard time accepting all of this. I mean Jesus Christ in heaven Ethan, you basically handed down a death sentence to 7.5 billion people. Do you not get that?" I shook my head in disbelief.
Ethan leaned up against the cool tiled wall and took a minute to regroup his thoughts. I closed my eyes and rubbed my face, taking several deep breaths trying to regain my composure, before I announced, "I'm going out for a cigarette. Just sit tight; I'll be back in a few minutes." My feelings were split because, on one hand, I felt bad for him, but on the other hand, I felt bad for everybody else, myself included. It was a conundrum I never thought I would be in.
Walking past the guard station, through the double doors, and into the courtyard, I lifted myself onto the moss-covered wall next to the Rose Garden. Slapping the package of Marlboro cigarettes on the palm of my hand, I tore off the cellophane and quickly popped one in my mouth and lit up. Exhaling from my nose and mouth at the same time, I ran my fingers through my mousse-filled hair. It all seemed like a bad dream, but I knew it was a waking nightmare.
Suddenly, I heard a whooshing sound coming from the electronic door I had just passed through. It was Ethan.
"I'm sorry," he said before taking a seat next to me.
I not only went outside to grab a smoke but to take a couple of seconds for myself. Now, that had been invaded. "I know you are, I just don't know if sorry is going to cover this one." We sat stubbornly ignoring the icy rain for a few more minutes in silence, before heading back in.
He was waiting for me to say something, but what he didn't understand was, I was out of things to say, and my mind had shut down hours ago. So, I would be no use, to anyone. I learned as a child that the smarter a person is, the more complex problems he gets involved in, and that seems to be my number one job in life: solving other people's unsolvable problems. I'd burned the candle at both ends, and now I was burned.
Just as we walked in, my pocket began to vibrate. I looked down and saw it was Olivia. "Hello?"
"Hi. I'm not bothering you, am I?" she asked.
"No. Of course, not. Is everything all right?"
"Yeah. I'm here in New York," she said hesitantly.
"Oh, what brings you to this neck of the woods?" I asked naïvely.
"I put in for a transfer. I'd like to try again, Noah. After talking to you last night, I realized how much I missed having you in my life. Is that okay? I don't want to overstep my bounds. If I—"
I stopped her before she could finish. "I've missed you every day; I'm not ashamed to admit it." With that five-minute phone call, strangely, my hope had been restored with most of humanity, present company excluded.
"Olivia is coming here?" Ethan questioned.
"She's already here," I said.
"Oh, right on. You guys going to try to patch things up?" Ethan asked, hiding his anger.
"That's the plan," I said, knowing the reason for his questions. He and Olivia never hit it off, basically because she knew he was out of his mind. And I say that in the most compassionate way possible. But Albert Einstein said, "A man who does not fear his own mortality will endanger a man who does." God, where was Albert when you needed him?
I went over to my desk and dropped down into my worn-out government-issued chair. It let out a loud popping sound as I did. I reached over the mountain of files that covered most of my desktop and turned the picture of me and Olivia at the Anaheim County Fair back upright. I glared over at Ethan, who now was building a small structure out of paperclips on the counter next to Henry, our laboratory mascot skeleton.