Eye in the slums
“Tonight is the night for answers.” He thought as he walked the crowded streets. It had been a long strange case. What started as a murder suicide had led to something much greater, much more sinister. Officially the case was closed, not that that mattered much. The trail had led them to the slums. “Out of our jurisdiction, you sure you want to keep digging there?” He was right of course, take a shovel to the ground there and you’d always find two generations worth of trash and enough dirt to bust the whole shanty.
“Coming up on the hill now, you got those eyes up?” “Five by five. NV is good, we got juice for a two hour sortie if the rain doesn’t pick up too much.” “Good, keep me posted David.”
The rain started to wash away the dust and grime from Kareems coat, tempering the hot evening air and turning the paths to mud. At least the rain cleared the streets a bit. He probably wouldn’t need to flash his badge, or his piece to any slummers tonight. “David, can you give me an IR readout? Same as it was before?” “Switching to IR, hang on. Yea, someone is definitely home. Second floor window still unsecured, proceed as planned.”
The mosquito screen gave way quite easily for Kareem’s pocket knife. “Nothing like an old school tool, maybe I’ll even get to use the screwdriver.” As he stepped into the poorly lit room he slid into a corner. He grabbed the hamster from his satchel and rolled it down the hallway. He frowned, as ragged beds with sleeping figures appeared on his display. “Looks like this is a drug den after all.” “Would explain the traces of sedatives we found in our perps blood.” David replied. With a grim nod he proceeded deeper into the complex. Slipping past the dark rooms down the stairwell. A couple of sentries were about, but the darkness covered his descent. “Damn, this isn’t the factory floor at all. There’s an elevator shaft right here!” “They must’ve used the building as cover for the facility proper. Do you think you can get in?” “Yes, there’s a maintenance ladder. Hold off on the backup for now, but if I’m not back in fifteen minutes send in the cavalry.”
The open call loses its breaks apart as he reaches the underground floor. All alone now. The air is cool and well ventilated, with twang of antiseptic smell. The shadowy hallway is dimly illuminated by small LED guiding lights. A electronic lock prevents him from entering the closest room. But he can make out some beds with monitoring devices. A uneasiness creeps over him. With a noticeable K-THUNK a door further down opens. With no place to hide he freezes as a emaciated figure stumbles out of the room. Even in this dim light he can make out the red bloody eyes and gaunt pale face as it looks straight at him. Kareem thumbs his taser hesitantly. But after a brief moment of tension the figure stumbles of into the next room.
The sound of running water muddles his footsteps as he approached the next door. As he peers into the room, he notices something scampering away from the corner of his eye. He quickly turns the corner in pursuit, and with a dash manages to catch the door before the lock can engage. As he surveys his surroundings his stomach churns at the sight of this operating room. The floor is stained in blood, strange specimen jars line the further wall, several containers marked with biohazard signs are strewn about at the far end.
In the far corner he hears soft whimpering. As he taps his glasses they emit a clear white light. He shivers at the sight of the gore, but approaches the corner. The sobbing creature now caught in the bright light. “What…” Kareem’s sentence trailed off into a gasp. Before him was young child, no older than twelve. Its skin pale, almost pure white. Its head, the eyes were hidden behind a gleaming black helmet covering most of its skull. It is adorned by dozens of shining glass circles. “…the fuck.”
“shh, its ok. We’re going to get you out of here.” He approached her with outstretched hand, but she starts thrashing and struggling. “Please calm down, I’m not going to hurt you. Lets get that helmet off your head so you can at least look at me…”
“She already can.” A voice boomed over a speaker. Kareem quickly glanced around, the observation room hosted a silhouetted figure. In his distraction the girl makes a dash for the door. The voice speaks again, “Why don’t you tell me what exactly you think you’re doing here?” Kareem shifted his coat, revealing his badge and sidearm. “I’m shutting this place down, and taking you in.” After a brief silence the voice replied “And why on earth would you do a thing like that? do you even know what I do here?”
Kareem gestures around “Yea I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding. You prey on the people of the slums, offer them a sweet deal, a ticket out of this hellhole for them and their family. Except they need to give you something in return. Even with Synth transplants being as good as they are the real thing still catches a pretty penny.” He points at the dark figure “What I don’t get is why you’d have a little kid hang around here.” The figure folds his arms. “Since when does the police give a crap about these people? Everyday they live and die out here in the slums, either starving or dying violent deaths before they are eighteen years old. I offer them a chance for a better life, a chance to get out of here. This isn’t some simple chop shop, I don’t deal in organs, I deal in knowledge. This is a place of science, where those willing to risk their health to further the cause of mankind can do so.”
“The cause of mankind? What a load of bull, I don’t know what sort of fucked up drugs you are cooking here, but it can’t be worth people’s lives!”
The voice lets out a dismissive sigh “Drugs? No, we do much greater science here. We unlock the mysteries of the human brain, the advances and discoveries we have made here will set the standards for decades to come!”
“Wait you’re performing brain surgery on these people? You are lobotomizing them!?”
“There is only so much we can learn from historical anecdotes, railway spikes going through heads in the 19th century have granted us great insights into the functioning of the human brain, but we need more samples, more reliable data to learn any more. And I’ll have you know that the vast majority of my patients can and resume to have happy fulfilling lives. Disregarding a few tragic exceptions.”
Kareem presses his fingers against his eyelids and exhales “You mean like Samuel Khan, the man who stabbed his wife and daughter to death? And then you sent one of your goons over to destroy the evidence? Make it look like a suicide?”
“More or less, a tragic event. We did an experiment in impulse control, but he was largely passive after the operation, our tests did not indicate violent behavior.”
“And what about the girl? She one of your little experiments too?”
The tone of the voice goes softer, almost lovingly “No, no she is something else entirely. She is the first truly augmented human being.” “What do you mean?” “She has senses and brain functions above and beyond that of a normal human being, her interface device allows her perception beyond the bounds of human limits. 360 degrees vision, infrared, ultraviolet. She can see more of the electromagnetic spectrum than any living organism on this planet. The camera’s on her exo-skull feed all this visual data to her eyes, and thanks to adapting to this over her entire life her visual cortex has grown by almost 47%. To her it is as normal as breathing.” His voice trembles with awe.
Kareem is shocked by this man’s callous disregard for the health and development of this child. “This is wrong, to experiment on a child like that, I’m getting her out of here and taking that damn thing of her head.”
“You have every right to take her, I don’t claim ownership of her and guardianship is not exactly legislated in the slums. Find her a good home if you can. But I do warn you, taking of her helmet would blind her, the visual stimuli would be so different as to be meaningless. Her visual cortex would have to be rewired, and will atrophy. Effectively you would be doing the same to her as I did to my patients. You would remove sight from the sighted, strength from the strongest. I leave the choice with you, the doors are unlocked now, go as you please I realize this place is done for.”
As the silhouette backs away from the glas Kareem focuses his attention on finding the girl. He finds her cowering in her room. “I’m sorry I scared you, my name is Kareem, what’s yours?”
As she says her name his eye catches the gleam of the screws holding her helmet in place.
2 gedachtes over “Eye in the slums”