CHAPTER 3 - SUSPICIONS
Jack Carter was wide awake and unable to sleep. For some unknown reason, he was wired. His nerves were jittery and he couldn't seem to sit still, let alone sleep. His mind was still going over the information that he'd gleaned from Allison's tour of her lab and her project.
"Twelve of the subjects have reacted well, but the other eight have had some unprecedented side-effects, so I'm having to rerun the trials…"
"Unprecedented? As in, unexpected?"
She let out a long sigh, and then gestured to the screen that held the information on it.
"Well, yes…which is honestly what is confusing me. I've been referring to Johnson's research for most of it, and from what I was able to understand of it, this shouldn't be happening in my trials. In fact, the opposite is implied. I just can't figure out what I'm doing wrong…"
He had to hold back a grin at what he'd just heard her say. Finally, he could take it no longer, so he asked…
"Johnson? Someone at GD I should know about?"
She shook her head, straightening up and leaning against the table, crossing her arms over her chest.
"No, no one at GD. Johnson is a scientist who was employed by the Department of Defense when he was only eighteen. The only name that anyone has for him is simply Johnson. No one knows if that's his first or last name, but it honestly doesn't matter. The man's a genius!" She gave him a pointed look, an eyebrow raised. "And by genius, I mean he's a genius compared to all of the scientists here in Eureka."
At that, Carter let out a low whistle of "surprise", while trying to not laugh at what he was hearing.
"So…what's so important about his research in relation to your project?"
Allison let out another sigh, dropping her hands to the desk to rest on either side of her as she explained.
"He's a savant in bio-engineering, as well as mechanical engineering. Got two doctorates by the time he was nineteen, and made pioneering advances into biological technology. He was literally the person who jump-started the whole idea of getting rid of doctors entirely to instead have a complete array of artificially intelligent nano-bots put into the body at a young age and to grow with the host body and automatically take care of any underlying diseases, recording any and all medical issues onto a chip that they were all remotely linked to when they were first inserted…but it's never been done."
Jack gave her one of his typical looks, and then asked, even though he already knew the answer,
She gave him a pointed look.
"Because Johnson is a total recluse and no one knows where he is. He disappeared about nine years ago, along with all of his research, and hasn't been heard from since."
His brow furrowed slightly, mocking, though she didn't know it.
"Well, why haven't people just used the research that he'd already done and make these, uh, nano thingies?"
Crossing her arms once more in front of her chest, she quickly explained the problem. "Because even we can't decipher his research. His I.Q. is off the chart, and coded most of the copies of his research notes because he was extremely paranoid that someone would steal his life's work. The notes we do have are still even mostly above our heads. Johnson is absolutely brilliant, and I've give anything to pick his brain about the work of his that I'm using."
She shook her head, and he bit the inside of his lip to keep from smiling at her predicament.
Jack had seen the notes of his that she'd been using, and he knew exactly where she was messing up, and could suggest something to her in a roundabout way, using layman's terms…but he preferred to watch her sweat it out, for more than the simple reason of seeing her struggle at something for once in her life.
The other reason was that he'd seen what she was trying to use it for…and it was walking a fine line between smart and devastatingly dangerous.
He gave her a sideways look as she showed him something else.
Yes…he needed to keep a close eye on her.
All of this passed through his mind as he got up from his bed and walked downstairs for a midnight snack, remembering the D&D game that he'd had with Fargo earlier that evening. As usual, Fargo had beaten him, but he didn't mind. He wasn't all that great at role-playing games.
He opened the fridge and looked at what he had…not much.
"Uh…Sarah?" he said tentatively, not sure if she was active, but then felt relief when she said…
He smiled and said, "I was wondering what we have in the way of snacks. I'm feeling kind of hungry."
"OF COURSE, SHERIFF. WE HAVE CHEESE, PICKLES, PRETZELS, CRACKERS, SALTINES-" He cut her off. "Uh, what about sweet snacks…like cookies?" There was a pause, and then, "WE HAVE OATMEAL RAISIN, CHCOCOLATE CHIP, SNICKERDOODLES-"
He cut her off again. "Where are the snickerdoodles?"
"TOP CUPBOARD, FIRST SHELF, FAR RIGHT."
"Thank you, Sarah."
With that, he walked over and grabbed the box, and then pulled out the large gallon of milk from the fridge, not bothering with a glass. He needed some sweets, and these seemed to be just right for his mood.
The milk in one hand, the package of cookies in the other, he moved to the living room. After putting the cookies to his left and the milk to his right from where he sat on the couch, he grabbed the remote and turned on the tv, determined to watch some mindless television. After flipping through some channels, he was inordinately pleased to find cartoons; and not just any cartoons, but specifically Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. His favorite.
Feeling very much carefree, he opened the package of cookies and unscrewed the cap of the milk.
A long sigh of contentment escaped him as he took a bite of the snickerdoodle and a long swig of milk along with it.
As he watched the coyote set up a large acme weight to fall onto the roadrunner, he couldn't help but think that Jo would enjoy this as well. She was a sucker for cartoons, though she would deny it to anyone else but him, and for as healthy as she was, she had a major sweet tooth that she caved into every now and again.
He continued to watch cartoons and eat cookies, until the next thing he knew he was waking up to blaring music.
Jack glanced down at himself and saw that he'd gone through half of the package of cookies and nearly the entire gallon of milk.
As he stood up, crumbs fell from his shirt to the floor, while a few of them still tenaciously hung on to the dark blue cotton of his shirt. Absently, he brushed his hands over his shirt and gray sweatpants, dusting himself off, and then looked around to see what time it was, but no clock was in view.
"Sarah, what time is it?" he asked as he turned off the television, wincing slightly at the loud sound.
"IT IS 7:30. YOUR ALARM IS SUPPOSED TO GO OFF IN TEN MINUTES, SHERIFF…WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO CANCEL IT?"
"Yeah," he said absently, not quite paying attention. "Sure."
Feeling slightly disoriented after sleeping on the couch, he put the cookies and the milk away and then headed back upstairs to take his shower and get ready for the day.
As soon as he'd dried off and slipped into his uniform he was feeling distinctly more like himself, and much less disoriented. He slid on his belt and clipped his sidearm on, the heavy weight familiar and comforting to him, grounding him back down to reality.
As he pulled on his shoes, he couldn't help but wonder at the fact that he'd gotten so comfortable with having a sidearm on him in such little time.
He stood up and walked back down the stairs, letting his right hand rest on the thick leather that concealed the metal that had become so wonderfully familiar to him in such a short amount of time. He couldn't deny that he got a thrill whenever he had to draw it, while at the same time feeling sick to his stomach. It was a strange feeling, but something that he had become accustomed to and found that he secretly enjoyed.
He'd had to train with the U.S. Marshall Service, as they were one of the few branches of government that actually knew what he looked like and what he did for a living.
And now that the weapon was a part of him, he didn't think he'd ever part with it.
Not feeling the need to walk, he took the jeep on into town, stopping at Café Diem for his morning coffee.
Stepping in, he quickly spotted Vincent and ordered his usual black coffee with one sugar. He smiled slightly as he paid the man, remembering running into Jo there just the day before, and then walked back to his car…where he nearly ran into the woman that occupied his thoughts.
"Jack…!" she said in surprise as he put his hand out to grip her shoulder and keep the both of them from toppling over.
He held on for a moment longer than was strictly necessary and was curious about the faint pink tinge to her cheeks as he did so, similar to her look the day before.
"Hey, Jo…fancy running into you here…again."
He slowly pulled back, and she gave him a faint smile, almost awkward, and he quickly broke the tension by saying,
"I just need to ask you one thing…can you please break that promise you made to me yesterday at lunch? I'd like to keep my fingers…" He grinned at her, and her awkward smile turned into a genuine one with just a twist of the corner of her mouth.
"Sure thing, Jack…I mean, Carter. Sheriff."
He looked at her, confused by her fumbling, and then reassured her.
"Jo…you can call me Jack. You always have, remember?" She nodded, and then left him standing there in confusion as she scampered off to her car and drove out of sight, heading off to GD in an invisible cloud of energetic particles.
Jo never scampered. It wasn't in her nature; she was a lion, not a squirrel…but at that thought, he laughed to himself. If Jo knew that he'd compared her to such an animal, she would have hurt him five times over, but as it was she didn't, so he let himself laugh about it.
Jack finally shrugged, and then walked across the street to the Sheriff's station.
Time to go to work.
Protect and serve.