The Craving was written for a science fiction challenge over on Wattpad (Challenge 29 to be precise). The challenge was as follows: Create your own Massive Dynamics (of Fringe fame) and tell the story of what technology you would bring over from the other side to our world and what effect it would have on our world. This story was written rather quickly and is intended to be a bit fun in the end so take it for what it is. Hope you enjoy it.
“Can you please turn that garbage off?” Jeremy said as he tossed an half-eaten apple across the room at his colleague Josh, seated in front of a computer terminal listening to EDM. “I can’t think with that stuff blaring.”
Josh ducked at the last second and the apple bounced off of the wall and onto the floor. “Dude, what’s your problem? You’re getting too old, man!” He glared at Jeremy for a moment before he returned his attention to his screen.
Jeremy returned the glare. “Who are you calling old? You better watch it before I report you.”
“Report me for what? Being younger than you, old man?”
Jeremy could feel his face starting to flush and his heart rate increased. He inadvertently closed his hand into a fist and was about to stand up to go teach his young colleague a lesson when he stopped. He took a deep breath and settled down in his chair. His doctor had been very clear. No unnecessary stress. He had to take it easy unless he wanted his ticker to give out. He closed his eyes for a moment, took another deep breath and then returned his attention to his screens. His colleague might be a kid but they had a job to do. Security at Silver Spring Labs required their undivided attention. The work done at the facility was too important for the security team to be preoccupied with interpersonal conflicts in the surveillance room. That didn’t mean Jeremy wouldn’t find a way to get rid of the music once and for all. He would. Just not now.
The door to the surveillance room suddenly burst open and Little Jack, their immediate supervisor burst in the door. His face was flushed and he was breathing heavily. Sweat was pouring down his face and Jeremy spotted dark spots under his arms that were expanding. “Captain?” he asked tentatively while holding back a smile. Little Jack’s interests included indulging in fine cuisine much more than cardiovascular activities and today, he was paying the price for his unhealthy habits. It wasn’t pretty.
Jack held up a finger in the air as he drew a few more breaths. “A moment, Jeremy, a moment.”
Jeremy held up his hands. “Take your time, sir,” he said as he snickered under his breath.
Jack walked over to a Jeremy and grabbed a chair. He motioned for Josh. “Come over here. Oh, and turn that off. That stuff drives me nuts.”
Jeremy smirked as he stole a glance at a gloomy looking Josh. The day was getting better and better, he thought. A few moments later, the music stopped and Josh pulled up a chair next to Jack. “What’s going on, cap?”
“We’ve go a runner,” Jack simply said.
“A runner?” Jeremy said, his eyes suddenly wide. Inadvertently, he turned towards his terminal, his eyes scanning the monitors and the various sensor readings. “I haven’t seen anything,” he said before realizing that if he should have, he might just have talked himself out of a job.
“No, you wouldn’t have.”
“Why not?” Josh asked. “We’ve got the latest tech, man. No-one gets by our wires.”
“He didn’t have to. He walked out.”
Jeremy shifted in his chair and looked over his shoulder at Jack. “He walked out?”
“Yeah, through the front door.”
“The front door?”
Just then, the door once again swung open and a man with wild, white hair, thick glasses and a white beard walked in wearing a white lab coat. He held a thick pile of files under his arm. “Have you found him yet?” he asked as the door slammed behind him.
Jack turned around. “Dr Bruckz.”
Dr Bruckz dumped his files on the nearby table. “Well? Have you found him?”
“Dr Bruckz, if I may,” Jeremy started, “Who are we looking for?”
“Who are…” Dr Bruckz paused and looked intently at Jeremy. “So you have not found him then?”
“We just found out that he’s gone. Whoever he is. We don’t even know that.”
Dr Bruckz sat down at the table with a sigh. “Mr Smith must be located immediately. If over-stimulated, he could become a danger to himself and those around him.”
“Mr Smith?” Josh said with a smirk on his face. “Seriously?”
Dr Bruckz shot him a penetrating stare. “Is there a problem?”
Josh quickly shook his head and wiped the smirk from his face. “No, no, no, of course not. Mr. Smith it is. Is he hooked up?”
“Connected? Can he be tracked?”
“Oh, well, yes, yes, of course he is connected.”
“Well, he should be pretty easy to find then, shouldn’t he?”
“It’s not enabled.”
Jack turned and stared at Dr Bruckz. “What do you mean, it’s not enabled?”
“The tracker is not enabled.”
Jack sighed and turned to Jeremy and Josh. “Do we have the assets to ID him visually?”
Jeremy nodded. “Yes, we have video surveillance on all entrances and exits and we have 24/7 drone coverage as well as high resolution satellite imagery of the whole surrounding area.”
“Get on it then.”
Dr Bruckz clear his throat. “If I may, Mr. Smith must be handle with great care. He is a very special patient.”
“Is he dangerous?” Josh said.
“Like I said, if over-stimulated he can be.”
“What do you mean by over-stimulated?” Jack asked.
“Mr. Smith is part of a special pilot program testing a new, experimental version of what we call the Emotional Awareness Reactor, or E.A.R.”
“Ear?” Josh chuckled.
Dr. Bruckz ignored him and continued. “He was involved in a very debilitating accident that had a severe negative impact on his emotional responses. His hypothalamus and pituitary glands in particular suffered extreme damage. It caused him to have extreme emotional swings and essentially made him a vegetable.”
“So your E.A.R. fixed him all up, is that it, Doc?” Josh said.
“E.A.R. was designed to help regulate the extreme mood swings and in particular help take over the functions of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. I won’t go into the details but it’s a very complicated operation, as you may imagine. Unfortunately, E.A.R. is still experimental and Mr. Smith is still prone to mood swings. So far, they haven’t been of the violent nature.”
“So far?” Jack said. “You mean, he could be violent?”
Dr. Bruckz nodded. “He could be. It’s unlikely but regardless, this is why you have to be extremely cautious when approaching him. We do not want to provoke any extreme emotions as a result of our attempts to return him to this facility.”
“It sounds like your…E.A.R. isn’t quite up to it if you ask me,” Jack said.
“It is an early prototype, we’re still trying to understand all the ins and outs.”
Josh cocked his head and squinted his eyes as he looked at Dr. Bruckz. “What do you mean? You don’t know your own product.”
Dr. Bruckz cleared his throat and his faced turned bright read. “Err…what I meant to say, is that it’s an early prototype, we are still trying to identify the optimum configuration for the implant.”
“Ah-ha,” Josh said, clearly not convinced.
“Speaking of bringing him back,” Jeremy said, giving Dr. Bruckz a way out of an uncomfortable question. “I think I’ve found him.”
They all turned their attention to the screen. “See, here he is walking out of the building with a group of other visitors. That’s all from our cameras here on the facility.” Jeremy clicked a few buttons and pointed to another screen. “Here, the drone cam picks up on the periphery of the property. As you can see, he’s heading into town.”
Dr. Bruckz looked alarmed. “Into town? This is very, very serious.”
“Don’t worry. The satellite caught him from there and I’ve got a live feed here.” Jeremy clicked a few other buttons and a bird’s view video feed of the town came into view. Jeremy zoomed in and centered the image on a dot that was moving through the streets.
“Where is he going?” Josh asked.
“There’s no way of knowing for sure,” Dr. Bruckz said. “It is likely some emotion drove him to do this which, although not desirable, could also be a sign that he’s doing better. We just don’t know for sure.”
“Alright, Dr. Bruckz, we can deploy the recovery team from here, now that we know where he is,” Little Jack said.
“Please do. Bring him back as soon as possible.”
The next twenty minutes they spent in silence as the recovery team was deployed to the nearby town. The team was deployed from the outskirts of the area Mr. Smith was walking through and slowly converged on his location under the direction of Jeremy, who kept an eye on Mr. Smith’s whereabouts through a drone circling the area. Suddenly, Mr. Smith appeared to stop in the middle of a square. Dr. Bruckz leaned closer to the monitor and grunted.
“What is he doing?” he muttered.
Mr. Smith suddenly changed direction and walked straight towards a building. Moments later he had disappeared inside.
“Where did he go?” Dr. Bruckz demanded.
Jeremy pointed towards the screen. “He’s inside this building. It’s some type of mall, it seems.”
“Can you tell where he’s going?”
“Sorry, not inside. The drones are only useful outside.” Jeremy felt this was obvious but apparently Dr. Bruckz genius did not extend to surveillance.
“I can hack into the security cams inside but it’s going to take a bit,” Josh offered.
“We can’t wait,” Dr. Bruckz said.
“Alright, so I think it’s time to send the team in,” Jack said. “Jeremy, give the order.”
“Are you sure? He’s in the middle of a mall, around a bunch of people. It’s risky if it turns into a confrontation.”
Jack hesitated for a moment so Dr. Bruckz made the decision for him. “He needs to be retrieved immediately. Extended exposure to large crowds poses a serious risk of excessive stimuli.”
Jack sighed. “You heard the man.”
Jeremy turned his attention back to the screen and tapped a few keys before giving the order electronically. He then switched the view of his screen to a four way split showing video feeds from four different locations. “These are live streams from four of the recovery team. We’ll be able to see the recovery live.”
They watched on the edge of their seats as the team moved in, entering the mall from all directions, swiftly navigating between the shoppers out spending their disposable income on trinkets. Within moments, they all converged on the location of Mr. Smith. They found him sitting alone at a table in an empty corner of the food court.
“They’ve got him,” Jack announced. Dr. Bruckz let out an audible sigh of relief.
Dr. Bruckz entered the interrogation room where Mr. Smith had been brought and closed the door behind him. Mr. Smith was seated at the table I the center of the room, a confused look on his face. An empty chair faced him on the other side of the table. Dr. Bruckz observed Mr. Smith for a moment before he walked over to the table and quietly sat down, putting a cup of coffee on his right and his notebook in front of him. He took a sip of coffee before he looked up at Mr. Smith.
“I apologize if the team that brought you back here caused you any discomfort. This was purely accidental.
Mr. Smith looked at him in silence. Dr. Bruckz cleared his throat and shifted on the chair.
“Do you understand why they brought you back here?”
“He said they were bringing me home.”
Dr. Bruckz took a pen out of his shirt pocket and made a quick note in his notebook. “Why did you leave the facility?”
Mr. Smith looked up at Dr. Bruckz. “I had to. I just had to.”
“Why is that?”
“I had a very strong urge, this feeling that I just absolutely had to leave, I had to go.”
Dr. Bruckz looked up at Mr. Smith. “I see. That’s very good, very good. This is a very important step for you. It means the…well, the treatment is working. Can you describe this feeling to me?”
“Oh, it was just a very strong urge.”
“Like a craving?”
“Yes, yes, a craving! I had to follow it. I had to. It was almost as if it was controlling me.”
“I see,” Dr. Bruckz said as he jotted down another note in his notebook. “What, if I may ask, were you craving so strongly?”
Mr. Smith looked straight at Dr. Bruckz. “What was I craving? A bacon cheeseburger, of course.”
Dr. Bruckz almost dropped his pen and looked back at Mr. Smith. “I beg your pardon?”
“A bacon cheeseburger. Can I have it now? You did bring it with you, right?”