Orphaned (Commission) – Ch 14 – lostandwhatever
Dr. Wolff gasped when she felt the needle in her leg. Then, her eyes went wide, and she squealed, fully aware of what had just been pumped into her body. “Nooooo!”
She kicked at Jack, who rolled out of the way, and then she let out a fearful roar. She dropped the dart gun and grabbed her head with both hands. “I have to fight it,” she declared. “I have to fight it.” It became a chant, but by the fifth time she repeated the words. They sounded much less certain. “I have to… fight it?” She let go of her head, and looked around, confused. “I have to fight… what? What am I fighting? What’s going on? Where am I?” Her eyelids fluttered. “I feel sleepy,” she said before slumping to her knees and dropping face first onto the ground.
Charlie poked her with his shoe. She did not move. “She’s knocked out,” he said.
“Let go of me,” Eddie said, shaking free of baby Bud’s weakened grip. The bodyguard had finally stopped regressing when he had reached infancy. The bald baby sat in a pile of his clothes, looking like a deflated version of his former self. Davion walked away from the baby and joined the boys looking down at Dr. Wolff’s unconscious body. Charlie, meanwhile, checked on Ms. Peach.
“Nice work, Jack,” Eddie said.
“Thanks,” Jack said. “I sort of just killed her.” His face went pale. “I think I’m going to puke.”
“Find a trash can,” Eddie said. Jack walked away, holding his hand to his mouth.
“How is she?” Davion asked Charlie.
Charlie checked Ms. Peach’s wrist for a heartbeat. “She’s okay,” he said. “Just unconscious.”
Eddie let out a sudden shriek. “My leg!” he cried.
They all looked down to see baby Bud had bit the back of Eddie’s leg.
“You little rat!” Eddie said, gently kicking the baby away from him.
“Easy,” Charlie said. “He’s just a baby now.”
“He’s got some sharp teeth,” Eddie said as he rubbed his leg. “I think he broke the skin.” Eddie picked up the baby and set him down on a high shelf in one of the cubicles. “You stay put up there, little bastard.”
The baby looked down at the potential fall to the floor and backed away from the edge.
Davion asked Eddie, “What do we do now?”
Eddie lifted one of Dr. Wolff’s limp hands up and said, “We could cut off her thumb and use it to open the door.”
Davion nodded and calmly said, “I’ll go find my knife.” Then, he walked off.
“Nobody is cutting off anybody’s thumb,” Charlie said. “We can just drag her to the door.”
“Really?” Eddie whined.
“No thumb cutting. Not happening,” Charlie said.
Davion walked up to them, having retrieved his knife.
“We’re not cutting off her thumb,” Eddie informed him.
A visibly disappointed Davion folded away the blade and put it in his pocket.
Eddie sighed and said, “I’ll get her right arm. You get her left. You take the feet, Davion.”
They rolled her over together and carry-dragged her to her office door. Just before Eddie could pull her thumb up to the touch pad, Ms. Peach let out a moan.
“Hold on,” Charlie said, letting the arm he was carrying drop. He ran over to Ms. Peach to check on her. Eddie and Davion followed him to their teacher, who appeared to be waking up.
“Wha?” she said, and paused to swallow. She tried again. “What happened?”
“Wolff shot you with her tranq gun,” Charlie explained. “How do you feel?”
“Woozy,” she said. “Like I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. Is everyone okay? Jack?”
Jack walked up to them, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. She saw him and let out a sigh of relief. “What about Wolff?” she asked.
Charlie explained what happened and what they were doing with her body. Ms. Peach reluctantly agreed with their idea. Then, she asked, “What should I do? I don’t think I can walk very far right now.”
“Can you get a view of the door to the lab?” Charlie asked. “You could be our lookout.”
She nodded. “I’ll take a seat around the corner.”
“I’ll help her,” Jack said and took Ms. Peach’s hand. Then, they walked closer to the door together.
“Right,” Eddie said. “Back to Wolff.”
They walked back to Dr. Wolff’s office door, but her body was missing.
“What the fuck?” Eddie asked.
“Where’d she go?” Davion asked.
They heard a light sniffle come from a nearby cubicle. When they went to investigate the noise, they found Dr. Wolff hiding under a desk with her legs pulled up to her chest. The woman was crying quietly in fear, like a lost child.
Charlie and Eddie exchanged a look, and Charlie gently spoke to Dr. Wolff, “Hi, I’m Charlie. You’re Linda right?”
Dr. Wolff—Linda—nodded but kept on crying.
“How old are you?” he asked her.
“N-nine,” she said. “I was nine. Now…” She looked down at her body and shook her head.
Jack walked up to join them. “What’s going on?” he asked. When he saw Linda under the desk, he gasped. “No,” he said.
Eddie shushed Jack and turned his attention back to Linda. “I’m Eddie,” he said. “I bet you want to know what’s going on.”
“There’s some bad people who work in this building using drugs to turn adults into kids and kids into adults. It’s all very weird mad scientist stuff, but it’s real. You believe that?”
She held up her hand and looked at it, flexing her adult fingers. “Yeah,” she said. “I believe it.”
“We’re sneaking into the office of one of the main scientists. We need to get some info from inside there. We might even find a drug that can turn us all back to normal. Want to help us?”
“Okay,” she said. “W-what do I have to do?”
“We need you to help us open a door. Hold on a second.” He gestured to Charlie to follow him, and the two of them walked over to her office door. Jack followed behind them. “Help me pull her name tag off of the wall,” Eddie said to Charlie. Charlie got onto Eddie’s shoulders, and let Eddie lift him to the nameplate to yank it down.
“Guys,” Jack said. “What are we doing?”
“Shh,” Eddie said and whispered back. “We’re getting into her office.”
Jack whispered, “I feel bad about this. We’re lying to her. She’s a scared little girl, and we’re lying to her.”
“What other choice do we have?” Eddie asked as he set Charlie back down on the ground. “Our only hope is getting in there. We might even be able to make her into a real little girl if we find more drugs in there. Don’t you think she would want that now?”
“But…” Jack said. “This feels… wrong.”
Charlie sighed as he disposed of her name plate in a trash basket. “I don’t like this either, but Eddie’s right. We don’t really have any other good options now.”
They went back to Linda and Davion and watched as she pulled a phone out of her pocket. “What is this?” she asked them. “It was vibrating.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Davion said. “It’s not important. I’ll hold it for you.” He held out his hand, and she gave it to him.
“Come on,” Eddie said, giving a worried glance at her phone. “We don’t have a lot of time.”
Linda crawled out from under the desk and stood up. She looked down fearfully. “I feel dizzy,” she said.
“Take my hand,” Charlie said. “I’ll lead you to the door.”
She took his hand, and they went to her office door.
“Put your thumb on the pad,” Eddie said.
“Really?” she asked, skeptically.
“It only opens for adults,” Eddie lied in his most convincing tone of voice.
She shrugged and did it. The light went green and the door unlocked.
“Wow,” she said. “That’s pretty fancy.”
They opened the door and stepped inside her office. Once they were all in, they let the door shut behind them. It was a decent-sized office with a number of cabinets and a long desk that wrapped around a chair at a right angle. Charlie took a seat on the chair and pulled himself up to her computer.
The screen asked for a password.
Charlie looked around for a convenient sticky note but found none. He considered trying the most common passwords, but even that seemed like too much of a stretch.
He looked over to Linda and said, “What would you use as a secret password?”
“Um,” she said and took a moment to think. “I don’t know. I’ve never needed a password before.”
“That’s okay,” Charlie said. He kept looking around the desk. Nothing seemed quite out of the ordinary aside from some photos and a plaque with a quote from Arthur Conan Doyle on it which said, “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.”
He typed in the word “genius.”
He remembered that they needed a capital letter and a number in their passwords.
He tried “Genius1.”
Knowing that he would be locked out soon he turned back to Linda for more help. “Hey, Linda? What year were you born?”
“1977,” she replied.
The other boys gave her a surprised look as Charlie typed in “Genius1977.”
“It worked,” he said as he logged in successfully.
“What worked?” she asked.
“Uh, nothing,” Charlie said as he clicked around her secret files. “I know this system. The drives are set up the same way in my department. Here.” He opened a folder. “Files on each of us. Everything about us.”
“Good,” Eddie said. “What about the drugs? Where’s the stuff to turn you… us back to normal.”
Charlie shook his head. “I’m not sure. Try looking around the office. There might be something in here.”
The boys started opening drawers as Charlie continued to search through the files.
“Hey,” Linda said. “Where did I get these clothes?”
“I can explain,” Eddie said, as he kept searching drawers, taking a moment to invent a story. “They were… going to use you to take someone’s place, like an imposter.”
“Why me? And, why would I do that?” she asked, sounding less and less convinced by Eddie’s lies.
“I don’t know why they picked you. Maybe you looked like the person they needed to replace. What I do know is that they’d threaten you, say they would hurt your family or not let you go home again. That’s how they’d get you to do it. Real mean bastards, the people who work here.”
“Oh,” she said, sounding a bit less suspicious. “I see.”
“Found it,” Jack said, holding up a pair of bottles.
“The antidote?” Charlie asked as he got down from the desk chair and walked over to Jack.
“Maybe,” Jack said and handed the bottles to Charlie.
“I’ll get some syringes,” Eddie said and left the office.
Charlie read the labels, hoping that he had found his cure. Then, he sighed. “No,” he said. “This is just more of the two drugs we found before.”
He took the bottles back to the desk, set them down by the keyboard, and started looking through the computer files again. “There’s a lot here,” he said. “Apparently, she can even order up new documents straight from the government—fake IDs, birth certificates, anything. She can request prisoner transfers. I guess that’s how they move people to the testing room. There’s notes here about the project—backup files, all kinds of information. But, nothing here says anything about an antidote. There’s nothing.”
“What are we going to do?” Jack asked.
Charlie opened a couple of drawers and found what he was looking for a moment later. “That should do it,” he said, pulling out a thumb drive and plugging it into her computer.
“What are you doing?” Davion asked.
“I’m copying all of the files,” he said, dragging and dropping the whole folder into the portable drive. “We’ve gotta get out of here soon. Somebody is probably already on their way here to find out what happened to… you know.” He avoided looking at Linda. “We’ll find some other place where I can find time to dig into the files more.”
When Eddie knocked, Davion let him in and propped the door open with a chair.
Eddie asked, “Did we find what we needed?”
“Just more of the same drugs,” Charlie said. “I’m making a copy of the files. Should only take a few more minutes.”
“Well, give me the bottles,” Eddie said. “I’ll get a shot ready for her while we wait.”
“What shot?” Linda asked.
“We’re going to make you a kid again,” Eddie said. He asked Charlie, “Which one for the body?”
Charlie handed him the right bottle, and Eddie filled a syringe from it. “Ready?” he asked Linda.
“I don’t know,” she said. “That’ll turn me back to normal.”
“It’ll make you a kid again,” Eddie assured her.
She sighed and said, “Okay.”
“Maybe lay down on the ground,” Eddie suggested.
She did, and he took a moment to find a vein on her arm. When the needle got close to her skin, she did a quick intake of breath as if she were in pain.
“I didn’t even touch you yet,” Eddie said.
“I’m scared of needles,” she admitted. “I’ll close my eyes.”
When her eyes were shut, Eddie did his best to stick the needle into her vein, eliciting another intake of breath from her. He pressed down the plunger and pulled the needle back out when the syringe was empty.
“I feel warm,” she said.
“That means it’s working,” Eddie explained. “That’s what you’re supposed to feel. Get ready. It’s going to get hotter.”
She sweated and steamed as they had all done before. The boys watched her transform, her body appearing increasingly youthful as she moaned in pain. Each of them kept quiet, but they all knew that there was a type of justice in what was happening. She became a young woman, beautiful and sexy. Then, she entered her teens, looking more childish and innocent. Finally, she dropped back through puberty into childhood, gradually disappearing into her own oversized clothes. She reached the older boys’ age but kept going down. Then, she was Charlie’s age, but still she kept getting younger.
“How much did you give her?” Charlie asked Eddie. He worried about what an overdose might do to her.
“A lot,” Eddie admitted. “I didn’t know how much to use.”
Just when Linda started to look more babyish than girlish, the regression slowed to a halt.
The little girl lay there a few moments, panting, as her temperature cooled down and her body settled into its new age. When she had calmed down, she held up a hand. Seeing it lost in her long sleeve, she pulled on the fabric until she could see her much smaller hand. She asked, “Did it work? Am I the right age again?”
“Yeah,” Eddie said. “Almost.”
She sat up and said, “My voice sounds funny.” She rubbed her throat and coughed. “It’s too high.”
“Well,” Eddie said. “About that… We tried our best.”
Linda stood up, and only her shirt and bra came with her, hanging loosely off of her. She gasped when she realized how small she had become compared to the other kids in the room. “I’m tiny!” she cried.
“You’re a kid again,” Eddie said, trying to highlight the bright side.
“I’m a baby!”
“You’re a preschooler,” Eddie said. “Or, at least a toddler. Not a baby.”
“I’m too young!” she said. “I’m supposed to be nine, not four. Make me older.”
“I don’t think we can,” Eddie said. “We don’t have the right drug for that, do we?” He turned to Charlie.
“No,” Charlie said. “Sorry.”
“You mean I’m stuck like this?” she asked, sounding like she was on the verge of tears.
“Hey,” Eddie said. “Don’t worry about it. You’ll be nine again in just a few years. For now, you get to be the world’s smartest preschooler. That could be fun. Right?”
Linda began to cry, and Jack, likely feeling a bit guilty still for what he had done to her, went over to comfort her. She hugged him and buried her tear-soaked face in his shirt, muffling her cries. Jack looked slightly disgusted by the mess she was making. “There, there,” he said, awkwardly patting her on the head.
Charlie checked the computer. “The files are done copying,” he said and removed the thumb drive. After slipping it into his pocket, he said, “Right, we’d better get going before-”
He was cut off by Ms. Peach screaming, “Charlie! Someone’s in here.”