The Operant Unconscious Project

Chapter 01 - Unfair Conditions

The sun slowly crept into a small room containing a box. Breathing softly within this box slept a ten-year-old boy. Sunlight entered the room and chased away the shadows. It poured through the holes of the metal box and onto the smooth, translucent skin of the boy's cheek. The boy, feeling the warmth on his cheek, woke and slowly opened his eyes. He lay there for a moment staring at the top of the metal box with his bright blue eyes. Then, without warning, the door on the metal box flew open and the boy found himself being dragged out by his foot. The man that did this then picked the boy up and sat him on top of his box. The man then went on to the next box that was beside the first and proceeded to pull the box's occupant out and place him on his box, and so on. The room they were in contained a total of fifteen boxes. The blue eyed boy looked at the boy next to him and smiled.

To this that boy, who had brown eyes, replied in a whisper, "What do you have to smile about this morning, Jacob?"

"I'm just happy to see you've made it through another night and that we have another day to look forward to, Julian," said Jacob.

"That's not funny, Jacob," said Julian.

"Was it supposed to be? Did I say that it was?"

Julian sighed, "I suppose not."

Julian already knew that Jacob always smiled because no one else was willing to in the morning. Every morning was just as dismal as the last. Jacob and Julian had been friends for as long as they could remember. And the only life they had ever known was of sleeping in metal boxes and of scientists performing test after test on them. Moments later six well-armed men came into the room followed by a man in a white coat.

"Today," said the man in the coat, "We will need only three of you." He paused to read his clipboard. "If I call out your animal then come line up in front of me. Lion, Tiger, and Horse."

That meant Jacob, Julian, and another boy named Kevin. Jacob and Julian jumped down off their boxes and joined Kevin in front of the man. The man in the coat turned to one of his armed men.

"Captain, get these boys down to the washroom to be cleaned up and then take them to join Dr. Taylor in lab 152."

"Yes, Dr. Guise," replied the captain.

Dr. Guise left the room with the other armed men while the captain stayed to take the boys. The captain turned to the three boys and said, "follow me." They followed him out the door that locked behind them and down the white corridors. They followed him to a door labeled "washroom" where three men in white stood waiting.

"We will take them from here, captain," said one of them. "You can wait in the hall until we are done."

The captain nodded as each one of the men took a child and led them through the door. The whole room was like a giant shower and the boys soon found themselves being stripped out of their baggy white garments and thrust under hot jets of water. The men scrubbed them down, rinsed them off, and then again scrubbed and rinsed. Jacob always enjoyed getting showers and because the scientists always requested him he was much cleaner than any of the other boys. Soon the boys were being dried off and dressed in clean clothes.

"Why are these things always so baggy?" asked Julian.

"They are designed to be one size fits all," replied the man who was dressing him.

Jacob smiled at his friend's question because he knew it was Julian's attempt at a joke. Jacob knew that Julian always felt nervous before one of these tests and Julian's way of relieving himself was to joke, badly, and to speak his mind. Once they were dressed they found the captain waiting for them outside. As the captain led them down the hallways Jacob relaxed and let his mind wander. Since Jacob was little he could always, if he was relaxed enough, hear what other people were saying in their heads. This was why so many tests were performed on him. But before he could fully relax they had stopped in front of a door labeled "Lab 152." The three boys were rushed inside and were soon standing in front of a woman in a white coat. Jacob knew her as Dr. Bender.

"Welcome to the simulation lab," said Dr. Bender.

And that was all she said. She signaled to her assistants who in turn led the boys to four chairs that all faced each other. Jacob soon found that he and his friends were being strapped down to them. The assistants began strapping wires to them that led to heart monitors and assorted other sensory equipment. Jacob looked across from where he sat and saw the fourth and empty chair. Jacob signaled to one of the other doctors that he knew, Dr. Taylor.

"Who is that chair for?" asked Jacob.

"You'll find out soon enough Jake," replied Dr. Taylor as he rustled Jacob's hair.

Jacob smiled and then shook his head to get his hair back in place because his hands were already strapped down. Moments later the lab door opened and in walked a young, dark haired boy. His hands and feet were bound and three armed men were escorting him.

"Does it really take three armed men to escort one boy?" whispered Julian.

"Ooh, his farts must kill or something," said Kevin.

"Na, that can't be it. The guards are walking behind him," said Julian.

"Then it must be his breath," Kevin chuckled to himself.

Jacob, however, didn't find it funny that this boy was guarded so heavily. It made Jacob think that he must be dangerous. They strapped the boy down in the fourth chair and removed his previous bindings. The assistants came forward and began to wire the boy up. Everyone, Jacob noticed, avoided touching the boy's skin and the assistants rotated so no one spent too much time near him. Jacob sat there studying the boy like he was reading a book. Jacob saw how the boy had large dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep. The boy had, Jacob was certain, black eyes and he was struggling to stay alert even though he was worn out.

"Could this little boy possibly be dangerous?" thought Jacob.

Jacob was about to relax and find out for sure when he suddenly noticed the amount of suction cups being applied to his head. These same wires were being connected to all three of the others and everyone seemed to be connected to the same machine.

"I've never seen that machine before," thought Jacob, "I wonder what it does?"

Dr. Guise came into the room and walked right up to the very tired boy.

"Hello Jesse, I'm Dr. Guise."

The boy pushed back against his chair as if trying to get away.

"I know who you are," the boy said in almost a whisper.

Jacob thought it sounded like this boy, Jesse, feared and hated Dr. Guise. Of course, it was easy to hate Dr. Guise because the man had no morals, or so Jacob thought.

"These children," continued Dr. Guise, "are your subjects today, Jesse."

Dr. Guise smiled his evil grin as Jesse looked around at Jacob and the others with fear in his eyes.

"NO!" shouted Jesse. "I will not! I've never done this on other children, I could hurt them!"

"That is a risk we are willing to take," replied Dr. Guise.

Jesse closed his eyes and shook his head no. "I don't care what YOU are willing to do. I will not do this."

Dr. Guise looked angry and bent over to try and whisper in Jesse's ear, but Jesse recoiled from him and started shaking.

"Dr. Guise, you're getting too close to the boy, back off," Commanded Dr. Taylor.

Dr. Guise shot Dr. Taylor an evil look but backed off all the same. Dr. Guise paused for a moment and then continued.

"So you won't do it? Such a shame you have a conscience. Hmm, let's just kill the children you're trying to protect."

Jacob saw Jesse's eyes get really wide with fright.

"You wouldn't!" cried Jesse.

"Why not?" said Dr. Guise, "They don't matter all that much. We can make more." Dr. Guise paused. "In fact let's kill them now." Dr. Guise pulled a gun out from within his lab coat and pointed it at Kevin."

"Please don't hurt them," shouted Jesse.

"Will you do it then?" said Dr. Guise. Jesse nodded his head yes in response. "Good, Dr. Bender, prepare the children."

Dr. Guise put his gun away and the assistants rushed forward and injected each boy with some yellowish liquid. Then all the doctors and assistants went into the lab's control room and shut the door.

"What's all this about?" asked Julian. Julian looked at Jacob for an answer but Jacob just looked back and smiled. Julian laughed, "Of all times to smile, Jacob."

"So you're Jacob?" whispered Jesse.

Jacob stared right into Jesse's eyes and replied, "I am."

"I assume you know what we're doing," said Kevin.

"I do, and I'm sorry," said Jesse.

All of the sudden Kevin fell asleep.

"It must be the drug they gave us," said Julian in a panicked voice. He began to try to get out of his seat.

"Julian, calm down. I promise you'll wake up, Okay," said Jacob softly.

"You promise?" asked Julian.

"I do, now just relax. I'll see you when you wake up," replied Jacob.

"Okay," said Julian as he began to drop off.

Soon only Jacob and Jesse were awake. Jacob stared into Jesse's eyes and Jesse stared right back. Soon Jacob was having trouble concentrating and just before he fell asleep he saw Jesse mouth another "I'm sorry."