The CAT scan results were anything but promising. Jonathan squinted as he tried to look past the strange mass of tendrils lodged in his brain.
“What the fuck am I looking at, Dr.?” He asked, his throat dry, words not wanting to come out.
Dr. Hannah Rivers, one of the most brilliant neurologists in North America, adjusted her turtle-rimmed glasses and muttered:
“That is an entity of unknown origin that is latched to your central nervous system. Removing it will be impossible without a) killing you or b) lobotomizing you to the point you were going to wish you were dead.”
“What the...? How did such a thing get inside in my head?”
“Unknown as well. Something to do with your work at the CDC, perhaps?” She glanced at her notes, hazarding the most obvious guess.
“Impossible! I am just a janitor there, it is not like I have access to any of the restricted labs or anything.”
“I see.” She pushed her chair forward. “If this was not an accident, then perhaps we must consider the possibility of deliberate infection.”
“What? Why?!!” Jonathan screamed, his entire life already ruined even without the strange conspiracy theories being thrown around.
“A test. You have said it yourself, Jonathan. You are just a janitor. Perhaps someone thought you were expendable as well.”
“That is absurd.” The young man was visibly perturbed, as expected.
“And yet, here you are. You did well finding your way to me, but I do not think your insurance will cover any of this. My services are not cheap, you know?”
“It was my sister.” He muttered.
“What did you say?”
“It was my sister that got me the appointment when the headaches started. She said she is an old friend of yours and that you would know what to do.”
“Did she? Who is your sister again?”
“Her name is Carmella. Carmella Morgenstern. Ring a bell?”
A sly smile crossed the good doctor’s lips. Carmella? Of course, she remembered her. Brilliant researcher, even greater in bed. They had spent two wonderful years together in Reykjavík before she had joined the private sector. What was she working on at the time they broke up? Something about the possibility of...
... genetically engineered mind-control parasites.
“Oh, you crazy bitch!” Dr. Rivers thought. “You did it. You actually did it and used your innocent brother as a guinea pig! But how does it work? What does it do?”
As if someone had heard her innermost ruminations, Jonathan’s phone rang. The melody playing was sweet, a classic piece interspersed with a low-frequency buzz that only made sense to him. The janitor’s eyes immediately went blank as he sank heavily to his knees. Dr. Rivers answered the call and said:
“Hello, gorgeous. I never thought I would hear from you again.”
“Why not?” Carmella’s golden voice echoed in her ears. “I told you our story was not over back then. What do you think of my creation?”
“It is certainly an impressive piece of work. And sound-activated, too. How did you pull that one off?”
“I changed the genetic markers of the parasite to respond to specific vibrations. Once triggered, they flood the hosts’ body with so much dopamine and oxytocin they enter a rush state where their actions are easily controllable. Try it for yourself. It is why I send him to you.”
“A generous offer, Carmella, but what is your angle, here? What do you hope to get from all of this?”
“A chance to reconnect, dear, and hopefully accomplish some wonderful things together in the future. Have fun with my slave. I will wake him up in one hour so you can tell me all the kinky things you did to him. You still love kinky, right? You did not leave that part of you back in Iceland, I hope.”
“I love kinky even more, sweetie, but what about his memories?”
“You have nothing to worry about. He will remember none of this. When he wakes up, he will suffer a major headache like he is recovering from a hangover, but other than that... Keep in mind that is not a person you have there right now, Hannah. It is just a thing that looks like one. Have fun!”
Dr. Rivers laid down the phone on her desk and called her secretary to cancel her next appointment. She had a feeling one hour would not be enough for all the things she wanted to explore.