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Chapter 1

Renowned psychiatrist Elizabeth Thompson staggered through the door of her office in Saint-Jean-de-Dieu asylum. She lunged for the telephone on her desk calling for help.

“9-1-1, how can I redirect your call?”

“Help me.” Elizabeth was breathing heavily. Her voice turned down to a whisper. “Someone followed me to work ... he… he is now shooting the patients.” Lifting her head up, looking at the clock she nervously laughed. Her breathing returned to normal and she felt as if she could handle the situation.

“Cockpot, is that you? You know what I told you about prank calling the Police …” the line suddenly went dead. Far off the fire alarm began to ring. Elizabeth’s breathing quickened again. What am I going to do?

Gunshots could be heard from a close distance. She lay a moment, gasping for breath. I am still alive. She crawled out from under her desk scanning her office rapidly, looking for an escape other than the office door. Elizabeth opened a window, realizing that there was no other way to get out, as the windows were blocked with premium steel grates. As much as she tried to hold it in, the fear came out like an uproar from her throat in the form of a silent scream. She started shaking the grate and tried to scream for help, but her voice was melted by the sound of the place. The muffled sobs wracked against her chest.

Her whole world turned into a blur, and so did all the sounds. Pearl-shaped tears rolled down from her eyes, leaving mascara trails on her face.

A voice spoke from behind “Do not move.” The man slowly closed the door to Elizabeth’s office.

A chill went down her spine. The doctor froze, then turned her head slowly, and saw her attacker’s face.

He was a tiny man, with ghost pale skin, and a raw chasm of puckered flesh, paler than the tone of his skin, toughened by wind, grit and years...a permanent reminder of his past failings. He drew a gun from his coat and aimed at Doctor Thompson.

“Why did you run?” asked the attacker, half smiling. “Now you will tell me where it is.”

“I told you already!” Shouted the doctor, kneeling defenseless on the floor. Elizabeth’s voice trembled. “I…don’t know…what you are talking about.” Her sobs punched through, ripping through her muscles bones, and guts.

“You are lying.” The man stared at her, perfectly immobile. “In this Asylum, you are hiding something that is not yours and you know exactly what I am looking for.”

The doctor felt a sudden surge of adrenaline. How can he possibly know that? I always kept my patient files hidden…

“Tonight my Faith in humanity will be restored. Tell me where it is hidden and you will live.” The man leveled his gun at Elizabeth’s head.

Elizabeth could not breathe.

The attacker made a step in Elizabeth’s direction as if he was about to shoot.

“Wait,” she said slowly, raising her hands in defense. “I will tell you.”

The doctor spoke her next words carefully, knowing that they might be her last. She knew she was about to do something awful. Standing up slowly, she watched her feet taking steps across the glossy tiles. Elizabeth took deep, heavy breaths, and her heart pounded in her ears. The sound was intolerable, her breathing began to get deeper and deeper by the second as she got closer to the closet. As Elizabeth opened the closet she grabbed a small safe. She had prayed every day that she would never have to open it.

The safe made a small click when it opened, which made the man smile for the first time.

She threw a small, dark-brown package at him.

The aggressor aimed his gun again. “See, it was not so difficult after all.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes, full of tears. She could not believe what she had done.

“Please don’t shoot.” Her voice was trembling.

The gun roared. Elizabeth felt a searing heat as the bullet lodged in her stomach. She felled forward, struggling to lift her head to look at the attacker face one last time.

“My work is done here you made the right choice, doctor. Future generations will thank you.” The man said.

Then he was gone.

Alone now, Elizabeth made the connection; the MKIII project was lead by her years ago. That project tested mind control techniques by putting subjects into drug-induced coma for weeks at a time while playing tape loops of noise or simple repetitive statements. Her experiments were typically carried out on patients who had entered the institute for minor problems such as anxiety disorders and postpartum depression.

Tonight the attacker didn’t only steal her research, he also took a key that, if in wrong hands, could destroy humanity.

The pain that once burned like a fire had faded away to an icy numbness. Black filled the edges of Elizabeth’s vision. Her breath came in ragged, shallow gasps. Seconds passed. She heard voices. People swarmed all over the office, trying to help her. If she could, she would have laughed. It was far too late for her to be saved. She was the keeper of time and she failed her quest.

Elizabeth’s fragile human heart beat one last time.

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