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The human mind is always somewhere between the past and the future. Memories are part of sentient beings programming. Experiences set perceived precedence for reality that assists the brain in imagining a future. What we call the present exists somewhere between the two. Nothing forces the mind into the present like death; it is a final moment after which there is no future to rectify with the past, and so it ceases.
“Nothing brings you into the moment like death,” said private first class Houten.
He volunteered his services as a lab rat for an experiment being conducted by the neuropsychology, neuropathology, and neurophysiology departments of a university partnered with the Pentagon. PFC Houten was Dr. Shriver's test subject.
The doctor hypothesized the brain could be physically reshaped relatively quickly with the bombardment of carefully selected stimuli. Houten's psyche was to be shattered by forcing him to experience death over and over again. Then he was to be resurrected through a virtual simulation of paradise. To put it in simple terms his brain was to undergo demolition by way of trauma then be revitalized by pleasure. Ultimately the question was; can the same way experiences destroys a person also rebuild a person?
 He died in just about every way a combat soldier might expect to. The virtual reality equipment integrated with his neural wiring put him behind the eyes of a soldier who was about to die. The boy turned 20 not three weeks ago and already he had murdered 12 times.
He described dying suddenly as being like flipping off a switch, and dying slowly was much harder. It happened in stages, and the slow beating of the heart was like a clock counting down. Eventually, the pain would numb, the sounds and colors of the world became dimmer and dimmer with every beat of the heart, vision turned into a narrow tunnel before long everything seemed just to drift away until there was only the endless black. The difference is with dying slowly there was an awareness that exacerbated the terror.
Waking up from the simulation was like being born into a coffin. The body is paralyzed until the nervous system can disconnect from the digital realm.
His voice fluctuated whole octaves and it sounded like his throat would tear open. Bursts of electrical current started to travel through his nerves, and his body began to convulse against the restraints. The lights came on slowly and softly the way they do in a movie theater.
Dr. Patel was watching a display of two parallel green lines that spiked up and down making a valley between them.
“The neural imaging is being processed doctor,” he said happily
“Good” Said, Shriver, as he reached for the thin-wire microphone on the wall.
“Minos you are ok its safe” the doctor repeated.
Minos’s screaming intensified and his entire body began to thrash against the restraints.
“Minos calm down!” Shriver insisted.
“Get him his Thorazine.” he ordered Patel.
“Minos do you want the whale sounds? Shriver asked.
Minos couldn’t answer in his delirious state.
I’m turning on the whale sounds.” Shriver said.
There was the sound of a breeze and gently crashing waves accompanied by the ghostly cries of whales, but I didn’t seem to have the calming effect Shriver hoped for. He watched Houten continue to thrash and scream until Dr. Patel, and two orderlies entered the room to administer the tranquilizers.
The haze soon lifted, and Minos was up and about pacing around his room or curled up in the lonely little chair in the corner next to the window shaking his foot and chewing on his nails. His glassy eyes darted about the room and his heart thumping in his chest. The trauma of the experiments had shattered the young soldier. His sleepless drug filled body was disintegrating, his waxy skin was withering around his bones, and red blood vessels pulsated in his dilated eyes.
The only times the terror was gone was in the darkness of a psychotropic coma. Barely ten days into the experiment and Houten was hopelessly addicted to the most potent tranquilizers. They flooded his veins, and numbness washed over his body. Consciousness dissolved and with it the constant torment of imminent death.
When Dr. Shriver opened the door to his room, Minos jumped at the sound of the knob turning. Shriver walked in to find him standing rigidly close to hyperventilating.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you?” Shriver said softly, a warm smile on his round face.
Minos breathed an audible sigh of relief.
“Doctor when is this going to be over?” Minos asked in a trembling voice.
“Don’t worry Minos that’s what I came to talk to you about." Why don’t you have a seat? “ Suggested Shriver in the same soothing tone.
Houten forced his quacking legs to bend, and he forced himself into a seat.
Shriver let out a sigh as he planted his large frame in the seat across the table.
Houten we’ve been viewing your results, and it looks like we got all we need.” Said Shriver.
Houten stared at him. “You mean I don’t have to do any more scenarios?” he asked suspiciously.
“No, that part is over I promise.” shriver assured him.
“When can I go?” Houten blurted.
“Uh, we just have one more test to run,” Shriver said casually.
Houten leapt from his seat and began pacing.
“I thought you said that we were done.” Houten snapped.
“We are we are,” Shriver repeated. “We just need to perform one final digital neural mapping,” said Shriver.
Minos abruptly stopped pacing. “I would have to sit alone in the dark room again?” He asked in a cocked voice.
“Yes, but only very briefly.” Insisted the doctor
“No not without Klonopin or Ambien or something!”  shouted Houten
“I’m afraid we can’t do that Houten it would compromise our data. Said Shriver
“Fuck your data!” screamed Houten.
Shriver responded with a sympathetic sigh. He lifted himself out of the chair. “I'm sorry Houten.” he said.
“Wait wait wait. Said Houten as he resumed his pacing.
“How do I know I’m not in a scenario right now?” He demanded.
“You think you’re in a scenario?” Asked Shriver.
“Why not?” Snapped Houten. “For all I know something could burst through that door right now and kill me.” Houten sobbed.
“this isn’t a scenario,” Shriver said calmly. "This is real life; you're safe.”
“but it always feels so real,” Houten said before collapsing to the ground in tears.
“Don’t put me alone in that room. Please don’t put me alone in that room,” he said as buried his face in his hands.
Houten it's going to be alright.” the doctor said almost whispering. He knelt down next to the broken soldier.
“Here take this,” he said as he took a small white paper cup from the pocket of his lab coat.
Houten took the cup with shaking hand. It had two blue capsules and a white circular pill. He tossed his head back and dropped the medication down his throat.
“There, there,” said Shriver. “It will all get better after tomorrow. Will let the happiness software run oh the virtual reality equipment. After it's over it'll be just like waking up from a beautiful dream.” The doctor said reassuringly.
It was a heavy dose. The drugs kicked in, and Houten passed out on the cold tile floor. The orderly lifted him back into his bed the restraints were tied back on, and anything of any danger was removed from his room.
The next morning the doctor’s phone rang. It was just after six, the orange light of the rising sun was flooding into his bedroom through the slotted blinds. Patel was the name on the screen
“Good morning Patel what can I do for you?” Shriver said drowsily.
His sleep slanted eyes suddenly widened into saucers “he’s dead?”
“What do you mean unknown causes?” Shriver snapped.
He listened quietly for a moment while his wife stirred on the other side of the bed.
“I see. Well, I guess we’ll have to discuss it further when I get there.” The doctor said with a tone of disappointment.
“Yeah I’m sorry too. See you in a while Patel.”
The doctor quietly taped the end button on the screen and set his phone back on the nightstand.
“Hmm what happened?” his wife asked half yawning,
“Minos, the soldier I’ve been telling you about he died last night.”
“Oh no, was it suicide?” She asked.
“No, no not since.” Shriver shook his head. “Patel said they heard him screaming in his room and when they went in he was in the grips of a grand mal seizure, and it's the damnedest thing but apparently when his body stopped convulsing, he was just dead.”
“Just like that?” said Mrs. Shriver
“Yeah just like.” Mr. Shriver repeated.
“I’m sorry sweety you did what you could.” she said rubbing his back.
“Maybe Patel was right, maybe I should have pushed him like that the human brain an only take so much. Dammit, I just had to know what the potential was. How broke does a person have to be before you can’t him back together again.” he asked rhetorically.
“Just remember your work is to help young men like him.” said Mrs. Shriver.
“Yeah and I just might have set that work back.” Mr. Shriver groaned.
“Well science always has its casualties I guess.” the doctor muttered before standing up.
Just as he was about to head to the bathroom his phone rang again.
Corporal Morris was always somewhat of an understated individual, but he was a good soldier. He kept his appearance neatly put together, his head was always neatly shaved, and his uniform was always creaseless. He was part of another experiment that sought to reshape the psyche of soldiers, but unlike Minos the goal wasn’t to fix shattered minds it was to carefully implode what was already there and leave a few choice parts. Corporal Morris had a device in his head that tightly regulated his brain chemistry. Certain receptors were blocked while others flooded. The nano device restructured his brain active to match that of a clinical psychopath.
This research project had been run by Dr. Shriver’s colleague Dr. Nord. By the time Dr. Shriver arrived Nord’s interview with Morris was already well underway
Dr. Nord was a tall man with dusky skin and salt and pepper hair. He was sitting in the same room with the two-way mirror where Shriver conducted his sessions with Minos.
Morris was a somewhat stocky man, and the light gleamed off his freshly shaved head. He stared out at the world through beady black eyes. He had a slight and crooked smile on his face as if he was trying to keep from laughing at something funny that had just popped into his head.
“I guess I really just don’t care much about that anymore,” Morris said with a shrug.
“You don’t care about what anymore? Yourself or your family?” asked Nord.
“Neither.” said Morris “Now all I want to do is make my thoughts real,” Morris said ominously.
“What do you mean real?” Asked Nord.
“All the things in my head I was so afraid of before I couldn’t get them to stop, but now I want to do them. I have the power to make them alive” Morris said in an elevating voice.
“What do you want to do?” Nord Asked.
“I keep thinking about tackling a guy holding him down and duct taping a hand grenade to the motherfucker's head,” Morris said.
Morris was considered a successful result of Nord's research. He had been a normally functioning family man who was now just a walking mass of violent impulses. A man with a brain that was designed to crave violence, a brain that was indifferent to human life and aroused by cruelty. He was Nord’s first monster, but he wouldn’t be the last.
After the session was concluded Shriver met Nord in his office.
“So what did you think?” Was the first question Nord asked.
“Holy shit that guy in a lunatic.” replied Shriver.
A large grin broke across Nord’s face. “The project could not have gone better when I present this research to the DOD they’re going to want to fund this for the next decade!”
“Congratulations,” Shriver said in a voice devoid of enthusiasm. 
Nord’s grin disappeared. Shriver, I asked you here because I wanted to invite you be part of my research team. I could use someone with your experience.”
“Well, I’m honored. I really am,” said Shriver “But I think I’ll have to pass.”
“Why?” Nord said seemingly taken back.
“I don’t think this research is for me. I don’t think I could live with doing that to people.” Said Shriver.
“Well, you just killed someone didn’t you?” Nord huffed.
Shriver gave the belligerent doctor a hard look. “Mistakes were made, but I had nothing but the best intentions. Progress is built on blunders.” Snapped Shriver.
“Shriver, I didn’t want to have to be the one to tell you this, but your funding is being diverted to my project. So what will it be?”
Doctor Shriver’s research however misguided was done for the purpose of helping to rebuild people broken by violent trauma. The powers that be decided it would be better to fund scientific research that could create killers rather than fix them. Destruction had proven favorable to creation.
Science can only work towards the ends of those who utilize it. Shriver like all the top minds in his fields while they worked for the department of defense would be in the service of death and would only be allowed to make monsters.


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