The next morning was a haze of sleep deprivation and burning questions. Jonathan had been unable to rest the night before, instead laying awake while his mind buzzed with worry and confusion. Where was Patient A? Were they even still alive? And why did he care about them so much? He felt like there was some sort of past he should know about, but the memories were frustratingly blocked off by some kind of invisible barrier. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t break through.
Are you alright, Patient J? The Lady’s voice suddenly crackled through the speaker.
“I want to know what the classified information was,” Jonathan demanded, standing up. “You mentioned an explosion that incinerated Patient A’s journal. What was so special about it that prevents you from telling me?”
The whole point of it being classified is so I can’t tell you, The Lady replied irritatedly. It has been deemed too distressing for your knowledge.
“Well that just makes me want to know it more!” Jonathan exclaimed, pacing around the room. “You’ve gotta tell me what happened. M-maybe it’ll help me remember!”
Eat your breakfast, Patient J, The Lady ordered sternly as the door to the chute opened wide, revealing the same bread and potato soup from the night before.
“I’m sick of this stuff,” Jonathan groaned, picking up the bowl. “Don’t you have anything different? I’ve eaten the same meal every day for nearly seven months now!”
I’m sorry, but those are the only things we have to eat down here, The Lady answered. I had potato soup for breakfast, too. It’s all we’ve eaten since the Blast.
Jonathan sighed, gulping the soup down begrudgingly before starting on the bread.
“It’d be nice if you actually told me things,” he muttered as he stuffed the last bit of crust into his mouth. “It wasn’t until yesterday that I even knew where we were!”
I gave you the information, didn’t I? All you had to do was ask.
Jonathan sighed. “Still feels like there should’ve been some sort of debriefing or whatever. I’ve been stuck down here with no knowledge of who or where I am for so long…”
He rubbed his forehead, trying to push away the throbbing headache that was slowly growing in his temples. It felt like something had broken inside of him–some sort of wall that had been keeping him from asking questions. Keeping him content. But now…
He shook his head, brushing his hair out of his eyes. He felt…different. It was a strange feeling, like his skull had gotten larger overnight and given more space for his brain to expand.
* * *
Up in the observation room, Dr. Bailey nervously checked the monitors.
“His stress hormones have gone up significantly since yesterday,” she muttered to herself, eyeing the screens with concern. “Why aren’t the inhibitors working?”
“Is there a malfunction?” Dr. Dennison asked, peering over the other scientist’s shoulder. Dr. Bailey tapped the computer, as if she could dislodge the problem with just the tip of her finger.
“I don’t know,” she replied, anxious wrinkles appearing in her forehead. “He’s suddenly become all cranky and discontent–asking me questions, demanding information that I can’t give him. He was just fine yesterday–what happened?”
“It could just be a normal mood swing,” Dr. Dennison suggested, leaning back in their chair. “Teenagers are known for sudden changes in their emotional state.”
“But the inhibitors should be preventing that from happening…” Dr. Bailey pursed her lips, thinking.
“Let’s just distract him for the time being,” Dr. Dennison suggested. “Send Patient C in–she’ll keep him occupied until we can figure this out.”
“Good idea…” Dr. Bailey leaned toward the microphone at the corner of her desk. Before she turned it back on, though, she looked back at her counterpart. “Would you take a look at the hormone settings for me? Maybe there was a glitch in the system or something.”
“Sure thing,” Dr. Dennison rolled their chair over to one of the larger computers, a huge monitor that took up most of one of the desks that were scattered around the small room. They booted it up with the push of a button, navigating to the section labeled Hormone Regulations. Clicking on Patient J’s profile, they pulled up his regulators.
Dr. Dennison cast a quick glance over their shoulder at Dr. Bailey–she was busy sending a message to Patient C’s observatory deck. Turning back to the screen, Dr. Dennison pressed two fingers to the sliders displayed. Then, they turned Patient J’s Serotonin and Endorphin levels all the way up.