some fall in love. i shatter.

LPN9 (#25)

In Stories Volume 2 on October 15, 2012 at 9:58 am

“It’s version nine.”

“You guys are already at nine? When did this project start?”

“About eighteen months ago in earnest.”

“So you’ve burned through a version every two months? That’s an astonishing rate.”

“We got lucky with the first run through. That took us probably six months to get in order. After that, forget two months. We were blowing through versions every two weeks or so. Version nine has undergone testing for close to seven months now. The beauty is that it’s something everybody wants so there’s no shortage of willing test subjects.”

“Even without knowing the side effects?”

“With knowing some side effects of previous versions, which is arguably worse then going in blind.”

“People are desperate.”

“Certain people.”

“May I ask about the side effects? We’ve all been hearing rumors across the spectrum about Laboratory Sixteen.”

“I don’t understand why there are rumors. There’re no secrets – we’re reporting everything and filing on a regular basis. Maybe I don’t grasp the extent of the rumors but the side effects have been expected or logical, if not… unfortunate. We’ve encountered depression, ranging from very mild to crippling; obsession; suicide; rape; murder; bankruptcy. That one surprised all of us – nobody anticipated bankruptcy.”

“How did bankruptcy come into play?”

“Gift buying, starting small and building increasingly larger. What was interesting with gift buying was that it happened both when things went well and when they didn’t. Gifts were either tools in the chase or a means of celebrating the person but no matter how it manifested, it amounted to a sort of bribery. Clothes, cars, houses, jewelry, elaborate vacations; you name it, it was on someone’s shopping list.”

“Those side effects make perfectly logical sense and yet it’s still surprising to see them pan out like this.”

“For us, the surprise came mostly from the rapidity and severity. At no point did we fathom the strength of what we were concocting.”

“There was no way for you to know. This is cutting edge. Nobody’s done anything like this before”

“Still, to see the extreme end result of what’s supposed to be such a wonderful thing hasn’t done a whole lot for morale at the lab.”

“But version nine is it, right? That’s what we’ve been hearing.”

“I certainly hope so and I think it’s going to pan out that way.”

“Seven months is a good stretch of time to be testing just one version.”

“It is. We’re on the right track, we’re just doing some longer-term monitoring of individuals in order to chart the regularity of their moods and mood swings.”

“God, that must be so difficult to monitor considering the troubles you’ve had in the past. I mean, a certain amount of mood swings is to be expected, right? Hiccups, if you will, are bound to happen, no?”

“Yes, hiccups happen, they happen a lot, and they’re the bane of our existence at the moment. Just when we have a majority of subjects stabilizing, we get this cavalcade of activity that throws everyone into chaos. Thankfully, though, even though we keep getting this activity, it’s no longer leading anywhere drastic. It’s temporary, it’s fleeting, and most subjects return to their previous state. Others stay a little off but that generally means they’re trending upwards or downwards at a slow and steady pace and they’re working toward a new version of stasis. This is normal, this is safe, this is fine, this is something we’ve been expecting. We just don’t know for a few days or weeks what the outcome’s going to be.”

“So what brings you out of the lab today? Must be heading somewhere important.”

“Marketing department.”

“A clear sign that somebody likes the results you’re submitting.”

“I’m ready for this whole thing to be over. Market it, package it, sell it, and let me move on to something quieter.”

“Any idea what they’re going to call it?”

“They forwarded me some pitches last week and they were all pretty terrible but I never like what they do. It always seems so crass after we spend so much time fine-tuning. One, though, had a nice subdued name that I liked.”

“What was that?”

“Same working name that we’ve had for this latest version: Love Potion No. 9.”






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