Human Nature #1
Ft. McNair, VA 1975
Dr. Madeline Jace looked up from her microscope and furiously scribbled her thoughts onto a nearby notepad. It couldn’t be true! Her discovery was mind blowing! Well, if what she thought was going to happen, did, it would prove to be the first step in her project toward making a human clone!
She brushed her blonde, wavy hair back past her shoulders, as it teased her cheek. Madeline was young, in her mid-twenties, and considered a genius for her age. She graduated with a P.h.D. in Biology at twenty from one of the best Ivy League schools in the nation. It was at her graduation she was approached by General Adolphus Minter.
The general worked for the government out of the pentagon running a top secret scientific research division called FSD. FSD stood for Futuristic Science Division and they actively conducted research literally out of an H.G. Wells novel. They explored space, the improbably of time travel, and the human body. Dr. Jace had been employed to work on their cloning project. It was FSD’s goal to clone a human by the end of the century and Dr. Jace was the lead scientist on the top secret project.
Madeline’s partner, Samantha Runyeon, a small petite brunette, walked into the lab and discovered Madeline quickly writing notes. Gently, Samantha looked over Jace’s shoulder. She was writing so fast, she was using shorthand.
“What did you do, Maddie?” asked Samantha, backing off a tad, studying her excited partner.
“It worked, Sam!” cried Madeline, looking up, her eyes sparkling with delight.
Madeline finished her notes. Her blue eyes glistened in the soft lab light.
“I took two cells, mutating one with that protein-enzyme mix we got from the metabolism department, leaving the other as a control. The cell with the mix is exhibiting amazing qualities. It’s more resilient, enduring, stronger, and while it is aging, it’s slowed down remarkably, prolonging it’s life,” explained Madeline.
“It’s got stamina?” summed up Samantha.
“Yes! Almost super-human stamina! I need to continue studying it to compare how long it lives now. I predict it will live four times longer than my control. Imagine how these cells could stabilize the life of a clone!” added Madeline, excitedly standing up.
“Out of curiosity, Maddie, what cells did you use?” asked Samantha, putting her tray’s containers into the lab’s cooler.
“I used human skin cells,” said Madeline hesitantly.
Samantha sharply turned to face her partner. “You know that’s against current protocols!”
“I know, I know, but…I want to save myself a year’s worth of work!” she protested.
Samantha sighed, as she ran a hand through her long hair. Madeline could be a maverick when she wanted to be!
“And where did you get the skin cells from?”
“Well, Minter will probably chew you a new ass and then give you an achievement award,” said Samantha practically. She liked Madeline very much and it was hard to stay angry at her knowing what she’d just accomplished.
“I can handle General Minter,” said Madeline, blowing off Samantha’s concerns. What mattered now was the experiment. She wouldn’t let Minter interfere until it was concluded and she had her results.
“So,” said Samantha, “Are you hungry? Let’s go get a bite.”
Madeline nodded her head in agreement and put her trays in a mini-cooler set to a specific temperature to keep her cells active. Then she followed Samantha as they walked down the colorless walls to the cafeteria.
The biology lab was part of a four story building on the second floor. The FSD building itself was a nondescript brick building set against the background of a U.S. Army fort. Most of the soldiers on the base thought the building was for high ranking officers and civilians. The cafeteria where most of the scientists had their lunch, due to it’s convenience and their desire to work, was on the first floor.
Madeline was tall for a woman. She was slender and followed a strict diet and workout program to keep herself physically and mentally fit. After all, being a biology major, she understood the human body very well and she prided herself in having a very healthy physique. Madeline had long blonde hair, which fell to her mid-back. Her eyes were a natural light blue, her skin was creamy white and flawless.
Madeline was well aware of her striking looks. Some people found it hard to believe she was so smart with her drop dead gorgeous looks, but she had no time for relationships. She was consumed with her work, barely noticing anyone outside her immediate work circle.
She got in line in front of Samantha and absentmindedly missed a step, bumping into the person ahead of her. He briskly turned around and their eyes caught each other. Madeline gasped. His eyes were a soft blue-hazel and she felt the pull of his magnetic stare. Suddenly she felt like she was two year old, barely capable of speech!
He was tall, with a bronzed complexion, and sandy blonde, thick hair. He wore a polo shirt with dress slacks under a lab coat, but the way he wore his clothes, tight against his skin, hinted of a muscular, toned physique underneath. Madeline couldn’t help but notice the handsome strange man.
“Ah, I’m sorry…” she said, embarrassed as she felt her cheeks turn red, betraying her interest and attraction.
He smiled, his lips full and round, and his voice was smooth and reassuring.
“It’s all right. Accidents happen,” he purred.
“Um…” Madeline wanted to say more, but found herself at a lack for words, as she realized she found him very attractive.
“I’m Doctor Henri Rousseau,” he said, pleasantly with a mild French-Canadian accent. He held out his hand for her to shake. His winsome smile gave him away. He was equally attracted to the striking blonde. Her dazzling shy smile had piqued his interest.
His forgiving demeanor stunned Madeline. Not only was he good looking, reducing the usual verbal scientist to a mental midget, he seemed sweet and kind.
Samantha put her hands on her friend’s shoulders, prompting Madeline. If she knew her friend, she knew Madeline hadn’t quite been in this position before – flustered by physical attraction.
“I’m Doctor Madeline Jace,” said Madeline, recovering enough to function, wanting to make a good impression on him. She took his hand and firmly shook it. The look on his face betrayed his delight.
She was beautiful! He was new to FSD and this was the first time he’d seen the attractive scientist.
“I’m Dr. Samantha Runyeon,” added Samantha, as an after thought. Henri politely shook her hand.
“Nice to meet you both. Madeline, won’t you join me for lunch?”
“Sure, Maddie, do it,” said Samantha, “I want to pick up a sandwich to go and check on that…thing…back in the lab.”
“Oh. Okay, Sam,” said Madeline, frantically turning to face her partner, her eyes wide with disbelief that Samantha would leave her alone with the handsome Dr. Rousseau.
They exchanged various looks and Samantha skipped the line, grabbing a sandwich and a bag of chips. As she left, she barely noticed General Minter eating his lunch with another military general in the corner of the cafeteria. Minter was a tall man, bulky, with salt and pepper hair, in his early fifties. His hard expression seemed frozen on his face.
Finally, Minter looked up and his eyes drifted toward the direction that Samantha had come from. A puzzled look crossed his face, then anger, and then evenness. He raised his hairy eyebrows in curiosity.
“David, who is that man with Dr. Jace?” asked Minter.
General David Collins was the military liaison that briefed the National Security Council on FSD’s progress.
“Dr. Henri Rousseau. He’s from Canada. He’s helping Dr. Teague in the biological division. He’s an expert in the human body and understanding it’s metabolism,” explained the other General. “He’s new here. He’s young, but he’s a maverick in his field.”
“He’s attracted to Dr. Jace, and she’s attracted to him. They make a gorgeous couple,” firmly remarked Minter. “What children they would have!”
Collins wrinkled both his brows in confusion. “What are you thinking? Why do you care if they are attracted to each other? Are you…jealous?”
Minter glared at his peer. He made it his duty to know about each and every scientist at FSD. He wanted to know their strengths and weaknesses. He needed to know how to exploit them to get them to do their best work. Dr. Jace was one of his hardest working scientists. He respected her and loathed her at the same time.
“Dr. Madeline Jace has a mind, and a body, that no woman has ever had. This program can not afford to lose her. I won’t lose her! I want her here at FSD instead of seeing up a house with a white picket fence.”
David Collins understood his companion. They made Brigadier General together. Adolphus was a control freak, but his demanding style of leadership got his projects in on time and on budget. However, he wondered if Minter’s preoccupation with the young, attractive Dr. Jace was healthy.
“You’re confusing me, Adolphus. First you want her to have children, then you don’t?”
Minter took a rough bite of his sandwich and stared at Doctors Rousseau and Jace across the way, studying their every movement, watching them flirt with one another.
“Oh, I do want her to have children, but here at FSD, under my terms and conditions, raised under my watchful eye so they’ll be loyal to the program, able to carry on their mother’s work,” explained Minter viciously.
Collins did his best to suppress a frown. His colleague was divorced with no children. Minter couldn’t possibly be thinking of asking Jace out, but he was acting like a jealous ex-lover instead of a military boss.
“You make having children sound so…mechanical,” commented David.
“Jace will never leave here,” said Minter, “I’ll see to that.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing, Adolphus. It’s one thing to manipulate science, but when you manipulate people’s feelings, you are dealing with fire,” counseled David.
“I know what I’m doing,” said Minter firmly. He would not let Dr. Henri Rousseau interfere with his plans for Dr. Jace. He continued to look at the potential couple, forming a plan in his mind to keep Jace close to him and FSD.
Henri Rousseau found Madeline Jace’s shyness appealing. Who would have thought such an attractive woman would be so quiet and unassuming? He couldn’t help but drink her in and hang on her every word as they talked. She rambled on about work, feeling comfortable in that, but he wanted to direct the conversation away from work. He wanted to escape the dreary walls of FSD for just a while with a beautiful woman.
“So, Dr. Rousseau…”
“Henri, please,” he softly replied, sipping his drink.
“Sorry. Henri, how long have you been here at FSD?”
“Two weeks so far,” he replied. “I am working with Dr. Teague. I’m staying on the base in the civilian apartments.” He spoke every sentence with a warm smile, as he looked into her stunning blue eyes.
“I stay there too,” she admitted.
“So, Madeline, what’s your favorite color?” he asked.
“Blue,” she quickly replied.
He grinned. “Somehow I knew that. Mine is purple.”
“Henri, you’re sidetracking me. Doesn’t Dr. Teague work in metabolism and enzyme research?” she asked, not quite comfortable with such personal questions.
“Madeline, let’s stop talking shop,” said Henri finally, “It’s enough for me to know you work here. I do enjoy my work, as I’m sure you enjoy yours, but right now, work is the furthest thing from my mind.”
“Henri, it’s all I know,” she softly confessed, looking at the table, as if embarrassed. She had no clue how to make small talk.
Gently, his placed his hand on her chin and turned her exquisite face up to look into his eyes. They spoke of her confusion between desire and insecurity.
“Madeline, I’m not trying to spook you. Maybe you would feel more comfortable if we went out on a dinner date? Do you like Italian?”
Madeline took in a deep, nervous breath. She tried to look away but she couldn’t.
What is this man doing to me?
“I…I don’t have a dress,” she stammered.
“Wear some blue jeans.”
“I…sure,” she said, suddenly realizing she didn’t want to pass this opportunity up. Sure, she was flattered by his attention, but no man captured her notice like he just did. He was handsome, kind, his voice was smooth and rich, and his hand felt strong as he held her chin. She wasn’t quite sure what she was feeling, but she definitely wanted to explore it.
“Good,” he happily replied. “I’ll pick you up at six tonight?”
“That’s fine. I usually leave the lab at 4:30 anyway,” she awkwardly added. Flirtatiously, she pursed her lips, unaware of the gesture.
“I’ll need your address?”
“Oh. Yes,” said Madeline. She reached into her lab pocket for a pen and paper, writing it down for him.
Henri had to admit he was very taken with her and was looking forward to their date. No woman had so immediately captured his full, undivided attention like she had.
Back in the lab, Samantha was grinning from ear to ear. She couldn’t believe how her partner seemed to melt under the attractive gaze of Dr. Rousseau. Heck, half the woman on staff had been gushing over the hunky doctor since he came here. She’d heard the gossip about him. Normally, Madeline didn’t have time for the opposite sex. She usually came off as cold and icy toward them. Samantha couldn’t believe how Madeline could barely utter a word around the handsome doctor! Good for her! Maddie needed a little romance in her life!
Bored, Samantha took a peek at Madeline’s notes. Something quickly caught her eye and Samantha furiously devoured everything Madeline had written. She couldn’t believe it! Madeline hit gold! She figured out how to increase the stamina, strength, and life expectancy of the human cell. Of course, they’d have to wait a day or tow longer to confirm the initial results, but if everything followed through to it’s natural conclusion, this was the first step in human cloning!
Samantha put her hands on her hips and proudly looked up, surveying her lab. “Good for you, Maddie. Good for you.”
© Copyright by S.G. Cardin, 2004.