A little conspiracy fuel for the masses.
For John Houlcomb, today was a particularly usual day. He paid his toll and passed through the turnstile, checking his watch as he went. He was on schedule as he expected. The subway metro was crowded with passengers waiting to catch their train, so he politely pushed his way through the crowds to his platform. The train was late.
Wary passengers peered down the tunnels, searching for the familiar headlights. None came. Murmurs spread through the crowd that it was because there were probably Germans in the metro, trying to infiltrate the city. Most argued against this out of the fear that it was actually true.
Houlcomb, however, knew the true cause. He moved to the edge of the crowd, placing his suit case against the tile work. His mission required that he leave it within radio distance from the entrance of the metro, and he guessed that he was close enough, so he began to move away as if he simply forgot it. He glanced over his shoulder at the crowd.
The crowd was largely oblivious of him. They had no clue of his clandestine motives, nor that they were being monitored. Houlcomb didn't feel pity for them; they were subject to the testing of their own government and he could do nothing for them.
He signaled the toll booth worker as he went by, a movement that could easily be interpreted as a wave to a colleague, and skipped up the stairs to duck into a waiting cab.
One single person noticed. He'd come in behind Holcomb and noticed how sterile he'd looked. His suit was government issue, the man noticed, and his suitcase looked to be heavy in his hand. The man had seen him leave it against the far wall, and he grew suspicious of the object.
Pressing his way through the crowd, the man approached the suitcase slowly, suspecting it to be something like a bomb. For all he knew, Houlcomb had been a terrorist. The thought plagued him as he reached the suitcase.
It looked ordinary enough. Rather large, leather, with an unmarked luggage tag on it. He pondered opening it for a moment. If it was a bomb, it could be set off by his opening it. If it was the man's luggage, then he needed to find a way to return it to him. But why had he simply left it against the wall, so near the crowd? Had he left it for someone?
He flipped the latches as gently as he could, catching the bottom with his thumbs to let it down slowly. A tie flipped out onto his wrist, startling him. It's his luggage, the man thought, carelessly flipping open the lid. There were shirts and trousers tucked inside neatly. Nothing sinister.
The man picked up a shirt collar to see if maybe there was a name sewn in one, but there was simply nothing. But it didn't explain why the man who left it seemed to be struggling with it being heavy. So he lifted a few of the shirts out, trying to seem inconspicuous about it, feeling around on the bottom of the suitcase. Nothing.
But there, in the corner, there was a large metal object. He tugged at it, pulling it free, realizing that it must've been what was so heavy. It was blinking, three blinks, then two slow blinks. Confused and tense, the man considered calling out to the metro security, but he didn't want the crowd to panic. He turned the box over in his hands again and again. There was no way to identify it, much less tell what it was for.
Then he saw it. The small red light on its side began to pulse faster. Three short blinks each time. Panicked, the man dropped the device, backing away. "Security!!!" he shouted, but his voice didn't carry far over the incessant murmur of the crowd. "Security!! Police!"
He had the attention of a few people in the crowd, but not enough. So he decided to make them panic. "BOMB!!!" he screamed, and the crowd silenced.
The silence seemed to last for minutes before it shattered into screams and widespread panic. He turned to bolt for the exit, but as he bounded over the turnstile, two men in blue were shutting the gates. He slammed against the iron bars, reaching through to grab one man by the collar. "You have to let us out! Open the gate!" he demanded, shaking the man against the gate.
The two men didn't say a word, only slipped a large chain around the gate latch and clicking down a padlock. They turned and began to walk away briskly.
They knew that they were walking away from a particularly tragic situation. What Houlcomb had left wasn't a bomb. It was a radio transmitter, left to turn on the gas vents.
The citizens of New York City were being gassed in their own subway, and they didn't know it. The men in blue weren't sure if the gas was fatal, but similar tests in Manhattan had shown to be deadly to the elderly and children. Most adults were left sick and asthmatic for the rest of their lives.
Ignoring the sounds of coughing and retching from the subway, they slipped into a back alley, disappearing into a busy market.
Houlcomb had no problem with having a stout drink after a long day's work. He tipped his chair back, feet on his desk, a large bottle of scotch in his right hand and a glass in his left. His conscience was clear--after all, had he really done anything wrong?
No, he told himself quickly, before he could give himself delusions.
Downing a full glass of scotch, he reached under his desk to pull out files on his next mission. This was a rather large folder, he noted, as he began to flip open the cover. Which most likely meant he was to be paid more for this one. His liquor-impaired vision didn't catch the small picture that fluttered to the floor beside him.
The details were simple in this mission. Be escorted to Camp Hero in Montague, New York, and monitor the subject testing there. He was to report any misconduct and was also asked to serve night watch in the subject dormitories.
He thought for a moment about the night watch. Of course he'd heard stories about the few crazies that escaped or that had attacked someone, but he didn't find them threatening. It was the term "misconduct" that boggled him.
Was human testing normal? How would one go about determining misconduct in a situation where nearly every presented experiment was a form of torture? He pondered this for a moment, sipping at his scotch. Surely the statement was a formality. Something to sway prying eyes.
Comforted by that thought, he thumbed through the rest of the file carelessly, only skimming over departure times and area info. One more glass of scotch, and he was ready to go.