Chapter 25 - Lock Down - Eyes Wide Shut: An Enigma

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Lock Down: Top Secret, Hide In Plain Sight

Chapter 25 Lockdown- Tuesday

In the darkness, Curtis stood still. Mary Sue stumbled away from the door and hit a warm body. Arms caught her, held her. She knew it was Curtis by his manly, sweaty smell.

Light glowed on the wall as Curtis pulled out his cell phone and used the light of the screen to push back the darkness. The phone was not much good for anything else. Curtis knew he could not call or receive calls on it—the facility was electronically sealed, like a vault. No calls could penetrate in or go out. There was no communication. Curtis and Mary Sue gathered around the cell phone like moths to a flame.

Mary Sue whispered, “What happened?” Curtis answered swiftly and forcefully, “Until I know better, Mary Sue, I’m assuming the worst. Without power, the doors will not open or close. The doors are magnetically operated. We cannot get out until the power is restored.”

A light bloomed. It was Daemon. “It’s not a power outage,” Daemon said coldly into the darkness. “It is the Tiger team. They are a specialized group tasked with testing the effectiveness of my organization's ability to protect its assets, by attempting to circumvent, defeat, or otherwise thwart the Facility’s internal and external security.”

All faces turned to Daemon. He had the light. “The doors have an emergency button concealed in the top right of each door. In case you are wondering how I got here…” Curtis said, “Thanks for telling me.”

“This facility has no windows and only one entrance. Just to be cautious, everyone should stay here while I check what is going on.”

Mary Sue felt the tension in Curtis’ body, which had gone rock hard. He still had not let her go. Daemon eyed her with a dour expression as he was leaving.

Curtis told Mary Sue in the pitch-black dark, that was eerily silent, “The purpose of a penetration team is to penetrate security of ‘friendly’ installations, and thus test their security measures. Sometimes, after a successful penetration, he would show up later for a "security review," and "find" the evidence that he had planted. This was a normal security test. It was very important to Daemon to pass this test. Careers were destroyed if they failed the penetration test.”

Daemon knew no one could penetrate his facility. However, he must be careful not to have his unauthorized security measures discovered. He has designed his facility to be swept electronically 60 times per second for the full range of the broadcast spectrum. In addition, he has jammers that broadcast the full spectrum. Even though the facility is the most secure facility in the world, you can never be complacent.

Daemon goes to his office and secures his door. He switches on his emergency power and turns on the lights to his office only. He has no windows. No one can see the light. Daemon checks his command center monitors. He sees no one at the entrance to the facility. He does a full Facility check. Power was shut off at the electrical main that is located just inside the entrance. He checks the entry log last 24 hours. It is normal. He checks all entrance and exits for the last week. All was normal. He checks the entry log for the last month. An approved electrician had replaced a bad circuit breaker 18 days ago.

Daemon has motion detector cameras throughout the Facility. He reviews all cameras at the entrance. He zooms in. It is George. He is the electrician. Does George have any “cause and effect,” or any connection to the penetration Team? Why would George work as an electrician? Who was he?

Daemon used his private; secrete unauthorized communication system to call George. George is at work at Mojave Air and Space Port. Daemon gets to the point, asking George, Had he ever visited an underground office at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) Experimental Aircraft Testing facility, also known as, The Facility?” George answered with a non-committal, “I do consultant work for various agencies. Some places are classified. Why do you ask? George laughing, asked, “Do you want to fly in a flying saucer? I have heard rumors they have them around here.”

Daemon did not want George to know anything about the Facility. George did not know the connection between Daemon and the Facility. Daemon comes out with a plausible story about he needed an electrician to do some work at George’s office. He had heard George was a good electrician. George is not biting the hook. He too has had extensive training in proper security measures and the need to know basis. George told Daemon he would ask around about an electrician being available. He said he has done electrical work, but electrical work is not his passion. He likes working as a research Vet. Daemon did not appreciate the humor.

He was getting nowhere with George. He would check out the entrance electrical panel. Upon inspection, Daemon determined the main electrical panel switch had been tripped to “Off.” Daemon muttered to himself, as he threw the main switch back to “On.” “Those damn Penetration Teams.” He went back to his office and did another thorough check of The Facility. No one had penetrated the Facility. When the main electrical switch had been thrown to off, the doors would not open. No unauthorized personnel had entered. The Facility was secure.

Daemon mused about Curtis and Mary Sue. He must get back to them. Daemon explained to Curtis “The Penetration Test” did undercover a weakness of The Facility. He needed to provide back-up power inside the Facility. He wanted Curtis to begin the process immediately. The Penetration Team did not know about Curtis or Mary Sue. Daemon’s Top Secret Facility had passed the Penetration Team’s test.

With the interruptions and drama, it had seemed as if Curtis had been at work for a week; it was only lunchtime. The Penetration Team had upset the normal routines. Nothing had been accomplished.

Curtis needed to check the quantum computer simulations that should be ready to review. Curtis needed an update to Daemon’s question, “What about genes in T. gondii that produce schizophrenic behaviors in humans? He wanted them identified and eliminated now.” Curtis instructed the computer if it could not derive a solution, let him know what avenues or process that would produce a solution. He wanted this ASAP. This was number one priority.”

The computer printed a summary: it has been known that neurotransmitters are involved in the parthenogenesis of schizophrenia. An excess of dopamine has been widely suspected. Dopamine was 14 percent higher in humans with chronic T. gondii infection. Toxoplasma gondii has the ability to make dopamine.

Toxoplasma appears to be involved in some, but far from all, cases of schizophrenia. Second, Toxoplasma alone does not appear sufficient to cause the disease. Most likely, a number of factors are required—genes, various environmental triggers—and the combination may not be the same in every person.

In cases where T. gondii does play a role, the researchers propose, the initial infection probably occurs early in life—in the womb or during early childhood. Then, later in life, a second “hit” may reactivate the parasite; this resurgence then may help bring about schizophrenia, perhaps especially in people with a genetic predisposition to the disease. Research that involved 23 studies in all showed that patients with schizophrenia were almost three times as likely as those without to test positive for T. gondii antibodies. The study appeared in the 2007 Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Curtis had read where forty-five percent of schizophrenics tested positive in one study for both T. gondii and LSD. Also there were growing support to the hypothesis that T. gondii may cause schizophrenia and may do so by producing or triggering the production of an hallucinogenic chemical LSD. Production of such a compound may have been favored by natural selection because an infected, hallucinating rodent would be more easily captured by a cat. Schizophrenia in humans may be a side effect of T. gondii's attempt to set cats up with a steady supply of happy (tripping) mice, the better to ensure its own reproductive success.

The drug Artemisinin appears most promising to eradicate, or at least reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. It is an extract of the weed Artemesia annua, or sweet wormwood, which grows wild in China. The drug might be a treatment for schizophrenia.

Curtis made a comment as much to himself as to the quantum computer, “Perhaps like ulcers. People thought stress alone caused peptic ulcers—until Australian physician Barry Marshall proposed that the condition arose from a bacterium, a claim he proved by swallowing a cup of the bacteria and then curing himself of the ensuing ulcer with an h. pylori antibiotic.”

Curtis clipped the summary to his clipboard. Daemon would be pleased. He was on a roll. Curtis instructed the quantum computer he needed an update on his research on the simulations of cloning human DNA with selected characteristic and attributes vs. DNA alterations using T. gondii to change human DNA.

Immediately, the quantum computer printed the summary: Human cloning was time-consuming process. It took time for the baby born with selected characteristics and attributes to become an adult.

The adult human could be altered with T. gondii and obtain results within months.

Curtis added this summary to the last one. He must follow-up on his own research how to eliminate T. gondii infections.

Curtis reviewed the results of a prior simulation of a possible oral chemotherapy that would eradicate T. gondii infection. The computer noted this treatment is highly effective against T. gondii and normally produces no side effects with the following chemicals:

  • 25 mg pyrimethamine
  • 1 g sulfadiazine
  • 5 mg folinic acid

It was time to test on his mice. He injected one and left other mouse as a control for his experiment.

Curtis was curious what happened to Daemon. He had not seen him after the excitement this morning from the Penetration Team exercise. It was time to go home.

It was time to play some pool with George and JR. Curtis called JR while drive home. JR agreed to bring George for happy hour and play pool.

Curtis had just started to relax in his favorite recliner when he heard George singing another George Strait song, “Big Ball’s In Cowtown,”

“…Big ball's in cowtown - we'll all go down.

Big ball's in cowtown - we'll dance around…”

George came in announcing, “It was time to play the game of eight ball, rack ‘em up.” Curtis volunteered JR to play with George. He would get the beer. It was a good time of beer, steaks, and fun. It was good to relax. George was OK.

When JR and George were going out the front door to go home, George, startled, looked up asked, “What was that?” What appeared as a large black disk was hovering noiselessly with no lights above Curtis’ house. Curtis looked at JR. Their medallion had not alerted them they were being watched. It was unsettling.

JR and George got into their cars and left. About five minutes later, Curtis heard a knock at his door. It was JR. His pale face was drained of color. He looked frightened. He said he saw a police van stop George. He was handcuffed, put into the van and they took off with no lights flashing as if nothing had happened.

JR wanted to know if he should contact the police, but he wanted to consult with him first. Curtis agreed to contact the police. They call the Kern County Sheriff's Office. A pre-recorded message said, “If this is an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, please leave a message. The office is staffed from 9am to 5pm every day.” It was time to call their friend, Sheriff Sloan.

Sheriff responded to the information that Curtis gave him with, “Let me make a phone call.” As Sheriff Sloan waited on the phone to be connected to his friend at the Kern county Sheriff’s Office in Bakersfield, he said, I do not want my conversation to be broadcast over the airwaves. Many strange people listen to our radios.

Sheriff Sloan asked Lt. Galleon if he would check the Golden Hills area logs for any activity for a George Thompson being stopped and picked up at 9:35 PM tonight. Lt. Galleon responded after a pause, “Why do you ask?” Curtis reminded him, “This was off the record. George has just left his house with his friend driving behind him and there were no laws being broken when he was stopped, handcuffed, and taken away in a plain black van with no police lights flashing.”

Lt. Galleon said, “Just a minute.” The phone went quiet. Five minutes later, Curtis hung-up and called back and asked for Lt. Galleon. He was informed, “Lt. Galleon is not here.

JR told Curtis, “Somebody has lots of political pull to have this happen. You think Daemon had anything to do with this?” Curtis told JR he had an old girlfriend that is the county police dispatcher. He would call her. He wanted to know what was happening.

Diane answered the Kern County Sheriff’s Dispatch phone. She was busy and did not recognize Curtis. Curtis tried to refresh her memory, but a coherent conversation was not possible due to the constant interruptions. She thought he was flirting with her and was irritated that she did not have time to sort through this non-emergency call. Curtis terminated the call.

It was time for a huddle. JR and Curtis consider the alternatives: Call Daemon, call some else at the Sheriff’s office, or JR could check Daemon’s computer network for a clue to George’s incident. They would check Daemon’s network.

They drove to JR’s house. On the way, they were followed. An interesting point, Curtis noticed not only were they being followed, but also someone was in the front of them, anticipating their moves before they did.

Curtis had learned this tactic in the service. The best tail tactic was to follow someone by being in front of them anticipating their moves. It was humorous to see the person being followed looking back over their shoulder when they were being followed from the front of them. Now Curtis and JR were the hare. Someone else was the hound. The black van was a block in front of them and another small car was a block behind them.

As Curtis passed an alley, he quickly turned right, and then snapped a quick left turn into a driveway turning off his lights. The small car behind him went passed him. As soon as the car turned, Curtis backed out and went back the direction he just came from. For now, he had eluded the followers.

Curtis recognized the same McDonald's where he was kidnaped from coming up on his right. Stopping at McDonald's, JR and Curtis quickly went inside.

Stunned, Curtis and JR looked at each other. At the same time, each asked the other, “What in the hell is going on?” If this were Daemon, he would be using Spybots and other ways to watch them. Besides, their medallions did not alert them Daemon was watching. It must be another agency checking them. If so, most agencies did not kidnap their subjects. Daemon resorted to the kidnap tactic because he knew Curtis and he was not a governmental agency.

What would anyone want with George? He was a happy-go-lucky free spirit. He was a “What-you-see-is-what-you-get-model.” Curtis and JR did not know what to do. They got a paper, ordered food and waited, and waited for two hours. They tried George’s cell phone. No answer. Curtis and JR knew it was possible to back trace phone calls. It was a calculated gamble. They did not leave a message.

Curtis asked JR if he wanted to stay in his “safe room” tonight. JR did not have to have his arm-twisted. Entering Curtis’ house, they went straight into Curtis’ safe room. It was time to call it a night. Curtis would call Sheriff Sloan in the morning.

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