"Thanks again for coming, Mr. Williamson." Standing, Dr. Geist extended his hand across his cluttered desk, which his guest gripped and gave a small shake. The doctor gestured to a chair. "Please, take a seat." The offer was taken and he followed suit.
The man was dressed casually in simple blue jeans and a plain green, long-sleeved shirt, the sleeves pulled up to his elbows. His short brown hair was messy in a way where it was difficult to know if intentional for style or merely a product of laziness and indifference. He didn't look as comfortable as his outwardly appearance made him seem.
He noticed his potential patient glancing around the small, windowless room. Bookshelves lining the walls, filled with medical books and research material, made for a very narrow space. Even the doctor had to squeeze around his desk which almost took up the entire width of his office. What little, bare wall had remained was taken up by framed credentials. On the back of the door was a poster displaying the layers of the human brain.
"I apologize for the meager room to stretch, you aren't claustrophobic are you?" Dr. Geist asked.
"No, not in particular, I wouldn't say that." The man's voice was soft and timid. "I just have some particularities."
Particularities. He supposed that was one way to put it. "It's understandable to be nervous, this will be a fairly extensive trial."
Mr. Williamson gave a slight nod of agreement. "I suppose that's one way to put it. This sounds like a pretty large project." The guest pivoted in his seat, looking back at the door and pointing at it with his thumb, before continuing. "And I couldn't help but notice the lack of descriptors."
"Right, no sign on the door, no plaque on my desk..."
"No signs anywhere, Doc." Mr. Williamson turned back around to face the doctor. "I was lucky I even found the building. And yet," he raised his hands and shrugged slightly, continuing, "here it is. It's like a hidden fortress in the middle of the city. You have this place locked up tighter than Fort Knox. What do you have in here? Aliens?"
Dr. Geist let out a soft laugh, mimicking his guest's hand and shoulder movements, "Aliens." The joke got Mr. Williamson laughing, and he hoped a little more relaxed. It wasn't the best policy to scare off potential trial prospects, even if he wasn't sure about them. There were precautions set up to weed out less than desirable subjects. "I assure you, there aren't any aliens here." An intentional pause. "At this facility anyway..." He offered a wide smile.
More laughter and a pointed finger at the doctor. "I'm in, where do I sign up?"
"Funny you should ask." Dr. Geist sifted through a pile of manila folders on his desk until coming to one marked 'Sam Williamson', sliding it out and plopping it down on the others. The doctor rested his hand on the folder. "These are the papers you need to sign. Waivers, consent forms, the usual. But before we go through these, I'm sure you have some questions."
"Just give me the rundown and I'll let you know when I have anything specific."
"Very well." That works. "For starters, you'll potentially be participating in a clinical trial for a new drug, Trinity."
Well, that was quick. Doctor Geist nodded and replied, "Yes, I only say that because even after signing, there's a psych evaluation, and in agreeing with those documents we reserve the right to remove any participant we feel may not benefit from the procedure, just as it grants the right of those participating to back out during any point of the trial period without any legal action or repercussions."
"We've already done a preliminary background check..."
"How extensive?" Sam sat up straighter in his chair, locking eyes with the doctor.
"Oh, nothing too intense," he lied. More than enough to dig up any dirt someone may have on their record, buddy. Or their immediate family. "We just like to take a quick look at a participant's criminal history, make sure there aren't any felonies. Also, medical history is a major determining factor in clinical trials, for obvious reasons." He leaned back in his chair, resting his elbows on his chair's armrests and bridging his hands over his chest, loosely interlocking his fingers. "It's all about safety, as you can imagine. But no worries, you checked out. No priors in either field." His patient seemed to loosen up, dropping his gaze.
It was difficult not to ask questions when knowing specific family history that may be pertinent to the trial. He was certain Sam wouldn't bring it up himself. The subject matter likely brought a hefty dose of shame and embarrassment.
"So, Trinity," Sam's voice pulled Dr. Geist out of his head, "is that some kind of religious thing?"
"In reference, I suppose. A name alluding to the joining of the mind, body, and soul. Trinity itself is an enhancement drug, a smart drug, if you will." He could tell his client wasn't quite following along so he attempted to explain further. "Imagine being able to completely clear your mind, empty all the clutter and fogginess. Having an unmatched clarity and ultimate control over your cognitive abilities. Accessing more, if not all, of your brain. Increased memory capacity and faster, unimpeded memory recall. All of this simultaneously with your body being able to reach a much purer state of function."
"Increased memory? Like Ginseng or that Ginkgo stuff?"
"I guess on a very basic level." Are you kidding? "But now increase the effects of those options by a thousandfold and you may be getting closer to the range of benefits Trinity will provide its users." An exaggeration, but he felt confident Sam wouldn't know the difference. "There are already Nootropics on the market, of course, but with Trinity we are aiming to not only genuinely increase an individual's mental capacity, something the competitors haven't actually achieved, but physiologically as well. A complete package kind of deal."
"And you really think that's possible? Make someone smarter? Stronger?" Sam was tapping a finger on the end of his chair's armrest. He folded up one leg across his other knee.
"Technically, there are already drugs on the market that do just that. Trinity just brings it to the next level. You'd be at the ground level of a potential medical evolution. Our vision for Trinity doesn't stop at just helping individuals reach their max potential, but that in doing so, help the entire Human race evolve for the betterment of the entire world. There's a much bigger picture here."
"That sounds like quite an ambitious objective. Why all the cloak and dagger?"
"Exactly because of what I've stated. Trinity is a government sanctioned, military funded project. That latter part being a large factor in all the theatrics. The pharmaceutical world is, unfortunately, full of espionage and politics, especially when there are very real military applications being sought after. To protect the interests of everyone involved, and maintaining the project's integrity, there have been extensive preemptive measures implemented." Dr. Geist leaned forward, grabbing Sam's attention, in attempts to stress what he said next. "As I mentioned earlier, safety is our number one concern."
Sam fidgeted some more, seemingly lost in thought, processing everything he was being told. Dr. Geist wanted to continually stress the importance of safety in regards to the clinical trial. During his exhausting research of this particular candidate, he had come across some disturbing information. While Mr. Williamson appeared to be in good health, at least physically, and had no criminal record whatsoever, his sister's case was the exact opposite.
According to records, she was currently located at Redwood Groves Psychiatric Institute. Erin Williamson, or Erin Shelling at the time of the proceedings, was committed there after a plea of "not guilty by reason of insanity" during her trial where she stood accused of brutally murdering her husband. Police reports gave chilling details of the murder and Mrs. Shelling's mental state when arriving at the scene and in the days following. The most tragic fallout from the event was their daughter, essentially Sam Williamson's niece, being placed into the foster care system after failure to reach any living or willing relative to care for her. He didn't know Sam's role in the case's aftermath, but he certainly wasn't deceased.
It wasn't fair to judge Mr. Williamson on actions carried out by his sister, but it did bring a real concern to the forefront. Whether or not the likelihood of similar mental illness was present in Sam. That's what a psych eval is for. He had refused going further into the background check, not that there wasn't information about their parents — he was sure it was out there — but because it would potentially cause him to create bias and, in turn, conflict with his duties. He liked to believe there were still those in the field with uncompromised ethics.
The doctor decided to wrap things up, given Sam wasn't responding. "As it is, we have a protocol in place, designed by my partner who acts as a co-principal director, which will be thoroughly explained. What's expected, how the trial will be carried out, the risks involved. The compensation." He assumed this was one of the sole driving factors bringing Sam into the trial to begin with. "We have a highly trained medical and psychiatric staff, along with some of the most cutting-edge technology in the industry."
Mr. Williamson leaned forward and grabbed the manila folder marked with his name, opening it and examining the contents. "And security."
The statement caught Dr. Geist by surprise, for some reason. "And security, yes. When it comes to enhancement drugs on the level of Trinity, the very nature of what it can do, you can never be too careful. Sometimes you get a bad apple, but we try to avoid it from spoiling the whole bunch." He watched as his guest began signing the documents. "Not that it's commonplace to shift blame solely on the patient, mind you. This is the world of mass produced pharmaceuticals after all, sometimes you get a bad batch!"
His attempts at being funny and lighthearted at this point was wasted as Sam gave a nervous, forced chuckle, continuing to read through the papers. "Whatever you say, Doc."
After the participant completed filling out the paperwork, very few words were exchanged. Sam remained sheepish and withdrawn, but genuinely interested in the Trinity trial. Dr. Geist remained hesitant, but trusted that if there were any major red flags, the participant would be removed from the program. By the books.
The doctor offered his hand again, which was promptly gripped lightly and shaken, before being left alone in his office. The clinical trial just days away.
Thanks for reading! What did you think of the piece? Constructive criticism welcomed!