Despite the 50 foot sport fishing boat's considerable size and powerful twin engines, it bobbed and lolled disconcertingly in the waves on the way out to sea from the Caribbean island marina. Linda had been a little nervous about the rough ride, and the notion that she would be snorkeling in such high riding waves. However, eventually they got out into more placid waters marked by no more than slight widely-distributed swells. For the longest time, Linda just enjoyed the sight of the sunlight shimmering off the wave caps through the port window, and occasionally by roaming toward the open stern of the boat where she could get some sun and fresh air.
Then, waking from a nap, a new anxiety began to form. She looked at her watch and saw they had been going out to sea for almost five hours, and seemed to have long since passed the breakers that suggested the location of the reef. Walking to the back of the boat, she peered over the railing into the water. It was dark. It was neither the clear blue water over white sand that one saw around the islands nor even the faint impression of big brain corals that one could see through translucent greenish waters further out. She looked in all directions, and could not see land.
"Ed, shouldn't we have stopped a while back to snorkel by the reef?" Linda said, returning to her seat next to her husband in the boat's interior.
"Nah. They know where they are going. The further we go, the fewer the people will be running into us. You saw how crowded it was back where we first came upon the reef. There must have been 10 boats all clustered together in a quarter mile space. They want to give us more of an exclusive experience." Ed gave the perfectly logical reply in a manner that just didn't quite feel right for some reason Linda couldn't put her finger on.
Just then the tone of the engines began to lower as they throttled back and the boat began to decelerate. Then after a short moment of idling, as the boat slid through the water, the engine cut off.
"What's going on? We can't be going to snorkel out here. We are too deep." Linda said a little perplexed.
"Honey, take it easy. This is all going to be alright. Just don't fight them and everything will go smoothly." Ed said, unable to restrain his rising anxiety.
Linda's mild confusion began a slow glide toward panic as her mind churned to make sense of what her husband was saying to her. The thin middle-aged woman with short dirty blond hair just stared for a moment at her husband, and then said: "What are you talking about? What did you do?"
"OK folks, it's time to get things started." The muscular near-charcoal black man they knew only as Cray said in his bass voice, which had an accent the couple inaccurately placed as Jamaican. He had come up behind the couple after climbing down from the wheelhouse.
Linda was startled. She had thought of him as the Captain's mate, and he seemed to perform that role, but he now seemed to be in another role, that of security / enforcer.
"We are snorkeling out here? Out this deep?" Linda inquired while hoping to restore some normality to the situation.
"Not exactly, ma'am, it's time to introduce you to the doctor." Cray said ushering her toward the front of the boat where there was a short narrow and steep set of steps down to what Linda had assumed was a berthing space below.
"The doctor? What are you talking about? We came here for snorkeling? Has everyone gone mad?" Linda said as she tried to figure out who this "doctor" was. She had seen only Captain Dixon and Cray on the boat since they set out.
The door folded open and up came a man hunching to clear the low opening wearing a long white lab coat. He had a stubbly salt and pepper beard that was more salt then pepper, his hair was long, unkempt, and a little stringy, and his skin was sickly pale and somehow loose-fitting. His coat was stained and wrinkled, and he generally looked disheveled.
"I need to get some air. It's such a cramped and stuffy space down there. You can take her down. We are all set. Kisa will tell you what to do with her." The doctor said in heavily Russian-accented English as he walked out to the stern of the boat and reached up arching his back to stretch. He was not a hunched man, but rather a quite tall man forced to stoop in the restricted confines of the boat's interior.
"Mrs. Turshaw, please." Cray said putting a hand on Linda's shoulder and ushering her to face the compartment from which the Russian "doctor" had just come.
A young woman in her mid to late twenties had come up behind the doctor unnoticed and was at the head of the stairs. This was ostensibly Kisa. She was dressed in a nurse's uniform of sorts. It was not something one was likely to see an actual nurse wearing in a hospital or doctor's office, but was more reminiscent of the "naughty nurse" costume one might see worn around Halloween time. It was a button-down top unbuttoned so deeply as to display Kisa's impressive straining cleavage and had a pleated skirt the length one might see on a tennis player or a tall Catholic schoolgirl. Her hair was dyed a shade of red that did not appear in the natural world, and tongues of some unknown tattoo patterns could be glanced at her neckline and below the short sleeves of her smock.
"I'm not going anywhere until someone tells me what on earth is going on here." Linda stood defiantly.
"Linda, honey, maybe you should just do as they ask." Ed said, clearly a little unnerved by the somehow unexpected manner in which this all was transpiring.
Cray picked up Linda in a bear hug, and she began to thrash about. Her flip-flops flew through the air and bounced off the bulkhead as she attempted to kick against a wall or counter top in an attempt to perhaps unbalance the giant who was holding her. She had no use of her arms, and Cray squeezed hard enough that it was not easy to breathe. Linda was a tall slender woman, and, while she did workout and had a little musculature to her, she was no match for the burly black man. The panicked thrashing with her legs resulted in catching her husband in the chest with a heel and knocking him over into the little built-in bench-style dinette. Ed had been advancing in the hope of trying to calm the situation and to make sure his wife was not injured.
"Just put her down. This isn't going to work. I made a mistake. Let's just call it quits and go back to port. No harm, no foul. I'll pay for your troubles." Ed said, unprepared to see his wife manhandled in such a rough manner, or her terror-stricken reaction.
As she was only wearing walking shorts and a light gauzy top over a bikini swimsuit, Linda's wriggling was causing her to become exposed as a few buttons had been torn off the light-weight blouse and one of her pubescent-sized breasts had popped out of the cup of the bikini top as she struggled. Ed might have found this titillating if the conditions hadn't been so unsettling. He had frequent fantasies about his wife of twelve years being exposed to other men, and the lusting after her that he imagined would follow. This was part of what had led him down this road, but there was nothing sexual about the situation at hand.
"It's too late for that now. You should have thought about that before you signed. Besides, you can't begin to repay us for our troubles." Cray said, and he was probably correct.
Ed had not the vaguest notion of how this whole operation was financed. It wasn't costing him anything, and, in fact, he was ultimately supposed to make a nominal sum off the deal on balance. He suspected there was a high-dollar market for the knowledge to be gained from this type of research, but you couldn't run experiments like this in academic institutions or think-tanks. Furthermore, there would be few willing participants. This seemed to be why it was all done illicitly off-shore, and maybe in a few corrupt countries. He had heard about it on a chat room, as a rumor at first, while he was cyber-chatting with some anonymous person about how he wished his wife was a little sluttier. He had later received an email, and, as a result of a series of covert activities, he and his wife were here.
Linda let out an earsplitting scream that almost succeeded in causing Cray to drop her in a way that her physical thrashing was unable to do. It was deafening in the small space of the boat's interior. Ed was advancing while trying to guard himself both against a kick from his wife or one by Cray as he plotted how to get her free of the big man's control. Captain Dixon came down from the wheelhouse wielding a stainless steel shotgun in response to the banshee-like cry of the woman. But the scream soon faded into a low wail, a soft hum, and then silence.
"I guess I must do everything myself." The doctor said, having advanced from behind Cray and then holding a wad of gauze under Linda's nose.
The gauze must have had Chloroform or something of that sort on it as it resulted in Linda going completely limp.
"Mr. Turshaw, I am Doctor Andrei Krotkin. I can see you are distraught. Let me assure you, this is the most traumatic part. However, your wife will have no recollection of it. It will be as though it never happened. Come, you can observe the procedure and reassure yourself that we are doing nothing that you did not ask to have done." Krotkin said in a soothing tone as he put an arm around Ed's shoulder and turned him in the direction of boat's bow.
Ed, now that his wife was at peace and being handled carefully and gently by Cray and Kisa, regained his composure and, given Krotkin's assurance, also regained his will to go through with the procedure. Kisa pulled the bikini back over his wife's exposed tit.
"Yes, of course." Ed said as he preceded the doctor.
Ed was surprised to see what was at the bottom of the stairs. The space had stainless steel cabinets and counter space and there were a great many high-tech looking gizmos including what he disconcertingly recognized from a TV medical drama as a "crash-cart" with defibrillator paddles. The space was a bit reminiscent of a dentist's office - albeit a compact dentist's office without wasted space. There was even a chair that was quite similar to a dentist's chair, except that the patient's head would ultimately be contained inside a cylinder that was presently located above Linda's head but seemed to be capable of being slid or rolled down on rails over the patient's face. Kisa was attaching Linda's head to a frame that was presumably meant to hold her head in place as well as to hold the microphone and speakers that would allow them to speak to her and hear from her. Above the chin-cup that held her jaw in place was the microphone.
The defibrillators and high-tech machinery re-stoked Ed's anxiety that he was making a big mistake. What if something went wrong? He thought. "What's all of this? I don't know if this is a good idea." Ed said advancing, protective of the wife he had put in this position.
Cray's beefy arm across Ed's chest stopped his advance. "I told you, man. It's too late to change your mind now."
Ed glared at the big man. He figured he had about a one-in-ten chance of getting the better of the big guy if he fought him, but was considering it none-the-less. Ed was in shape in the way a man who plays tennis and runs is in shape, while Cray was in shape the manner of one who engages in cage matches.
"Easy, friends. I don't want to see the same kind of thrashing about in my lab as happened topside. This is expensive equipment. Mr. Turshaw, do you know what an MRI is?" Dr. Krotkin asked in an attempt to reduce the tension by putting Ed's mind at ease.
"Kind of. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, it's like an X-ray?" Ed had a good memory for random acronym trivia.
"Very good, Mr. Turshaw. The details... not so good, but the gist... quite good. An MRI allows one to see what is going on inside the human body without cutting it open. It's not like an X-ray because it doesn't expose the patient to radiation, and so it is safer to do for longer periods. This will allow us to see where your wife's blood is flowing in her brain and how our adjustments are being reflected in her brain activity." Krotkin explained.
"It looks smaller than the MRI's I've seen." Ed said.
"We only need to image the head, so we don't need to envelop the entire body. Also this is quite new technology. Like all technology, things get smaller and smaller." Krotkin replied.
"What about that equipment? Isn't that a defibrillator? What could go wrong that I haven't been told about?"
"Mr. Turshaw, it is understandable that you are worried for your wife. You probably read up on the internet about this kind of thing, and learned about cases of psychosis and suicide by people involved in your government's MKULTRA program. It was all extremely unsophisticated in those days, in both of our countries. Trial and error, really. While your country may have stopped this research during the 70's or 80's due to public outrage, I assure you mine did not. Between those 30 extra years of research and the great outside advances in neuro-pharmacology, brain imaging, and psychiatry, today's reprogramming resembles that of the 1960s and 1970s about as much as the airplanes built in the 1970s resembled those built in the 1920s and 30s. Yes, we have all manner of equipment to deal with unlikely worst-case scenarios, but that should reassure you rather than cause you anxiety. It is exceedingly unlikely that anything will go wrong, but if it does you have a trained medical staff with state-of-the-art equipment. So relax, have a seat, or go get some fresh air if you would prefer. Everything is perfectly under control." Despite his lack of a clean-cut professional appearance, Dr. Krotkin's calm well-spoken demeanor was reassuring.
"Kisa, do you have that port in yet? Mrs. Turshaw will be regaining consciousness any time now and I need to be ready to push my cocktail." Krotkin asked Kisa as the nurse was bent over the woman whose limp form was now securely fastened into the chair with arm, leg, and head restraints.
"Yes, doctor." The young red-head said standing up and pressing down some surgical tape that was holding the port in. She then, after making sure the line valve was shut, inserted an intravenous line into one of the two ports of "Y"-shaped device she had inserted in Linda Turshaw's vein.
Dr. Krotkin went to work, sitting on a stool next to Linda. With great scrutiny, he looked at the monitors that had been set up to allow him to track her heart rate, respiration, and other vital signs. He held her wrist for a moment using the old fashion approach to monitoring her pulse and heart rate as a redundancy over the technology. When he had satisfied himself that her vitals looked good, he turned the little drain-cock valve allowing the drugs to trickle into Linda's bloodstream.
Ed asked Kisa a question in a whispered tone. "What is that medicine he is giving Linda?"
"It is a specially formulated cocktail of drugs, but it mostly serves to facilitate both a hypnotic-like state and truth telling. He will start by getting baseline readings before the reprogramming begins." Kisa said.
"I don't think he needs truth serum. Linda is honest to a fault." Ed said.
"With everyday ordinary questions, perhaps. But he will be asking about her deepest and darkest secrets - the kinds of things that people are not completely honest about - not even to close confidants. To be frank, are you certain you want to be here? I have seen more than one spouse leave here with information they would have been much happier not knowing." Kisa said showing a softness that did not seem to comport with what Ed saw as a "punk rock" exterior.
Ed watched as the cylinder that would be used for his wife's brain-scan slid smoothly down tracks and over her head. Krotkin made sure the cylinder slid smoothly over her head, and then he started to bring up images. As he was doing this, he put on a headset.
After a few minutes of observing the monitors and adjusting the drip, Krotkin spoke: "Mrs. Turshaw, can you hear me?"
"Yes." Linda said in a calm, almost disembodied, tone.
"Linda, ... may I call you Linda?" Krotkin asked in a manner that was nearly comically polite considering what he was about to do to her.
"I am going to ask you a series of questions. This will be nice and easy; all you have to do is answer the questions truthfully. Do you understand?" Krotkin said in his polite even tone.
The interview started in a manner similar to that observed on crime shows when a suspect is interrogated by polygraph. That is, there was a series of questions for which there was no incentive to lie because everyone in the room definitively knew the answers and there was no cause for embarrassment.
"Is your name Linda Turshaw?"
"Were you born in Shelby, Ohio on April 14, 1968?"
Then there were a few questions for which there was an incentive to lie, but the answers were known because Ed had provided confidential information in secret email communications earlier.
"Do you find your sister's husband, Juan, sexually attractive?"
"Did you shoplift a package of candy when you were 10 years old?"
This was a surprise to Ed, but Krotkin, experienced in such interrogations, did not miss a beat in his continued questioning. "Did you tell your husband you stole candy when you were 10?"
"Why did you tell him that?"
"Because he was making fun of me for being a goody-two-shoes, and I got tired of it."
Then the questions turned much more personal, and were questions that had the potential to surprise Ed in the same way the shop-lifting question had, but with far more disturbing consequences.
"Have you ever had a sexual experience involving more than one other person at the same time?"
"Have you ever fantasized about having a sexual experience with more than one partner at a time?"
"Have you ever engaged in sexual activities with another female?"
"Have you ever fantasized about engaging in sexual activities with another female?"
"Have you ever engaged in sexual activities with a blood relative?"
"Have you ever fantasized about engaging in sexual activities with a blood relative?"
"Since you got married, have you engaged in sexual activities with any partner other than your husband?" Krotkin asked, and Ed hoped he wasn't about to receive a shocking surprise.
"Would you like to engage in sexual activities with your sister's husband Juan?"
"What does it depend upon?"
"Whether my sister or husband would find out. I don't think I could do it."
"Have you ever sucked a man's cock?"
"Do you enjoy sucking a man's cock?"
"No, not usually."
"What don't you like about sucking dick?"
"It feels dirty and demeaning."
"Have you ever been fucked in the ass?"
"Do you like being fucked in the ass?"
"What don't you like about being fucked in the ass?"
"It hurts and feels icky."
"How many times have you been fucked in the ass?"
"Two, I think, maybe three."
"Do you enjoy vaginal intercourse?"
"Most of the time, yes."
"When don't you like vaginal intercourse?"
"When it's rushed."
"Have you ever been offered money to engage in sexual activities?"
"Did you agree to take money for sexual favors?"
Ed was a little uneasy witnessing the deadpan automaton-like responses his wife gave under the heavy drugging. He imagined how Linda would respond to the previous question under normal conditions. He could practically see her slapping Krotkin across the face so hard that it made his head swivel to its maximum limits.