Glad You Could Join Us
Daniel slowly emerged from his mind's fog. He knew he was waking up, but strangely couldn't remember falling asleep. The last thing he remembered was being in Area 50 with his friends, and that seemed like an odd place to have dozed off.
The first thing he was conscious of were voices, three of them, speaking in rapid whispers. He was lying flat on a reasonably soft surface, with straps across his wrists, ankles, chest, and hips, keeping him firmly in place. He realised, at that point, that he was naked. He tried to move to cover himself, but was trapped by the straps.
His eyes slowly opened, and he could see an eerie pale green glow, the same one that he had seen in the dreams he'd been having. There were three figures in the room, wearing lab coats. He assumed they were also the same from the dreams, but now that the haz-mat suits were gone, he could see their features far better.
The one holding the briefcase was a young-looking man. His eyes darted around the room nervously, and he clutched the briefcase tightly, even though his companions barely even seemed to notice it. The one holding the gun was a prim and almost dainty woman. The apparent leader was a shortish, balding middle-aged man. "Welcome," the leader said smoothly, "to Project Zero."
Daniel struggled against the restraints, in vain. "You can't do this to me," he mumbled, "I demand...I demand," but in his drugged stupor he forgot what it was he was demanding.
The leader pushed a few buttons on his computer, which apparently was also a remote, because the surface Daniel was lying on folded upward to become a slightly reclining chair. Apparently, he noticed, he was bound to a complicated sort of dentist's chair, not that such information would really be useful to him.
"You'll demand nothing," the leader cut him off, pressing another button on the remote. At this point, a large flatscreen monitor directly across from Daniel blinked to life. The monitor displayed another room, presumably elsewhere in Area 50. The room was dominated by five floor-to-ceiling clear tubes, surrounded by complex machinery. Daniel screwed up his eyes; surely, he was mistaken...but he wasn't.
He would have recognised them anywhere. In the tubes were the four friends he had gone to Area 50 with and, second from the right, him. They were suspended in a reddish liquid, tubes connecting them to the machinery outside. But something was wrong...these versions of himself and his friends looked too young, like they had looked in middle school.
"Clones," the leader explained, "of you and your companions. They're a bit young now, but they'll grow...quickly." And before his eyes, the preteen clones grew and changed until they were perfect matches of Daniel and his friends. The leader turned off the screen, and went on: "We'll be using these clones to fake the deaths of you and the four others. As soon as their bodies are found in the morning, everybody will stop looking for you. That makes us entirely free to experiment on you all to our hearts' content."
"Why don't you just experiment on the clones?" Daniel asked groggily.
"Ah," smiled the leader, "You're quite clever. But you see, we only play God here at Project Zero, we do have some limitations. We can create clones, which are perfect replicas of you and your friends, physically, and we can make androids that are, while awkward, sufficiently convincing to lure you here. But what we cannot recreate, and what we most want to experiment on, is YOU."
"Me?" Dan faltered, "Why me?"
"Hmm," the leader said mockingly, "I think that's enough questions from you for a little while. Let me officially welcome you to Project Zero."
Written by Zodiac on 19 July 2008