This story was first serialized in 31 daily parts during May 2021 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.
I produce fiction bi-weekly on Ko-Fi: this includes flash fiction (250 words) which is being put together to form a long-form narrative, plus a bi-weekly full novel presented in episodic format.
Begin New File Report 28AR: MRI 27B/6
As per previous instructions, Alpha Support Team arrived at the West London lab at 08.30, before donning protective body-wear and UV goggles. To the untrained eye, it was to look as if we were reacting to a hazardous materials’ spillage. What we did not expect to discover was an amorphous organism, largely inert in the main Laboratory area. Initial examination showed it to be respirating, expiring carbon dioxide and taking in oxygen. Dr Forrester was not, as we were aware, experimenting on anything except mice.
It had been anticipated we would arrive at the lab and find nothing: instead we were confronted with a literal nightmare. Therefore, we immediately decided to not attempt any interaction with the organism until tests established either what it was, or had previously been before. Once the perimeter of the unit was secured, all relevant materials appertaining to Dr Forrester’s work were removed, as per the terms of our initial agreement. Having already established the validity of 28AR as a means for camouflage, it was important to secure all remaining samples.
However, it appears Forrester intentionally incinerated all other organic matter on site, including her live rodent test subjects. This is of particularly concern, especially as she was the only one with specific access to these samples. Her lab partner has been reported missing. Without a source of 28AR no means exists to finally confirm the veracity of both Dr Forrester’s research and conclusions. It would also appear that a considerable amount of data on the laboratory’s computers and dedicated surveillance units devices has been intentionally erased.
The organism was quickly identified as an alternate means of replicating the UV shift to invisibility used as a means to secure our initial funding support. Steps were then taken to safely contain the mass, and to begin immediate experimentation to confirm both origin and species.
Update Report: 23AR : MRI 27B/6
It has been six weeks since the 23AR Organism was discovered, and we remain no closer to being able to positively identify either origin or species. Samples taken remain highly volatile, and degrade before our team is able to perform any analysis. The organism itself remained roughly consistent in both shape and size until accidentally exposed to a UV light source. It then began emitting light pulses which almost instantly incapacitated our entire operational workforce. On extensive examination, all had been hypnotized.
Whilst in this state, we saw appreciable organic development, leading to speculation electrical activity from the human brain could be acting as some kind of growth medium. Further, experiments confirmed the veracity of the organism’s response to human stimulus and interaction. A test group was established, where a dozen human volunteers were exposed over time to bursts of the organism’s respiration patterns, allowing us to monitor and slowly increase its organic mass in the hope this would create more stability in samples extracted for experimentation.
What we were not expecting was the long term effects this would have on human biology, a project we are considering expanding and augmenting with further organic subjects. Of particular interest is how particular individuals appear to begin mimicking the organism in behaviour. This discovery has produced some remarkable data, with many subjects being able to outperform our Quantum Computing Department’s fairly robust set of baseline benchmarks in both output and accuracy. For this alone, it is worthwhile maintaining the organism in augmented quarantine.
We have begun preliminary investigation into remotely connecting subjects via the use of an AR headset, which is proving surprisingly efficient. Focusing all the hybrid UV signals being generated directly through the eyes, without any external distraction, is even more potent. This has also opened a possibility of expanding our organic remit into other areas, and as a result our R&D department are already formulating alternatives to the current headset. If connected directly to the organisms’ output, objects can be rendered invisible for short periods.
This will allow us to precisely monitor the amount of time each subject is hypnotized to maximize feeding input whilst minimizing downtime. This will also allow access to a far larger sample of potential subjects, allowing a larger sample of responses to this new visual stimulus.
Update Report: 23AR : MRI 27B/6
The success of the lightweight AR headsets has exceeded even our most conservative expectations. Our specially designed web-based interface allows us to effectively wipe the memory of individual subjects after exposure to the organism as required. This has motivated a limited-offer public access experiment, clearly documented via a watertight T&C legal agreement that most seem more than happy to simply click than read. This has allowed a massive expansion of the organic remit past our initial pool of willing test subjects.
Growth in the organism has stabilized: we have made the decision to move it to a larger location before offering a second wave of headset purchase. These will be charged at a higher price point than previously, and will include our prototype inbuilt camouflage device for testing. However, all progress has been temporarily placed on hold after the discovery of Dr Forrester’s lab partner, whose body was found on the foreshore of the River Thames at Tilbury Fort. The police have cordoned off the area, treating the entire crime scene as potentially hazardous.
It has proved problematic ascertaining the exact nature of that hazard, even with our contacts inside the Metropolitan Police: MI6 are currently on site at Forrester’s original lab. We are at present confident that they cannot link us to the original work in any form whatsoever.
However, to ensure that there can be no association with this incident and ourselves, the new containment facility at Heathrow has been placed into low power mode. The organism, at least at present, does not seem overly distressed at the unexpected reduction in UV sensory input.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the organism possesses considerably more than the rudimentary intelligence we at first assumed was the case, yet it remains impossible to extract anything from it that we can recognize as DNA, allowing any formal or final identification.
Update Report: 23AR : MRI 27B/6
With this latest, updated round of tissue and neural data from the organism, we possess formal confirmation that whatever was found in Dr Forrester’s lab has some kind of empathic connection with an increasing number of our human test subjects. The only stable portion of the subject, from which we have been able to develop our limited-cloaking devices, is undoubtedly organic in nature, but no current testing exists to formally identify actual composition or indeed function. This quandary is causing considerable concern.
Having established our new base of operations at Heathrow, any further expansion of the remit will now depend on the post-mortem results from Dr Forrester’s partner. The site of his apparent suicide is now under 24 hour surveillance by the Army, with a 1000 yard exclusion zone. We have intercepted video from a third party source which appears to indicate that the Military have set up their own mobile laboratory on site, leading us to deduce that there is more to this than a simple fatality. Further information is being sought on their actual intentions.
In the meantime, there is little choice but to push forward our own timetable. If the UK Armed Forces have now gained access to this new form of technology, this will undoubtedly alter our own contingency planning: as a result of this development, the remit is now under a review. This has also been prompted by unconfirmed reports that one of the new batch of AR headset recipients has been reported missing by their family, after failing to turn up for a gathering. Until the veracity of these internet rumours can be confirmed, we will not proceed further.
It is not the place of these reports to consider consequence of action and circumstance, but this author finds herself compelled to record a personal concern at this particular turn of events. We were approached with an idea which has literally mutated into something disturbing. Even without conclusive evidence, many of us are convinced that this organism is what remains of Dr Forrester after long term exposure to 23 AR. If this is the case, our own humanity may well be at risk, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify working on the project.