LBA: The isolation and security at the Hanford Site was attractive
when corporations meditated doing something that isn’t entirely kosher
from a legal standpoint, even under the lax laws of the NCSA. Dr.
Amanda Chase was fully aware of this state of affairs.
LBB: But she didn’t understand why she had to leave her rented car
parked at the checkpoint called Rattlesnake Barricade.
“Government or company vehicles only,” said Dr. Ian Trochmann, her
sponsor, as he drove her to the lab. “I didn’t make the rules, Dr.
“And my visitor badge?” she asked.
LBC: He glanced down at his own permanment badge clipped to his front
pocket. “There is a good chance you will choose to part ways with
Pharmadigm after you learn a bit more. Your recruitment involved a
number of necessary deceptions which, professionally, you may not
LBD: “What do you mean?”
“First, Dr. Chase, tell me what you know, or rather, what you think
you know about Pharmadigm.”
She thought about that for a moment, or rather, she thought about how
to get it across in a way that Dr. Trochmann, professionally, would
LBE: “I know Pharmadigm is a pharmaceutical, as the name suggests.
It’s not one of the big ones, but it’s been around for about thirty
years. It began, so it is said, when government insiders privy to
taxpayer-funded research met with venture capitalists to monetize it.”
LBF: “So it is said. Do you think it is true?”
“Thirty years is a long time. Things change. There are prestigious
organizations with much shadier pasts. Did you know, Dr. Trochmann,
that many ballet schools in Europe centuries ago were really just
fronts for cathouses?”
LBG: “Can you think of a major product that is produced by
“Nothing in the literature stands out, but science marches on even
through a string of failures. I recall a potential anti-anxiety drug
that actually had a reverse effect. It caused a very intense anxiety.”
LBH: “Oh, that compound has proved beneficial after all. Suppose you
wanted to ask questions but you have a tough customer, so you bring
out the standard toolkit for asking questions. Without the drug, you
have to use the tools. With the drug, you can just show the tools.”
LBII: That seemed to set Amanda back a little.
Trochmann said, “The company called Pharmadigm, which you imagine to
be a pharmaceutical, is in fact a shell corporation, a front, managed
by what used to be the Special Projects section of the Federal Bureau
LBJ: Special Projects had always been run by the Deputy Director,
Clyde Tolson, who insisted that we call it DECON, for Domestic Enemies
Containment, Observation, and Neutralization, but Hoover was more in
tune with the political niceties and never let him make that official.
LBK: But Hoover died in ’72 and Tolson died in the ’73 attack on
DC, and there was, as you know, a re-org. Earl Roland was Deputy under
Tolson, and he became Director concurrently with DECON stepping into
the role for the New Confederacy the FBI formerly had for the US.
LBL: I worked for Tolson from the very beginning, during World War II.
Back then there was a…well, we treated it as an outbreak. A contagion.
The details are so bizarre that you will imagine we are having you
along for a massive joke, but it is most certainly not a joke.
LBMM: You will have every opportunity to examine the subjects, the
decades of accumulated research and all the other evidence for yourself,
under any conditions you name.”
“Is that why I was hired? You are reaching out with this information?
You just want to be believed?”
LBN: “On the contrary, Doctor Chase. Your field is neurology. You
completed your residency under Dr. Paul Brand, who was well-known to
us. It was he who discovered leprosy patients were losing toes and
feet due to their neuropathy rather than to the bacilli.
LBO: “I heard that Dr. Brand went over to Pacifica in the, ah, re-org.”
“Alas, no one is perfect, Dr. Chase. If you choose to work with us
you will find we are dealing with a disease of both the central and
the peripheral nervous systems. You are well qualified to consult.”
LBP: She said, “I was hired to oversee human trials of a new kind of
“That much is entirely true,” said Trochmann. “There will indeed be
human trials. And you will find the subjects gain the ability to
consciously choose to ignore any level of pain.”
LBQ: “You said this ‘outbreak’ first happened in World War II? If it
is still an issue why has nothing remotely like it appeared in the
literature? I would have most certainly been alert to any reports of
patients with the ability to voluntarily override pain.”
LBR: “Between 1942 and 1950 I was able to examine only four persons
afflicted with what I call White Brain Disease. We have the remains
of two of these. We lost contact with the other two and we have been
unable to locate them ever since, but we know they remain alive.
LBS: Four years ago, a woman named Judith Gervasi was brought to our
attention. She presents the first confirmed case of White Brain
Disease we have seen in nearly three decades. As with the others, we
are exercising our authority to hold her in a mandatory quarantine.
LBT: Miss Gervasi was born in the United Kingdom, but she also holds
an Israeli passport, for what that’s worth, as there really is no
Israel anymore. Like the four other subjects, she is most reticent
when it comes to questions about how she contracted her strange ailment.
LBU: We recently learned, however, that a very dark fluid drawn from
the patient is capable of inducing White Brain Disease in test animals
after about a week. So it can cross species. And yes, we are now ready
to commence human trials, which is where you come into the picture.
LBV: It was Director Roland who thought we should be ‘reaching out’
with this problem. He hopes that a fresh set of eyes and a fresh
mind, one from outside of DECON, might help us reach a more productive
state and finally discern what the hell is going on with all this.”
LBW: They arrived at the desolate location where the town of White
Bluffs once existed, before all the townspeople were ordered to move
away in the spring of 1943. Only two structures existed here, the
DECON lab, and a shack for the guards who watched the lab overnight.
LBX: “So here we are at the lab, and the Director himself is waiting
for you inside, if you still want the position. If not, I will drive
you back to Rattlesnake Barricade for a friendly parting of our ways,
I’ll hand over a check for your time already spent, and no harm done.”
LBY: Amanda said, “I’ll stay, Dr. Trochmann. You’ve certainly made me
curious, and it would be a shame to waste the weeks of prep I went
through for this job. But what puzzles me is the usual non-disclosure
agreement seems to have been omitted. Or perhaps it was just forgotten?”
LBZ: Dr. Trochmann turned off the engine and smiled. “Think back to
the anxiety-inducing drug, Dr. Chase. Somehow, DECON has never seen
the need to get a formal non-disclosure agreement in writing. Somehow
a informal understanding by all parties has always been sufficient.”