Julian Gitz rolls back and forth in bed, unable to fall into sleep's trap. He had horrible thoughts. Thoughts of what his uncertain future holds. Thoughts of his poor condition, sleeping in a crappy motel, living off crushed soda cans and lost pets. But mostly, he thought of Prometheus entrance to the lab was to be shut for the last time on December 14th 1997, when Rudolph Spitzer, President and CEO of Prometheus Laboratory International died of a heart attack in a London hotel.
Rudolph Spitzer had not been proud of what was going on at the facility he owned, and in 1934, when people first began using his Island, he swore that when he died, the place was to be blown up for the sake of the beings that were tormented in there. After the Geneva Convention, though, he rethought his idea, and in 1951 had instead decided on making it a bird sanctuary after he died.
The things he had witnessed, possible crimes he committed, and mistakes that will pain him forever more. Prometheus Labs was a facility that conducted genetic, robotic, and biological experiments upon animals.
One experiment he remembered vividly was one where they skinned live cats, and sewed them up in artificial skin, one being a camouflage pattern, one being denim, the other a bright tie-die. Even now, it sent a chill up his spine.
The obtuse man never saw much of Prometheus Labs, and never saw any being 'processed' in there. Julian hadn't worked as many experiments as some older peers, but he remembered the animals were horrid monsters. Human brains and giant Squids crawled out of his imagination, into his nightmares. Thank God he had cleared the hell out of there.
After leaving, Julian had found a job at the local aquarium, and found a wife, Rebecca. The two bore a still infant, and had an abortion during a later pregnancy. Every child they tried to conceive left, as did Rebecca after the seventh attempt. Julian lived with an adopted cat, Casper, until he was killed by a coyote in late November, 2001. He lived alone after that. A stroke of bad luck overtook him a few years later. A mugger stole his wallet and broke a rib in 2006, he was kicked out of his job at the aquarium for misconduct (since when was disciplining children who mistreated the fish misconduct?), and his home was foreclosed in 2009. Since then, he had gotten money catching stray pets and redeeming found cans, and slept out the harshest days of winter in shitty motels.
The smoky air of the room left a bitter taste in his mouth, and he coughed up some phlegm, which he spat onto the old checkered, moldy carpet. He had shut off the heater, which he could assumed had mold growing in the vents, and a winter draft blew through the cracked window pane. Dried blood was spattered on the outside of the window, like a looming crimson cloud in the violet sky.
He shivered, and shut his eyes, visualizing a giant squid pulling itself through the window, to consume the homeless man inside. The rugose skin was covered in mucous, bubbling from the skin in thick globs, falling to the floor with a 'schlop'. A golden beachball sized eye swiveled, like wax in a lava lamp, and long, column-like tentacles flew around the room, simply hitting the walls. Eight arms splayed out from the body, like greedy tree roots, worming in and out of the furniture, searching for a scrap of food. At the center of the activity, a massive black beak, snapping and rotating, massive muscles writhed as it opened and shut. A single wet tentacle came for Julian, and wet, terrified eyes stared up at the suckers on the tentacles.
He opens his eyes, heartpounding. He wiped his forehead, which was slick from sweat. He wouldn't usually mind a bit of sweat, if it wasn't for the frigid breeze. He dragged the hand across his trousers, wiping the sweat off. A car alarm goes off, squealing at no one in particular. A dog barks somewhere outside. A plane lands in Philadelphia Airport. An eerie silence follows.
Even his mind was quiet. It listened to his heartbeat, wondering what the nightmare meant.
All nightmares had a meaning. His nightmares about Prometheus Labs evolved from his guilt. Nightmares of Rebecca and unborn children expressed his unhappy relationship. They were often vivid and lucid, and made him cry when he woke up the next day. At negative ten degree celsius, he would not like to have tears frozen to his cheek.
Julian whistles sharply, snapping his fingers at a Laborador Retriever, pressed against a brickwall, amongst a lot filled with tires. Independence Mall was a short walk away, where he first saw the lost poster for a Black Lab named Blue. Now in East Philly, he had found him, sad and whining. A mudstain highlighted his left eyes, and fleas wove in and out of his fur. He seemed emaciated, and Julian could smell the diarrheal waste dried to his butt and tail. Julian slowly pulled a half eaten burger from a trashcan from his pocket. Blue swung his head in the burger's direction. He shot a look up at Julian once, begging for the burger. Julian jerked it in his hand, and Blue spun onto his feet, and grabbed the burger from Julian. He paused with the burger in his mouth, and Julian slipped a leash around his neck.
Julian jams a few quarters into the payphone, then grabs the telephone. He stood propped against the wall, a leash on his wrist holding Blue, who sat panting next to the booth. In his left hand he held the lost poster, crumpled and caked in dirt. He heard the voice of a young boy, possibly a teenager. It was kind of watery, and almost nasal.
"Hello?" he asks fretfully.
"Hello, I found your dog, Blue. I don't have anything to clean him up, 'cause he's kinda grungy, but I know a good pet parlor in Philly. The poster doesn't have an address, if you wanna pick him up at the Methodist Church next to the Ben Franklin bridge."
There was a quiet on the other end of the line. Finally the boy came back.
"Thank you, we're going as I speak!" he shouted. Blue looks up with perky eyes at his owner's shout. The boy hangs up, as does Julian. He takes out a marker. Lost Dog: Blue. With that, he smiles. Another Pet found, and another 50 dollars to pocket. He crosses the street to the Methodist church. He did not visit because he was a religious man, but because they offered a soup kitchen on occaision, and he could usually find a way into the bridge to sleep from the church.
A lost pet flyer caught his eyes. As he became closer, the picture didn't seem like one he saw before. He glares directly at the poster, and read:
Have you seen Me?
Size 6' 3''
Weight 120 lbs
I was last seen August 8 2010.
Julian stood staring at the flyer increduously. At first he thought it was a local joke. All those damn kids with nothing to accomplish in life except to spread venereal disease and vandalize churches. Then the thought occurred, No one in this neighborhood knew him at all. They all probably knew him as 'That White Cracker who steals Strays', but probably not by any other name. He thought of the people who would know his name. Lenny, his brother in Detroit, Rebecca, Fran Redman, a former co-worker, Mr. Marco Kasiske, the Piano teacher he lived next to until 2009. A smile appears on his face, followed by a snicker. Only Four people know my name, he thought to himself.
He probably would have laughed for a great deal longer, but he was suddenly grabbed from behind. A rag smothered his face, held by a massive hand, and he felt the person's other hand plunge the syringe of a needle into his neck. His abs constrict, and he cringed at the feeling of a thick, oily material pervade his blood stream. He began gasping for breath to the taste of chloroform, thinking the worst. Arsenic? Strychinine? Mercury? Hydrogen Cyanide? And the list of chemicals wound on until his mind eased into a forced slumber, moments later.