Scene Two: What’s Up…”Doc”?
Dr. Locke’s Lab. Three days after.
Eddie: (To Himself) So, I muster up sobriety. Curiosity getting the best of me. It always does. I drag my sorry ass down to the Doc’s lab. What a dump. I knock on the door. Locke stands up from his table of beakers; lab coat slightly tinged with dirt and answers the door.
Locke: Mr. Austin! It’s good to see you. I…knew you’d come.
Eddie: (To Himself) This guy’s German accent bugs me.
Locke: Come in! Come in!
Eddie: (To Himself) I enter and follow the good doctor to the back corner of his lab. Place smells like burning rubber. Or…hair. I know this smell. A cross between ammonia, decomp and napalm.
Eddie: What is … all this stuff?
Locke: It’s research. Come. Have a seat. (Slides out a rolling chair) Here. Here.
Eddie: (To Himself) Pushy fella…
Eddie: Research, huh? For what? You curing Cancer?
Locke: (Chuckles) No no. Preventative medicine. Experimental…
Eddie: I see.
Chairs creak. Locke begins to gaze at Austin in a trancelike state.
Eddie: Eh, look Doc; you’re kinda freaking me out starin at me like that.
Locke stands up abruptly. Austin braces.
Locke: (Nervously) Coffee??
Eddie: No, I never touch the stuff. I kinda gotta problem with…stimulants.
Locke: Yes, yes…you’re a Scotch man. Black label. Premium stuff. Top shelf.
Eddie: How do you know that??
Locke: I know lots of things.
Locke: My associate and I are working on a new element.
Eddie: A new element, huh? Like for the Periodic Table?
Locke: (Chuckles) Not quite.
Eddie: Look, let’s cut the shit here. How the hell do you know me?
Locke: All right, Mr. Austin. Consider the shit…cut. (Chuckles) You were brought to me by your parents. Wasn’t their fault. Don’t blame them. They didn’t know.
Eddie: Know what?? Why would I blame them??
Locke: What the Government was up to. What they were doing.
Eddie: And that was??
Locke: The war…they were battling not only an unseen enemy in Iran but civil discord here at home. They needed a weapon that could kill without being killed…an immovable and impenetrable force, Mr. Austin. They could never have known the dire and tragic consequences of their actions.
Eddie: Yeah, sure. Don’t blame the government. That’s a great idea. Aside from that…how the hell did I wind up in this?
Locke: They couldn’t just draft people…would risk a civil war…not after the last one…another one…would be too costly politically, financially–and they had already quelled two. That’s not of import or pertinence, not the point. So, they included it in the vaccinations and injected several thousand boys with it. It took…at first…so, they moved on to girls. They called it Project Job. After the biblical character.
Eddie: So, lemme guess, there was some prophetic, cataclysmic, world changing event waiting to happen?
Locke: Not quite. Turns out, the vaccine bound to the molecules and mutated…it grew within the human body … it caused the cells to undergo a catabolism.
Locke: A molecular breakdown. Pretty soon, there was more vaccine than there was cell. They never saw that coming. It…became…a virus…
Eddie: I don’t follow.
Locke: Why do you pretend to be what you are not?
Eddie: What’s that supposed to mean?!
Locke: You hide behind your strength. You’re too smart. 2304 on the SAT’s.
Eddie: How the hell did you know that?!
Locke: I know many things. It was a side effect of the vaccine!
Eddie: This is absolute bull–
Eddie: (To Himself) I was interrupted by a bright blue light that rolled me backwards in my chair. Once my eyes focused I saw that the light was coming from Dr. Locke’s palm. A small blue orb. Inside the orb…was a small ever-growing…fetus. I was shocked…but I could not look away.
Eddie: What the fuck is that?
Locke: It’s one of my gifts.
Locke: They assigned me the code name…“Matrix”.
Eddie: You’re kidding.
Locke: Sadly…I am not.
Locke: You hide behind your muscles…a bouncer…you call yourself stupid and ugly. You are neither. You believe you are worthless and inside you are everything and yet you deny yourself belief and solace.
Locke: A body substance. Where tissue cells are embedded. I can manipulate it. Grow it. Shape it and form it. I also can read your thoughts, sense your ideas and I can see, relatively speaking, and every minute movement your body makes.
Eddie: What about the orb?
Locke: A pod…where something originates and develops.
Eddie: Like a womb?
Eddie: So, this is like some sort of X-Men shit, ain’t it?
Locke: Hardly. There are no “Ice Men”. No, metal benders, no blue furry animals…just creators…and destroyers. The only question to our kind is: “Which one are you?”
Eddie: And for the greater good of all humanity, to protect the measly little innocents…you want me to help save the world?? I’ve read this comic book, Doc. I ain’t no Superman!
Locke: Save the world for them? No. They made us this way. But…you could save the world…from people like us…
Eddie: People like us?
Locke: Understand that you are—how do I put this delicately? Special.
Eddie: Great. Special how?
Locke: You can control your ability.
Eddie: Others can’t?
Locke: No. Well, some can but the majority cannot. This new element, when added to the blood helps a survivor control their condition. Without it, the person steadily descends into madness and rage and is no longer in control…at all.
Locke: Only several I know can control their abilities.
Eddie: What about you?
Locke: No. I took the element.
Locke: I began to track down the survivors of Project Job several years ago and began secretly administering the vaccine.
Eddie: Whoa-whoa-whoa! Wait, you injected them without there knowledge?!
Locke: Moral and ethical dilemmas aside…it must have been done. Already there is a movement going on and not all of us are in control of our abilities.
Eddie: So, there are those that are out to do harm?
Locke: No. They don’t intentionally set out to do harm to people. They can’t help it. However, we can stop them from harming others.
Eddie: I don’t know.
Locke: You have other abilities.
Eddie: (Skeptical) I do, huh?
Locke: You have yet to begin to realize your potential.
Eddie: Oh yeah? And what if I decide to let myself unravel, lose control? How dangerous am I?
Locke: Too dangerous.
Eddie: Brute strength in this frail frame isn’t an extreme threat.
Locke: Oh but brute strength isn’t the only gift you possess.
Eddie: What else then?
Locke: That is for you to figure out on your own. Conscience is a rare thing this day and age.
Locke: Have you the desire to learn?
Locke: Who you are. What you are. Where you come from and where you are going. What you can be and what you have always thought you were not.
Eddie: How am I supposed to do that??
Locke: Angel? Have you met Angel?
Eddie: Um, no.
Locke: Evangeline! Would you please?
Eddie: (To Himself) So this tall brunette comes in from the back. She stands next to me. To my right. Her glasses slid halfway down the bridge of her nose. I cock my head slightly to check her over. Looks nothing more than a science geek. (Pause) I’m still staring at her rack when the Doc speaks.
Locke: Evangeline Lamont. This is Edward Austin.
Eddie: Actually, it’s Eddie…and what’s your weirdo name, eh?
Locke: We call her… “Acid”.
Eddie: Because she burns right through you? (Chuckles)
Eddie: (To Himself) Right then and there with no warning, Evangeline placed her hand on my forearm. An intense burning singed through me and pierced the deepest core of my soul. I became rigid and my eyesight was brilliant white and then blackness enveloped me. Silence. Nothingness…until…bright light. Blinding light. Colors. Every color imaginable. Acid, huh? She was indeed…a trip like I’ve never experienced. The things I saw. The whole world upside down and inside out. I felt things you can never understand by words alone. You had to be there, had to feel them. She unlocked my deepest emotions and my deepest fears at the very same time and I couldn’t take the pressure. I shot out of my chair and hit the floor hard. The real world returning to my senses. Cold and naked and confused and content and all at the same time. What a world. What a rush. I had to know more.
Locke: It’s quite something, is it not?
Eddie: (Gasps) It’s…something.
Eddie: What the hell did she do to me?
Locke: She manipulated every neural sensor in your body and projected what she wanted you to see.
Locke: Do you believe now?
Eddie: (To Himself) A man that grew a human in the palm of his hand in a blue bubble and a mute woman speaking to me through my own thoughts and this guy has to ask?
Locke: Will you help us?
Eddie: I need time to clear my head.
Eddie: (To Himself) I barely made it down the hall and stairs to the street outside. I collapsed in an alley against a brick wall. My head was killing me, throbbing. What the hell did she do to me? Was what I saw real?? I pressed my eye hard with the heel of my hand and peered upward to the sky. It was stormy. On the horizon as they say. The Doctor…was he right? Was he crazy? Was I? Could I be the puzzle piece that saves the world from my own kind? My own kind? What exactly was that? A freak? A raging, monster…or…a hero? I don’t wanna be no hero! I ain’t nobody’s guardian. Not even my own. No way I’m getting caught up in this bullshit. Stay silent. Lay low. I look upward again. Blackish green skies. Something ugly is coming.
I black out…