James and I were in the men’s toilets together, his cubicle next to mine so that he could shout out a score after each episode. After a while I loosened up a little1 and started giving scores for his, on what I called the Nesse-Williams scale. It was kind of historic, really. I know for a fact that we never had diarrhoea again.
About 10pm that night, when we were both wishing for swift and not-too-painful death, I gave up trying to figure a way to beat the bugs Crenshaw had almost certainly planted here, and just asked it straight out.
“Do you think there’s something a little… weird… about all this?”
“Oh, yeah. I definitely don’t think my Drake Passage is supposed to feel like that ever.”
“…I don’t want to know, dude. I do, but I don’t want to. Anyway, I was talking about the situation as a whole.”
“You mean how in three weeks we’re bringing Charles Darwin back from the dead? Or how in two weeks we’re going to be genetically engineered super soldiers? You’re going to have to be a little more specific, bro.”
“Uh, you don’t think it’s weird that we got hired for a top-secret program?”
“Of course not. They obviously heard how cool I am.” His joke was only bolstered by the splooshing sound that followed it. “OK, yeah, we’re not exactly the people I’d trust with something this important. But maybe it’s, you know, believable dismissability.”
“Yeah, that. It’s like the professor said, we’re just about the most unlikely employees of the CIA ever. I guess if they want to keep this as secret as possible, they hire people like us to do it.”
Finally, on the evening of the next day, the burning spasms ceased, and we walked through to the room we hadn’t been in yet, on the left at the back of the warehouse. In there were three hospital beds, with everything needed to keep us alive for two weeks. IV lines were put in place, pillows adjusted, and light floaty dreamy drugs pumped into our systems. I don’t actually remember dozing off.