For The Greater Good

Ammiel's skin tingled and her eyes sparkled as she stared up at the tall building. This was where the magic happened. The Zebulun Cancer Foundation. She had come to surprise her mum with lunch. She just hoped her mum appreciated her gesture. When she walked in and headed straight for the elevators, no one stopped her. She got to the tenth floor and walked to the door of her mum's office. “Hi, mum! I'm–” she trailed off when she opened the door to an empty room. “Mum? Mum, are you here?” She dropped the food on the desk and knocked on the bathroom door, then opened it. It was empty. She pulled out her phone and called her mum…and heard the sound of a phone ringing. Her mum hadn't taken her phone with her. She must have stepped out in a hurry. She sat down and waited. Ten minutes. Twenty. Thirty. Her mum still didn't show. She decided to investigate. She left her mum's office and strolled through the hallway. The tenth floor was eerily empty, so she didn't find anyone to ask. At the end of the hallway, she came to a door labelled ‘Cancer Laboratory 10-A'. Chances are her mum was probably in there if she wasn't in her office. It's where she did her research. She knew she wasn't supposed to go in unauthorized, but she was already here, and she was curious. She wanted to see the place where her mum made all her discoveries. The strong smell of sterilization and the bright fluorescent lights overwhelmed her senses as she walked in. The room looked more like a hospital room than a lab as she stood in between rows of beds. Most were empty, but some had people in them. She stepped further into the room to see they were all connected to wires and IV fluids. Was this some kind of clinical trial? She approached one of the beds and was surprised to see a girl who looked to be around sixteen. She looked sick as she lay there, pale, and unmoving. She was connected to a monitor showing her vitals, and to an IV fluid bag labeled ‘Zonamycin-12'. There was a chart placed in a pocket on the outside of the bed's footboard. She pulled it out and read: Subject 125 - Date of admission: 08-18-2022 - Date of injection: 08-20-2022 - Contents of injection: glioblastoma cells [IDH-wildtype} Progress of cancer growth: tumor cells began proliferating at a rate of 300cells/day and reached a size of 5 in. after 3 mos. Drug(s)/Therapy administered: - Radiation therapy was started after tumor reached growth of 5 in. Tumor only shrunk half in size. - Afterwards, Z-12 proved to be effective in further shrinking the tumor. But subject experienced side effects such as seizures, headaches, nausea & vomiting, and pain. Notes: 2 months after Z-12 was discontinued, tumor grew back more aggressively, reaching a size of 3 in. in 1 month. Subject was started again on Z-12. Due to severe pain and side effects, subject was heavily sedated with morphine. Progress of therapy is still being monitored. Prognosis: poor. Likely to be dead within hours after the effects of morphine wear off. Scientist in charge: Dr Moriah Tennet Dread squeezed Ammiel's heart as she gripped the chart with trembling hands. “No, no, no…” At that moment, the girl began to stir, and Ammiel stepped back in shock. The moment the girl began to regain consciousness, she started moaning. As if on cue, the monitor started beeping erratically. Ammiel stood there unmoving, watching the scene unfold. “Ugh…it hurts…” the girl muttered as she tossed and turned. Then her eyes snapped open causing Ammiel to jump in fright, the chart falling to the floor with a loud smack. “Help me, please,” the girl gasped. “Help…it hurts…” Without warning, the girl's eyes rolled back in her head, and she started convulsing. Ammiel gasped and staggered away from the bed, covering her mouth with her hand. Somewhere far away, she heard footsteps as she stared at the girl in horror. Someone pulled her out of the way. “Ammiel? Ammiel!” The person began shaking her shoulders, but she was transfixed by the scene before her. At that point, the person grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out of the room, forcing her to turn away. The last thing she heard before she stepped out through the doors was the flatline sound of the monitor. *** No one said a word for the next five minutes as Ammiel and her mother sat across from each other. Then Dr Tennet sighed and leaned back in her seat. “There are some things you don't understand.” Ammiel looked at her mum with creased eyebrows. “Really? Then tell me I was wrong. Tell me I misinterpreted what I saw, and you were not experimenting on those people.” She saw the answer in her mum's eyes before she spoke. “Sometimes, sacrifices need to be made for the greater good." For the greater good. She'd applied this same principle to every area of her life because of her mum, and now she felt ashamed. She closed her eyes and covered her face with both hands, letting the tears fall. It was over. She was lost, and so was her mum.

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