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Jerry Aspin in one of his less-than-stellar moments

Naturally we were disappointed when Robyn reported having a dream, Dr. Amanda Trochmann said, resuming her slide show. But the benefits of this drug as a general anesthetic were initially judged by us to outweigh that possible side effect. After observing the girl for two days we did a complete physical on her again, with no changes noted, and I mention that because those two physicals will be important later in my brief.

Maybe the girl lied about the dream, Roland suggested.

We thought about that, of course and prepared a second volunteer. But as it turned out, it doesn't matter if she was lying about the subjective side effects of the drug, because there are objective side effects. We paid Robyn the five hundred dollars we promised and sent her home.

Then why is she here at Hanford?'

A week after the drug trial she sought us out because she was scared. But I'm getting ahead of myself, Doctor. Let's back up to the day Robyn was discharged. For phase one we had a ready pool of five candidates, and two of them were male. We wanted to try a male because there could be a gender differential in the response to the drug. We chose Jerry Aspin, who is serving a jail term for killing Oboe Man for his spare change.

Roland was astonished. You wanted to flush out Robyn's lies by using a convicted criminal?

I chose Jerry Aspin, Director Roland, because I realized we might have to abort the trial after two or three tests and he was the most anxious to continue. Jerry has every incentive to be truthful. He's on year eight of a fifteen year prison sentence. He was qualified for parole after seven years, but the first parole board shot him down because he had no extracurricular activities on the books. Volunteering for a drug trial can help prod the probation board to turn him loose. We called him in.

So what happened?

Just like with Robyn, he says floated through a dark tunnel toward a bright light, but this time he was in warm water, and when Jerry floated to the top and climbed out of the water, he was given some towels and a robe by what he says were some warrior women, and dried himself off on a dark wooden deck in a grove of trees under a glowing white sky. Jerry says he met Jesus, who was playing the role of his parole officer, but things didn't go so well and after a time Jerry re-entered the pool under his own will and swam back here to his hospital bed.

Crazy dream. That's some powerful stuff you whipped up, Dr. Trochmann.

Well, after the second test, the clinical trial of this drug as an anesthetic was officially called off. No one is going to sign up for a guaranteed Near Death Experience when all they want to do is sleep straight through an operation. Note that it gives you a dream of whatever you want the most. Robyn missed her father. Jerry missed female companionship and wanted to pass the parole board examination.

Dr. Trochmann, I'm sorry your research failed and your company wasted money. But what does any of that have to do with the CDC?

Directly, Dr. Roland. Directly. It would have been better if we had just closed up shop. But Pharmadyne management came up with a way to attempt to salvage our substantial monetary investment into the research of this substance. The team remained largely unchanged, but now we were to investigate the possibility of using the drug as a form of psychological therapy, maybe cure schizophrenia by inducing a controlled NDE. So yes, it was greed that got us in a jam and led to calling for a Federal response.

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Strangers In Paradise