Transcription of archived video footage seized from the Cerberus Research Institute:
My name’s Joseph Walsh, but most people call me Joe.
Are you sure this thing is recording? I’ll try my best to explain everything that’s happened. Not sure I’m going to last much longer though.
I suppose it started when I saw the advertisement for paid volunteers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a few clinical trials before, but not with Cerberus. The other trials were for drugs like pain killers and cold medicines, and it’s easy money. Sort of like going on holiday, if you don’t mind it being on a hospital ward. You get a proper check-up first, then two weeks of free food and loads of films to watch. And they pay you a nice bit of dosh to say thanks for your time and trouble.
Money’s been tight after some bad calls at the bookies. I shouldn’t have let things spiral like they did, but it is what it is. The opportunity with Cerberus looked like a lifeline, or so I thought. I emailed to say I’m available, filled out some online questionnaires and two days later I was invited to their recruitment clinic.
First, they explained that I wasn’t going to be given a new medicine like before, instead it was more like an enhancing treatment. I asked the doctor exactly what bit of me is it going to enhance, you know? But she just raised an eyebrow and made more notes. That struck me as strange. In the other trials they were full of smiles and jokes and treated you like VIP, but the staff here have all been ice cold. All except you, of course. You’ve always looked kind, even though you’ve not been allowed to speak to me- before today, that is. I can’t thank you enough for helping me now. I just hope you can get this recording out of here safely.
They started off with the usual tests- the cuff on your arm, some wee in a pot, and they filled a few small tubes with blood. I was a bit embarrassed when they weighed me. I mean, I do like a beer, and it’s not like I play much footie anymore, so there’s a bit of an overhang going on around the belt. Seems I wasn’t exactly in great shape to run on the treadmill, and I was sweating like a bastard in no time. By the time they were measuring how high I could jump I was proper knackered.
Can you still see me? It’s just that I feel really faint. Like I’ve almost gone. Keep holding the camera for me, will you?
They told me they’d be testing out a new technology that uses energy waves to develop the human body’s potential, whatever that means. Nothing that you wouldn’t find in sunlight apparently, but a bit more refined. I stripped off, put on one of those flimsy gowns that doesn’t fully cover your backside and laid down on a trolley for them to get on with it. They rolled me through miles of corridors. This place must be massive what with all those underground floors- you’d never believe it from the street entrance. Finally, we went through that airlock door with the all the radiation signs on the walls.
I’m not going to lie; I got a bit nervous then. I mean, when I’ve done other trials there’s a bunch of lads signed up with you and the nurses explain everything a million times. It’s all friendly and relaxed, and a bit of a laugh. But when I saw those radiation signs I sat right up on that trolley and told them I’d like to think about it a bit more. At least I think that’s what I said, but my arm went all cold and achy- something to help me relax, apparently. After that I couldn’t get my words out properly.
I don’t know what they did to me in there. They wheeled my trolley into a room and all filed out, leaving me next to a machine that was humming loudly, like the engine of a boat. There were some bleeping noises and then the heat just came out from nowhere. My skin was tingling all over- prickling from the inside, and I could see all these stars floating about in front of my eyes. I can’t remember much else about it, other than I was starting to feel sick. Then the humming stopped, and I just lay back and drifted off.
Here’s the thing though, when I woke up again I felt fantastic. Not much of an appetite mind you, but it felt like my body was floating, and full of energy too. There were a couple of nurses fretting over me as I stirred, looking at the readings on the monitor I was hooked up to, and one rushed off straight away to call the medical team. The doctors were at my bedside in seconds, shining lights in my eyes, jabbing more needles in my arm, rattling off some weird instructions to touch my nose and remember sequences of words. Now I’ve never had much luck multitasking or using my memory like that, but everything they were asking of me felt like a walk in the park on a sunny day.
It was the physical exercise tests that blew us all away. They put me back on the treadmill, and it felt like the weight had dropped off me and I was flying- I mean I was literally airborne as I legged it over that moving belt. They measured how high I could jump, like before, and I swear this time I was clearing a metre, effortlessly. The group of whitecoats with their clipboards were muttering away and I could tell they were impressed too. One even patted me on the back.
I don’t know much about science, but I think I’ve grasped some of what’s going on here. The procedure- the enhancing treatment- it’s taken something out of my body, hasn’t it? The machine removed some of my body’s matter. There I was running and jumping, exactly the same shape and size as before, but less dense somehow. I wasn’t affected by gravity as much anymore; I was faster and stronger. If only it had stopped there.
I need you to promise me something. If I don’t pull through, I want my mum to be given the money they owe me, ok? I never even told her where I was going. We fell out when I stole some cash she left lying around, so give her what I'm owed and tell her I’m sorry.
I’ve been a right guinea pig in here this last few days, haven’t I? All the brain function tests and bone density imaging, all that strength and endurance testing; they’ve measured me inside out. I knew the effects of the procedure were wearing off even without being told, because I started to feel proper knackered again as time went by. That and their grim faces told me all I needed to know.
I think everyone was surprised by what happened this morning though. Makes me wonder if anyone’s ever made it this far along before. I was eating my breakfast, about to dip a spoon into my yoghurt, when the spoon just slipped through my fingers. I tried to pick it up- it was right there sitting on the tray, looking as solid as anything. But try as I might I couldn’t close my fingers around it. It was as if it were an illusion. I couldn’t work out if I was seeing things that weren’t actually there- the spoon, the food, the cup of tea. Or was it that I wasn’t there myself- you know, I wasn’t real anymore? That’s when I yelled out and they all came running in, all the nurses and the doctors. You were there too, and from the look in your eyes I knew something really bad was happening.
My extremities were affected first, as the matter in my body continued to disappear. When I held my hands up to the light I could see right through them. Not just the bones and the red glow of blood like you get with a powerful torch. No, I could see the outline of objects right though the flesh. The very substance I’m made up of was disintegrating. I was fading away.
It didn’t take long for my whole body to catch up, turning me into a translucent ghost. The doctors were relentless with their tests and measurements, taking biopsies from every tissue in my body, shining beams through me, making me swallow liquid dyes. After a while it just all got too much, and that’s when I went to slam my fist on the wall. My hand passed right through like the bricks were made of light. I realised that the wall hadn’t changed but my hand had- it just wasn't solid anymore. And if I could walk through that wall like I had just punched it, well, I could stroll right out of here.
The first time was the hardest. Moving through the wall was uncomfortable but not painful; a bit like the shock of plunging into a cold swimming pool. I did it though- I emerged the other side. Stark naked mind you, as all my clothes were still behind the wall in a pile on the floor. You see, only my body had changed its density. My clothes were every bit as solid as they’d always been and couldn’t pass through the wall with me.
I’d put them all in a right panic and the sirens started wailing away. In no time the security guards were approaching me from either end of the hallway I’d entered. They talked nervously into the receivers fastened to their uniforms, holding their arms up protectively as if I were a mad dog about to bite. I suppose they’ve never seen a transparent naked man before so I can’t blame them for being alarmed.
I stepped through another wall. This time it was quicker, less resistance, and I was all set to keep going. I was done with this place.
It was you who caught up with me first. You must have been racing ahead to find me. You told me that with each time I’d moved through a wall I’d lost more matter and I was accelerating my disappearance. I could see it for myself when I looked down at my body and it was like seeing a reflection of myself in a window. I let you guide me back to my room because what else could I do? Here I am now, held captive by my condition and still slowly fading away. Even the bed sheets fall right through my body as if I’m already gone.
I’ve begged the doctors to reverse the process, to save me from becoming nothing, but they haven’t got a clue about how to make that happen. I’ve threatened them with a massive lawsuit. They say I won’t be around to see it through- no joke intended- and apparently I acknowledged the risk of adverse outcomes in the small print I signed. I never had a chance, did I? Not since the moment I saw that advertisement and they reeled me in.
All I’m asking is please don’t let them do this to anyone else. You’ve got to tell the world what Cerberus is doing. They can’t get away with it.
I’ve always been a nobody, and now I’m slipping away into thin air.
And I can’t even hold your hand.
Extract of correspondence from Cerberus’s Medical Director to the Governing Board, recovered from deleted files:
My Dear Sirs,
I can confirm that the latest clinical trial subject, a Mr Joseph Walsh, passed away between midnight and 2am this morning. The precise moment of his passing was indeterminate as an area of raised temperature indicated a possible ongoing presence after visibility was lost. I have congratulated the team on maintaining signs of life for significantly longer than achieved in earlier rounds. We have made admirable progress since the rather unpleasant Rhesus Monkey phase of the trials.
May I take this opportunity to remind my esteemed colleagues that our research brings immense benefits to national security. In this era of pending new world order we must prepare for the emergence of novel and catastrophic global threats. Our bold work at Cerberus equips us to meet such challenges face on. We are mere months away from enabling super-human assets to enter enemy territories unseen, passing without trace through physical barriers. Gentlemen, a new era of espionage and assassination is upon us.
Whilst the level of work undertaken at Cerberus is exempt from conventional ethical approval, there has of course been some human cost, not least to Mr Walsh and the team directly involved in his care. Although instructions were issued for professionals to remain impartial, I have been advised that he was a somewhat affable subject and certain staff developed an affection towards him, causing some distress towards the end. I can assure you this matter is being dealt with assertively.
Let me be clear that the selection process has consistently proved proficient in identifying individuals with little to offer society, all of whom have been successfully extracted from their communities with minimal disruption to civilian life. It is truly moving to consider how lives of such negligible value have bolstered our noble endeavours.
We must salute Mr Walsh, whose unwitting sacrifice has so greatly advanced Cerberus’s goals.