Turritopsis - Chapter Nine added 2017-04-29

Inspired by Elibean’s epic Lily the Liar, I have decided to be super brave and share one of my ABDL stories here. I’ve never done that before, but I’m almost more excited than nervous–I’m actually fairly happy with how it turned out, and can’t wait to get the next chapter up.

Suggestions are definitely welcome, so be nice but be honest. Tell me what worked or didn’t, and I’ll try to improve things in subsequent chapters and drafts.

Thanks for reading. :slight_smile:


Turritopsis

[One]
The room is meant to be a small auditorium, but there are no chairs. It’s dim, even though the lights are switched on. The headmaster is standing on a small platform in the front. There used to be a lectern here, but it, too, has been removed. A small group of students–sophomores, mostly, with a junior or two among them–stand nervously near the back. They don’t know why they’re here.

Headmaster Green moves forward to begin his speech. He is beginning to tire of standing, so he sits on the edge of the stage. He invites the students to come forward and sit on the front row. Most of them do. He isn’t going to press the issue with the others.

Now he needs to explain what’s going on. You can do this, Chuck, he tells himself. Charles Green believes that he is doing the right thing, but that doesn’t make it any easier. In the past week he’s almost called it off twice, and then written four different versions of the story he’s about to tell. He is still not sure which one to use.

The silence is starting to get awkward. It’s now or never. He decides to go with the “you’re so lucky” version. He doesn’t think the kids will buy it (he’s not entirely sure he believes it himself), but he likes the role he gets to play; if nothing else, it makes him feel less like a comic book villain than his other drafts.

“Welcome,” he says. “Thanks for coming. I know you weren’t give much of a choice, but we still appreciate your cooperation.”

“One of you here is very lucky,” he continues. “One of you is about to get an opportunity that most people could only dream of: the chance to experience childhood all over again.”

He is bothered by the word “childhood”. Technically, the teenagers before him are still in their childhoods. Something like “preschoolhood” would have been more appropriate, but he didn’t like how made-up that sounded.

“What?” Chuck didn’t hear who said it, but he was probably speaking for everyone. His introduction had only made them more confused, though hopefully it had primed them to accept what was coming a little more charitably. Here we go, he says to himself. Don’t apologize, don’t act guilty.

“Let me explain,” he says. “As most of you know, our school has for many years now partnered with the Charleston Institute to assist where possible in their various scientific and technological research endeavors. In turn, the Charleston Institute is one of our biggest financial contributors. I am not exaggerating when I say we that would not have survived the recession without their support.”

“For the last fifteen years, a group of brilliant scientists led by Dr. Ned Brackus have been working on an ambitious project whose ultimate goal is the very defeat of death itself. You might think we’re talking about heart disease, or cancer, but this is bigger than that. Because you can skip the heart attacks, you can beat back cancer, but sooner or later you’ll still die. If one thing doesn’t get you, something else will, until you’re eventually done in by the inevitable, poorly-understood, all-consuming malady known as ‘old age’. Curing cancer would be great–it’d save ten of millions of lives for sure–but that’s spare chance compared to this. You defeat aging, you save tens of billions.”

Headmaster Green is pleased with himself. It was a good speech, he thinks. So far, so good. He hasn’t gotten to the bottom line yet, but he’s set the stage. A few more minutes and he can turn this over to Brackus.

The students are interested, even excited some of them, but mostly they’re more confused. After a long few seconds, one of them finally speaks up.

“That’s all great and stuff, but what does this have to do with any of us?”

“A very important question,” Greene says. “I’ll skip the rest of the fluff and get right to the point: Dr. Brackus’ latest research has entered the human trials phase, and we have agreed to loan him one of our students for remainder of the academic year. You are all candidates for that position, determined based on genetic testing combined with various social and legal considerations.”

“So you’re looking for guinea pigs, then? Test subjects for some sort of medical research?” It’s Andrew Jackson, Jonah Jackson’s son. Chuck still isn’t sure if him being here is a good idea.

“I dislike the term ‘guinea pig’, but that’s the basic idea, yes.”

“Sorry,” Andrew says, “not interested. You can definitely count me out.”

Greene’s palms are sweating. At least he thinks they are. He doesn’t dare look down, not here with no podium and only a few feet between him and his audience. He doesn’t want to draw attention to how nervous he is. He doesn’t want to look uncertain when he says when he’s about to say.

After thinking one more time about calling it off and letting them all go, Headmaster Green decides to push through. “Just to clarify,” he says. “This is not a request. We aren’t looking for volunteers. Whichever of you is selected will be part of the project. The legal paperwork is, as I said, already complete.”


Edit: Removed the outdated reference to there being only six students. (It’s really more like sixteen).

Re: Turritopsis

I like the narration. You’ve done a very good job giving us a look into Charles’ mind and mannerisms, and it’s interesting to see how he seems to be cognizant of the fact that what he’s doing is wrong. He seems to be doing it because he was told to and because the survival of the school requires it. This is an interesting moral dilemma, and reminds me of the Nuremberg trials where the Nazi’s claimed they were “just following orders”.

The narration does seem a tad confusing though at times. The initial setup makes me picture a group of 10-20 students, but then you say there are only 6 later on.

You’ve left a couple of dangling threads to keep things interesting, with four named characters already and a potential protagonist in Andrew Jackson (is the name coincidental, or is it inspired by the president?).

I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out. You’ve clearly put a good amount of effort into it thus far.

Re: Turritopsis

I, for one, am fascinated to find out how the “immortal jellyfish” works its way into this story…

Re: Turritopsis

This has possibilities.

While the initial setup does suggest a somewhat larger group, a group of six isn’t ruled out. Otherwise, carry on, and we’ll be able to give you better feedback when we have a little more to chew on.

Re: Turritopsis

Thanks for catching that. The explicit reference to six students is from an earlier draft that, which I should have taken out but didn’t notice. What’s the etiquette for editing around here? Can I go back and tweak the first chapter as I go, or is it better to just make changes on my copy until I have enough for a separate first-chapter-second-draft post?

Turritopsis - Chapter Two

[Two]
Benjamin Dar can sleep through almost anything. He has no trouble dozing off with the TV and lights on, isn’t bothered by animals, roommates, or construction noise, and in years past regularly napped through active gunfire and incoming mortar attacks. He is especially good at half-sleeping, with his eyes still open and his brain paying partial attention just in case. In fact, the one guaranteed to disrupt Benjamin’s sleep in silence. He learned long ago that when everything is quiet, when all the noise stops, that’s when it’s most important to wide awake, alert, and prepared for what might follow.

Everything is quiet now.

The other students are contemplating what their headmaster has just said, finally understanding what Benjamin realized a long time ago: they are, all of them, prisoners here. Escape is unlikely–Benjamin can tell, without looking around, that the doors are now either locked or guarded. His best bet is to go along, do what he’s told, and try not to stand out from the crowd.

The boy to Benjamin’s left has other ideas. (It’s Andrew, who spoke earlier, though Benjamin does not remember his name.)

“Holy shit,” Andrew says. “This is a kidnapping!”

“I wouldn’t call it that,” Headmaster Green says.

“Well, let’s see: you drag us all up here in the middle of the night, won’t let us leave, and now you’re going to force one of us to be a test subject for some sort of bizzaro freakish medical experiments. Yeah, you’re right, kidnapping doesn’t quite cover it, does it.”

“I’m not quite sure that’s a fair charac-”

Andrew doesn’t let him finish. “So what, did we like piss somebody off or something? Is this retaliation for-”

“You were selected based on genetic compatibility,” Headmaster Green says.

“Genetic compatibility my ass,” Andrew says. “I’m sure that’s exactly why TJ Rom isn’t here.”

“Mr. Rom is needed in other capacities,” Green says.

“Or in other words, he’s a star athlete and we’re… not.”

“This isn’t about sports,” Green says. “But yes, the ideal candidate is an individual whose absence for six to twelve months will not cause undue stress on the rest of the student body.”

“Or in other words,” Andrew says, “you want losers nobody will miss. Well, I can’t say I disagree with your selections. We’re quite the pathetic lot here, aren’t we? Not one guy among us has so much as a girlfriend.”

“I have a girlfriend.” Benjamin says. He immediately regrets it. So much for not being noticed. On top of that, he and Sarah aren’t exactly public; he’s not entirely sure if he’s allowed to use the g-word just yet.

“I meant a human girlfriend,” Andrew says. “I doubt they’re terribly impressed by your-”

“Mr. Jackson, that’s enough!” Headmaster Green says. “If you are selected, Mr. Dar, Ms. Winters will be informed of your situation. The same goes for the rest of you–your parents or other family members will be made aware-”

“Yeah, about that,” Andrew says. “You know my Dad is on the board of directors, right? Just because he dumped me off in this shithole doesn’t mean he’s going to be happy with you using me for your little-”

“We know who your father is,” Headmaster Green says. “Who do you think recommended you for the project?”

“Son of a bitch!” Andrew says. “That’s totally the kind of thing that mother fucker would-”

“Watch your language, Andrew! There are future children present.” Headmaster Green gets up and excuses himself. Dr. Brackus, he says, will take over from here.

Re: Turritopsis

For a smaller tweak like the number of students or fixing typos, just edit the post, perhaps with a note that you’ve done so. A more significant edit where the comments will make no sense is better done as a second draft altogether.

Most of this chapter is good. Right at the end, the transition from dialog to narrative explanation is a bit odd. Consider something more like ‘Headmaster Green says and stands up, beckoning to a shadowy figure in the corner. “Dr. Brackus will take over from here.”’

Re: Turritopsis

[QUOTE=ally;67622]For a smaller tweak like the number of students or fixing typos, just edit the post, perhaps with a note that you’ve done so. A more significant edit where the comments will make no sense is better done as a second draft altogether.
[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the advice. Edit made with note.

Re: Turritopsis - Chapter Two

[QUOTE=SolenoidSandwich;67621]

“Watch your language, Andrew! There are future children present.” Headmaster Green gets up and excuses himself. [/QUOTE]

This made me smile. :slight_smile:

Re: Turritopsis

A very interesting set up. I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out, and who the “lucky” candidate is. I’m enjoying Andrew’s attitude.

Re: Turritopsis

I’m starting to guess why the Headmaster is informing all the candidates instead of just selecting the final winner… but maybe my guesses are wrong.

Re: Turritopsis

It’s quite possible that your guesses are better than my actual plot. Maybe you should PM me what you think so I can can steal your ideas… :wink:

Turritopsis - Chapter Three

[Three]
Dr. Brackus takes the stage. He has way too much nervous energy to sit down, so he stays on his feet and moves around, shifting a portable microphone back and forth. The mike doesn’t work, but it gives him something to do with his hands.

“Welcome,” he says. “Sorry about the chairs. We seem to have misplaced them. We’ve had lot of remodeling lately. Lots of preparations. Preparations for you. For one of you, anyway. We’re excited to find out which one.”

“Let’s talk details.”

“Who here knows what a turritopsis dohrnii is?” He doesn’t expect to get any response, but a hand goes up. “Yes, you. Daniel, isn’t it?”

“It’s a jellyfish,” Daniel says.

“That is correct!” Dr. Brackus says. “But not just any jellyfish. Turritopsis is a very special kind of jellyfish. In fact you might call them the luckiest creatures in the entire animal kingdom. Do you know why that is?”

“They’re immortal,” Daniel says.

“Indeed they are,” Dr. Brackus says. “Immortality. Think about that for a minute. The ability to live as long as want. We’ve been working on cures and treatments for millennia, and we’ve barely managed to double our average lifespan. And yet this tiny little jellyfish, no bigger than your fingertip, has the whole thing figured out. And you know what they have to teach us? That we’ve been going at it all the wrong way! We’ve been trying to prevent ourselves from getting old, but that’s not what turritopsis does at all, is it? Do you remember what it does, what its secret to immortality is?”

“It sort of, ages backwards,” Daniel says.

“Exactly!” Dr. Brackus says. “That’s the secret. The key to living forever is the ability to revert to an earlier state of development. If you could age backwards, then switch back and go forward again, you, too could live forever.”

“And you think you can do that?” Daniel says.

“No,” Dr. Brackus says. “Not yet. But I’m confident that we have cracked the first piece of the puzzle.”

“We’re a bit more complex than jellyfish,” Daniel says.

“Indeed we are,” Dr. Brackus says. “The biggest difference being that they are literally brainless and that we—most of us, anyway—are not. So as a human, you wouldn’t want to completely revert to your younger state even if you could, because you’d lose the skills, memories, personality that make you who you are. If you want to live forever by becoming a completely different person, you might as well just settle down and have kids. No, what we want is to pick and choose—to regress in certain aspects, but not in others.”

“So here’s how this is going to work. In a few moments, we’re all going to move to waiting room A on the lower level. You will be interviewed one by one, after which a subset of you will move on to waiting room B and the rest will come back here. We’ll then repeat that process, narrowing things down each time, until we’re left with our one lucky winner. The all but one of you will then have your phones and personal items returned and be taken back to your dorms.”

“Any questions?”

“What happens to the last guy?” Daniel says.

“The last guy gets a chance to help us make history,” Dr. Brackus says. “We’ll start the Turritopsis Treatment right away–there aren’t any actual jellyfish involved, that’s just what we call it in honor of our little friends who inspired all of this. I really wanted to put a tank of them in the lobby down there, but they’re terribly hard to keep in captivity and we couldn’t get it arranged in time. I have a picture, though–does anyone want to see a picture of the immortal jellyfish?”

Dr. Brackus gets out his phone and starts to unlock it, but doesn’t get any interest from the crowd. “Never mind then,” he says, and puts it back.

Dr. Brackus has forgotten what he was talking about. “Where were we?” he says. No help from his audience. “Oh yeah, the procedure. The actual treatment is entirely drug-based. Surprising, right? I mean, there’s plenty of gene design and CRISPR stuff and bacterial protein magic to get there, but when all is said and done what we’re left with is a series of intravenous injections. These injections will, essentially, trick your brain into thinking that it’s aging backwards, without really doing so. You’ll get all the benefits of reverse-aging, without losing any of your acquired self. In three to six months, we hope to bring you back ten to fifteen years. Then, after you get a chance to experience that for a while, we’ll slowly withdraw the treatment and you’ll age forward again in about the same time span.”

“Pretty cool, huh? Let’s get started.”

Re: Turritopsis - Chapter Three

…and that’s the end of the first act. The next four or five chapters are so interconnected that I think I really need them all finished before I start posting them, so it might be a week or two before I have the next part.

Until then, let me know what you think so far. My biggest question is, is it interesting and engaging enough to make you want to keep reading?

Re: Turritopsis - Chapter Three

I absolutely love the idea and hope that I don’t get lost in the technicalities of it all but you certainly have sparked my interest and cannot wait to see where this leads.

Inspired by jellyfish how inspirational :wink:

Turritopsis - Chapter Four

[Four]

The sun is up, though it’s hard to tell that from the basement. The room being called “Waiting Room A” is really a temporary storage room for newly-arrived laboratory equipment. Some of that equipment is still here, stacked in boxes floor to ceiling in the back. Several rows of chairs have been set up near the center. (They are some of the missing chairs from the auditorium, actually, though no one has figured that out). Each chair has a name card attached to its back.

Most of the students are sitting on the chair with their name on it. Three students are on the wrong chairs, two are sitting on the floor, and another pacing back and forth. The last, Joe Crutler, is reading the shipping manifests on the unopened packages.

They’ve been here, alone, for over an hour. Or at least Joe thinks it’s been an hour. There’s no clock in the room, and they confiscated everyone’s phones, so it’s hard to know for sure. Everyone is starting to get restless.

“What are you doing back there?” someone–Payton Habberstad if he’s on the right chair–says from the front.

“Looking for clues,” Joe says. “If we can figure out what’s in these boxes, it might us a some idea what they’re up to.”

“This isn’t an escape room,” Payton says. “They’re not going to let you out if you solve the puzzle.”

“Well, I for one don’t intend to get picked,” Joe says. “The more I know about what they’ve got here, the better idea I’ll have about what sort of person they’re looking for, and the easier it’ll be to make sure I’m not that person.”

“I think they pretty much told us what they’re up to,” Payton says. “Or weren’t you listening back there?”

“You believe all that stuff?” Joe says.

“It’s no less insane than any other theory,” Payton says. “You think they made it up?”

“I’m not sure,” Joe says. “I just thinking it’s worth considering, that’s all. Maybe that whole story about turning someone into a toddler is just a smoke screen, something purposefully crazy to distract us from figuring out what’s actually going on.”

“Well, what’ve you got so far?” Payton says. “What’s in that big box right there?”

“According to the label?” Joe says. “A very large rocking horse.”

It’s been at least two hours now, possibly three. Or maybe fifteen minutes. Joe has given up trying to guess. There are six guys in the back now, looking at the big box Joe found. The others have mostly scattered.

“Screw it,” says Andrew Jackson. “I’m going in.”

“I don’t think they want us going through their stuff,” Chaz Parsen says.

“And I don’t want to be kidnapped and kept here against my will,” Andrew says. “I’m thinking politeness went out the window a long time ago.”

Andrew takes some keys from his picket, rips open the packing tape, and looks in the box.

“Well,” Rubik Bernfield says. “What’s in it?”

“A big-ass rocking horse,” Andrew says. “Were you hoping for hand grenades?”

Rubik comes up to take a look. “Where do you even get a horse that size?” he says.

“The label says ‘special needs’,” Joe says.

“Figures,” Rubik says.

“I got a ‘special need’,” Andrew says. “Do you think today’s busy schedule includes time for bathroom breaks?”

“You could try shouting at the door,” Joe says, “but I’m not sure if anybody is listening.”

“On the contrary,” says Benjamin Dar, “I think they’re listening to everything. Or at least watching.”

“How do you know?” Joe says.

“The cameras,” Benjamin says. “There, there, and over there. They can see the whole room. I can’t tell if they have audio.”

Andrew moves to face one of the cameras and waves his arms.
“I,” he says and points to his eye.
“Need.” He points to his knee.
“To.” He holds up two fingers.
“Pee.” He hesitates, then tries to form the letter with his hands.

“That’s backwards,” Benjamin says.

“No, it isn’t,” Andrew says. “I’m pretty sure I know my alphabet.”

“It’s right from your perspective, but backwards from theirs,” Benjamin says. “It looks like a little Q from the other side.”

“Fuck!” Andrew says. “I-knee-V-Q. Let’s hope they never put me in charge of First Contact.”

Turritopsis - Chapter Five

[Five]

The room is a mess now. The once neat rows of chairs are no longer recognizable. Half a dozen of the shipping boxes have been opened, with some of their containers torn to bits. Several of the ceiling tiles have fallen down from an unsuccessful attempt at attempt at a vertical exit. Opposing barricades have been erected in the corners. Cardboard projectiles are scattered between them.

The door opens. The woman does not introduce herself. “Anyone who needs to use the bathroom come with me,” she says.

Four boys get up. “This is your last chance until lunch,” she says. “Anyone else?”

Several more students make their way to the front.

The group that went to the bathroom has returned. Joe Crutler is trying to collect information.

“It was a bathroom,” says Daniel Svent. “Not much to tell. When you got to the front of the line you went in, peed, washed your hands, and left. Then we came back here.”

“Did she do anything, or talk to anyone else while you were there?”

“Not that I noticed,” Dainel says. “It was all very-”

The door opens again. The same woman enters. She looks down at her iPad.

“Payton Habberstad.” Payton walks to the front.
“Ernest Randazzo.” Another student joins him.
“Darrin Jong.”

I regret to inform you that you are no longer under consideration for the research assistant position. Please come with me. The rest of you will meet with Dr. Brackus when your name is called.

Payton, Ernest, and Darrin have left.

“Apparently this was part of the test,” says Benjamin Dar. “They weren’t just watching, they were taking notes. Whatever they’re looking for, they didn’t find it in those three.”

“But what could that possibly have been?” says Joe Crutler. “Payton was loud but harmless, Ernest is responsible for hundreds of dollars in property damage, and Darrin sat quietly where they left him like a trained puppy. Those guys couldn’t have been more different.”

“Maybe it’s the other way around,” Benjamin says. “Something they did find in the rest of us, or think they might.”

“Like what?” Joe says.

“I have no idea,” Benjamin says.

The door opens. It’s a different woman than last time. “Svent,” she says. Daniel gets up and moves to the front.

“Guess we’re about to find out,” Joe says.

Re: Turritopsis

To anyone who made it this far, what do you think? On the scale between incredibly suspenseful and boring as hell, where am I? Are you interested in reading more?

I very much appreciate feedback, even if it’s negative, so don’t hold back.

Thanks for reading.

Re: Turritopsis - Chapter Five added 2017-03-26

I’m kind of enjoying the unusual focus not on the actual regression but on the boys trying to figure out what the heck these people are looking for and whether or not this is a desirable thing. There are plenty of stories about AR out there; this one aims the camera somewhere we don’t usually see it.

Re: Turritopsis - Chapter Five added 2017-03-26

I agree with Kerry.
I keep wanting more and you’re feeding us little snippets at a time so… yes I’m frustrated, my mind is working on my own possibilities but I’m sure you are going to dump a load of clever info on us at any moment.
Even if you don’t, it will be ‘fun’ waiting to see where this goes.:smiley: