Part 1

Justin Timberlake never had a second thought as he walked into the lecture hall. Taking a seat about half way up the hall, at exactly two o’clock three professors entered the room. As they entered the room the door was closed and locked. A grey haired man in his late fifties got up and stood behind the podium, quickly clearing out anyone under the age of 18, and then he addressed the fifty or so people who were left.

“My name is professor Ryland and these are my two associates, Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Hopkins. We will be responsible for overseeing the whole project. He took off his glasses and leaned on the podium. “I am sure you all have so questions so how about we start. If you have any concerns please raise your hand and I will try to address it. Anyone?

A rather plump man in his twenties raised his hand and stood up. “Professor, what kind of experiments are you going to be conducting on the volunteers?”

“The experiments are purely social. How the volunteers deal with aspects such as the unexpected, stress, isolation etc. There will be no intrusive medical research done at all at this stage.”

Ryland put his glasses back on. “Next question.”

A tall thin man with long chocolate curls and sparkling blue eyes held up his hand, standing when he was acknowledged

“Professor, will the experiments be fully supervised?”

“They will and they won’t. Random checks will be made to make sure that all is well, but we want natural reactions, so you will not know when you will be being watched and when you won’t. Next question please.”

Justin lost track of the rest of the questions as his attention was drawn to the beautiful man. He watched as he sat back down and flicked an imaginary piece of fluff from his shocking pink shirt. “If there are no more questions I will pass the floor to Dr. Hopkins.” The older professor sat down in the vacated seat of his colleague.

Dr. Hopkins approached the podium, a friendly smile spread across her face. “As professor Ryland has already done, I would like to thank you all for participating in this research. You were given a number as you came into the hall, we will now use those numbers to decide which experiment you will be participating in.”

She nodded to Dr. Jacobs who stood up and brought a largish box to a table that had been set up. He removed a small cotton bag and then closed the lid again.

Hopkins continued, “In this bag we have corresponding numbered balls, to decide who goes where we will pick out a ball, the person holding that number will then come down and pick an envelope out of the box. Open and read the note then pass it to Dr. Jacobs who will then catalogue the designated experiment.” she paused briefly waiting for her audience to digest this information before continuing. “I must ask you not to discuss your assignments. As soon as you have been registered you will proceed to your designated room to be prepped. There are helpers in the corridor waiting and will ensure that no one lingers to talk to friends what have you.” She smiled once more. “One more thing before we start, there are envelopes with nothing inside, if you receive one of these you will go through the registration then you will be dismissed. We only have room for 25 people. Now that said lets begin.”

Dr. Jacobs put his hand in the bag and pulled out the first ball. “No. 41.”

A super slim girl with blond flowing locks got out of her seat and approached the table. She reached in and pulled out an envelope she read it and passed it to Jacobs who wrote in his book then handed the note back, Dr. Hopkins then escorted her from the room. When almost half the volunteers had been allocated

Joshua’s number was called out. He stood nervously, he had to get an envelope with an experiment; he just had too. $2000 was so much money, he’d be able to pay his rent for this month at least and maybe even pay some of his credit card debt; he might even be able to sign up again. He reached into the box and closed his fingers over one of the envelopes, starting to draw it out. On a sudden whim he dropped it and rummaged around drawing out a different one. His hands shaking he tore it open; read it, and handed it to the professor before leaving.

Three balls later Justin’s number was called. Calmly he pulled out his note, frowning in confusion. All that was written on it was Experiment No.4, room 502, J. He handed the note over to be registered, before being led out and to the next three weeks of uncertainty.