“Just lie down here.” The dark-haired student urged as she pointed to a mat on rollers situated before a huge tube. Arranging myself on the make-shift bed, I tried to keep my gown from twisting around and inadvertently flashing everyone.

“The most important thing to remember is to remain as still as possible. It will take about thirty minutes.” She explained as she propped foam blocks on either side of my head. Handing me a cord with a red button on the end and headphones, she then placed a blanket over my legs. “Here is your emergency button and because the MRI is so loud, we give you some music to listen to. What kind of music do you like? Hard rock? Pop?”

“Classical please.”

Tilting her head with a quirky expression on her face in response to my choice, she then nodded and proceeded to slide me into the large contraption. The tube was small; claustrophobics would certainly sweat in something like this. Both of my shoulders were pressed against the sides and the ceiling was only two inches from my nose.

Proceeding to the control room, the trainee turned on my music and fired up the MRI.

Feeling self-conscious as the group of students gawked at me through the glass window; I closed my eyes and relaxed as a stream of symphonic bliss began tickling my eardrums.

The MRI machine clunked and banged around me. I found it strangely soothing somehow, cocooned inside the metal monstrosity while embraced by Mozart.

“All done.” A voice stirred me from a light nap as the rolling mat beneath me was pulled from the tube. Sitting up, stretching and swinging my legs over the side, I was surprised to feel so refreshed.

The student led me back to the dressing room and handed me a file.

“Take this to the receptionist when you’re done. Thanks again for coming.” She gave me a pleasant smile and left.

Getting dressed, I couldn’t get over how pleasant everyone was here.

Approaching the front desk, the receptionist looked up from her paperwork. Handing her the file, she scanned it quickly, signed the bottom of the page and then made out a check in my name.

“Here you go,” she began as she handed me the check. “Thank you again. Will you be back tomorrow?”

“We’ll see,” I responded while stifling a yawn, “depends on what they’ll do to me. Being a guinea pig is harder than I thought.” I winked and she laughed.

All in all, it was an easy way to make $250. I was going to have to endure a whole lot more poking and prodding if I wanted to pay my tuition though.

* * *

“Cassia!” Amy pushed her short, plump legs to go faster as she ran to catch up to me. Lunch bag in hand and back pack over her shoulder, she huffed and puffed as she asked, “How did…the testing…go?”

I slowed down to meet her pace. “Good, thanks. Can’t say I’m crazy about getting my blood taken though.”

Laughing out loud, she nodded in agreement. “I think that’s a pretty universal loathing.”

Smiling in spite of myself, I always enjoyed Amy’s twist on vocabulary. Amy Gates, my friend for the last two years in university. I was grateful to have found such a wonderful human being.

“Are you going back tomorrow?” She inquired throwing a fresh piece of gum in her mouth. Offering me a piece, I declined with a polite wave of my hand.

“Yah, I have to if I want to make my tuition next week.” My heart sank as I thought of the possibility of not making enough. Archeology was my dream, if I couldn’t finish school, I’d be devastated.

“How much more do you need?” Amy looked up at me with a worried frown.

“Only $500, so if I go two more times that should cover it.” I rolled my eyes as I added, “Of course, that means I don’t have any money for food this week, but who needs food right?”

Amy didn’t appear to see the humor in my statement as she clutched her lunch bag a little closer to her chest.

“What tests did they do on you?”

“Just blood test and MRI this time. Who knows what other crazy things they have in store for me?” Wrapping my sweater tightly around me as a gust of fall wind swept by, I sighed. “At least it helps the students learn, right?”

“What sort of things are they looking for…with your blood I mean.” Long strands of her blonde hair whipped at her cherubic cheeks as she gave me an inquisitive glance.

“Everything I guess. I had to sign a waiver before I started and it said something about red and white blood cell count and DNA evaluation…whatever the students in the lab need to learn I guess.” I shrugged as I watched a flock of robins suddenly dart into the sky from a nearby maple tree. The campus was littered with trees shifting from summer to fall, the school sat stoic amongst the golden and copper shades of autumn.

“A waiver? What kind of waiver?” Amy’s professional alter ego sprang forth with suspicion. As a second year law student, she was trained like a bloodhound to sniff out shady contracts.

Realizing I shouldn’t have said anything, I sighed, “Just a paper saying that if I fall down dead from their tests, I won’t sue. Oh, and that I give them permission to send my results to some government census project.” I mumbled the last part in hopes that she might not be paying attention. I was wrong.

“What?!” Her lunch landed on the ground with a thud as she spun to face me. Her eyes wild, she was obviously appalled. “Haven’t I taught you anything?! The government! Cassia…” She held me by the shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes. “The government is corrupt; they could use your own blood against you.”

I fought hard not to roll my eyes and I bit my lip to prevent the smirk that wanted to spread across my face. She was a big conspiracy nut and according to her; the government was out to get everyone.

Bending over, picking up her lunch and handing it to her, I shook my head, linked my arm in hers and started walking again. “Amy, honey, you have to learn how to relax.”

Chapter 2

“Ahh, back for more, huh?” The receptionist at the front desk gave me a teasing grin.

“Yah.” I shrugged. “I guess I enjoy a little torture first thing in the morning.”

“Haha, just take this sheet down to admitting and they’ll get you started.” She smiled sweetly as she handed me a sheet of paper.


I wandered through the corridor of the university, passing several students along the way. Each smiled warmly at me as we passed one another.

“Friendly bunch.” I mumbled as I walked to the admitting booth.

“Hi there.” A bubbly young woman greeted me.

“Hi.” I replied as I handed her the sheet.

“Wonderful, just head down to x-ray and they’ll get you prepped for the mammogram.”

“What?!” I’d heard those were terribly painful, what was I getting myself into?

Cringing as I walked down the hallway toward x-ray, I imagined my poor breasts being squashed between two metal plates that slowly moved closer and closer together like a present day torture device.

“Money for my tuition…money for my tuition.” I reminded myself, gritting my teeth.

Turning into the lab, I walked up to a young woman dressed in a lab coat. Cheerily, she nodded as she greeted me hello. “I’m Deborah, do you have your waiver with you?” Handing her the paper that would give her permission to inflict pain and suffering upon me, she guided me to the back to change.

Slipping once again into a gown and tying it in the back, I wandered out into the waiting area. Spotting me, Deborah walked quickly to retrieve me.

“Follow me, please.” She smiled and directed me with her pointer finger as she led me down a hallway. Turning into a dimly lit room, she instructed me to have a seat near an enormous piece of technology.

Warily, I searched for the little window that the students usually stood behind and watched their specimens from. Exhaling a sigh of relief as I didn’t see one, I could feel my shoulders relax a little.

“Please remove your gown and place your left breast on the plate.” The young student asked politely. Standing beside me as I took off my gown, I heard a quiet gasp escape her. Looking at her face, I saw that her eyes

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