The Experiment: Chapter 1 – Dr. Loran

“So, how is it affecting you?”

Typical counselor question, David thought to himselfEveryone has been affected by the three murders. No one can forget the first murder, which happened on April 24th; about a month ago. Jennifer Alden was found strangled to death in her own apartment. The murderer? Jack Dixer, who was a champion football player and class president.

Soon after Jennifer’s body was found, they located Jack who had hung himself in the local park from a tree. The same rope used to murder Jennifer, he used to take his own life. Shock stung the community since Jack was known as a cool-tempered, good student. He seemed to be continually upbeat and happy. Being that he came from a well-to-do family, no one in their wildest dreams could ever picture Jack as a murderer.

The connection between Jack and Jennifer was uncertain. According to fellow students, they barely knew each other.  In fact, there was confusion over how Jack even knew where Jennifer lived.  The local police couldn’t gain any leads.

Rumors circulated that Jack had been secretly stalking Jennifer and killed her. Supposedly he had a secret crush on her, and she had turned him down. David believed this to be false. He reasoned that people were just looking for excuses to explain the murder.

Almost two weeks later, another bizarre murder had taken place. Michael Johnson, a quiet student, broke into his father’s gun cabinet, walked two miles to Trudy Calihan’s house, and gunned her down. The next-door neighbor heard both a shot and scream, and the police were on the scene quickly. They were able to pin Michael as guilty and arrested him at his own home. He made the claim that he had spoken with God, who had told him to do what he had done. Within minutes, a mysterious sudden death overtook him, and no further information was given.

A few days ago, the murder of Eliza Grant by her best friend, Geoff Zimmerman, took place. They found her dead in her parent’s kitchen in a pool of her own blood. Geoff was later found in a nearby woods slashed to death with his knife. Evidence seemed to indicate that it was a suicide. Some people couldn’t picture Geoff going through with such a task, but others thought guilt may have overwhelmed him when he came to his senses. The police had no leads on any of the murders. There seemed to be no patterns at all, aside from the fact that all the victims were female, while all the murderers were male. Some people thought someone was using hypnosis on the male students or some form of brainwashing. Yet to be able to brainwash three students to the extent to commit murder seemed virtually impossible.

Carthage, NY was a fairly small town situated in the Northern part of the state and experienced a very low crime rate until now. Immediately, parents looked for scapegoats such as rock music and TV shows.

Most professionals like the Sheriff, Detective, and the new School Counselor, believed that there wasn’t any connection with rock music, TV, and the murders.

A local punk band called Jaguar Sunday was being tagged as a scapegoat. They played at several village dances, and some parents believed that their influence played a part in the murders. Jaguar Sunday’s lyrics were not violent, so David believed that these particular parents were just trying to find someone to point the finger at.

“David?” David snapped out of his daze and looked up at the counselor. The room seemed overly silent, as David searched for an answer. The only sounds that could be heard were the ticking of the clock, the filter in the counselor’s aquarium, and the occasional footsteps in the hall.

The counselor’s office was cozy. It was adorned with brown furniture, and the counselor brought in his own overhead lamps as if to avoid the piercing fluorescent lights that occupied every other room in the school building. David always felt that his eyes were extra sensitive to fluorescent lights and wished the school would use something different.

When it came to Dr. Loran’s office’s atmosphere, only the plain white walls felt drab. The entire school had the same walls, and David would feel more enclosed as a result. School was more like a prison in his mind. Some days he wished he could quit school, but he knew if he did, he would likely wind up like his Uncle Vinnie who struggled all his life just to make ends meet.

“It’s scary…and tragic. I hope they catch whoever is behind the murders.” David always felt a little awkward expressing his feelings toward any adult. Especially over a situation so delicate.

The counselor was a middle-aged man. His eyes were continually unreadable as if he was able to hide his emotions from the best of psychologists. If one were to see him for the first time, they would probably write him off as a computer nerd with his overly thick rimmed glasses and evenly parted dark hair. Normally he wore a sweater, which he kept perfectly neat. He was never seen with a wrinkle or a stain on his clothing.

The counselor, whose name was Peter Loran, nodded his head while saying, “I see.” He stared at David with a thoughtful look. David twitched a little under his gaze. He hated being stared at, as he felt Dr. Loran was analyzing his every move. At last Dr. Loran spoke; “So, you want to be a detective?”

Oh no, David thought, here comes a lecture on how not to be involved with the investigation. He decided to still be honest. “Yeah I do.” He had been down to the police station a few times to offer any help he could give them. However, he was told that the investigation was too dangerous.

“Good…good. There needs to be more of that around here the way things are going.” Dr. Loran said, with a sarcastic hint in his tone. “Yet, I’m sure you know what is best and to leave this to the professionals.”

David felt a little irritated; he was really concerned and wanted to help. However, it seemed like no one wanted his help. He was trying to puzzle everything together in his mind to no avail. “Yeah, I’ll stay out of it.” David lied. He didn’t like lying, but he felt pinned in a corner with this one.

He had always been interested in solving mysteries. Scooby Doo had been his favorite cartoon growing up, and any mystery show that appeared on TV never failed to lure his attention. Solving riddles and puzzles were a specialty of his.

“OK, now that we got that settled, I believe it is time to bring up your friend Sarah. I have received complaints from your mother…”

David knew at some point in time the counselor would bring this up, so he was somewhat ready. “Listen, I’m not going to stop being friends with her!”

“But she’s the type of girl who is going to bring you down. You’re a good kid David, and good kids need good friends.”

David was annoyed. He had been best friends with Sarah since childhood. She had changed, but David didn’t see anything wrong with her. Sure, she wore black clothing, dyed her hair black, wore black lipstick sometimes, but she was still his friend. It was sometimes difficult living in a relatively religious town. It felt like everyone watched everyone else instead of minding their own business like they should. “I don’t know why you people have to always judge others…. You don’t know her like I do!”

Dr. Loran sucked in a breath. “I know her better than you think…and she may be a little paranoid, as you have said yourself. That is the last thing you need right now with what’s going on. You have told me before that her conspiracy theories are getting on your nerves. I think it would be best if you step back and take a break.”

David wished he hadn’t blurted that from his mouth when he was angry. He always would tell the wrong people the wrong things. Then he felt like he couldn’t go back on it. He remembered the incident when Sarah brought up the idea of ancient aliens and how they might still have influence in the world. She loved talking about UFOs and secret societies.

That day he was frustrated with Sarah and ended up blurting it out to the counselor. Sarah had shown very little frustration during the conversation. However, she was bothered by the fact that he stormed off and mentioned the ordeal to Dr. Loran. Now it was being used against him.

“Yeah, I don’t agree with her on some things, especially when it comes to conspiracy and religion, but we usually get along pretty well besides that.”

“I can’t tell you what to do David. I just think it would be for the best. I’ll let you decide though.” Knowing Dr. Loran, this would not be the last time he would push this issue with Sarah. He had a tendency to bring up the same subjects over and over.

David looked at the clock and was glad that this session was almost over. He hated being told what to do and was nowhere near thinking about ending his friendship with Sarah. He looked at her as the sister he no longer had.

He recalled the night his sister died. At age thirteen, the doctor found a tumor forming on her brain. They attempted to remove it, but during the operation, the doctor slipped and did fatal damage. From that day forth, David had a hatred for doctors. He was fourteen at the time. Even his parents attempted to reassure him that it was a mistake, but David could read the anger in their eyes. They couldn’t hide their own hatred toward that particular doctor from him.

From that day on, David did his own research into homeopathic medicine and natural healing. Sarah shared this interest with him, and they researched it together. It never ceased to amaze either of them how dangerous mainstream medicine can be when improperly used.

This time period also created an unhealthy fear of death in David. Sometimes he would second guess his decision at being a detective, but his passion pushed him on. He hoped to one day get over this fear. Sometimes he felt afraid to ride in a vehicle because an accident could happen at any moment. He was scared of visiting the doctor because they could find that something was wrong with him and he was going to suffer and die. Sometimes the thoughts would send him into a panic attack.

The session ended and David walked out and down the hall. An adult he didn’t recognize was walking toward him. Something felt strange about this person, as it seemed that he was trying to look away. David decided to pass it off as nothing but as they passed each other, David thought he caught an unnatural yellow in the man’s eyes.