Chapter 33

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For what could be the thousandth time, Donald checked the results of the third set of tests he had run on Raymond’s sample of ashes. He had checked, double checked, and checked again. Then ran another sample through the series of machines and microscopes the various departments owned throughout the campus and started again. He may not have any friends on campus, but he was respected enough to get results from other departments when he needed things tested, and he got those results fast.

No matter how he looked at it, the sample came out the same way. Old, yes, but the sample didn’t show signs of being burned, at least not by any normal fire if they had. They were also un-deteriorated, showing no signs of free-radical damage from life or even decay postmortem, they were perfectly preserved. DNA testing, something he was very proud to be able to get done and constantly bragged about, showed some sort of strange mutation that he had never seen. But the biggest shocker was when he looked at it through his most powerful microscopes to try to figure out what that mutation was and why the sample seemed so un-effected by age or decay.

What Raymond thought were ashes were actually tiny, microscopic pieces of dried human remains. They initially looked like beef jerky that had been ground down into a fine powder. When he looked closer at the pieces to see the individual cells themselves, he found that instead of the usual materials that made up the human body, each cell was made up of thousands, if not millions of microscopic crystals. Finally all the strange data, the mutation of the DNA, the preservation, even the way the sample seemed to have been turned into powder, was starting to make sense to Donald in an impossible way!

Somehow, whoever this sample came from was able to mutate their very cells from their usual frail state into something much more durable. If Donald could somehow find a way to replicate this mutation, he could potentially stop the aging process entirely! Lifespans could not only be extended indefinitely, but there was the potential for even more benefits that he could only guess at. This would change the world! His hands shaking in excitement, Donald fumbled through old papers and notes in his desk to find a phone number. As smart as he was, it was going to take at least two minds and several years to figure out the DNA mutation, how it works, and how to use it in regular people.

Finally, after a few minutes of cursing, he pulled out a small sticky pad with a name and cell phone number hastily written across it. Then putting it off to the side, Donald opened an old black phone book and flipped through until he found Raymond’s number. Hands still shaking, he had a hard time punching the right numbers. Strumming his fingers on his desk, Donald impatiently waited for Raymond to answer.

“Hello” Raymond asked, sounding half asleep. It was nearly 3 in the morning.

“Ray! Its Don, I’ve just finished running more tests on that sample you brought me and, well, can you get me more? Is there any way possible you can get me more?”

“I’m not sure if I can,” Raymond said mid-yawn, “it’s from a crime scene and you’re not supposed to have what I gave you in the first place, I could lose my job if it ever got out.”

“Nobody has to know that you gave it to me Raymond, I’ll be calling in a former student of mine to help me with this, I’ll let him take the credit for the initial discovery. But you have no idea what you’ve stumbled on my friend, this is much bigger than any job. You may have found the fountain of youth!”

Raymond chuckled, in all the years that he’d known Donald he had never once referred to Raymond as “friend.” Whatever was in those ashes sure had Don wound right up tight, and there was something in his voice that made Raymond want to at least try to help. Rubbing his eyes, he turned on his bedside light and wrote himself a note.

“Look, I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll head back out to the woods and see if there’s anything left. It was a big pile and we didn’t take it all. But Donald, you have to promise me where you got it from stays a secret, I don’t care how big it is or what it is, I’m not involved. Got it?”

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