Project 3:12

This is a short duologue between a psychologist and a scientist imprisoned for experimenting on a 7 month old foetus aborted illegaly from his wife after the death of his first child.
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1. Project 3:12

Lights up on Bruce Richards sat down on a worn leather sofa in a clinical looking room. He is in his mid-50’s, wearing a prison uniform and is looking around the room frantically. When he speaks he has a slight American accent.

 Dr Liz Harper enters through the door. She is dressed formally and carries a file in one hand and a brief case in the other. She is a well spoken woman in her late 30’s but resembles that of a middle class background rather than the working class background she was bought up in.

 She stops next to the sofa.

Liz No need to look so panicked Bruce.

Bruce (looks her up and down then scowls and turns away from her)

Liz carries on walking to the desk opposite the sofa and sits down at the chair. She places down the brief case and opens the file. She quickly scans over it before returning her stare to Bruce.

Bruce What does it say about me in that file then Doctor, a complete psychopath with no morals: or maybe, an all round, evil, scientific genius? (He laughs to himself)

Liz You know, you don’t get anywhere acting like a smart arse in these sessions.

Bruce (He makes a shocked expression then smiles as he says) Touché.

Liz Now perhaps you could help yourself a little here, 15 years is a long time to spend on your own.

Bruce Who knows, perhaps I’ll go all Shaw shank on you?

Liz Yes, your ego would suggest you’d go for a far less civilised way of freeing yourself. Some people just can’t quite get the hang of accepting help.

Bruce You can’t help me, it’s too late for me now, and the world isn’t ready for me, so they’ll just lock me away.

Liz The world will never be ready for criminals.

Bruce That’s a little harsh Doctor.

Liz The world is always ready for someone who has reformed though.

Bruce I’ve got no such thing planned for any time in the future. I don’t need to reform.

Liz Yes, that’s the standard response.

Bruce Haven’t you ever felt like there has to be more? Like there’s more out there somewhere. Just beyond your grasp, if you could only get to it?

Liz Where are you going with this Bruce? I’m a forensic psychologist, not a philosopher.

Bruce But you have an open mind right?

Liz I believe it is me who should be asking the questions Bruce.

Bruce But you will never understand why I did what I did if you don’t understand my desire for more.

Liz We all strive for personal excellence. All in our different ways, but we all do it.

Bruce Ask me then.

Liz Ask you what?

Bruce Ask me why I experimented on my own daughter.

Liz Well if you insist, why did you perform surgery on your wife to remove a seven month old foetus illegally from her body and then use it for experimental purposes?

Bruce You make it sound so, so, wrong.

Liz That’s because it is. Maybe not in your eyes, but morally, ethically and lawfully it is very much wrong.

Bruce But I’m a scientist, my wife is a scientist. We study human biology, chemistry; we knew what we were doing. She was our daughter, our own flesh and blood, it was our decision to do what we wanted to do, and to us, it was the right one.

Liz Shortly before you came to the UK, you had a child right?

Bruce (Stares into space for a moment then quickly switches back) Yes, Amie.

Liz And she-

Bruce Died? Yes she died.

Liz How ol-

Bruce 3 days, 12 hours.

Liz Project 3:12. 3 days, and 12 hours.

Bruce Amie died because she was premature. Her organs and bones weren’t developed properly and it was wrong to keep her alive by machine.

Liz Wrong? So you do have morals Mr Richards?

Bruce Doctor, I’m a sane person, I just had unlawful intentions. I know why I’ve been imprisoned.

Liz Were you testing Project 3:12 to prevent what happened to Amie happening to another child Bruce?

Bruce I wish I could say yes. That was the intention. My life fell apart when Amie died. I just kept saying to myself, Bruce! You’re a scientist! You can help her, just make a medicine or make new organs, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal; she’s your daughter. (A tear rolls down his cheek) She’s your tiny, beautiful little girl.

Liz Why didn’t you stay in America for Project 3:12?

Bruce From the day Amie died; my wife and I agreed we needed a foetus.  We needed to abort it, the state couldn’t know. Our family could not know, we needed them to never see her pregnant, there would be too many questions. So we moved over here. No one knew us, no one asked questions. No one knew about Amie. More importantly, it was easy to cut off our family. They thought we were too grief stricken to stay home. That it reminded us of what could have been and we left for comfort.

Liz So they never called or asked to visit?

Bruce If they did we ignored it. We blocked my own mother’s number. She was persistent in ringing. They assumed we wanted nothing to do with them.

Liz And did you?

Bruce I just wanted life to go back to normal. I should have known it wouldn’t by doing what I did. But I was so fixed on ensuring no parent would ever have to go through what I went through, that nothing made me consider the consequences of the path I was choosing to take.

Liz Did you ever find a, well a-

Bruce Cure?

Liz Cure.

Bruce Stem cells of course.

Liz Wha-

Bruce We knew how to solve it, many scientists do. We just wanted to put it into practice. I wanted to achieve the one thing I’d wanted to for so long. I wanted to stop the pain of losing my daughter, by helping other people gain a healthy child.

Liz Was there a problem or something?

Bruce Stem cells are hard to extract in a home lab, and every day the foetus broke down more and more. I knew how to stop it, but my wife, she liked to wrap it up in a blanket and sleep with it next to her and she accelerated the decay process by allowing it to have so much contact with oxygen. My original plan was to mummify it, but my wife wouldn’t allow it. It broke her heart to have to experiment on another dead child, one that could have lived.

Liz Didn’t you feel guilty?

Bruce Of course I did, I do have a heart. That’s why the only thing I ever called it was Project 3:12. I didn’t want to become attached to it. My wife called her Eva.

Liz We never found your wife Bruce.

Bruce You won’t. She’s deep in the ocean somewhere. She drowned herself. She couldn’t cope.

 They both lower their heads and have a moment in silence. Bruce stays strong but Liz starts to cry. She doesn’t make any noise but her face is full of tears.

Liz What you did was illegal. It was unethical and monstrous towards Eva. But Bruce, you are not a complete psychopath with no morals or an all round, evil, scientific genius.

Bruce (looks up towards Liz with tears in his eyes)

Liz Your intentions were heroic. They were good and honest. You are a very clever man and I do hope that one day the world will be ready; they will be black-and-white enough to accept your research.

Bruce Thankyo-

Liz But I can’t change the world’s view in one day. You will have to serve your time. I’m sorry Bruce.

Bruce Don’t be. I’m sorry you have to host 15 years worth of psychology sessions with a man who will never listen to you.

 They smile at eachother and Liz closes the file in front of her.

Lights down.




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