Professional Ethics

The door to the other observation chamber—the one kept off the record—opens for me with a welcoming chime as I scan my badge on the reader. Inside, my colleague waits for me.

She renews her struggles when she sees me enter, but the straps secure her firmly to the table.

“Nonono, please, I changed my mind,” she tells me, her words stumbling over themselves in a desperate, futile rush to stop me from preparing the experiment.

I draw the dark fluid up into my syringe, the viscosity of it requiring steady, firm force as I pull back the plunger.

“Oh, I bet you have,” I agree, referencing my notes a third time to confirm the measurement. “After we saw what happened to number 17…” I trail off, not bothering to remind her what we both saw. I sigh. “And it had been looking so promising, too.”

I turn back to her, holding the now-filled syringe. “But we agreed—before its condition started to deteriorate, anyway—to sneak ourselves an early human trial, and I’m still quite sure we’ll get some really interesting data out of you, regardless of your final outcome.”

I sanitize the injection site while she continues babbling her pleas for me to call off the experiment. A rush of irritation overcomes me, and I grip her face to make her look me in the eye.

“Stop that! If the coin flip had gone the other way, it would be me on that table.”

I pull my hand away, ashamed of that flash of anger. “Besides, I know you’d do the same to me if our roles were reversed. It’s why I respect you as much as I do. Now please stop with this undignified and unscientific behavior, will you?”

I don’t wait for a response. I jab her with the needle and empty its contents.

She settles down, at last recognizing that hysterics could no longer alter the outcome.

I forgive her moment of weakness, of course. How could I not? I love her, however much longer she lasts.