Five people of various ages were gathered around a long table. I was surprised to see that a few of them weren’t old.
Dr. Murray followed me into the room. “Good morning, folks,” he greeted everyone. “I have a new member with us. Her name is Lauren. She’s just had her first injection. Please welcome her and introduce yourselves. We’ll start with Brian.” He nodded toward the dark-haired mustached man who sat by the empty sixth chair that I supposed I was meant to occupy.
“Please have a seat, Lauren. I don’t mind standing.”
I hesitated, feeling all the eyes in the room on me.
“Go ahead. They don’t bite.” He laughed at his weak attempt at humor.
I sat next to Brian. I noticed he had hazel eyes and a pleasant smile. I judged him to be in his early thirties.
“Hi, Lauren. As Dr. Murray said, my name is Brian. I’ve been here for two weeks and also have had one injection so far. The reason I’m participating is because they needed a test subject who had no history of Alzheimer’s or any type of dementia in his family.”
That was interesting. “Nice to meet you, Brian,” I said, wondering if I was supposed to explain my reason for being part of the Memory Maker’s trial.
Dr. Murray intervened before I could add anything. “Thanks, Brian. Let’s go around the table. Maureen, you’re next.”
I still felt uncomfortable in this room of strangers, but the petite black woman with the short, straight hair styled in a pageboy also had a welcoming smile. “Hello, Lauren. I hope we can be friends. I’m probably around your mother’s age. I’m 55. I asked to be part of this study because I’m aware of the statistics of blacks being twice as likely as whites to get Alzheimer’s and that women are likelier by two-thirds to come down with the disease than men. That puts me in a high-risk category. Although I’m not that old, my mother had early-onset Alzheimer’s at my age, and my dad passed away from the disease last year.”
Dr. Murray spoke again. “Thank you for sharing that, Maureen. Let’s move on to Virginia.”
Virginia, sitting next to Maureen, was more like a candidate I expected in the program. She appeared to be in her early seventies with a full head of white hair and blue eyes that appeared vacant.
“Virginia, this is Lauren. Can you tell her a little about yourself?” he said in a voice that sounded like he was talking to a child. It seemed strange coming out of a man who always spoke so professionally.
“Is she in my class?” Virginia asked looking confused.
“She’s in the trial,” Dr. Murray said. Glancing at me, he added in a low voice, “Virginia thinks she’s in school. Her family admitted her. She was in a nursing home previously.”
“Hello, Virginia. It’s nice to meet you.”
The vacant eyes met mine. “Who’s Virginia? Are you Virginia?”
Dr. Murray shook his head. “Let’s move on to Bill.” He looked toward the man who appeared to be about the same age as Virginia. He was bald with glasses riding his nose.
“Hello, Lauren. I’m Bill. I was recently diagnosed with dementia. So far, I have pretty good recall, but I’m starting to forget little things, a few short-term memories. I also just had my first injection. I haven’t noticed any effects yet.”
“You know this treatment takes time,” the doctor assured him. “How about you, Jake? Can you tell Lauren something about yourself?”
The man next to Bill was younger, mid-fifties, around Maureen’s age. He had thinning gray hair and a nose that looked as if it had been broken in his youth. “Lauren,” he said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I wish you luck in the program. I’m here because I used to be a drug addict. They effected my memory. I have problems remembering my past. Long-term recall, they term it.”
“Drugs can work that way,” Dr. Murray explained. “Normal memory loss is usually short term. That’s the type we typically see in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. It can vary in those whose memory is affected by drug use. Jake has been clean for ten years, but the effects of the narcotics have taken a toll on him.”
I nodded. “Thanks for sharing, Jake. I wish you luck, too.”
“Well, then,” Dr. Murray said pasting that phony smile on his face that was intended to make me
feel at ease, “Let’s go to the dining room and begin the morning activities.
by Debbie De Louise
Twenty-five years ago, Lauren Phelps and her sister Patty were kidnapped from their backyard on Long Island. Lauren escaped her captor, but Patty was killed.
Ever since, Lauren has suffered from nightmares of the “Shadow Man.” Trying to recall his face and avenge her sister’s murder, Lauren, now a kidnapping investigator, enrolls in a clinical trial for a new memory drug.
At the offices of Memory Makers in California, she receives the injections of the Memory Makers’ serum, and begins to experience flashbacks of repressed memories. Along with the flashbacks, she receives threats from an anonymous source that point back to her childhood trauma.
Soon, Lauren becomes involved with a fellow trial participant who seeks to recall his own traumatic past. But can Lauren discover the identity of the “Shadow Man” before history repeats itself?
Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her seven published novels include the 4 books of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks, her paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, her mystery thriller Reason to Die, and her latest psychological mystery, Sea Scope. She also published a romantic comedy novella featuring a jewel heist caper, When Jack Trumps Ac. Debbie has also written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres. She is currently querying agents to represent the first book of a new cozy mystery series. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.
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