[This is Part II in a multipart series. If you missed Part I, feel free to catch up HERE.]
When I was first contacted by the government, it was all a little surreal. They woke me up in the middle of the night, and before I knew it I was being driven via black SUV to be debriefed by the men and women who had worked on the NSA-CDC joint project back around the turn of the millennium. What they told me didn’t help make the scenario any more real for me. If it wasn’t for the total lack of humor in the room, I would of been sure they were joking. But if there’s one thing common to everyone who works for the NSA, it is their painful lack of anything like a sense of humor. These people are bone-dry and deadly serious about everything. Still, none of the horrible things they told me seemed real. That is, until they put me on a plane and took me to what they called “the old front lines.” Deep in the South American jungle.
You see, as far back as the early 50’s, the American government had been doing experiments related to those discontinued a decade ago. Originally, these experiments were designed to create an invincible breed of soldier. At the time, they considered this to be the surest insurance against an all-out war with the Russians. Russia had just successfully tested an atomic bomb. In the global intelligence community, the end of the world looked imminent. It was a very scary time for those in the know. The one weapon, the U.S. government believed, that could survive and defeat the proliferation of nuclear weaponry was an army of invincible soldiers. Soldiers who could not be killed. Soldiers who could survive a nuclear attack.
Towards this goal, we began secret experiments upon indigenous Amazonian people. The Government began to develop drugs, and slip them into the water supplies. Mostly, they killed off Arapaso, Bará, Barasana, Desana, Karapanã, Siriano, Tariana, and Tukano people by the thousands. It was an ugly and shameful time.
Then in the eighties, we stumbled onto the most succesful combination we ever found. The drug kept people alive long after they should have died. It seemed the quest for eternal life, now thirty years old was nearing a close. Ponce de Leon was rumored to have looked for the fountain of youth in the New World. Our scientists believed they had found it. Deep in the Amazonian jungle.
But the drug’s side effects were disastrous. The subjects developed extreme fevers and behaved in a dangerous and unpredictable manner. They became difficult to kill, which was the point, but they also became impossible to control. The special forces representatives who were sent to train the subjects were almost all killed by them. Their throats ripped out, their vital organs removed. There were also numerous reports of cannibalism. Not traditional to any of the tribes before the experiments, this had become a standard and obsessively practiced behavior. The subjects had become more animal than human. The government tried for twenty more years to correct these problems. They tested other populations. They brought subjects back to underground labs in Maryland and Atlanta. Nothing worked. The project was a wash.
But its legacy remains. After my briefing in Fort Meade failed to have the intended effect, I was flown to the Amazon. What I saw made what my briefing very real. There, deep in the jungles of South America, we were attacked, relentlessly, by wave upon wave of the monstrous victims of the American project. Their numbers had grown since the last of the experiments had ceased. While the project had been discontinued, a small number of NSA agents had been assigned the duty of monitoring the “situation in the jungle.” They had watched in horror, as the former subjects attacked in mob-like fashion the members of neighboring tribes. The horror increased, though, when the survivors of those attacks got up and joined the mob. Formerly healthy, untouched people were somehow infected by the former subjects. Subsequent tests revealed that the drug had passed from one population to the other. They inherited the same fevers, and the same violent behaviors. The problem they had left to die in the jungle was not going away. It was growing.