On January 1st 2008, 100 people gave up a year of their lives to science. Each person was told that they would be part of a social experiment. Each person believed that their experiment was the only one. Each person believed that they would not be expected to deal with anything they couldn’t handle.
Each person was wrong.
At the beginning of September 2008, the authorities shut the experiments down and it was only then that the full extent began to come to light. There had not been one experiment, but five. And there were more than the original 100 people involved. As well as the original subjects, the scientists who ran the experiments had supplemented and replaced as people had dropped out and, in more than a handful of cases, died.
Nobody knew what the purpose of the experiments was, but one thing became clear very quickly – the participants were all severely traumatised by their experiences. And so they were each made an offer. They would each receive counselling, together with anything which they had been promised by the scientists in the way of financial compensation. They would be housed and given the opportunity to slowly reintegrate into society. Each participant was encouraged to agree to this and a town specifically provided to house them all. This way they would be surrounded by people who had been through similar experiences, as well as trained counsellors and ‘normal’ people employed to move to the town and supplement the participants, running stores and the town structure. Participants were encouraged to obtain employment, or given the opportunity to enroll in distance learning schemes. To get on with their lives, but to do so in isolation, distanced from the rest of the world.
The question was, was it actually over? Were they actually free? Or had the experiment simply moved on to the next stage?
Was this all just still a test?
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