Lower East Side Lab
Friday, October 10, 2025 2:00PM
In an unmarked, generic-looking commercial building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, researchers were puzzled with what to try next. An hour into testing an experimental biological computer implant, the situation became urgent.
“He’s non-responsive to the new enzyme balance. We can’t wait much longer before we abort,” Dr. Kendall announced to his medical research team in the well-equipped surgical room. “His EEG readings are erratic and his blood pressure’s rising.”
The test patient’s earlier twitching suddenly escalated to thrashing. Two lab technicians struggled to hold his arms and legs in place. The patient’s jaws were clenched as he arched his head forcefully back, thrusting his chest upward.
The stainless steel monitoring equipment pierced the air with an uneven, high-pitched alarm, prompting the medical staff to move nervously around the room anticipating their next steps.
Dr. Bruce Kendall, a PhD in biocomputing technology, was the head of research at this facility. He had spent the past seven years advancing the capabilities of enzyme-based DNA micro-computers. Back in the fall of 2020, he reached a dead end in his research at St. Claire University in Toronto. He was enticed away from St. Claire by the opportunity to do unbridled research at this well-funded private lab.
The ultimate goal of Dr. Kendall’s research was to produce a biomolecular computer model that could detect chemical imbalances associated with severe depression and other mental disorders and then correct the imbalances by generating neutralizing chemical responses. If successful, it would revolutionize treatment of mental disorders, as well as dramatically improve diagnosis and treatment of countless other physical illnesses.
He and his highly skilled team working in the Lower East Side lab were employed by DNAzyme, Inc. This company was established by Joe Brown, its CEO, and funded by Brown’s private investors.
Dr. Kendall was hired directly by Joe Brown. He asked few questions at that time about the motives of Mr. Brown and his investors. The freedom of his research and the seemingly endless resources at his disposal were all that interested Dr. Kendall. He’d made significant strides in his research since coming to DNAzyme over five years ago.
EEG diagnostics were spilling off the monitor directly in front of Dr. Paul Monet, a Senior Research Associate. Sweat trickled from his surgical cap and down over his forehead as he frantically compared the current test results with prior cases.
“I don’t get it. His brain activity was stable much longer than the previous cases. I thought we had it this time,” Dr. Monet said without looking up, continuing to analyze diagnostics.
“The regenerative process keeps breaking down in this model. We can hold a steady state for a while, and then we lose them,” Dr. Kendall shot back.
“Yep, every damn time,” Dr. Monet added, tossing the diagnostic reports he’d been studying to the side.
Using predictive DNA-based enzyme reactions to establish the mainline processing algorithms proved to be the easier exercise, at least relatively easier. It took seven years to develop. The challenge faced by Dr. Kendall’s R&D team continued to be the ability to regenerate the logic processes required to react to the myriad chemical conditions that could be encountered by the computer model.
“Let’s not lose this one.” Dr. Monet turned to the lab technician and ordered, “Go ahead and administer the additional fifty milligrams of sedatives. We can’t wait any longer.”
The assisting lab tech turned the stop in the IV tube, releasing tranquilizing drugs to attempt to moderate the rising seizures. The milky fluid slid down the tube and into the test patient’s subdued arm.
The medications appeared to be working. The bulging veins in the patient’s temples relaxed and his leg movements diminished. The erratic high-pitched beeping from the monitors turned to a rhythmical hum.
“Good. We’re going to save this one. I was beginning to think we were jinxed,” Dr. Kendall observed.
It had not been a good month for the DNAzyme research team or for their volunteer test cases. Their biomolecular computing models had failed on several patients. In three cases, they weren’t able to reverse the ill effects before the patients experienced fatal strokes.
All of Dr. Kendall’s test volunteers signed release forms. The danger was significant, but it was clearly explained on the forms, both in English and Spanish. Volunteers received a sizable fee for agreeing to undergo the tests. However, the risks clearly outweighed the compensation. Dr. Kendall assumed most of the volunteers faced similar risks and lesser opportunities in their personal lives.
His research needed the support of human testing to advance. He saw it as a necessary evil. In his mind, the long-term potential for saving lives outweighed any short-term losses.
Joe Brown’s supply logistics team was responsible for ensuring Dr. Kendall and his technical team received everything they needed to advance their research. This included identifying and compensating volunteer test patients. The logistics team also took care of any failed test case “processing.”
Dr. Kendall pulled off his surgical mask and snapped his gloves off over his fingers. He angrily tossed them into the open clothes hamper in the corner of the room.
Raking his fingers through his sweat-soaked, thinning grey hair, Dr. Kendall warned his team, “Mr. Brown isn’t going to continue our funding forever. We need to figure out this regeneration problem.”
Dr. Kendall was right about Joe Brown’s impatience. Joe was already working to find alternate technical resources to accelerate Dr. Kendall’s programs.
Dr. Kendall was well aware there were other, and more profitable, uses for his biological computer research, but he tried to remain pure in his thought and his mission. He preferred to think his high-priced, high-risk research was for the ultimate good. He wanted to be known for the historic advancement of medical treatments for a wide variety of mental and physical illnesses.
Nonetheless, he was savvy enough to suspect Joe Brown and his sponsors had alternate motivations for seeing his research succeed, not all of them ethical, or legal.
Friday, October 24 5:30PM
Autumn leaves scattered with street litter blew across the road in front of his taxi as traffic entering LaGuardia’s departure area crawled steadily forward.
It was a late, grey, October afternoon. Sam straightened up from lazily leaning on his briefcase, having dozed off during the drive from Manhattan. He always planned to get to the airport with time to spare, but rarely did. This day was no different.
As the taxi slowed to a stop, Sam squinted at the meter from the back seat and reached into his jacket for his wallet. It was fattened with crumpled receipts from the week’s travel, but he was able to sort through the contents and find cash to cover the fare and tip.
Without making eye contact, the driver stuffed the bills into his pocket, handed Sam a blank receipt, and then tripped the trunk lid from under the dash. Sam slid across the back seat and lowered his road-weary legs one at a time out the door of the taxi and onto the gritty roadway. With the cab already in a rolling exit, he grabbed his bags and headed off to his flight.
As the top client executive for MemOne Technologies, a U.S.-based company specializing in developing leading-edge computer technology, Sam Stone was responsible for MemOne’s business relationships with its largest clients. He was on his way home to Tampa after a grueling week.
Sam was as good as anyone at business travel, but he had grown to despise it. Nonetheless, on this day he managed to get a week’s worth of dirty clothes stuffed back into his carry-on bag and checked out of the hotel with no surprises on his bill. After wrapping up his final day of business, he caught a relatively clean cab back to the airport.
Sam found his gate information on a terminal monitor, looked down at his watch and calculated the odds of making his flight. He stepped out more quickly.
Excerpted from "Corrupt Connection" by D. R. Shoultz. Copyright © 0 by D. R. Shoultz. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.