Chapter Three: A Company Job
In 1954, the Central Intelligence Agency began "Project Artichoke," the code name for a study done to see if people could be programmed by hypno-conditioning to assassinate others on command. Dr. William Joseph Bryan, Jr., following his tour of duty working with Korean prisoners of war, was chosen by the CIA to spearhead this Top Secret project. The scientists and study "subjects" (mostly prisoners from federal penitentiaries) were headquartered in Los Angeles County, in a small warehouse just outside Pasadena near the Rose Bowl.
Bill Bryan was initially very pessimistic about being able to accomplish such grandiose objectives, as he was still certain that human beings could not be programmed to do anything that they would not do in a waking state. However, as the months of experimentation proved, there were subjects who were extremely receptive to hypno-conditioning and psychological brainwashing, and Dr. Bryan gradually reversed his earlier scientific opinion.
His new confidence, however, was never communicated to the general public. He kept the information strictly on a "need to know basis," and nobody outside of the CIA was informed.
The RHIC-EDOM (Radio-Hypnotic Intracerebral Control--Electronic Dissolution of Memory) file was kept underground at CIA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Only three men had access to the hardware that came out of the development of the RHIC-EDOM: Dr. William Joseph Bryan, Jr., Assistant CIA Director, Victor Marchetti, and FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover. However, only Dr. Bryan would ever use the equipment on living subjects.
Elmore Seals, a first-degree murder convict, was first given a sedation of codeine, a drug mild enough to put the subject--who was six feet four, 225 pounds--into a receptive state, so that Dr. Bryan could finally go to work on him. Seals was sitting in a padded leather swivel chair, his massive black arms hanging limp at his sides, and Bryan was directly across from him, his six-foot, three-hundred-pound body sucking-up the stool like bread dough. A CIA lab tech, Rick Browers, was there to take notes and administer the RHIC-EDOM when called upon to do so.
The electronic equipment was kept away from the subject's view until Bryan felt Seals was sufficiently under hypnosis. Bryan first shined a small flashlight in front of the convict's dark-brown, whiskey-colored eyes, and said, "It's time to relax now, Elmore. You can only see the light. Focus all your attention on this light. It is the center of your being. You can relax now because the light relaxes you. It makes your eyelids very heavy."
Seals began to blink his eyes slowly. "I . . . I don't know, Doc," he said. "The guys say you all crazy over here."
"No, Elmore, forget about the guys. You are serving your country. You are making your mother proud. You can relax now, and let me take over. The light is making your eyelids heavier and heavier. As I count backward from ten, you will slowly begin to fall into a deep sleep. With each number, you will get sleepier and sleepier."
"Okay, Doc," Seals said, "I hear you."
"Ten . . . nine . . . eight . . . seven"
Seals' eyes were closed.
"Six . . . five . . . four . . . three"
Seals' head drooped down and hung limply, his bearded chin resting on his massive chest.
"Two . . . one . . . now you are fast asleep, Elmore, but you can still hear my voice. My voice will be soothing to you, and you will be happy to do what I say. You are a hero for the United States, and the Parole Board will like what you've done."
A wide grin broke across the twenty-five-year-old's face.
Bryan nodded to Browers that he was ready for the electronic equipment. Browers moved quietly into the back room.
"We are going to give you the most joyful experience of your life, Elmore," said Bryan. "You will become the most important man in scientific history. Kids will study you in school."
"Well, I'll be damned!" Seals exclaimed from his drooping position.
Browers wheeled a cart over the linoleum floor until it stood beside Seals' chair. He then picked up what looked like a boxer's head protector attached to three feet of wire and hooked-up to a huge radio transmitter.
"It'll only take a minute, Doc," said Browers, smiling. "Say, can he hear me?"
Bryan looked over at Browers, frowned, and scratched his huge stomach. "No, he can't hear you. Didn't they teach you anything about hypno-programming, kid?"
The technician looked sheepish. "Hell, I'm really just a hospital corpsman, Doc. They didn't tell me shit about this project." Browers moved the head gear onto the convict's forehead so it covered the anterior cerebrum. "Shit, I feel like a Nazi, Doc. You sure this won't hurt the poor fucker?"
"He won't feel a thing, Browers. Tape it down."
Slowly and carefully, the young technician taped the head wiring down on Seals' forehead. The black man didn't budge, except for a mild fluttering of his eyelids. "There! He's rigged, Doc."
"Well done, Browers. You can leave us alone now, son. I can't have any other brain waves inside this room but my own and the RHIC's."
"Roger. I'll see you later, Doc. Good luck."
"Thanks. I'll mention your fine help in my report."
After Browers left, Bryan flipped a switch on the RHIC-EDOM, and a needle gauge jumped to show a reading on the front panel. A charge was going directly into Seals' cerebrum--the seat of all memory in the human brain.
"Elmore, can you hear me?" said Bryan.
"There's a man who is a threat to the president's life. His name is Browers. Rick Browers. The word I am going to give you will send you into a rage. You will kill Rick Browers when you hear the word 'corpsman.' Do you hear, Elmore? Corpsman. But, if you hear the word 'bashful,' your anger will stop immediately. Do you understand?"
"I hear you," said Seals, rubbing his lips with the back of his hand. "I know what to do."
"Good." Bryan flipped off the switch, and the machine's needle dropped to zero. He then brought his flashlight in front of Seals' eyes. "When I say 'wake-up,' Elmore, you will be wide awake, and you will feel wonderful. "Wake-up!" said Bryan, removing the headgear, and Elmore Seals was conscious once more, with a big smile on his face.
Bryan got up, walked to the door, opened it, and called out into the hallway. "Hey, Browers! Get in here for a minute, will you?" There was the sound of footsteps in the hall, and then there was the handsome young technician standing inside.
"Yes, Doc, what is it?"
Elmore Seals was standing rigidly, staring directly at the slender man in the doorway.
"Rick Browers is a corpsman, Elmore," said Bryan.
The words were barely out of the doctor's mouth when the big convict lunged forward, his face twisted in rage. His hands were a vise on the corpsman's neck, and Browers let out of squeal of terror.
"Bashful!" said Bryan, and just as quickly, Seals' big hands dropped to his sides, his expression turned quizzical, and he looked over at Bryan as if to ask, "Where am I?"
"Elmore, do you know what you just did?" said Bryan.
"I . . . I wanted to kill this man," he said, his voice quivering.
"Why?" asked Bryan.
"I don't really know. I just felt full of terrible hate all of a sudden. My God, what got into me?"
"You, my man, are the first successful product of Project Artichoke. You can be proud you are an American."
The big black prisoner grinned meekly, and stared over at Browers, who was still trying to get his breath back.
"I see where you got the choke part of this Project Artichoke," said Browers.
"Browers, take Elmore here back to his holding cell."
"Roger, Doc," said the corpsman, rubbing his neck, "I'll be thrilled to!"