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Misinformed Consent

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Jensen pulled up to the nondescript building and wondered if he was in the right place. Looking at the address they gave him and double checking the map he had set down on the driver’s side seat confirmed he was at the right location. Shrugging off the uneasy feeling, he got out of his car and made his way to the unmarked door and knocked.

After waiting for half a minute, Jensen decided that this was probably all just a hoax and turned to leave, when the door opened. “May I help you?” a tall, middle-aged man wearing a shirt and tie asked.

“Oh, uh, is this the place for the research thing?” Jensen asked tentatively.

Eyeing him up and down, a knowing smile crossed the man’s face. “Yes, it is! You must be Jensen? We spoke on the phone. Please, come in!”

Following the man inside, Jensen was impressed by the building’s interior. Inside it looked more like a hospital compared to the abandoned factory it appeared like on the outside. The white interior looked modern, clean, and very sterile.

He was led into a small office. “Please, sit down. I need to ask you some questions to make sure you’ll be a good fit for our … study.”

“Yeah, okay,” Jensen agreed. “I hope I am. I could really use the money.”

“Let me guess, you’re an actor?”

Chuckling nervously, Jensen nodded. “Yeah, who around here isn’t, right … Mr.?”

“Oh, I do apologize. I’m Dr. Edwards. I’m in charge of the study,” the man introduced. “Can I get you anything? Water? Coffee?”

“Coffee, thanks,” Jensen replied.

While Dr. Edwards was out of the room, Jensen looked around. On the wall behind the desk there were several framed diplomas with Dr. Edwards’ name on various degrees. The desk was kept very tidy, with only a file folder, a computer, and a cup with some pens and pencils.

“Here you go,” Dr. Edwards said when he returned and handed Jensen a mug of steaming coffee.

“Thanks,” Jensen replied with a smile before he savored the first sip. “This is really good … is that cinnamon?”

“Yes, it is! You’ve got a good sense of taste,” Dr. Edwards praised. “I only add a touch, but I think it really improves the flavor.”

“So, about this study … you’re paying a lot of money for participation. Is it like really dangerous or something?” Jensen asked.

“Getting right to the point, I see,” Dr. Edwards said as he opened the folder in front of him and grabbed a pen. “To be completely transparent, yes there are some risks involved. This is the first human trial and we haven’t worked out all the potential side effects yet.”

“It’s … not going to kill me, is it?” Jensen asked tentatively.

“That’s very unlikely, or human trials wouldn’t have been approved,” Dr. Edwards reassured him. “We don’t expect any serious side effects. I do have a few routine questions for you. May I?”

Settling himself back into the chair and taking another sip of coffee, Jensen shrugged. “Sure, ask away.”

“Do you have any allergies?”

“Nah, none that I know of, anyway.”

Dr. Edwards made a note before continuing. “When we talked on the phone you said you were eighteen?”

“Yeah,” Jensen nodded. “I turn nineteen next March.”

“What is your sexual orientation?”

“Straight.”

“How many sexual partners have you had?”

“Um, not many. Just a couple of girls back when I was in high school.”

“Are you sexually active?”

“Nope. I haven’t had time. I’ve been too busy trying to make ends meet while running around to as many auditions as I can.”

Dr. Edwards continued asking questions and taking notes. As Jensen kept drinking his coffee, he began to feel more at ease. This whole thing had felt really sketchy at first, but the more he and Dr. Edwards talked, the more relaxed he became. The doctor had a certain charm about him that must put people at ease. Yeah, that must be it, Jensen mused.

“Well, based on everything we just discussed, I think you’d make an excellent candidate. Are you prepared to start the trial today?” Dr. Edwards asked.

Shrugging Jensen nodded. “Yeah, I have nothing else going on right now. How long will this whole thing last?”

“That depends on a number of factors, but a minimum of two weeks,” Dr. Edwards replied. “As a reminder, we will be asking you to remain here at our facility for the duration of the trial. Have you set your affairs in order?”

“Yeah,” Jensen said. “I put my mail on hold and all.”

“Perfect, then I just need to ask you to read and sign the contract before we begin,” Dr. Edwards said, handing him a thick packet of paper and a pen. “Would you like more coffee?”

“Yeah, that’d be great, thanks,” Jensen replied.

Leaving the room again, Dr. Edwards closed the door behind him. Without anything else to do, Jensen began to read through the contract. His eyes swam as he tried to understand all the medical mumbo jumbo like “…to stimulate the vasodilation and subsequent transudation of fluids in the rectum.” Soon he began skimming ahead and skipping entire sections because he didn’t understand anything it said. He was starting to feel sleepy, which he blamed on the dry reading material.

The door opening startled Jensen for a moment, as Dr. Edwards returned with a fresh cup of coffee. “Do you have any questions so far?”

Jensen took a long sip of the coffee, trying to clear his head. “Do you have about a year? I don’t understand a lot of this stuff. Can you tell me what this all is in plain English?”

Chuckling, Dr. Edwards sat down. “Yes, of course. The trial is to test the effectiveness of a new sexual enhancement drug. The study is to see how different groups of men react when taking the drug, and under a variety of circumstances. That does mean you will be asked to allow us to examine you and your genitalia regularly. Are you comfortable with that?”

Normally he wouldn’t be, and he squirmed in his seat for a second, but he was still feeling very relaxed and couldn’t find a sound reason to object. Remember the twenty grand, dude, he reminded himself.

“Yeah, if that’s what’s required,” Jensen agreed.

“You will receive a daily injection of the drug. We will also be drawing blood in order to check the levels of the drug in your system and will have to check your prostate regularly. Because of this, you will be asked to get regular enemas during your stay with us. Are you familiar with how enemas work?”

“I’ve heard the word, but I have no idea what it is,” Jensen confessed.

“A tube is inserted into your anus, and you will have a fluid solution slowly pumped into your bowels. This is to ensure you’re completely clean for your daily rectal and prostate exam,” Dr. Edwards explained.

Oh, that’s probably what that bit in the contract was about that mentioned fluids and the rectum. Huh. “That sounds really weird, but okay.”

“If you consent to everything I just explained, then please sign the last page of the contract.”

A part of Jensen hesitated, but he really needed the money. Resigning himself to his fate, he flipped to that page and signed.

Putting the contract on the desk, Jensen drained his second cup of coffee.

Dr. Edwards stood. “Excellent, welcome aboard, Jensen,” Dr. Edwards reached out to shake his hand. “Please follow me.”

Jensen got up and put his empty coffee cup on the desk before following Dr. Edwards. He was led down several long corridors until he was completely disoriented. Like a rat in a maze. I’ll never find my way out of here on my own.

“Here we are,” Dr. Edwards exclaimed. “This is to be your room during your time here.”

Opening the door to the room, Dr. Edwards waved him inside. The room was small, with a cot, a table, an empty bookshelf, and a television. There was also a door into a bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink. Another door led into a tiny closet filled with gray sweatpants and sweatshirts, and white slip-on sneakers.

“I’d like to ask you to take a shower and change into the sweats, please. I’ll have someone fetch you in a half-hour to escort you to meet Dr. Fredricks, who will conduct your intake exam, before we administer the first dose. I’ll come check in on you later this afternoon,” Dr. Edwards said as he left the room and closed the door behind him.

Looking around Jensen suddenly felt trapped. He went to the door and tried to open it and … it opened. He wasn’t locked in. Not that it would do any good, considering what a maze this place was, but it made him feel better to know he could at least leave his room whenever he wanted to.

Closing the door again, he took his wallet and keys and put them onto the table before making his way into the bathroom and undressed. There was a laundry hamper in the corner, so he threw his clothes in there. Then he stepped into the shower. He noticed his shower had some unusual attachments. He had no idea what they were for, so he ignored them for now.

Once he finished showering, he slipped on the sweats and sneakers and sat down on the bed. Not having anything else to do, he turned on the TV. It was filled with static. He changed the channel. More static. Flipping through all the channels he soon realized they were all static. Frustrated, he turned off the TV and lay back onto the bed. This was going to be a boring two weeks if he wasn’t going to be able to watch something whenever he had any downtime.

A couple of minutes later a knock came to his door. Getting up, he opened it. Standing outside was a large, muscular guy wearing white scrubs. “Jensen? Hi, I’m Matt. I’m here to take you to your intake exam.”

“Okay, lead the way,” Jensen said, following the man down the long hallway.