I see somebody familiar walking outside through the sliding-glass door in my parents' old basement. I'd know that bright-orange goatee anywhere-- it's JP, who I haven't seen since 9th or 10th grade. I let him and a younger girl that's with him in. We talk about how the house has changed-- "When I was in college," I tell him, "My parents put in a pool, but they filled it in again sometime since then." I gesture to the part of the yard where I assume the pool must have been. JP remarks on the apple tree with all the skulls in it and then offers me some tickets to a comedy showcase that's happening tonight. It's hosted by my uncle, the psychiatrist. JP was involved in some experiments my uncle did, it turns out. "How did you get out already?" I ask.
JP explains that the first couple times the experiment was run, my uncle and a group of people would live in a locked-down environment, a place they couldn't leave, and they'd have all their food and supplies and shit in an accessible place where everyone could see how much was left. When they did this, the experiment would run for weeks before they'd be tapped out. But in order to end the most recent run of the experiment early, in time for the comedy show, my uncle changed the experiment a little. First he made it so nobody could see how many food or supplies were left. Then he divided everyone up by age and gender, and you spent most of your time with that subgroup, away from the rest of the participants. Apparently, when they did this, the food and supplies ran out quickly and the experiment ended much, much earlier.