World of Radiation

Level Three

Continued from ‘Experimentation

Electricity pops and snaps. It crackles as they turn the device on. It’s just a black box in the corner, seemingly harmless, yet it holds more energy than minor static. This is what they do to us. It’s what they use to torture us, force us to change our appearances, and all so they can study us. Just the anticipation drags a whimper from my throat. Hot, shameful tears slip from my eyes as I pinch them closed, wishing more than anything for a way out, even if that way out is death.

It starts in my toes. The realization of my fate racks through me and pitiful sob bursts from me. It explodes into the air, grating on my ears. Humiliation rises in me. It flushes my cheeks with heat, no doubt burning them a bright pink as I think of how pitiful and weak I must look, sobbing while chained to a table, begging for someone to end my life.

My feet tingle like I’ve pinched a nerve. At first it feels as though they’ve gone numb, just as they do when I sit on them for a while, but the familiarity quickly vanishes. It morphs into an unnatural sensation. The sensation trickles up over my ankles into my legs, climbing higher and higher.

I choke on my inhale. The noise pries my eyes open to glance around at the faces surrounding me. I don’t recognize any of them. Each one watches me, impassive and unfeeling as if they aren’t even human, but maybe they’re not. How can they be? What human could possibly allow and condole the torture of humans? What happened to ethics since the bombs dropped?

The static passes into my stomach. It churns it, attacking the muscles, willing them to change, to morph into another human being as they’ve done so many times before, but I fight it. I won’t let them study me. I won’t give in.

Higher still the energy courses through my body, invading my lungs, my throat, my eyes. They burn. The electricity dries them out, forcing me to blink continuously to keep them moist. Meanwhile, my legs twitch. The muscles convulse, forced to contract and relax from the constant pulse of energy running through them.

Only then does it reach my brain. I feel it. It rattles through the soft tissue, snapping back and forth, igniting the nerves, forcing them to obey the electricity. My eyes slam closed again. My teeth grit as I fight the energy, fight to maintain my freedom, my sense of control over my own body.

“Hm,” someone hums behind the blur of static. “Subject resists mutation at the first level of electricity.” Their voice is monotone, sounding even less human than their faces look. Dread settles into my stomach at the thought.

These people have tortured and killed thousands before me. What would stop them from doing the same to me? What’s the use in fighting? Even with the idea of relenting my will to their desires, my body fights the mutation. I refuse to change on their terms.

“Increase the voltage.”

The gentle energy surges stronger through my body, advancing faster than the first wave. My leg jumps. The leather strap at my ankle keeps it in place, pinning it to the bloody, metal table. My fingers bounce and twitch. One shoulder jerks up towards the ceiling, nearly yanking it from my arm. Pain rips through my throat in a scream.

Every muscle in my neck turns taut, making it nearly impossible to swallow and my teeth clamp together tightly without me telling them to do so. Only when this wave slams into my brain do I lose control.

It starts with the right side of my face. The muscle twitches and convulses. The bone pushes against the skin, drawing it tight as the skin refuses to shift with it.

“The more you fight, the more this will hurt,” a voice informs me, barely audible over the crackling in my ears. Still, I combat the change.

Even as I do, though, my body listens to the commands of the electricity and my cheekbone cracks. Shifting into its new position, it pierces my skin. Another scream claws up from throat as hot liquid dribbles down the side of my head onto the metal table beneath me. The pain propels my eyes open.

A face hovers over me, an intent look upon their face, but with it is no remorse, no pity, only vacant observation. “Subject’s iris has changed color.”

“In-depth observations!” A voice snaps in a scolding tone.

My eyes pinch closed again as I fight the re-arranging of my rib cage underneath muscle and skin. They press down against my lungs. Squeezing all air from them, I cough from the sudden expulsion and gasp when the pressure doesn’t relent.

Someone forces my eye back open, shining a bright light down on me. “Pupil dilates according to normal stimulation. No heterochromia occurs. Shift in subject’s eye is seamless, fully encompassing the stroma atrophy of the example eye provided for subject prior to change.”

“Take subject’s blood sample. We need to see if there is a full change of DNA structure upon mutation.”

Something soft swabs against my cheek before my ribs break and expand, filling in the newly formed gaps with new bone to hold their shape. Air sweeps into my lungs. I gasp.

“Mutation is disjointed,” a voice comments flatly. “Certain parts refuse change more readily than others.” They pause as if letting my pain intensify before commanding, “set voltage to level three.”

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