The Science of Monsters
Prologue: Goodnight for Now
“Hello, thank you for calling FuturePharm, how may I help you?” I asked into the phone, bouncing my left leg gently while rubbing my right knee. I smiled at one of the new employees as his shoes clicked on the tile floor.
“Can I please speak to Mr. Killian,” a high pitched voice quivered through the phone.
“He’s in a meeting right now. Can I take a message?” I stuffed a lock of my long black waves behind my ear before holding up a singer finger for a client who took a seat in front of me.
“This is Maya Hansen. I need to speak with him immediately,” she growled through the speaker.
“He said to…”
“I don’t give a damn what he said! Who is this?!?” She hissed before breathing heavily into the receiver.
“Scarlett O’Conner,” I looked towards the office door. “I can ring him and ask him to take your call, but I cannot break protocol Ms. Hansen.”
“Listen, O’Conner, put Killian on the phone NOW!”
I put Maya on hold while I called Killian’s office. She never yelled at me before even when she spilled coffee on herself the day she was running two hours behind schedule. Something must be terribly…”I told you I was in a meeting!” Killian’s voice boomed through the receiver.
“Sir, Ms. Hansen is on the other line. She says it is very urgent.”
“Did she say why it is so imperative to speak with me right this second?” His voice sounded curious. I imagined his eyebrows popping as he sat a little straighter in his chair.
“No sir, but she’s yelling at me like something is really wrong,” I began biting my nails as I watched the red light on Maya’s call flicker.
“I’ll come take the call out there, alright,” I nodded stupidly as his voice faded, “Excuse me.” The door to his office opened as he took languid strides towards my desk. I fumbled with the phone before I heard Maya grumbling.
“Stupid interns. They can’t do anything right, and it takes forever. If this were life or death, I’d be dead… Technically…” I pushed the receiver into Mr. Killian’s hands.
“What do you want?!?” he hissed. His eyes trained down to the floor as his face hardened.
“I already know that, Maya,” he growled, “If you would stop interrupting me, I am in a meeting to fix the situation.”
“General Ross is in my office as we speak. He wants to give us funding if we can help the Secretary of State’s daughter.”
“Oh he is insisting on human testing.” Mr. Killian’s face softened as a glow entered his eyes. He lips slowly curled upward.
“Just get back to the office and get to work. If we lose the college funding so-be-it; we will get funding from someone else.” He gave a curt nod before his gentle hands placed my phone on the base. The smile spread across his face until his cheeks were rosy with glistening eyes.
“Thank you, Ms. O’Conner, for being so professional in Ms. Hansen’s time of crisis.”
“Thank you, Mr. Killian,” I bowed my head while forcing my left leg to stop fidgeting.
Six months later, FuturePharm changed management. Maya Hansen lost all her funding through the college she worked for, but Aldrich Killian gained funding from several military corporations affiliated with General Ross. The FuturePharm Company was now called Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), and Killian was able to find his test subjects. Injured military soldiers came in left and right while Maya also talked limping interns or interns with vision issues into participating with the temptation of extra cash for school.
The rumors about the ‘Extremis’ virus frightened me because they dealt with death or odd skin conditions. Several explosions happened in the basement with the first few tests, which didn’t put my fears to rest. I knew I was a good candidate for the experiment because I had a very severe birth defect on my right leg that caused pain, swelling, and limping. I bided my time hoping no one would discover my defect, but four months after the testing began Maya caught me limping out of Killian’s office.
“Why haven’t you volunteered for the experiment,” she asked forcing a smile.
I shook my head, “I don’t want to be experimented on.”
“Don’t you need money for school?”
“Yes, Ms. Hansen, I do, but I think there are better ways of getting money,” I stated tucking a long dark wave behind my ear. “Not to mention the rumors going around, and the explosions.”
“Those silly things,” she giggled. “We’ve got all the kinks worked out of the serum, Ms. O’Conner. You should come by tonight and see. We can fix that limp of yours.”
I shook my head again as I limped passed her to finish the paper work strewn across my desk. I couldn’t get the experiment out of my head though. Doctors up and down the coast for years told me that there was no way of fixing my defect, but Maya Hansen claimed to have a sure fire way? The Thoughts spun my head around.
Five minutes before the end of my shift, Maya plopped down in the chair facing my desk. I was shutting down my computer and getting my things ready to go when she cleared her throat. I glanced at her coy smile. “You’re coming, right?”
“Ms. Hansen, I don’t feel comfortable with this experiment.” I stated while rubbing my aching knee.
“One little injection, O’Conner, and you won’t have to worry about that pain anymore.” Her voice was low, seductive, “This is a very lucrative offer.”
I stared into her chocolate eyes that gleamed with mischief. “Can you guarantee that this will work,” I questioned.
“Yes,” she nodded grabbing my hand. “This was made to make you perfect.”
“Alright,” I agreed, “I’ll let you do the experiment.
She squealed before running me down the stairs, I fell twice nearly knocking us both off balance before we entered the basement lab. The walls were charred, harsh lights glared, and a row of bodies seemingly asleep lined the unmarked wall. I could see a girl’s arm burning like an ember in a fire place, and as it burned it generated new skin. She was slowly growing a new arm.
“She agreed, Aldrich,” Maya sang as she skipped further into the room. “Come here, O’Conner, this is going to be your cylinder.” She patted a tall empty dark silver stand; I noticed the others were setup in their own.
“Perfect.” Killian appeared from behind a curtain. “Hello, Scarlett. Thank you for coming,” he smiled sweetly at me.
“What is this, Mr. Killian?”
“First,” he started, “I will inject you with a watered down version of the virus. It will slowly heal all of your defects.”
“Like my leg?”
He nodded with an even bigger smile, “yes, after you are healed we will inject you will the full version. It will probably make you sick at first, so we’ll give you something to sleep. Like these nice people,” he motioned towards the men and women lining the wall. “After we make sure you adjust well, we’ll wake you up and do testing.”
“What kind of testing?” I could feel my voice shake in rhythm with my hands.
“Extremis is supposed to regenerate limbs and cure disease. We will inject you with an illness to make sure you will heal, and then we will cut off a limb to make sure it will grow back. Nicole is going through that part now.”
The girl whose arm was on fire opened her eyes at the mention of her name. She smiled as she looked down at her arm, “Wow, it’s really growing back,” she sighed.
“It has grown a lot since this morning hasn’t it,” Maya laughed.
“You cut three inches from my shoulder, and now it’s given me just below my elbow back.”
I gasped with wide eyes as Mr. Killian laughed. “Tell Ms. O’Conner how long you slept for, Nicole.”
“About a week before you started testing.” She smiled broadly, “I survived cancer twice already.”
“She survived the flu and anthrax successfully before she survived cancer, I assure you,” Killian laughed. “We’re proud of her.”
“Jackson is still sleeping, but he’s regenerating nicely.” Maya informed me. “We tried to wake him up, but he’s a screamer.”
I removed my jacket revealing my bare arms before I allowed Maya to put me in the cylinder. “Let’s get this over with,” I sighed as I pushed any fears I had away.
“We’ll wake you up soon,” Killian promised as he set up the IV and injected me with the first installment.
“Goodnight for now.”