The Science of Monsters
Chapter Three: Testing
I awoke to bright lighting with no pain or stiffness in my body. There was no one around the room even though the machines were beeping wildly. I could hear a man groaning loudly in the tube next to me as a chemical scent filled my nose. I stretched my fingers out one by one before curling them up again, the action repeated with my toes. I could feel my right foot twitching, something it did often before, but this twitch was different because I was causing it. This wasn’t a nervous reaction or a painful habit; I was actually moving my right leg, something I’d never done before. A small smile crossed my features.
Glancing away from my refurbished leg, I noticed Maya standing in front of me beaming with pride. She pressed a button that released the pressure from the tube allowing me to stretch my arms and legs further. I stepped out holding onto her shoulders at first, I took several steps without limping before I let go of her.
“Ms. Hansen,” I sighed, grinning and walking in place.
“What’s it like,” she breathed.
I didn’t know how to explain it. There was so much to say and so little words. The more I tried to figure out what to say the more it agitated me. I noticed Maya’s smile fading before I asked, “What’s wrong?” I got my answer when I looked at my hands.
“You’re not supposed to glow,” she whispered. My blood seemed to run cold in my veins.
“I’m broken,” I retorted.
“No, no, you just have to relax. Calm down alright.” She reached out to soothe me, but jerked her hand back quickly.
“God, you’re hot.” I raised an eyebrow. “No,” she shook her head, “your skin is boiling.”
“Can I have some water?” She nodded as she left to get a glass.
I leaned against a metal chair trying to figure out what to do when I nearly fell in the floor. The place where my hand touched the chair was liquefied. I pressed my back against the stone wall as I slid down to the floor drawing my knees to my chin before taking several deep breaths. Something told me not to do this; I should’ve said no and walked away, but Killian made it seem so inviting and perfect. I closed my eyes hoping that when I opened them the nightmare would be over.
“Don’t worry,” his familiar voice reassured. “This is what testing is for.” His smile was bright and warm, eyes full of hope, and his hand easily rubbed my arm comfortingly.
“What’s next, you know, for testing?” I asked as I looked into his dark blue eyes.
“First, we want to make sure you regenerate properly, so we’ll just give you a small incision and keep an eye on it,” Killian explained, “then we’ll give you one more injection that should stop you from heating up like that.” He nodded as he took my hands to help me off the ground. Maya finally returned with my water; I downed the glass in one gulp.
“How big is a small incision?” I questioned as I placed the glass on a table before Killian led me to a metal slab.
“It’s not big at all,” he promised as he laid me back and carefully strapped my arms and legs down with some sort of scratchy material.
“Aldrich, Scarlett, call me Aldrich,” he smiled brightly as he pulled out a small silver scalpel.
“Aldrich, tell me. Be honest, how big of an incision?”
He put the scalpel down before staring deeply into my eyes, “We’re going to cut three inches along your wrists. The main artery to be exact.” His words made my insides crawl.
“That’ll kill me if this Extremis thing doesn’t do what you say it will?” My eyes widened, I could feel my skin starting to burn again.
“I know,” he stated before picking up the scalpel. I tried to jerk my arms free, but he tied them too tight. “This should only hurt for a moment.”
“Don’t do this to me,” I hissed as I tried to jerk harder. Maya forced my arm to be still before it began to glow; she winced and hissed loudly.
I felt the stinging prick of the sharp knife before the trickle of blood oozing from my vein tickled my glowing skin. My stomach churned with fear while my eyes betrayed me. Tears slipped down my cheeks as Killian watched the droplets of blood on my arm with a sick smile on his lips.
“You have nothing to worry about, Scarlett,” he laughed, “Your incision has already cauterized itself. The only reminder left is the blood staining your arm.” I glared at him because I was afraid my voice would show every ounce of fear in my head and stomach.
“You bastard,” I spit. He clicked his tongue at me.
“Shall we continue testing?” Maya asked as she grabbed a hand saw from the equipment on the wall beside the table. I could feel my glare fade into shock.
“Yes, pick a limb Maya,” he instructed. She tapped my left leg.
“This, below the knee,” she answered.
That twisted grin spread further across Killian’s features, the look was mirrored on Maya’s face. I cringed while jerking harder as the saw squealed to life. “Don’t. I did not sign-” I started but was cut off by the saw plunging into my leg. My screams mixed with the whining blade silenced everything else in the room. The blade sliced through my burning flesh like it was paper, but when it reached the stained bone it hitched causing shock waves of pain to shoot up and down my body.
After what felt like hours, but could have only been ten minutes, I felt my leg separate from my body completely before the saw stopped. “I hope this doesn’t take long. We have so much to do,” Killian stated as he took the equipment away.
“Don’t worry,” Maya squeezed my hand, “you’ll be as good as new before you know it.”
“Go to hell,” I spat jerking my wrists again as my blood boiled more.
“I’ll save you a seat, Scarlett,” Maya grinned before leaving me to my misery. The tears flowed freely down my face when I lifted my left leg to see a cauterized stub instead of my normally perfect leg.
“I have to get out of here,” I sobbed before I closed my eyes and prayed for it all to go away.