Scientific Progress. Short Story.

I went on a bit of a binge last night.

I am repentant this morning cos I stayed up quite late too, so was tired this morning, but, it was just so tempting, really it isn’t my fault.

I downloaded lots and lots and lots of ebooks for the kindle. lots. I haven’t used it in awhile, mainly because I kept forgetting to charge it, but last night it charged it up and downloaded a load of free books for the kindle. I’ll let you guys know which ones are good, because they’re free (or at least, they were when I downloaded them).

I think I downloaded 15 or so, a mix between novels and short stories, some are good, (really good) some were bad and deleted. I’ve only come across one so far that was kinda ok. There are a few in different genres too, though most are horror. I also downloaded some books from Project Gutenburg, specifically the entire series of the Wizard of Oz, a collection I didn’t know existed until after I started college. I didn’t even know the Wizard of Oz was a book! (other than Wicked the book/musical)
Also, the shoes are silver in the book. It’s weird. they made them ruby in the movie to take advantage of technicolour.

Also, the last few days I have been insanely tired, it seems to be wearing off a little so I am optimistic about it. When I say tired though I mean a deep, down to your soul, don’t even have the energy to get something to eat tiredness. I would liken it to depression except instead of not caring/not wanting to do anything, you want to, but just don’t feel like you have the energy to actually do it.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings, on with the show!


Scientific Progress

Angela stared at the puddles before her, trying not to vomit, the room was filled with a sick squelching sound as each puddle shifted slightly, it’s noise faint and barely audible over the moans and screams. The puddles were swirled with brown, red and a pinky colour, the colour of skin. The puddles differed in their stages so she could see the slow process at its different stages. Some were even still human. The puddle nearest to her only had a head left, its eyes rolling wildly as it begged for help. Those who still retained their arms and legs were chained down to prevent escape, once they progressed far enough the chains would become useless. Shuddering, Angela turned and left the long room, she had been supposed to walk through and examine them all, but she couldn’t.

Dr. Johnsen smirked at her after she came out of the room, only a minute or two had passed, typical of a woman. “Don’t worry, few people are able to handle it.” Angela shook her head, she was still pale and her hand was still clasped over her mouth as her stomach rolled and broiled, she felt slightly faint but forced herself to stay conscious. She was in the room with the monster that created those things. God only knew what he’d do to her if she passed out. “As you saw, or perhaps you didn’t notice, each cell is given a liquid diet, designed to give them enough surplus energy.” “Why are they conscious?” Angela’s voice was muffled, her hand still obscuring her mouth, “the results are so much better when they’re awake than when they’re unconscious. Besides it allows us to monitor them better, we can ask them questions and, if they need something, they can ask for it, not that they do much other than scream.” “Couldn’t you silence them somehow?” “We could, but then what would be the point in that? They’d still suffer, we just wouldn’t be as aware of it.” “That’s exactly the point. Workers will be more willing if they are not fully aware of what they are doing.” “My dear girl, people will get used to anything, given enough time, even the general population wouldn’t object to this if they knew about it for awhile. Think of all the atrocities that no one ever objected to. The human race are equipped for survival, they will coo and sigh over things that are unfair and unjust, but it takes a rare person to be able to rally the world in such a way that it will stop.” “At least give the workers ear plugs or something.” “Well, that won’t be necessary for now, it is only me and a few others and we are all used to the noises by now. Was there anything else you wanted to see before you left?” “No, I’ve already seen the labs so that should cover it.” Angela stepped forward and shook the doctors hand, “it was a…pleasure to meet you.” She shuddered inwardly and, as his dry, warm, hand clasped hers she hoped to never see him again.

The doctor smiled, it had been a good visit overall, she didn’t pry too much, if she had, she might have found his extra experiments, that’s why he tried to get her to room 12B as quickly as possible, the sight usually unnerved people and it derailed her thoughts, all she was concerned about was leaving. Besides, had she stumbled across anything, he was powerless to stop her. Of course he could kill her or add her to the experiments but the cameras would show she never left and he couldn’t take a chance she wouldn’t report him immediately. So far everything looked quite positive, he would get his extra funding, and the question hadn’t been raised of human rights. The last inspector harped on about that for a while, it’s wrong, they deserve better and so on, all so boring and dreary. The last the doctor had heard about the inspector was that he was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to death. The people used were criminals, the dregs of society, oh at first they started with the homeless, prostitutes, other unsavoury characters and, it had worked, but not as well, they were the early days, there were still mistakes made, they brought new problems with them, most of them riddled with disease. Prisoners were the perfect choice. There were two types, the common criminal, they could enrol in the programme, if their name was called they joined, if not, they got three years off their sentence, the other were those sentenced to death. They didn’t have a choice. If people were to be present at the execution, the criminal was given a deep sedative and looked dead to all, if there were to be no witnesses, they were merely reported as dead. It was all very simple. Once the sedative wore off there were no ill effects, most of them were the perfect specimens, healthy, in good shape, disease free. Really, the suffering they went through was deserved. He could administer pain medication without negatively affecting output, but where was the fun in that? The people in room 12B deserved the pain they went though.

He leaned forward and hunched over the reports, the output was getting stronger, they were refining the process, soon they would be able to supply proper power, not just to the building, but to larger areas until eventually there would be no degradation, it was his hope that one or two people would be able to supply enough power, all they would need were nutrients. The human body is very inefficient, but the converters more than made up for it. Mental energy seemed to be boosted by the process too, soon he’d try to tap into that potential power, but first he wanted to refine the process further. The bodies melting, for lack of a better word, was an unfortunate side effect, caused by the degradation of the body, the process destroyed the tissues connection to one another, it fell apart slowly, turning to sludge, though the most important organs remained intact until the end, allowing the subject to live or at least, survive. The newest subject was doing well, the degradation had set in, but at a reduced rate, the first subjects had already gone at this point, even his most recent ones were degenerating at a faster rate. It was a good sign, progress was being made and he was on the right track.

Pushing the papers away from him, he stood, then left his office, he wanted to check on the subjects, do his rounds. It wasn’t really necessary, there were technicians that would do it, but he liked looking over them, it filled him with pride and just a little fatherly love. After all, he created them and he was the father of an entirely new branch of science. He would be remembered until the last dregs of human life are extinguished. Of course when this all comes out he will probably be painted as a monster, whether he is still alive or already dead, but once the emotions die down, after a few years pass he will be hailed for the genius visionary that he truly is. He swiped his identification card and waited to gain entrance, there was a faint hiss as the door unsealed itself, turning the handle, he pushed through.

He smiled as the noise reached his ears, to others it would be the screams and cries of the damned, but to him, it was the sound of progress. As he walked down the lines of subjects, he stopped to look at their vital signs. Everyone was doing well, except Subject K, she would be gone soon, they’d have to get her cleared away quickly once she died. The degeneration the process caused meant they rotted quickly, it was a biohazard both to the people and the subjects, besides, the stench they created when they rotted was horrendous, thick and metallic, meaty and faintly sweet. As he passed by, an arm weakly grabbed at his leg, followed by an incoherent gurgling, he kicked his leg free and continued on, then paused. The subject looked at him, its arm waving weakly. The doctor picked up the chart, this was their youngest subject, sentenced to death for a triple rape homicide, at only 15. The doctor had expected big things, but the results were disappointing. He looked disdainfully at the thing before him, then replaced the chart and continued his rounds.

It was getting late and he would be leaving soon, he’d check in on them one last time before he left, almost like a father, peeking through the door and making sure his children were in bed. It had been a very good day, not long after the inspector left, he got a phone call, he was approved for his grant, another twenty million, that was enough funding for him to make dramatic improvements, plus, he could use some of that to purchase extra supplies for his other work. Those other experiments were doing well too, the young woman he had downstairs had managed so far to live for almost a year with no chest, he had removed her ribs, exposing her insides, yet she still lived on. She had a remarkable immune system, no infections or anything. He thought perhaps he would give her pneumonia and see it’s effects on the lungs first hand, though it would be done more out of interest than for any scientific advancement. There would be others he could experiment on. Another of his toys was doing well too, he had removed the eye from the ocular cavity, very carefully of course so as not to damage or sever anything, and much to his delight, the man could still see. He planned to try to develop artificial eye stalks, it would be quite useful for soldiers in combat, all he needed was to create a flesh tunnel, one that could be controlled either through machine or by the subject himself.

He stretched slightly in his chair, then stood, grabbing his coat. he would do a quick run through of the subjects in 12B then head home. The room itself carried a subtle stench, one that clung to your clothes and skin, he had ceased to notice it, but was aware it was here. He had a few sets of clothes that were only worn in the room and showered immediately when he got home, he kept his work clothes separate, the smell would cling to everything. Even his car had begun to pick it up. He would have to get it professional cleaning soon, he didn’t have time to give it the cleaning it would need.

He pushed through the door and had a quick glance around the room, there were no alarms beeping or lights flashing, everything was in order. He strolled around them all, making sure everything was still attached, everything was normal until he reached Subject K, she had moved. He bent down to look at her closely, he would get one of the others to don a suit and move her, he didn’t have the energy, nor the inclination. He stood, then stepped backwards, his foot sinking into something soft, making a squelching noise. Whatever he stood on moved, sending him off balance, he waved his arms wildly, trying to stay upright, before falling forwards, landing on Subject K, his face landing in the oozing puddle she’d become. Using his hands he boosted his body up, retching, fluid covered his face, giving it a sheen, he tried to push himself upright, so his feet could find purchase on the floor, but the goo underneath him kept shifting, undulating slightly. He glanced behind him to see what had tripped him and saw one of the others behind him. That was impossible, it had been attached to wires, tubes, alarms would have sounded. He tried to get up faster, they shouldn’t be able to move, it was impossible. He felt Subject K shift again beneath him, his arms slipped from under him, once more sending him face first into her folds, he turned over, spluttering, trying to get the liquid out of his mouth, it was bitter, acrid. He coughed as some of it entered his lungs, he struggled again to stand but again, failed. Subject K started to writhe, the folds growing and folding over him, pinning him against her. The other subject began to move, slowly, and lurching, sliding over his legs and body before finally covering his head, just before it covered him, he opened his mouth to scream, it joined the screams and moans of the others before being cut off as the liquid flesh oozed into his mouth, forcing itself deep into his throat. His eyes rolled wildly in his head before the subject covered him completely.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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