Terry Madison was having a shitty day.
The 5’9″ male guard nervously yanked his greasy ponytail while he watched the monitors. SIFRAS, the Specialized Institution For Research And Recovery, did not skimp on security. Terry was one of 32 guards posted at various entrances and sites. For the time being, he was alone at his post.
That was Shitty Day Reason #7.
He groaned every time he remembered the start of his day. First, he overslept, thanks to his girlfriend reprogramming the beside clock to a time that was more suitable for her. She knew he worked the afternoon shift, yet she insisted on setting the alarm for her morning shift. Then, he burned his breakfast burrito, discovered a weird stain on his uniform pants, and cracked his smartboard when he accidentally got it caught in the door when he rushed out. He was forced to change a flat tire on his vehicle since the auto-inflate option was disabled and was late for work.
“And a partridge in a pear tree,” he muttered.
Which is why, at this very moment, he was completely alone at what was one of the more challenging areas of the complex.
In general, areas labeled “challenging” were supposed to employ a minimum two man team at all times. These areas contained either sensitive information or dangerous experiments.
Due to his lateness, Terry was ordered to man the post alone. It located on the east side of the land, in a detached building made of concrete and metal. There were no windows of any sort. Cameras and monitors and keypads and smartpads offered the only access from inside to outside, or room to room.
On his bank of monitors, he watched one room, with a single occupant. The girl being held inside was supposed to have some sort of strange powers. She was covered in weird shapes that seemed to glow. She wore only a pair of loose shorts and a tank top. Her feet were bare. Every hour, an overhead shower dumped a gallon of water on the specimen. Terry was not sure why they kept washing her, although he could swear that there was steam rising from her when the water was turned off.
He leaned forward, focusing on the prone figure. When he first arrived, she was raging around the place, kicking the steel enforced walls and screaming. She seemed to be in pain. Now, she lay curled up, on her side, as if she had given up on everything.
“I know how you feel,” he whispered as he brushed the screen with his fingertips. As if she heard his voice, she lifted her head and gazed directly into the camera. As he watched, she straightened her body and rose. She stood, stretching her body to its full height.
She was young, but large. Cute even, if you liked freaks of nature. The higher ups at SIFRAS kept her head shaved for better placement of electrodes and needles and such.
Terry stared, wondering exactly what he should so if she started to rage again. With one hand, he unbound his dirty blond hair and scratched his scalp. The other hand he kept close to the emergency call button, his fingers hovering just within reach of it.
The girl closed her eyes and grimaced. The shapes on her arms and legs grew brighter and began to pulsate. Terry winced.
“That has to hurt.”
He leaned so far forward that his nose bumped the screen. He did not notice, however, that his hand slipped away from the button and off the desk completely. Nor did he notice the red light over the door to the entrance flashing.
Instead, he was engrossed in the changes in the girl.
As he observed, the shapes started to move, sliding and twisting around her limbs.
“No fucking way,” Terry breathed. The girl opened her eyes, and smiled. It was a broad grin, both beautiful and horrifying. Her eyes narrowed as her mouth stretched. He watched as she did something totally unexpected.
She pointed at him, and laughed.
He threw himself away from the screen, slamming back into his chair with such force that it tipped over. He and the chair clattered to the floor. With his heart hammering away in his chest, he tried to rise –
– and felt a searing pain tear through his face.
“Guh” was all he managed to get out. Dimly he became aware of someone speaking to him
“Where is she?” the voice demanded. “WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER?”
As Terry Madison’s last shitty day in the world came to a violent, painful close, he heard a second voice say “Don’t you think you should have let him answer before you killed him? Goddess curse you, Mae Day! You’re too impatient!”
Go to part 2