The Girl with the Razor Blade Smile
I find it hard to think back to before, it's as if my life started in that place. If I focus and really think, I can remember who I was before, my friends, my family, growing up, and so on but it's as if that life belonged to someone else. I wonder if it was part of what they did to me or if it was my brain's own way of coping. It doesn't matter anymore I am what I was made to be.
It started with the change, I was scared. At 17 I had hoped I'd dodged the bullet. Days passed in a haze of drug induced sleep, very little of what happened around me got through. I thought I heard arguments but it was always either out or range or when I was passing out, just voices raised in angry tones but no words or context.
When I woke up feeling better and alert I was not in my bed, I was in what seemed to be a hospital. I tried to get up and found I was tied down. I started to struggle, old fears of being confined sparked my heart rate, in turn making me breathe faster. Struggling only seemed to make whatever held me grip tighter and I was soon in a full blown panic. I struggled harder fighting to break free and suddenly there were tearing and ripping noises and I began to move easier.
There was the sound of running footsteps and a large heavy set bald man in a white uniform burst into the room. He made no effort to calm me just leapt on me trying to hold me down. I struggled harder getting an arm free somehow. More running footsteps, I shoved the bald guy and he went sailing across the room impacting the wall with a crunch. I froze in surprise and two more men burst into the room, these two had close cropped hair one blond one brown. Blondy aimed something my way and there was a strange noise followed by my body exploding in pain, every muscle contracting and spasming at the same time.
“Dose that thing!” Blondy cried and the other jabbed me with some sort of needle, the world went fuzzy.
They must have kept me drugged after that as I had very few clear memories just pieces and nightmares. Being rolled in and out of what seemed to be operating theatres, being poked and prodded and loaded into a variety of machines and scanners. Hundreds of small fractured memories of medical or maybe scientific people examining poking and prodding.
One memory especially stood out, I was rolled into a room that contained a frail looking girl in a wheelchair. It seemed that either her head was much too big for her body or her body was wasted and skeletal. Initially her face was hidden by long blue hair, but on some unheard command she raised her head and stared at me with dark haunting eyes. Her gaze was intense it seemed to cut right through me to some level beyond just seeing my body, she seemed to weigh up my entire being with one look.
After staring for only a moment her head dropped down her frail body sagging in on itself as if the effort of that one glance had exhausted all her energy. Then in a high quiet voice you had to strain to hear she spoke briefly.
“We see Type 5 class 7”
Then there was a jab in my neck and I was out again.
When I next full resurfaced I was sitting in an uncomfortable unpadded plastic chair in a plain white room. It had no windows and only one door which had no handle on the inside. In front of me was a plain wooden table and a thin man in an expensive suit was sitting on the other side he was holding a cane or a walking stick in his hands. He had a large bald patch on top of his head with tufts of red hair that stuck wildly out to the sides of his head, he also had a elaborately styled moustache curled at the tips with a small pointed beard. His appearance struck me as that of an eccentric uncle or some such. He looked to be in his 50's or 60's, while his hair still had colour his skin was wrinkled and pale. Everything about the situation felt wrong even my own body felt wrong but the more pressing matters of me not knowing where I was and why took precedence.
“At last you're awake!” the man cried in a joyous voice, a spark of manic amusement lit his eyes "Now the adventure begins, another dull clump of metal for me to hammer into a sword. Oh dear me, yes, what fun I shall have with you my new tool."
I shifted in my seat and realised I was not tied up or restrained in anyway. Reacting on instinct I sprang at the man. The moment I touched him it was like the inside of my head exploded.
Pain shot down every nerve ending and my body seemed to lose all control of my arms and legs, I couldn't move at all just waved spasmodically like I was being shocked.
“Oh my always the same, the first lesson learned the hard way. Hopefully you're not a slow learner,” the man tutted, “You cannot come within touching distance of a controller such as myself. In fact if you even think about hurting me I will know.”
I flopped about in agony for a few more seconds like a dying fish then on some unseen signal the pain stopped. I could move again and shuffled my way rapidly across the floor wedging myself into a corner as far from the man as I could get. I was making strange almost involuntary whimpering noises from the shock of it.
He eyed me up and down as if weighing me up then nodded to himself, “Good it seems you learn the implications quickly enough. Much has been invested in you but mark my words not so much we can't cut our losses if you fail to adhere to the rules. But fear not if you do what you are told when you are told then we shall reward you.”
Suddenly unimaginable pleasure surged through me, it was like no feeling I had ever experienced it topped every pleasurable sensation I'd ever had by a factor of a hundred and when it stopped I cried out at the loss of it.
The man laughed, “Quite remarkable piece of technology isn't it my dear. Some plucky Americans developed it, though as is fitting they only thought to put in the pain option. More subtle minds perfected it so now we can give you pleasure or pain at any intensity we desire. It will make you quite a useful little pet my dear.”
I looked up in horror, the implication of his words burning through me, I would do almost anything to avoid the pain and I could already feel an insidious yearning inside to experience the pleasure again. The two combined would work to control me. I started crying silently.
The man laughed again then gestured to the seat, “Yes wonderful and terrible isn't it. Sit now!”
I carefully edged forward wary of getting too close to the man. He seemed completely indifferent to my tears regarding me with relish as if I was some game to be played, or perhaps more accurately some new toy. I slipped into the seat pulling my knees up between me and the man. I studied him more closely this man who called himself a controller. He was well dressed in an expensive suit and he wore it well. He was thin almost to the point of being skeletal, but there was a kind of hungry energy about him like he was thin because he burned off anything he ate with manic activity. Beyond his hair he was immaculately groomed. Indeed in almost all respects from his clothes to his beard he was carefully styled and neatly presented. It was as if all that control meant the madness and disorder had to have some outlet and it was as if his hair was where all the escaping madness went.
His eyes were disturbing, they seemed to be the only part that showed his true personality the rest being a carefully constructed mask. They were startling blue and seemed to burn with some inner fire. He glared out at the world and it seemed like what he saw was not what normal people saw. One look in his eyes and I knew despite his congenial attitude and comical image he was at his heart a stone cold ruthless snake.
“Now then where was I, oh yes you were given over to this facility not kidnapped or anything so obvious and so rest assured there is no-one looking for you. Your family, those who weren't directly involved with sending you here, are under the impression that you died due to complications of your MORFS. Which is not unheard of my dear even in this day and age. You were cremated more than a month ago, as caring masters we of course sent flowers. It was a fine funeral, I think you would have liked it my dear, one of your little friends gave a fine eulogy, and I understand there is a plaque up near your school library, isn't that nice. Suffice to say you now belong to us and no-one is going to come riding out of the sunset to save you, like in some movie. You know the sort of thing maybe something about cowboys or pirates, " He grinned at me and I cried a little harder.
“Now point 2 the device that you so helpfully demonstrated earlier is not removable. It has been implanted into your brain and nervous system in such an ingenious way that it cannot be removed without killing you. More over it is equipped with a failsafe which will accomplish that task in a frightfully unpleasant manner should you manage to escape or in some way displease me or any other controller sufficiently.”
“So to summarise, you are not able to escape, the device inside you that controls you cannot be removed, and no one is going to rescue you. You belong to us now. What fun we shall have, you and I.”
He paused grinning again, he was enjoying this.
“Now we are not uncaring masters, it would not serve our purposes to be so. Do what we tell you, complete your training admirably and we will keep you in a certain degree of comfort. But make no mistake you are a tool to us and a broken tool is thrown away or perhaps used for spare parts.”
“Your name is now Farrah ...,” he said and was about continue but I interrupted him.
“Ba my name'sss H...” I managed only a couple of words before pain once again lanced through my body. Still I managed to notice that my voice sounded strange, the words were coming out oddly.
“That is not your name!" He shouted, his friendly mask slipping for a moment before he once again presented the smiling dotty uncle persona, "That name belonged to the bright promising student. The one everyone loved. The poor dear that was cremated a month ago. The one the school choir sang about, whose death made the local papers," he tossed a couple of printouts across the desk, "This is who you are now, Farrah.”
I stared at the pictures of a very strange looking girl, her naked body was lean and muscular, her skin grey and pale with the light reflecting oddly off it. On her neck were some slit like structures. The close ups of her face were the most chilling, she would have been pretty if not for the jet black eyes and a mouth full of row after row of triangular serrated teeth the added shock of white hair making her look even more otherworldly.
I looked down at my hands realising
for the first time they were the same odd gray shade as
the pictures, I reached up to my mouth and felt the row after row of
teeth in it. of
“Just in case you were wondering Farrah, you don't have a dorsal fin, which is just as well it would have stood out too much and we would have had to surgically remove it, oh my yes, though it would have been appropriate,” He chuckled to himself.
That piece put it all together I was a shark hybrid, I felt my skin with one of my hands it was smooth one way and like coarse sandpaper the other.
“That hide of yours is not only a lot tougher than human flesh, most remarkably it can act as another weapon if you cut against its grain. All in all most useful to our organization.”
I was numb I wanted to cry and scream but I was torn as to what to cry and scream about, there seemed to be so much grief in me. I was a shark girl, I'd been sold off by someone in my family like an unwanted pet to a bunch of psychos, and I had some sort of device in my head that would make me their loyal slave.
“So then my dear now that we have established who you are let me tell you what you will become. A weapon! A tool!" he punctuated each statement by pointing his stick at me, "From this day until your last breath you will follow our orders. How long that period of time will last very much depends on you my dear. My name is Norton and you will address me as such. Are you clear so far?”
I nodded feeling my whole body shake.
“Well then Farrah time to show you around your new home, stay close but don't forget the rules!”
He stood up and the door behind him swung open immediately, he strode out of the room without a second glance and I had to hurry to catch up to him not wanting to be shocked for being too slow.
Outside revealed an empty beige corridor with several doors like the one we had just exited, there were no apparent guards though I could see cameras dotted about. I guess with me wired up to the hilt and the whole place wired for sight and sound there wasn't much need of any extra muscle. The place had the feel of a hospital, I gave a large sniff and was hit by a thousand odors disinfectant, rotten food, cigarettes, coffee, chemicals, Norton's aftershave, and blood. I had to take smaller breaths so as not to be overwhelmed.
I kept a careful distance between me and Norton not wanting to get too close or fall too far behind. I was very light on my feet my new body seemed powerful for all its horrors, I guess Sharks being one of nature's deadliest predators had added quite a lot of physical oomph to my monster body.
Norton lead me through a series of identical corridors stopping at a heavy door which had Farrah spray painted in black above it. Down the corridor were several other doors with names painted over them but I didn't have time to read them as Norton opened the one in front of him and I had to rush to keep up.
A plain white room much like the one I had woken up in awaited. It was bigger and had a bed bolted to one of the walls. There were no windows only two doors the one we had entered through and another on the far wall. Both had no handles on the inside. There was an odd panel in the opposite wall and a single chair. In the corner there was a small toilet and a sink.
“Here we are, splendid isn't it, white is so soothing,” Norton said running a hand along the walls, “I'll let you get settled in, your training starts bright and early tomorrow. Oh what fun we shall have you and I, the possibilities leave me positively giddy I shall barely be able to sleep from the excitement.”
He made for the doorway and I had to leap aside to prevent myself from coming into contact with him. As soon as he was out the door slammed shut and I was alone. Well at least it appeared I was alone I was betting this room was riddled with surveillance equipment.
I desperately wanted to take a look at my changed body but I didn't want to be gawked at by whoever was watching me. After several minutes of trying to find the cameras I realised they had already stripped me naked and photographed every inch of me and it wasn't like I could spend the rest of my time dressed in this gown.
I took off the thin hospital gown trying to forget that people were probably watching me, fighting not to let it show that it bothered me. What I could see of myself matched the photos I had been shown. My skin was a sort of dull grey, not uniformly so as I realised when I compared my arms to the rest of my body, my belly and front being slightly lighter. My skin was odd like scales but different, running my hand over it the surface felt rough in one direction or slick and smooth the other way. It was very tough like armour. My body was quite lean and athletic, muscles showing under my strange skin. I didn't seem to have any body hair at all.
I felt the other changes I knew about, the odd slits in my neck. They were a bit sensitive and it hurt when I poked them, their strange musculature pulling them sharply shut, so I left them alone. My mouth was full of teeth, rows of triangular serrated razor blade sharp instruments. I stifled a sob at the thought of my most obvious monstrous feature I could worry about how other people would see me when and if I ever got free. I ran a hand through my short white hair it felt like normal hair and seemed to be the most normal part of me now even with its unusual colouration.
I tried to focus on the other less obvious changes I had noticed earlier, those being my new senses. My vision was pin sharp, my sense of smell almost overwhelming it was much more sensitive, the hearing was more difficult to tell as there was nothing to hear, touch was a bit muted but that was more down to my new skin, and I didn't have anything to eat to evaluate taste so I couldn't tell on that one. Just thinking about food made my stomach growl so I stopped thinking about that. I tried to focus on something else, I could feel something else just at the edge of my perception, almost like some other new sense was overlaid on my existing ones but it was elusive and I soon lost the grasp of it.
I sighed and wrapped my arms around myself, I realised that despite standing naked in the room I wasn't cold I wondered if it was another facet of my new skin. I took another look around the spartan room. It was almost completely bare the few bits of furniture were basic and battered like they had seen a lot of use. One odd thing was that everything was wood or plastic to the extent that I couldn't see any screws or nails in anything even the taps and pipes were some sort of plastic. I sniffed seeing if my new sharper sense of smell would pick up anything. The scent of disinfectant and cleaning products filled my nose, the acrid lemon scented chemicals burned in my nose and gave me a sneezing fit. I examined the sink ran some water and tasted it experimentally. It had a metallic tang to it but otherwise seemed ok.
I was about to start working my way round the walls when the light abruptly shut down. I was left in the pitch black for a moment and then slowly my eyes seemed to adapt, there was a very faint glow from the crack under the door but that seemed to be enough for me to see by. I wondered if it was my new eyes that allowed me to see. Just another unwelcome change not even the darkness would hide the prison I was stuck in.
I slipped the gown back on and climbed into
bed, it was hard but I curled up and cried myself to sleep. the
The lights came back on with
a vengeance. I hadn't slept very much drifting in and out of sleep,
seeing the faces of friends and family in my head wondering who of them
had betrayed me selling me to this place. Running over every offence
I might have caused them that would lead to this level of retribution.
The slot in the wall shot out revealing it to be some sort of drawer.
'Just like they have in the movies to deal with dangerous prisoners', I thought then felt even more depressed at the implication.
I walked over to see what was in it. I found a tray with a plate of what looked like raw meat, a plastic spork, and a grey jumpsuit. I put the jumpsuit on the bed then took the plate out. The drawer slammed back into the wall the second I was clear of it almost causing me to fall over backwards from the surprise. I sat on the uncomfortable chair and examined my meal.
The meat was bloody and completely raw, I wanted to just throw it away but I was just so hungry I couldn't do it, besides I feared they wouldn't give me anything else if I did that. I tentatively sniffed at it and the sharp metallic smell of blood hit me. I briefly wondered if it was laced with any drugs but then dismissed that thought, they had already demonstrated control over in such a manner that they didn't need to drug me as well. I cut a small bite and spearing it with the spork gingerly put it in my mouth, my fearsome array of teeth made short work of it. It didn't taste too bad, it was like a very rare steak. I ate the rest of it and did feel better afterwards.
When I was done I examined the jumpsuit. It was some sort of modern fabric, the sort that looked insubstantial but was probably bulletproof. I took off the gown and slipped it on. It fitted like a glove covering my body tightly like it had been painted on. I wondered if they were going to give me shoes but realised my skin was probably tough enough now that I didn't need them for most terrain.
I sat wondering what to do next when the door swung open and Norton walked in.
"Good morning Farrah, time to begin your training, an auspicious day so much to do," he turned to the door and I got to my feet to follow but he stopped and turned back suddenly, "Oh I nearly forgot, I have a gift for you my dear."
He threw something at me, I caught it and discovered what appeared to be a collar with a plaque that read Farrah on it.
"A symbol you see my dear, a little reminder. Something to make sure you remember that you are on a leash even if it's an invisible one," Norton grinned at me.
I wanted to throw it back in his smug face but I knew what would happen to me if I did, so instead I fastened it around my neck.
"Excellent, what a good girl you are," Norton said and waved his hand in my direction and suddenly unbridled pleasure surged through my nervous system for a second then was gone again making me almost cry out for the loss, "A star pupil so far and there will be more rewards if you continue to do as you are told. Anyway now that you are properly attired we can begin."
He led me back into the corridor and through several nondescript white hallways. Yet again there were no staff or other people about, I could almost believe myself to be alone in the facility with Norton but for other indications. My more sensitive sense of smell told me others were here somewhere, someone had passed through here with a cup of coffee not long ago spilling it on the floor. A woman's perfume hit me as I turned another corner, a pungent flowery scent that might have been nice to normal senses but made me feel ill, the trail leading to one of the nondescript doors we passed as we continued through this maze of corridors.
Finally we reached our destination Norton pushed open one of the doors and waved me inside. I gingerly moved past him and found myself in some sort of exercise room. There were weights and a treadmill on one side of the room and climbing bars against the opposite wall. A large open area in the middle worried me most, the concrete there was patched with areas of dark colour, one sniff confirmed the scent of sweat and blood.
"Now then Farrah time to put that astonishing new body through its paces to see what your limits are. I can hardly wait to find out," Norton said and walked over to the treadmill practically jumping with excitement.
Over the next few hours Norton had me work through a series of exercises each one teaching me I was stronger and tougher than I could have imagined possible. He was relentless if I failed or seemed to be not trying I got the pain zap that was worse than any fatigue. I was foolishly glad when he gestured me over to the open area not realising what was coming next.
I was surprised when another two figures entered, one a young man maybe a few years older than me and a dark haired woman in a black suit. He was wearing a similar jumpsuit to mine and a collar that said Alex, he was tall, muscular, and pretty scary. The woman was short but very intense her suit hugging her modest curves, she looked at me with a smirk and malice burned in her eyes, she reeked of that floral perfume from earlier.
"Farrah this charming young lady is Mistress Hahn and this brute her animal Alex. He's fully trained and will be helping you with your combat skills," Norton said with a smile then produced two knives and tossed one to my feet the other to this Alex.
Alex picked up the knife and waited still as a statue, his eyes always on me. They were horrible eyes, dead, like there was nothing behind them, no spark of humanity burned in them.
"Now then pick up the knife Farrah so we can begin," Norton said firmly and I hurried to comply not wanting another pain session.
When I had the knife awkwardly gripped in my hand Norton gave a smile to Mistress Hahn, "Begin whenever you please dear lady."
Mistress Hahn studied her nails seemingly bored with the whole affair then said in a high almost musical voice, "Attack the girl, don't kill her but make sure she gets enough incentive to learn to defend herself."
Alex flashed into motion coming at me with his knife, I cried out in terror and backed away. I was soon backed against the wall. He came at me with the knife and I had to dodge like mad to avoid it. I dodged and ran to the best I could manage but it wasn't enough Alex was relentless and soon got past my meagre defences. My tougher than normal skin saved me for a couple of hits causing the knife to glance off due to the angle but eventually one of the strikes wasn't flat enough for this and cut into my flesh.
I cried out in fear and dropped the knife in shock at the pain. Alex was still attacking me though and I had to scramble like mad to avoid more cuts. I received a few more slices before I managed to grab Alex's arm to stop the knife which turned out to be a mistake as he in turn grabbed hold of me to stop me from escaping and kicked my feet out from under me. With me held down on the floor he poised the knife ready.
"Give her a nice reminder to do better next time," Mistress Hahn said a laugh in her voice.
Alex plunged the knife into my abdomen and a red hot lance of pain seared through me.
"Well that was at least quick, come along Alex," Mistress Hahn said walking past me as I lay on the floor clutching my wounds, as she passed she smiled at me and said something that chilled me to the bone, "See you again tomorrow dear."
She left the room laughing as I lay there bleeding from my many wounds.
I felt something prod me, possibly the walking stick Norton carried as I could hear him talking, "Oh dear me, this won't do at all, most unsatisfactory. This is Norton send in the repair unit."
A short while later a girl was led into the room by a white clothed guard, he looked like he might have been one of those I encountered when I first woke up. The girl was very thin and was chained up. She was dressed in a rough tunic and trousers, her blue hair was dishevelled. The guard pulled her over to me and she fell to her knees next to my prone form.
She reached down her hands shaking. As she came close to me I noticed that her nails were all chewed off right back to the quick. Her face was obscured by the long hair hanging down in front I could barely make out her eyes. She reached out and gripped my arms, there was an odd tingling sensation and my flesh felt like it was moving. When she took her hands away the knife wounds were gone. She pulled my hands away from my stomach wound then reached down pressing her hand over the bloody gash. It was like someone had stuck a stick in the wound and was stirring it. The sensation passed and she pulled her hand away revealing a bloody but intact abdomen.
She leaned forward checking the rest of me and I caught a glimpse of her face. She looked at me with mixture of sorrow and what looked like guilt as if she knew she was only healing me to be hurt again. She finished her inspection, stood up and was dragged out of the room without saying a word.
"Dear oh dear this will put us behind. On your feet!" Norton instructed I got up feeling a little unsteady almost dizzy I guess, although I had been healed I had still lost a fair amount of blood. He looked at me shaking his head, "My schedule is ruined."
"Wooo wa she?" I asked my words coming out slurred. I had forgotten myself perhaps due to the blood loss.
Norton looked at me with an annoyed expression as I swayed about then gave a sigh and said, "Some of our subjects don't develop the correct physical characteristics for use as weapons or they are not tough enough to survive the full implant procedure. Still they can occasionally be useful like that healer there, we use her to keep things running. Your astounding body has accelerated regenerative abilities far in excess of a normal human but it still pales in comparison to what that weak little healer can achieve. Most regrettably apart from her ability to repair bodies she is a weak and fragile thing, most unsuited to the tasks we require our tools to complete. So she is used as a repair unit and since units like her don't need to function outside the facility their control collars are simpler affairs. A small amount of explosive, a remote trigger lodged near their spine and so on. That way if they escape ... well you can imagine what would happen. It's much easier to install so even the weakest specimen is usable. Thus we make use of the useless."
"Now then your performance was abysmal, even for a first timer. You didn't even try to fight back."
I nearly fell down at his words expecting the pain to hit me any second. But it didn't come.
"You had best do better on the next test, for now you will need to rest a while to rebuild you strength. Your body is healed but greatly depleted of resources. I expect you will have to eat some food and sleep for a short while. It throws my schedule way off but I suppose such is the way of things when dealing with such imperfect tools. Once you are rested then we will look at training your unique skills."
He turned to take me out of the room and it suddenly occurred to me I still had the knife. Maybe I could throw it at him and kill him that way before he could trigger the pain. Almost as soon as the thought entered my head pain ripped through me and in my already weakened state I was floored immediately.
Norton looked down at me a grim smile on his face as I flopped about in agony on the floor, "My dear you thought about killing me didn't you. Well we have people watching your thoughts, if you even think about harming me then they trigger your collar. All of our new tools learn this the hard way, the smart ones only need one lesson. Since you have yet to accept your new role it's to be expected and you won't be punished unduly this time."
The pain stopped and Norton turned back and made for the door as if nothing had happened. I tossed away the knife and staggered to my feet, not even my own thoughts were safe in this place. The festering hatred of this place and everyone in it burned brighter. I forced it down and followed Norton not wanting another jolt of pain.
He led me out of the room back to my cell where another plate of raw meat was waiting. I sat down in my chair and ate the whole thing then collapsed into bed. Vivid dreams of being chased by men with knives haunted me so that when I woke up I felt worse than I had when I went to sleep. Norton was sitting in my chair waiting for me.
"Wakey wakey my dear. It's high time to get back to work Farrah," he said and stood heading for the door.
I scrambled to my feet and followed him I dreaded what I would be exposed to this time.
Once again we made our way through the maze of identical corridors ending up in a room much like the previous one only this time it was completely empty bare with concrete walls and floor. I sniffed worried I was in for another knifing but didn't sense the telltale metallic scent of blood. The room smelt stale like it hadn't been used in a long time.
"Now sit down in the centre of the room my dear, I will return shortly," Norton said and left me. He didn't even bother to shut the door behind him leaving it ajar. It was clear he had no worries about me escaping. Maybe the collar would drop me with pain if I stepped out of the room maybe it was just if I tried to escape the facility, either way unless I could disable the collar I didn't think having the run of the maze like corridors would help me.
Some time later Norton returned, he was carrying a bar of metal that he threw down in front of me.
"With your transformation you gained a most interesting ability to control metals. As far as our initial test confirmed you should have a fair degree of control. Now your task, I want you to twist that metal bar into a ring without touching it."
I stared at him and then back at the bar of metal in front of me. I was a bit shocked, me with a super power, with all I had been going through I had never even considered the possibility. I also knew powers often took quite a lot of effort and time to access with some people never managing to find their trigger. I was immediately scared what would happen to me if I couldn't do what they wanted. I stared at the bar racking my brains for any snippet of information I had heard about activating powers.
"Focus on the bar, shape it with your will, tap your power," Norton suggested perhaps trying to help or maybe just growing impatient.
I spent the next hour or so staring at the bar willing it to change but it didn't even twitch a bit. Norton got increasingly impatient and eventually stormed out of the room muttering to himself. I just didn't know what to do the metal bar remained straight.
Norton re-entered the room carrying another bar of metal that was in some sort of electronic harness with a red light glowing on it. He swapped it for the other bar then stared at me saying nothing for a few seconds as if composing his thoughts.
"I have had this bar outfitted with an array of sensors that will detect any minute changes in the shape and structure of the metal. Indicated just there by the light changing colour. With this new teaching aid I will now be able to offer some positive or indeed negative reinforcement, as the case may be, of your progress. Now then make it into a circle," he said and pulled out a small pocket watch.
I didn't like the sound of that so redoubled my efforts staring at the bar. The red light glowed back I stared and stared unblinking till my eyes burned trying to will the bar to change but nothing was happening.
"Hmmm most disappointing," said Norton and a jolt of pain ripped through me. When it stopped he looked up from his watch and said, "You may continue."
I focussed more willing the bar to change. Still nothing, still the red light.
More pain hit me, "Now try again," Norton said.
I tried gesturing at the bar, still nothing still the red light, more pain.
"Again," Norton said.
I tried closing my eyes focussing on the bar trying to reach out to it without my vision, Still nothing, still the red light, more pain.
"Again!" Norton shouted.
I tried picturing the bar in my head focussing on every detail I could see then willing the bar to change shape. Still nothing, still the red light, even more pain.
"Blast you girl you're not even trying! Again!" roared Norton.
I imagined invisible hands reaching out and grabbing the bar pulling it into a circle. There was a sudden flicker of green then the light went back to red.
"There! Like that!" Norton cried and I was flooded with pleasure briefly.
I tried again to visualise hands gripping the bar twisting it but this time the light stayed red.
"Oh dear and you seemed to be making progress," another burst of pain, "Again!"
I had done something before I just needed to manage it again I threw everything I had into the imaginary hands focussing on the metal imagining the feel of it willing it to bend. For a second I could almost feel it like those imaginary hands were my hands I reached out and mimed bending the bar to help me focus and again pain exploded behind my eyes but this time due to the strain of this unfamiliar activity. I cried out and made one last effort, the light turned green for several seconds and it might have been my imagination but the bar seemed to visibly bend. But I couldn't maintain it and I fell back exhausted.
Norton walked over and picked up the bar, he pulled the sensors off it and examined it. I had managed to bend it by a small amount. Maybe a one degree bend in the metal. I lay on the ground panting waiting for the pain to hit me for not achieving the goal he had set.
"Acceptable I suppose for your first try, it almost makes up for your abysmal performance this morning," he said and pleasure flooded my body again. When it ended he turned to me and said, "Of course I expect better results tomorrow. I think that will do for today, come along now."
He headed for the door and I staggered to my feet trying to keep up with him. I felt just like I had after the knife fight, completely drained and barely able to walk. I couldn't understand how people managed to use their powers if they were so draining. Admittedly I hadn't had the most restful day so I was probably tired even before I tried to use mine and besides all they had fed me thus far was raw meat which couldn't be good for me. I only hoped it would get easier as time went on or that maybe the strain would kill me outright at least then I would be free from this nightmare.
Another plate of raw meat was waiting for me and I wolfed it down in a few mouthfuls. I used the sink to wash myself getting rid of the patches of my own dried blood as best I could. The light shut off pretty soon after that so I climbed into bed pulled the thin blanket over me and almost immediately passed out.
The next day was much the same
I was woken when the lights switched on and the tray opened. I ate my
meal of raw meat and changed into a fresh jump suit. I wonder if I'm
going to get sick because of this dodgy diet they're feeding me. Even
given they had a nutter attack me with a knife they seem to want me
alive so I can only assume they've thought of the possibility of vitamin
After my breakfast Norton opened the door and waved me out of the room without even coming in. I scampered after him like a good little toy, briefly angry with myself for automatically following him. With the implant I knew there is nothing I can do that won't lead to horrendous pain so I forced myself to calm down. Maybe if I'm just careful enough an opportunity will present itself.
He took me back to the exercise room with the blood stained floor. Once again he gave me a complete work out. I dreaded what would happen next and dragged my heels a bit on some of the repetitions hoping he would run out of time but that only earned me a warning zap of pain. Sure enough when I was done with the exercise Mistress Hahn and Alex walked into the room.
"Come along girl time for your 'ahahahah' lesson," Mistress Hahn taunted me as she made her way into the room. She was one of those people that walk like they have some sort of motor causing them to sway their hips in a very exaggerated fashion. She knew she was pretty and used it as a weapon.
"Now then Farrah try to do better this time my dear," Norton said looking embarrassed to be associated with me. He tossed me a knife and gestured to the more blood stained area of the room.
I walked unwillingly over to the sparing area and tried to prepare myself.
At a nod from his Mistress Alex came at me like a rabid animal.
I tried to fend him off and it worked about as well as last time. Soon my arms were covered in defensive wounds. They hurt like hell but I didn't want to receive another stomach wound or worse so I did my best to block out the pain. I remembered someone telling me that when someone comes at you with a knife it's essential to control your opponent's blade. I tried to remember if that someone had actually known anything about fighting or if it was one of the pieces of advice I had gotten from watching a film or some such but still is seemed like a better idea than getting slowly slashed to pieces.
The next time he attacked I stepped inside his reach and grabbed hold of his arm. He was very strong and we struggled for a while then he head butted me. Slightly dazed I staggered back and lost my grip on his arm. He pressed his advantage and I got forced back into the corner of the room. I knew he would try and disarm me and then disable me so I did something frantic. I dropped to the floor and rolled through his legs tripping him.
The randomness of my move seemed to take him aback and he took a little while to find his feet. However since I was down on the floor I had to get back to my feet to do anything useful and he was a lot better at this than me. He was there waiting when I tried and fought back he slapped the knife out of my hand as I awkwardly lunged at him and then he fastened his hand around my throat. He was chocking me I was lifted clean off the floor trying desperately to break his grip but all I could do was to scrabble at his hand ineffectually. I started to get tunnel vision the world begun to fade as I struggled for oxygen.
"Enough!" Mistress Hahn called.
I was dumped unceremoniously on the floor taking great big breaths and rubbing my poor throat.
"Well that was certainly entertaining Norton, the bit where she was rolling along the floor like a child was just hilarious. Still she at least lasted a little longer this time. Come along Alex," Mistress Hahn said laughing as she made her way out of the room.
"Well ... that was better I suppose, but still not what I was hoping for," Norton stared at me, he seemed angry and frustrated and began pacing back and forth before turning and pointing his cane at me again, "Didn't you do martial arts or something, I remember it listed as a hobby on your file, surely you can apply that, I mean really, rolling along the floor like a pig in a mud bath!"
I hesitated then replied, my voice was all croaky so what came out was more unintelligible than usual, "I dith danthing not martha arths."
"What was that, speak clearly you blithering idiot!" Norton shouted.
I flinched and tried my best to enunciate the words, "I diiid daaancing not marth ... martial artssss."
"Dancing ... oh ... well that explains it I suppose, I guess your file was less complete than I would like. Typical of our information gatherers, really never paying attention to the task, always leaving things half done. Why when I was at that sort of level a chap had to do his best or else the people upstairs would come down on him like a ton of bricks, course these days it's all different," he stopped his rambling and stared into the distance as if lost in thought then he snapped back to the present, "What was I, oh yes, well I suppose it means you don't have the disadvantage of already having learnt a set style that someone can recognise and counter, there's that at least. Oh well can't be helped. Come along now, time for your lunch then more practice with your special abilities at least you should make some progress there today."
He took me out into the corridor where the girl in chains was waiting under guard. She quickly healed my wounds and then Norton led me back to my room. I was about to go sit on the chair but Norton made a gesture that brought me up short.
"You have been doing well enough that I think it's time you dined with the other of our subjects. Remember though all of you are still under our careful eyes," Norton said and pointed to the other door in my room.
The door swung open and I made my way hesitatingly through it. On the other side was a plain room with a large table. Sitting at the table were five people dressed in the same jumpsuits as me. I could see one of them was Alex. There were several doors coming into the room mostly along the wall where the door to my room opened and each was labelled with a name. They said Alex, Bethany, Chris, Doyle, Eric and then my door was of course labelled Farrah. I assumed these were the names of all the other people who had been imprisoned in this place like me and treated as 'tools'. There were several more doors that were not labelled on both sides of the room. I wondered if these were other rooms for future inmates or something else.
The door to my room swung shut and locked behind me and another door in the opposite wall opened. A guard walked in with a tray placing it at the table next to one of the other jump suited people.
"You sit here now," he said.
I hurried over to the table and sat finding that the tray had yet more raw meat on it and a plastic beaker of water. Once I was seated the guard left the room again and I felt slightly relaxed.
I looked at the others at the table. Alex sat at across from me two over, a wolf hybrid boy with bright red fur sat next to him. Opposite me was a slim girl with long black hair, her only oddity was cat eyes. Next to me sat a hulking great beast of a man who must have been about 9ft or more bulging with muscle and a snout and tusk like teeth on his face. Sitting next to him was a boy with scales on his face and odd looking eyes.
Everyone but Alex regarded me with interest, even the odd smile. The girl opposite me was practically grinning.
I started eating my meat glancing around at other people's plates, some had odd food like me others had more standard looking meals. I guess they tailored it to us somehow. I ate a few bites of my meat carefully eyeing the rest of the table, which got me a gasp from the girl when she saw my teeth.
"She's a shark girl!" she said, "Not only do we get another girl but a rare and interesting hybrid at that!"
I spun round to look at her and she smiled at me, "It's been hard being the only girl here."
"That's not fair, I used to be a girl too," complained the boy with scales.
"I know but still," the cat girl replied. She turned back to me, "They named you Farrah right?"
I nodded and then careful tried to reply, "Buut that's nooot my naame I'm called ..."
"Don't!" cried most of the table.
I flinched and the girl looked at me sympathetically and explained, "They listen in. If you say your old name they'll zap you hard. I made that mistake, trust me you don't want to."
I nodded and ate some more of my meat.
"They do it to break the connections you know," said the large boy next to me, his voice was surprisingly high for someone so massive, "giving us new names makes it easier for us to break from the past ... or so they say. Easier for who I say."
Most of the table nodded in agreement, "That's why they let us meet too," said the wolf boy, "to give us an outlet, having others in the same situation to talk to makes us easier to control."
The table went quiet for a bit, "Anyway depressing thoughts aside let me introduce myself. They call me Bethany, I've been here second longest, it's nice to meet you," said the cat girl.
"Chris," said the Wolf hybrid nodding his head to me.
"I'm Eric," said the large vaguely porcine hybrid who was sitting next to me offering me a hand. I took it carefully and he gently shook it, "Wow your skin is odd."
"The call me Doyle," the scaled boy said smiling to reveal fang like teeth.
"And that silent and brooding one is Alex," said Bethany pointing a thumb in Alex's direction.
"I know whooo he issss," I said an edge of anger creeping into my voice.
"Ah, so they're using him to break you in, that's tough though I'm glad it isn't another one of us, we'd not have gotten a chance to explain that we have no choice. Alex ... well Alex was their first and I think they must have broken him. He never talks to us," Bethany looked at Alex who kept eating and drinking mechanically seemingly unaware he was even being talked about, Bethany's eyes snapped back to me, "Listen this is important, we need to explain something. In this room we can be ourselves but outside ... well you know by now that we do what we are told or we get hurt. So if you encounter us with our controllers we may have to fight you or hurt you or do anything our masters say. To be clear we don't want to but we have no choice. So remember we are all prisoners in this. Please don't blame us for what we are ordered to do. Having each other as friends when we are in this room is one of our few pleasures."
I stared at her for a bit and realised what she was saying, Norton might well have me fight these people and they would not hold back, I might have to fight them and I wouldn't be able to hold back either or Norton would make me experience pain unlike anything. I slowly nodded my understanding.
"It will be hard the first few times," Chris said his eyes showing deep emotional pain, "even though you're prepared."
Bethany put a hand over Chris' and nodded. Everyone was quiet for a bit then Bethany said, "Anyway let's not mope too much, there's too much of that as it is. Do you know if you have any powers yet?"
"I cccaan shhhape methal," I replied, I discovered that speaking more was helping me speak better, my new teeth and mouth had distorted things initially but I was improving.
"Cool, I'm a fire elemental," Bethany said sparking a ball of flame in her palm briefly.
"I'm a technopath, can't really demo that I'm afraid," Chris said.
"Illusionist," said Eric making a flock of butterflies appear.
"I'm an ice elemental, cold blooded like a snake you could say, heh heh," Doyle said freezing his water into the shape of a swan.
"Whaat'sss he?" I said pointing at Alex.
"Not really sure, since he never talks, he's never told us and so far we've never been in a situation where he's used his powers," Bethany said.
"Though they have us spar against each other usually they're no powers allowed in matches," Doyle said.
I ate some more of my meat thinking about what powers Alex could have. Probably something that could be useful in a fight, though in my case I wasn't sure how being able to bend a metal bar with my mind would help me. The rest of the table went back to chatting and joking with each other. It felt like being back at school again. I guess that was the intention, keep the prisoners happy, let them have friends albeit friends that were similarly controlled.
I finished my meat and was just washing it down with some water when a buzzer went off and all the doors to our cells flew open. Alex was off like a shot abandoning the table and right into his cell within seconds. The rest of us moved less swiftly though it was clear no one wanted to dawdle.
"Well hopefully we'll see you tomorrow Farrah," Bethany said rushing off to her room.
I waved to everyone and made my way over to my own room. It had been nice to feel almost normal for a bit and I found myself looking forward to the next time. As soon as I had got in my room the door out to the dining area swung shut and locked, a few moments later the front door opened and Norton stood waiting.
"I trust you had a nice lunch my dear. A nice meal and gentle discourse with your fellow inmates what better way to rejuvenate you so you can tap the hidden depths of your special abilities. I expect great things from you today." He said waving his cane dramatically, "Come now we have no time to waste."
He raced off into the corridors and I had to hurry to keep up, soon we were back in the same empty room the block of metal with the sensors on it was there waiting. Norton fiddled with it so the light came on then tossed it in front of me.
"Now then my dear you know what to do. I expect much better results this time, astound me," he said then took a few steps back to watch.
I did my best to relax and focused on the block trying to make it bend as I had done in the past. The stupid light stayed red.
Norton frowned, "Come now my dear you can do better than that. Perhaps a little motivation will help you."
Pain burned through me, every muscle locked solid and it felt like I was immersed in red hot acid that was burning me and eating away at my skin. Every time I thought that perhaps the previous exposure would allow me to endure it better but each time it was as bad as the first time. I guessed they had designed it so that no one could adapt to it. Eventually the pain stopped and I was able to move again.
"Now then continue please my dear and do try not to let me down. Your lack of progress in other areas is most vexing and I would hate to think you were just not suitable for training," a chill went down my spine at his words. Were they already thinking of getting rid of me. I couldn't let that happen I redoubled my efforts.
I focussed on the bar for several minutes with that traitorous light staying red throughout. Just when I had given up hope and was preparing myself for another jolt I got the trick of making my powers work. I could feel the metal much more this time, it was like I was holding it in some invisible hands. I made it bend and the light finally turned green. I kept my grip this time and kept bending the metal. When I finally had to stop due to fatigue the bar was in a U shape.
Norton scooped up the bar and examined it, "Excellent my dear, a wonderful beginning, you deserve a treat."
Pleasure burst through me making me fall the floor gasping my vision whitened out as I lay there as paralysed as I had been from the pain. The pleasure stopped abruptly and I pulled myself into a ball shaking uncontrollably as the after effects faded.
"Now then," Norton said pulling the sensors off the bar, "We are going to try something different this time. You have been thus far only bending the metal, now I want you to reshape it. Turn this piece into a sphere. If it helps you may touch the bar."
He tossed the bar in front of me and I re-seated myself breathing deeply, trying to restore my calm. I tried to think how I could turn this bent bar into a sphere. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. Maybe it I tried applying pressure from outside squishing it into a ball.
I concentrated and tried to feel the bar using my mental hands just like I had earlier, the feeling came quickly the tingling sensation and feeling off the metal appearing in my head. With a slow and careful pace I concentrated on the two sides of the bar trying to squeeze the metal together. Slowly the U collapsed inwards as if someone was pushing it together eventually the two sides touching. I tried pushing it some more but it seemed not to go beyond that.
"I suspect you are still thinking of the metal as solid, as if you are pressing the two sides together," Norton said, "Your focus on bending the existing shape is meaning your power is also working to maintain it. Instead remember that to you this metal should be like clay, it can take any shape, you merely need to mould it with your mind."
I took a deep breath and tried to think of the metal as clay, as a soft deformable matter. I imagined it flowing together into a blob and reached out with my mental hands to the bar. At first nothing much happened then I noticed the metal on the two sides of the bar that I was 'touching' flowing together. Gradually the bar seemed to melt as I concentrated on it using my mental hands to form it into a shape. Very slowly the bar became a blob then gradually a rough sphere.
"Wonderful! Simply amazing, well done my dear. Toss it to me so I can take a look," Norton cried practically jumping up and down with excitement.
Not thinking about it I threw the ball of metal at him, he wasn't a very good catch and the sphere struck him in the chest with a loud bang. He staggered backwards and cried out in pain falling towards the floor. Not thinking I tried to grab him to stop him from falling. The moment I reached out and touched him my body locked solid from pain. I wasn't aware of anything after that as for quite a while agony coursed through my veins and I flopped about helpless on the floor. I assume Norton eventually turned off the pain as I found myself lying on the floor with Norton looking down at me. I curled up crying rocking back and forth as I tried to recover from the pain.
"That was unfortunate, I know you meant me no ill will and were just following orders so you shouldn't have received a jolt except for you touched me. Try to be more careful in the future," Norton said like this was my fault. "Now let us continue with your exercises."
He tossed the sphere at me, "Now make it into a cube."
I held the sphere looking at it and thinking, it had struck him and hurt him yet I hadn't been shocked for that, it was only that I had touched him that caused it. So if I hurt him by accident without meaning to, I was ok, it was only deliberate damage that counted as a shock able offence. This was interesting but not currently that useful, Norton was beginning to look a bit peeved that I had been staring at the sphere but it hadn't changed shape so I filed the information away and got back to making the sphere a cube.
The sense of the metal came much quicker this time even shaping it now that I knew to think of it as clay or some such was much easier. Indeed by the end I was able to dispense with the mental hands mechanism and just command the metal to take a shape by picturing it in my head and making the metal flow into it like water flowing into the shape of the container that held it.
Norton seemed very pleased with my progress and had apparently completely forgotten about me injuring him earlier. He took me back to my room for my evening meal in good spirits. The plate of meat was waiting for me, evidently it was only lunch time that I could share with the other slaves. I got halfway through my meal before realising how I was adapting without noticing, how I had been happy to please Norton, how I was already falling into the role he wanted me to play.
The realisation stopped me cold, I had known the insidious control implant with its pleasure and pain would shape me but it was a shock to realise it was happening so quickly. I felt the anger resurface this time aimed at myself. How could I so quickly forget I was a prisoner here and still I started to want to please my captors. In a fit of rage I picked up my chair and smashed it against the wall going on a rampage and trashing my room.
I tore everything to pieces and used the pieces to smash anything else I could get my hands on. Eventually whoever was watching me decided I'd done enough damage and triggered my implant dropping me to the floor.
Still I fought the pain limply throwing my half eaten meal across the floor. Guards came rushing in and I weakly threw things at them through a fog of pain. They grabbed me and held me down as I flayed about trying to resist catching a few chance blows till they got my limbs under control simply through weight of numbers sitting on me. That's when I tried biting which proved quite effective the cries of pain of my captors giving me just enough strength to keep fighting through the agony. They hit me in an attempt to subdue me but the pain of their blows diminished to nothing compared with the agony I was already receiving through the implant.
Eventually a doctor arrived with a shot to sedate me or something, Norton was with him looking annoyed. Suddenly the pain I was feeling spiked to a new level and I couldn't fight it at all.
"Quickly get her under control, we can't overload her nervous system like this for long without permanent damage. I've invested too much time to waste the subject as spare parts," he said with very little emotion.
The doctor with the needle approached from the front jabbing me in the neck with it. His choice of location was not so lucky for him as I managed one last ditch act of resistance lunging forward and fastening my jaw on his outstretched arm. He screamed and I bit down as hard as I could taking a large chunk of flesh out of his arm. I spat it at Norton and the look of shock and disgust on his face made me burst out in hysterical laughter as my vision started to fade to black as the drugs took effect.
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/