Scarlett kept running. Hallways flew past her as she navigated the laboratory’s third floor. Scarlett found it peculiar that none of the lights were on. The lights were always on. She brushed that thought aside and focused on the task at hand: getting away from the creature she helped create. And finding Aaron. He had just been in the experimenting room with her. They had gone into the hallway together, but then as soon as she had turned around, he was gone.
The creature lunged at Scarlett, who threw herself to the left side of the hall. She felt the creature’s claws graze her right shoulder. She felt blood trickling down her arm. It stung, but she persisted. The creature was closing in on her. All of a sudden, she started to feel sluggish. She forced herself to keep going, but her willpower was breaking. She felt the claws sink into her back. It will be over soon, she thought. Her knees buckled. The last thing she saw was a bright light in front of her, then darkness.
Walter stumbled back. He was worried the figure in the cell was another monster. The figure didn’t move. Walter frowned. He hit his hand against the wall with a loud thwack. The figure remained still. Walter reached into his pocket and fished out a small flashlight. He shone it into the cell. Inside was a child. Walter yelped in surprise. The child spoke.
“Will you stop that racket?”
Walter didn’t respond. The kid, who looked to be about twelve or thirteen years old, stood up and walked to the bars. Walter finally spoke.
“Who are you?” He asked.
“I do not have a name,” the kid responded.
“Ok, what are you doing here?” Walter questioned, confused.
“This is my home,” the kid replied.
“Your… home?” Walter asked, now very confused.
“Yes,” the kid responded.
“But this is a laboratory, not a house!” Walter exclaimed.
“A labo-what?” The kid asked.
“A laboratory. L-a-b-o-r-a-t-o-r-y,” Walter enunciated clearly.
“Why can labor-tories not be homes?” The kid asked.
“Labor-a-tory. That’s where they do science experiments. Like where people in white coats mix vials of colored liquid and stuff like that.” Walter explained.
“I know people with white coats. I talk to them every day. They are doctors and they help my brain and hand,” the kid said, touching his head and hand for emphasis.
“Why?” Walter asked.
“I don’t know,” the kid responded.
Aaron ran down the hallway. In his left hand was an industrial flashlight, and in his right hand was a sword that he had made from paper clips. The sword was a little project he had worked on when he was bored at work, but he figured it could scare away the creature he created. Just before he turned another bend, the flashlight started to flicker. He slapped it with his sword hand awkwardly, and it stopped flickering.
He turned the bend. There Scarlett was, with the monster right behind her. Aaron charged at the creature, who clawed at Scarlett with its one good arm.
“Back off, you foul beast!” Aaron shouted, swinging his makeshift sword. “You want some of this? Come and get it!”
Aaron charged at the creature, which snarled at him. The flashlight started flickering again, then went dark. Aaron continued forward, swinging the sword. He felt the impact as the sword hit the creature. It bounced off the creature’s scaly hide. He swung again with the same results. He saw claws coming down on him, so he ducked to the side. The monster continued to lunge at Aaron, and Aaron kept ducking in response.
Both opponents were tiring quickly, and neither of them wanted to continue. Aaron sank to the ground, defeated. He waited for the creature to finish him off, but it never came. The creature retreated into the shadows. Aaron’s flashlight turned back on, and the ceiling lights flickered on, casting dim light into the hall. Scarlett was lying on the ground. Aaron didn’t know if she was dead or unconscious. He hoped for the latter.
“Is there any way to get you out of that cage?” Walter asked the kid. “Also, why don’t you have a name?”
“I already said, this isn’t a cage. It’s my home,” the kid answered. “Also, I don’t know why I don’t have a name. I don’t know why that is so peculiar to you.”
“Because everyone has a name. What do the doctors call you? And what do the doctors do to you?”
“You’re full of questions. The doctors call me friend. The doctors do what they call tests on me. It’s like special school, they said.”
Walter needed to find out who was responsible for this kid. Clearly, they were some sort of lab rat for the psychopaths that worked on this floor. “What ‘tests’ do they do on you?” Walter asked, making air quotes.
“I lie on a bed and they hook up tubes and things like that to me.”
“Who are these doctors?”
“I don’t know. One teaches me things. The other three do tests on me.”
“Okay. Well, clearly we need to get you out of here. I’m sure they tried making you a superhero or something.”
“Nevermind. I meant they tried making you have special powers like mind control and laser eyes.”
“You know what? Forget it.”
Footsteps thudded down the hall outside the room. Walter turned around and gasped. Something was standing in the doorway. He started to back away into the corner of the room.