Updated: Sep 30, 2020
I quickly turned my head as I saw Mr. Braxen’s sister walk out of the room, with her young son chasing behind. I forced myself to focus on the paperwork in my hands - I passed them to the nurse across the counter and turned back towards where she was walking. She was not looking at me. At this point it was evident she was trying to leave quickly - she had grabbed her son and was almost dragging him.
I really didn’t know what to tell her when she asked about his feet. How am I supposed to explain all the testing that’s been going on?
There had been several times in my tenure with that hospital that I went to bat for their radical methods. But this time around, even I was struggling to agree with them. They sent out a group of scouts to the streets, to find the downtrodden drug fiends who were practically dead when we found them. In their hazed state, the addicts signed onto the experiment, obviously having no idea what they were getting themselves into. Totally and utterly oblivious.
I had no real grasp of what we were getting into until we had all nine subjects ready for experimentation. We had to spend the first few weeks actively inducing comas, and nursing them through their withdrawal from the drugs. Mr. Braxen’s process was particularly nasty - we almost lost him twice. Now five weeks later - he was the only one left. The other eight didn’t survive past sixty six percent.
We at least held off on starting the trials until all the drugs were out of his system. Like with all the others, we did alert him about the new compound. But for some reason our research team felt that the subjects should think there were other things they could be interacting with. Poisons, vemons, hallucinogens, other drugs, and various toxins. The fact of the matter was, that was never the case. They only ever interacted with saline or the new compound (moreso a combination of the two), which we jokingly started referring to as Interplanetary.
Interplanetary was discovered in the Amazon rainforest, underneath pounds of fallen trees. It was a liquid compound, sharing no characteristics with any element currently in our scientific system. As we also told the subjects, no animal could hold up to its potency. We started with mice and moved up in size. It didn’t matter. It was ‘instadeath’ for all of them, as soon as the drip hit their blood streams.
Mr. Braxen was strong. Much stronger than any of our research team had anticipated. We started him on the most diluted serum, and he didn’t begin to display any reaction to it until he was at eighty five percent purity. This was well past the survival potency of the other eighth subjects.
His last interaction with Interplanetary - before his sister’s scheduled visit - was at ninety seven percent, and left him with scorched feet. We weren’t quite sure how, as we had no first hand experience of what happened when under the influence of Interplanetary. Only the subjects had that firsthand knowledge. But nonetheless, they feel that he should be exposed to the full gamut of the compound. And it was my job to hook him up.
Shaking off the guilt I felt from the interaction with his sister, I contacted the transport team and had him moved to the testing facility. I made calls to the dispensary and had all the proper materials sent as well. I gowned up, and headed in.
The large metal door made a loud thud as it closed behind me.
“Please… don’t send me back there.” he whimpered as he saw me approaching. “I can’t take the pain anymore. I didn’t ask for this!” He broke down into uncontrollable sobs, and I could barely tie off his arm, his tremors were so harsh.
We were under the most strict orders not to interact with the subjects anymore than needed to administer Interplanetary. But he wouldn’t stop shaking. I simply couldn’t manipulate the IV needle properly with his shaking. I think he was going into shock. My professional bedside manner got the best of him.
I squeezed his wrist, hard, in my hand. I leaned forward, ever so slightly towards him. “Mr. Braxen, if you’ll just breath in with me slowly, this will be over faster than you know it. I promise.” I began guiding him through a counted breathing technique I learned from my therapist. Eventually he calmed enough for me to safely insert the IV into his arm.
Unlike all the last observations, I was required to stay in the room with him during the duration of the drip. As this was one hundred percent purity, they wanted me on site in case he seemed to exude too ill of effects.
Roughly ten minutes passed. His entire body began to shake, as if he were inside a drying machine. Before I had time to react, his eye actually flew open. He sat up so fast, and so harshly that his leather straps ripped from the table. His arm lurched out, and he grabbed me. Yanking me forward, I realized his teeth were sunken into my forearm before I could process any of what was happening.
I stumbled backwards. The wound site hurt, but the sensation flowing up my arm, towards my chest, was far more alarming. It occurred to me that his saliva must have had traces of Interplanetary in it. And now, it was in my own personal bloodstream. I realized this just as the room went sideways, and I hit the ground.
I couldn’t quite describe what I was seeing. The ground was black, and crunchy underneath me. The sky matched, but had swirls or purple, blue, and white throughout. Stars checkered across it. There were massive plants protruding from the group, with some luminescence in their leaves.
Suddenly the ground underneath me was rumbling. The plants were shaking. A version of Mr. Braxen appeared from around the trunk of the largest tree I’d ever seen, let alone imagined. His body was not proportioned properly. His eye were quite literally aflame. The black scorches that once surrounded his feet now climbed to the top of his head, and was billowing off in smolders.
He stamped towards me. Approximately a foot in front of me, he stopped. “You are known to support the hospital. You chose to carry that burden. To bury that burden - inside me. Now, you shall reap what you sow.”
His hand reached out and grabbed me around the waist, with ease. His other hand clamped down on the top of my head. And he began pulling. I pushed against his hands, trying to get him off of me.
I lost the battle. I suddenly felt weightless. And I was turning, without choosing too. He was spinning my head in his hands. Before my vision went black, the last thing I saw was the rest of my body hitting the ground.